Friday, November 16, 2012

Belated Diwali wishes!

Wishing you all a very happy (belated) Diwali! I hope you celebrated the festival with your loved ones just the way you wished!

Our Diwali was made special by K3 and AG who visited us from VA. Or it would have been just another long weekend with just the two of us. With fabulous company, it was all the more exciting to cook special favorites, shop and relax. In the four days of Diwali we cooked up quite a storm, literally. Never before has this little kitchen been so active (not counting mom's endless cooking).

Day 1 was shev-aloo pohe and ladoo for breakfast and bise bele hule anna and boondi raita with soan papdi for lunch. We ended the day with Skyfall and lunch leftovers.

Day 2 was more elaborate with shev-upma and soan papdi for breakfast and poori-shrikhand, potato bhaji and lemon rice or chitranna. An afternoon nap was really what the doctor ordered to recover from the lunch but instead we headed to a mall to get our Diwali shopping done. Dinner was a variety of dosas at an Indian restaurant.

Day 3 breakfast was subdued with just simple oatmeal and toasted bagels as our stomachs struggled from the previous day's eating. But the lunch menu was already planned and there was no looking back! We had black channa usal, bhendi panchamruta, gulab jamun, poli and tondli-bhaat. Yumm!! We seriously needed to rest that day to make breathing space in our well-fed bodies. :) And then we made some pani-poori in the evening to use up that space.

Day 4 breakfast was non-existent. :) We made some delicous vermicelli kheer, kadhi, simple yellow daal and rice, beans-potato bhaji and mixed peppers-apple raita for lunch. The evening highlight was the motichoor laddoos we bought for Lakshmi pooja.

The food we cooked had so many memories - we cooked them just the way my mom, amma cooks it. In their typical Maharashtrian-Karnataki style. When I told my grandmother (amma) on the phone that we had a good time at Diwali and really feasted like she would like us to, she specifically asked about every day's meal. :) We are such a foodie family!

K3 and A were wonderful sports as always, not getting overwhelmed with my bossy behavior in the kitchen and staying calm and getting their tasks done. :) What would I do without them!

There are a lot of pictures I want to share but would have to wait for K3. She was our official photographer you see.

And yeah the feasting is not done yet! We have some good old fashioned Diwali faraal of chakali, karanji, shev, ladoo, chvda and chirote coming to us all the way from Aurangabad! :D

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I have been a huge fan of detective series for a long time now. Right from Nancy Drew, er...if one could call her a detective. Agatha Christie's books were a feast growing up and I would care for nothing other than a good thick Poirot volume and a cosy seat to rest myself for the afternoon. Ah! Such fun. Though I read all Miss Marple stories I enjoyed Poirot the best from Christie's characters. His jovial, good natured quirks reminded me of my grandfather, and especially his shiny egg-head. :) Those days there was a Poirot tele-serial which I watched religiously. I could not follow the British accent very well but since I had read the stories many times over, I got what was happening. Fredrick Forsythe was loved too for his extremely detailed, thoroughly researched stories and super complex plots and sub-plots. 

Then there was Sherlock Holmes and his trusted friend, Dr. John Watson. I remember reading Sherlock in school and wondering if I understood it right. The stories were dark, the plot complex and usually some things were just left as it is. Sherlock could not be compared to my beloved Hercule Poirot who was polite and nice to the fault whereas Sherlock came across quite rude really. Gruff, blunt and sometime even hurtful. Gradually, he grew on me. I understood his friendship with Watson. I understood that though he was a brilliant detective, a master at the art of deduction, he had his failings as a human being. Like the rest of us. And that's when  comparisons ceased and I started enjoying the series. 

A couple years back I got my hands on the entire collection courtesy Kindle and I enjoyed Sherlock Holmes adventures all over again. On our trip to London, we visited Baker Street and I got a picture of mine with Sherlock's statue. It was a dream come true! Yeah, that's how silly and ardent fans are - I know he's just a character out of someone's imagination. But what the heck, I love him! 

