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Jadoo chal gaya..

Variety of dishes offered by ITC

Are you sure, you will be able to do it”,he asked.

Just relax and be here on time. I will manage it. Now I am keeping the phone , else I will not be able to do anything”  I said showing more confidence than I felt.

Ya see you in five hours. Dekh agar Mummy maan gayi na tu hi kuch ho sakta hai. And my mother is the best cook in the world. So getting food from outside and passing it off as yours will not work.” he said.

I know,now let me do my work. I know that if your mother does not like my cooking or me then it’s time to say goodbye. Eloping, Getting married without parents blessing ,is too filmi and not our cup of tea. Okay see you bye” I said as I cut the connection.

Few hours to cook a good meal, what can I do? I called my saviour, my mother (anyway I had to update her of the situation) My parents had liked Swayam when they had visited office, she thought that we liked each other, more than the friend-shriend type. Other than he being Bengali and I being Punjabi he fit into the image of the groom that they had for me.  After throwing the idea at us, and not facing any rejection they sent my bio-data to his parents. It was in response to the bio-data that his mother was coming. I had met them earlier, when they had come to visit in office but Tab kisko maloom tha ki yeh din dekhna padega.(Then who knew I had to see this day)

My mother had taught me basic food items like dal-chwaal, aloo ki subzi, chola,paav-bhaji. She had also sent me to stitching, embroidery classes so that  sasural waale yeh nahin kahein ki maa ne kuch shikhaya nahin. (inlaws don’t say that mother has not taught her)I rang her and she picked on the first ring (as if she was waiting for my call).

Kya hua”, she asked. I updated her. “So you have to cook some great dishes. I cannot come and help you. “ I sighed “Mummy please help me…” “Dost hi hai na..okay jokes apart, Yesterday Mrs Gupta was talking about the ITC gourmet food, her husband thought she had ordered from some 5 star hotel. ” replied my mother. “Mummy you are going off track what does Mrs Gupta has to do with my predicament?” I was getting worked up. “Le jayenge le jayenge dilwale dulhaniya..Getting serious Beta it’s not Mrs Gupta but ITC Gourmet food that has everything to do with your so called predicament.”

She explained, ITC’s Kitchens of India has brought out  life age-old Indian dishes from across the country, from the far-flung regions of the northwest frontier to the coastal regions of the south,  crafted by the Master Chefs of ITC’s hotel in convenient ready to eat packs.  From exotic vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, to authentic Biryanis and delicious halwas. “So “, she continued, “Using it you can dish out the three course meal. So you rush to the Mall near your house and pick up what you like and cook it. This will also give you ample time to clean the house. Get some flowers, use those candles that I had given you. Please don’t use plastic plates. Use the plates, the blue and orange flowers one. ” I had been saved, “Thanks Ma, you are the best Mom in the world….Ma ma I’ll talk to you later..”, I said. “Haan haan matlabi yaar kiske khaya piye aur khsike. (selfish friend eat and go) Beta..Best of Luck and I love you“, said Ma.

I was like a women on mission. I rushed to the shop and asked for the ready to eat shelf. There I saw sitting on the shelf so many varieties from ITC Kitchen of India. My mother was bang on, Kitchens of India specializes in bringing to life age-old Indian dishes from across the country crafted by the Master Chefs of ITC’s hotels, following the traditional methods of preparations and made available to mortal like us in convenient shelf stable Ready-to-Eat packs. ITC Master Chefs are perfectionists and they recreate the forgotten taste of authentic Indian cuisine, by following age old recipes that demand only the freshest ingredients and precise techniques.

My eyes got bigger and bigger as I read the labels legendary Dal Bukhara, the succulent Mirch ka Salan and  ever-revered Paneer Malai,  Mughlai Paneer and Paneer Darbari, the vegetarian dishes rich in every ingredient that makes for a perfect dining experience. For non vegetarians, Culinary delights like Chicken Chettinad, Chicken Darbari, Malabari Chicken Stew and Murgh Methi were also there. For dessert I had choice of  uniquely packaged range of royal desserts like   Jodhpuri Moong Dal Halwa and Hazoori Petha Halwa,a perfect way to turn any occasion into a celebration.

Variety of dishes offered by ITC

Variety of dishes offered by ITC

I also saw then , a delectable assortment of pre-made gravies by the ITC Master Chefs. All you needed to to surprise your family with an impeccable meal that is nothing short of perfection was to add meat or vegetables and cook for a few minutes.   The range includes mixes for vegetarian dishes like Paneer Makhani, Vegetable Biryani and for non-vegetarian dishes  such as Butter Chicken, Chicken Curry, Mutton Kolhapuri and Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani.

Sauces and Chutneys

Sauces and Chutneys

I was confused? What to pick up? I checked the labels again, closed my eyes, thinking about them and picked up the picture of what came to my mind first and rushed home.

By that time Sangvi, my roommate was also back from office. She was hungry so I made for her Paav bhaji. A mouthwatering dish of lightly spiced, mashed fresh vegetables simmered in butter over a sizzling hot tava (pan). So yummy, “You have surpassed yourself, hey aaj kya dala hai paav bhaji mein.(what have you added) it’s the yummiest paav bhaji I have eated”” It’s all magic of ITC gourmet chefs”, I said heavily relieved, for if a foodie like her , who is against the ready to eat packs is singing praises then there is chance that I can impress Swayam’s mother.

“Jaldi kha aur meri help kar ghar thik karne main”, I told Sangvi.Madam aapki paav bhaji ne tu humme aapko ghulam bana diya..bolo tu swayam ki mummy ko utha ke le aaye,” (have become your slave after eating paav-bhaji, if you order we can kidnao Swayam’s mother) replied Sangvi. ‘Uttahiye par yeh bedsheet”, I laughed. We put on the FM and started arranging the room , decided to arrange the drawing room. Brought the mattress from the room, put in the new bedsheet threw some cushions on it. On one corner put the Rajni gandha flowers(swayam had mentioned his mother liked it), put the candles in corners.  “Hey this looks great..we shall keep it like that” said Sangvi.

