Thursday, October 15, 2015


I watched it... I loved it. I watched it again, I enjoyed it. I watched it yet again and laughed and cried like it was the first time and I happen to watch it once more and I didn't want to leave the comfort of my couch and the movie for anything else. 
From the time I have penned this line down I have watched it a few more times and have not felt anything different to what I have written....
Some films do that to you and Piku was definitely one. I have a few more movies like this which make it to the special list. This movie is ( was- as it's taken me months to finish) so fresh in my mind that the thoughts had to be penned down. 
There isn't really a reason why I loved it, perhaps there are one too many or probably the truth is that  I can end the explanation in saying the simplicity of the story did it for me.

In a world that's so consumed by whats the next big thing happening in one's life, the every day simple messy routine of life is beautifully captured in this film. It makes me yearn for that lost comfort of plainness, of being direct, of simplicity in everyday life and to an extent in my parallel life of movies... of good old Hindi movies. 

Everything about Piku confirms it's my kinda film. I'm a total sucker for simple life moments. Routine can be boring to many, but I can put my hand on heart and say I am comfortable, cozy and happy with routine and in fact the lack of it sometimes can be disturbing. I just crave that feeling of surety that a routine brings.  The routine in a common man's middle class life in India is totally relatable to my memories and that is precisely what I got out of Piku. 

I adored Deepika Padukone, yes! I am a fan of hers and for reasons more than one. For a start, I do believe she can act and there couldn't have been a better person for the role of Piku. She carried it out with ease, she was real and her body language throughout the film fit the character to a T. Though you think of it as a role, as a character - there was definitely an element of 'this can be anyone of us' which she kept alive through out the movie. The character of Piku was practical yet emotional, irritable yet lovable, demanding yet soft. The writer could not have painted a better picture of a person in that situation. 

Irrfan and Amitabh are in full form with their performances. Who ever cast these 3 key characters has got it bang on. 

I loved how modern the setting was - the conversations, the style of life very rooted, very Indian and yet open and modern. How I wished  my family was like that! I loved how Bhaskor just openly says 'there are many reasons for me not to like you' to his sister-in-law.  Does that really happen in a family? I am sure we can start a WW4 if that was said to anyone at mine!

The film also captures a family living in a different city where the culture, the language, the attitude of people is different , just slightly different for the spark, the perception in the society. No matter how far you go away and adopt to a new way of life and living, the roots always pull you down. That comparison that you make, the pride that your home, your hometown provides you a level of comfort and joy that is unmatched for anywhere else. 

The movie is constantly evolving and throwing something at you non-stop. The story can be a one liner, but the number of aspects of day to day life that it connects and reaches out to cannot be summed up. Whether it's about parents being selfish about what their children should do for them, or being the open-mindedness of a parent to let go and treat their child as an adult who can make decisions of their own, the clash between the members of -in-law families and the detached love and affection people have in nuclear families are well etched in the story.  There is something to relate to in every other frame and so this movie, though a movie,an art of fiction rubs a warm sort of feeling every time I watch it.

If you haven't watched it and if you are one who gets mushy on simple life's day to day moments and mundane-ness go watch it!

Monday, August 24, 2015

London Diaries - Time for a Cuppa - Farm Girl

So..Amma's here and I don't have a clue how the days are running past me. If there's anyone in this world who enjoys strolling through markets tirelessly and can do it over and over again and not complain or get bored, it has to be her. Well, I do know of a few others, but amma's enthusiasm is something else. 

We had reserved one afternoon for a lazy but thorough stroll around Portobello Market in Notting Hill, she remembered the little details of this place from her previous visit but we just had to go there again. 

We left home after lunch as amma still doesn't prefer eating out here as the options offered on the table just don't live up to her taste buds, so a post lunch getaway is what we settled for. 

We walked the entire length of Portobello road all the way from Notting Hill Station, stopping at most shops - Alice was a must, the map shop & the photo prints shop was ticked off too. We did a quick mandatory 'Cake stop' at the hummingbird bakery for the sweet tooth. After about 4 hours of wandering we headed back to Notting hill and was craving for a quiet little place where we could sit down, may be warm ourselves up and reflect on what we did. Yeah... I know that sounds too profound for a random walk in the market, but    such places so unique calls for a bit of that.

We stumbled upon Farm Girl for 2 specific things - the Wisteria creeper that grew on it's doorway (which is my new found love this season)  and the writing on the wall. A bit of a weirdo here, but yes, this is exactly what made me walk in. 

