Ramblings on a Sunday afternoon

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Hiya… there is so much to talk about and so little time. Instead of being asleep, I am relaxing with a book and now the blog… Here goes:

  • I gained some weight in Goa (obviously)… too much food and rest and little exercise. So I went for a walk yesterday morning. The plan was to walk for 60 mins but I got 15 mins late. Now, how hard can 45 mins of walk be? Quite hard, actually. After 15 mins I got bored even though the weather was good and I had my ipod along. Thankfully, each round around my complex takes 15 mins so it was a matter of 3 rounds which I pushed myself to complete. I wanted to sleep on my return. Weird… I was supposed to feel refreshed but I was just tired and sleepy. There was no hope for that since it was time for work. All day my legs were aching and I had the Jazz classes today. Now, I am in bed trying to sleep off the pain. But, I plan to go for a walk everyday. I don’t have enough time to work out in the gym… I have been trying but cannot fit it into my schedule. Lets see how the walking works out.
  • Last night KC and I went for dinner to Big Chill in Saket. As I was leaving the Zara store after checking out the new collection (more on that later), the sales guy at Seacret caught me. I tried to avoid him since the products are expensive and I will never be able to afford them… ever. A year back I had been willingly led into the kiosk by a sales girl who showed me this amazing buffer. It was the best thing I have ever soon and I reached into my wallet to buy it. Price ??? Rs 3500… for a buffer!!! I smiled and fled. Yesterday, the guy showed me an amazing eye cream. Price??? Rs 7000… I laughed and told him I was not going to spend so much money on a cream. He persisted… showed me a scrub, night cream etc. And then offered 1 product free with the eye cream. Avoiding these guys is so difficult. I wish they would approach the people who purchase bagful of clothes from Zara instead of poor me- who only window shops there.
  • The new collection at Zara is… nothing new. Same old trousers (which were discounted earlier)… a top I bought  is available at the regular price (in a different color)… the blazer I have been lusting after is available at regular price again… it was discounted during the sale… same old styles… They really need to up the ante or will lose the charm.
  • I will reveal a secret- after watching serials like True Blood, I head over to tvrecaps.ew.com to read about the episode. Crazy, right? Not in USA… where people read about the episode and post their views on it. Their involvement level is higher than Indians. The difference is- in India, we (saas and bahus) identify with the characters in the event (not matter how over the top), in USA, they comment on plots, characters, point out things they liked or didn’t. I am sure producers/writers of the show are reading these comments. After all, it affects TRPs. Also, some actors are popular – they may have minor roles but ‘coz they were liked in some other serial. I guess, the writers/producers would want to increase their roles to increase TRPs. I read the recaps incase I missed out some part of the episode or could not connect what happened previously. Also, some of the comments are hilarious. Like, there are 2 black characters in True Blood… 1 is very popular but the 2nd one was a whiny character everyone was bored with (she has been turned to a vamp now). Some negatives comments against the character (not actor) started a racial war of comments. It was quite dumb actually. But, thats not the point. A lot of people were commenting how the serial ‘Game of Thrones’ is better than True Blood etc etc. I was intrigued. I downloaded and watched the 2 seasons (20 hours) in a week. Yep… thats a lot of TV/laptop. Game of Thrones is about kingdoms and war and maybe supernatural characters. It is based on a book by the same name by George R R Martin. I am waiting for the next season to begin in 2013. Worth a watch. Now I have downloaded Six Feet Under but its taking me some time to warm up to it. 6 episodes down and I am wondering about the tag “Best Serial created”…
  • I had purchased ‘Kitne Aadmi Thay’ by Diptakriti. I follow his blog and ordered the book from flipkart. It is a book about Bollywood trivia… only his blog made me spend that money. Disappointing. I don’t think I am going to finish it. Then I read the next part of True Blood… there is one more but its priced quite high. I will wait for a cheaper version before purchasing it. For the last 2 weeks, I have been hooked to the book ‘Game of Thrones’… problem is that the serial follows the book completely so there are no surprises. Its like I am watching the serial all over again. Hopefully, the 2nd part will be full of surprises.
  • I baked a cake on Rakshabandhan. I had the day off, was craving for something sweet but with fruits and wanted to carry something for my bro in Mumbai. I took the recipe for carrot, pineapple and walnut cake from Anita’s blog-  http://sliceofmylyfe.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/a-birthday-wish-for-the-special-people-in-my-life-with-some-carrot-cake/. Its the best cake I have made at home… yum. My bro also loved it. Here is a pic:

  • Recently some school acquaintances have formed a group on whatsapp and chat all day. Its kinda fun… except most of them have kids… and all of them (except me) like kids. Which makes it very awkward and irritating. Now, I do understand that mothers love their kids and love to talk about them. We all pass through stages in our life which change us- school, graduation, losing virginity (not in that order), post graduation, first job, affair, marriage, kids. Full stop. Each stage is monumental but kids are the most of all. Also, it is the also the last stage. I can’t think of anything more significant… not for me atleast. Yes, I also believe life ends as we know it once we had kids – for better or for worse. What I am trying to say is (and maybe failing) that mother/fatherhood is very significant. I do not deny it and mothers talking about their kids is natural. There are 2 blogs I follow which talk about kids regularly. My problem is when these mothers expect me to follow their footsteps- have kids and love them. Now, to each his own. The mothers cannot understand how someone does not “want” kids and does not believe that they are the best things in life. I don’t believe in universal truths. What is right for someone else is not necessarily right for me. And then these mothers start advising me to have kids. And even male colleagues/friends cross all limits by asking me when I am having kids. Its like everyone is worried about my ticking biological clock (except me). A best friend used to advise me to have kids in every phone conversation. I have stopped answering her calls. I may or may not have kids… its not of relevance to my life right now… but I refuse to follow the stages of life set by society. I will not have kids because now is the time or because I am expected to have them. I am such a stubborn mule that I may end up not having kids just to show “society” that its possible and its normal… and not having kids does make me a half person. I do not need to have kids to feel “complete” or “fulfilled”. Unfortunately, none of the women/men making my life miserable read this blog. I hope they did.
Ta da.. I am off to the Game of Thrones while KC snores away next to me.


Just a few minutes of typing…

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.. So I have a few minutes before the work begins and I thought I should blog.

KC and I returned from a well deserved holiday in Goa. 1 or 2 colleagues were surprised that I was going to Goa in the monsoons… after all, it is a non peak period. I think the whole peak and non peak period is the travel industry concept… any place, any beautiful place has its charm in every season. I remember while studying in Mt Abu I hated the foggy, incessant rains. My parents had visited during the monsoons and told me how lucky I am that I get to stay in such a beautiful place. I did not understand the charm of fog with the sticky, wet feeling. Goa is green and beautiful during this time of the year. It is also not very crowded which makes it a perfect place to relax. There are 2 kind of holidays you can enjoy in Goa- book a resort with a private beach and lots of activities to keep you engaged or visit during the peak season and go beach hopping, drinking at various shacks, gambling and water sports. We chose the former. We stayed at Dona Sylvia Resort near Madgaon. This is the 3rd time we have stayed here and like it. The private beach is… private, clean, beautiful. The buffet is fairly decent, the pool is always open, rooms are good. We spent 4 days and ventured out just once. We got a good deal with add ins like free drinks (alcoholic and non alcoholic) from 6-8 pm, 50% off on spa/massage (yep, we got a massage), free use of jacuzzi etc. On the last evening, KC and I had planned to drive down to Madgaon but my very (un)predictable hubby was too tired (lazy) to drive. Instead of being the ablaa nari, I rented the 2 wheeler, seated him behind me and drove. It was fun…

All in all, a good vacation and I am glad there is a day off on 15th August’12 ‘coz working for a week just makes me want to go for another vacation.

