Wednesday, March 28, 2012

French Manicure... another mountain conquered

French manicure is all the rage now. I remember trying it years ago and getting my nails all messed up. I gave up, deciding it was not worth the trouble.
Btw, French manicure is a unique way of applying nail paint. Instead of applying nail paint all over the nails in the same color, you color the tips white and apply nude colors on top. They do look classy.

Seeing so many girls sporting them, I thought it cannot be so bad. Can it?
I succeeded last night.
Here is the step by step process:
  1. Clean your nails, dip them in warm water to soften the cuticles. You can skip the step but it was my manicure day anyway. File nails, preferably in a square shape. Square is in and looks good with FM
  2. Apply a base coat. Base coat is a nail paint in clear color. It generally protects the nails from harm from the chemicals in pigmented nail colors. It prevents yellowing of nails. In French Manicure, it gives the nails a nice base. You can use any brand... every brand has a clear nail paint. I have Oriflame.
  3. Apply white color on tips of nails. Start from one end and finish off at the other end. The white color is not a regular one. You get special white tips for FM. I have Inglot. Lotus and Oriflame are other brands which have white tips. You can also buy a FM kit which has step by step instruction. Let it dry.
4. Apply nude color to the nails. Nude colors can be white, pink or beige. I have used pink. Let it dry

    5. Apply top coat. Let it dry
Ta...da... it looks good from far but is not very neat in close up. But thats ok... I don't let anyone get any close ups... :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Amritsar Trip

Hellos... I am back with the a post on the trip. KC and I had planned to take a trip to Amritsar in December'11 but had to cancel. Why Amritsar??? 3 reasons:

• Visit does not have to be seasonal like for Himachal

• Direct Shatabdi train which reaches in 5 and 1/2 hours

• How can anyone not be tempted to visit the Golden Temple?

I booked the tickets one month in advance and yet could not get tickets for the weekend. We decided to leave on Sunday and return on Monday to beat the crowds. The Shatabdi leaves from Delhi at 7.20 am and arrives at Amritsar at 1.25 pm. It is a pleasant journey and we were seated in the 1st class. I had booked Hotel Lawrence and received a corporate discount. Lawrence road is new Amritsar which has branded shops. There is also a Mall road nearby. As soon as we left the station, autowalas gheraoed us (Indian style) and demanded 100 bucks for a 5 mins trip. I was pissed... I am not foreigner. How dare anyone try to rip me off in my own country? Please double check the rates with your hotel before boarding an auto.

The plan was to visit Wagah Border that day. After a nap and lunch at the hotel, we left for Wagah Border. It is a 45 mins journey and you have to reach before 4.40 pm. The gates close then and entry is not allowed. The ceremony begins at 5.15 and ends at 6.30 pm.

We were overwhelmed by the crowd waiting outside the gate. Worst part is men and women are seated separately. Very weird. The gates opened first for the women and we were let in through the jostling, shoving and pushing (just the way we Indians are so comfy with). The men were let in later. At around 5 pm, the patriotic music started playing. I hate old patriotic songs... I am more of a A R Rehman "Vande Mataram" kinds.... none of the Manoj Kumar stuff for me. But the crowds were enjoying the music. To kill time, the BSF guys invited the women to run in the center with the Indian flag.

The ceremony started at 5.15 pm... it was a complete blur for me since we were seated in the most inconvenient location. Discrimination against women here also. Is there any place where we are treated as equals in India? I guess not. The entire time was a bore and marked by craning my neck to watch, holding onto my space, asking women behind to stop kicking my ass, keeping away from the kids around. Not a fun time. I should have just watched it on youtube only.

For KC, it was different. I could see him and he was obviously enjoying himself (so annoyed). He had a good view and was cheering when asked to do so.

I was more interested in seeing the Pakistan side. They were more conveniently seated... even the women. All the women were in burqas... not one in jeans or anything. Its a scary thought. My ancestors came to India during Partition. If they would have stayed back my life would have turned out differently. Touch wood.

Anyway, I was happy to leave and return to the hotel. We had dahi puri and pani puri on Lawrence road. The best I have had till date.

