Monday, December 30, 2013

Come Full Circle

I guess the long aimless walk is all I wanted to get me penning down a few lines which I have been itching to do in the past few days.  My eyes are still tired....for a fact, I have been staring at my laptop screen non-stop for a good part of the past week. 

I have to start this one with the quote I had read and favourited. Sometime ago, may be a year now,  was when I was feeling down. Nothing seemed to cheer me up, I could not have what I wanted and on most occasions I did not know what I needed. This feeling of 'low' stayed with me for a long long time. I had messed up way too many things, I was losing too many good friends - some for my own fault, some for the circumstances, some because they probably decided I was not good enough for them and some more for they got so busy and pre-occupied in their lives that they just forgot that someone like me existed. 

I had decided then that I am going to keep myself occupied with things...simple as it may be, silly as it may sound but I would have a list of things to do, things not to do and I would stick to that and get so drowned in it that I don't feel as low. 
I can't say I have been entirely successful at this- there are many many times when I miss my friends, miss the company, feel low, down and depressed but the feeling stays for a while and goes away and I go back to my list. The 'peaks' and 'troughs' exist in my life as much as the sun and the moon do, as much as summer and winter does. It's become a part of me. 

It's been a while now, at least a good year and I have had those 'ups' and 'downs' but now as this year closes down I am back at being slightly on the low but holding up just so I can wait for the peak to happen. 

As the year has gone passed there's one thing that I have noticed... I love to have company - be it in new people I meet, old friends, cousins, family, new friends -that is one of the key things I need in life to move on. But I have also realized that all this cannot be wished for as the other person needs to wish the same and as much as I yearn for that togetherness, I can't have it. 

I am learning to be 'ok' with my own company and there are times when I am so comfortable at it that it is worrying.... it's worrying me a lot. I don't want to be this way, but it's just turning out this way...

Just like how all this I have scribbled so far is not making sense, this thought of what I enjoy  - 'the being together' and what I am doing  - 'the being with myself' , the contradiction that it brings is making me go slightly insane.....but, I am positively waiting for the 'peak' again - this time it's been a while since it has met me. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

London Diaries - Market Hop - Camden Town

Camden Town is perhaps that one place I have frequented the most in London, so much that if I have missed going there for a while it's like withdrawal symptoms that takes me back. 
I firmly believe that I would have been a hippie if not for the 'normal' sort of family and upbringing I had. I am so much a hippie in my way of thinking, what I like and enjoy and I most definitely feel that we all have a bit of that in ourselves. Too bad if you don't. 

Something about the place makes me go back every time. There's always this unexplored part, a new pop-up stall, a new musician that gives me the push that there is a new place to see and a new thing to do in Camden. In fact I am happy re-visiting the same parts again and again if not for the new. 

I can't speak for everyone, but I can say for sure that I have always enjoyed going out window shopping. In fact, more than buying something, I like walking through shops, market stalls, browsing the various items on display. I enjoy the crowded market areas bustling with life. I don't end up getting a lot of things, which is good, as it would purely be impulse shopping and most of the stuff are not really needed. But it puts me to wonder the extent that a cottage industry can go. 

The Camden Market is not just a street market. 'Camden Town' is a huge market place in itself. Camden brings me closest to the 'life of a hippie' fantasy that I have. It's a place with little shops of all kinds, handicrafts from different parts of the world, home grown small businesses selling all kinds of little trinkets, clothes which you don't usually see in high street shops, food and drink of all kinds, a  juice bar on a barge, a little cafe under the staircase and organic this and that food. 

The main highlight of course is the part of the Regent's canal (Grand Union Canal) that cuts through Camden. The Camden Lock being that point where you can see many narrow boats making their way across the canal by operating the locks. It's amazing how the mechanics of this system was designed years before anything was a part of the modern world. 

The banks of the canal are great to hang out...relishing the market food or just sipping a drink or reading a book. The best thing about Camden Market is that it has a bit of everything in every part of it - Food, Drink Stalls, Clothing, Trinkets, paintings, art work, old antique items, goods made by reusing other things - it's the biggest flea market I have ever seen with a huge variety of all things. 

I remember just walking along the little rows of shops getting completely lost in them and suddenly there I see a cafe, once I have had my fill of caffeine I have another set of shops lined up - you can spend all day here! 

And it's not a market where you hear a lot of noise instead something you constantly hear from one side of camden to another is Music  - whether it's Bob Marley playing or John Lennon or hip-hop or rock, or the classics to the reggae beats there is constantly some music you hear and it seems to perfectly fit the setting of the shops. So very unique!

When in London a visit to Camden Town is a must, either during the day to browse through the market or for an evening meal or to experience the night life - This is one place not on the tour bus that circles around London. Go find the hippie in you... Camden is waiting! 