I leave you with some pics:



Meri nayi gaadi

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I remember my first car with fondness. I also remember the first time I touched a steering wheel. After MBA,  I had some time to kill and enrolled for driving classes. My parents believe that there is no point in learning to drive if you are not going to drive regularly and there was no way dad was going to let his kids touch the car. I was a fast learner (nope, am not boasting… the instructor told me that) and got my license before joining work. When I moved to Gurgaon my colleagues advised me to buy a car to make life easier but for me the move was temporary. I knew I would move out soon enough. It was only when I moved to Gujarat and had to use local transport on a daily basis that I decided to buy a car. Summer was approaching and travelling would be torturous. The options were- buy a new cheap car or buy a good second hand car. I decided to go for the latter since I had not driven in years and it wouldn’t matter if I damaged it a little here and there. I purchased an old Zen- the best car for beginners. I also joined driving classes again to gain confidence. My first scratch on the car was when I drove my friend R and his wife N for dinner in Rajkot. R was quite encouraging. I was able to drive the Zen ‘coz he would come every evening with me.
And then another job happened. I moved to Mumbai. I didn’t need the car since driving there is a pain… but travelling on trains is a bigger pain. I decided to drive instead. The car has been with me through the worst jams, some minor accidents and moved to 3 states with me (Gujarat to Maharashtra to Haryana).
KC and I had been thinking about buying a new car for almost a year. No, nothing was wrong with the car but the whole Delhi mentality got to me and I wanted a new car. The Zen started looking shabby.
We even checked out Alto but I decided to stick to my Zen. And then petrol prices zoomed so we decided to manage with what we have. Finally, we started looking for a car when his company came up with a lease policy for employees.
My priority was a car which is not very common (I10 and Swift were sooo out), looks good, is a comfy drive and mileage is decent. We looked at below options:

  • Skoda Fabia: An excellent drive. We were looking for diesel cars initially but when we worked out the difference in prices of diesel and petrol… we were going to end up spending more on a diesel car despite the rising prices of petrol. It would take us 2-3 years to break even. Also, the dealers do not give discounts on diesel cars to push the petrol variants in the market. Skoda overall is ok but it is expensive. We would not be able to afford the highest variant and variants in our budget would not include Anti brake system, air bags and have cheaper interiors. What is the point of spending 5 lakh if the car will not even have safety features?
  • Chevrolet Beat: It is supposed to have the highest mileage and works out to be cheapest in the category. But when I drove it, it was worse than my current Zen.
  • Honda Brio: I loved the looks… it was a comfy drive… the only problem was that the dealer was not giving as huge discounts as Skoda but we could still afford the highest variant.
Now, I know how people love to drive. Until now, I drove ‘coz of convenience now I drive ‘coz I enjoy it.
The best part is KC has also started driving now. He enrolled in the class last year but since then has been pretending that he cannot drive confidently so that I would chauffeur him around.
Btw, the car is blue in color.


Cheers to I, Me, Myself

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Hey… I couldn’t blog this weekend but I was busy getting KC to file his IT returns. Nope, it ain’t done and I cannot post mine without his. Ok, I can and I will if he does not finish by this weekend…
Filing IT returns online is so convenient. The company accounts guy had introduced me to it in the 2nd year of my job and I have done it myself since. I also managed to get my IT refund 6 months back. Those guys are helpful… I just had to visit thrice. On the 3rd visit, they asked me to get address proof and then only the cheque would be handed over. It would have taken me 30 mins to make the trip home and bring the documents but I was bugged. I asked the relevance of address proof. How is the refund related to where I stay? My address could be the streets, why does it matter to them? The guy finally relented and gave me my cheque. But it was not as much of a hassle as I expected it to be.
I am addicted to ‘Outsourced’ these days. The serial is about an American guy sent to India to run a call centre. It comes on Zee Cafe after 11 pm and is hilarious. Do watch it.
I was talking to my sis last night and said to her; “If we look after our ownself somebody else does not have to worry”. I am a strong believer in “I, me and myself”. My first priority is keeping myself happy. Only when I am in the happy frame of mind can I think about anyone else. Over the years I have realized that the only one to fight my battles is me… its like Kareena says in Jab We Met “Main apne sabsi favorite hoon”. If only we could all think like this. Call me selfish/self centered, this philosophy has kept me sane.
First I think about myself and once those interests are taken care of, I think about anyone else.

And cheers to that.

Next posts coming- New Car and “Being a Woman sucks”….


