Our trip to Hawaii.....

...was called off. Hawaii is crying it's heart out at not being able to welcome its ardent beach lovers. It has been two years, it sobbed and sobbed until it could barely breathe. Tell me who did this to you, it said, I shall throw pineapples at them. And that's what has caused the Pineapple Express storm, fiercely lashing Seattle, left, right and center. A cute little story to tell to a two year old, maybe. The trees behind my house are swinging wildly as if they are possessed by a ghost. The whoosh whoosh of the wind and the clickety-clack of the twigs and the tiny branches falling all over the deck and the roof has been our lullaby the past few days.

I watched Meryl Streep's It's Complicated during the weekend. It was alright. Could sit through it. Loved her acting as always, but of course cannot watch it again. Whoever said "Once is not enough" is clearly not talking about this movie.

I saw this beautiful kitchen on the Telly, with big windows bringing in bright sunshine, a huge island, shiny stainless steel appliances and stunning light-shaded granite counter tops. I might have just described the kitchen at our house. Yes, except that we have smaller windows, a smaller island and black granite counter top with shiny chips embedded on them. It's called Galaxy or something. It was all very attractive when we bought the house. And I though black was a great color as it would conceal all my slipshodiness on the days when I don't get to wipe the counters. Well, it looks fantastic and has certainly lived up to my thoughts. On the downside, it has made my house appear a little more darker. We are the sun seekers. We like the house to be brightly lit up by natural sunlight. So naturally, when I saw my dream kitchen, I said to A:

Me: Wow......what a beautiful kitchen.....
A: Hmmm.....
Me: So huge and bright and look at the decor.....
A: Hon, it obviously will be beautiful. It is in a movie.

Me: What? How can she marry him? She must be in her twenties and he in his fifties....
A: May be she grew up without her father.....sometimes when women don't have father, they like to be with someone older....

The spoon of ice cream still in my mouth, completely bewitched, I was staring at him, half expecting him to say something along the lines of "When in love, one is crazy". I heard a loud snort, instead. Phew! That's more like him. I almost thought I had married Sigmund Freud.


Me: Hon, you have to make dinner tomorrow night.......
A: Oh no!
Me: Just make something different and nice and hot and spicy......
A: How about this - Let's go out for dinner!


One night, A was busy looking up blackfriday deals on his laptop, and I was nagging him and driving him up the wall, as usual. He opened a new tab and ferociously typed http://www.dollhead.com/. Dollhead! Only he can come up with such names. Can you imagine? Someone with a doll's head, meaning having no brain. http://www.birdbrain.com/ would have been much better.


It's a habit to eat something sweet after dinner, every night. Not for me, but for A. Just a small piece, but he has to have something sweet. Dessert. So, one night, he opened the fridge and asked,

"What would you like to eat for dessert, hon?"
"Are you sure?"
"Yep....what about you?"
"Ummmm....I was thinking of Gulab Jamun...."
"Oh, okay!"
"...with Vanilla Ice cream..... and some gulkand..."
"Whoa! Where did that come from?"


So, we were watching Eat Pray Love and it just ended.
Me: "The movie doesn't have the same effect that the book has on you...."
A: "No, I like the movie!"
Me: "You like the movie, but you will love the book...."
A: "And you are Ketut?"

A snow day

A called at 3pm.
" I am leaving in 30 mins, baby. The snow is going to get worse and the roads are quite icy already.....everyone is leaving now....my bus is at 3:45...I'll see you soon."

"Oh cool! Be careful when you pick up the car and drive back home......"

Yay! A is coming home early, and the weather is below freezing and there is some potato sabzi left over from Alu Parantha. May be I can whip up some hot and spicy Alu Bonda. That with the hot n sweet Maggi sauce, will be an awesome treat, I thought. So I got out the sabzi from the fridge and warmed it in the microwave. I made up a batter with besan and went back to reading Michael Chrichton. I wouldn't have to get started with it until 4:30 pm or so, right when he would be home.

At 4:25 pm, A calls again.
"Baby, the bus just came....delayed because of the icy roads here....I should be home at least by 6:30pm"
"But it doesn't take more than an hour...."
"Yeah, but the road condition is bad....I must be there by 6:30.....will see ya soon."

Poof! My bubble burst. 6:30 pm is too late for an evening snack.....sigh. I curled up on the couch with my book, again.

At 5:30 pm, A calls again.

" What's wrong with your mobile? I am not able to get through to the land line.....have been trying for quite a while now...."
"Ummmm.....it has turned off.....needs to be charged..."
"Okay....am on I-5 and traffic is barely moving. The bus is so packed and there is no place to sit even. They have blocked the Express Lanes.....these f*@# heads. At this rate I think I won't get home for another 3 hours or so."
"Yeah....don't wait for me...have your dinner."
"I thought you are going to get home early and I got all excited and got everything ready for alu bonda......"
"Oh, that's okay dear....I'll have it after I get home."

I switch on the local news channel on TV and listen intently for any traffic updates. I called A at 6:45 pm.

"Hey, was just listening to the news...looks like some disabled vehicle has blocked three left lanes on I-5. No wonder you are stuck. I looked up the freeway traffic map and it is green all the way from UW....you should be here pretty soon."
"UW? But am no where near it. It will be another 30 mins by the time I get there....."
"Oh....I see some black and red patches before UW....I think you are stuck some where there...."
"Hey, House starts at 8 pm, don't forget to record it for me..."

At 7:30 pm, A calls to say it is all clear and he should be home by 8:00 pm. Ah, at last! I start watching House while having my dinner. At 8:00 pm, A calls again.

"Guess what? The bus is stuck in the snow outside Masala Bar n Grill. I will have to just walk it from here to the car...."
"But, that's too far! What if you slip?"
"There's no other choice, dear....I'll see you in sometime..."

After walking for a mile and slipping and sliding on ice, he finally made it to the car. He got back home safely in one piece. Phew! What a day!

And this morning, when I looked out the window, I saw

This and that.....

That time of the year. No, actually, much before that time of the year, when you wake up one morning, draw the drapes, look out the window and your jaw drops at the sight of fresh white snow that has been assiduously working on covering every inch of the ground with a soft fluffy white comforter. Only, it is not all that comforting. Sigh! It is going to be a very looooooong winter.

I have not been feeling very well and could not get myself to write a post or two. A lot has happened at my end. I'll summarize it here-

1. A does most of the cooking these days as am not feeling too well. I get to be picky and blame it on my illness. So, I would do the occasional, "This is not hot!" or "Too salty..." or "Bring it over fast!" and drive him up the wall. But, seriously, he is a much better cook than me.

2. Watched My Sister's Keeper. I had been dodging it for a while just because it is very tragic, but then I wanted to get it off my DVR, so thought, what the hell, let me just get over with it. The movie has touched a part of me and has almost left a scar. It was a lovely concept, but why make such movies? To remind people of what? To be happy with the wonderful life we are blessed with? To live each moment as if it were the last? Yes, I am really thankful to God for the lovely life I have. But I just don't like watching all the suffering. It was very disturbing.

3. I am reunited with Maggie Hot n Sweet Tomato Chili Sauce. I eat it with Alu Parantha, Dosa, chips, just about anything. Cheese and cracker, Chips with the said sauce, roasted nuts, buttered toast with jam and Boost are my favorite these days. Am becoming one of those weirdos.

4. A went to the Huskies Football game last week. I am not sure if he enjoyed the game, but he enjoyed the food and the booze. He had got these VIP tickets where you sit in glass enclosed booths. It is actually great for this biting cold weather.

5. I really look forward to Thursdays because I get to watch Big Bang Theory and S*#%t My Dad Says. So hilarious. And Outsourced is so silly but I like watching it.

6. Saturdays have a schedule of their own. A makes coffee and toast, we have a leisurely lunch at Mediterranean Kitchen, run some errands and get back home to watch a movie or two. What else can one do in this darn weather?

7. Looks like our planets have lined up in some rare favorable positions, because, we are winning things these days. Totally unexpected lucky draws.

Rest, later. I gotto go now.

Diwali ki shubh kamnayen!

Happy Diwali to all my readers! Being a party hopper is not that easy, I realized. Festivity and celebration was in the air from Thursday night, with lights put up everywhere. With Diwali during the Fall and Pumpkins stacked all over Grocery stores like huge balls of fire, I was inspired by Veggie Belly to make Pumpkin Halwa. It was a lot of work but quite delicious indeed.

On Friday, the official Diwali day, we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I know, quite a mockery, but we did not want to head out to an Indian restaurant and wait in the long line to be seated and then get crappy service, reason being big crowd for Diwali, and then grumble about the whole experience. So, Chinese it was. We went with some friends and loved the spicy food and the atmosphere. After dinner we went to the old, stinking Indian Movie Theater and watched Golmaal 3. The movie was rubbish, as well. I am not a fan of slapstick comedy. Um...no can't do.