Monday, December 09, 2013

Random Notes - It's that time of the year

Alright, just so we like to write random things about what's happening and what's not with life in general. 

It's that time of the year.....when you leave work its so dark that you want to hit the bed straight away, wearing a few extra layers still makes you feel cold to the bone, you may have a few too many clothing items on you that one minute you are hot as a freshly baked potato while in the tube or can't feel your fingers the minute you are out on the streets,  a day starts and ends by looking into the weather report for the next 24hrs and you'd need another hot drink even after sipping through 6-7 cups of tea or coffee a day...Well, I'll take it that you're getting the swing of things. 

I am being my own moody self and there's no changes on that end. I am uber happy and super excited about the simplest of things on one day and have a completely grey, sulky, sad, cry-at-the-drop-of-a-hat-day just the next time the moon went around the earth. 

It's that time of the year which makes me the most emotionally drained when compared to any other time of the year- looking back on things unaccomplished, undone, unchanged in the past year there is a disappointment of some sorts on one end while the other end seems to be alright with the little new pleasures, new thoughts that took shape this year. 
It's a time to look forward to much more than any other time for that new year, for the new challenges, times and projects that I can take over and get at in the next year to come. It's like another chance in life to do something that you always wanted to, to change that annoying habit of yours that stuck like a parasite to you and to try and correct those mistakes that you repeated ....yet again. 

The drive to learn is still bubbling from within,the constant go to a new place even if its just a new street in the same city, or click a new picture, learn a new tone,read a new note, make someone happy, a little gesture to change a little thing for someone - This "do something" is what I have heard my inner voice sing to me, shout at me to keep me on the go. 

The restlessness to keep at something, not getting what I really want is constantly trying to take over me so easily. I am prodding along..... the 'Kat Rahi hai Zinadagi'....feeling, is not keeping me as positive as I would like to be. But I am trying, trying to hold myself together, to stay happy, to think ahead and leave the rest to dear God thanking him for those days when I neither feel too happy nor too sad but count the little blessings and stay just content.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

London Diaries - Time for a Cuppa - White Mulberries

Any time is a good time for Coffee - whoever said this (if at all), said it right. I am a coffee person during the day and a tea person during the late afternoons and evenings and would not mind spending a free moment at a coffee shop. Ask to meet me at a coffee shop and I am ever ready.

This cold winter's day in London, having a day off, I set out to gallivant around the streets of the city. I made up my mind to pick a warm little coffee shop to spend the afternoon. St. Katherine's docks was one of the first few places I had visited in London and had fallen for the place instantly.
White Mulberries is tucked away amongst other cafes, delis and shops bang in the middle of the docks.
Having had a rather heavy meal with a friend this afternoon I decided on coffee and a sweet treat.  Flat white was my pick and it was well worth it.

The simple d├ęcor with exposed brick and views over the dock makes you wanna sit there forever sipping the warmth. Ideal place with a book or to browse.

It was perhaps the first time I had toasted banana bread, the right amount of sweet, crunch and buttery goodness - I would give my vote for the best I have had so far in London. The other cake loaves looked yumm too.

Lunch was not on my mind, so I didn't bother much, though there were no veggie options for the sandwiches and rolls the ones that were displayed looked freshly made and full of fillings - I bet it would be good.

The staff were friendly, pretty much every one who walked in had a chat with the barista.

I would definitely go back to this one and oh! I also have a loyalty card!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cheat's Cookery - Potato Cutlets

Well! According to me this isn't cheating, but having known so many people back home who prepare every component of this dish at home I'd resign to calling mine cheats cookery as many things are shop bought in my case. that I have got my foreword out of the system I'll write about my potato cutlet saga. 

All I wanted to prepare for the evening meal was a simple aloo jeera with a few spices - cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli powder, some turmeric and salt to taste and serve this as a chunky potato side dish. What I however ended up with were overboiled potatoes and so it was a masala mash that ended up with in my pan. It also was extremely spicy - you see I love spicy food so much that I went a bit over board this time.

I thought of making cutlets out of these immediately and chopped a whole lot of onions, carrots, got my peas and ginger mince ready. After the prepping up I decided to make it with just the potatoes and not add anything else - mainly coz the quantity was so much that it would have been enough for 6-8 people.

Potato mix- 
Potatoes - boiled and over boiled works just fine!
Jeera powder
Chilli powder
Cumin powder
Salt to taste
Seasoning - oil, cumin, mustard, asaphoetida 

Chutneys to serve (the cheat factor) 
Green chutney - mother's recipe's Bombay sandwich chutney has got me completely
Date & tamarind chutney
Sweet chilli sauce - not a great option but my cutlets were so spicy that I thought. It would help.