Punju Wedding

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I attended my first Punjabi wedding. Technically, I did not. I left before the wedding started but after dinner was served.
A friend (who used to be close) got married. We (me and another common friend) along with KC were invited for the engagement and wedding/reception. This common friend- lets call him D, is also a Punjabi. The three of us have worked together and now are in separate companies. Like D said, “you are my friends from work”. Yeah, he has a lot of categorizations- friends from school, college, work, current work, family friends, relatives etc…. too many compartments to fit all the friends in his life.
But before I get to the wedding, I need to talk about what I wore… or what I did not wear.
In 2008, when I had just moved to Gurgaon I was invited to the wedding of the brother of a colleague. I had no intention of attending but a call in the evening from a senior made me change my mind. I had just moved from sales to the HQ and my clothes reflected that- daily wear, semi formals, comfy clothes and nothing for a party/wedding. With no time to shop I pulled on trousers and a top which would fit party wear. Big mistake. I was mortified when I saw the turnout. Colleagues who looked drab at work had transformed into swans. So, when another colleague was getting married a year later I took the time and money to buy a wedding dress. That is the only dress I have worn to ALL weddings. It has been 4 years. 1.5 years back I had to attend KC’s friend’s engagement. I bought a sober dress to wear there. After that, I wore it at the office Diwali celebrations. Taking all this into consideration, I decided not to buy anything new for the friend’s wedding. But I did not feel like wearing the same clothes. I decided to wear western outfits. The only people I knew at the wedding were the friend, D, KC and maybe 1-2 batchmates from B school. I didn’t care what they thought.
Coming back… the engagement was at Pitampura which is in extreme North Delhi. I have been there a few times and regretted it. On Friday evening/night, I reached Pitampura at 9 pm. The time on the card was 8 pm. I was late… or so I thought. The friend- lets call him A, was waiting for the to-be bride… food had not been served… 50% of the people had not arrived. WTF!!! At 10 pm, the bride-to be arrived and by 10.30 pm they were engaged. We reached for the dinner and left by 11 pm. There was a DJ and I assume the party actually started at 11.30 pm and went on till wee hours.
The wedding was on Sunday night in some godforsaken farmhouse in Chattarpur… there were no street lights and the road was bumpy. I told KC if we have come to the wrong address, we will head back home and go to sleep. We arrived at 9.30 pm and I thought we are late. Guess, who meets us at the gate? The groom… in the car… with the baraat around him. He had not yet entered the venue. Finally, after all the dancing and insane noise he entered the venue at 10.30 pm. By then, KC and I had eaten dinner and were planning to leave. At 11 pm, we left just as the bride was arriving. The wedding probably started by midnight.
In all my life, below are the different kind of weddings I have attended:

  • Family friends: Since I was in the boarding, I did not know most of my parents’ friends. So, these weddings were a pain. My sis and I would plead with our parents to let us stay home but 9 out of 10 times we had to attend. Who was going to cook dinner for us? It was a quick outing… enter, meet the couple, smile, get pics clicked, rush for dinner, eat, leave. Done- by 9-10 pm max. By 11 pm even the couple would have left for home. Btw, this is in Gujarat… so, no liquor
  • Family- Sister: Sis’s wedding was different… weddings at home are different… the time and day does not matter. It is an entire week of celebrations. We had a sangeet along with mehendi, janoi (my brother’s), garba night, engagement (along with DJ night), wedding and reception. People turned up for whatever functions they wanted to. Relatives and close friends attended the sangeet… everyone attended garba and janoi… engagement and wedding were at Indore so it was just close relatives.
  • Relatives: I do not remember the actual wedding because I was not there… I was probably gossiping with cousins or playing badminton (no kidding… we did that… played badminton at the other end of the ground), playing with cousins or out frolicking with my cousin brothers. Time did not matter. It was an entire week of celebrations for family and there was the reception for outsiders.
  • Close friends: Umm… except one, all the other friends are single. I chose not to attend the wedding since I am not into it. If I had a choice, I would not have turned up for my own wedding… actually, if we had a choice KC and I would have had a live in relationship all our life.
Punjabi (or is in Delhi) weddings are notorious for starting late… the invitation says 8 pm but the wedding starts at 11 pm. Thats how it is- I was told. Different… very different from Gujarat weddings.
Few months back my sis was in town and I had taken her shopping. We came across gaudy bling in most of the shops and my sis wondered what happened to the fashion conscious Delhi people. I guess, at a wedding it all goes out of window. Being a Sindhi, I am no stranger to bling… but the bling of this level was beyond my imagination. There was a lady dressed in a blingy saree, with a bling blouse, gaudy jewellery, bling on her eyes and the blingy footwear. For a moment I thought she is the bride to be (I have met her only once and was blinded momentarily by the bling) until I spotted the chudas and realized she is a newly wed.
I am glad its over and will be avoiding any future weddings. Requesting my friends not to invite me. I think RT is the only friend whose wedding I am looking forward to… the wedding will be in MP and we can go to Bandhavgarh from there.