Then we attacked the kitchen.

For starters we decided to use Samosa with tamarind chutney,

For main course:, Dal Bukhara, Hyderabadi Korma and Delhi Dum Aloo with Basmati Rice Pilaf (Kashmiri) Mango Chutney

For desserts : Jodhpuri Moong Dal Halwa

Just when we thought we were done Ma called “Keep the bathroom know lady ki pehchaan uske kitchen aur bathroom se ho jati hai..”

Before we knew it was time to get ready. I was tried but happy. “Thik lag rahi hoon na,” I asked Sangvi  Dot at 7:30 p.m bell rang. Swayam was here with his mother. I opened the door and there was Swayam, Swayam’s mother with his sister,Simi, and father too. “Surprise”said Swayam’s father, “We didn’t want to miss the event of the century!”. “Namaste aunty, uncle” I stuttered. Swayam looked at me as if saying “I couldn’t help” . She walked in, looked around, smiled and asked “Can I use your bathroom ” , Sangvi burst out laughing. “Yes of course Aunty” she took her to the toilet(God bless ma). “So Which book are you reading?”, asked Uncle.

The evening then passed easily, with questions, jokes, songs(God bless Simi).  And then time flew and we realised we had finished the dessert. Swayam smiled at me, his eyes saying All is well. The food was yummy, I really liked Dum Aloo,”quipped Uncle, “After ages we had it,remember we had it in the dinner hosted by your  foreign returned cousin in some fancy restaurant?” Simi, remarked “Mango chutney was awesome, Nani ki yaad aa gayi, you must have got it from home ““Yes it was tasty, Did Swayam tell you about  my preference for Moong Dal Halwa. So where did you get the food from.”asked Aunty. “We made is at home”she raised her eyebrow,”with the help of ITC chefs“. Aunty remarked,” So you know some chef who works in ITC” “. I replied “No aunty We made it ourselves using ITC gourmet dishes”.

Sangvi got some packets from inside, Swayam’s sister  hugged me “Really, you are angel,mummy is after me to learn cooking, Ab life assan ho gayi hai.” I replied “Yes ITC Kitchens of  India has really made life easy. Now we can Indulge in exquisite Indian cuisine at home” Aunty asked “Mehnga hoga?”  “ Jodhpur daal halwa was Rs 110 for a packet, other are also priced similarly“As Swayam passed her the packet I replied “Acha show me the packets“, she asked. She liked the pre-made gravies, Simi raved about the chutneys. “Simi you can take  these..”, I said . “Okay but on one condition, Shadi mein bhi khana ITC Kitchens of India se hi hona chahiye, Bhabhi ! ‘ She said. We burst out laughing as Aunty taking out a box called me “Yeh SwayamKi Dadi ne uski bahu ke liye rakha tha.” As I went towards her, Swayam said “Jadoo chal gaya..”, to which I said “Haan ITC ke Kitchens of India ka”.

This is entry for Indiblogger Contest My Weekend Party with Gourmet Food. To know more about ITC Gourmet range you can explore Kitchens of India.


Winners of Scrip Spelling Bee

An Indian American won Scrip Spelling Bee Competition.Indian Americans have dominated the competition 6 years in a row. (Image courtesy EconomicTimes)


Taming of My Hair

Rapunzel Rapunzel Let down your hair,” It was the prince calling, with a nervous glance,

Woh aa gaya..Dekho woh aa gaya.” He has come…her prayers have been answered.She wants to dance to “Piya tu ab to aaja..” She remembered  for how long She sat by her window and wished for a prince To ride up on his white horse and save her,

She lets her hair down..and the prince is trying, trying but  he cannot climb all he gets in his hands are curls which keep on slipping. “No” she screamed and opened her eyes, trembling and sweating as if after a great exertion…the moon’s light streamed in the window giving the room an ominous feel. She thought “Why do I have curly hair?

My friend’s is straight and light as air
But my hair gets in my face,My mouth,My food
It even tangles to my chair
Oh, why do I have curly hair?

How she wanted long straight hair. She looked dreamily into the space and remembered the book she had read last night.
When the last pin fell down, she gave her head a hard shake, and her hair tumbled onto her shoulders in a waterfall of shining black. She thought :
My life is just like my hair.
Not straight,and definitely NOT simple.
Instead it’s complex, confusing, and temperamental.”

“Enough is enough,” I thought, “I need to get my hair straightened.” With determination I walked to my computer, ignoring facebook, twitter I google for how to straighten hair. Iron, flat iron for hair..”Oh gosh.. that’s so logical, ironing the hair like clothes”..but I can’t do it, I have a world record of burning dresses while ironing, I can’t take the risk of doing my hair myself. Going to beauty parlor was out of question , I was out of money “It was the end of month after all”.. “not easy”  I need to sleep as Nani is coming , I thought as I marched towards the bed.

Last time when Nani had come I had to hang on the parallel bars everyday for half an hour atleast to increase her height. “Nani bhi na..she and her crazy ideas”. Okay I had become taller  but it was just coincidence I attributed that to my genes which suddenly decide to become longer not to earth pulling her with force that made apple fall on Newton.  How I  wished I could understand those Physics concept, So fat books  but what’s the  use… I stopped maybe that would work too! Now sleeping was out of question. I had an idea now she needed to work on it. I needed help, I SMSED Shilpi I knew she will agree, you can always count on childhood buddies.And so began our “straighten them out” mission.
Every night after dinner around 8:30 Shilpi used to meet me in the children’s park just behind my house. She used to then tie my hair to the parallel bars and we used to chat for 30 mins or rather I used to ouch ouch for those 30 mins.For every slight movement used to pull my hair. After losing tug of war to the bars every day, we used to go to my house where Shilpi then helped me to part my hair into sections put those sections between the fattest books that I could find in the house, next to my brain was always Maths and Physics books , in the hope that by sleeping next to books concepts would find way into my brain. “you like Gulliver”, “You look like you are going to be crucified, you look like you are traitor being tortured. Shilpi used to remark. I thought more like scientist on his way to major discovery which will win him Noble Prize.