Then in India last Diwali I happened to watch BBC's tele-series Sherlock. An amazingly gripping contemporary take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic, the 90-minute long episode brings to life all the eccentricities of Sherlock and more. If Sherlock Holmes were to walk the streets of London today with the latest cell-phone stuck to his ear, it would be like this. Benedict Cumberpatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson are a dream to watch. The dialogues and the screenplay are superlative allowing the viewers to enjoy a generous helping of British wit and humor. Ben's mannerisms, the flick of his artistic fingers, the gait, the restlessness which is so Sherlock Holmes is absolutely brilliant. Freeman's Dr. Watson is so believable, so upright, so honest and so loveable! He's the perfect foil to Sherlock's high intensity dramatics. London plays an important role too for it's Sherlock's playground, the city he knows like the back of his hand. 

The extremely talented writers, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have adapted the classic in tune with their unique interpretation. There's a lot more drama and emotional conflict than what meets the eye. The final work product is enthralling, engaging and completely satisfying. Of course they have taken liberties with the original, after all it's their take. For one, Sherlock doesn't say "Elementary!" Still there are no complains at all as a fan.  

Last week A and I were watching the last episode of Season 2 - The Reinbach Fall. The same falls where Sir Arthur's Sherlock and his arch enemy Moriarty both fall to their deaths. The readers know that the celebrated author had to revive his hero after nearly ten years bowing to the demand of thousands of miserable fans. So, effectively, Sherlock doesn't die in the story. Now, in this series the story is changed quite a bit with the Fall being symbolic. 

Spoiler alert - the story progresses to show Sherlock accused of being a fraud and the criminal behind all the cases he has helped solve. I watched in shock as they showed that he jumps to his death admitting in his last call to Dr. Watson that he's indeed a fraud. And he's dead! I'm so involved at this point that I'm sobbing uncontrollably, blabbering mindlessly, "But they cant kill him like this in disgrace...he doesn't die here..." A is beyond amused, he's laughing so hard his face is red and looks like he'd choke. But I dont care, I'm at the depths of despair - how could they kill Sherlock Holmes like this! Now, this is the power of storytelling. You forget it's a story. I know I'm a fan and already a believer, but mind you I'm not easy to trick. A was quick to regain his composure and tried to placate me by saying  they wont do this - how can they kill the hero in disgrace. I was still weeping silently with Dr. Watson as he mourned his dear friend at his grave. Several long seconds later the camera shifted to reveal the familiar profile, Sherlock Holmes, hiding behind the trees. Ah! What a relief! So yes, there's at least one more season. Releasing next fall. One full year of waiting. Difficult, but certainly bearable with six old episodes to be watched over and over again! 

Pic source:

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Some more nostalgia

In exactly a week, mom and dad will leave for India. :( After every few hours I feel saddened by the thought.  I will have to think about the time difference before calling them up every now and then. Technically I said my goodbyes when I left K2's place last month and did it quite dramatically. Of course knowing me it was sure that after spending almost 3 months with them, I wasn't going to be all cheerful, waving a ta-ta at the airport, wasn't it? But I surprised myself - the crying that started at the airport continued intermittently throughout the pan-American flight and hasn't stopped even now. The melancholy of the fall season and the chill in the air (and the sight of whole heads of broccoli and cabbage languishing in the crisper) make me wanna run back to my home in Aurangabad, where I'm a child again and my time with my parents is not limited to any visa restrictions. Also, most of sensible dreams (when I am not dreaming of horror stories and murder mysteries) see me in my bed in Aurangabad, sleeping next to K2. When I wake up I am a little sad and disappointed that I'm in a different time now. Sometimes I feel guilty that missing my childhood home, my parents and K2, K3 with such intensity, is it unfair to A? Hmm...I think not. He knows me well, he knows my wiring is weird. I still have the instincts of the prehistoric cavesmen, I want my entire family living together in one cave. A big roomy cave with a good internet connection that is. :) 

Till I meet my besties again, here's wishing them a wonderful time back home. I miss you already!

Anyways. A and I took off to Vermont for two days. Till we set off A wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy myself and in turn if he would have any peace. I was feeling feverish and had a slight to severe headache. Thankfully, I forgot all about it the moment we stepped out. Exactly like A had predicted. *Rolls eyes* 

Like professional leafers, we took to quaint little towns, tasted the local cheeses and fruit preserves, bought samples of maple syrup.  We timed our trip really well and were rewarded with a spectacular display of fall foliage. Rust, crimson, copper, gold, scarlet and tinge of green - it was a mesmerizing burst of colors. 