Food… more food… and then some more

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For KC’s b’day we went to TGIF for dinner. He picked the place. I was not too pleased about celebrating at a regular haunt. So, I picked the restaurant for my b’day. It was Tonino located on Mehrauli road. We have passed by the place many times and it looks extremely quaint from outside. Online reviews said that the food is good but expensive. The restaurant serves authentic Italian food. It has seating outdoors, indoors and on the terrace. We were seated outside since it was not too hot but a more pleasant weather would have helped us enjoy the meal. The area is surrounded by trees, plants and lamps are hung everywhere. The ambience is as good as Olive (Bandra and B’glore). The menu is not very exhaustive and we ordered chicken sausage with mash potatoes as starters. They were ok. We have had better sausages at Potpourri (Inorbit Mall, Vashi). We used to visit PP everytime KC was in Mumbai- sometimes every week and have only the sausages. We have not tried anything else there.
Anyway, for main course we ordered a sphagetti in red sauce with veggies. After 10 mins of waiting, the waiter told us our food will be ready in 10 mins. WTF!!! Thankfully, it was a b’day dinner and we were in no hurry to reach home (though it was a weekday). On a regular day, I would have been very irritated. The thing is when KC and I go out for food, our aim is to eat food… not lounge around or spend time together. We can do that at home. So, when service is slow it can get bugging. Anyway, the pasta was ok. We have had better (Amici Cafe in Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj food court and Select Citywalk mall serves the best pasta). We ordered a melting chocolate with amretto and ice cream for dinner. It was yummilicious. There was a chocolate covering (a little on the bitter side made with some kind of flour) with melted chocolate inside (not too sweet, not too bitter) and ice cream and amretto on the side. I loved that the outer covering was bitter and balanced very well by the chocolate and ice cream. A very unique dessert. I would visit the place again only for the ambience and maybe dessert. The food is strictly ok and a dish costs 600 bucks which is pricey.

Today, we went to Drift for a Sunday brunch- its something we have wanted to do for a very long time. Drift is a restaurant at Epicentre which is the cultural center of Gurgaon. Plays, musical shows, workshops etc are conducted here. It is equivalent to Indian Habitat Center in Delhi. We had dinner there few months back and loved the food. The brunch is from 11 am- 3 pm and covers b’fast as well as lunch. It was an exhaustive selection- juices (Tropicana), cold cuts of meat, breads, cheese, bakery items, idlis, eggs, waffles/pan cakes, sausages, grilled pork, noodles, rice, chicken gravy, mutton gravy, honey potatoes, sandwiches, parathas (all kinds), fish, noodles, pastries, fruits etc. Everything was there. I don’t think I could have asked for more. I just wish they had fresh juices instead of packaged ones. We ate so much- we were full all day. No kidding. I thought I am going to burst. Amazing. Must try.


B’day celebrations

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This post has been in draft for 3 days now… finally, found the time to post it.

