Monday, July 12, 2010

British Summer

Well.. I would want to call it London summer than British summer....but I tend to like titles which are standard it a mind-block to creativity!

This is my third summer in the UK, but I suppose this has been the true 'British Summer' experience I have had. I would like to pen down a few thoughts about the same, some things that we have done to enjoy the sun which is such a rarity and some general things that people here tend to do.

The clocks were set forward by an hour on the 28th March this year, however the 'Summer' took it's own sweet time and arrived late June - early July (where we stand now). The days are long - its daylight almost until 10:00pm which gives us ample time to do stuff, the night just doesn't seem to start and it also ends quickly...however, the party is on all day.

For starters, the first thing we notice is the change in clothing, people get less formal, less of 'all black' clothing, sun glasses - all sizes and shapes, colours - in clothing, women tend to sport the 'Gladiator sandals' which mainly is open footwear in a roman style (which you get to see in movies showing that era), lots of linen clothing, camis, shorts, skirts.... varied ranges, sales everywhere!

It's the time for sports, Wimbledon comes with its old glory, it's time for enjoying it at the venue if you are lucky enough to have tickets, the less lucky ones end up either queuing for ground tickets/re-sales ( I spotted people carrying flyers of 'tips on queuing for Wimbledon' or just settle for Murray mount to watch the game on a big screen. It's the time to enjoy fizzy and Strawberries and Cream. One can typically see the women dressed in pastel shade dresses with straw hats, men in their finest linen suits - it's all about class.

It's also the time for the Royal Ascot- the horse race, the British Grand Prix, many get into playing Golf too. This time it came with the added bonus of the World Cup Football - though London and the country was disappointed with the early exit of their team, the atmosphere was brialliant.

It's those times when there are concerts everywhere, in parks, in the squares in the city, screening of films in places like somerset house, theatre - it's back to the shakespeare's world at the Open air theatre and the Globe Theatre.

It's ideal to make a trip to the beach towns - We took a trip to Brighton, being closest to London, It's got a pebble beach - perhaps the first one that I saw! The pier has games which take you back to your school days, the cafes, pubs and bars are full of life. The 'Lanes' of Brighton are just so mesmerizing.

We also have spent time playing tennis - Thanks to the free courts - we dont need to play to pick the ball more than hitting it! We also had been cycling around Richmond Park - imagine spotting 100+ deer at a time while you are biking in the park. It was very peaceful.

Food is different now - it's all about healthy food - salads with various dressings, summer berries, smoothies and juices. There's a lot on the other end too - Ice creams - literally everywhere! Pimms cocktail - looks so pretty with all the fruits and tastes great too! And when you have had enough of this there's Sangria anyways.

It's the time for Barbeques- wait for that weekend which is hot!!! , house parties, water fights at the parties and lots of fun!

Overall, this is a time when people get out in the open, plan stuff, do stuff and generally it's a happy mood, a 'feel-good' day everyday!

Cheat's Cookery - Pita Bread with Sides

I do enjoy different cuisines and though many of them seem bland when compared to the masalas which make a big part of the spicy Indian food, I enjoy trying and tasting food from different places. However, when I give it a go in my workshop, it does have an Indianized feel to it.

Moroccon/Mediterranean food is something which caught onto me, mainly for the reason of trying something different and secondly that it is definitely healthy. I tried the same at home and the result is what you see here - try it when you can on a day when you are not in mood to eat too much or when you don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen

Pita Bread/ Flat bread
Hummus - Plain would do, I used Caramelised Onion Hummus
Peppers - red and green
Sweet Corn
Green Chillies
Crushed Red Chillies
Parsley - dried too can do
Butter/ Margerine
Extra Virgin olive oil
Coriander - Of course - nothing is complete without this!

