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!