Posted in Personal

Spending July outside Mumbai.

It was raining in Singapore on a random day last month and I was stuck with a super weird realization – this would be the first July that I’ve spent not being in Mumbai in over 15 years!

It made me feel so weird because there are actually very less things better than July in Mumbai. Even though the rains continue all through August and September, there is nothing better than those first rain showers in July. If you’ve lived in Mumbai long enough (or if Mumbai has lived in you long enough), you will end up loving Mumbai rains. Mumbai rains bring with it a familiarity that only being in Mumbai will give you. It could be raining anywhere else, but that rain will never make you feel quite like Mumbai rains will. All the floods, delayed trains, broken roads will never outweigh what Marine Drive looks like during a thundershower. Or what watching the rain from your extremely, super, tiny apartment will make you feel.

It rains a lot in Singapore. Its pretty erratic. You never know when its going to rain – it kind of comes out of nowhere. Thats what I love about Mumbai rains: you always see them coming. And I don’t mean those warnings that the weather department gives you – I mean those stupid, small things that show you how close you are to rains. Like the auto rickshaws that start putting out their plastic flaps, or shops at linking road that start selling durable footwear, or even that one over prepared lady on the local train with a raincoat for her bag pack.

It doesn’t take a lot of years to fall in love with Mumbai rains. Everyone starts off the same way: hating them, hating the traffic and the mosquitoes. Then you learn to live with it, to deal with it because you have no choice. Then you start to endure it in the fun way – like when you read a news article talking about how Mumbai doesn’t slow down during the rains. You won’t even realise it when you start to like it. Or when you actually start looking forward to them. The rains will destroy your brand new footwear, sure, but by now you actually don’t mind. Suddenly, one day you’ll realise that you’ve spent the whole year waiting for July.

But really you’ll only ever know how much you can miss Mumbai rains when you’re not in the middle of Mumbai rains.

Posted in Personal

Super Easy Pav Bhaji Recipe.

I’ve spent years loving Pav Bhaji because how can you not, right? Its yum, its spicy, its wholesome and it always makes you feel right at home no matter where you are.

This lockdown has been pretty hard on everyone, but so much harder if you’re away from home. My roommate and I have been cooking a lot at home (like most people) and we’ve been trying to experiment as much as we can. That is how we came across a really easy to make pav bhaji recipe and tried it back in April and now I can say we’ve mostly perfected it! So here is a beautiful picture of it and the recipe for you guys to try as well!

Ingredients:
1) Salt
2) Garlic cloves (around 5-7)
3) Turmeric powder
4) Red chili powder
5) Dry red chilies (around 3-4 but mostly depending on how much spice you can take)
6) Oil
7) Butter
8) Onions (4, or if you have bigger ones then 2)
9) Tomatoes (4 or 5, depending on their side)
10) Boiled Potatoes (4)
11) Boiled Carrots (4)
12) Boiled Cauliflower (1)
13) Bread slices (4 or 5)
14) Pav Bhaji Masala/Rajma Masala/Chole Masala
15) Ginger (half a piece)

Steps:
1) Chop the potatoes, carrot and cauliflower into cubes and boil them in water for about 25 minutes (I suggest this longer time because we always boil it in the microwave and once or twice we’ve boiled it less and its been very hard to mash them).
2) Once they’re boiled, mash all the vegetables together and mash them so smoothly that it has a nice creamy texture.
3) Chop the onions, tomatoes, red chilies, garlic and ginger into small pieces.
4) Pour some oil on the pan and put the onions, tomatoes and red chilies into the pan. Fry these till the onions are golden brown.
5) Remove these from the pan and put everything into a mixer/grinder and mix/grind these together into a mixture.
6) Pour this mixture back into your pan and add some water along with it.
7) Now add salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder as per your taste and cook this on a medium flame.
8) Take the ginger and garlic and grind/mix them in your grinder/mixer into a thick paste.
9) Pour this paste into your pan and mix everything together.
10) As this mixture cooks, add the vegetables you’ve mashed and keep mixing everything together.
11) Mix well and cook the bhaji on a medium flame. Now add 2-3 tablespoons of Pav Bhaji Masala/Rajma Masala/Chole Masala whatever you have and mix well. (here, we used rajma masala because we couldn’t find pav bhaji masala anywhere and honestly, it works just as well and tastes great!).
12) Cook for a few minutes of a medium flame. Garnish with coriander and chopped onions if you want to.
13) On a pan, melt some butter and lightly toast your bread pieces (you can also use a toaster).
14) Serve and enjoy!