After another short nap, we left for Golden Temple which is located in old Amritsar... 15 mins away. We thought we would beat the crowds at 9 pm... but no luck... or maybe the crowds are worse than this during the day. The temple looks beautiful in the night... with the gold gleaming under the lights. We had to stand in a queue for 1/2 hour and KC wanted to leave without entering. That would be a blasphemy... not that I am religious or anything. But you always enter a temple... nobody admires it from the outside and leaves without entering. I was determined to wait till midnight, if it came to that. While waiting, I realized we had not bought any prasad to get inside. I have always gone to temple with family (through pressure and scolding) and my mom always bought the prasad. Also, it has been years since I entered a temple. We entered a small room where the Guru Granth Sahib is kept (assumption... why else will people queue up outside). It was crowded and stuffy... with no place to pray or kneel or bow down. With some pushing and shoving I moved towards the door barely managing a slight bow and joined hands. No time or space for prayers. A far cry from a regular temple visit. We left without taking the prasad (I do not like the sweet stuff) or checking out rest of the gurudwara. Its just not my cup of tea.

If you ask anyone on the good places to eat, everyone says; "My Brothers Dhaba" near Golden Temple. We decided to have dinner there. It is a vegeterian restaurant and was extremely crowded at 10.30 pm. The waiters were too busy to take orders or serve food. We waited for 10 mins and when nobody took orders we left. It was a disappointment. We went to the dhaba next door where someone seated us and brought our food in 10 mins. For Punjabis, vegeterian food has only choley, paneer (many, many variety of gravies) and daal makhani. Thats it. Nothing more. We had choley and Mango lassi which was too flavoured. Another disappointment.

The next day we checked out and went to Jallianwala Bagh which is 5 mins away from Golden Temple. There is not much to see there- a park, some bullet holes, a gallery, the well where people jumped to save themselves. Reading about the incident again gave me a shitty feeling. The British tortured Indians like tyrants. Don't they have any guilt? Are they not ashamed of themselves? I would be.

Shopping was the best part of the trip. Right outside JB, are shops which sell jutis. I bought 4 pairs (2 for me, 1 for mom, 1 for sis). The fellow selling it would not buy my tactic of walking away when he did not offer a good discount. He was pissed and would not let me leave. Finally, he gave it to me at 40% discount. KC was irritated when I told him that we will have to go to other shops to buy at a lower price. He would have paid a higher price rather than go to 2-3 shops and repeat the same process. Men!!! I had to send me out of the shop and then bargain since he was siding with the shopkeeper.

Amritsar has a huge cloth market for Indian wear. The suits are fab. I bought Phulkari dupattas and stole. I had purchased a red Phulkari dupatta online for 700 bucks. I saw dupattas in Amritsar at 750 bucks with better quality. Also, Pakistani suits are in huge demand there. Many women came asking for Pakistani suits.

Lunch was at Surjit Chicken- the most famous non veg place. It is located on Lawrence road. The tandoori chicken was soft and spicy (so spicy). The tawa chicken was amazing. Wished we had eaten dinner also here.

We left by 5 pm Shatabdi and arrived in Delhi at 11 pm. Seeing all the kids in the regular compartment made groan and wish for the first class. Sigh!!!

It was a good trip. Amritsar is just like Rajkot. It is not as major a town as Baroda, Surat or A'bad. People are filthy rich and love their bling. As a Sindhi, I am used to seeing bling at weddings but on regular days everyone dresses normally. Not in Punjab... no matter where, they wear blingy stuff. Also, there are too many cars on the road. I come from a small town. My parents own a car and 2 wheeler. When we go to the small markets, we take the 2 wheeler... never a car. Not so in Amritsar. No matter how small a lane, the big car is driven. Also, it is very safe. At 11 pm we could find an auto and there were people on the roads. It was weird to be in a place where men were not leching. In Delhi or Haryana, men lech... no matter what... no matter where. They generally stare. I have not faced teasing yet. Over time, I have gotten used to it. Whenever I leave my building I know men will stare... no matter what I wear or look like. Sometimes, when outside men- electricians, delivery boys etc travel in the lift with me, they will stare. I stare back which shames the men and they lower their eyes. This always works. There is no man who is shameless enough to out stare.