It was KC’s b’day on 7th June’12. I have always tried to make each b’day special since we have started dating. I still remember in 2008, he was in Gurgaon around the b’day. His company had sent him for training here. Only problem was that he had to go to Baddi or some place like that on 7th June. I pleaded with him to return on 7th which he did despite all the traffic but at midnight. Technically, on 8th midnight. I had placed candles in the balcony, made lemon iced tea and arranged for a cake. It felt nice to do that.
But the best one was in 2009. I was in Gujarat and flying down to Mumbai. KC was in Mumbai itself. We were married but I used to stay in the company guesthouse when I came down twice in a month to Mumbai. Getting to work was more convenient and all my stuff was there. Also, I was not planning to move in with his parents so it made no sense to stay over. I had contacted his friends, his mom and arranged for cake. Everyone was going to surprise him at midnight. Once I landed at night, KC asked me to meet him for dinner. This was tricky. I had never refused to meet him and turning him down would have made him suspicious. If I did meet him, he would not go home before midnight and the plan would be screwed. It was tough call but I turned him down… told him I was exhausted and wanted to sleep. We were going to meet the next day anyway. At 10.30 pm, I bid him goodnight and pretended to be asleep. At 11 pm, I left for his house at Vashi and was met outside his house by his friends before midnight. We surprised him with the cake and he was pleasantly surprised. That was also the first time I spent the night at his house.
Last year, we didn’t do much since his b’day was on a weekday and we had decided to celebrate over the weekend. Our b’days are only 4 days apart so there is always the option of celebrating them together. This year, I decided to do the cliche… bake him a cake. I searched online and came across recipes of delicious chocolate cakes. It broke my heart that I could not make any of them ‘coz he is not very fond of chocolate. He likes fruit cakes like pineapple or mango or dry fruits. Blueberries oe strawberries were out. I came across the red velvet cake on Maria Gorreti’s blog. It also had cream cheese icing. Perfect. I have been meaning to try out cream cheese icing for months. The unsalted butter and cream cheese have been waiting in the fridge for 3 months now. It was decided then. The plan was to bake the cake on 5th late evening/night before he came home. I was thinking of cooling it and leaving it overnight at a friend’s place to keep the surprise. I was supposed to frost it on 6th evening/night before he came home from work and leave it at the friend’s place and pick it up around midnight.
The plan got screwed…
Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups (250 grams) sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (15 grams) regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large Eggs 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
METHOD..
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.
Butter two – 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl sift the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.
Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 – 8 ounce (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1 – 8 ounce (227 grams) tub of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (115 grams) confectioners’ (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted
1 1/2 (360 ml) cups cold heavy whipping cream (double cream)
METHOD…
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese andmascarpone cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat until smooth. Using the whisk attachment, gradually add the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is thick enough to spread. Add more sugar or cream as needed to get the right consistency.
Mistake I made:
  • Put the batter in one pan instead of two ‘coz it could fit into one pan.
  • Followed the gm measurements instead of using cups. I have a glass which can be used as a weight for different ingredients- water, maida, sugar etc. Has always worked for me. Not this time though.

The cake was cooked on the outside and bubbling under the surface. I threw it away and started on another one with a different but similar recipe. This cake turned out to be perfect. I used 2 tins- heart shaped and round shape. I don’t have 2 of the same kind. In between, while pre heating my microwave for the 2nd time it conked off. No kidding. It has happened before but works fine once it cools. I waited for an hour for it to cool and then put the cakes in with fingers and toes crossed. By then it was 11 pm. Thankfully, the cakes turned out well but KC was home and well aware about the goings on. It is very difficult to surprise someone you live with.
If the 2nd cakes would have been a disaster I would have been up baking next day at 6 am to avoid excess work in the evening.

Cake: 
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 cups of sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tbsp liquid red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour 2 or 3 round 9″ cake pans.

Sift flour and salt together, set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Mix until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Mix well after each addition.  Add the flour mixture to the bowl alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Blend in vanilla.In a small bowl, mix the 1 1/2 tbsp red food coloring and 1 tbsp cocoa powder until a paste forms.  Add to the sugar and butter mixture.  Mix well.  In a small bowl or condiment cup, stir together the baking soda and cider vinegar.  This will foam and should be put into the batter immediately after well mixed.  After adding the foam mixture, blend on medium-high speed until batter is consistent.

Spoon batter evenly into pans – batter will be very thick!  Level  top of batter with an offset spatula.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

http://www.sprinklebakes.com/2011/02/heritage-red-velvet-cake.html

I used cups for measurement and used 2 pans this time. It worked. Below is the cake- nice and red.

The cream cheese frosting was perfect for it since the cake was sweet and the cheesy, not so sweet frosting balanced that. A regular frosting would be a bad idea with this. And here is the final cake:

I used red readymade icing (or is it marzipan) in a tube for the decorations. Too tacky, I know. I do not like marzipan and will avoid it in the future.