Prepping the Cutlets-
Corn Flour - 2tbsp (add water to thin it)
Breadcrumbs  (the cheat factor)

How I made it:
I made nice big patties out of my potato mix and dunked them in corn flour, rubbed them against bread crumbs and toasted them on either sides and voila! My cutlets were ready.

How I enjoyed it:
I served them with all my chutneys and as it still was extremely spicy I finished it off with a dollop of curd/yogurt. This made a perfect anytime snack, I had one during tea, another as my evening snack and couple of them for dinner.

Friday, November 08, 2013

It's Engineered - Part 3

After a few years into this I can say that I kind of understood what I had to do for the rest of the journey - just don't think, take each day at a time and enjoy the ride. 
Well, it's fair to say that there is a method in the madness. The Part1 and Part2 shows the zombi-ness with which I was going through the course. I had now begun to somewhat like what I was doing. At least when it worked, it was a good subject to study. 
I did feel a bit under pressure that I had topped the class the previous semester and wanted to come out with a decent score - you know the one time wonder syndrome was haunting me through the 5th semester. I was scared that I would fail miserably again and this time it will be seen as a bigger thing. 
I did notice the attitude of everyone - the lecturers, the HOD, some of the class mates, the lab attendants change in favour of me. They all seemed to think that I am this hard working, good girl and didn't get any nasty stares or comments from anyone. 

The temporary confusion in 5th Sem was the choice of electives that we had. Needless to say, my confused brain had no clue of what to choose, what's good , also what's easy and so on. This was the same for the next few semesters to come as 2 subjects had to be electives. We did make our decision and I didn't have any major issues with any other than Power electronics - had have no clue about what this was all about. 

I was comfortable planning my semester and brought about a good study-play balance. I planned to do combined study with a friend of mine who was from a different branch (telecom) and a different college. We made it a point to study the 1 or 2 common subjects we had together. I also had a very dear friend come home every single day from the other end of the city to study together with me. If not for him, I don't think I would have had the interest, the motivation or drive to study anything. In a way owe my marks and my 'doing well with the studies' to this friend. 

The semester was packed with a fair amount of activities. We had a better plan in managing the books that seemed to disappear from the library really quick by getting them from an external library, did better sharing of notes and reference books. Planned to get xerox, yes! the 30paise ones well in advance. Planned little samosa chat outings. explored a few other restaurants, cafes near the college. Made it a point to window shop in pretty much every Handicraft sale that was around and had luncheons at each other's place just in the name of studying. 

Over innumerable courses of taste my mom's vegetable upma's to the lovely christmas cakes from another friend to the occassional Neer Dosa treats from another pal's mom we went through the busy days. 
We now knew all about where to get the cheapest components on SP Road to the books on Avenue Road, also made a point to have a 'VTU Syllabus' book as a backup which was easy to read and digest when compared to the huge reference books. 

With a few notes in the exam paper about - please-pass-me, I-need-36-to-pass to I-don't-know-the-answer-but-the-answer-is-in-this-book (I wrote this for Power electronics), I managed to pass and pass well. I was the topper for the university, thanks to a friend who told me as her college had put up a board of all university topper's in all branches and their college names. I had reached a stage where I didn't understand the scale of things - how important it was or how it might change my life. I am glad I didn't have a clue as it did not change anything in my life other than happier parents.

6th Semester introduces to the world of projects - a Mini project is what we had to complete. Our chance to design, document, implement and build something from scratch that will 'work'. Thanks to my dad who gave us an introduction and some space in his friend's little factory and we were ready with our project - 'Liquid Level Indicator & Controller'. It went down really well at college as we had attempted something that we were yet to study in the 7th sem. But what was a disaster was that we had no clue what we had designed as we took so much help to complete the project that nothing much had entered our brains. This whole project episode introduced us to the world of Electronic City and the travels there and typing an awful lot of pages on the computer where we had to search for letters and do 1 finger typing.

It was overall a good year and was happy with the 'I got hold of it feeling' and was also enjoying the subjects as I went along. 

Friday, November 01, 2013

London Diaries - Table for One - Spuntino

The brief visit on a busy weekend evening made me fall in love with this place. I knew that minute that I had to go back. 

Spuntino - The extremely friendly & chilled out barmen cum waiters, the setting of bar stools and the walk in - take a seat - take it easy vibe the place brings with it are the key highlights. Love the fact that you are offered water as soon as you sit down like when you're visiting someone at their home and just when you are settling in and finding your bearings you already have the menu in front of you with water served with a cup of pop-corn with spice mix beside it. This was enough to make me love the place.