In the spirit of the season, we raided the dollar tree store and decorated our patio with tiny plastic ghosts, witches, skeletons, bloody banners and halloween lanterns. And yes, we have our own pumpkins too! We have made it into a proper festival and may even squeeze in a trip to the temple. ;) I can already smell Dasserra in the air so listen up Fall Melancholy, you are not feared anymore. :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Ganapati is my favorite festival – after all I’m a Marathi mulgi. :) I get very nostalgic around this time reminiscing about all the Ganapati’s from my childhood - the excitement of seeing Ganesh idols in the market, the hustle bustle, the festivities, the food, the music, the programs organized by Ganesh mandals, the processions bringing Ganapati home and then the extremely emotional visarjan or immersion processions on Anant Chaturdashi.

Weeks before Ganesh Chaturthi, the grounds next to our home would buzz with the idol makers who would work in a frenzy to add final touches to the thousands of Ganesh idols neatly lined on wooden benches. Some artists would focus on huge idols, some at least 10 feet tall. On our way home we would gaze in awe at the idols coming to life. With his cherubic features, kind eyes and a tiny mouse for company, Ganesh for us, is the most adorable of Gods. Ganapati is the God of knowledge and learning and so our pencil boxes, study-table, books, etc would have tiny Ganapati pictures pasted all over them. We would start counting days to Ganesh Chaturthi eve when we’d choose “our” Ganapati and bring him home.

Decoration for Ganapati was a favorite, much-awaited activity. I use to traumatize K2 and K3 as I considered myself really creative. The poor little girls in their excitement ignored my bullying and worked hard with colored papers, glitter, glue and what not. Most of our decorations used to be hand-made, except for those mandatory lights and paper-chain garlands. Honestly our work used to sloppy at best but the pride and happiness we experienced to have “readied” the place for our beloved Ganapati was priceless.

On Ganesh Chaturthi eve, we would accompany dad to bring home our Ganapati. After much care, discussion and deliberation, mostly based on the color of the pitamber and the overall “cuteness” of the idol, we used to select one small sized Ganapati. With much love and tenderness, just like one fusses over a baby, we would carry the idol home, all wrapped up in a cloth so that nobody saw him before his sthapana the next day.

Ganesh Chaturthi day, a school holiday, would begin bright and early. Mom would get busy in the kitchen preparing the usual festival food so that the prasadache taat (offering for the Gods) would be ready in time. We would spend an insane amount of time doing rangoli in the courtyard – again yours truly bossing over helpless K2 and K3. :( Then mom and dad would be called to mandatorily admire our art, which they faithfully did.

After a quick bath we would dash out to pick “durva”, the fine grass like herb which happens to be Ganapati’s favorite. Durva grows along the road side, in open grounds, etc. It’s also sold around Ganesh Chaturthi. It needs to be picked, cleaned thoroughly and tied in tiny bunches of 5, 11, 21, 51 and/or 101 stalks. Then we used to pick flowers from our garden. Red jaswand, rose, kanher, aboli and parijat – they are all Ganapati’s favorite flowers. Dad would also buy roses and lotus flowers. With this done, we three girls would be done with our work for the day! Phew! :)

Then would begin the long wait for the pooja and prasad. Usually at around noon, our Ganapti would be ready to be “installed” and we would sing five to seven aartis with gusto, accompanied with taal and ghanta. The whole atmosphere would turn magical once Ganapati took his place in our devghar. Adorned with flowers, garlands, durva over his head, colorful lights twinkling, he appeared to smile at us. We would yell “Ganapati Bappa Moraya” at the top of our voice. We imagined that Ganapati was very happy looking at our decoration and the 21 sweet modaks mom would have placed before him. Mom always fried modaks made out of wheat flour. Of course the prasadache taat would have our favorite foods as well.