It was also the weekend when we got to meet all kinds of people. My friend K was leaving Seattle for good and so, she had a going away party at her place. It was nice to meet Microsoftees, Ex-Microsoftees who finally realized they need to get a life, Deli owners, Technical Writers, Opera Singer, Stay-at-home mom and many more. I was a little overdressed for the party because I had another Diwali party to go to, right after. With my batik and highly ornate Rajasthani outfit, big hoop earrings, a beautiful necklace and an assortment of red bangles, I received compliments like "Very pretty..", but quite honestly, I must have looked a little scary to them.

Our next stop was a Desi Diwali Party. Lots of food, fire crackers and games and gupshup. We got back home past midnight. Sunday, there was yet another Diwali Party, at an ABCD's place in Downtown Seattle. More food, Bollywood Dancing and meeting a very different group of people. Now, I am done with parties. I am tired of the -

"Hi, I am so and so....Nice to meet you!"
"What do you work?"
"Where are you from?"
"Where do you live here? Oh, so far!"
"How do you like it here?"
"Miss your family?"
"Do you plan to go back?"
"Oh, you bought a house! Then, you are not going back!"
"How do you know so and so?"
"What's happening otherwise?"
Blah blah blah!

Oh no...not for a while, at least!

Happy Spook Day!

As usual, the weekend zipped by in a frenzy. Saturday was another gloomy day. We woke up quite late. Well, not that late, around ten to ten. Weather.com said Rain God was eager to shower his blessings on us, ruining every chance of a trip to Arboretum to see the Fall colors. Darn! Coffee in hand, A was browsing through the channel guide to see if there were any interesting flicks to watch and I almost decided that the best thing to do was to bury ourselves in thick, woolen comforters, turn the heater on and catch up on some zzzz, when my ears perked up at the Macy's one day sale ad! My mind was busy cooking up excuses to get A to go to the mall with me and then it struck me. Diwali!  I took him down a guilt trip. It is Diwali, and I haven't bought anything, I said. That was all it took. After a hundred trips to the fitting room and A rejecting quite a few of the very sexy outfits because they fit too snug or because they were a little too short or because they had huge black holes in the place of sleeves, we rounded off to three pretty subtly sexy dresses. Oh, I love Alfani's summer clothes line. After shedding a few calories and plenty of moolah, we picked up some seasonal veggies at TJ's and  drove to Italian Spaghetti House for dinner. Ever since we read Mediterranean Summer, daal chaawal is less sought after and spaghetti marinara is welcomed by a growling stomach and a drooling mouth.

And today is Halloween. Happy Spook Day! We look scary as such. Why put efforts to try and appear scary, we thought.

As am typing this, A is boiling water to cook Rigatoni and is having a seance with his seasonal friends, alias Asparagus and Brussels Sprouts. I am waiting for the man to create something magical with the sleight of his hand. Hmmmmm...Mario Batali has a lot to learn from him!

Cold gloomy winters are when....

I blame the weather to work from home.

it is gray all around me, as if someone mixed black and white water colors and splashed it everywhere.

we spend the weekend evenings at Fierabend. A and I would cozy up with our glasses of port and fries with curry sauce and chat endlessly of life and times.

the fireplace in the family room comes to life for most part of the evenings, making it warm and cozy.

I like soaking in tub than using the shower.

steaming hot Pho is preferred anytime of the day.

the stew magically cools down from a boiling hot, the moment the stove is turned off.

we socialize more. More potlucks and parties.

hitting the malls is the only form of Cardio I like to indulge in. I even freeze my Gym membership for a few months.

the restrooms in the malls play "Santa Baby...." and "Feliz na vida.....".

Coffee shops nestled in Bookstores get to see us more often. Coffee, scone and a book in hand is a favorite pass time activity.

Friday nights are usually meant for dinner and a movie. We hit the theaters and sometimes watch two movies in a row. A would love to camp there the whole night, though.

as though on bail, Mr.Monkey Cap is happy to leave the confines of the closet to see the outside world a few hours everyday, taking his place on my head.

We travel more. To places where we can see the sun. And the beach. Mostly Caribbean, Mexico or Hawaii.

Spaghetti and Tank tops retire for the season while much thicker, heavier, woolen clothes take their place. How I hate it.

even when we are freezing our ass off, the fan in the bedroom runs at full speed during the nights. The sound apparently lulls us to sleep.

everyone is happy. There is festivity in the air. Streets are brightly lit, everyone is shopping for gifts and the restaurants have a long line waiting to get in.

I love the different seasons - spring, summer, fall, winter.... but, I prefer the hot summers. I prefer spaghetti and tank tops. I prefer cold Mediterranean salads. I prefer the Lake to Ski mountains. I prefer a straw hat to the monkey cap. I prefer the Gym to the mall (for Cardio, I mean). I prefer relaxing on the deck to sitting by the fireplace. But I like winter too. I just hope it won't be a very long one.

What do you do in Winter?

Effervescent Earth

An Earth sign by nature, I have an infinite fondness for anything earthy and I am intimately attuned to the dance of Nature. The sweet smell of Earth after the rain, is intoxicating. So divine, it captivates my senses and brings with it boat loads of childhood memories.

I grew up in a coastal town in India. The beach was a hop, skip and a jump from my house. I would spend evenings on the beach, collecting shells, chasing crabs, playing Frisbee and watching the fishermen return after the day’s catch. October and November marked the Monsoon season. In the mornings, as my mother would tie my favorite twin pigtails, I would hear the pitter - patter of the raindrops. I would look out the window with big brown eyes and pray “Oh God, please let it rain harder. Let there be lightning and thunder. Please, flood the play grounds and cut the power off, if you can”. Most often, in the event of a heavy continuous downpour, the school would remain shut. I wouldn’t have to worry about the dictation for another day. But, as if God misunderstood my plea, the rain would stop. The skies would clear up. The sun would peep out. The only evidence of rain would be the scent of Earth, a little souvenir from high above. I would turn a deaf ear to my father’s offer to drop me at school and choose to walk the mile, just so I could infuse in the smell a little longer. I would look up at the sky, anticipating a rainbow, and would squeal and clap my hands in glee when I spot it. I would jump up and down, pointing to every passerby “Look! Look! Rainbow!”.

Rainy evenings were a boon to the old man who owned the soot-covered snack shop. People, including my dear father, would line up for his hot Aloo Tikki - potato patties fried until brown and crisp on the outside and soft inside. They are exceptionally tasty in damp cold weather. I would wait impatiently for my father to get back from work with packets of hot Aloo Tikkis. We would gather around the huge coffee table in the living room, while my mother would make hot Chai for us. Later, she would take me to the temple, to see the Peacocks dance.

With the warnings of an upcoming storm, my mother would take my raincoat and gumboots from the loft and keep them ready for the next day. I would complain that the raincoat was not pretty. “It is just a raincoat, dear. Whatever you wear, you are the prettiest”, she would say. My friends and I would walk through the flooded playgrounds, holding hands. The thought of falling into an open pothole used to terrify me. After school, I would make paper boats and make them float in a stream running nearby. I would take off my cap and dance in the rain, smelling the Earth all the way back home. Such innocence!

Be my reader?

It is the flu season and I am down with the contest flu. I am bitten by the contest bug, left, right and center. Or should I say smitten? I have written articles for two contests now and am working on the third. This is not due until Feb 2011, but a lot of effort needs to be put into this one and I am quite happy with how it's turning out. I have to write an adult fiction of 28 pages. The more I write, the more am inspired to turn it into a novel. I could try it as  hobby first. I am not ready to give up my job and pay full fledged attention to my book. If my readers hurl rotten tomatoes at me, I'll have something to go back to. After some Google research, I learnt that one doesn't make much by publishing a book. I mean, it certainly is not proportionate to the time and effort spent on it. But if that's what I love doing, I should give it a try.

Writing is a big part of my day to day job. That's one reason why I love my job. I am really happy with the career switch I made a couple of years back. But like other two legged mammals, I have passions, one of which is to publish a book. I have pulled the wool over A's eyes for years now - He believes I'll be a terrific writer. I have duped him into rolling in the dough while I appease my passions. But, I am not ready for another career change yet. Time just zips by everyday and it is increasingly tough to devote some time for my book - I am working on the second chapter now. Do I have to give up my regular day to day job to pursue my passion? Couldn't there be just more than 24 hours in a day to make things easier for me?

Some of the best ideas come to me when am sitting in a meeting. The other day we were talking about planning the content for the next version of MS-Office, when someone said "... that piece makes sense" and immediately, I was lost in an oasis, while people around me continued talking, thinking about an article that I could write on "Peace". Isn't that my favorite word? Should be, because, if I have peace, I have everything. Along with it would come happiness, satisfaction, bliss, bah blah. Just saying peace is so peaceful. I could title the article as What's your favorite word and tag all my fellow bloggers' to it. And, I'll remember to include Doves in my article, because they are the symbol of peace. Aren't they? Suddenly, J turned to me and said " What do you think, Shaan?". Shit. What do I think about what? What did the last person just say? In fact, who was the last one who just spoke? Everyone was looking at me, waiting for my response, as if I were the Judge in a court house, ready to read out the decision. I put on a face as if I were in deep thoughts about whatever was being discussed, and said, "hmm...sounds good!". I saw everyone smiling and felt a gush of relief flow through me like molten lava streaming through the volcano's vent. Phew! I lucked out.