Anyway, Do visit this town.

Golden Temple- at night
The tiny entrance to Jallainwala Bagh from where people could not escape since General Dyer had blocked it
Wagah Border- Indian side
Wagah Border- Pakistan side

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happening Week

Hiya. Its been a very hectic but happening week. My mom called and told me she is coming to Delhi with my sis who is arriving from USA. This came as a major surprise. My mom is not one to inform earlier. I was pissed since getting leave at the last moment was going to be an issue. I had pending leaves which I had planned to take in advance. Anyway, they arrived on Monday morning. I met them in the evening after work at CP (no, they didn't stay with me... no surprise there), dropped my mom off to Karol Bagh, dropped off my sis at AIIMS and headed home. I was exhausted with all the driving around. Btw, Karol Bagh is like Times Square of New York- with all the billboards and everything.
I had taken Tuesday off since my sis had to shop for my cousin's wedding. (No, I was not invited). Big problem. I know where the malls are... I know where to get western wear... but Indian wear? Beats me. I googled and took advice from male friends.... who asked their female friends/colleagues. We went to Nalli in South Ex but they had only sarees... we went to Hauz Khas since there are designers stores there. I learned something new- designers stores display only a few pieces. They design and not retail. We had lunch at Gunpowder and left for Gurgaon empty handed.
Gurgaon was a disappointment too. We finally picked 5 dresses and waited for my mom to turn up and pick the final one. She rejected all of them. The shopkeeper was in tears. He had spent more than an hour showing us the stuff. On our way out, we came across a dress material shop and checked it out. Finally, the purchases were made and everyone heaved a sigh of relief.
The initial plan was that mom and sis would leave on Wednesday night but the unsuccessful shopping trip changed that. They left on Wednesday morning to get the dresses stitched from A'bad in one day.
But before that, my sis was wondering where are the top designers in Delhi. Delhi is supposed to be the fashion capital, after all. More google.. and we went to Emporio Mall. I was impressed. I have only seen the clothes on the net... to actually see them in front of me was a dream come true. Of course, Indian designers are all located on the top floor of the mall with the most expensive and premium brands like Versace, Cartier, Christian Louboutin etc on the ground floor. We checked out all the Indian designers- Suneet Verma (lehengas ranging till 5 lakh), Tarun Tahiliani (regular salwar kameez for 80 k), Malini Ramani (the dress that Ekta Kapoor wears to all parties at 19k) etc etc. Rina Dhaka was the cheapest with salwar kameez arounf 20k. It was quite a trip and one that I enjoyed thoroughly.

I realized how misunderstandings and negative feelings can last for years due to mis-communication or lack of any communication. That was rectified on this trip.

Next post- Amritsar trip

Friday, March 16, 2012


What I liked about it:
  • 2 hours long
  • Has Irfan Khan
  • Is based on a true story
  • No songs
But... the story moves very slowly. The story is about Paan Singh Tomar... his transformation from an army man to an athlete to a dacoit. The part about the army days is entertaining but then the story moves very slowly from being an athlete to a dacoit.
I especially did not like the end... its as if the director was sympathizing with the dacoit. I was comparing Bandit Queen with this movie... BD also kills a group of villagers in a similar fashion for revenge. In BD, I couldn't sympathize with Phulan... no matter what she went through. In PST, the director is trying to get the audience to sympathize.
I hated writing that sentence... " I couldn't sympathize with Phulan... no matter what she went through". Maybe I would want to kill... and I would have, in her place. But I don't want to be a put in a position where I have to sympathize with a dacoit. That is wrong.
All in all... a good effort but when there was something lacking. I think PST is being made out to be a hero, which he is not.