It was a quirky little cafe at first sight, a bit hippieish and spoke healthy, fresh, calm, colourful, everything goes the day you make it kinda place.  The green tiled decor gave the place a garden feel which is most welcome.

The options at the bar were not too many but we just wanted some a warm drink so I picked the afternoon blend for my tea and amma choose a latte - oh yes! we love our coffee with lots of milk.  We settled down at a corner table and were greeted to a big pitcher of water with lemon. Any place which offers generous amounts of water without asking scores immediately with me. We really needed that. 

Just as we settled in I had to get us an almond croissant which won over the banana & coconut cake. No regrets! It was probably one of the best Almond croissant I had in a very long time.  The tea & coffee with the friendly smiley staff all went down a treat. We felt rejuvenated from this little stop. All the cutlery were colourful stoneware which was  earthly and yet very stylish. 

I looked through the menu & it offers dairy free options , including ice creams for the lactose intolerant. I had to tell my friend about this place as she would really appreciate places that cater to those who need dairy free. 

It was an expensive place, so on those terms it makes me think I should explore an alternative, but for which it ticks the box for what you'd look for in a coffee shop and given that it's such a quaint one on an otherwise busy street. 


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

And another year ends - Revisiting the 2014 List

It's time to look at the list of resolutions made for the year. My success rate has definitely gone down from the previous year and I know where my problems were. Nevertheless, I have taken on this task upon me and I need to stand by it. So, here's striking off the list -

Make a Daily Habit  - I must say I do keep up to it quite well, however, the past year saw me going through a Love-Hate relationship with books - I want to change the status to a simple 'Like' and want to set aside at 30 minutes to an hour a day to read. I want to make sure I don't have gaps and would like to read everyday.  Yes! I did it and no one can take this away from me now. I didn't stick to reading only novels which was the issue, Blogs, magazines, key articles, write ups, poetry and you name it, I am so pleased to have managed to keep some time aside everyday for reading.

Don't bank on the memory - Pick up the diary again. Don't write stories (as we know what happens after a couple of months), don't write only sad things (as we know we will never read them). Just pencil in a what happened that day and make a note if something nice or not so nice happened. Come on... that should not be so hard! Hmmm....This has been a Hit-or-Miss. There has been times when I did put in a note and times when I didn't, today I look back and realize that a lot of things sure happened this year but I don't quite remember. Will have to give this one a FAIL

Get out of the Comfort zone - I could rename this 'Conquer a Fear' - All this while I have either been driving people away from me or driving crazy those who stay. I want need to learn how to drive. Enough of laziness, enough of pushing things around, enough of escaping.  Need to learn how to drive - and this time in a correct methodical way. FAIL. FAIL.FAIL. All I have today is an application that I have completed for a provisional license. That does not give me any points to get close to striking this off 

Explore a Passion- Pick up the camera again and stop being (just) a smart phone photographer I can't completely say I have discovered my passion but Photography is something I have enjoyed doing. I want to take this up as a project and work towards it. The actual project may take another year or two, but I want to start my work on it. At the end of this year, I should at least have the content, a plan, research done. Yes. When I had every chance to be somewhere magnificent, somewhere special, somewhere memorable I had my camera with me and glad with some outcome. The project I took on is not complete, but has taken some shape

Be Good with Food - I don't think I eat a lot of unhealthy food but definitely want to keep a check at what's going inside my body and not go too crazy with junk food. One thing I consciously need to act on is not to waste food. I tend to cook too much and the rest is not used or I buy too many things and have to throw them as they have expired - Need to stop this.  I haven't been more happy with the type of food I have been buying, cooking and eating. There has been some waste but I can live with it. I will go for a green, but I know this shouldn't stop here. 

Change a tad bit of the lifestyle - Wake up Early - something I have 'NEVER' managed to do. The past year was the worst, I slept late, woke up late and ended up at work really late on so many days of the week. I would like to wake up nice and early and have some time to eat my breakfast and not skip it. 7am is the aim now.... would love to make it 6:30!  (Currently it's between 8:00 - 8:30am). I would definitely do a lie in every now and then, but I'd want the majority of the days to be an early start. Let's see! This will be hard. 
Oh dear! This did not happen. Though, I have not been too late at work, I can't say that I willingly wake up early on a day when I have nothing to do. 