The menu has a mix of finger food to tapas style starters to filling mains with a great array of desserts. As a vegetarian I don't really pay attention to items which are not edible to me, but I bet if veggie options are good there is no need to think of what's available for the I can eat everything person in you. 

I settled in for a wild mushroom pizzette and unfortunately had no room for dessert but the cheesecake & the peanut butter & jelly sandwich looked sinfully yumm.

This tops my 'Table for One' list of places to eat, drink & spend a worthy me time. Must visit just for the different 'style' of food, service, ambiance, concept Spuntino brings with it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's Engineered - Part 2

So after the storm of Year1, a slight change is what is seen in the next year. By the way, did I forget to tell you about the bandh we had during our exams in Year 1 because Raj Kumar was kidnapped. That left us with just a few days off between year 1 and 2. Yeah! Things that happen!

Enter year 2 happened with half the class moving to their branch which was telecommunication, a few others who have moved on to take a branch change and few new faces who have moved into our branch from others. We also have a whole floor to ourselves in the building dedicated to Instrumentation, we have our own classrooms, department labs, HOD, lecturers and feel already quite an esteemed part of the process. Like a sense of cheap pride in belonging to something. 

There was still the factor of 'unknown' as I stepped through this year. I was aware of most things with the course - the 6theory+ 2labs per semester, the concept of internals & externals, the library books being unavailable, the 30p Xerox notes. But with every new year, new challenges happened.
We had our own lecturers and each came with their specialty (on and off the classroom). With it came the 'favouritism' and I obviously did not stand out in any way as a student, which did not help.  We either wrote notes all through the 1hr class or were distracted with the chain-smoker HOD holding the chalk-piece like a cigarette more than listening to him, or was trying not to laugh in the class of the lecturer who was Oh-so-delicate, or not move in the class of the hyper-alert-want-to-be-strict-lecturer, or try not to get caught in the foot-tapping-duster-banging-new-lecturer or try to understand what this lady-lecturer-who-dressed-like-a-housewife was doing here. (btw...learnt later that she was a gold medalist) 

The labs at our department were a disaster. They looked like they had not been cared for in a long long time.  We used to go in and spend almost 1/2 the allocated time in trying to find the components for the practicals in a big rubbish dump. Getting them to work was another story in itself. Don't know whether trying to understand the experiment was a bigger challenge or getting the components to work. To top that, we were divided into about 6-8 sub groups with 2 things working and we had to request fight to borrow the components from who got hold of it first. 
So, this whole episode introduced us to shopping with a completely different perspective. Commercial Street was replaced with SP Road, the plush shops of Brigade road was replaced with the electronic component shops on this SP Road, names like Adidas, Nike was changed to Vishal Electronics, Sangeetha electronics and a few others we frequented. Buying new books was never an option, so Avenue Road book shops and the road side pre-owned book stalls became our new best friend. It felt like I was running around like a headless chicken at times trying to get things rather than do something with them.
All this for joining a college which was termed a good one! 

Having classes in the morning kept us free most afternoons and evenings which gave us ample time to do the fun stuff. In between the dreams of we-will-do-this-when-we-have-more-money, we enjoyed the various adda's (hangouts) in the college. The staircase on the 7th floor where we shared the home-brought-food, the katte's (stone benches) around trees, hanging out in the dirtiest canteen one could have been to, cheap pleasures of having samosas and kachories and tea/coffee from the stalls outside college, the many lunch-outs at the various restaurants in Gandhi Bazaar and nearby areas became an every day life. We did treat ourselves to a matinee show or two and of course the trips to brigade road, MGs & commercial street had it's own excitement. 
Just stepping into the world of internet, we had our email accounts and played around sending each other one liners everyday. I remember having an account with which also sent me a cheque with Rs.50 for a month long use of emailing people. It seems like another world today.

Well...the 'studying' for exams would never have happened if not for the friends who helped do combined studies with me. Anyways... we only studied a few days before the exams and not otherwise. It became a norm. Oh! what fun it was doing those combined studies, I can't think of passing anything or 'understanding' anything in this year if not for the  studying together. Occasionally enjoying movies on DVD for a break. 

Semester 3 did end up being the nightmare I was dreading. I failed a lab. Well, let me not be humble and blame a few things -  a combination of me-not-understanding-the-subject + the components-not-working + i-got-one-of-the-toughest-experiments did not help me complete what I had to in the allocated time. The viva-voce was no more than a Hmmmm + Aaaah + Not sure + I-don't-know-the-answer-to-this.  Needless to say, I was totally shaken, I knew it the minute I finished the lab that this was not going to be a success. I broke down, cried like a baby with a friend beside me showing how a spring clip worked (See, Engineering all the way!), the way a spring clip bounces back in spite of being under pressure all the time. I think about this example even today when I am feeling crushed. 
So, the end of the 3rd semester was a FCD which we had previously craved for (First Class with Distinction- anything above 70%) however what it really showed up on my marks card was a big fat FAIL.  I don't have to mention what went through my dad's mind. The look he gave me when I announced my failure made me pray for the earth to suck me in. So, that was that. 