The 10-11 day festival would thus begin. Every morning we would scout for durva and flowers, do Ganapati’s arati in the mornings and evenings as well, visit our friends’ to take blessings from their Ganapatis, go out to sarvajanik Ganapati mandals to admire the Ganesh idols and the different themes of decoration, participate in various competitions organized by our colony’s Ganesh mandal. To add to the merriment and feasting, Gauri or “Laksmya – pair of Laxmis” would visit in between for three days. Though we didn’t have the practice of erecting Gauri idols in our place my mom would invite our girl friends for lunch. The highlight would be a creamy rice kheer. At my grandparents’ place, Gauri idols are erected and there’s serious work that goes in the decoration. My youngest mama who is very enthusiastic when it comes to Ganapati/Gauri decoration, even has a bamboo structure in place which can be erected easily that works as a mandap or canopy. All he has to do is drape silk sarees over it. This frees up his time to add more detail in the decoration – different lights, crystals, etc.

As days zoomed towards Anant Chaturdashi or the last day of the festival, again a school holiday, our hearts would grow heavy at the thought of saying goodbye to our Ganapati. We felt very protective towards this baby faced diety – so much so that we hoped people would stop immersing Ganapati idols on the visarjan day. With tearful eyes we would sing the last arati in the evening which we would do as late in the evening as possible just so that the Ganapati stayed a bit longer. With a little “khau” of coconut, peanuts, poppy seeds and jaggery for his journey, we would follow our dad to immerse our Ganesh in the nearby well. Chanting “Ganapati bappa moraya, pudhchya varshi lavkar ya” we pleaded with him to visit us soon next year. The house felt empty in the evening and nothing would lift our spirits. We felt such sadness while we chanted in chorus “Ganapati gele gavala, chain padena amhala.”

Ironically, A’s family doesn’t celebrate Ganapati festival for some weird reason. I was overcome with sadness when his mom told me this after our wedding. :(  Not fair, right? I haven’t made peace with it yet.

Anyways. As I count my blessings this Ganesh Chaturthi, I wish you readers all the happiness, peace and prosperity. I leave you with the following pics, all the decorations are handmade, lovingly and painstakingly.

Ganapati at K3’s in Virginia (2012)

Gauri/Laksmya at my grandparents’ in Hyd (2011)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another picture

And last one for some time, I promise. :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

A long way to go

My first attempt on the WACOM tablet. As you can see, I have a long long way to go before I can start creating something worthwhile... the only upside is, it's super fun to keep trying! :)

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

I passed CFA level 3!

Oh yeah! I passed CFA level 3! I’m so happy and proud! So happy that I passed, so proud that I stuck to my daily study schedule for four months diligently. My parents who are with me to celebrate the moment are overwhelmed with happiness and emotion. 

The results email came yesterday and since I couldn’t muster courage to look it up myself, A did it for me. After about 400-450 hours of studying, I felt confident that my preparation for the exam was the best of all the levels. However, the whole exam experience itself was one of the most stressful things I have ever done. So much so that I had a blinding headache for a couple days after the exam. I wasn’t very happy about my performance in the essay-type questions format. So, the last two months' wait for the result was very painful. I know there’s always another shot but it would have been such a shame to flunk after slogging for months together… and what a joy it is to pass all the levels in the first attempt!
I took the level 2 in 2009 and there was a long gap of 3 years before I took the level 3 this year. My hurting hand, work related troubles and our moves all came in the way. I worried if I would have to start from scratch, what if I no longer had the drive needed for the exam. When I took off from work at the beginning of this year one of my goals was to be done with CFA. Thank God, that’s accomplished.

2 days before the result came out I told my mom that maybe I should think of changing my field of work, maybe I was done with financial advisory/investment industry. Haha, that was before the results! I’m not done, yet! The thought of seeing the letters CFA next to my name once I get back to work is so delightful, so thrilling, so sweet!
Ha! It will take a few days for me to get back to normal. Every now and then, I smile to myself and think in disbelief, wow! Did I just pass level 3? To those who are thinking what’s the big deal, it's just an exam - I'm sorry, but you will not get it. To those, let me just say, why don’t you see for yourself. :p 

Friday, June 08, 2012

Here we are

There are some things in life which are quite beyond one’s control. Like meeting your life partner. It’s as if two random people cross each other’s paths by chance and in one magical moment there’s realization that there’s nothing random or by chance. It was meant to be, my friends.