Stay Connected -  I'll take the lesson from mom again 'You do your bit and don't expect the other to do the same for you'. I have realized that my happiness lies in being connected to the people I love - family & friends and I don't want to run into months of not staying in touch. I want to get through the year knowing that I stayed connected and not thinking that it's been 6 months and I don't have a clue. Yes. I can happily say that I did my bit. Though this year has taught me a lot about relationships, I don't want to spoil my mood, but I tried to keep in touch and I can say that with my hand on heart

(Try to) Give up something - I'm tempted to write no alcohol for 2 months again. But, I would say restrict - may be not have a drink every week. If I can skip a couple of weeks in every month I would think I've done well here. 
I want to add a second item - biting my nails :(  which has 'NEVER' happened until now.   Well... I cannot really say I consistently worked on the alcohol bit, but I was not too bad. But, I can say for sure that biting nails in any crisis (or the lack of it) is not an issue anymore. 

Need to stick to these: 

Stay Fit - Have enjoyed the gym from the past 3 months. I need to just keep at it and not quit. The Plan is to maintain the 3-times a week workout to stay the way I am if not better it. I have done some form of workout for 42 out of the 52 weeks this year which is not so bad I guess. Now, if you don't agree it's ok, but I'd like to see this as a success. 

Do something for someone- Volunteering has been good but the 10K run was good too. I want to do another 10K this year and enroll in at least 3 different volunteer activities. Did not manage a 10K but volunteered at Crisis. 

Do something you like-  Write, Click and Travel - as fancy as they may sound, I would like to do more of all this and in a way they can be interconnected. Write at least 3 blog posts per month. Write all travelogues till date and the on the new travels (hopefully) I take. Did not do any of this. The flow wasn't there and I did not push myself. 

Keep the Faith/Keep the Culture- Two Festivals to celebrate  -need to really work on this one.  I am pleased to say I did this. Being in India for Ganesh Chaturthi made it quite easy. But, I celebrated Diwali and atleast observed Ugadi and Dusshera this year. Very happy with this. 

Carrying Over from the Last Year:

Try something again- I want to grow plants and NOT kill them. My aim is to maintain atleast 5 pot plants which I hope will nourish under my care. Yes. Yes. Yes. Oh Boy! Am I happy with the result. 2 of my 8 plants died but I have constantly had lush green pot plants and 2 full flowering cycles. 

Better planning - this is a wide topic. To start with its planning holidays, planning for activities during the  weekend,  planning my time when I go home - If someone asks me what I did when I last visited home, I dont have much to say - I want to change that. 
Need to work at this one. I am quite ashamed to say anything more about my planning which has been chaotic, mad, frustrating (not just me but the people around) and a failure. 

That's 9/14 - just about fair but I know I could have done better. 

What can I say, it's not looking that good but hey! another year beckons and gives a chance to pick it up again....though I must admit that for once I am strongly feeling that I should not bank on the 1st of January to give me the push. Hopefully a few years from now, I don't need to make a list like this and all the goodness comes to me with no real push. Lets see....It's been an OK year, hoping for the next to be better. Happy New Year folks! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Day Walk

Christmas day in London is one of the quietest days, well, for the likes of us who don't celebrate. The husband has been taking on work the last two weeks of December every year which makes me plan a bit more about what I can do with myself. 

I find it odd when people wish us Happy Holidays as this is the time of the year when we both are very busy in our own ways - he with his long 14hr days of work and I trying to get the year's quota of getting through a 100 things I had in mind. 

Working at the charity during Christmas in the past few years has to be one of the best things I could have done with this spare time I have and this year too I decided to do a few days at Crisis

I picked Christmas day this year as I knew HE is at work and I will otherwise end up watching a lot of television or browsing way too much and eating more than I should.  The catch at picking Christmas day was that as there is no public transport and I STILL don't drive, the only option was to walk back home or hire a cab and I decided to do the former.

A 4km-odd walk on any other day would mean nothing to me, but this day it was going to be interesting. No buses, no shops, restaurants open, everyone either tucked away in their cozy homes or away from London visiting families things had to be different on the streets - funny to think that the 7 years I have lived here I had never stepped out of the house (if I was here) on Christmas Day! (I can still hear my Dad-in-law going there is no point in getting out, no one will be out, nothing will be open and you know the flow)

I walked back after finishing another satisfied day at Crisis. The first sight of a convenience store being open caught me happy. I got my share of snacks almost thanking God...what if the road ahead was hard! I was pleasantly surprised to see the bespoke restaurants open and pretty full. The traffic on the streets too was not that low. The best thing I noticed was other fellow walkers - it was not the usual hurried pace, the rush and push to get to the destination. You could actually see people notice things , stop and have a look and actually observe other people on the streets too. A very un-Londonlike behavior. 

