Some simple pleasures

There’s nothing more delightful than having a good portion of spicy “Hyderabadi Biryani”, followed by the sweetest of mangoes (I still do not know it’s Hyderabadi name, but it’s a smaller sized equally sweet variant of ‘safeda’ we get in Delhi).

More so if that mango is chilled.The experience seems to be a roller coaster for the brain. One can get high on such a meal, without the need for any artificial intoxicants. 🙂

But it gets better .

The night is breezy, and the wind seems laden with tiny drops of water. The ones that get carried away, and do not fall. My feelings for the past few nights in Hyderabad.

Originally from http://blog.quasi.in

Midnight Rain

When clouds did a waltz in the moonlight

The wind did rustle every tree in sight

Drops gave up and fell, attempt to hang around went in vain

My semi charmed life witnessed the beauty of midnight rain.

 

Of the many things life leads you to

In shades of yellow, red and blue

Which you see, but tend to forget

Nature’s beauty in mind it is permanently set

 

I have seen this and I had loved it then

What slipped through me was where and when

It struck me out when I probed within

This beauty I’ve been with, called Sikkim.

No Ordinary Morning

As I opened my eyes, I realised it was quite early in the morning. The sun hadn’t quite started to shine yet. It seemed as though it probably won’t, this morning, either. It was cloudy, and I could hear the birds chirping, the way they do, before it rains. She lay next to me, totally unaware of the circumstances outside. She had been up till late, cajoling me to tell her stories, and being up to no good.

For her, it was going to be a landmark day, for she had to address her new classmates, and her new  teacher at school today. It was my daughter’s first day at school today. She looked really pretty, like a princess, and besides her she had all the things a little kid would need on her first day at school. A new dress!

Sky blue in color, there was this shirt, and a pair of pants navy blue in shade. They looked super cute, and I guess they were her mother’s choice. I felt so grateful, for had it been me, who’d gone for the dress picking, we would have ended up getting a real fancy frock kind of a dress, with lot’s of frills on it. Very beautiful to look at, but also, equally uncomfortable to carry around. I just imagined the situation, and tried to suppress a weary smile. One could not help but smile at the sight of the princess with her not so shiny armour kept by her side.

I got up, without disturbing the peaceful bed much. I looked around the room, and tried to find where my wife was. I did not want to call out for her, as the house was very quiet. So I decided to find her and help her out, for she had an important day at work too. New client, and a new business prospect. So, as I strolled into our study, I noticed my wife was up there on the table, perched on the chair like a bird, intensely focussed and staring into the computer screen, and typing rapidly. From what I know, her manner suggested that she was up to something, it might be best to let her be.

My wife is a software professional. I do not understand much of these machines but she often treats her laptop like her best friend. I think they understand each other quite well too. As far as I’m concerned, the only interaction with computers that I have is the one in our living area. It plays me music, and at times, when my wife deals with it, shows us a movie or two. Not to forget the times when we call up our friends in China, with this thing called skype. Nifty name for something which works like a phone.

So, with the two beauties pre-occupied, I decided to pitch in with what I do best. I’ll pick out some berries from our kitchen garden and make a tart. I’m a chef by profession, and two of my most critical clients live right next to me, all the time. It was also a day off for me, so I felt quite at ease. I had a little over two hours to whip out the culinary magic, they tell me I’m capable of. As for me, I just enjoy watching the smiles they give when the sample my creations.

In the kitchen garden, as I was picking of berries, I thought of the day I planted them. It was a full year ago, and I was playing with my daughter, showing her some gardening. She helped me out by telling me what all to put in, and what all to leave, since we had only limited space. Berries it was ! Lettuce had missed the final cut, and carrots were in too.

With enough berries in my basket, I went in cleaned them first, and chopped them into exact halves. They were sweet, most of them. Some of them were a little tangy. My wife would love them like that, I thought and continued to bake. It smelled cooked so I put it out, and put some syrup to give it a frosty coat. After it cooled a little, I put the berries on top, and put them on a tray.

Upstairs, I heard some howling followed by giggles and other general noise. I knew my kid was up, and my wife was helping her get ready. After a while she scampered down the stair case, and I could not help but admire how she looked. Sky blue shirt, navy blue pants, and hair tied back  into a pony tail, with a bright yellow hair clip. She came closer and I swooped her from ground. She was all smiles, and happy to go to school. I gave her a tart, and she kissed me on my cheek.

