Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Berlin Rain

Of my first impressions on Berlin... 

   The neon lights shined on
   lighting up the streets of Berlin,
   The cold breeze hit my face, but the raindrops
   felt like gentle pecks on my skin

   Walking on that rusted & wired bridge
   towards the old station to catch a train
   I turned to my friend and spoke to him
   of my thoughts on the Berlin rain

   Oh Berlin rain!

   Why did you feel like my own
   and yet were not mine,
   Why did you drench me and run away
   only so I'd find solace in a bottle of wine?

   So I did drink with gusto that night
   laughing and losing behind your pain
   Yet you trickled down through my hair
   reminding me of your whispers again

   I stood by the window, still with my glass
   Dim outide, your droplets were on the sill;
   I had taken shelter at last, but I missed you
   and I wished for another heart for you to fill.

Monday, May 07, 2012

That One Thing

Julie Powell in her famous blog "The Julie/Julia Project" (which was later made into a movie by the name Julie & Julia) quotes, "If a large meteor was heading towards earth and I had 30 days to live, I'd spend it eating butter!".

There is something about butter which makes it so irresistible. If you think carefully, every delicious and extra-yumm dish doled out of any kitchen must have a lot of butter in it (as Julie puts it!). I love butter; to be honest I come from a family of butter-lovers. My grandpa used to have clotted cream (malai in Hindi) with sugar like a snack almost everyday, and my mum is often found eyeing the tiniest iota of cream left on the sides of a milk bowl even now! To top it all, I think the fun in eating cream is a million times more when no one's watching you eat or lick it. Reminds me of Lord Krishna as I write this, and perhaps His stories are not all a figment of our imagination! 

But I digress. 

For this post, I thought I'd pick that one ingredient/object which helps add an extra zing to any chosen aspect of my life. Like butter for food. Chocolates for my mood. An orange chinos for my wardrobe. Claire's Daisy clips for my accessories. And in general, laughter of my loved ones on any given day!

What is that one thing that adds a zing to your daily routine, in any aspect of your life? Do share, I'd love to know!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Love Lost

she ran her fingers through
the shimmering water
breaking the lake into
ripples, as if laughter;

she caught a glimpse of
the reflections flashed
making her long to say 
what's in her heart, unabashed;

she stood alone, waiting
by the tiny brook
to capture him in 
what could be a last look;

she walked over to
the bench by the side
and calmly held her face
in her hands and she cried.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

No Misses, Only Hits

Huffing and puffing, I reached the cinema. Just in time for the movie. The plan was to watch Vicky Donor at 8.30pm at Ilford (with my gang from 144 Ilford) and I started at 8.08pm from home after dropping the plan twice in my mind. I was acting lazy after the evening coffee and slowly getting inclined towards dropping out. And suddenly, after checking the reviews online and chatting with an old friend, I lunged out of the room, left aside the half cut potatoes (for my dinner), quickly changed into my jeans, pulled the coat out, put the scarf on and ran outside. The few steps of my so-called journey to the cinema included a bus ride, a sprint through the Stratford Centre, racing up the steps of Stratford Station platform no. 8 for an 8-minute train ride to Ilford, post which another sprint through the high street towards Cineworld. 

Like I said, huffing and puffing I reached the cinema and bought myself a ticket. I also bought myself a small coke and waited for the 144 gang to arrive. A few had arrived I later realized and were holding onto some extra seats for us, a few more were on their way. The movie was to begin in another couple of minutes! 

As I settled into my seat, I was overjoyed - know why? So far, I have never ever missed the beginning of any movie in my life that I have gone to the cinemas to watch! Never. Never ever. Somehow, it has been a record sort of and I must admit I felt quite pleased with myself. I still am!

Do you remember the scene from Jab We Met that introduces Kareena Kapoor (character Geet) for the first time, while she tries to catch the running train? She gets all her luggage in first, a fellow-passenger and the coolie try hard to help her! She finally gets in and says, in typical Punjabi-Hindi, "pata hai kya, aaj tak life mein ek train nahi chhooti meri. Thank you Babaji, mera record tootne se bacha liya." (translation: "you know what, I have never missed catching a train in my life. Thank you God, you helped maintain my record!"). I felt exactly like that when the lady at the counter gave the movie ticket into my hand. I was in time, with a valid ticket and there were still a good few minutes for the movie to start! I wish someone captured my relief and excitement in a frame too! 