People seemed to enjoy their walks holding hands, giving cuddles and some perhaps were trying to offload a bit of the turkey meal they might have had that afternoon. Passers by smiled at each other and walked on. The Christmas lights, the decorated trees stood still- it was all put up for this big day and yet, they stand alone, all by themselves with no sense of celebration around them. It was great to NOT see the city lights and instead a dark sky with a bright moon. It was surreal not to hear the traffic or avoid the glares of harsh headlights of thousands of  vehicles which claim the streets. I am a believer that walks can only do  good to us and a walk in one of the most beautiful cities on a day when we can say 'London is closed for Business' is mesmerizing.

I would definitely relate to this picture on a Christmas day and yes! when London does not work, it gives you an opportunity for one of the best days to walk around. 

The Rush

No, I am not talking about the movie 'Rush' which by the way I love. If you haven't watched it do so - it's brilliant, it's inspiring, it's sportsmanship at it's best. 

.....It was the end of November and I looked into the list of resolutions I made for 2014 in total panic. A month left and I have not been very good this year in keeping up the expectations I set for myself. I started with a total frenzy in order to get things moving with the list - bottom down, what are the easiest ones, which ones can I still save and what will have to move into the next year. 

A few days into December not much had changed but for the tone I have set for myself this year, total laziness, getting occupied with one thing and losing the bigger picture and most importantly a serial procrastinator that I have become. If I can say anything was consistent this year it was the habit of putting things off - shamelessly, irresponsibly and sometimes (I need to admit) intentionally.

I picked up 3 of the 8 unfinished books and looked forward to relax into it by reading it on my days off just to stand here today with another book added to the unfinished group, those which I started reading and dropped mid-way only to say that they were not interesting enough.  Yes! 9 is the number of unread books today. 

I have at least a dozen lists of various things left at different places at home and in the office - the list of things I need to prioritize and get through. Well, looks like I am getting better at making lists and not striking them off.  I have unfinished business cluttered all around me and I seem to be oblivious of it all. 

There was one thing I could rescue in my list - a plan to connect to family during a festival by sending hand written notes. I had planned that for Diwali and God knows when that came and went. So, New Year's was my time to get this sorted and I totally went all for it - so much that I ended up writing 2015 as the date on a few cards and only realized it after sealing the envelope. Well! I'm sure those who have that card and open it would have a chuckle and think of how me as a right idiot.

In all the madness I feel within me, the one thing I am genuinely trying hard at is to relax, have a sense of calm which was with me for a good part of this year but seem to have disappeared. 

Trying to calm the beast within me, now, 2 days left in the year and I know I cannot do much, but to hope for a another beginning, another good day, a better plan and no rush. 
And while I am attempting to relax I still think that 'Pankh Hote tho ud aati re' is the best tune on the flute and I am happily listening to this as I finish another lot of incomplete notes from my lil diary. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The burden of not being ambitious

Coming across as a "not so ambitious person" in this super competitive world kind of sucks. Sorry for the use of such language, perhaps for the first time on this blog, but, the reality is.. it does. 

What's the career path like? Is there one in the first place? Where do I want to see myself in 2 years time? I seriously have no answers for any of this. But, if you ask me, this is how I have been for as long as I remember. I simply don't think about these things, I don't have a clue in hell where I'm headed, I have made no plans what so ever to see where I want/ need to be. Don't ask me about 2 years, I wish I could tell you where I would be in 2 months time.

Oh! Let's put the whole career &  professional life aside and lets just talk about plain simple day to day life alright. 

Do I want a big house to live in? Do I want the best of everything? What about my vacation plans?  Have i gotta plan about how I am going to be the host to many a family? Have I thought of all this or aspired for it? Not sure is the answer. Really?  As unreal, as untrue as it may sound, I don't have these big plans made and filed away, all I have is the routine of day to day life and the joy of day turning into night. Taking it one day at a time is the mantra and I am the preacher of it.   Hmmm ....did I say the joy of day turning into night ? 

Well, I notice that I have been mocked directly or between the lines about being so boringly mundane about everything I do. I did have to spare a thought about it and hence this post.

I wondered and questioned whether I really am this uninterested, un ambitious person and the answer is that I perhaps am. But reading a quote somewhere helped put everything in black & white very clearly! I was like, bang on! How true is that , why on earth couldn't I think of it and put it this way? 

         " Inspired by the fear of being average" 

Yes! That is what it is! I knew there had to be something to get me out of bed every morning. 
 However, I see that this fear for me is in the everyday things... Cooking, cleaning, hosting family and friends home or if it's a presentation , the preparation for a meeting that I put in at work. I want to & strive towards getting all the little things I get my hands on 'Right' , as 'right' as I can make it.