May be it really is time for the career change, after all. Can I count on you to be my reader? Rotten tomatoes in the bin, please. Thank you.

By the Water Cooler

I wrote this post and called it "The Luau Episode". And then, I bumped into By the Water Cooler Contest on Parul's blog. So, I thought, why not submit this for the contest and change the title? So here goes:

This morning, strangely, I never felt the usual Monday blues. Instead, I looked forward to going to work, because, it has kind of been a long weekend for me, what with me working from home on Thursday and Friday. So, I was all set to go to work. To be honest, I was more than enthused, because, there was a Luau Luncheon that I had been invited to. You might ask, Luau and you? Are you sure? There is nothing more ludicrous than a vegetarian being all excited about Luau. What's in it for me, huh?? Well, it is fun to mingle, meet and greet, may be dress up a little and be noticed, isn't it? Who knows, I might bump into my recruiter who would jump up to me and say "Hey....Guess what? Someone has been reading your blogs recently and is pretty much convinced that you would be a bestseller.....yes! They want you to write a novel for them and you start right away! You can leave this programmer writer job behind and work on your book! You can work from home and they will publish your book...just bring in all the creativity! You might be on the shelves next year!....". I was in this state of abstracted musing, when I heard a Knock! Knock! that jolted me right back to reality. In a lickety split, I minimized Astrology.com's "Today's astrology for you" window, opened up the document that I was supposed to be working on, and in a calm and composed voice, said "Come in." The door opened and there was my boss J wearing a flowery shirt and displaying his thirty-two grayish teeth in an ear to ear grin. He needs a haircut, I thought. And a teeth whitening kit.

J: "Hi Shaan!"
Me: "Hi J! Wassup?"
J: "I was wondering..hmm..hmm didja...hmm...did you get an invite to this lunch at the Commons?"
Me: "Yeahhhhh, I did"
J: "Are you planning on going?"
Me (Hesitating a little, because am wondering why he is asking...is he going to say you can't go during office hours, stay put in your room!) : "Mmmm..yeah may be for half an hour or so..."
J: "Yeah, I want to check it out too.....but I don't have a car....."
Me (Wait a min....how did u even get invited to this? I am not allowed at your parties....how come you are allowed at mine? ): "Oh, I will be taking the Shuttle....".
J: "Oh, that would work for me too...."

Clearly, the food attracted J, like honey attracts a Bee. He must have made big plans of satisfying his growling belly with hearty pork, or, maybe the whole pig as such. And, as J doesn't know anyone at the Luau, he was seeking company. OK, Old man, I need a face to look at too, while are busy porking, and let that face be yours!

I hoped to leave at 11:00 am, but J had a meeting and we couldn't leave before 12:15 pm.We agreed to meet by the water cooler at 12:15 pm. So, we got into the Shuttle (not the space shuttle, just a cab that takes us from one building to the other) and trooped together to the Commons.  We talked about my work, his work, our work, my company and his company. Upon reaching, we took the elevator to the Luau area and were quite surprised to see a small hall and an even smaller crowd. The Old man was disappointed. He probably expected more crowd so he could hide while quietly tucking in all the food. All this exposure was not for him. During our ride together he did modestly agree that since they were providing lunch, he thought he might as well check it out. I am pretty sure, his wife doesn't do much cooking, given how busy she is with her knitting.

The hostess greeted us, gave me a flower garland (Aloha!) and showed us the way to the buffet. J piled his plate, while I was asking around if any of it was vegetarian. The woman gave me a Are-you-kidding-this-is-Luau look. The rice and the veggies, she said. Not bad, I thought and took a scoop of rice and poured a flavorless blandest curry over it and walked over to where J was sitting. J was having a 1-on-1 with Mahi Mahi, so I chose not to bother him. I looked around to spot my E-Rep or my recruiter, but could see no one. Sigh! What about my dream of bumping into my recruiter who would have some fab news for me? I took a deep breath and strutted to grab a Cookie, while J went for another round. OK, I sat and waited for him, chatting in between his mouthfuls. At last he was done and went to get himself a Cookie. We thanked the hostess for the great lunch. The kind woman, filled a glass with Cookies and a Candie and handed it over to me. Thanks, I muttered and we left.

J is actually a nice man. He has become the butt of my jokes, but he is not so bad. He is smart for his age (mid sixties, may be), bicycles to work in summer, his mom lives in a studio in Waikiki (ah, that explains the Hawaiian shirts he wears to work every day) and he visits her once in two years. Not much room, so I stay at the Hotel, he said. His son lives in Sacramento and is visiting with his wife this Christmas. His daughter races Go Karts, lives in San Jose and about two months back surprise visited them on her way to Canada for a race. We just had dinner when she called and said she will be over in half hour, he beamed. He visits his kids once in two years, driving down in the trailer that he recently traded in for a new one. See, I know all about my boss.

When we got back, he said the lunch was not quite what he expected. What did he expect? A huge banquet of grilled pineapples? No, that's what I expected, but he said it was just OK. I was taken aback, because, even after eating two rounds of everything that crawls, creeps and swims, he said it was just OK. Did you not like the food, I asked. He replied, "Clearly, it has been sitting there for a while..!!". Right, he probably thought he will have a personal chef who would start grilling as soon as he stepped into the hall and serve him right-off-the-grill-food. May be he dreamt about it all morning.....not a bad thought, though.

At the Waterfront

The Sun came out today, bright and beautiful. The afternoon was spent cruising through the arty town of Kirkland, waving to our usual haunts (SLIP, Cactus!, Cafe Happy, Sweet Cakes, etc), happy that they are doing well and haven't after all shut down in this ghastly economy. That's when we noticed Olive You. Wow, isn't this the same as the one in Downtown Seattle, I asked A. Must be, he said. We walked around to the front and realised that it has replaced Marina Park Grill, another of our haunts, where we happy houred a dozen times, sitting on the sidewalk, close to the lake, munching on their Rosemary Fries and glugging the Tequila with lemon juice. Sigh, one down, we thought. But Olive You looks like a good Mediterranean restaurant with an interesting menu including breakfast and plenty of veggie options. And it does have outdoor seating. So, much better!

We walked further to sit at the Waterfront and soak in the sun for sometime, when we saw this Indian, Hotdog chap. With his Hotdog stand right at the lake, he was trying his best to attract attention from the passersby. And he tried his luck with us."Haaat doggg!", he shouted. We smiled at him and continued walking. On seeing us, he must have thought, "These two look like vegetarians...", because, he immediately added, "I have whey geeeeee", meaning he has veggie dogs. His tone was so funny, I couldn't help giggling. That's great, but no thanks, said A. His accent was so addictive that we kept mimicking him the rest of the time.

We then strolled to the pier, looking at all the boats and the apartments standing right on the lake, when it became a little windy, and a couple on a boat asked A to give a hand in docking the boat. Can you tug the rope, please, he said and threw the rope over to A. All the muscles that he has built after his daily workout sessions at the Gym, were finally put to use. You must have looked like a Sailor to him, I quipped. Our next stop was at Cefiore. The plan was to have Coffee at Zoka , on the way to which we bumped into Cefiore which has introduced a new fat free frozen chocolate yogurt. I wanted to give it a try and so we went in. $3.75 for a small size flavored fat free frozen yogurt. They probably base their small, medium and large sizes on a Wrestler's appetite. Like, a small size is what he eats when he is not too hungry, medium is when he is hungry and large is what he eats after starving for days. We are no wrestlers and yet, dug into the huge small sized cup, polishing it clean. It was quite delicious. But the $1.50 pistachio gelato on a waffle cone that you get at Costco, beats everything in quality and price and of course quantity - there is just one size, three scoops on a cone and this will feed a hungry Wrestler too.

So, we walked a few steps and there was Zoka, waiting for us with outstretched arms ( doors more like), and we couldn't just walk away. Especially after we saw the sign - Coffee + Bagel = You, with a smiley face in the place of "You". All for $3.00. Peanuts, I know. So we went in (for a Latte minus the Bagel), A stood in the line for the Coffee and made me grab a table by the window.

It was casual and stylish and had a more Libraryish kinda feel. Lots of young people, early twenties probably, were sitting with their laptops and the slightly older ones (like us) were engaged in a one on one banter with their friend/partner. The smell of freshly brewed coffee was refreshing and so was the array of cakes and sandwiches to my right. And, the decor was very trendy. There were huge glass windows from floor to ceiling, on all sides and some paintings were hung above it. Huge cylindrical shaped pendant lamps hung all around the coffee lounge. Here's the coolest thing - the whole of Downtown Kirkand has Wi-Fi. That means I can sit at the Lake and log into my company network and work from lake, synonymous to work from home. I should try this some day.

The Flying Saucer

When you look at a world map, have you ever felt that tug from deep inside, to leave your foot prints on all the exotic places that are so far away from where you are? Like Tahiti, or the Cook Islands or Bora Bora...? Places that you recently watched on Travel Channel where Bourdain was nonchalantly moon walking and grazing, a bit here and a bit there, infused in the culture and the whole experience?  Have you? Because, if you have, you are going to love my invention.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, my love for traveling would be quite evident to you. Some day I WILL travel to the different corners of the world and write a book about it. Yeah the same blah blah and you most likely will hear this more often, maybe until I actually do it. I pity you my dear reader.