Just when I want to leave it behind and start fresh in the 4th sem I had to go through the embarrassment in class when every lecturer makes it a point to parade the topper of the class and failures of the class and me being the latter! Those who had scored less than me were still ok as they had managed to pass everything. It left me thinking I had to show this lot that I am not a bad student. So, 4th semester went through with the usual nuances of the course but with the determination to prove something. I don't think I had felt this bad about anything I had done or this determined about anything I was about to do ever in my life.  

Though with a bit of a chaos in planning the studies, the uncle (mentor) and cousin who had been through this course gave me all the books and notes they had which did come in handy. A K Sawhney's big fat book of Electrical and Electronic Measurements & Instrumentation became my new best friend. I joined Lab tuitions (eating more money from dad's pocket) to get through the 'failed' lab. This made it 6 theory + 3 labs for this semester. Again, the combined studies were a blessing and got me going. 

It was the day of the results and everyone from class were pouncing on the little department window with mesh on it inside which read the outcome of what you were in the past 6 months. The hyper-I-need-to-witness-the-reaction-of-students-getting-their-result lecturer and the I-love-to-give-a-piece-of-my-mind-to-every-student-and-make-them-feel-guilty-for-having-a-good-time lecturer were there to announce that I had failed again. Thank God that this was just them not-being-able-to-read-the-results-in-a-single-row - you see the name and university ID number are on the left hand corner of the results sheet with Internal marks, External marks and Pass/Fail for each subject in the middle area (which is 8*3 - 24 columns of data) and to the far right hand corner is what shows the grand finale of pass/fail and the Class in which you passed (if you did). So.... I was dejected all over again until this friend of mine shook me up to say that I had not only passed with an FCD but my marks were the highest for the entire class. That I had come first! Well... as they say, there is a first time for everything. 

What a mixed year that was. The first time I failed a subject and the first time I topped a class. I was happy, content and the heavy feeling I had carried with me for the 1/2 of the year was lifted but the sadness that I had failed stayed a little longer. The results of the lab came as a pass and I was relieved more than anything else. 
My dad just did not believe it and the uncle (mentor) was surprised how that happened!

Well.... I know it has been a bit of a story so far...1/2 way through the course and need to sustain the other half of the journey but at this point I was saying thank you to everyone who helped me get up and quietly enjoyed the moment. I would like to thank each and every one who stayed by me and let me know that it was no big deal. After all, today it doesn't matter that I had failed or that I had topped. 
Let me take a break from this.... Be back soon with 3 & 4. To be Continued.....

Monday, October 28, 2013

It's Engineered - Part 1

About  a decade ago was a time when I was excited about stepping into a new world, Having completed my university degree this was the time for me to get a job, have my own earning, be financially independent in a little way. 

The 4 years of engineering before that was some ride. Unlike most others who might have known what they wanted to achieve in life, I had no clue what I was getting into. This is my attempt to re-live those years of my life where I enjoyed what I did, but somehow had remained confused where it would lead me.

So, this is how it all started.....
I didn't score enough to get into a medical college which was my ambition in be a doctor. I scored just about enough to get into a dental college but did I want to spend 5 years plus some more on studying teeth? Definitely didn't sound like the thing, it seemed like too much hard work. So, without further thought I jumped into the most obvious choice (obvious because I was getting a seat, many in the family had done this course and survived, the rest of the friends clan seemed to be opting for this as a choice of degree and career). 
I also had a mentor in my uncle who gave me that little extra push that this is a good option and reassured it won't kill me. The only illogical inputs I had were that I didn't want to pick architecture as a stream as it was a 5-year course and that I didn't want Computer science either as I didn't want to study anything where I couldn't touch and see things! So, I ended up with Instrumentation Technology just as it sounded alright and I knew two others in the family who had taken this subject.
All this for one of the key decisions in life!

I cannot really recollect the first few weeks in the college as there seemed to be crazy tension. We were in a class which had the 'Instrumentation (IT)' batch and the 'Telecommunication(Telecom)' batches together. Little had I known that the first year was common to everyone irrespective of what you had picked as your stream of engineering. Now, my mind which was full of IT had to park that thought for a year and get into the roller coaster ride of studying Physics, Chemistry, Maths (yes! all over again), Introductions to Mechanical, Civil, Electronics, Electrical, Engineering Drawing and any other branch of engineering one can think of, all in one go. I think back of it as so bizarre to have a basket of different subjects thrown in. 

