Friday, March 28, 2014

Having a Business Mind - NOT!

Fruit Garden is a little shop near home which stocks Asian groceries, organic and health foods. Every time I wait at the till to pay for my shopping, I can't help but notice the different types of little bites - cookies, fudges, health bars, protein bars, nut bars and so on that this shop sticks and it always tempts me to try one. They are pretty expensive for what they are and this stops me from picking things up.

A really tiny piece called the 'Indian bar' caught my eye and it was full of goodness as it said on the board - dates, almonds, pistachios and cardamom all beaten up and mixed together - can't go wrong with that combination, can you?  This tiny bite was 70p which is a lot for what it was. I started my conversation about this to the shop keeper who is a pal now and he mentioned that it's a very fast seller and though expensive, it is really very tasty. Now, all my resistance in the past months was futile and I had to try it. 'No one can eat just one' doesn't apply only for pringles or lays you know. This bite was indeed quite tasty.  I also spoke to him that if I can make it, I would sell the same for 40p and jokingly chatted if he can stock my product - his quick answer being  that another Indian lady who frequents the shop had a similar idea and the taste was not quite the same when she tried it.
During my walk back home, I pondered on stopping by Tesco to buy these ingredients to make at home. But by the time I got home and started getting into the mundane evening chores my mind slowly drifted from the whole business idea - making some to stock it in the shop was a out of the question, I couldn't be asked to make some for myself!
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine and me did almost of week of research and looked into the paper work to start up a Indian chat stall in one of the markets in London. Well, a Saturday business where we can cook some simple one pot Indian meals and sell it. Though this idea came by for our love of markets, street food and cooking, the thought of starting something up on our own gave us the thrill.
Of course, by the end of the week when we went through the process steps that we need to go through to get a license, to the logistics issue, to not having a large kitchen and extra space in either of our homes to stock the pots, pans and groceries and to the final thought of giving up the precious Saturday did not look like it was worth the effort. Was it not easier to stop by one of those stalls, buy the food, sit under a tree or on the lawn, or by the river to rejoice the food?
There were many other small ideas that came and died a silent death with my I-don't-wanna-take-a-chance, it's-too-much-effort, the-returns-aren't-really-that-good or in other words a 'I'll-stick-to-my-day-job-and-do-nothing-more' attitude that runs in me.
The hubby on the other end is quite an opposite.  Though he does have the ' it's-too-much-effort 'problem, he definitely does not have the other traits I have. In the past 6 years, I have noticed him speak and do things that I might not have imagined in my wildest dreams. That thought would have NEVER occurred to me. He too is busy with his day job of being a doctor which is far more tedious and time consuming than mine - so I will not hold him against not really starting anything but appreciate the fact that his passion towards it doesn't die as quickly as mine.
He mentioned recently out of frustration that he should have been born in a Gujju or Marwari family where everyone is up for doing something on their own. The people who surround him, in other words me and his dad of course lack that drive.
Someday, I wish I can come around to doing something than just making notes of what I could have possibly done, but for now I understand that I don't really have a 'Business Mind' whatsoever.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

London Diaries - Green Spaces - Richmond Park

This post is a bit outdated or perhaps I should call it 'Not in Season'.  The plan was to visit, click and write about Richmond Park  in the Autumn months where the landscape has the autumnal feel and colours to it and when it's  the rutting season of deer. So, in that aspect this post has been a bit delayed as we are in spring now. Nevertheless, here’s a note about the park and the deer that it’s known for.

Richmond Park is quite unique to the rest of the parks London has to offer.  It feels like you have gone a long way away from the city to this natural reserve, a forest area and that’s the best thing about it. You are very much in the city but so out of it too giving you the best of both worlds.

Our first visit to the park was on foot and we realized that we wouldn't get too far walking. One look at the map and the scale made us head right back. We made many trips after that day where we typically visited Richmond Park either as a destination for a drive in the evening or in the summer months where we can hire bikes to go around the park which by the way, is great fun. There are a few little trails that you can pick from and it does make a good day out.

Going on bikes is also perhaps the best way to spot the deer that the park houses.  It’s just amazing to be able to spot deer just steps away from you in their habitat while you can stop by and watch the scene.

It’s been a long standing plan to visit the park in the Autumn months to see the colour of the trees turn yellow and brown and also to see this rutting of deer which only happens in the autumn time. It pretty much has been a 5-year plan to be able to do that (you know those 5-year the ones we studied in school about the Indian constitution). Last Autumn we finally made it happen. 

We managed to do an early-ish visit on a weekend and had a lovely morning out.
We didn't really see the deer in a lot of action, but them camouflaged with the drying grass made a lovely sight. Here are a few clicks. It was one of those grey, dull, the-sky-is-going-to-fall-on-us-any-minute type of days, but we waited a fair bit to get some pictures. Unfortunately, there was no blue sky. Take a look....

Friday, March 14, 2014


 I don't usually write a review about a movie or a book as I don't think I am worthy enough to publish my say on someone's hard work.   This isn't a review, though I am happy to recommend anyone reading this to watch the movie - if you haven't already. 

Highway, is perhaps the first movie that made me think I should write about. Now, let's be clear,  I am not saying it is the best movie ever. I would probably not go away and watch it 100 times over like I do with a few other movies, some that I had written about a while ago. I didn't love all the songs, I did think it was slow paced, I thought it could have been shorter, which, by the way, I think about every Hindi movie I watch these days. But, in spite of sounding so negative about it so far, there were enough things in the movie that made me think about it, made me go back to it even when it was over. 