My wife followed us into the kitchen after five minutes. I saw her. She looked like a kid herself, and seemed really excited about something. I gave her the tart with the ‘tangy’ berries on top, and she gave me one of those smiles which could end the “cold war”. My daughter ran upto her. The two started to stroll out to the drive way, and they looked so similar. One of them was wearing lime green shirt and bottle green pants, and had her hair cut very short.

This was no ordinary morning.

(Human) Nature?

What is Religion ?  How did beliefs come into existence?

We talk in utmost disdain at the mention of how the education system does not give to students what is currently relevant, but I speak of something more fundamental. A proper discourse should be provided to kids on how religious beliefs come from, in addition to merely enlisting the various religions.

There is a distinct reason why I do not take to the popular religious preachers. They so boldly condemn other people beliefs, and classify them as prudish, unsophisticated and raw in terms of what their religion stacks up to others. But for what good? Do we even look at our own practices with such a keen introspection. Do they even consider the importance of that religion at the time of it’s inception. Do they care to understand the whys, as opposed to the whats?

I believe, like educational system, religion also should evolve with time. Every single practice might not be applicable in every single era, or area. I mean, bearing the popular, “do no evil”, the customs and traditions prescribed by the religious preachers are to be taken as a guideline, agreed, but you cannot possibly adhere to them like a mindless herd of cattle.

 

Historically speaking, religion was a set of guidelines to unify masses with a common goal.

Imagine the state where there are lot’s of people, loads of energy, but no synergy. That’s like a cocktail party, right? People will talk, but I doubt there would be listeners. That would be such a terrible waste. The so called “drafters” of such guidelines must have thoroughly envisioned what causes interpersonal discomfort and where the lines need to be drawn so as to co-exist in harmony.

I think Religion was a means of bringing people to a common plane. Different demographies, different conditions, different problems dictated distinct means.

Design changes with time. New situations demand something different.

Despite the careful insight, times come when one has to shun certain practices, conjure up newer rules to adapt to the change in situations. These newer “requirements” might require change of rules in a way that might contradict the very basic belief your particular religious visionaries harboured.

I say, be practical, and understand why it might have advocated. Do whatever you deem the best. In the end, you, as a Human Being are the best judges.

 

There are more than one ways of doing things.

I’ve come across so many people who claim to know it all. But show them a different way of doing things, and they become really uncomfortable, and quip “only one way is right, my way”. They become hostile to the other practice, and they themselves become uncomfortable.

It’s such a basic, instinctive, natural problem. We as humans tend to hang out with people who are alike. Caste system, purists and fundamentalists are all the manifestations of the same old human nature.Or I even dare say “Animal Kingdom”.

 

It might be of interest to take a look objectively at other people’s practices and beliefs.You might have had many a “Eurekas” and ways to deal with problems, you feel people in general face. Good for you. Remember, others might be too, and in an altogether different way.

Appreciate humanity, Appreciate intelligence. Be inspired. Appreciate stupidity, Appreciate diversity. Don’t impose.

It was made to unite people, and not create war camps.

Disclaimer : I do not consider myself qualified enough to argue about any of the practices /beliefs, but these are my beliefs, and by no means any guidelines.

A reunion, after more than five years – part 2.

Continuation from trip to bangalore.

It was raining cats and dogs. All of us somehow managed to scamper inside the peltering rain. After what seemed like a phenomenal work out, we settled into a small but comfortable dining table. So people needed drinks, and coolant needed food. We ordered stuff, and Jack Daniels tower and chicken sampler.

It was then that the mood was made (thanks to good weather and nice grub). Plans (as to what needs to be done later) were flying around. First we decided to swim, and then to go for a drive to some place called nice highway. Eventually, we decided to go to Mr. SS’s home and try out his “much talked about” cocktails. I was sure they’d be awesome, cause he has cooked for me when we were in college, and I was the brat. He was quite handy with horlics and tea, so we were shooting for his forte : “drinks”

Some shopping and after rounding up other people, we head up straight to Mr. SS’s house.

His house is beautiful.