The one thing that I will invent is a Hybrid Flying Saucer, which will take me anywhere I want, including to the Moon and back ;-). Nah, that was an exaggeration. But anywhere on Earth, is fine. It will take about half the time that Airplanes take, and it will land right outside your Resort, if you please. Airports would become extinct like the Dinosours. Best of all, you don't need a Pilot!

So, imagine it is Friday evening and the weather in Seattle is crappy, I will hop on the saucer ( with my bag and belongings , aka A) and say "Flying saucer my pal, take me to Mauii" (In the tone of "Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful of them all?"), shut the doors and zoooooom! No hassle of tickets. Isn't that the coolest thing to own? I would get to see my parents at least once a month! When I crave a garlicky Shawarma or Falafel, I'll go to Lebanon, and when I absolutely want the best Gelato, A could take the Saucer to Italy and get me a pint sized Hazelnut Gelato. That invite to the fashion show in Milan, I will most certainly RSVP. What about U2 concert in London? Yes, yes, I will be there. I would after all be able to take that weekly personal Zumba session with my Spanish instructor who lives in Los Cabos. The only place that I won't be so keen on visiting would be Korea, given my short date with Kimchee that turned out to be a stinking disaster (pun intended). If you haven't read about what happened with Kimchee, it is here. I need all your sympathies.

If you read this, consider yourself tagged and write a post on "If you were to invent one thing, what would it be?". Please link me to your post in the comments here; I'd love to read it!

The Girl with the Gadget

This post is for Indiblogger's Share Life Constest. If you like it, please vote for it here.

Birthdays are when Julie metamorphoses into a naive, frivolous, dewy-eyed girl of four. Like a little girl, who at the dawn of Christmas, wakes up impetuously and races to the Christmas tree to see if Santa has after all brought the cuddly bear that she longed for, on her Birthday morning, the moment she opens her eyes, Julie is all agog to look under her pillow, to see what Zach, her love, has brought for her.

She wakes up all blurry eyed and tucks a hand under the pillow, rooting for the gift, but doesn't find anything. She had dreamt of finding a Vera Wang's Princess, in a fancy Sephora bag. Her heart that had filled up like a balloon, goes pop! Just then, her mobile starts ringing. It's her Birthday, after all. Some one's calling to wish her. She saunters to the brass bowl that holds her mobile, but in its place is a shiny, new, black and silver gadget. And, it is ringing! She picks it up. "Happy Birthday, Sweety!", says Zach. It is the One Touch Net Phone from Tata Docomo, all set for use. She has always eyed these smart phones complete with camera and access to Internet, and is stupefied at how thoughtful Zach has been. She gapes at it as if she has just spotted a Kangaroo shopping for groceries at Nilgiris. She lets out a squeal and does a little dance and narrates a break-up speech to her old mobile, "Nokia, it was good while it lasted. But it is time for us to move on. I now have a brand new companion. Am sure you will find a less techie person who will think the world of you. We'll continue to be friends, of course. Goodbye, now."

Relationship with your mobile is very similar to Marriage. You are all excited in the beginning, everything is rosy and you feel blessed to have all that you ever wanted. As time goes, you start noticing things that are annoying, things that could be improved to make life easier. But eventually, you accept the discrepancies and learn to live with it, only to discover that you are head over heels in love with him/her and just cannot live without him/her. Such is her story.

Julie is glued to this tiny gadget (I call it a gadget, because it is more than a phone) that has made the huge world a small place for her. She quickly sets up the Mail app with her Gmail and Yahoo accounts and her messenger is up and running. Easy-peasy. Notifications of new mails keep popping every minute - lots of wishes on her B'day. And, whoops....her sister is pinging her on the messenger! She wants to see how her new hair-cut looks. "In a moment..", Julie texts back. She quickly takes a picture of herself with the built-in camera and sends it to her sister. How cool. Now she can chat from the convenience of her Loo.

She fiddles with the Dive In services while the toaster is busy with the bread. She pick an image, sends a Thanks-for-the-lovely-gift card to Zach and starts downloading U2 songs, while nibbling on the toast. She switches on the FM and gets into the shower. How she loves this wonder device! She takes it with her everywhere she goes. In fact, her handbag has a special case just for the phone. And she wonders how she survived all these days without it. It is her soul mate.

It is a human tendency to always want more, and never be satisfied with what we have. After a few days of constantly using all its functions, Julie finds herself sighing and grumbling to her colleagues about what it can't do.

"You know, power went off the other night and I had to fumble with the keys on this crappy phone.....i wish there was a back light or something...."

"I noticed that there is no flash...can be challenging to use the camera at night...."

"The quality of sound from the speaker is good, but could be better....I was listening to FM this morning and it was all grainy...."

"Sometimes it takes ages to load a page...I was on burrp.com trying to find a coffee shop and it took forever to fetch the results....by that time I already reached the shop....WiFi will definitely make it better....."

And then her friend reminds her that for a mere Rs.5499 (in her case, a humble gift), she's expecting the Moon to be handed over to her on a Silver Platter. "You are right.....the inadequacies are nullified when compared to all that it can do....for instance, the other day..." and she start off, yet again, on its merits.

This is the best gift Zach could have ever given her. Even beats Vera Wang, for now, she has it all!

Sunday morning blues

Oh Sunday morning. The unofficial beginning of the week. I wake up to steaming hot coffee and place myself on the couch, not wanting to get up, ever. The stove in the kitchen is yearning to feel the weight of the hard anodized frying pan and the chopping board is all set for the fĂȘte champĂȘtre with its friends, namely, onions, spinach and potatoes. Today is the cooking day. I have to cook for the rest of the week and it can be a real pain in the wrong place when am not in the mood for it. I want to stick my lips out, roll on the floor and bawl like a toddler who's toy has just been snatched away." I don't want to cook!". Neither do I want to eat out. I want to be lazing on a sunny beach somewhere in the Caribbean, lying in a cabana, listening to the waves splash, sipping a lemon drop and letting the masseur use her arty fingers to shoo away the stress built in me. Boy, that sounds fabulous. OK, let's get realistic. I got to go now. Kitchen's calling. Ciao!

Me? A good neighbor?

Now, that depends on who my neighbor is. Ha ha, ha-di-ha. My conversation with my neighbors would go something like this:
"Am sorry, I won't be able to look after your pets when you are away. My house is not pet-friendly. Neither am I."

"You want me to watch your child for a few hours tomorrow? Sure....why not? Just let me know when the babysitter will be in and I'll drop by your place and watch them both ;-)"

"Thanks for dragging the trash can back to the house.....just that it is not mine.."

"Well, Hello! Did you just move in? Welcome to this neighborhood!...That corner house, huh? That's my favorite house in this community.....a mad woman used to live there before...she was upto all ugly stuff....but, enjoy your home!"

"I think my son knocked off your potted plant...I am so sorry for him,...thank god, he didn't get hurt. It was an old pot..."

"Oh, so you are from Seoul! The land of stinking kimchee, right??"

"Hey there, it's been a while since we met! Why don't you come over for Coffee? Just get the Espresso that you usually make, I have the mugs, so don't worry about that. And a couple of slices of Coffee Cake will do...How about 4:30pm?"

"We are throwing a party this weekend...at your place! You are invited, but it is OK if you can't make it. We totally understand. Just make sure to order the Pizza before you leave."

"I watered your plant every single day while you were away. Glad to help. Didn't realize that it needs to be watered only every other week.....poor thing is washed out...."

"This package is for you, I picked it up on the way...So, Rogaine seems to be working, huh?"

Desire Disclosed

Few months back, copies of Eat, Pray, Love were up for grabs - stacked in the book shelves at Libraries, but no one cared to borrow one. They were scattered - like the million stars on a clear sky, bright and shiny - hoping to lure atleast one ardent reader. On the contrary, it turned out to be a fruitless effort, because, I (and few others like me) merely glanced at it and thought "no, not that sad sad book...no...can't do" and walked past to grab the latest of Jackie Collin. But now, like the California gold rush of the 19th century, people (including me) are flocking from far and near to get hold of a copy of the darned book. There's not one copy in the Library that I could borrow. Something like, the book is now getting back at all those poeple who ignored it. Fine, so be it. I decided to place a hold and wait for it, infinitely, if that is what it takes. I was the 700th in the wait list of 70 holdable copies and that means, I'll probably get one same time next year. But, it wasn't so bad. Three months later, it was my turn.After flipping through a page, I asked myself why I didn't even consider reading it once before?

The book is fully loaded with massive sentimental and emotional stuff, but I like the way Liz makes even the most dire and hopeless situation bring a smile on your face. The onset of an emotional downpour is swept away with an impromptu breeze of humor.

The time she spent in Italy was a much needed one, from what I can see. She was brave to give up everything she owned, pack two suitcases and leave for Italy, where she had no clue what she would do, other than learn Italian. She ignored the mind and followed her heart to fulfill the epicure in her that longed to speak Italian like a local and eat to her heart's content.She found comfort in pastries, gelato and double cheese pizza. And apparently, following your heart is ultimately the best thing to do, for you won't have any regrets in life.