I hadn't a clue why I was welding and soldering sheet metal wearing the bus conductor's uniform on one day and carrying a huge T-square and drawing sheets to draw objects I had never seen the use of, on another. I had no idea why I had to be scared careful of SOM (strength of materials) or understand the details of (re)-reading clarks tables or why 'Pointers' was so important as basics to any programming. With C-programming by Balaguruswamy to SOM by Bhavikatti as the books I always carried, I had no idea what gibberish was entering my brain trying to make sense of what was written in them. 

Having friends from Telecom meant that we wont be together from year 2. So, just as you were getting to know someone they are gone too soon. Some uber-bright students were already thinking about branch changes. My little brain did not think of this even as an option as I had been through this 'choosing your branch' process during CET (Entrance exam to get through a professional course) and did not want to re-visit those days of utter confusion again!

Unlike school and pre-university I was introduced to the world of 'reference books'.  6 theory + 2 labs every 6 months (semester aka sem) with each subject having at least 3 books to pick the notes from! To top that, the only place to go to for books being the college library and darn, even before you think about it as an option, the 4 copies of that book you so badly needed have already been taken by this geek-clan of your batch months before you knew where the library was!

So, here's welcome to the world of 30paise kerosene xerox (photocopies). So, by the end of each semester you have so many xerox notes from every tom dick and harry who called them important or 'superb-notes', that your room and your bed would smell like a petrol station. And you would have no way got through even 50% of it. So much for student-friendly options. 

In between the sessions of trying to imitate the lectures who kept us going - from the bespectacled Maths lecturer, to the lanky-I-hate girl-students chemistry professor, to the HOD of chemistry who dictated his love letter in the class, to the dramatic-new-trying-to-impress-and-get-a-grip-on-the-class Physics lecturer, to the I-put-THE-before-every-word in my sentence Drawing master, to the ferfectly funny mechanical engineering frofessor we prodded along from one class to another. 

Just as I was trying to find my bearings was yet another tension of internal exams and externals. The seniors seemed to take internals very lightly and so did I, after all I was trying to learn a thing or two from them. They qualified to know the system better as they had survived a year or two in this circus.  

Well... the gamble is this - Internal exams are for 25 marks and the externals are for 100 with a total of 125 that one can score per subject in the semester, The pass mark being 50/125. Well, you'd think that if you have 25/25 in internals all you need in the externals is a 25/100 which should not be hard. So very WRONG! You need to get a minimum of 35/100 to pass the externals however internals have no such concept of passing marks. 
So, with just 7, 11, 13 in some of the subjects I had managed in internals, I had to get the remainder in the externals which comes up to more than 35. The lesson about taking internals lightly was not quite right. For someone who had never really scored below 70, 35 seemed like so little but with the tension + Not-understanding-the-subject + I-don't-have-the-books + 'which-xerox-notes-to-read' its seemed like a herculean task. Well, somehow with or without the math I did manage to get through the year (even before I knew where it went) with a mere 65% thinking about those 95% days a year before and having upset my dad a tad bit. 

So with that I'd say Bye for now, I'll go and treat myself to the Rs.4 samosas and chai outside the college gate and have a quick semester break to continue the saga....

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

My Virtual World - II

Well! As if it wasn't enough to have published being a total saddo once, I am doing it again. There is a method in the madness though, I had written about the web widgets that I adore and think as either useful or nice thing to have. It's been a few months now and I see the list has grown, so this is an attempt to talk about the add-ons to my original list. 

Instagram - Perhaps the best portal I have seen to store and share pictures, the hitch being that this app can be used to load pictures from a mobile device and not from your computer. Even better as I see it. In this age when we carry phones which can do a lot more, we end up clicking loads of pictures of things, places, events and what better way to keep them in one place other than instagram! You can also jazz this up a bit by applying one of the many design templates given, add tags and share them with friends. It's the best place I can think of for pics on the go, you don't need to have put in thought or used a great camera to capture this moment.  I was a fool to have ruled this off initially as not good. 

Quora - This is what I call a newspaper with a personal touch to it. A portal where questions can be asked about anything and everything and the common (hu)man replies - it could be you, it could be me...though I am more of a reader on this portal than a contributer. There is a way to vote up an answer that you agree to or follow a topic or a specific question that you are interested to know more. I now spend a little time reading through this and there is always something good to pick up from the conversations. 

Magzter - Who doesn't like magazines? This is really a one stop online shop to find, browse and subscribe to any magazine (of some reputation) anywhere in the world. Having had a habit of picking magazines every week from the local library, I had missed flipping through them for a quick read. This fulfills the gap. The subscription options are really inexpensive and there is a free magazine section too. 