Ah, about the movie I watched: Vicky Donor. The one thing that remains with you after the movie is over, quite unexpectedly, is the word 'Sperm' and probably Annu Kapoor's wiggling fingers as a symbolic gesture for the word. The movie is probably one of the best comedies Bollywood has churned out, after ages. I don't remember the last time I watched a Hindi comedy where I have laughed (the genuine laughter! not the one you laugh after watching cartoons like Housefull etc!) for every 3rd frame during the whole time. The characters are quite unique in themselves, esp the mothers. The faces are fresh, the dialogues good, and performances genuinely heartfelt. I enjoyed my time thoroughly and I would say it's definitely worth the time and money.

Time For Yourself

I thought it's good to post about what I think can be a good idea to spend your time on, on lazy weekends. Because, these are few of the things that I did today, and considering I feel quite chirpy and cheerful now, these can be my recommendations to the readers of this blog.  

Read a cheerful happy book like one of these (or any other) at a coffee shop:

Watch TBBT's snippets on Youtube, esp the one on Friendship Algorithm!

And if none of those work, 
Just sit by the bedroom window and stare:


It is important to spend a slice of time, at least every week, to do an activity that you like. I often go for walks, in the big beautiful parks here and reflect on my life, think about my friends and family, think about my work and every tiny detail attached to my life. Some bring a smile, some pour out a longing, and some leave behind a restless feeling; but in a nut shell the quiet time that I do spend, just sitting by myself, helps distill out the unnecessary clutter I collect on my way and helps me put the shine back on.

I have read Eat Pray Love a couple of times and I enjoy revisiting Liz's journey to finding herself through food and loneliness in Italy, chaos and companionship in India, and love and longing in Bali - the book does what it's supposed to do best - make me think! I have watched the film on the book Julie & Julia, and my stomach jumps with joy when I look at all those delicious food being shown, written and spoken about in the movie and in the way that every character becomes secondary to the food in every single frame! The Big Bang Theory is the latest entry into the many things I love watching online these days, they are hilarious, they are nerdy and we love them all; watching snippet after snippet only reminds me of geeky friends I have; and if nothing of the above works for me at any point in time, I enjoy sitting with a coffee mug by my bedroom window and staring into the stillness of life outside and after a while my own mind begins to resonate the stillness.

We all have our ways to spend the leisure time we get, and as long as we remember to not while it away in boredom, I think we will be able to keep in touch with our inner self.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


So I love going to the Whitecross street market to get my lunch during work. It's a long distance from my office, but I enjoy the walk; it's probably one reason why I go - to take a nice 20min walk just before lunch. The market kicks off at noon and there are various stalls carrying all types of food, possibly from all the parts of the world. Click here to see the place!

The parts of the world that interest me, however, are only that of Italy and India. Dishes served in these two stalls are rich in variety even when it comes to vegetarians, are rich in flavour, and in my opinion, offer good value for money too. The reason for my inclination towards the Indian stalls is quite obvious but the Italian stall attracts me more for the fact that I believe I'd never learn to cook these dishes at home and so I gorge as much as I can when I have the chance.

So this weekend, when I went to do my grocery shopping at Morrisons, I decided to get some of the bottled sauces to try my amateur hand at these Italian pastas. I bought the tomato & Mediterranean vegetables sauce, and tomato & chilli sauce; picked up two packets of Penne Rigate and Spirali each from the neatly stacked large shelves and was feeling quite Italian already! I prepared Spicy Arrabbiata for lunch on Sunday and complimented it with some toast and butter as sides, and without sounding too boastful of my cooking skills, I think it tasted quite like the box of arrabbiata I get from the Italian stall at Whitecross. I couldn't believe it until a few spoonfuls and then I had sort of a eureka moment sitting in my kitchen - I could cook Italian food! And then it occurred to me, how suddenly had the Italian food come within my reach! In a fleeting moment though, the Italian stall lost its charm. I felt like a master who had just tamed a ferocious tiger...

Cutting sharply through my thoughts was my washing machine making loud noises of rinsing and spinning my clothes. I darted out of the kitchen and into my bedroom, to quickly get dressed for my evening ahead. Idly sitting in the tube later on, my thoughts sprang back into my mind as if trying to finish some unfinished business! I thought about how the dishes at the Italian stall suddenly seemed captured within realm of my own kitchen. And my mind was quickly drawing up an analogy with Life itself.