Most often, it really is a blessing to make friends with strangers who know nothing about your past. The painful details that you want to forget and move on is forever buried. Best of all, they never know anything, so it is a fresh start for you. Imagine you were dropped from high above, somewhere from Heaven, or Hell more like, and you landed on this strange place and you don't want to talk about what happened in Hell, ever again. Period.Your old friends (in Hell) know what happend to you, and even if it is never discussed, you seem to read their silent pitiful gazes, making you want to take off to some place where there are no other humans but just you and one other person who has been with you through the sufferings and without whom you could never have survived even one day of the million devastating days that just went by. Of course, if your are single, you just want to be alone. That is exactly what Liz did. Went to Italy where she knew no one and started afresh, exploring the food, culture, language and making tons of friends.

I want to travel to Italy too. I didn't go through a break up or anything, for I am happily married. I want to do it because I love travelling and I love writing and I want to write about my days in Italy. The food. Just the thought of it makes me want to leave NOW. Two days in Rome, One day in Naples (Just for the food), One day in Florence, One day in Bologna and 2 days in Venice. Then, I want to cruise or atleast drive along the Amalfi Coast, exploring all the teeny tiny coastal towns.I want to eat the local food. Chocolate Pizza to start with. Before that, I have to learn to speak some Italian and lose atleast 30 pounds. Imagine all the work involved. But, it's worth it!

Yet another outfit!

A couple of days back, I found a great background for my blog that reminded me of the indelible times spent at Siesta Key beach, and I thought it would be apt for my blog, as after all am a beachbum. But then, there was this thought lurking in the corner of my mind that said my blog looks too plain. It is colorful, but very plain. It needs to be more arty. More eye catching. I rooted around for a template that would quench all my finicky demands. And I found this. So, I changed the template, yet again. To clarify - this does not mean that the time spent at Siesta Key Beach didn't mean anything after all. I would do anything to go back there again :)

How do you like this new outfit I have adorned my blog with?

Of entertaining guests - Sep 25-26

There are those weekends that are meant for shopping. Then there are those other weekends that are meant to just hang out, in the sunshine, at the beach or at the Pile place market, sampling food from all the tiny holes in the wall and clicking pictures of every little thing that catches the eye. And then, there are those other weekends that are solely meant for guests. Entertaining guests. And the last weekend was one such weekend. The whole week was spent in cleaning the huge monstrous house. No, I take that back. I love my house. So, I'll call it the huge lovely house. Then the menu was planned and lists of things to buy were made. Thursday was devoted to shopping for the said things. And Friday the marathon started.

I had invited K for lunch at noon. Just me and her. I made Pav bhaji and kande batate pohe. For dessert, she sampled the Jamun and little bit of the pista roll. She brought me a lovely gift from Lebanon. A pen holder stuffed with Malban. I was so excited! It has been so long since a friend has given me a gift. Of course I don't have any real friends now, where I live. And I in turn gave her the rose syrup that I had specially got for her from India. Boy, was she thrilled!We chatted about everything from work to interviews to her car pool buddy to the light rail system to holidaying in the Mediterranean. Wow...maybe we should do this more often.

Friday evening, P & S came over. We had planned a cook and eat biriyani night. P is a champ in making Hyderabadi Biriyani and we just decided to get together and cook and have fun. And, we made Mirch Ka Salan too. I finally learnt how to make the awesome biriyani and it is not that tough! The guys volunteered to make the Dessert -Icream Sundae : fruits, honey, nuts and Vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, we took a break and headed to IKEA. A won a free lunch at Punjab Sweets and so we hand lunch there. It was a great day and the plan was to go to Alki Beach in the evening, but it got really late and we had to do other groceries for the next week. We got back home and watched We are family. And dinner was the left over Biriyani.

On sunday, E and his mom came for lunch. I made veggie puffs and kande batate poha for them. Pav bhaji was already made. The lunch was great. They totally loved it. A made the ice cream sundae, this time just rose syrup, honey and nuts on vanilla ice cream. It was fantastic!

Now, tell me, don't I deserve that week long vacation on Amalfi coast?

Productive Weekend Oct 2-3

It is hard to believe it is already Monday and am at my desk sipping Coffee, munching on my Perfect Zone snack bar and juggling between various windows on my computer. What an amazing  and productive weekend it was! On Saturday, we were woken up at 7:15 in morning by the shrill ring of the telephone. The DISH network guy was calling to say that he's on his way to our house.What?? It is after all not even 9:00 am, the onset of civilized hours for us on weekends. But A was very eager to kick Comcast off and welcome DISH, and was delightedly conversing, giving him the directions to our house. He'll be here in 15 mins, said A. Oh great! We brushed our teeth and A went down to the kitchen to make Coffee. That's how it is at our home - A makes Coffee every morning. And, on weekends, he makes special frothy Lattes and I look forward to it. We usually sit with our Coffees and engage in small talk until A has the urge to.....you know. But on that day, just when he took the mugs out of the microwave, the doorbell rang. Great! Now, the DISH guy has ruined my chances of a cuppa Latte as well. By 10:00 am he was out and we had DISH. Finally. We had lunch at home and left at quarter to 1:00 pm to return the Comcast box and terminate the connection. Then we went to the Apple Store in Alderwood mall to upgrade the iPad to the 3G version and then the fun began!
We drove to Alki Beach. It was nice and quite for a change. We walked the long stretch along the beach, ogling at some beautiful beach houses and colorful flowers that were all over the place. We looked at the Happy Hour menus stuck outside the bars, but controlled the temptation to perch our ass at one of the tables and indulge ourselves in reckless eating, as we had plans to dine at Ephesus. A booth and candle light for no occasion at all. How I love these little pleasures!

On sunday, I made spicy bisibele bath for lunch. We got a new area rug for the family room. A light golden color, it perfectly accents our home. We took turns fiddling with the iPad and installing all the cool apps. And then, some more cooking - mirch masala for the rest of the week. End of day. Hello Monday! And back to work.

Festive Oktober

October has certainly began in a very festive fashion. I hope it will turn out to be a very lucky month for me and A.
Last evening, A got me a surprise. I completely failed in guessing what it would be. For one thing, he'd brought it from his Office and it was in his bag. In most cases,  it could only mean that he has got me some sweet treat, like a European Chocolate or a Turkish Baklava or the American Pumpkin Pie and so forth. On occasions like B'days or V-Day, he strolls to Sephora (near his Office) and surprises the epicure in me with the most sensual perfume on earth. So that's the thing - There's no occasion in October, unless I have two Bdays :). So I gave up guessing. He asked me to go upstairs while he took the thing from his bag. I was sitting on the stairs with my face in my hands, when I heard him ripping something with a knife. When it was all ready, he asked me to close my eyes and go to the love seat. OK, I can't walk when I close my eyes. I admire the blind, but I stood rooted to the ground and was escorted to the couch. Under one of the cushions lay the thing........
I took it in my hands and saw the picture of a gray apple with a bite taken out of its right side. And then, the letter i. My eyes refused to scan further, but my brain knew it! And then I saw the letters i.p.a.d!!!! I gasped and covered my mouth with my fingers as if I had just seen a dead body.
The first thing I uttered was , "What are you saying? iPad ?? OMGGGGGGG!!. I can't believe it! You got me an iPad? What...I....You got it delivered to your office?" And then, our man, A, says with a straight face, "I won it." Another loud gasp erupted from me, followed by squeals and hugs. For the next five minutes or so, I was clapping my hands and jumping with joy. What luck!! Totally cool. I think this day will be captured and saved as those Moments. And, can you believe it? A won it, but very humbly gave it to me! He might be the next Dalai Lama. So, in an effort to learn from Him, I have decided to loan my Compaq Netbook to him for a few hours everyday. How nice of me, I know!

It was a beautiful day today.K and I rented bikes and biked all the way from Log Boom park in Kenmore to UW and back. The trail runs along Lake Washington and was a very picturesque sight. Beautiful homes made the ride more worthwhile. I just have one complaint. All the bikes for rent suited left handers. It took some time to get used to it and the N number of stop signs were a pain. We covered 20 - 24 miles in 3 hours, took an hour's lunch break by the fountain at UW and talked about all sorts of things. It was amazing. I think everyone in Seattle must do this atleast once. In the end it left us happy and with a pain in the butt. Now I know - when someone calls me a pain in the butt - what a pain I must have been! Ouch!

I treated my blog, with a new makeover!

My blog needs a new makeover. Something different. I found this beautiful background that instantly reminded me of that bright and sunny day at the Siesta Key beach. Pearl white, soft and silky sand that never sticks to the body and the beautiful blue shallow waters where we could walk deep into the sea are two luxuries we never experienced anywhere, including Hawaii! In my opinion, it is the ultimate beach destination (so far...may change after travelling to Mexico or Carribbean) to unwind and relax.
If someone asks me now, "Which is the best day of your life?", I have an answer!
On that day, we became a few shades darker and many times happier! Unforgettable!

The travel bug

Note : I wrote this more than a month ago. I don't understand how I could not have published it right away. May be the bug blinded me. Now read on...