Posted in Personal

Student Meal 101: Fake Risotto

Being locked up at home as weirdly got everyone cooking. I’ve always been really happy baking, but I’ve never took to cooking, Its always felt like so much more effort than just eating takes. You cook for hours and you eat in minutes, and that was always really annoyed me. But being home all day and ordering food is so terribly expensive, that I’ve got around to cooking much more than I’d prefer.

The crazy thing is that I obviously cannot cook everything and so over the last few weeks, I’ve started experimenting and attempting a lot of random combinations – things that sound so weird but don’t taste half as weird. This is how I stumbled upon what I’ll now call Fake Risotto.

If you don’t know, Risotto is a rice dish made in usually thick, creamy sauce. Masterchef Australia has always called Risotto as its ‘death dish’ because it’s really hard to get right and consistent. And this is where my Fake Risotto comes in.

Ingredients:
1) Salt
2) Rice
3) Chopped Vegetables (Corn, Pepper, Carrot,)
4) White sauce (Using pre-made bottle sauce is the easiest thing for a student)
5) Ketchup
6) Mixed herbs, chili flakes, oregano
7) Cooking Oil

Steps:
1) Boil water in a pan and cook rice enough for one person. [I usually measure with my fist and use two fists of rice but it really depends on how much you want to eat].
2) Once the rice is cooked, drain the water and place the rice in another container.
3) Pour some cooking oil into the pan and let it heat.
4) Sprinkle salt into the oil as much as you want.
5) Take your chopped vegetables and add them to the pan. Sauté vegetables for 5-7 minutes.
6) Take your white sauce and add it to the pan. If you’re cooking for one person then around 1/4th of the bottle is enough. Cook the vegetables and sauce for a while.
7) Now add some ketchup into your pan. Since ketchup can traditionally be sweet, I would suggest adding about 4 spoonfuls. Mix everything well.
8) Add mixed herbs, chili flakes or oregano. Any one of these would also be find or all of them. Mix well.
9) Now add the rice into the pan. Mix the rice well with the sauce. Cook for about 3 more minutes.
10) Serve and enjoy your Fake Risotto!

Posted in Personal

2020: 700 Followers!

I hit 700 followers last week – almost like clockwork because every year around the same time, I hit the next 100 which actually is crazy because it means that every year, somehow there are MORE people willing to read this stuff (and I don’t even really write ‘stuff’).

I’ve always been really grateful for having started this blog because its given me so many things. I really love seeing people leave comments once in while over here: all of you are magically supportive and extremely sweet about everything written here, especially since most of it is just tv shows or music I’m obsessed with.

Thanks guys!
Stay safe and wash your hands!

Posted in Personal

Why I'm not ready for LLM to end:

When I started my degree last year, I was terrified. Sure, I was excited but I was way more terrified. I wasn’t ready to meet new people and make new friends all over again. I totally wasn’t ready to live in a whole other country! I spent my first months still being terrified and not really enjoying it as much I imagined I would. I went back home in December and (I thought) that I was happier there.

I now have a week left of LLM classes and by the end of July, I will have my degree! And now, I am not ready to leave.

It’s actually crazy (but also in another sense, very cliche) – I’m only realizing how much I’ve loved it here when its almost done. My one year in Singapore has given me SO much. I’ve met people that I would’ve never met if I hadn’t been here,
I’ve tried new food I would’ve never tried if I hadn’t been here,
I’ve experienced things I definitely would’ve never experienced if I hadn’t been here.

More than just the degree (and some really good teaching), Singapore has given me so much more. I once read somewhere that a lot of things change in life when you stop living with your parents. I haven’t lived with mine for years and yet so many new things changed when I came here. More than things just changing, I’ve had so many firsts in Singapore (my first time dragon boating, my first gin and tonic, my first time cooking a whole meal – and a million more things).

Now that my degree’s almost done, I’m terrified all over again. I’m terrified of leaving this city because its grown on me. I love my country, but these months have made me love this new country so much that I can’t understand why I was so excited to leave it. And so with every submission done and every class getting over, I am totally not ready for this part of my life to end.