We thought of mailing our idea of this to the President of India and to Salman Khan for using it in the movie but just the thought of them asking us “How do you know” and becoming laughing stock made us back out.. After getting up in the morning my hair, my curly hair used to stand like soldier in attention or being relieved after the torture of the night for few micro-seconds (which we felt were increasing from 1.5, 2, 4) and then snap back into curls with vengeance just like “azad panchi”(free bird).
We tried this for few days but had to give up as my Nani came and I had to share my  room so Shilpi and I decided to postpone the experiment. But I am sure the gravitational force would have tamed my hair. My hair did straighten out when I got my Physics mark a month later. I had got a A+(thanks to Nani who made me open the book and work out numericals . Maybe I should have used magnetic theory to tame my hair!

This is my entry for Sunsilk’s The Straight Hair Experiment by Indiblogger.

If You Care Enough

She: “Chodo na.. chubtha hai” (Leave me… it hurts)
He: “What hurts…”
She: “Your stubble”
He: “Isn’t it cool  It looks more manly and adds attitude and it represents the best of both worlds.
She: “Best of both the world.. how”, she asked?
He: “In a man Stubble represents masculinity without the reclusive mountain-man look. And it has been researched and found that women find men with stubble romantic and hot. Think George Clooney, Brad Pitt who cultivate their unshaven look or in India think of Hrithik Roshan and Abhishek Bachchan.”
She:  “You are right Stubble is good to look, it make men look hot. However, if other things like hair and clothes aren’t in order, it just looks like you are on your way to becoming homeless. A lot of guys just look like plain slobs, like they’re too lazy to shave. But all said and done Clean-shaven is usually nicer to kiss. We find your stubble adorable – but Just ask yourself – would YOU like to kiss a hedgehog?
He:,”I  fail to see the need  “ he replied scrutinizing himself in the mirror.
She : “There was a time when a full beard was a sign of a man’s virility. Then everything shifted, and the clean-shaven look reigned supreme. Now beards seem to be creeping back – but a lot of them get stuck halfway. Is the scruffy, unshaven look the new ‘norm’? Okay What’s your morning ritual?
He: “shower, comb hair, shave, brush teeth, dress.”
She: “Showering is easy to understand. If you don’t shower, you start to stink. Combing the hair is easy to understand too, because it would be a mess if you didn’t comb it. If you don’t brush your teeth, they rot and fall out. And dressing, obviously, is a necessity.  Why would we spend the time and money to go through this hair loss ritual each and every day?And why do you shave in the morning then to make right impression on your boss and co-workers right Evenings are important to me because that is the time you  spend with me. If you can shave in the morning for your boss, why can’t you do for us? It clearly shows that they don’t care enough.”

She fell silent and looked away. The silence pressed uncomfortably. Reaching out, he grabbed hold of her chin and forced her face up to his. He felt her breath, warm and ragged against his face. All he’d have to do was tilt his face a fraction, and his mouth would be on hers. She wouldn’t stop him. Would she?
She resisted the compulsion to reach out and touch his chin. Every instinct was telling her to walk away, yet still she remained rooted to the spot. He was so near she could smell him, a mix of deodorant or shower gel and scent of man. Definitely not aftershave.

He: ” I will not shave in the evening.’ His mocking tone was unmistakable.
For a long moment, she just looked at him with lids half open, but the golden brown of her eyes reminded him of sparked tinder. A look of wry amusement spread across her face.She kissed him softly and felt his lips answer, moving on her, moving with them.His tongue tasted and urged and slowly drove into her mouth while he pressed into her demanding,craving.She broke the kiss and he let her. “Just give me 10 minutes”,He didn’t release her when she tried to pull away, but rather, he tightened his grip for a moment more then let her go.Opening the door, she ushered him out.
Clock ticked.His mind was unsettled by the conversation. He should be furious, but something about the situation struck him as almost comic He was feeling like he’d been thrust into the middle of some game he could no longer remember the rules for. What is she upto?

After 10 minutes She rushed to the door, then doubled back for a quick check in the room.She composed herself, squared her shoulders, lifted her chin, took another deep breath and opened the door.

He stepped in. There were candles,the soft, flickering light was warm, inviting and alluring. He could hear music “aaoo hazoor tumko..”, He saw rose petals from the door to the table. “What’s she suggesting? Is she making up for the disagreement?” She raised her hand and ran the backs of two fingers, barely touching him, feather-light, down the side of his face, from his ear to chin. The hot, tingling trail left by her fingers was joined by other sensations, and he was suddenly acutely aware of his own body as well as her.  “For you”, she said as she handed him a rose.
He took the rose and felt the prick of the thorn..”Ouch…” he screamed,she didn’t seem to hear. They walked to the table and then he noticed she was wearing her cleaning mode t shirt! (t-shirt> she wears when she gets in her cleaning mode!) but wasn’t the thing peeping out was the red lingerie that he had given her sometime back!
She filled the glasses “Cheers”, she said as she raised the champagne flute. The music changed to “Meri pant bhi sexy..”  “What the hell?” he said as he spat out Milk!
“What you are doing, as far as I can see,’ he said in his clearest voice,, ‘is absolute rot.’ ‘Is it?’ Her voice was suddenly right behind him, inches from his ear. Could she move without making a sound? Apparently so. He found himself face to face with her, spun round by hands that moved faster than he could think, hands which were now resting on his shoulders, burning his skin. “Didn’t you like my efforts to set the mood?” “With milk, thorn,blazing music?he asked “But I also put also roses, soft music,candles. Wasn’t that enough“  He arched a brow “Or Should I say If my guy doesn’t shave I will stop waxing”  He replied “You’re ‘Ah, now we’re getting to the heart of the matter.  I get the message Shave or crave, I had read somewhere that Alexander the Great never lost a battle, not to the Persians or to anyone else. And he always shaved.  I surrender to you.. And with great shaving cream and technology it’s not that difficult, it all about priorities “. The words sent her world spinning off its axis as he dragged her back into his embrace!

