Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year



Dear Friends and fellow bloggers,


Wish you all a wonderful and happy new Year! May all your dreams come true and you be blessed with all the happiness in the world.




Friday, December 29, 2006

Holiday Photos ...

Finally the lazy me is publishing the promised photos. Well, there are not exactly as many as I would wish. Especially after the Mr. scared me with "Invasion of privacy" being considered too seriously in the USA , I did not want to get into trouble just for a couple of photos. It was mostly houses that were beautifully decorated, and the Mr. was too lazy to drive down to a couple of the downtowns. After many persuasive talks(by me), 2 heroes(ahem 1 was a heroine) all covered up, braving the cold winds and sub-zero temperature went, on one dark shining night, to take these photographs. So here goes ...

This is the house round the corner from our apt complex. It is a beautiful pink house, that the Mr. and me have always liked.

This is the place that we jokingly called "Auburn hills downtown" because of its cobbled streets. Well, the sign-post in between is not exactly "beautiful" but I could not avoid it.

Now this is an interesting snap. When shot at very low shutter speed, the passing cars showed up thus - yup! those streaks are those made from the lights on the passing cars. Would seem as if the cars were zooming past at about 140 MPH right, but there were only ambling at 25 MPH.


This is my favorite snap . We had taken a snap at the same spot 7 months ago in Spring. Just see the difference.






And finally, the Xmas tree set in the Auburn Hills "Downtown". Well for some reason the mid section was "bare" that day.

Entry for Jhiva: Mangai Kootan

The holidays are almost coming to an end, and so is the year. But none of my plans advanced even so much as a millimeter - Gosh! I do so hate myself. The only good thing about this week was watching old episodes of "Friends". We got the 1st season and the 10th season from the library - and it was probably the bestest thing ever - to sit with the Mr. and laugh till our sides split - watching the spontaneous friends ... Awww... why am I not one of the "Friends"?

About the title of the blog, Well I happened to "food-browsing" - when I found that there is going to be a new Jhiva event- and this time it is one of my favorite food ingredients - Coconut. Being born in a palakkad based family, I guess it is really difficult to have grown without having to eat this delicious "fruit"?? every day in some form or the other. In fact it was only after marriage, and due to the stubborn insistent of the "cholestrol" conscious hubby, that I have reduced the usage. But when I saw the blog on Jhiva - for coconut , I could not resist and so decided to blog on one of my most favorite "liquid" dishes - Manga kootaan or Manga kootu.

My mom-in-law makes it with ripe mangoes, but amma would always choose the most sour mangoes for it - only because I love sour mangoes , much to appa's disgust. So, here goes the sour and tangy dish...

Ingredients
1 Big mango - cut into uneven pieces (the uneven pieces give it a nice look )
1 Cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup curd
4-5 green chillies
1 tbsp Jeera
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder
Pinch of red chilli powder
Curry leaves
Mustard and Methi seeds for tempering.



How to cook?

Boil the mango pieces in little water and a pinch of red chillies (Amma - kai kki konjam karam pidikarathukku - for the pieces to get some karam). Grind the coconut, chillies and jeera into a thick paste. Once the mango pieces are slightly soft, add the coconut paste, salt and turmeric to it and bring it all to a boil. Once the mixture starts to boil, add the curry leaves and reduce the heat. Beat the curds with very little water and add it to the warm mixture - make sure the heat is at "Low" else the curd will break into small lumps. In a while a small froth will start to form on the top - switch off the gas. In a small utensil heat oil, add mustard seeds - when the seeds start to splutter add methi seeds (this gives a very good fragrance and taste to the kootan). Add this tempering to the kootan and there you have - one of the best dishes in the world :).

One of the best meals is - Hot rice, ghee, manga kootan and nice deep friend kathrikai (brinjals)... Yummy - my mouth is already watering. Oh! did i forget to mention papadam?


I became quite popular among the bachelor circles of the Mr.'s Friends due to this tasty dish. It was indeed nice to see one big bowl full of manga kootan getting emptied within seconds at one of the lunches at our place. But no matter how well it turned out, it was and will never be half as wonderful as my darling amma makes it.








Friday, December 22, 2006

Holiday Season begins ...


I don’t want to work . Today is the last working day of 2006 for me. For about a week now there has been practically nothing going on in the work front. The holiday season began pretty early here – almost a week before xmas. All around you see beautifully wrapped gifts, tied up with pretty bows made out of shining paper, candies & cakes, people wearing colorful holiday patterned sweatshirts. All of this week I feel I have been only eating and eating in office holiday lunches – some sponsored and some BYOL (buy your own lunch), each colleagues taking turns to bring in Christmas cookies and today to end it all was the biiiig tri-department lunch. The Dessert section was indeed yummy –aleast 5 varieties of cheesecakes, a huge strawberry cake, a monstrous carrot cake and tons of Belgian chocolates. Boy ! I think my new year resolution is staring right at my face – go to the fitness center every day !!!