Very nicely furnished, just as I would like to. I felt right at home. Nice and comfortable. He showed us around and he showed me his balcony that overlooked a graveyard. “Very interesting”, I thought, and soaked in the cool breeze that was due to heavy rain’s after effects.

I noticed an imported grill (the very expensive variety) lying around in the balcony. Now the thing about Salujas is that they love their grills, and no doubt, I was thinking in terms of cooking up some snacks while Mr. SS would whip out his cocktail magic.

This was the plan, decided by the moment.

We did our bits and pretty soon, had chicken, fish and paneer(cottage cheese) tit bits going. With nice drinks and grub in the house, the spirits soared really high.There were some old videos (ladiez sangeet), and nice old college photos that got us all so nostalgic and amused that for a moment, we felt (at least I did) we were back in college. Whoa. That video is worth some money now. For those who are witness to it, you know what kind of emotions it can evoke.

The talented people (we had a drummer, and a guitarist in the house) got to doing their bits, and they did  their bits, told some silly stories. It was SMIT, after five long years and it was unfurling right before my eyes. Mr. PS, and UR jammed, and I decided to lend my vocals.

I must have gotten a little misty eyed.


Here’s a video people, a glimpse of how it was. First video job by me, listen to it with decent headphones, and not in office, please 🙂

[youtube]nd_guUwD0uQ[/youtube]

Afterthoughts.

All’s well that ends well ! There were a few hiccups too, specifically the misunderstanding wih Mr. AD. Just wanted to catch up, buddy. Rest was all loud mouth, you know how I am 🙂

Mrs. AG : Next time provide us the pleasure of your own, and Mr. AG’s company.

For the ones who’d know what I’m talking about here : Yes, we(some lucky ones) did get to see the famous wave, by Mr. NS. Trip totally worth it. Enough said!

A reunion, after more than five years – part 1

I did some spontaneous travelling this weekend.

Most of the time, we make plans, try to rope in friends and people, and redraw the plans on drawing board when it comes to travelling. I decided, after running through an ordinary week, that I needed to visit this “so raved about” city called banglore (or bengaluru, to be politically correct). Anyone from banglore will just talk adoringly about it for hours, and I must admit the hype might have lead me on to having a certain set of expectations.

Any ways, I called up this college friend of mine, Mr. PS and told him I felt like dropping in. He was quite agreeable to the idea, and he immediately asked me to come on over, like this very weekend.The only problem, it seems was that getting tickets on such short notice would be quite a daunting task, and that “train”, my preferred way of commuting was out of the window.

Reluctantly at first, I got the bus tickets done. Now, doing an overnight journey, I prefer to have a good night’s sleep so a bus kind of loses the plot because of the amount of leg space it offers. Also the bumps in the middle of the road can hamper the sleeping prospects of many a sound sleeper. Me and a couple of friends have seen the tyranny of the bus. That in fact turned out bloody.

So I ventured out to the “hyped city” on my own, with just a bare minimum expectation : to meet my college friend, Mr. PS.

I felt so welcome. The bonds of college are thicker than water.

I generally would never have anticipated such a coming together, but it happened. Without having any sort of concrete plans with any of my other batch mates, me and Mr. PS decided to drop right in to Mr. UR’s crib. From what I have come to know, that seems to be the bangalore’s “party central”. I went in and I immediately realised, how comfortable, and big it is. Also I never realised it till date, but Mr. UR is a gadget freak of the highest order. I used to believe that I am on an extreme level when it comes to using, and possessing gadgets, but I’m merely a kid in the woods. I was awed by the droids, and the ipads, and the over powering bass ….. 🙂 . Even the car’s woofer was solid. Just a little out of tune. I enjoyed the music (I think Mr. UR did too) so much that we managed to get Mr. DSG up to get a head butt with car’s roof ! I think if had it been a convertible, Mr. DSG might have launched into orbit. 🙂

Mr. DSG was the biggest surprise package for me. This bugger has relocated from Gurgaon to B’lore, and all I have to say is, B’lore people, beware ! Be very very aware, this animal is most risky after the sun goes down.