What's App - Who doesn't know about this one! Perhaps the best thing that has happened to technology in a long long time. Feel blessed with this that I can catch close family and friends with a note. No hassle of email, being available, being expensive, a simple way to communicate and it even tells you if the person has seen it or not, is online or not. 

Nike+ Running/Endomondo - Well, I wouldn't say that this gets you running, but sure helps to keep you motivated. While Nike is meant for tracking your runs, it does have a system of collecting miles, adding friends, creating challenges and giving you awards on your profile to offer those cheap thrills. Endomondo is brilliant to capture any outdoor activity/sport you would do. I love to use it for cycling and walking. The best part is how you can give kudos to friends you have on your profile. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

A trip to work

Many moons ago I had written about my daily ride to work from home and back. Something today made me go back and read the 'badly' written post about my everyday journey .Now, lying in bed I ponder what a huge difference it is to my daily journey from the past few years.

Well, first of all the drive to get up early in the morning is really not there. For the majority of the months being cold, grey, damp, all you want to do is cuddle up under the duvet, especially for the owl of a creature that I am! The reality however is that I do drag myself out of the warm zone just to be able to enjoy my morning cuppa coffee while chatting to my mom many miles away. 

The underground or simply the tube in London is one of the best in the world. No doubt. I don't have to give it 5 stars to confirm the fact. In the peak hours however, it's like getting into a tin of sardines which is already full up to the brim. There might not be an inch of space in the tube but what's worth noting is the fact that there is no one talking. The only noise you are left with is the growl of the iron tyres rubbing against the tracks and the announcements. 
It's amazing how so many people travel and there's no conversation what so ever. Being such a crowded city, I also don't recognise any one else travelling on the trains even if I happen to take the same one every day. I can say that in the past 5+ years of travel I have known less than 5 people like that. 

Just as a note to add, there are 2 routes to work and the first few years I took the district line (in other words the slowest line on the tube network). I stopped dong this route as soon as I had a choice as the pace of the train made me pull my hair out.

The other route which I take now is to take the baking hot bakerloo line to Waterloo and change to the main line train to Wimbledon.

Waterloo, where the 1st leg of my journey ends, where I get off to change trains is a circus in its own right. People of all kinds, with all sorts of things are walking in all sorts of directions humanly possible. Though there is an occasional brushing, tripping, dashing into each other it's quite orderly when you notice the movement. 
Just imagine each person inside a car, it would be a traffic jam from hell, but people on foot is a miracle, Perhaps the best traffic management system in the world.

After battling my way through the sea of people, I hit the far end of the platform to check for which train leaves the earliest of the 4 possible platforms and walk all the way to the first door of the first carriage to get on the 2nd leg of the journey.( that would take me right at the exit where I get off).

A short walk on either ends, 2 train rides and a circus in between pretty much sums my journey. 

I do find my humour in a few things - the robotic looks of the fellow passengers, some girls painting their faces to make themselves look prettier, the dosey characters trying to catch some lost minutes of sleep, the craziely sweaty corporates in their posh suits, the oversized headphones and some others like me who have decided to bury themselves in the book that they carry oblivious to the world around them. 

Conversations with fellow colleague(s) when we get a chance to travel together is the better thing about my everyday journey. Nothing beats the human connection which is above all else. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Wall

It's 2 AM and I have been looking at the wall beside my bed with many different thoughts crossing through the mind. While I have just finished reading a good book and have no other to pick up at this grave hour, a feeling of something has come to an end creeps through these dark hours of the unending night resonating with the blankness of this plain wall.

The section of the wall, a light dullness, a lived-in look compared to the fresh feel of the rest of the room has been in rendezvous with me on many such sleepless nights. So many memories, thoughts, ideas have creped up. Being in the cosy comforts of the bed where I'm tucked in, the wall has witnessed the narrations, a note, a poem, a song, hoping that it is remembered the next morning when I would have wish to put it down in ink. 

Imaginary flowers, birds, patterns have found this as a canvas, re-tracing where the last stroke was left. Pleased that a sketch went well or erasing with yet another imaginary instrument to start fresh. 

That little spider on the far end of the wall has weaved it's little home, it's little world in this big broken world. A thought crosses my mind that I have neglected this corner when I vacuumed the room. What rights do I have to break the little spiders' world? Hold it against the fact that it built its little abode in my room? Am I not trying to build my own little abode the same way as the spider?

Just as I toss and turn,  I gape at the crack in the wall. This being brushed away as a small thing, nothing structural, just a little leak that might have caused it....isn't that a reflection of the life I live? A little crack here, a little leak there but we carry on. 

The wall isn't empty. It has our memories collaged together, to bring those smiles when  we remember the days gone by. They stand there looking at me saying all was well and is well and it's just the game of thoughts that run through the mind. 