Unfortunately, these small things just don't matter or are not considered as being Ambitious or having a drive of any kind. Never mind about the minute life things that make up your day, you don't shout out that you wanna reach the moon then that's it! You are not much of anything in the eyes of one too many.
 Well getting a bit too philosophical, isn't it? I'll stop with this and carry on being what I am and doing what I do, if not anywhere, I'll at least get to the next day and if not for anyone, I'll be happy and pleased with myself! 

... My two cents on this...a rather weird feeling I keep going through.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I follow 'Foodism'

A very common Sunday of mine starts with a nice warming cup of coffee followed by a good south Indian breakfast - either a simple home made uppittu (Upma as it's known) or dosa or most likely a visit to SB, Saravana Bhavan has been our new friend for Sunday breakfasts, one that's almost a brunch. 
We just returned having had our fill on this grey-is-the-colour-of-the-day kinda Sunday. I have made myself another cup of tea - well, the weak type where the tea bag goes in with loads of hot water and a dash of milk which I shamefully call tea but is a lazy substitute for it. 

Well, I am that person who thinks about what I'm having for lunch and plan for dinner while sipping my morning cup of coffee. I am quite a foodie and off late I see that this is getting into more of an obsession. 
Today will be slightly different, with a tummy that's so full and a nagging ache in the back, it will be a day when I would give my kitchen and myself a rest (at least for the first half a day) and try to re-live the foodie moments on this page.  

I believe in eating at least one freshly cooked meal every day and that constantly motivates me to try something different. 
And the more home sick I get, the better is the food - in my humble opinion.  

My mind automatically travels to those days we went to 4th Block Jayanagar for no rhyme or reason but definitely returned with a tasty palate. 

So while I was pondering over the thoughts and memories, I thought my home-sickness had reached it's highest best when I clicked this pic - the joy of filling up the little containers of the masala-dabba which I termed 'South India in a box' defines my upbringing and deepens my roots and connects me with the food I cook. 

Home-Made is the bigger yearning than anything else. So I tried giving a go at quite a few things - the itch to get it done was huge and in all this I have enjoyed the journey. 

The Iyengar bakery craving is something that might never stop - when the simple masala toast and congress kadlekai  which is ideal with the afternoon tea made my mouth water, my kitchen ended up witnessing it. 

It's weird how my mind switches from I-have-to-eat-healthy-NO-MATTER-WHAT and I-don't-care-about-the-calories-IT-HAS-TO-BE-TASTY!  So, I see myself in making strange concoctions of a kind to fill me up  - some work, some don't.

The healthy being a carrot-ginger-Orange juice drink which I picked from the 'Joe and the Juice' bar which names this drink aptly 'Go-away-Doc'.  This coupled with cherry-tomato bruschetta went down a treat.

The unhealthy being my 2-cheese Macaroni which was a random craving on another day which had to answered.  Tried the mascarpone cheese which was a good creamy add to the nutty cheddar. 
A home-made (yes! I go again) guacamole for the nachos one evening as having the nachos served at All-bar-one was what my taste-buds demanded this weekend. 

 Though I have seen myself giving a try at cooking different cuisine, I am probably better and most comfortable in cooking Indian.And I can say that in the past month or so that my kitchen has made it's way to the 'Paratewali galli'. I am pretty much stuffing my chapati dough with whatever I get my hands on. Can you see that just to give the authentic 'Gobi Parata' a twist, I mixed brocolli to it? 
One of other paratas being this which is a food-blog I follow and enjoy!  

Retail Therapy these days is heading straight to the 'home' sections of any store and I am so excited to have picked a couple of utensils, some kind of kitchenware and of course a stop over at the groceries which sums up my shopping trip almost every single time. 

My most favourite shops have now become the food and grocery outlets - going to Tesco or M&S food gives me unspeakable joy while I spent a couple of hours at a cloth store and got completely bored and irritated. 

Lastly, some of the food blogs have made me drop everything I had got my hands at reading and if you happen to be someone who enjoys browsing through ForestFeast is highly recommended as it beautifully combines food, photography, writing and painting with the most key ingredient 'Simplicity'. Having given more than a recipe a try, it is my hot favourite now. 

I have no patience in waiting for my food to be photographed -my food travels from my pan to the plate and into my mouth with not enough time for this step called 'presentation', though some may say it's important, it's not high on my list at the moment - so pardon the crappy photos on this blog.