Lessons learned:

  • It is impossible to surprise someone you live with
  • Baking is about rules and not about being creative. Follow the recipe 100%. If it says- pee before baking; then pee. Don’t ask questions. Just follow directions.


Naya Ghar

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Nope, we did not buy a house…. just rented another one. Thankfully, we found a house at lower rent in the next building. Overall, we thought it was a money saving deal. The house is clean, big with a lot of minor details taken care of since the owners used to reside here years back.
There are many things which are an inconvenience:

  • No balconies. There is one tiny balcony where we can squeeze in the clothes drying rack. All the balconies have been taken inside so the house is larger. The part where the balcony should have been has wooden flooring and looks good. But, I miss balcony. No matter how small a house, it should have a balcony. I do not sit and ponder or even spend time daily there but its a nice thing to have. It gives the illusion of space and an outdoorsy feel.
  • Yellow lights. I really do not understand this Gurgaon phenomenon. Every house has yellow lights. It is like living in the USA. For me, white light is mandatory. We will get them replaced next weekend. We have reached our saturation limit this weekend.
  • Kitchen cupboards. When a flat is bought for investment purpose the owner does not worry about cupboards and stuff. There maybe cabinets in the kitchen which can be customized according to the tenant’s needs. In our current flat, the owners have made cupboards basis their needs. For me, this means that many of my dabbas which store stuff do not fit. The cabinets are too high for me or the cook to reach and using them is out of the question. It is a weird setup. Thankfully, there is a chimney and plug for microwave.
  • Too many mirrors. I am happy to see mirrors but there are sooooo many of them. There is one at the entry and you can look at yourself while in the kitchen, a mirror behind each bathroom door. Watching yourself pee is no fun… you get to see fat from different angles which is not the best early morning sight. These are apart from the regular mirror on the cabinet. There is another one in the lounge room. Surprisingly, none in the bedroom but our dressing table mirror makes up for it.
  • Smaller cupboards. This means that with the amount of stuff (clothes, shoes, bags etc) I have, the cupboard is packed to the brim. I cannot shop for atleast another 6 months ‘coz there is no space to keep them. Maybe, I do have a lot of stuff. A smaller cupboard brought the realization.
  • No dressing table. The previous flat has a magnificent dressing table. Its amazing how stuff can expand (through shopping) to fill up spaces. And now, all of it does not fit into our smaller size dressing table. I have found a way around it but am not too happy.
  • View. The current flat faces the road and the other flats are closer together. This means that we can hear traffic (not too much though), we will get better breeze since it is breezy on this side of the building. This part is the most pleasant side to take a walk on and many times I would pass it and wonder what it would be like to live here. It means we need curtains since KC and I are not very fond of the concept of “clothes” specially in this season (40 degrees and more). Even the bedroom has so many glass panes that curtains are mandatory. The balcony looks onto the tennis court but the view of the garden is blocked by another building. Our previous flat looked out into an open space and we could have done anything without needing curtains.

All in all, the flat is better. It feels lived in and more at home compared to the previous one which was sparse (for lack of another word to describe it). KC and I are totally beat. We have been on the move since 7 am yesterday. The AC guys finished their installation at 10 last night after which we had dinner. I woke up at 7 am and cleared out stuff today. There was also the 2 hour dance class in the evening. I cannot afford to miss the classes since we have started preparing for the summer workshop in July. The workshop is basically stage performance by the students. It is different from normal class because the focus is more on the routine (series of steps on the song), performance and less on the technique. In the sense that, regular classes have 20 mins of dance and 40 mins of exercise and technique (pointed feet, straight lines, straight legs etc etc) while in workshop classes it is vice versa. Today, we were taught ten steps which we mastered while doing them slowly. When the song was played, the ten steps were barely few seconds of the song. Now, THAT is hard work. The song is very, very fast and performance can be a focus once the steps are mastered. I need to practice everyday to be able to perform decently.

I need plants for the house- outdoors and indoors. Thats the only way to get a better view.
I will try and blog more often now that we have shifted and 80% of the stuff is done. Ciao.


Xhausted!!!