Wouldn't you agree with me when I say a task, or a material object, or even a personality attracts more interest and curiosity when we think it/they are unattainable? Money, fame, all big fat luxury items, our favorite celebrities and their lifestyles, etc. - just all of them carry a certain aura, charm and a mystery that makes them seem so special and unreachable. We all desire for each of these - to earn money, to be successful (which is only a relative term anyway), to own some hi-tech or fashionable luxury item, to meet our favorite personality - but once we get these things, what really happens? The luxury item becomes a showpiece that you overtime forget to even brag about; money stays in your bank and you enjoy spending it but are no longer under the aura it carried in your mind until you earned it all, and you look at the picture you got taken with your favorite star and bask in it, if only momentarily! None of this is against the human psyche. This is how we are. This is how I am. Only that this time, the Italian stall was at the losing end of the game.

But I have come to believe, with the limited knowledge that I possess, there is one thing we all desire for, and yet never grow tired of after achieving/experiencing it - happiness. There is no one definition to happiness, and each one of us has her/his own for this 9-letter word, but no matter how difficult the path to achieving this feeling might be I am absolutely sure at no point in time do we begin to set it aside as an attained wealth/commodity - like I perhaps did with the Italian stalls. To vouch for my rather homo-sapiens-behaviour, I tried out the 'I-can-possibly-never-get-anything-interesting-veggie-there-thus-unreachable' Japanese place Habibi that my team often visits to get lunch from and after tasting the Vegetable Curry & Rice I wondered why I avoided this place all this while. And voila! I now have another object of desire.

Such is Life, and it is only nice to have these tiny realizations between awesome morsels of food that I put into my mouth, making every bite rich and wholesome.

Monday, April 02, 2012

At 144, Ilford

We all have a few crazy people as friends. Don't we? And whether we like to admit it or not, the fact is we tend to enjoy their company the most, most often. Reasons for which are not difficult to fathom - craziness brings out the child in us and it feels good to get in touch with the innocence in us every once in a while.  

I have a few such crazy friends and I am quite proud of them being that way! But I realised this weekend that I have now the privilege of making that list a bit bigger, and all thanks to the new Flesh-n-Blood at Ilford. These men live their vibrant lives in 144 CityView Centreway apartments, and indulge majorly in two activities: Cooking awesome Indian food, and Ironing their washed semi-dried clothes. And that is precisely the reason they are crazy; and you will gradually know as you reach the end of this post why I call them my crazy friends.

144 is the hub of all activities and enthusiasm for me, although the inmates often like to enjoy deep slumbers even on a sunny weekend afternoon. So what if they are living in London where sunshine is a luxury, as Indians they like to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon sleeping cozily tucked inside their quilts! That is all. No more arguments taken.

However, they leave no stone unturned the moment I arrive - in pulling my leg and making me eat. I sometimes wonder if I end up a few inches taller and fatter with the amount of leg-pulling I undergo and with the amount of food I consume in the few hours that I spend here. And, that is one more indication of how all these people have slowly walked up the ladder of friendship. Every subsequent visit to 144 has turned out to be longer than the previous one in the last three months. A few hours turned into half a day, an evening turned into a full blown overnight-stay; and now almost all my weekend was spent at 144! There is more laughter, more fun, more pampering, more indulgence, more music, (will be) more wine, and a lottt more food! Being an all-guys household I do not understand how all those mouth-watering yumm-looking dishes are doled out every single night! Well, as long as they keep 'em coming, I don't mind to be very honest.

Carefully avoiding all of the personal details of my new friends at Ilford, I'd only say:
AN is a disciplinarian who loves to pamper and pull my leg both with the characteristic straight face that he leaves you confounded often and quite effortlessly so; HRS is an obsessive neat-freak who likes to iron out creases not only on his bed-time clothes but also in everyone's mind who steps into his home - creases of shyness, and hesitation! Poo is the ever-green Mr. Speed of the entire lot - always running about the house with a thousand things on his mind and a few of those thoughts that pour out from the sides only leave behind pearls of laughter! RK is a dad, probably the oldest among the group but when you see him trying to fiddle around a dirty bag to help choose which shoe-polish to use - the liquid one which is quicker but not good for the shoes or the cream polish which is time-taking but better for the shoes - he reminds you of a cute paranoid school going kid who's busily readying himself for another Monday morning. And the funniest and warmest of 'em all is JD. He is a bundle of jokes and funny remarks of which all of us are equal targets and you wouldn't realise when the target has been moved and who's eventually laughing at who!