The paint defect,the damaged paint with the table rubbing in have all got a story to say,  or so I think or is it just my imagination running wild.....? 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A simple, uncomplicated, easy, blah blah..... far from it.

Well, just as I thought I was able to churn out blog posts pretty quickly, I've had a brief writer's block, a sudden loss of ideas, a pause. Nothing seemed relevant, concrete or complete enough to post here.

A lot of things are going through my little insignificant brain from the past few weeks and a lot is going on in my life too, oh! don't jump into conclusions - nothing too good nor bad but plain simple everyday life which I think has its own worth. 
While one part of me is feeling all tired and frustrated and sick of the boring busy routine I have for myself, the other side of me is trying to be all positive and peppy reminding me that I don't own all of life's problems and that I need to learn to be happy and content with what I have and not. Yeah Yeah... I do get philosophical in my mind at times. 

Somehow in all that I am consumed with in my current life, memories are taking over most of my time and thoughts, leaving me with cackling laughter, a wide smile , an odd tear.  I can't get by most of the day to day tasks without thinking about how it used to be or without reflecting on what I had done a few years ago on the same occasion. It's about remembering the loved ones I have left behind far far away from where I am today. Nostalgia seems to be taking complete control over me and my activities.

More so in these months of festivals. The urge to do things, to connect the current life to the past years is huge. To weave in what roots I carry to the modern, western way of living. There is a sense of carrying on by myself towards  what I need to achieve, how I need to live, what I need to do, however with the consciousness of making this journey with those that matter to me.

I'd love to tell my loved ones back home what they mean to me. I'd like to remind them not to forget me. I'd like to let them know I think of them all the time. I'd like to say that without the memories knitted with them I cannot progress today...that's how dependent I am on it. 
However, can I bring myself to saying it? do I actually say it? No, I don't.  Communication, Conversation, speaking my mind, showing my feelings is something I never thought I'd struggle with so much. So much that I hate what I end up doing, just bottling it within. Keeping mum!

Call this post a vent, call this a cry, it's actually neither. It's just the haphazardness of a complex thinking mind that's made it's way on paper. It's a pretty weird feeling I am living with in the past few months. It's amazing how a fairly sane routine too can kill you. 

I know I am trying, learning, failing, being happy, being sad, being confused, being angry all at the same time and getting all too over-sentimental about everyday life. And I know that a bit of randomness in a blog post won't hurt and you won't mind it. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cheat's Cookery - Tomato Saaru (Rasam)

Anna-Saaru (Rice & Rasam) is our staple meal. It's funny how after a couple of days of having all types of food our heart's crave for this simple wholesome meal full of flavour. Sunday evening is typically anna-saaru time, to comfort me from the weekend that is done and prepare me for the week of work and the mundaness that comes with it.

Saaru is a any-day, any-time dish for me.  I am (used to be) strict about a couple of things when it comes to this dish -  I don't prepare it if I don't have nice ripe tomatoes and a fresh bunch of coriander. Everything else can be substituted - lime instead of the tamarind sauce, sugar instead of jaggery, even moong dal instead of toor dal. Now, are you thinking that all this is cheating already?

Well, the last week I  cheated on one of the main ingredients - the tomatoes. Are you thinking of the obvious substitute - canned tomatoes? No! By the way, I do have an odd feeling about canned food, can't bring myself to use them. Hmmm, that's another story in itself. 

I had bought this bottle of passata sauce from the little shop selling all stuff organic (Now, that makes me think that everything there is healthy and natural!, Weird how the mind operates).  I thought of making a simple spaghetti pasta with tomato sauce and ground black pepper and not fuss about with any other ingredient. This passata sauce was made of sun-dried tomatoes (one of the bestest things that I have found in the western world).
I bought this for a crazy day when work was too much, eating out was not an option. A day like that did happen, but the craving  was for Indian, ghar ka khana (home made) which made me do this version of saaru. 

I just kept a pan and put all the ingredients in the pan, brought it to a boil, added the tadka (seasoning) and served it hot with rice.  So, I ended up making an otherwise authentic south indian staple meal by using pasta sauce! 

Passata - 1/2 the bottle ( The cheat factor) 
Saarina Pudi - 2 tbsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Ground black pepper - 1 tsp
Water - to thin it. 
Salt to taste

For the tadka:
Sunflower Oil - 1 tbsp
Cumin - a pinch
Mustard - a pinch
asafoetida (another key ingredient)
curry leaves 
coriander (nothing happens in my kitchen without this)

It was the easiest tomato saaru ever and tasted heavenly with the sun-dried tomatoes giving a huge earthy flavour with both sweet and tang bursting in the mouth.