Note:This post is a part of the ‘Shave or Crave’ movement in association with

Spanish Brown Rice

Everybody wants  a change from mundane everyday food especially kids. We now not only have options of  Indian cuisines which encompasses a wide variety of regional cuisines such as North indian cuisine famous for its curries and chapatis ,Tandoori, Rumaali and Naan, or South Indian cuisine famous for idlis dosas etc. But now with world becoming flat, travel, many resturants opening up in neighbourhood we are exposed to Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Japanese.

My kids love the Mexican food – nachos ,tacos, burritos ,fajitas, enchiladas  and we often ended up at TacoBells. Due to their demand I have tried to include it in my everyday cooking thanks to easy availability of ingredients in Bangalore. A dish that I usually make on weekends is Spanish Brown Rice. Spanish brown rice is a dish made from white rice, tomatoes/tomato sauce, garlic, onions, and other ingredients. Although called “Spanish rice“, this dish is unknown in Spain and is from Mexico (Probably called Spanish rice as Spanish language is spoken in Mexico).  It is usually served as a side dish alongside other Mexican cuisine but we eat it as main dish with Nachos. For making the Spanish Brown rice I use Del Monte products such as olive oil, tomato sauce, macaroni.

Del Monte: Brand Del Monte has 118 years of rich international heritage and is synonymous with good quality and taste.  Del Monte was brought to India through a joint venture (JV) called FieldFresh Foods Pvt. Ltd between Bharti Enterprises and Del Monte Pacific Ltd.  Del Monte products in India include fruit drinks, ketchup, sauces and other culinary products, packaged fruits and fruit fillings, and the Italian range consisting of pasta, olive oil and olives/jalapeno. I was forced to bring Del Monte sauce due to the Free Bheem gift a year back but since then are hooked onto the Delmonte sauces!


  • onion – 1 chopped fine
  • garlic – 2-3 pods minced and ginger juveniles
  • capsicum – 250 gms chopped
  • Yellow and red bell pepper- 1 piece each chopped
  • Tomato sauce – 5 to 6 spoon
  • olive oil – 2 tablespoons
  • sugar -2 table spoons
  • salt – to taste
  • Chifferi Rigati pasta- 1 cup
  • rice -1 cup
  • cheese slices – 4
  • cheese cubes – 2
  • dried herbs – 1/2 tablespoon

Serves 4.

Pre Preparation

Soak rice for 30 mins.

Boil Pasta : in 1 litreof salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain well with water(cool).


Caramelize sugar : To get the brown color and that little bit of sweet tinge .

Caramelized sugar is simply a mixture of sugar and water cooked until it becomes syrupy and darkens. In a heavy-bottom over low to medium-low heat, put 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of water. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves and mixture just begins to simmer.

NOTE: I find that by maintaining a low heat  I have more control over the caramelizing process, as it is really easy to burn

Caramelize sugar

Caramelize sugar

Cook Rice 

Put rice in the caramelized sugar and saute it. Add double the quantity of water and boil it. Once water starts boiling reduce the heat and let rice cook.

Cook Capsicum 

In another pan add little olive oil.

Add chopped onion, ginger, chopped green capsicum, chopped red and yellow bell pepper.

Saute it for some time(3-4 minutes) making sure that capsicum does not become soft, it retains its crunchy taste. Add 1 spoon of tomato sauce.

Saute Pasta

Take little bit of olive oil, heat it. Add boiled Macaroni and tomato sauce and dried herbs. Saute it for 2 mins so that tomato sauce and herbs get mixed with macaroni.


In a baked dish

Put a layer of rice

Two cheese slices

Layer of macaroni

Two cheese slices

Layer of capsicum mixture

Grate cheese cubes

Bake till cheese melts

Baked Spanish Rice

Baked Spanish Rice

When we cut through the dish we can see various layers. We can also top it with cut tomatoes, spring onions .

Layers in Baked Spanish Dish

Layers in Baked Spanish Dish

You can also have the dish without baking. We can also use it in burritos , nachos. These are available ready made at Namdhari.


In Burritos

For yummy recipes using Del Monte products you can checkout worldfoody on facebook  Mocktails and Cocktails are easy to make and very very tasty!

This is entry for the Indiblogger : The Del Monte Blogger Recipe Carnival

Melbourne : Something for Everyone

“Think Australia what comes to your mind “ said the voice “MasterChef”, replied I. “Think more” said the voice “Kangarooes, Sydney Opera house, Koalas, boomerang, Great Barrier Reef, Gold Coast“ ” Great! Now think sports,” said the voice “Australian Open, Melbourne Cricket Ground “ “Finally You are on the right track “ said the voice. “What track are you talking of ?“ I asked. “I am talking about the place where Australian open is held and Melbourne Cricket Ground is”   replied the voice. “Oh you are talking about Melbourne” I felt as I answered,I feeling I have just found one piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

“Yes Melbourne! ” said the voice, ” It is not only the most liveable city, but also Australia’s most lovable city. It is the second most populous city in state of Victoria in Australia, located where the Yarra River meets a natural bay called Port Philip. Melbourne is the also perfect travel destination for the traveler looking for an exciting blend of historical ethos and cosmopolitan big city energy. It’s an architecture admirer’s delight. From the waterfront, parks and gardens to boutiques and cafe-filled laneways, the setting is also perfect for romance. Melbourne has something for everyone.”

Something for Everyone, “I asked “Are you sure. Tell me a little about Melbourne city?” I asked. Melbourne was founded in 1835 by settlers. It was named in 1837, in honour of the British Prime Minister during those time  William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne. He is best known for his intense and successful mentoring of Queen Victoria of England, at ages 18–21, in the ways of politics. Queen Victoria’s reign, Victorian era,  lasted for around 63 years which is  longer than that of any other British monarch and the longest of any female monarch in history! “That’s impressive”, I said. “The discovery of gold in Victoria in 1851 led to the Victorian gold rush, and Melbourne, which served as the major port and provided most services for the region, experienced rapid growth.”