I really like the holiday season here. All around the place you feel cheer. Everybody just seems to be so happy – nice big smiles on their faces – wishing people you know and don’t know alike – and of course no work J… Guess working in the Auto industry has this one big advantage of a week’s shut down! I love seeing big boxes packed with glittering paper lying all around, and of course love getting gifts too. One of the ladies in my department “J” made beautiful beaded necklaces for all the other ladies – you would probably pay atleast 100$ of them if they were every available in the market.

The streets are decked to their best. It is dark almost anytime I try to leave home – be it as early as 4:30 or as late as 8:00 and in the night the glittering lights on trees are such a wonder to look at. I have been pestering the Mr. to get his snow boots and coats and move his lazy bum to come out and take some good pictures – but he has avoided it so far. Hopefully if I can make him do it this weekend, I will post them here. People take so much care to decorate their gardens with lights and beautiful blowups. I am told that the malls are also mightily decorated – I must go and catch some of the beauty before it is lost.

Well then again round the next corner (weekend) is that well-known time of the year – to look back and see what you have achieved, what you have not, what went right and wrong, what was happy and sad in the days bygone – and make up resolutions just to be broken the 2nd day of the year J…

Happy Holidays folks!

PS . This picture above is from Google – the best invention ever made by man (as I feel). Have you noticed how google adorns itself on occasions? I always have been amazed by the imagination behind these logos. If you have some time – you can drop a visit

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Doctors...



Hmm… Quite some time since I posted anything here. Was Quite caught up with some work – for once in life huh ? And then there was this really stupid exam that was mandatory as per the new rules laid down by the ‘breadgiver’ – so after almost 6 years I did a “One-day” batting again! And was I glad to manage to scrape thru it J(kudos my brave gal – Pat on my back). Wonder how my father ever manages to write all those exams for insurance even at this age. He really is a “superman” I say!

I was very upset today morning. Amma’s BP shot up recently and she has been having problems with head heaviness, feverishness and all. So, she decided to get a check-up done with Dr. X , who is the doctor that appa regularly does his check up with. Now this X is a very renowned doctor and his diagnosis is very much respected and appreciated. All is well – but just as everything in nature, he has a very bad aspect to him. He does not talk much, will not respond to your questions, not give you any assurances. It is really frustrating – you visit him with a problem – he listens to all you have to say, write down a prescription and ask you to visit him again in some days. Won’t say if your current problem is due to XYZ illness, it will go away in so and so days, nothing of that sort.

I feel more than anything a Doctor has to be compassionate, try to boost the morale of the patient who is so depressed already with his physical problem, give him the right facts and try to re-assure him, instead of just scribbling a prescription and asking him to leave. No doubt his prescription works, but where is that comfort feeling of I-visited-the-doctor-and-he-made-it-all-fine. Accepted that in a day probably he sees about 200-300 patients, but did he did take the profession conscious of this fact right? In my opinion, a doctor has to be as good as empathizing and making the patient “Feel” better as good as he should be in his medicinal abilities. Remember “Munnabhai MBBS” ‘s jadoo ki chappi.

The Personal touch is what is missing. My experience with a doctor here makes me shudder to even think of visiting one. After two visits to him , he can hardly even recognize me and makes me go through my entire case twice before he can even recollect what it is that I came to get cured of? How can I even trust this person to give me the correct medicine?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Birthday Memories





One day in the week that went by was truly blessed – because “I” celebrated my Birthday. GOSH! I am such a humble person hee hee.

My birthday was made one special day – all because of the Mr., Amma, Appa and all the loving friends who remembered this day and called me/emailed me/orkutted me & last but not at all the least, Jai & his sister(one of our newer acquaintances). The day before, my boss gave me a beautiful set of beaded jewellery that she herself made. The Mr. was an absolute sweet – took me shopping the weekend before and also on “the day”, decorated the “birthday corner” (it got its name when we decorated this corner of our living room on the Mr’s bday) with loads of balloons and baked(with my supervision of course) a carrot cake for me. Jai & his sister, Bindu, surprised us with a cake that evening when they came home for dinner. He had bought candles also (he got less number, as he was unsure how old I was , I felt sooo nice that he thought I was just that young hee hee) and after the cake was cut and we all had our share, he shocked me by applying some of the cream of my face – took me back to those days in college! I had not had this “treatment” on my bday since what 7 years? Guess it pays to have somebody young around at times! Over dinner, the topic was all about our college, how the Mr. & I met – the journey to our marriage – which stirred up the old precious memories and long after they had gone, the Mr. & I kept talking of those good old days. 2 days after the D-day when I opened my mail-box to find a gift from ex-colleague, the Mr. remarked in “J” – “Oh! Onnodu bday innum mudiyaliya” (Is your bday still not over?). 3 days later when I came to office, another colleague gifted me a beautiful chain and hand made pendant – when I went home, the look on the Mr.’s face was priceless – “How come the entire world keeps giving gifts and wishing you even after your bday is over?” The color of the week was “Green”

Days after the incident, the fond memories of birthdays in college & before keep coming back to me – so I thought I would jot (ahem! Type) some of them down.