Steps to prepare:

Step 1 - Side dish
- slice onions and peppers length wise
- Steam/ microwave the sweet corn
- Chop green chillies and ginger
- In a pan, add some oil, add the ginger and green chillies, then add onions and brown it.
- Add the peppers and sweet corn and saute it for a while until cooked
- Sprinkle some crushed red chillies and saute it for a couple of minutes
- Garnish with freshly chopped coriander

Step 2- Hummus
- Add the Hummus on a plate
- Add a splash of olive oil on it
- Sprinkle some Parsley and Crushed Red chillies

Step 3 - Pita bread
- Smear butter/margerine on the pita bread and toast it on a flat pan until warm/cooked

Serve the side dish along side the hummus and the hot pita bread.

Friday, June 11, 2010

My Virtual Playground

We have all been in the world of computers for a little over a decade and with that we entered the whole world of Online Games, computer games of all kinds. Though I have never been a great sportsperson, I always seemed to enjoy the outdoor sport more, I was into cycling, badminton and skating mainly, but enjoyed trying my hands at Tennis and even Cricket! I also played the very Indian games of Lagori and Kunte bille….

I was never really into Computer games... but looking back at it, I have quite a few things to recollect and pen down.

It all mainly started when my dad got us our first computer - I remember that we were ecstatic that it had a hard drive of 4.2GB!!!!!- these days you get a memory stick with more capacity!

Well... I started playing minesweeper, solitaire and the other card game (you know.. something like free....Oh! I don't remember the name!)....mainly played these games to get control of the I found it quite hard to navigate from one end of the screen to the other!

Later, I remember playing Dave...the first one which I saw with 10 levels and remember that it was quite a feat to finish the game....later it was playing it over and over to better the timing.

Stepping it up a bit was playing Road Rash and NFS, the bike and car game with my brother... and well! I never won any...but it was fun to play together...The game mainly looked good was all about speed, the UI of the game was pretty...

I am sure there were many more like this, but I never got my hands on it...guess one of them was Tomb Raider….

There were also little flash games that we played…..the most popular being the bricks and eggs in a basket....

....All this while at every stage, I remember that I had enjoyed playing these and had at that point got addicted to it.

There were a few years in between when I totally lost touch with the virtual world of sport until work happened and the concept of forwarded emails began…..with it came some intelligent excel games, some brain teasers, some quizzes and the one I enjoyed was the logo quiz - had to pick the names of companies based on their logo.

The other game which was big in office was the bursting the bubbles one.. there was a time when all the computer screens had the colourful bubbles on....

We then had "Sudoku' columns in the newspaper and that became an addiction too…. started off with easy and then reached a day when I didn’t want to do it unless and until it's Hard! I remember playing this in our office meetings too!!!

…...I did go past all this....and then the completely different world of Facebook happened and with it came some really interesting games... the ones I was hooked onto were Farmville and Cafe World...there was a time when I started telling everyone that I have grown grapes and my watermelon plants died and that I managed to buy a farm house too! all the other games, this one too died down....It just was too much work to maintain a Farm and a Cafe!!!!!

Laziness...made me do Sudoku online...well! It even tells you if you have made a mistake and highlights the row in which there is an error - Not sure whether I like it!

Well....I might have missed out a few in between, but the trend through these years is that when the game in new, I got hooked to it, enjoyed it, got addicted to it and passed it on to my friends....

…..However on the flip side, I still enjoy playing badminton or tennis or any outdoor sport and don't remember a day when I said I was bored of it...I enjoyed it, was never addicted to it, but when there is a chance to play, I have my sports shoe on!!!
…...Guess it's a complete circle....I started with my set of outdoor sports and I am back there again!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Cheat's Cookery - Pizza

While I was chatting with my friend this afternoon, we happened to talk about Pizzas. This pal loved Pizza Hut
Pizzas...the Pan Crust….big fat cheesy pizzas as I was terming it...Well! Who doesn't like pizzas????