I was working at my first job and that’s where I met A. There was no reason for our paths to cross but cross they did. He cracked a joke and I laughed louder than the others and he was amused. Within a matter of six months we became really good friends. Then came the unthinkable, I fell in love! And thankfully it was mutual. :) We got married within a year of knowing each other. He soon came to know that I have a loud, hearty laugh and sometimes laughing fits.

Our friendship has evolved beautifully over the years, through tears and smiles, ups and downs, tax filings and loan payments, visa interviews and passport renewals, tatkal bookings and moving apartments.

A is the perfect complement to my ethereal moods. His cool calm balances my restlessness. His adventurous spirits lift me up from my unknown, imaginary fears. I must add that my optimism wins over his occasional cynicism. Of course there are times when I yawn through his (many) discourses on philosophical topics, but then his jokes make me smile even when I don’t want to. My little secret that I don’t mind sharing here - I usually want to really laugh at A’s jokes because they are that funny but at the same time I try to keep a straight face lest he starts thinking that he’s very funny. This is exactly what he does to me. Every time I have an out of the box idea, for the first few seconds his face is like “Wowza!” and his words are, “Yeah, I was thinking we should do the same thing.”

I used to think that I’m a romantic at heart. However I’ve recently realized that I’m not. Recently meaning since I started writing this post. Which means I may never be able to write another love story like Erich Segal. But it also means there is no pressure on me to surprise A with candles, cakes, red hearts or such. Flowers are another thing altogether and A must keep buying me flowers for his own sake.

If anybody is still reading the post and is wondering where this is going, well, for the confused reader’s benefit, A and I completed seven years of marriage in May. Yeah, it was all meant to be. :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Where are you, Spring?

In preparation to being full-time unemployed, I had made a quick list of things that I want to do - which I always dreamt of and never had time for, those kind of things. Since it's my list, it had to be vague, idealistic, and all over the place. I mean, really all over the place. It has things like - spend some quality time with my inner self. And then there's also one about revamping my entire wardrobe.

To be honest, revamping wardrobe has been my lifelong dream - for the past few years. Looking at how well put together other girls/women around me are - regardless of the time of the day, I get really frustrated and announce to everyone who would care to listen that that's it. I'm going to revamp my wardrobe this weekend. A knows me too well to worry about the mega splurging plans. He knows I will end up buying at most 2-3 tops on my next shopping spree and forget that I was there to almost raid the entire store.

Anyways, coming to my list, I love taking a walk in a nice, not too cold, not too hot weather picking up small pebbles, dried leaves, nuts, interest looking twigs, feathers and other little treasures. Now this is my quirk- what's rubbish to others can be a find for me. I bring all this "treasure" home and hoard it. I may use it in some craft or just decorate it around the house. But mostly not. My folks have taken all this quite kindly. With every house we moved, my dad made sure that my stuff moved as well.

I digress again. Well, I thought now that I'll have more time on hand I can make frequent “field trips” and collect many nice things. Or at least explore the neighborhood. Will you be surprised that I have been a complete home-body not even getting out of the house till A calls to explicitly tell me to go get some fresh air? Oh yeah, it's really terrible. It's still quite cold here (no snow though) and even for a short walk one needs to get ready – woolens, coat and all. Too much of an effort really. Most of the time I'm plonked by the patio with a book in hand, gazing at the chubby squirrels climbing up-down the trees. And since the book fails to hold my interest most of time, like a peeping Tom I keep an eye on what the neighbors are doing. I spot this Indian woman cleaning her house every morning for hours together. She dusts and wipes the blinds one flap at a time. I wonder when was the last time I cleaned blinds…I mean I clean like a maniac in my own way but this lady takes the cake, icing and all! Of course all this wonderment is while I’m staring at her. I realize a bit late that since I can see her so clearly, she must see me as well. I sit by the open patio afterall. It’s not difficult to guess what she must be thinking about yours truly. Not very kindly.

Yes, a lot of thought-experiments are happening with no theories to prove. :) Thankfully, spring is almost here and I can’t wait to get walking around!