Posted in Personal

Coorg: A 5-minute Review

Coorg, is this quite little town near Bangalore in India. Once you reach, you’re surrounded by a lot of green and if you’re vacationing in the winter months, then by this cold breeze that is really comforting. Reaching Coorg – if you loathe road travel – is a long drive from Bangalore airport. It took us 7.5 hours (and google maps shows you 5.5 hours so be prepared for traffic and road works). There are alternate ways to reach Coorg as well ( Check here! ).

We spent three full days in Coorg (at Club Mahindra’s Madikeri Resort) and went around to a lot of touristy places (plus, we tried local food!). Here’s a list of things we did and food we ate:

1) Madikeri Fort – The fort is barely a wall around some old buildings. If you’ve seen forts in other parts of the country, this really is a disappointment. There’s a government run museum inside the building of an old church.

2) Talacauvery – The origin of the river Cauvery is around 30 kms from the Club Mahindra Resort and 35 kms from the main town. The drive takes about 1.5 hours (remember that you’re driving on hilly roads!). The place is essentially a temple and thus has clothing restrictions. You have to be fully clothed but you can take clothing on rent as well.

3) Coorg Cuisine – Coorg Cuisine is this little place quite near to the Fort right in the center of the town. Its always full and you might have to wait a bit. They serve traditional coorg dishes: we tried the bamboo shoot curry, akki otto and rice dumplings. The food was quite good and filling, however fair warning: if your stomach isn’t accustomed to food like this, you will most probably end up with a stomachache.

4) Abbi Falls – The waterfalls is a one hour drive from the main town. Once your car reaches the main entrance, you have to walk down to the falls. The walk is just a long paved path that takes you about ten minutes. The falls themselves are huge and probably will have a lot more water during the monsoons season. The entrance has loads of little shops for you to get refreshments and junk food from.

5) Raja’s Seat – In the middle of Madikeri town is this park called Raja’s Seat (we crossed it atleast twice every single day). Its just a small town park with a fountain in the middle and a pathway around it, but the view from the edge of the park is beautiful. It takes you ten – fifteen minutes to walk around the whole park.

6) Dubare Elephant Camp – The Elephant camp is 35 kms from the main town and it only makes sense if you arrive there early in the morning: keep 9:30 AM as your target time and leave. Your car will leave you at the entrance on the boat and you’ve to take a five-minute boat ride to the entrance of the camp. Here you can pay a simple fee to bathe the elephants along with the camp residents, or alternatively watch the elephants being bathed. The camp also lets you watch elephants being fed and you can get a few pictures along the way. They shut at 11:00 AM and re-open again in the evening.

7) Raintree Restaurant – Raintree is located on one of the side roads from the main town. Its a small place on a bungalow’s property and the menu has both Indian and Chinese dishes. We tried kadhai paneer, dal fry and kerela paratha and everything was really yummy. We had coffee afterwards and I think if you’re visiting coorg, you should definitely try this place!

Posted in Personal

Diwali when celebrated NOT in India –

This weekend is Diwali and without being overly religious, Diwali always makes me very excited. I love how the city lights up and I love dressing up. I’ve never really considered Diwali a huge festival though. And that might be because I have always been home and never considered not being with mom for Diwali. Since this is my first Diwali not in India, I made a mental list of what I’m desperately going to miss this Diwali:

  1. Family Pictures: I love the fact that everyone is dressed up and we spend HOURS taking pictures on Diwali day. My mom is so good at taking (and posing for) pictures that I just know how much I’m going to be missing it this weekend.
  2. Rangolis: I will very proudly admit that I am the one who makes the rangolis at home all the time (and I violently encourage everyone else to participate). Rangoli making has always been a huge part of Diwali for me and not having a rangoli outside my apartment feels really weird.
  3. Lighting Diyas: The lights are definitely my favourite part of Diwali. I love placing those oil filled diyas in a huge plate, lighting them and then walking around the whole house placing one in every room. With only two diyas that my roommates and I are placing in the apartment this year, I’m missing out on how I spend all my evenings for the days during Diwali.
  4. Holidays: Diwali being the biggest festival in India means that we get a nice break from work, school, university (usually a week or so). With being in a different country, I’m really missing out on a Diwali vacation I’ve gotten so used to.

 

Though I am really nostalgic about not being home for Diwali, I am really excited to see what different new thing I do this year while still being wholesome Indian!