Travel and food are my two great obsessions right now. And they will be, until doomsday. May be 20 years from now, I will set out on a world tour with A. We will travel at our own pace with no discreet plans. We will stay at a given place however long we want to, take in the culture and food, and move on when we have seen them all. Ah, sounds like the perfect thing to do. At least I have something to look forward to. And we have 20 yrs to save up on all the cash. You know, may be I will write about my travel from each place I visit and get my books published. And may be, someone will want to make shows out of it. Kiki's Odyssey or something.Now, I am in reverie, no doubt. Or maybe someone is planting this idea in me. Oh no! Somebody kill me or I'll never wake up! Crazy Inception. Alright, jokes apart.

The main reason for this post on travel and food is my conversation with K last evening. K is visiting her home country, Lebanon, for a family reunion. It so happens that A and I have an addiction for Lebanese food. We absolutely love the shawarma, hummus, muhammara, toum, zara, dolmades, falafel, baba ganouj, batinjaan and baklava. The way they infuse rose water and date syrup in their food is fascinating. So far, we are quite sated with Mediterranean Kitchen, but, traveling to the land of toum to experience the food and culture is not a bad idea, no? Yes, some day when the situation is more peaceful.
So, my conversation with K went something like this:

Me: So, it is a reunion, correct? Will you be staying with your parents?
K: Yes. I will be at my parents' place. My brothers will be flying in from Connecticut, Germany and Dubai with their families.
Me: oh nice....which place in Lebanon?
K: It is north east of Beirut....in the mountains. It used to be our vacation home when we were growing up. We lived in the city back then.But in the early 90s when the war erupted, we moved to this more rural area as it was very safe.(Laughs) We were brought up in a rural area.
Me: Interesting....is it safe now?
K: Yeah, it's much calmer now. No bombings and all. Beirut is a lot better.
Me: Hmmmm....
K: It is very nice in the summers.....the beaches are awesome (Now, I absolutely MUST visit)...you can swim!
Me(wistfully): So, will you be eating shawarmas all day?
K(laughing): Yeah, I love the food too. I can get you some when I get back...oh but, we are not allowed to carry it on the flight....
Me: Nah...I was just kidding...
K:The first thing I like about Lebanon is the Baklava - the rose water and pistachio sprinkled ones...ummm can't wait.
Me(listening wide mouthed)
K: The second thing I like is Jellab - a drink made of date syrup with pine nuts floating on top.....great for hot summers.....
Me: We had that at a restaurant in Miami....awesome!
K: The third thing I like is the cool summer nights....there are plenty of sidewalk cafes and you can sit there for hours eating all the delicious food and chatting up with friends and family.....i really look forward to doing all that again.....
Me: Sounds like a dream vacation....we want to travel to the middle east too....Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon...and Greece and Turkey in the mediterranean.
K: Sure...let me know when you are going and I can also travel at that time and show you around.
Me: Thank you, that's nice of you......So, do you speak Arabic at home?
K: My mother is German. So, we speak a mix of German, Arabic and English. Sometimes, French too!
Me: How interesting....you know so many languages...
K: Yeah, but these days I can express myself better in English than any other language.....so I speak English with them...You know, I compare the Lebanese people to the Southern Californians.....
Me: Really? How so?
K: They give more importance to how they look, their clothes, flashy cars....each one races to look more prettier than the other....
Me: And they really look beautiful, don't they?
K: Yeah....there is this street where people keep walking up and down just gazing at others....staring, more like. Some people drive very slowly in there shiny cars just so others can see them and in turn, they look at other people who are flashyly dressed.....I don't know if I can call it people watching....because it is not a casual act, but more deliberate..."people staring" may be...
Me: Ha ha ha....

The good news is I am down with the travel bug. And I am sure no one can yank me out of it...not even Dr.House!

"Kimchee?? No, thank ya!"

Oh, puhleez.....don't remind me of that. I have a Korean neighbor. She's a very sweet and friendly lady.I ususally get to see her when am at the kitchen sink and she is at her's. That's because our houses are adjacent to each other and our kitchen windows are kind of parallel to one another.With hardly any friends around, I perk up when I see her and display my best wide toothy grin and wave to her, hoping she would gesture to meet out on the deck to strike up a conversation.But alas! She couldn't take my peeping anymore and decided to block the window with curtains.Now, I hardly get to see her.

On one of those curtainless days, we grinned, waved and met outside on the deck. Communicating with her involves a lot of hand movements and brain usage in trying to interpret what she is actually trying to say. So a five minute conversation usually lasts for about twenty minutes.At the end of which she said:

Korean: "You...know....kimchee?"

Me: "Kimchee? Yes, I've heard of it...."

Korean: "You like kimchee?"

Me: "I don't know, I've never eaten it..."

Korean (gestureing with her hand): "Come come...I give you some...come."

A hop, skip and a jump later, I was in her kitchen. I made some fresh kimchee today, she said. She opened the fridge and removed huge containers filled with kimchee. I asked her if that was vegetarian and she said "Yes...radish....you like?". I wanted to be polite and said, "Yes". Big mistake.Poor thing, she filled a big take out container with generous helpings of kimchee. I thanked her and told her she is the nicest person I have ever met and hopped back home.

I thought A would be delighted to see all that Kimchee, but he made a face and said "Kimchee???" I opened the box to taste some and I was engulfed by the strangest smell ever. Something horribly sour made me gag. I imagined it would taste like rotten cabbage mixed with bat's barf and tossed it all in the bin. I usually don't like to waste food, especially when there are millions of people starving and struggling for a day's meal, but Kimchee is a big no no. The smell is enough to drive me away from earth.If I were standing on the edge of a cliff and you brought kimchee near me, I would be more than happy to dive down, which I wouldn't do otherwise!

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Dr.House and The Watermelon episode

Last night, we cozied up on the couch, watching amorous House and Cuddi. For a change, it was something completely unpredictable. I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it ended on a sad note. See, I don't like that. I got too carried away and then I was heartbroken. Sheesh...I am acting as though I was Cuddi in flesh and blood.

 And The Event! It has replaced 24 ( or has it?) and I loved that as well. St.Lucia was a treat. It is funny how A is engrossed in the story, while am oggling at the location :). We make a pair, don't we? I know where I want to travel to in the near future ;-).

And then, it was time to pack our lunches for the next day. Watermelon, grapes and yoghurt for me, and, apple, pluot, black bean patty and yoghurt for A. A got ready with knife and I dutifully handed him the chopping board. When he was halfway through, he hurried to the sink with the chopping board, muttering that it smelt of garlic and how he hates it. To be more clear, he loves garlic, he just doesn't like how the smell refuses to leave its presence. And to make it worse, I took a bite of the chopped fruit and said, "Ewww..it tastes of garlic..." and he was like "I told you!!". In no time, "Roasted garlic, uuummmmm!!" became "Stupid garlic!!". The chopping board was thoroughly washed. But the smell was as stubborn as A. He gave up and decided to chop it directly on the granite island. With all the juices flowing out, it was a mess....Sigh! Now, the next time I see a chopped water melon at the grocery store, I will SURELY go for it!

Of truffles and chocolates..

The weekend was fun. Saturday saw us volunteering at the New Horizon kitchen, making burritos for the homeless. Atleast, one good deed a month. Lunch was at In the Bowl bistro, more on the experience and food will be on my food blog shortly. After lunch, we were at Pike Place, wandering through the Post Alley and the rest of the market, sampling and checking out exotic stuff like truffle salt! Yeah, that was a good find. Certainly improves the taste of the food and is very expensive. A teeny tiny bottle is $19.99.....No, thank ya...I don't need you, truffle. I would rather get myself the scarf that I have been eyeing for quite sometime now. Some funny moments:

A: "Hey, that's the Russian bun shop!!" (He meant Phiroshky)
A: "Baby, look at the sticky buns....not like the ones you have...."

Then we made a brief stop at Chocolate Box aka Chocolate Heaven. The plan was to load myself with some comforting soul food (i.e. chocolates), but it was quite odd that I was craving for something refreshing, something tropical and so, I chose a mango gelato! A sent me off to the car as we were about to exceed the parking hours and in the meantime, thoughtfully ordered a mini chocolate eclairs for me. "You cannot go to Chocolate Box and not eat Chocolate!", he said. Oh very sweet, isn't he? Like they say, little gestures make a big difference. I felt happy, as if he'd got me a diamond!

We got back home after groceries. A baked a pizza ( frozen) and we ate the left overs from In the Bowl while watching Dabangg. After that, another movie, Peepli Live at S's. On Sunday, cooking, more groceries and in general other house work...evenful weekend, i must say.

Weekend - Aug 14th & 15th

The trip to India is just a few days away. The weekend was spent in some last minute shopping, packing and cleaning up the house.

On Friday, I worked from home. I went to the Latin Heat class at the gym with K. Totally awesome. From there I went to Kohls and did some shopping for myself - jeans, tights and intimates.I made sabudhana upeet and sabudhana kheer. I know...just wanted to finish the packet.We had that for dinner and A watched Book of Eli, while I dozed of on the couch. We usually sit on the love seat and I perch my legs on him.