Mr. SS, who visits Hyderabad often for reasons close to heart, dropped in to Mr. UR’s house, and so did Mr. NS. I think the writing was there on the cards ….. this house is going to be brought down tonight. 5 years later, the B-block from SMIT, ground level and first level, was assembling slowly but surely, and each one of them was equipped with certain weapons of mass destruction. 😉

Initial hiccups due to lack of planning.

It was bright and sunny (read humid) in B’lore when me and Mr. PS drove up till Mr. UR’s house. So much so that I got fed up of the ride (and I wasn’t even driving). Really, I believe it takes a lot of heart for people in B’lore to keep driving. I guess that is why they seem grumpy otherwise. I’m beginnig to see a corelation between the badness of traffic and people’s mood. I mean, see Gurgaon, B’lore is like a mid point between Hyderabad and Gurgaon. The only saving grace might be the nice weather once one rolls down the window. People in Hyderabad seem the happiest lot, because traffic is much more relaxed. Heck even I like to drive in Hyderabad. I don’t think I have the nerve to drive in B’lore though. It is horrible period.

So, after much deliberating on weather to order in or eat out, we decided to go to TGIF, Mr. SS promoted it as his own venture :). That is where we decided to brain storm on what to do next.

Get out of that zone!

After a while, we settle into our routine, mundane scheme of things that life as to offer.

And then, after really lot’s of introspection and insight, we realise we are in autopilot mode.

We need to be free. We need to feel alive. Even too much of chocolate can make you suffer,

Life needs to be sparkled with non-routine activities. So pack your bags up, and get on that road!

 

I admit, this particular post has been lying in my drafts section since ages, and I wanted to write about it so bad. Things have been popping up for me so “choc a bloc” that if I look back at what I did, and what needs to be done, the past few days look like a blur. It was good fun though!

Any ways, back to what I was saying.

Is your routine something in the lines of:

  • Get up an hour before going to work/school.
  • Hastily do the “absolutely essential” activities.
  • Reach office.
  • Get on the email backlog.
  • Do some “work”.
  • Status update on FB, smirk on someone’s FB status, frown on someone else’s 🙂
  • Eat.
  • Have some meeting with some random person.
  • Work some more.
  • Reach home.
  • Work out/watch TV/More FB?
  • Eat.
  • Pointless net surfing …..  till you zonk out and crash.

 

Seems like a very normal routine of things these days. I have been a victim to such a routine in the past. The worst part is that you tend to get this as a one off day, but it suddenly transforms into a vicious cycle, and then you feel so knocked out by the week end that you tend to sleep it off.

This was when I realised life was being pushy at me, and I needed a change of routine. Now I have had the fortune of always being in organisations, where I need not “check in” at a certain hour of the day and need to clock so many hours, to “justify” my salary 😉 . (OK, not an original. I quote)

Also, the luck seems to continue. Touch the wood.

I tried to push my arrival time to my liking, so that when I get up, I’m free to something from that time. I have tried yoga in that time, tennis, cooking hearty breakfast, keeping plants, doing some interior decor work. These activities make me feel that I am more than just a machine whose job is to punch out code.

Even a slight and subtle change, like taking a different (maybe longer) route to work can set you up for a tinge you’d otherwise find missing.

Try doing such a thing, and you’ll realise what I mean. So this is my premise for another thing which I’m proposing. Non routine activities give you that much needed whiff of fresh air. If it is something you fear, all the more better.

I got to hear today that “horizontal exposure leads to vertical success”. As in, when kids who are involved in multiple activities do better in life, because they are more equipped to do a multitude of tasks, rather than some one whose sole focus is developing one skill. Also, people stuck in a problem should shift focus to get a reset point of view of the problem.

Although, lot of examples and case studies were cited by the orator to support his statement, I felt the urge to dissect the reason behind the phenomenon. So I asked myself why the zing comes back?

I think I have a beat on this one. When we keep on doing something which we are good  at, and for most of us, it is what we call as “work”, we tend to do some basic things over and over again. In fact, I think, that’s what probably qualifies us as professionals. But if there is something fresh about a new activity we pick up, there’s that novelty. We might not be necessarily great at it. Better! You must have a fear value attached with it to get maximum. There’s the stepping out of your comfort zone. Certainly there is a challenge. It leads to triggering of those neurons which have been lying in the hidden closet and not invoked for so much time. Those muscles which have not been flexed. They might be rusty 🙂

So, what basically ensues is that the brain gets stimulated and my guess is there is a general sense of confidence and well being once we reasonably acquire that new skill. That might take your regular work on a upswing. Do try it.