Posted on

Hiya. I have been so exhausted and busy since the Vaishnodevi trip. 3 days break meant a backload and current load. And there are only so many hours in a day and I cannot work at nights. Its just not worth it. I had a review and then there preparation for a market visit. Everything else went on a back burner.
Apart from work, a lot has been going on:

 On my way back from work, I stopped at New Friends Colony Market for a bite. I had not eaten b’fast or lunch that day. I parked my car, entered McD, took the food, sat down at a table and had a bite. A lady approached me; “Can I sit here?”

Me: Sure. (If I was not so hungry I would have realized that half of the outlet was empty and she asked to sit at my table)

Her: There is a guy following you
Me: Huh???? (Open mouth… no words)
Her: I was outside the outlet and I saw a guy follow you and enter. He is sitting on the other table
Me: Huh?
Her: Do you understand English
Me : (recovering) Ok. But I just entered and I am just leaving.
The man was sitting opposite and saw us looking at him and pointing. He quickly finished his ice cream and left. He wandered outside looking around and the woman showed me that.
I was so freaked out. I left the food, rushed to my car and left.
Scary. Thank god, I do not go to NFC.. ever. And thank god, this did not happen anywhere near my house. And thank god, I had a car and did not have to use public transport. I don’t know what that guy was trying to do. Follow me… to where? All the way home? For what?
 KC and my life was revolving around water last week. Since summers have arrived, the water situation has worsened. I have not faced major issues in my building but last week the supply was affected. The water was available from 5- 8 am and 5-8 pm. Weird timing. We had to wake up earlier and finish bath. My maid had to come earlier and finish the work. I would rush home from work and rush to the washing machine all the while praying that the water is supplied for an hour extra. Gym was out of the question… getting sweaty in the heat and then no water for a shower was out of the question. On Saturday, KC woke up late and there was no water for bath. He had to wait till evening to take a bath and leave home. On Sunday, I woke him up early. He took a bath and went back to sleep. Thankfully, things are ok now. The only time I have faced such a situation was in boarding school in Mt Abu. We took a bath on alternate days only and head bath was once a week.
  • On Monday I woke up to body ache, head ache, cold, fever and a pukish feeling. I still had to go to work. There was no scope for taking the day off. It is so so so so so bloody hot and I cannot stop drinking cold water. My nose is running and yet I cannot bring myself to drink warm water.
  • Apart from water, we are dealing with electricity woes. Yes, it was always bad in Gurgaon and we didn’t feel the pinch since there is power back up. But now it is worse, in one hour at night… the electricity will go and come atleast 4 times. It is very irritating. At night I woke up at 3.30 am when the electricity was cut off. I couldn’t sleep for quite sometime. Its sad… Gurgaon is called the “Millenium City” but there is no public transport (apart from some metro stations) or electricity or water or safety or street lights. Sad…
  • We are moving out of this flat. Our landlord’s broker made our life hell from day one. Our own broker was no use. I am still pissed with KC for paying him the entire money. We renewed the lease on the current flat since moving out would be an added expense but the landlord’s broker sent us her “bill” for services provided. We refused to pay and decided to move out. Hope she goes to hell soon. So next 2 weeks are going to be hectic with moving. We have yet to start any of it.
  • We went for pre dinner pre movie supper to Chillis. We had visited the outlet in Mumbai on the recommendation of an acquaintance. It was a bad experience then… the food sucked. The cheese was too heavy and tasted pukish. I wanted to try again since I have seen the outlet in Vasant Kunj Mall always packed. We ordered a sandwich and fries in some ranch sauce and iced tea. I had to ask for water twice. I hate restaurants that do not serve water and have to be reminded. How expensive is water? How can you not serve the basic need of a person? Everyone serves water first to a guest… how can a restaurant not? Strange. Food arrived but drinks did not. I reminded the waiter. He had forgotten. We finished our food… no sign of drinks. When he brought it, I told him we have finished eating. Instead of apologizing, he took away the drinks. He did not even ask us. Then comes the bill… and they bloody charged me 10% for service. If I am happy with the service, the maximum I would pay anywhere is 5%… 10% is stealing from me. In Gurgaon, most restaurants have a service charge. I refused to pay the service charge. Why pay for something I did not get. They deducted the amount from the bill since they have opened recently and a ruckus with a customer will not look good.
Whew… long post… and I have more… but I will wait for 1-2 days. Until then, next post is on books and movies. 🙂