On Saturday, I made cucumber sambar and cabbage bhaji.We had lunch and went to Costco. We finally got a Dyson Vaccum Cleaner that is fantastic. We then went to Walmart for some more shopping -table cloth, hose pipe et al.Final stop was at Central Market for tuti fruiti, for the cake that am going to bake and take with me.A was pulling out the weeds in the garden while I made patatas brava for the evening. We sat on the floor at the table in the living room and chatted about work and stuff over tapas while cafe del mar was playing in the background. For dinner we baked the costco pizza and watched mundinam paarthene.

On Sunday, I made the tofu sabzi and we had lunch. After lunch, we started packing. After packing, we vaccumed the house.It was 6 pm when everthing was done. A flash fried cauliflower for dinner.Very eventful weekend.

Yesterday, I went to Vain and got my 15 min free trim done. Followed by a 3 mile walk on the trail. Today am meeting Katia for the walk. I am yet to hear about my interview.God, I wish I get it. I will spin, twirl and do a little dance.Heck, I will do something more. Will tell you, if I really get it.

We are really excited about the trip.Bags are packed.Lists have been made. I means lists of places to eat at, places to shop at and things to buy.All we need to do is have fun! I will write more from India. I am taking my laptop with me and will keep updating from time to time with pictures, lest I lose track of all that we did.

Wish me a happy journey! You take care and will see you in a bit!

Weekend - Aug 6th, 7th & 8th

The past weekend (Aug 7th & 8th - I am quite late in publishing this post) was quite laid back. I had a long day of interviews on Friday(8/6/2010). I was excited that the interviews went well and at the same time exhausted. I wanted to think of something other than the interviews and eat, drink and be merry  during the weekend. But all I could think of was the interview. I kept reminiscing everything that happened during each interview and was justifying why I thought I would or wouldn't get the offer.

Friday evening there was this surprise birthday party for S arranged by his wife P at Bothell Landing. We got home, changed and went to FM to get some gift for the birthday boy. An idea struck me, like an apocalypse, to get him a portable grill. A wanted to get him the charcoal grill, something to do with the taste, he says. We reached the park at 10 minutes to 7pm and yet there was no one. Finally the couple got there at 7:20 pm. And with them came boat loads of food. Man! It was like a wedding feast. We played badminton and frisbee. Other people trooped in after few more minutes. Corns were barbecued and the cake was cut at 8:20 pm. Chips with guacamole was devoured. Everyone jumped straight to the main course - roti, chole, biryani, soy bean pulao, raita, mango custard, and some other non veg stuff. I stopped when my stomach took the shape and size of a volley ball. Finally, the leftovers were packed into ziplocs and car was reloaded with the rest of the stuff. We got back home at 10:30 pm. Tired after the long day, we just hit the bed.

On Saturday, A had work to catch up with. We made tofu noodles and had it with the tofu bowl that A brought back from his lunch the previous day. We went to Lucky Strike for a game of free bowling with S and C. Courtsey, some coupon off slickdeals for the national bowling week. After the game, we did the usual groceries and got back home at 6:45pm. S & C had called us over for dinner. Soup, Pasta, dumpling, soy nuggets and root beer float! I know, I stuffed myself again. And then, we watched Tere Bin Laden with them.

On Sunday, A caught up with the rest of his work and we did some more groceries and cooking for the next week. Bharwan karela, palak sambhar. Plus, a lot of left overs. Now you know why I diet during the week - I make up for it during the weekend.

Eat, Cook, Eat!

When I was sitting in the bus, on my way to work this morning, I was thinking about how fast the weekend went by. Wouldn't it have been nicer if it were a day longer? What did I do this past weekend? Cooked, ate, cooked and watched movies. Honestly. Thinking about it makes me wonder - Won't we ever get tired of eating? Such was the weekend.

On Friday, we made Paneer in Schezuan curry using Ching's Gourmet Sauce. This, because, we had left over Paneer from the Dinner with the Woodys', and we wanted to use it up before our big trip two weeks from now. It turned out absolutely yummy. A has this new found love for the numbing peppers and demands a handful of freshly ground numbing peppers in any Chinese dish."Throw it in, baby!", is his new punch line. And he panfried the dumplings from HMart.Great dinner, no doubt!

 For a change, we had dinner at the table instead of the usual buffet style in front of the huge TV.

That, with brown rice.

We ate to our heart's content. After dinner, we watched The Wolfman. Sometime in the middle of the movie, we had a Root Beer Float. Another addiction from the dinner with the Woodys'.

On Saturday, we had tickets to The Inception. So, we had a brunch at home before heading to the theater. And, it was roasted Veggie and Black Bean Tacos. So delicious!

Why would we want to eat the same at a restaurant when we can make a much better and healthier one at home ( Organic and all)? Especially, when we enjoy cooking as a team, it is hardly a burden.

That night, A made Egg curry

and cooked up the frozen paranthas (another leftover from the dinner with the Woodys')

and I fried Lotus root, in the Teapot style. Excellent!

And we watched another movie -Singam. It was just a timepass movie.

On Sunday - Radish sambar,rasam,Bhendi (Okra) sabzi and pappadum for lunch. In the evening, I made aloo gobi, for the rest of the week.There is enough leftover and variety to last for the rest of the week!

I think this is what fasting and studying does to a person. I had been studying for this Interview the whole of last week and have been on a strict diet the entire week - only fluids and veggies and beans. No rice. No bread. No pasta. And it has worked amazingly. I lost 3 pounds in 3 days! I have 9 more to lose.Am back on my diet from today.
Though we have been cooking a lot and eat a lot of variety, it was in normal quantities. I don't think we overate. Except for that extra scoop of ice cream on Saturday. But I guess indulging once in a while is OK. Let me see how this week goes!

Dinner with the Woodys'

The last weekend was lovely. I was kind of busy half the time and the other half, I was just doodling away, indulging in idle banter with the good man Himself.

The weather was beautiful and for a change, it was nice to do nothing but just unwind. On Saturday, the Woodys' came over for dinner. The dinner was fab and they loved it! Totally. The day was spent in preparing for the guests, and that usually means, cleaning up, making sure there is enough cutlery for the family of five plus two (that is us) and adding my final touches to the Banquet (if I may say so) with the lasts of garnishings and tasting. Not even a little spicy, warned A. Keeping that in mind, we decided on the creamy paneer butter masala and a mild and flavorful daal made out of black-eyed peas. Paranthas were stocked in the freezer and needed to be cooked just before dinner. And, yes, Jeera Pulao was the other mild entree that I could think of, next to plain rice, of course. What about the appetizer? "How about Chaat? We can make Sev Puri. No spice at all.", I said. A agreed it was a good idea. Onions, potatoes, cilantro, tomatoes were chopped, the green chutney and sweet chutney whipped,  and A with his oversized faded T-shirt made the perfect street Chaat Wala. The only thing that lacked was the sweat trickling from his brows. Yuck! I know.

The  Woodys' arrived. Hellos and hugs were exchanged. The kids were chirping away, acting out "Doctor, doctor...."  skits. Laughing. Talking. Then, it was time for Chaat. What's Chaat? Alright. Explaination followed and was received with oohs and aahs. Alrighty, bring it out, they said. D wanted the papdi topped with just the tomatoes. C wanted it with everything except the onions and Big D wanted just the papdi. Oh, these kids! "Puhleez. It's Chaat. Has to be eaten in a certain way. Eat it all or not at all", I wanted to yell. And, S said it was more like Nachos. Huh?? Yeah, except for the chips and cheese and jalapeno and olives and salsa and guacamole and sour cream, I said.

I got started with the Paranthas while A was catering to needs of his customers (Oh, BTW, he changed into a smarter T-shirt and looked more like a Chaat Wala in a five-star restaurant :) ). The table was laid and all the dishes were explained. They dug in and the food was a hit! Even the kids it. Though they ate paranthas with sugar and jeera pulao with sugar, they ate a good number of paranthas and a good helping of pulao. My legs were tired, as I stood there, making paranthas after paranthas which seemed to be vanishing minute after minute.I am glad they liked it! In the end, everyone was so stuffed and we settled to play poker. We finally opened the poker kit! It was fun.

The Woodys' got the dessert - Root Beer Float. I usually don't like Root Beer much, but it always tastes good when someone makes it for you. A took a big Coca Cola glass, put in three scoops of vanila ice cream and then P filled it up with Root Beer! Looks like it is a traditional American dessert! A was pretty sure I won't be able to eat it all because of my love for root beer ;-), but was quite surprised to see that I had tucked it all in!

And then more poker. 9 pm. Time for the kids to go to bed. Let's leave, said S. After they left, we turned the dishwasher on and crept upstairs to hit the bed. Three kids! S must be spending all time and money just feeding them. But, it's fun, nontheless!

Bed story.

A and I were on the bed last night, my leg on his, and we were each reading a book.

Me: It seems Inception is so good you need to watch it atleast twice to follow the movie.....
A: Yeah, even E said something like that....
Me: Hmmmm...