Try anything.

  • You think you croak ?  Singing,
  • Two left feet syndrome?  dancing.
  • Bad stamina ? playing.
  • Like to eat, but can’t create ? cooking.
  • Need a mental spa? learn a new language.
  • Shy ? make new friends
  • Hesitant ? Ask that cute girl/guy from work out.

Do get out of your comfort zone! ….. whatever that catches your fancy, and you are somewhat afraid of the prospect of. You might suck at it, but you’ll improve, and not just in it. It’s the kick one gets that makes it worthwhile. Also, you never know, how good you actually are in that aspect. Human body and mind are amazing. Go stretch them out

Limitations lead to capabilities.

Coolantz is not tossing a curveball here. Neither has he lost it (yet). This (I mean the title) is a statement, which, without it’s premise sounds grand and has a “manager talk” kind of sound to it. It also sounds like the cliched phrases of the tune “less is more”. However, this reality dawned up on me at the simplest of situations.

One often finds pearls of wisdom at the most unexpected of places, and times. For me, usually that time is early mornings. There is something about them that I really crave for. Maybe, it’s my usually well rested mind that feels alive and it tells my mouth to curve up in a smile.

The reason to why I enjoy the mornings is still elusive as far as I’m concerned. I do not have a logical explanation to that fondness. I should not digress here, so I’ll get back to the topic.

Game, Set, Match!

I also like to play tennis in the mornings, and I’ve chanced to meet a team mate, who’s actually keen to play the game. Let’s call him Mr. SPK. Of course, there are people who get the gear, but never get to use it, but we’ll tackle them another day.

Mr. SPK is usually a very reserved kind of person, who keeps to himself, and always up to something at work. I think if he gets to have a bed at office, he’d be happy to sleep there. Jokes apart, one fine day he asked me if I’d like to play tennis with him. It was perfectly timed because I had tried looking for partners, with most random options, ended up playing with people having much superior skills (they must have got so bored), and people who were just beginning to get forehand up and going. One more week looking, and I would have given up.

We agreed to play at a specific time, and I realised SPK is quite decent with his forehand (much to my surprise, because he said he’s a beginner). After the initial few hiccups and self adjustments, we had good rallies, some nice serve points and serve returns as well.

Yesterday was a morning when it had rained (very early I guess, much earlier than my wake up time). The roads had the “washed up” look and from one whiff of the air you could tell, that dust had settled. Trees were greener, and the birds chirpier than usual.

When I reached the tennis court, the rain effect had also cause some water logging on the synthetic surface. As weird as the situation might seem, the only traces of water were in one side of the court. We decided to play half court. I was sceptical initially, but agreed on one condition . “We would only play a certain kind of shot”. No fancy serving or wild backhands please.

I have seen coaches enforce this kind of handicap on budding tennis stars, and I had always wondered why they do it. I had also formed a theory, on the lines of demand is more, supply is less. How naive of me! (Hey I’m just a kid)

Now that we were required to be more accurate, we actually became more precise. At the beginning it was hard to keep the balls from  spraying around, but once we got the feel, both of us played some interesting shots, down the line, and perfectly in control. It was being so focussed on straight shots that you improve with a restricted field of vision. By the end, we were hitting them hard, and hitting them nice.  That is when SPK remarked … “Limitations can lead to capabilities“.

A profound statement, which has depth, and I guess it’ll be never used in marketing strategies. I mean, who would want to say, “Our phone does not have an LCD screen, but it ensures a longer battery life” …. 🙂 . On follow up thoughts, where as this truth would not play well on things and commodities, it certainly applies to people. Imagine:

  • “She cannot cook at all, but she can afford to hire the best cook in town”.
  • “Our son might not be the best looking bloke out there, but he sure knows how to make you feel special”

Actually I don’t think any parents would introduce their son like that. But you know what I mean. 🙂

Symbian walking the thin line. Android, iOS or Win7?