And all of this happens at 144 amidst cooking and ironing. Irrespective of what movies are playing on TV, which songs we are listening to, and who's coming in and going out - the fun revolves around preparing evening tea, making chappatis, readying the curries and daals; and ironing every single piece of clothig that you can possibly lay your hands on!

So not only do we all end up having a lot of fun, we also end up coming across so utterly crazy and happy, in our own unique ways! And that is all friendships are about.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Flowers were white
The day as bright;
Some conversations over coffee
Filled my weekend with delight!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Love of Food!

I never label myself as a foodie. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being highest (just to be clear!) I'd rate myself a 4.5-5 when it comes to food and eating. Its not that I don't enjoy food. For all you know, I spend forty-five minutes per meal in a day and I am mostly known as that kid in the family who when made to sit with all the other kids and served first, will still finish eating with all the oldies in the final round! I am not proud of it, but it is one of those facts of life! 

Yet, I have unfailingly opened myself to the idea expanding the horizon of my taste buds, of late. Yep, you can blame London for it. Me, the new London-o-phile you see!

And the Food God has been quite nice to me so far. I have tried Mediterranean, Italian (not Pizzas!), Mexican, Thai, a few Salads and Soups, and a bit of Japanese, Korean & Chinese (yumm dumplings!) and of course, I do try out the Englishised Indian food (as my colleague ASP puts it!) from time to time.

I think food really opens you up to a new culture. And learning about food habits, trying out the cuisine of a new place tells a great deal about the people and the traditions there. Of course I must admit I have had the English breakfast, per se, only once, hence I cannot claim I have understood England and its eccentricities all very well, however, I would definitely say food is one magical element in life that can break all barriers, quite effortlessly!

Oh btw, I find fried mushrooms and hash browns with Heinz the best parts of an English breakfast and I love the fact that almost all of an English breakfast is fried even more! Quite unlike land of healthy-steamy-Idly-breakfast that I belong to!    

The chewy Tofu Yakisoba:

The Grand Thai Buffet:

The so-called English Breakfast:
Someday, I will order a Full Monty to claim I have understood England!

Chinese - Dumplings are really nice, esp the steamed ones! 

Mexican - Las Iguanas' Mushroom Fajitas are the best! You must try when you get a chance.

And oh, Fruits are delightful - esp when used to flavour yoghurts! I clicked this at a restaurant while waiting for my order.

Well, so I will just leave you with one thought: Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Of Dreams

I have resisted moving places since childhood; and the more I resisted the more we moved around! And after all these years, I am so glad I have become used to Change. I spent my early childhood in complete wilderness, then became a teenager in the crowded city of Calcutta, post which I went to the land of study-o-holics and slowly turned into one as well! After that, life came a full circle again - carefully avoiding the details of which I will come straight to the point now. Experiencing newness in life is important; and it makes life even richer if we remember to embrace the newness with our whole heart. For, every new leaf has a story to tell of its own, and our life will be as vibrant as the number of new leaves we collect through our journey! As I look back now, I am glad I had the chance of living and growing up in different parts of my country. If I can handle the spice of Andhra, I can also handle as many Sandesh as any friend from Bengal can; and I enjoy Pilani's extreme weather as much as Hyderabad's pleasantness through the year!

And now, as my work brings me to the beautiful city of London, a second time in less than a year. A completely different set-up, new people, new lifestyle and surprisingly new manners as well. But, there is no resistance anymore. I am very excited about living the life of a Londoner here. For, I can already see the beautiful story that this new leaf is slowly unfolding...  

These are some pictures clicked over the weekend gone by, of my new home here. I am in love with the beautiful crockery set at home, and candle holders lined up on our window sill. My new housemate loves to listen to the Radio - look at how vintage the Radio set looks! Living in a Victorian-style house is a dream come true - and an old favorite rings in my ears now, "Dream, when the day is through; Dream, and they might come true!" Dream!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

White Bright Morning

I still have a hangover from last night. Of the snow and the snowfall! The confession here is I have never seen snowfall in my life, and that is what makes night of 4th February 2012 so much more exciting. I watched one of my favorite cities in the world get covered under a layer of snow, with flakes the shape of bullet rosettes (I google-d that out to spell the exact shape!) falling from the sky; as if each one of them was a wish granted to all who looked up at the sepia-lit sky.