The voice continued “Melbourne Central Business District (CBD) is laid out in a uniform grid pattern, called Hoddle Grid. Recent extensions to the CBD in Southbank and Docklands is seeing this central area nearly double in size. Many of the city streets are lined with grand old deciduous plane trees, giving the city a European character.  Just Look at the Town Hall, Parliament house, St Patrick’s Cathedral.   You can unwind in the beaches of St Kilda or simply stroll alongside the Yarra River, which weaves through the center of town. On the south bank of the river you will find the stunning Royal Botanical Gardens. These gardens extend over 36 hectares and display more than 50,000 plants and are counted amongst the best in the world

Vibrant Melbourne

Vibrant Melbourne

Federation Square is a central and unifying public space, a landmark and a cultural magnet bringing together exquisite gardens, innovative architecture and engineering.  Flinders Street, one of the world’s busiest railway stations and longest platforms creates a constant flow of traffic in the heart of the city” said the voice.” The city and inner suburbs are best viewed by tram, a unique Melbourne way to travel.  Did you know that the city is home to the world’s second largest tram and light rail network!” “Amazing” said I.

“Wander the city’s broad boulevards and narrow lanes and you’ll discover a wealth of places in which to drink, catch up with friends and dance until dawn. Jazz, punk, rock and pop stream from bars, pubs and stadiums across Melbourne are  part of the city’s vivacious live music scene. For that perfect night out, enjoy gourmet dinner cruising along Yarra River as you watch the sun set over the city of Melbourne . A stunning city background of colours and light in the heart of vibrant river. It’s a must for romantics. You can also enjoy late night tour of the Fosters brewery or Venice on the Yarra on gondolas. ” “City, crowds ..what if one wants to discover the natural beauty?

“Not only Melbourne is full of beauty. You can also discover the natural beauty only a short distance outside of Melbourne. Dramatic cliff tops, crashing waves meet smooth sandy beaches and endless ocean views.With its Penguin Parade, seal colony and Koala Conservation Centre Phillip Island is a popular choice among families and wildlife enthusiasts. The Penguin Parade at Phillip Island Nature Park, in which Little Penguins come ashore in groups, attracts visitors from all over the world. It is a great family holiday! Did you know Phillip Island is visited by 3.5 million people annually!

Relax in Nature

Relax in Nature

“Penguins Wow!” I said “Is there something else too something which I will not find anywhere else in the world”. Pat came the answer “The Great Ocean Road. Great Ocean Road, 243 kilometres long, Route stretches along the Southeast coast of Australia between Geelong & Warrnambool. It goes through the rich rain forests with the eucalyptus trees and koalas, dramatic flora and fauna, countless wildlife experiences, spectacular views to take in on route,  including the infamous 12 Apostles, there’s something to make you stop and stare at every turn. It is recognised as one of the world’s most scenic routes .”

Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road

Bells Beach at Torquay is a favourite for sightseers and surfers, with dramatic cliff faces and a curving reef. Bells Beach acts as a huge natural amphitheatre. Jutting spectacularly out of the Southern Ocean, at an incredible 65 metres high, Twelve Apostles is a natural wonders, a must-see stop.  Its origins is about 10 – 20 million years ago when billions of tiny skeletal fragments created limestone formations & later exposed to violent seas and winds that carved out these remarkable features. Located in the Port Campbell National Park, the Apostles look particularly amazing at sunrise and sunset.  Not far from the Twelve Apostles you’ll find the imposing cliff line of Gibson’s Steps. These enormous cliffs are best seen from the viewing platforms at beach level you can climb down the steps carved into the rock face by local settler Hugh Gibson. Other stunning coastal features include Loch Ard Gorge, and the Bay of Islands. Creeks and the harbour offer excellent fishing opportunity.

Australia’s best rainforest scenery is in the Great Otway National Park. Walk among tall trees and giant tree ferns, discover beautiful waterfalls, or meander secluded beaches along the shore at Cape Otway. .See amazing wildlife in the Great Ocean Road region from whale watching and swimming with dolphins to spotting koalas, emus and the elusive platypus” reeled off the voice.

“Thats impressive. What about something that gives me high?” “Does Wine figure in that list?” “Ofcourse,” I replied .  “Then a visit to Yarra valley is a must” Yarra Valley is host to a thriving wine growing industry. The area’s relatively cool climate makes it particularly suited to the production of high-quality chardonnay, pinot noir and sparkling wine.The Yarra Valley can be navigated in different ways, from flying over it, to using a hot air balloon. If you want to experience the deep parts of the Yarra Valley you can use the oldest train stream in Australia, hike or if you want more dramatic encounter dive into it!To fully experience the food,wine, spa at Yarra Valley, you will need more than one day, however, the Yarra Valley is also a perfect Melbourne Day Trip. “Hey did you get lost think ing about basking with a chilled glass of wine! I was caught red handed dreaming!

Yarra Valley

Yarra Valley

“But a sports enthusiast will get bored in Melbourne. “ said I. “ Have your forgotten that Melbourne  hosts Australian Open and  has MCG ground . Melbourne has also  hosted 1956 Summer Olympics games, along with the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Australian rules football and cricket are the most popular sports in Melbourne The city is home to three major annual international sporting events: the Australian Open ,the Melbourne Cup (horse racing), and the Australian Grand Prix(Formula One). The city is home to the National Sports Museum” replied the voice “Melbourne often has been proclaimed the World’s Ultimate Sports City!”

Sports and Melbourne

Sports and Melbourne

“Okay what about Shopping?” Anything you ever thought of, you will get it in Melbourne. The problem that shopaholic’s face in Melbourne is not what to buy, but what not to buy. From mega shopping arcades such as Melbourne central to little hidden alleys to old arcades where you can find unusual classic pieces. From the cutting edge to classic, boutique to big time, Melbourne’s vibrant retail scene is alive with alluring labels, products and shopping experiences – some home grown, some world-renowned. Melbourne is a great place to buy clothes, accessories like leather and fashion bags, art, music records, farm produce, books and more!