It seems the time of usability amongst current cell phones, and the upcoming variants is declining at an amazing pace. Sample this, my phone usage trends :

  1. My first phone, a Nokia 3510 lasted me 3.5. years,
  2. The next Kyocera something was a bad buy, and was discarded in 2 months. Let’s just ignore this.
  3. Sony Ericsson w810, my family also got the taste of the same, and we still dote on it. I hated it at times, and loved it on other occasions. I had to move forward, but I used it for 2 good years. Still think, it was the best music phone (sheer sound), and best camera I have ever bought.
  4. Samsung i450. Nice phone, lasted for 1.5 years. Music library was ahead of it’s times. Sounded great. Camera was nothing to be proud of.
  5. Nokia X6. Loved ovi maps, ovi music, the 5MP camera and the touch screen. Have used maps to quite an extent. Very recently used to route my car through villages and highways. Certainly useful features, finding it difficult to live without these now. Of course, there was music !! Have been using this for 10 months now. This phone seems neither here nor there to me now.

 

Nokia took a tumble.

For various reasons. X6 has been falling short of expectations for me. Things seemed further exaggerated when it came to my knowledge that Nokia mail does not play well with Exchange server, which is the only way to access mails at my new workplace.

Symbian seems dated when it comes to integration with Social Networking Sites, and the videos that can be played on the device also need to be transcoded first. Another deterrent for watching a movie on the move. Also, I’ve seen the Music Library navigation on some of the Droids, and the omnipresent HTC Mozart :), they seem innovative. The UI seems extremely responsive and fancy.

Maybe I’m just jealous  when I see people around me juggling Social Networking and work while sipping on cold coffee in Barista! Maybe I think it’s useful. Who can tell?

I was actually quite content using my X6, heck I even found ActiveSync, and did get a way (albeit kludgy) to access Exchange server at work. The phone was not the most elegant in the past few weeks(lot’s of reboots, and countless task kills), and one fine day the phone gave up on me. Just a random day, there was no network!

There have been no physical tumbles around that time, although I admit, in the past I have been dropping my phone at a rate of one fall a month. To be very clear, these are the types of falls that result in the case opening, battery and the back lid popping and flying out in different directions! The gentle nudges/brushes against walls and other surfaces occur almost once a week. Fortunately, the touch screen has lived on.

 

I have no clue what might have gone wrong. Sure it was not a impact related problem. I used it to make some calls in the morning, and pocketed it. By afternoon, it was zonked out. Maybe, I was pushing my X6 too hard.

I’ve given it for repairs, and it still is under warranty. From what I know, a phone post repairs is not really as fit as it should be. It might work, or it might spring up more problems. Let’s see. It’s scheduled to be in the pit for 10 days. After that, if it works good, I’ll stick to it. If it makes me take it to Nokia care in less than a couple of months, I’ll be getting me a new phone. Probably an android, on Sony Ericsson hardware! Or HTC.

OK enough fantasising! I’ll see if and when it happens.

Update : Nokia care called me back in 2 days (instead of 10), and have provided me with brand new handset. They reckon the problems I was facing were due to a faulty motherboard, and thought it’d be better to change the entire phone. Looks like I’ll  be using my Nokia X6 for some time to come now.

Bringing on the good times.

Ever since I’ve moved into Malaysian Township, I’ve always wanted to fire up my kitchen and cook me a meal. Overcoming many a hurdles, like procuring a gas stove, obtaining a gas cylinder, I made it to the point where I could manage to make some snacks, breakfast and other absolutely essential things in the first week itself. But never had I cooked a meal. The reason ? Cooking alone is such a drab. Also, to make a meal, one requires small quantities of lots of things. I decided to play “the lazy bum”.

Then came the long weekend. The three day weekend, due to the south Indian new year. The one in which I decided I’ll stay at home and set it up, have the things ready to have my kitchen humming (or I could have gone to Bangalore). By the end of the day two, I had done most of that, and day three seemed like a perfect day to start cooking the meals.

There was an interesting set of developments though during that weekend.

  1. India managed to win the world cup on day one. (Yo… )
  2. My cousin had given birth to a perfectly healthy, and a very cute looking baby boy (Yipee… ) on day two.
  3. Day three was Ugaadi. It’s like a new year in South India.