Posted in Personal

When I actually mean the sorry I’m telling you:

It’s so weird but over the years I’ve realized that people (including myself) misuse the English language SO much. People use words without meaning them, or use them without understanding them, and I’ve started hating that a lot. Where people tell you they love some random netflix show, but they just like going home to visit. (Can you really feel more for that show than you feel for home?).

For a lot of things in life, I have mini internal rules. Rules that I follow wholeheartedly and without anyone finding out they exist. One of my rules (its actually sometimes a little hard to follow) is that I never say sorry to anyone who doesn’t matter. My rule is not wide or senseless. For example, if I step on someone’s shoe while walking to the bus station, I will apologize – my rule only applies for people I actually know. So for example, I do something and I end up hurting someone’s feelings, the only time I will apologize is when I actually care about this someone’s forgiveness. Where I look at this person and think, “oh you are not someone I want to hurt”. But where someone doesn’t matter, I can’t do it. I don’t apologize (because I don’t care).

I like to think my rule works really well for me. It helps me prioritize people and mostly reminds me who I am actually letting my brain think about. If I’m not apologizing to you, you don’t matter and I don’t think about you. Sometimes this weirdly simple logic that I use makes me wish other people also used it because that way I could tell who cared about me. I would know instantly if I was being thought about (or alternatively, not being thought about).

I once read somewhere that a lot depends on whom you let get access to you. That your day can change depending on who is running it (you, or someone else, etc.). When I think about that, I feel like it becomes very important for me to reevaluate the people in my everyday life. Do you really matter enough for me to say sorry to you? When I can answer that, I can easily figure who is getting access to me and positively change my day!

 

Posted in Personal

Happiness v. Satisfaction

Someone told me the other day that I shouldn’t want to be happy. That happiness isn’t what I should be looking for. He told me to look for satisfaction. I asked if he doesn’t think that everyone wants to be happy. He said maybe they do, but maybe they shouldn’t. I was confused. He told me that I was operating in highs and lows – and that was my downfall. Why was I using these parameters to describe my life? Why was I looking to be happy, when I could instead be satisfied? If I could find a neutral, middle ground; if I could be at the level from where falling down wasn’t possible, shouldn’t I look for that? I guess when I actually heard these words out loud, I realised that he was right. That I couldn’t hope for happiness; that I should hope for satisfaction. Peace, wisdom, intellect, he said, I should hope for. Not happiness.

In One Tree Hill, Julian once tells Brooke that people often think of happiness as a destination. That if people thought of happiness not as a destination but as a condition – as a state of mind that changes, maybe people would find happiness more often. I liked to believe in this. I liked to believe that I could think of happiness as a condition.

Then someone told me to think about satisfaction and not happiness. Suddenly, I didn’t want happiness. I didn’t want to think about achieving something that would make me happy – I wanted to think about achieving something that would satisfy me.

Now I think maybe there will be no downfall for me because I know that somewhere along all of it I will be satisfied.

Posted in Personal

What one month in Singapore has taught me –

As far back as I can remember, I have been really excited to leave India. I always felt that I couldn’t be happy with what I had, or with what I would have.

I once read somewhere that all you really need for your opinion to change, is another opinion.

One month in Singapore gave me that opinion. 

When it got really close to leaving Mumbai, I was stressed. I tried to downplay it by reminding myself that this was what I’d wanted for years. That no matter how many times mom cried before I left I was going to be okay because I wanted this.

I have approximately five friends who have studied in different countries and come back home. They’ve talked about clean roads and beautiful streets, or about fancy libraries and vintage bookstores. They talk so much about new people, new people who’ve now become forever people, or about how much they hated coming back. 

But what no one actually tells you is that all of it takes time. That it takes months to make forever people; to make a different country something you don’t want to come back from. No one tells you that the first week you spend in a new bed with new roommates will make you miss the small room you shared with your brother. No one also tells you that spending one festival away from your family will make you homesick in ways you can’t even imagine.

I think people do this knowingly. I think that no one ever tells you the bad parts so that you look at the good parts and think that this will be the best part of your life. I think that no one wants you to know that they struggled. This way when you tell them that you are struggling, its a new thing and they can pretend like they never went through it.

One month in Singapore has taught me so much. But mostly its taught me that I could have been happy with what I had, or with what I was going to have.