Shop till you drop

Shop till you drop

“Melbourne is an eclectic mix of vibrant city life and laid-back relaxation. Whether it’s coastal views or well-kept gardens, historic architecture or panoramic mountain views, there’s plenty to satisfy even the most avid sightseer in and around Melbourne” said the voice. I agreed there was something for everyone.  “But who are you? I asked. “I am the spirit of Victoria,”Voice continued “I hope you’ve enjoyed our talk-tour of this beautiful city, a true jewel for the tourist. It’s time to start planning your visit in person. It’s your time to visit Melbourne NOW! Believe meYou’ll love every place of Victoria has more information about the places.

This is entry for the  contest it’s your time to visit Melbourne Now at indiblogger.

Parents Soak Us No More in Your Expectations

Dear Mummy and Papa,

Today we want to tell you Soak me, yes soak me no more in your expectations/wishes/ambitions/fears. Today when I came back after playing my clothes had stains as I was playing football with my friends. Yes I know I had missed my 7 o’clock deadline and I had to do my homework, practice my keyboard  also but I just couldn’t leave the match in half.   Yes my dress had got dirty but gone are the days when Mummy you used to toil hard with grime on clothes. Since Washing machine came, washing has become kid’s play – soak it, fill it , switch it and Voila the clothes get washed. “Surf excel” made daag ache hain allowing us kids to play without worrying about stains. Now Surf excel matic has come with has the power of “Vibrating Molecules” to penetrate deeply embedded stains & remove them effectively, so no more soaking before washing!  While the stains are taken care of we kids are praying that scientists develop some vibrating molecules like like these surf-excel matic guys to free us from our parents expectations, ambitions, hopes, fears.

Yes I know you parents love your children and want the best for them, worry about us a lot, but we kids feel as if you parents have a checklist – toilet trained by the age of 2/3, eating food himself by age 7, doing homework himself by age 10. The moment a 2-year-old bents out of shape if he doesn’t get something he wants or a  3-year-old loses it if there’s an unexpected change in the bedtime routine or a  6-year-old fails to sustain focus on a game, to pursue one ball and to let the next fall untouched in the grass because he’s daydreaming, parents stand over the child with an unpleasant edge in the voice, index finger raised, scolding: “I said you’d get it later,” or “Why are you making such a big deal about your bedtime story?” or “Get your head in the game!”

Not only do we have a timetable in school we have timetable for those extra curricular classes after school -keyboard, chess ,cricket. Every moment is dictated like clock : 6:30 get up, 6:45 brushing teeth and bath, 7:05 breakfast, 7:20 leave for school. Come back from school 3:30 p.m, have lunch, go for the class, finish your dinner,even sleep on time. We hear “OK, I fed you, I changed you, tucked you into bed with your special blanket and teddy bear, read that story. Everything’s done,  Your sleep is scheduled for right now, and I have a phone call to make in nine minutes so now go to sleep” What if I say, “I love the teddy, but my bone hurts or I want to hear another story. I think I’ll stay up” you go bonkers. Mummy, Papa We are not robots, we are human beings.

Not only do we have to attend all THOSE classes we are expected to be extra-ordinary in all the activities. You tell us about how you used to come first in class, win every competition in school in every activity, making us wonder if every parent came first in class then who in the world came second! And nana-nani, dada dadi paint a very different picture of you parents – how difficult it was for you to finish milk in morning, how you came last in the school race, how you came second in the dance competition, how you hated history, loved maths. When I hear those it  makes us feel that you parents when normal kids were just like..just like…US!

And the comparison with other kids is Killing. “See Sweta how she comes first in class”, “See abhimanyu how well he plays cricket”..why don’t you study/play more like him/her”. What about my coming first in the singing competition or my story getting selected for school magazine or me getting highest marks in Maths.  Sweta didn’t get selected for competition , Abhimanyu can’t even write an essay on cricket and his runs are more than his marks in Maths. Mummy Papa I am not fair like Aryan, I am not tall like Sanjeev, I am not good in cricket like Abhimanyu , I can’t dance like Sohan, I can’t act like Rishabh. I am just me, plain simple me!

Any why do I have to do what you say, why can’t I have a choice. I love football, time spent while playing football flies away. I find concept of waiting to bat/ball boring. I I do not enjoy cricket, why do I have to play it then. And for whom am I playing for me or for you. Just because you played cricket in your college team and dada did not allow you to play further and made you do  engineering. Are you redoing your own life through me or fulfilling your lost ambitions through me? Because you were bullied in your childhood why should I go and bully every child around.

Mummy and Papa, let me be me. Stop trying to fit me into a mold.  Enjoy me for who I am , not for who you imagine/want to be. Please Please soak me no more in your expectations. And then we will also shine just like clothes after the Surf Excel matic wash!

Your children

This is entry for indiblogger contest: Surf Excel Matic contest Soak No More

Understand the Meaning of Marriage

Jodiya to bhagwan banata hai – bas unka milna humpar chod deta hain “ said Shahrukh khan in Dil to Pagal hai. Our elders call it sanjog. If marriage is decided in heaven, why there is a debate over love marriage vs arranged marriage? Isn’t the couple that is meant to get married will get married no matter what type of marriage they undergo? What can we mere mortals do? But then the Almighty doesn’t inform us who is our janam-janamantar ka saathi and humans have to work hard to find the one and hence the the debate. How times have changed to find the right one!

Ancient Indian scriptures talk about “Swayam Var” a practice of choosing a husband, from among a list of suitors, by a girl of marriageable age. Remember Sita’s swayamwar to Rama , Draupadi’s Swayamvar  in the Mahabharata (NDTV Imagine did try to revive the ancient custom of Swyamvar  by arranging Swaymar of Rakhi Sawant, Rahul Mahajan etc and was able to get Rahul married to Dimpy but audiences  ko baat hajam nahin hui(couldn’t digest) and the show and the channel ended up closing down without finding groom for Veena Malik!). Over time the practice of parents arranging the marriage of their children became prevalent. Our grandparents got married early to the one chosen by parents, they didn’t see their other half till marriage. During our parents time the girl brought tea wearing a saree when ladke wale(would be groom’s family) came to see her, acting coy and nice trying to answer questions  Do you cook well? Sing well? And if both parties agree to the the lakhsmi (aka dowry) that the would be lakhsmi bring there is band, baaja and baarat else more cycles of  dekhna dikhana.