Friday, February 17, 2012


to make me happy!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The year that was

I planned to pretend that I didn’t notice the year slip by. The downside of being a lazy blogger is that you have to think very hard about what you really did over the year. Let me attempt a quick download on what’s been happening so far – be warned that most of the happenings don’t fall under the breaking-news category. I guess the “most of the happenings” part will keep some interest alive. ;)

January 2011
– The year started on a high note – K3, my darling little sister got married to AG. It was a beautiful ceremony – none of the usual bickering that’s taken granted for in Indian weddings.
I gave a flavor of my “strict aversion to any kind of fun” by promptly going to bed when my entire clan danced away to glory at the seemant pujan which coincided with the New Year celebration. A was disgusted, to say the least!
Rest of January to April
– Other than the unprecedented snow storms in the north east, nothing that I can remember. Well, I want to forget what I did at work as this period is our official busy season. What, haven’t you heard of such a concept before? Lucky you, must say!
But I sure remember the historic win of the men in blue, in April!! Oh my, what a joy it was to watch that victory! Yeah…I didn’t see the game for the fear of jinxing anything. Haha, things we silly fans do for the team to win! I’ll remember that wonderful moment for a really long time. (The later England and Australia tours – I don’t even care)

– A’s parents arrived on their maiden trip to the US. Unfortunately for them the summer started very late and it was mostly cold and wet during their stay. But we had a good time – good food and good talk.
A super short get-together of the three sisters, their husbands and two sets of in-laws.
Cheering at K3’s graduation. A super-hectic yet memorable trip to NYC with everyone in tow. Was mighty pleased with pictures of this trip – finally, I’m beginning to move towards being photogenic.

– Niagara again, in a gang of 11 this time! Missed K2 and Maks sorely.
A wonderful surprise was to run into G, my lost-and-found friend from school. Thus the conclusion is that the probability of two Indian women running into one another is the highest at Niagara Falls. That’s a good indicator of the sheer number of desis there, isn't it?

– Discovered a splendid getaway in NH, just a couple hours drive for us. Reconfirms my belief that I’m happiest near a water body no more than one foot deep. This tiny brook of a river, Pemi, meets all my criteria of how playful and friendly a river should be.

August – hmm…I don’t remember anything. Never mind, you are not missing anything.

September - December
- Now, September onwards things really got moving at a break-neck speed so I’ll leave out the chronology part of it.
Moving apartments (packing, repacking, unpacking, cleaning – not just regular but scrub- till-it-shines heavy duty cleaning)
A memorable trip to Grand Canyon (subject of another post) – what a place this is! Highlights include the chopper ride, the boat (pontoon or something) ride, the yummy lunch at the ranch and of course the gorgeous panoramic views.
A dazed trip to Vegas – seriously, am I an oddball to wonder what the big deal is about!
A really short but incredible trip to London squeezed in somehow in the overall chaotic scheme of things. (Yet another post, I promise)
A trip to India with no clue about where would we end up in a couple of months time –that things fell into place without us doing much is a huge relief.
Met P, S and PK and their spouses. Such a joy to see old friends. And an even greater joy to see them happily settled with their spouses…
And the biggest news of the year happened towards the fag end – I quit my job of 6 years! Yes, after months of agonizing over it. No matter how hard I try to downplay this big change in my life, I fear getting up in the middle of the night in cold sweat, regretting. So far I haven’t fully digested the idea of being unemployed so the regret hasn’t happened yet – I still mourn on Sunday evenings for a bit before I realize that Monday mornings shouldn't bother me now! ;) That said, I LOVED my work and absolutely miss some very nice people I met there. However, I’m really happy that I don’t need to tolerate some people any more.
So actually, 2011 saw us doing different things, visiting new places, meeting new people and several old friends, and making some important decisions. I think it was overall a good year for us.
The New Year started on a promising note as well. My mom’s book was released – the result of her tireless efforts for the last 6 years. Such a proud moment and am I glad I was there to celebrate! (Another post, I promise for sure!)
Spent a wonderful week in Aurangabad with mom-dad and hogged on my favorite foods. How I missed home!
In the meanwhile, I have also managed to check off two more jyotirlingas from the list of 12. Then there was this trans-Atlantic trip.

My resolutions for 2012 are all over the place – creative, fitness and life related. And of course to be a more regular blogger. For once, I want to be ambitious and over-achieve. That’s a good sign I guess.

(PS: This post is for PK, my dear friend who hasn’t given up on me or this space! :))