Amma tells me that we had a birthday party for me when I was about 3 or 4, but I can hardly recall this party. That was probably the only birthday in my childhood (school days) when they had got a cake for my birthday. In school days, the most special thing about birthdays was being able to wear “civil dress” to school. I would hate it if my birthday came on a holiday. Then later I devised a new trick – we would celebrate two birthdays – the actual date & the “Nakshatram” (the day on which my star comes in the calendar of that year). So, I later start “choosing” the day I want to celebrate my birthday in school, based on how many of my favorite classes feel on my ‘date’ or ‘star’ birthday. I always liked Friday in school (don’t remember why I did so), so always eagerly hoped that one of the two dates was a Friday.

There was a “ritual” for bdays in my school. Now, I don’t recall if it was the same in all schools in Vizag or just in ours. I would bring a big bag of toffees (75 or 100 count) (my choice – some that I remember having taken are coconaka, coffee break, ├ęclairs, melody – don’t even know how many of these are still available!) to be distributed to the kids in my class and every teacher who would teach on that day. If I had my class teacher’s session that day, I would stand up in that period, everybody would sing for me and then I would distribute the chocolates. If there was no class teacher’s session, I could do it in any of my favorite class. After distributing to the students in my class, I could take one of my best friend and go around, distributing the chocolates to the teachers in the other sections of the same class, teachers in the staff room and the principal. Now this created problems if you had more than one “Beeeest Friend” and you had to pick just one! Remember those kiddie days when the position of a “Best Friend” was the most zealously guarded and coveted one. As we grew vertically and academically this practice was slowly abandoned, maybe because we became more ‘mature’ and conscious and it was kiddish taking chocs to school or wearing ‘Civil Dress’. In fact most of us stopped even wearing non-uniform dresses on our birthdays. Growing up takes off the charm in small events huh?

From school days there is one birthday that I fondly think of. When I was in 9th class, I had a nice trio of friends – Rajani, Sowjanya and Usha. We were the inseparable back benchers in Class 9 and 10. It was when I was in 9th that my grandparents acceded to my father’s long time request and came to stay with us for a couple of months. That was probably what made this birthday all the more special. It is strange how elderly people manage to communicate even when they have a language barrier. My Patti did not know a word of Telugu or English and my friends did not know Tamil, but by the time they left she could tell us almost all about their background! I still remember the white plastic plates (they had been recently purchased) – the ones with partitions for placing different food in each portion, the laddoos that amma had made and the scent of the single rose that Sowji had given me! I would give anything to relive that 1 evening of my life.

In intermediate (ie 11th and 12th), Science students were so busy and lost in their own world of books, that in any college you could distinctly identify them. It was told that if any student had rough, unkempt hair, and oil face and crumpled dress – it was sure to be a science student ; and all students wearing make up , modern dresses, smart shoes were Commerce students! Birthdays were hardly celebrated then. There was one birthday I can recall – Smitha’s. We had the privilege of enjoying this, because it came appropriately after we all had given all sorts of entrance exams and before the results were announced – the right time when we were all in uplifted moods. It was probably the start of the many celebrations we had in the recently opened “Hot Breads” in Siripuram Junction. It became quite a landmark for teenagers for a long time after. 7 of us that day – all decked up well, girlish giggles at seeing some guys that one of us knew approach us, wild teasings and loud conversations.

The wildest of birthday parties I have been to were in the 4 years of engineering hostel. We would celebrate the birthdays at the stroke of 12 with lots of gusto. Money was limited, so the cake was small and each one got only small pieces, but they tasted a whole lot better than huge chunks of cake. Maybe it was the atmosphere and the company. In our room, we always made it a point to decorate the room for the birthday gal. Small gifts were exchanged, the cream from the cake was adorned on the birthday baby’s face, snaps were clicked, the food disappeared seconds after the clock struck 12 and within no time the room was cleared for the dance floor! We would dance to good music for a long time before retiring to sleep. I have loads of snaps of these birthday parties at home and each time I look at them, there rushes through me a warm feeling of mushy memories. One birthday stands out in my memory – for which Lalitha (my room mate) and I did some really crazy and whacky. Two of the girls had their birthdays in the month of May and so we never got to celebrate those (May was off for College). So, in the Final year, we decided to celebrate “Half Birthday” for them in the month of November. For some reason, we wanted to be “different” and so Lalli and me bought weird gifts for them – 2 tender coconuts, 2 Mangoes, 2 Apples and some other stupid eatable stuff. How we laughed after making those purchases.

Hmm… these are just small incidents in my life, but each one holds a special significance. In each of thee incidents itself, I have forgotten the minor details. I fear that someday, with age, I will forget all these incidents and will no longer have the chance to give that half-muse smile thinking of these. The lovely girl in “Rebecca” remarks : “If only memories could be bottled like perfumes and I could remove the stopper to smell them whenever I want to”. Wish this could happen, the moment I smelt the perfume , I could go back into the memory ; or better still wish I had Dumbledore’s Pensieve!