With more women entering professional colleges and entering workforce parents agreed to the occupational hazard of the one studying in same college or working in same office as their child which at times was of a different caste Jab miyaan biwi raazi tu kya karega kazi .(when bride and groom agree what can the priest do). Matchmakers have also evolved with changing times, changing from Panditji, neighbour aunty to newspapers and matrimony sites. How it would be for Gen Y, our children. As my friend Ishi said “ Aaj ke bache agar bata dein ki shaddi kar rahein hai to ganimat hogi, agar ladka ladki se shadi kar raha hai to relief hogi, aur agar band baaje ke saath kar rehe hain tu khsuhi hogi…It’s their life -hum budha budhi aashirwad de hi denge “(Today’s kids if they get married would be great,if a boy marries a girl it would be relief and if they get married with band-baja then it would be happiness we two old people will give our blessings anyways).  World has also move beyond intercaste issue, working-non working issue to same sex marriage, sing “Ma ka ladla bigad gaya?”(Mom’s son has spoilt) Hmmm, ahhh…we’ll cross the bridge when we come to now let’s talk about love and arranged marriage.

As Mansi and  Shivani in New Show Love Marriage Ya Arranged Marriage on Sony’s  have raised pros and cons of love and arranged marriage as shown below.

Love and Arranged Marriages - Pros and Cons

Love and Arranged Marriages – Pros and Cons

Nothing is perfect, Chaand mein bhi daag hai(even moon has a black spot) As a famous sher goes “kahin kisi ko mukamaal jahen nahin milta..kahin zameen to kahin aasman nahin milta” (No one gets a perfect world, some don’t get earth some sky).  If you listen to the jokes about marriage – one wonders why do people get married – Shaadi woh laddoo hai jo khahe woh pachtaye jo na khaye woh bhi pacheteya.(Marriage is that sweet those who eat regrets those who don’t also regret), “Happiness is not the only thing so get married”, Or  Its funny when people discuss over Love marriage and arranged marriage It is like asking a person if he would Like to ‘hang himself” or “shoot himself”. But there is some logic, some thoughts as to why our forefathers felt the need for institution of marriage beyond the biological obligation of reproduction, making us homo-sapiens different from other animals. Which inspite of many divorces western world has still not given up on. Let’s take example of wedding vows from Christian marriage

“I, ___, take you ___, to be my wedded (husband/wife), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, ’til death do us part: according to God’s holy ordinance, and thereto I pledge you my love and faithfulness.“ Or Saath pheras of  hindu around the Agni Devta(holy fire) (which sadly are lost in pandit’s chants in Sanskrit) promising each other.

Meaning of Saath Pheras

Meaning of Saath Pheras

But what about Love? Let’s try to understand What is love? Where do we get the notion of what love is ? We grow up on stories of love as suggested by books and movies. She dreams of tall, dark, handsome (and rich) boy, he dreams of beauty with brains who can make him and his family happy It’s okay to have a happening girl friend but biwi to sati savitri chahiye(as shown in recent hindi movie Cocktail) Where she dreams of her prince coming in white horse and sweeping her off her feet and take her( where is conveniently ignored). Our fairly tales stop at marriage and it is assumed that shall live happily ever after or love stories end in tragedy like Laila Majnu, Shrin Farhad, Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal, Romeo Juliet etc.   Bollywood talks of love as  “Nazreen mili, dil dhaka , meri dhakan ne kaha kaha love u raja“  Boy and girl meet(mostly poor boy rich girl), sparks fly( Kuch kuch hota hai)  and they sing and dance “Kya yahin pyaar hein – dil tere bin kahin lagta nahin waqt guzrata nahin”  (is this love , my heart can’t focus anywhere time stands still). And lovers leaving everything for their love looks so romantic on screen.

But marriage is a different ball game. In real life marital alliance is followed  by years of up and downs. There will be periods when everything seems hunky dory there are bound to be phases when things seem to be heading downhill. While matches are made in heaven , it requires lot of hard work on earth. which is also being shown in various soap operas. Toostie and Tej in Saas bina sasural show how to make a love marriage work, Priya and Ram in Bade Ache Lagte hai show how arranged marriages can be successful too if both are committed to make it work. And once kids come in picture then responsibilities become manifold and it calls for hard work, balance and love to give the right Parvarish. If not, then ghurasti ki gadi dagmaga jati hai(marriage become turbulent), and one ends up saying “Kya hua tera wada”(what happened to your promise)

Rigveda says ” ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti” which means Truth is one, though the sages know it as many, God is one though different religions approach him differently. Arranged marriage or Love marriage -paths may be different but our destination is the same – marriage.

Arranged or love marriage  or love which is arranged or arranged which becomes love, to each his own but we need to realize it is marriage koi gude gudiyoon ka khel nahin(not a game of dolls). We and our family need to use both head and heart. Marriage is a promise to fulfill the duties together, ying and yang bringing the balance to each other,  no wonder they say pati aur patni gaadee ke do pahiye hai aur unme talmel hoona zarrori hai(husband and wife are like two wheels of the vehicle and they need to be in sync). Understand the meaning of marriage, get married for right reasons for then “Tere haath haath mein hain agar to safar hi asle hyaat hein, mere har kadam pein hain manzilion tera haath gar mere saath hai!“( with your hands in mine, every step of journey seems like destination).

This post is for contest indbiblogger:Love Marriage Ya Arranged Marriage  What do you think? You can share your thoughts, read about others opinions on Love Marriage Ya Arranged Marriage on facebook

Removing problem from Roots!