There was a day when I attempted my Cheat's pizza @ home and I thought today as it was nostalgic talking about Pizzas and the times spent together with my buddy @ Pizza hut made the right day to pen this up..

Well, I have been thinking of writing a food blog about all my trials (and errors ;-) at cooking, however, I don't seem to have the patience to do it!

Well... today it happened!...
My idea of cooking....keep it simple.... nothing over an hour....tasty, spicy, colourful and easy....
I don't make all the base ingredients at I have labelled it my Cheat cookery!

Wheat Tortillas/Chapathis.. left overs would do :)
Tomato chutney/salsa (prepared)/ tomato sauce+ chilli sauce
Mozzarella Cheese - Grated
Kidney Beans - soft & boiled - 1 cup
Coriander - I love it! Loads of it... well... Indian cooking is not complete without this..
Butter - for spreading.

- Apply butter on the tortilla/chapathi
- Spread the salsa evenly on the chapathi
- sprinkle the Rajma on it.
- Add the grated mozzarella

Turn on the Oven (Gas Mark 5/6, Electric 200/250deg), Place the created Pizza on the middle shelf and wait for the cheese to melt.

Garnish with Coriander and serve hot!!!

Hurray!...I managed to write this up!!!! Phew! I wonder how the cook books do this!!!! I know it's not quite a's I can call it that :) and look I even have a pic of this...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A City on Water

I wonder what comes to your mind when you read the above title! I am going to talk about our holiday to the beautiful world on water 'Venice'. Before I start!!!! I remember reading in Social Studies back in school that Cochin is called 'Venice of the East'....really??? I don't think's nothing like it...I cannot imagine another place like this one! It's so very unique....

As always I was all excited about our Easter weekend trip to Venezia, Italy. We booked the flights, the hotel accommodation and by doing the research of finding a good deal, I felt I already know the sights and scenes of the city. Such is the world of Internet....

However, going there is definitely worth every penny...
I cannot quite put it up in words to illustrate what the experience was, so some snippets of what I remember the most and loved the most and recommend are seen below....

Travel by the Vaporetto's (Public Water transport), they are economical and the best way to go around the lagoon... We had a day pass and also got single tickets to do the rides. This makes you mingle with the locals and in the general day to day activities....

Definetly ride Line 1 of the Vaporetto - which takes you all along the Grand Canal (which is Yes!! Grand in it's own way).

Sip on Sweet Sparkling Wine at one of the many cafes by the Rialto Bridge

Visit the colorful island of Burano - famous for the lace work, the houses are so picture perfect on a sunny day.

Just Walk the many 'Calle's Venice has to offer.....this is most cherished.... as you walk by the alley ways, you end up getting to a square with houses, canals, bridges, universities, ristorante's, coffee shops, gondola stands..... - I do consider the sentence "Get Lost in Venice" an order, not a suggestion. ( I stole this sentence ;-)

Have the Gelato's from the many gelatarias's really hard to choose from the many flavours they have to offer....

Never miss Pizza when in Italy...I guess they have managed to keep a few secrets of making the perfect Pizza to themselves...

If you have an extra day, take the train to the nearby city of Verona...the land of romeo & juliet and the famous amphitheatre...if you are there in the right season, you might also see the many vineyards during the me... after a few days in the world of would not mind civilization in the form of Roads, Railways and solid earth!

Well... Overall.. it was a very very different experience...its so beautiful that only an artist or a poet or a writer or may be a photographer can describe the place and definitely not me....I will upload a few pics... well..hopefully the pics do some justice to the place than the write up!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Google Logos

From the past few days (At least a week), Google has the logo of the Winter Olympics at Vancouver - it's a different one everyday but all based on a dull grayish green theme. Today it's back to the colourful one - the standard Google Logo.

Don't know why it bothered me! but I hated to see the dull logos everyday I logged in and today when I opened Google I thought - Thank God! The dull ones are done.

Strange how these little things actually make a difference to me!

For memories sake - Dull Logos!