This movie made me connect with it in more ways than one. I could relate with the character, with the free spirit, with the travels and tales that come with it, with taking each day as it comes and mainly with 'NOT having a plan'. It must sound like I live in a fancy fairy tale taking each day as it comes, not knowing where I am headed, just go with the flow and all that. But, in all honestly, when I give it a thought or two, I have been doing that for more years than I care to remember. 

Traveling is something that can catch up with most people pretty easily. It's addictive. You plan a travel, make your bookings and go away for a while and I bet, a few days after you return, you're most likely browsing and reading about the next potential travel if not booking it. 

I love to travel too but my travel needs to have a factor of nature to it. A week in the most expensive beach resort just does not attract me. Instead, tell me we are going for a cycling tour of 3 days for 8hrs a day and I am all up for it. Guess you know what I am talking about.  That thrill to experience the place in your own way, by touching it, but connecting it with simple things like climb a hill, wash your feet on a brook, look up at the sky and observe the stars and just marvel at the solid mountain range that stands so strong. Highway brought out that person who enjoys going out and about and relishing the moment - whatever the place and situation has to offer, feeling that place and taking in what it has to offer. 

One of my wildest fantasies have been to hitchhike a ride on a lorry (well... a truck!) in India and voila! the movie is shot mostly on a truck and the road and the pit stops of this journey. The way the cargo lorry system operates in India makes me wonder. It probably is such a lonely job, when you see those drivers take these truck loads to many miles away with almost a week or so on the road and the only point of contact with people, the communication and interaction would be when they stop for a refreshment, that little cup of tea may be. There must be so many stories associated with a travel like that, but it makes me think if they really think about it as an adventure. Do they not think of it as their job? their Bread & butter? Surely, it's hard,being away from family, being on the road constantly without really a familiar place, I bet they do it for a living and not for the kick that the travel gives you for the likes of you and me. This character is perfectly portrayed by Ranveer Hooda in the film. You know that this man holds many stories with him behind that hard exterior one sees. Haven't we seen many such people, many of these lorry drivers taking a little break at a dhaba on the highway? 

Imtiaz Ali, the director, must be a wanderer of sorts. The way he has brought in the music of the road, of the region blend in to the main story makes it so real. The things that Veera, played by Alia Bhatt ends up doing - talking to herself, gape at a hill and the next minute you are climbing it, the many stops for chai, sitting on a rock and just looking at the scenery or should I say the non-existence of a scenery. Something as simple as making Maggi in a little hut up the hill or the fact that she doesn't think about the next day. She's living that moment like she's in a dream world captured me really dearly. 

"Jahan se tum mujhe laye ho, mein wahan wapas nahi jaana chahti.
 Jahan bhi le ja rahe ho, wahan pahunchna nahi chahti.
 Par yeh raasta, yeh bahut accha hai.
 Mein chahti hoon ki yeh raasta kabhi khatam na ho."

These words did it for me.  I cannot remember the number of times I have wished that the ride never ended, that feeling of coming to an end and not being able to re-create the moment happens when we reach the destination. All we have left is the memories of the road. 

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” 

How true was this man saying this? I don't think I agree with this more at this stage in my life. Let's see what a few years down holds for me. But for now, I am happy to stick to this.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Window Seat

Yes, I have one on my train from London to Nottingham. From the time I remember, I have never said no to a train journey. I sometimes feel like I live in a little fantasy world I have created for myself where the simplest of things gets me thrilled.
It’s almost a decade ago that I was working in Chennai and made weekend trips back home to Bangalore (Yes… Bangalore and not Bengaluru!).  My world revolved around trains, booking centres and train stations. I also had this bizarre idea about working in the train station where I can announce the arrivals and departures in Hindi & Tamil. Something about naming the unknown and faraway places gave me a weird thrill. Like a train from Chennai to Delhi – wow! A long way to go.
I have to  get a window seat, preferably forward facing and no matter how many times the same route is taken, I have to look out for every station called and look outside at the passing landscape even if it was a rather plain non-dramatic scenery.  So a night journey was something I didn’t look forward to as much. I couldn’t sleep well – with the restlessness about where we are and how far we have come to the worry of what’s happening to my belongings and finally the Ticket collector nudging you to check your tickets just when you thought you could doze off.
The trains in the western world are, needless to say, different. For a start, they are extremely clean. They can be cozy, well, if the air con setting is correct, if not it can be quite chilly too. They are definitely fast, so you can really cover a lot of distance is not so much time. However, for  me, are 3 things about train rides here to back home that make a world of difference.
The uneventfulness, if I can say that is what doesn’t make me remember anything special about the train rides here. For a start, there is hardly any form of conversation with anyone, so you see I can sit there typing all this up! Secondly, it’s the food – the cold drinks, cold sandwiches and a few packs of chips (well…crisps as it’s called here) just don’t do it for me. God! Do I miss the fresh hot food coming out of the pantry car – and I am specifically talking about the Lalbagh Express which provided all this and enough entertainment for the rides back home. For a third, it’s the fact that it is so quiet which isn’t a bad thing, you can actually listen to music, read and sleep (if you can) at peace. But peculiar as it may seem I miss that Chug-Chug -Chuk-Chuk sound that is so characteristic of trains.
I have more stories to speak about my train rides 10 years ago than I have done in the past 6 years – and I know I have done more here than back home.
Nevertheless, the train journeys in the UK make you go through undramatic Rolling Meadows, the countryside is beautiful and can be quite picture perfect on a lovely day, but there is no huge change in the landscape – there is a monotony to it which is actually quite peaceful.
Train rides bring out the side of me which often does not surface.  It’s one of the few times when I don’t think much, the mind is inactive and just watching the scenes pass by taking in what comes along the journey