Are you sure you want to do it?”, asked the hairdresser.
I glared at her which she took as “don’t ask such question” but I was quaking inside “No I am not but don’t make it more difficult for me. Don’t make me think. Just do it”. I hoped, I prayed that she should not read my mind as I drifted down the memory lane.

I never had long hair. Infact I never wanted long hair. I felt girls with short hair seem more sophisticated, stylish and,smarter. We had better things to do, more time to do because we had short hair.  It felt so time saving (not to mention convenient) to get out of bed, take bath, run finger through the hair and bingo you are ready in record time. Who wanted Pony-tail! Pony the small horse ( not to be confused with foal)have shorter legs, thicker necks and shorter heads with broader foreheads.Pony attached to Horse Butt! Nah never liked animal,  it’s not even a proper horse, thought of having his tail behind me was outrageous.



Long hair had its own set of problem. They got so tangly, take years to dry after wash and then more time to find which style would match. Shyamoli , my friend with long hair , wished for having enough money to pay someone to wash it and till then complain about her hair. Gosh how many times we have walked after the movie had started, for Shyamoli maam had to wash her hair or decide whether she wants french plait, or side parting and finally leaving her hair open. Grr…  Not to mention how when you’re trying to drink/eat your hair gets in your food. It just sits there inhaling the goodness of your food. The situation could be worse, Shyamoli pointed out, better than eating biryani and finding a lon…g hair in it, wondering whose is it? Did the person had dandruff? Did they wash the hair? Not to mention you losing all the appetite and throwing all the tasty yummy biryani. Saala ek bal adami ko bhokha kar deta hain!(one hair makes man go hungry)

Hair in food!

Hair in food!

All that changed when I heard him talking about the new girl in the class. How she was so different, so beautiful, had beautiful eyes and long…beautiful hair. “woh kaali kaali aankhen, woh kaale kaale baal..”  He talked about losing himself in her ravishing, flowing hair that smelled of sweet perfume. I was not jealous, it was just that my entire thought process has been turned upside down. All that climbing trees, playing basketball, studying together just disappeared into thin hair like like ganje ke sar se baal(hair from bald man). Then I decided to be just like her, no I mean have hair like her..have LON….G HAIR. Easier said than done

How to get long hair? “Elementary Watson”, Holmes would have said when TV is here why go anywhere.  TV programmes are full of shampoo and hair-oil advertisements (attimes I wonder is it programme between the advertisements or the other way round). Models(Aishwarya, Bipasha, Deepika, Kathrina,  Kareena,  Priyanka, Shilpa and others) all had  long, lustrous, and bouncing hair.I was confused- some talked about making hair strong from roots, some from end, some talked about complete nutrition, some simply showed strength pulling a truck out with hair-hajam nahin hota boss(can’t digest)!, some said you need to put oil to have world’s best hair. Hello anyone we are talking about hair right and not about plants or stress test.  Playing inky pinky ponky to pick the actress, I meant the shampoo seemed the easy solution. Tried one and waited waited, no change, moved to another one -the herbal – still no change.

Decided to visit the salon where the hair specialist passed me an expensive bottle. Tried to weave hair into the conversation of my mother’s friends or my cousins – picking up tips like: brushing hair 100 strokes every night,tried to make changes in diet-as my cousin harsha said “Your hair comes from what you eat and drink, filling plate with green vegetables like spinach( i thought I was way past Popeye), which contain sebum-producing vitamins A and C; they act as natural hair conditioners and shine boosters. Shyamoli after knowing about my change of heart on long hair joined in my struggle giving me suggestions of what to do. I envied her, being bengali she had such beautiful eyes and hair- whether it was genetic or because she ate fish or ?

Our efforts started paying off, reluctantly but surely my hair started growing and I managed to have hair till shoulder length. I remember the moment very clearly, Shymoli was talking to me about how soon I will also have lo…ng hair and then he would find me more beautiful than that new girl.  Aryan overheard it and news spread like wild fire – me growing hair to impress him and put the new girl down.I could not find the strength to look into his and her eyes, they were there at the party. I feared the verdict I would receive. I crouched behind a pillar, resting against it, grieving, when I couldn’t control my intense feelings of guilt anymore, my eyes releasing the tears they had been holding back. I made desperate attempts to control my tears, but they kept flowing as though a dam has burst. I bit into my balled fist, overcome by remorse. I curled my legs up against my chest and rested my head on my knees. A thought hit me, I tried to shake it but I couldn’t, it seemed the best solution, infact only solution remove the root of the problem, na rahega baans na bajegi bansuri(no bamboo means no flute, no music) Before I lost courage I started walking and walking and before I realized I was sitting in chair at the parlour.

Yes I got my head shaved off. As each hair got cut strangely I felt peace, I felt calm prevail over me, i felt so me, not trying to be someone. I felt actually removed the problem from the root  and that was the end of my hair problems, issue problems and beginning of a new friendship, the new girl became my friend and after that I stuck to short hair.

Note: This is entry for indiblogger:Dove My Beautiful Hair Story contest. Become hair aware-try Dove hair-aware app.


Her new dress

When she got back home, she thought of calling him. She was crazy about this dress that she had picked up and was waiting to hear what he’s going to say. She could hardly wait for him to gasp and tell “You never looked so beautiful”. The bell rang. She knew he was back. She wanted to model her new dress but then it was a hectic day for him. She should wait, she thought. She hid the dress in the cupboard but couldn’t hide her smile.
He walked in the room. She asked him about his day and told about hers(saying nothing about the dress was killing her). Served him his favorite food. “What’s special?”,he asked. “Nothing” . Just wait for sometime and you’ll see for yourself, she thought.
Finally she couldn’t stand more, she changed into her new dress and walked into the room where he was reading. “How do I look?”, she asked. He raised his head and “It’s great dress but you ought to loose some weight – 5 kgs. And your legs are too short for that look”. She couldn’t understand, the saleswoman had given her some great compliments about how she well she could carry the dress and how the color suited her. She knew the salesgirl was trying to sell the dress but shethought she really looked good. Glitter fell from the star and she died a little.