By the end of day two, I was feeling so upbeat, that I decided that instead of having the kitchen off to a elegant but tame kick off, I’ll have it roar and start with a blast ! I decided to launch it open with a house-warming party which I had been planning around here and there. I invited some friends over.

In the morning, I noticed my in box had been buzzing with activity, and I was expecting a guest count of 10 people. Now the situation was such that I have never cooked for so many people. Also my last cooking adventure was a fiasco, and people wouldn’t touch my creation with a 10 ft. stick, because they feared it might electrocute them. So feeling a bit out of sorts, I decided to face my fears and do it. I could have ordered, but I promised these people I’d cook for them.

And I bit the bullet.

My plan to  the day was that I’d get the house thoroughly cleaned up by the maid, in the morning, after which I’ll get stuff to use, eat and decorate. Well, that day being new year, the maid conveniently decided to take it off (I was not even informed).

Never mind, I thought to myself. It is a big festival. To have the show go on, I decided to do the cleaning myself. Never mind the increase in effort here. There was the point when I realised that water taps had also decided to take a break. When I called the Facilities, I was told that there was some repair work going on near my block. (I was the marked man for the day 😉 ). With no definite time frame to have this work finished, my cleaning plans were thrown off track. I had to improvise, so I used packaged water to mop, and clean my toilets. Talk about vanity !!

After doing all that, I decided to focus on the main task at hand. I had to cook. I had decided to make “butter chicken” (A nice, spicy, rich indian gravy), for those eating non vegetarian, and “Kadhai paneer” (Cottage cheese in capsicum and onion mix) for people who were vegetarians. The ratio of non veg people to veg people got skewed big time to favour vegetarians as the new year was accompanied by some days called “Navratris” (Days of abstinence, Hindu version 🙂 ) .

I went out to get the raw materials. When I got back, I realised I was running late by an hour. Thankfully, to one of the guests, I had specifically told to be on time. I knew for certain the others would be running late, so I wasn’t really panicking. So this person, Mr. R.A shows up bang on time, and I explain to him the state of my current affairs. He was great and kind hearted, and he offered to make some “dal” (pulses), which I had decided that I’ll order. He started, and I must admit, hosting a party is always so much better with a co-host (sigh!).

Cruise mode on

With the presence of a friend (and he knew how to cook!). The things began to happen, thick and fast. We whipped out the gravy for the chicken, and I started to progress towards making the cheese dish, Pretty soon we were from tomatoes and onions to nice smelling puree. Also, exactly then other people decided to show up.

I suddenly remembered there was no booze in the house. Since I don’t drink, collect, etc. I’ve once used Vodka to effective use as a cleaning solution :). (Yeah, I clean toilets with packaged water, so this should not come as any surprise !!!) I asked this other friend, MR. RK and Mr. AA to fetch some things and whatever booze for me. They also obliged (I’m so thankful to both of them). Soon we had everything rounded up, and the music playing loud and nice. The atmosphere kept getting better, and we all chatted up nice and easy. These people belong to the same college as me, so we had that bit of common ground.

House full of engineers ! yay!

Endnote

  • My nicely laid out table and make shift coffee table were left unperturbed. The conversation was so engrossing that people did not bother getting up to eat. In the end, I decided to serve them on the floor itself.

    Table laid out, before and after

    Dining table.

  • When the food was eventually dished out and sampled by the connoisseurs :), I got a major thumbs up! So much so, that I affected one of the vegetarian guy to try it out. I’m not going to let the name out here, because we signed a Non Disclosure Agreement. My lips are sealed. Another emphatic embracer of Navratri routine decided to chuck the concept and he went at the chicken big time. :). I think I’ll put the picture of what was there on the serving dishes. It’ll give a better idea.
    Butter chicken

    Saluja ka dhabba - Butter chicken

    Kadhai Paneer - Saluja ka dhabba

  • The dal was made with a technique which I was not aware of till now. Now I am. It was good. End result : that was polished off too! Finally, the ice cream brought over by yet another of the kind hearted guest (Mr. TP), was consumed with as much vigour as one can exhibit.
  • In the end I think, the party went off quite well. We bonded, had a good time, and left happy.

    The king of Good times

 

I had a good time. The house might be nice and ornate otherwise, but with friends and people, it really comes alive. Here’s hoping we have many such events in the coming future. Cheers

 

BTW