As I woke up this morning, the view outside my bedroom window has cajoled me to dress up in my warm coat and trainers, and get myself out on the snowy (perhaps even slippery) roads to view London in all its whiteness!

I plan to indulge myself with some winter shopping, click some pictures and be back in the duvet with lots more thoughts to pen down.

And it snowed!


I was snuggling up in my duvet, watching the cloudy sky from my window all of my morning. And I thought that in a nut-shell would describe my Saturday. Then it stretched a bit. I went on to do a light and healthy breakfast, took a long warm shower, cooked a spicy lunch with my colleagues and and just when post lunch was beginning to get drowsy and lazier, I sat upright and played a few episodes of HIMYM. However, the day's mood had not changed much - I was still snuggling up comfortably in the my duvet! It was only around 6pm that my colleagues convinced me to step out with them.

East Ham (in East London, easy to guess I believe!) is the place to do your shopping for Indian groceries. And so that's where we headed straight. I was happy to walk through the small aisles in this shop filled with Indian cosmetics, spices, cereals and pulses, and all the possible varieties of Priya and Mother's Recipe pickles! I picked a few packets of spices - cinnamon sticks, grounded coriander powder, til seeds and asafoetida among some of the important ones. I also saw baskets full of Maggi there! And well, my fifteen pounds felt good.

And then it happened. Snow!

It started to excite me the minute the tiniest snowflake placed itself on my cheeks, almost like a sweet peck! As my colleagues and I finished dinner and stepped back onto the streets of East Ham, the city was beginning to get covered under a snowy white layer. The sky turned an adorable sepia and the hues were breathtaking at places with the combination of neon lights and snow's reflection causing that vibrant mix we only see in paintings! We spent a good one hour playing about with the tiny layer of snow; but by the time we got home in Stratford we had a thicker layer of snow waiting for us.

I am so happy it snowed in London! I had been waiting for it to snow. The winter of 2011-12 has just got its meaning, for me, and I hope the day's ahead are as white and bright as they can be!

I pulled out my camera immediately after reaching my apartment and these are some quick clicks. Enjoy these for now, while I step out to click and play a little more!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Colours called F.R.I.E.N.D.S

Life can get busy, and sometimes you feel out of place, out of pace in it yourself. And, you find yourself in times when you stand in front of the mirror and ask, ‘umm, where are you headed? what are you doing? is this what you want?’ and go on till you find yourself exhausted. It is quite ordinary though to have these questions pop up, every once in a while, and experience might suggest that such episodes allow you to reflect, retrospect; you tap your compass a couple of times and set it back to the right direction. I think not only is this natural, but also absolutely necessary to happen.

And, people have different and personal formulae to react to these questions. Some take a few days off work to relax and unwind; some visit family & relatives; some take to traveling to a new place by themselves; and some meet friends. I fall into the last category. Almost always.

Call it a miracle, every time I have felt the slightest discomfort and an eerie uneasiness about life, these few friends – my core group – suddenly decide to appear (or join me, meet me wherever I am.) Friends from all over the country and the world come together, and voila! - you find yourself amidst laughter, poorest of jokes, lots of camera clicks and the warm feeling that life’s back on track again begins to sow its seeds. Of course, it is not something I can quantify very easily. This core group that I speak of, is made up of choicest gems of people I have met in the last 8 years. Some at the very beginning of my glory days (read: engineering college!), and some I met along the journey that I started those 8 years back. I must also add, I have been blessed with the time and energy to make it to these meets that are so meticulously planned, which only goes to add the adequate dose of colours in my life!

I am not going to write a thank-you note for my core group here, or go on to acknowledge how special these bunch of people are to me (I call it core, it is only redundant to type anything further!). This post is only to reiterate to myself and my readers how friendship is perhaps the most important ingredient of life’s rich recipe, and how liberating it is to celebrate its bright presence in our lives, every once in a while!

After all, someone rightly said – Friends only know to walk into our lives, and thereon to just stay!