A: I am sure he will buy the Blu-ray as soon as it is out.
Me: What else is new? I think he should soon open an E-flix and start renting out movies...you know, he can buy many more with the money he makes...
A (chuckling) : He will be very upset if he heard that.
Me: Seriously, you should suggest (**snort**)


A: It's an addiction. Same as how I used to buy Hardy Boys case files.I have so many of them (gestures with his hands spread apart). And then I stopped buying them....
Me: Why? Was that when you got introduced to "Library", where people borrow books from?

A punch, pounce and then, A was on top of me.

Me: (Squealing)
A: Miss Saarchs.....every month a case file used to come out, but the Library will get hold of it only after 8 months...by then I would have read 8 of them!

So, now you know why I was eyeing that larger than life book case.......

Moksha Lounge

Owning a cafe sometime in life, is on the cards. I would choose a touristy spot, on an Island that's bombarded with visitors year round. Everyone's on vacation, happy, partying and splurging. Good for me and them, as well.

My dream cafe will be on the beach, obviously. Tall tiki lamps will light the tables and people will sit under the serene skies with their feet buried in the sand, the gentle breeze kissing their face while the soothing sound of the lashing waves bring with them a certain tranquility. Lounge music (Cafe Del Mar/Buddha Bar) is the kind of music that will play in my cafe.

People can waltz on the beach, if they wish to. The decor will be white with a splash of blue, to give it a Greacian feel.

And, we will offer an excquisite asian fusion cuisine.

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Pet Peeve revisited

"Hi, what can I get for you?"

"Hmmm...We'll have the Sambusa to start with-"

"I am sorry, we are out of it."

And I want to scream, "Why couldn't you tell that before? I WANT Sambusa. Now."

Weird or not, that's one of my pet peeves. Having something on the menu but not in the kitchen. Bummer!

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Weekend stories.

OK, so, the weekend is almost over. Friday was Pasta night. I was working from home, so had the time to cook Spaghetti in marinara sauce with some garlic bread for dinner. After dinner we watched Well done Abba. Quite a funny movie and Boman Irani has done good acting. The story is set in rural parts and quite true, I believe.

On Saturday, we made veggie tacos for lunch and headed out for some shopping to Lynnwood. We went to Rock Bottom for happy hour and had their Margherita Pizza, quite awesome! Got back home after doing groceries at TJ's and Whole Foods. We made Mabo Tofu and the Veggie dumplings that we got from Hmart for dinner and watched EMI.

And today, has been a slow day. Sundays are always lazy days. I have blogs to catch up with. Laundry needs to be done. I still have to cook for the next week. And I have lots of books that are waiting to be read. I wish Sundays were longer. Like 40 hours or something.Will come back later for more blah.

My Favorite Quote of All Time

"Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous." -- Carrie (Sex & the City)

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At a grocery store, one of the staffs had set up a booth to demonstrate their new garlic flavored penne pasta. The pasta was ready for sampling, when she laid out paper cups and started distributing it. The pasta was sliding off the spoon as she tried to scoop it, and not more than 3 pieces of penne landed in each cup.A 4 year old was amused and quipped with sarcasm,"Well, you sure got your math right!" .
Ah, kids these days!

Six good reasons to eat my Monter-In-Law's cooking.

1. She is a foodie and loves to cook. And, A says that she is an excellent cook.

2. I haven't eaten a proper meal cooked by her yet.She has not been feeling very well and doesn't cook these days. In the two weeks that I stayed at A's with my in-laws, soon after my wedding, I got to eat Dahi Vadas made by her and they were delicious!

3. She cooks food the healthy way. Doesn't peel the veggies (even if they are meant to be), doesn't fry much, avoids potatoes and other roots and uses more of the greens.

4.When we visit her, on some days when the cook takes off, she instructs me and I cook. She'll place a chair in the Kitchen and place herself on it. I do all the manual labor. Though the amount of oil and ghee makes me gasp, I noticed that the food tastes excellent. Oh, just this once, I tell myself, as I stack the nearly empty oil bottle back in the pantry.

5.She reads up recipes and watches the cookery shows on TV and comes up with innovative ideas for making exotic dishes. She used to, atleast. These days, she promptly makes copies of the said recipes and sends it to me. And I open a folder and file it in. I take a sketch pen and write "Recipes" in bold on the folder and draw two swirly lines under it. On either sides of "Recipes" I draw a tomato. That is the last I see of the folder. I open it again only when she sends me some more copies. Thank god, she doesn't ask me if I ever tried making all that stuff. But I have a totally different plan in case she asks. Blame it on A! That, he doesn't want to eat any of that. Easy peasy! Ring ring ringa...

6. She takes up cooking seriously, like I do fashion or travelling or of the sort.One topic that is discussed every single time we call her is - "What's for dinner today?" Tell me about it. It's all about food!

Random things about me.

On days when am desperate to write something, but don't know what to write about, I'll treat you to know me better! Here you go -

I love Spicy food and hot sex.

I want to write a book some day. In fact, I want that to make that my career few years from now.

I love fashion. When am bored, I like to get creative on H&M's fashion studio, online.

I procrastinate all the work that I don't find interesting. This includes taking the clothes out of the dryer and folding them and placing them in the wardrobe.

I love to cook as much as I love to eat.

Am addicted to travelling. I want to get away somewhere, atleast, once every three months.

At home, you will find me in my sphagetti top and shorts.

Arrogance and sarcasm are my turn-me-ons ;-), in the opposite sex, that is.

I tweet atleast once everyday.

I have picked up an undiminishing ability to fumble on words, from the sole master of Spoonerisms , our man, A. I even once fumbled at work when I said "J-Soo-Tee-V-M-1" for JC2VM1. I don't think my boss ever recovered from that.

I find Latin Impact class at the gym very refreshing.

I sleep with my legs crossed.

I kill any plant that I bring into my house. I forget to water them.

I am not a big fan of being in the company of friends. If I really don't enjoy their company, why waste time?

I love the vacations that A and I go on. We enjoy the whole experience - travel and food.

I am a beach bum and I made A one too. You will find us traveling mostly to beach destinations.

Red and white look good on me.

I love platform shoes and flip flops. Nothing in between.

I can be very stubborn and arrogant when I am moody. Just like a raging bull. Well, what can you expect from a Taurean?
I want to tour the world some day. At my own pace. Just go, with no fixed schedule. Stay for however long, where ever I please and just keep moving on. Of course, all this only after I write a dozen books or so and have made enough dough to laze around. Or, after A becomes the CEO of some company. Which ever is sooner.
I can't stand the "Know-it all"s. Sheesh!
If you read this, consider youself tagged and write random things about you, and link me to your article in a comment here. Would love to read 'em!

Eat, drink and be merry!

I think this is the first weekend when we didn't eat out. Honestly, how couldn't we? I know, I can't believe it myself. On Friday evening, I made some yummy penne pasta in tomato mushroom sauce. We had that with some focaccia garlic bread. The meal was so delicious it made us realize nothing can beat cooking at home. No, I take that back. I do like to eat out. Let me put it this way, eating out is fun when you are in the mood for it, or when you haven't reviewed restaurants for a while in your food blog, like I do here. :)

On Saturday, we had some yummy north Indian thaali for lunch at home. I made Rajmah, the basmati rice medley from TJ's, Roti, Pappad and Pickle. The we watched World Cup, in the middle of which A had a sudden craving for Kheer and I whipped up pohe cha kheer in a whim. It was delicious. Am only worried that he will ask for it more often as he was quite impressed that I could make it in 15 mins. Ho hum!

And then, S called to say that they can actually come over for dinner that night. So, after the game, we did a quick grocery shopping at Costco, TJ's and Fredmeyer's. We got back home and started off with the Lebanese fair. Toum, Hummous, Shawarma, Pita, Saffron rice and Greek Fries. S brought some Falafels and the dinner was a huge hit! The plates were scraped until the last morsels of the garlic sauce miraculously disappeared.

Dinner was followed by a movie Milenge Milenge. It was a remake of Serendipity. Oh c'mon, get creative and come up with a different plot, for heaven's sake! In the middle of the movie, A brought out the dessert -Raspberry, Lime and Orange Sorbet.Another big hit!

On Sunday, there was more cooking (for the rest of this week - Black eyed peas daal and tindora sabzi) and Worl Cup finals. I spent some time doing my hair and laundry and the usual weekend chores. Never wanted to step out of the house.Sheesh! There are even days such as these! But I loved being at home.


Life is a puzzle. Look at the bumble bee, the tiny little baby that makes its way into the big bad world, the smiling face, nature and you are so happy to be here. And then one peek at the sufferings and the sadness and you wish you weren't there, after all.

Oh well! Life is an enigma in itself. Everything about life is such a mystery. I wish I had answers to all the questions that I am burdened with.

To start with, why are we born? What is the purpose of this life? Is it true that our past actions (karmas) rule our present and the future? Is what we are today, because of what we did in our past life? Does God exist? If yes, what's his role in this world? Why is there so much suffering? Why are the good always punished?

I guess one can never find answers to these questions. It is more like finding a drug for a genetic disorder. Will never happen.

That said, I believe in living for the present. This moment. Now. For who knows when what will happen? Cherish every moment, hold and never let go. I wish time will just stand still and there will be no tomorrow.