What I liked:
  • It is only 2 hours
  • Vidya Balan has not applied any make up- except kohl and lipstick. A heroine without foundation... WOW
  • Most actors were not well known or not seen before. Lends the movie an authenticity
  • Kolkata and Durga Puja is a backdrop... giving the movie an interesting personality
What I did not like:
  • Could I have predicted the end? Yes, if tried
Kahaani is a genre not made anymore... suspense thrillers. Remember movies like Gupt (can't recall any other) with a suspense in the end? A suspense that cannot be very easily guessed? I miss those movies. These days, filmmakers do not even try to surprise the audience. We just have to watch recycled crap.
Vidya is a gutsy actress. Who else would have agreed to go make up less, wear 3-4 dresses in the movie and play pregnant throughout? (Only Priyanka Chopra comes to mind... but I do not like her lips anymore... too much surgery). Vidya has done it again... hits pe hits.
I loved seeing Kolkata. I have been there during Durga Puja and it is chaos... but fun. I remembered the one month I spent there. I pointed out to KC all the places I had been to.
Must watch.

Delirious Delhi

I just finished reading this book. I picked it up in a book shop 'coz of the jazzy cover and it is written by an expat. Delhi, through the eyes of a foreigner? It sounded interesting.
The book is about the usual things that attract foreigners... food, monuments, traffic, poverty. Also, the views would fit any other city in India. It is not Delhi specific. This is so 'coz the writer has been to Delhi only. If he had stayed in other cities and then written about Delhi, the writing would have been more in depth and touched the core of what the city is about.
He naively believes that crime is only in the newspaper and not around him... Also, there was nothing on eve teasing or crimes on women. You cannot write about Delhi and not mention women's safety, or lack thereof.
The conclusion was the worst... the author believes that Indian city will ultimately become somewhat like New York or London... in terms of infrastructure and development. As an Indian, I cannot imagine a city without traffic, pollution, the great divide between the rich and poor, rickety buses etc. Thats India... and none of us can live without it.
But the book did give me an insight into how a foreigner feels in a foreign land... the fact that Indians are nosy... the weddings are so different from that of Christians... that we have help for everything- maids, cooks, drivers etc... that we don't mind touching each other.
All in all... not a bad book.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Shopping in Sarojini Nagar

Yesterday I went to Sarojini Nagar for shopping. KC was working and I am taking balance leaves before they lapse. I have been searching online for posts on where and what to shop... but except for one or two posts, could not find anything helpful. Few months back, I had gone to Sarojini but it was a winter evening. I could not find much stuff and returned with 2 tube tops and 1 purse.
The nearest station to Sarojini is INA. Get off at INA, take an auto.. you will be charged Rs 30. I didn't try to negotiate. It takes 5 mins by auto. When you reach the market, just start walking till something catches your eye. Things will come gradually. Don't be disappointed if you don't see something you like immediately. There are many, many inner lanes where you will come across good stuff. Some highlights:
  • Negotiate. Start with 50% of the rate quoted. Always. If shopkeeper does not relent, start walking away. Always works.
  • The good part about this market, unlike Bandra or Lokhandwala, is that you won't find common stuff everywhere (except for 3-4 pieces). I remember shopping at Lokhandwala... every shop had the same stuff. Invariably, people would end up buying the same stuff
  • Sarojini is a fashion paradise. You will find stuff not available in malls and premium brands. No kidding.
  • For footwear, go to Stellatos, Soft and Sleek- or one of the shops. They have fixed price but the range is huge.
  • You will find everything here- purses, shoes, lingerie, tops, bottoms, jewellery
  • All clothes cost less than Rs 300- after bargaining
  • You will find all kinds of brands here- Zara, Gap, Marks and Spencers, UCB, Diesel etc. They are mostly genuine and factory rejects.
Here are pics of my loot:

Purses- bought from Stellatos... price- Rs 500-600 each. I am horrible with purses. Whether it cost Rs 1800, Rs 1000 or Rs 200; they never last 'coz of my rough usage. Just like my watches... I have decided to stick to cheap purses. SN has a huge variety of purses in all colours... I bought a large purse and a sling purse.

My favorite part of the shopping. I wanted to stock up on all possible colors... for the spring. There is a pair in dark pink, light pink, blue, yellow, white and green. Most of them are wedges... with jute at the bottom. Love all of them. Purchased them from Soft and Sleek and Stellatos. Price range- Rs 600-700. In a mall, these would not cost me less than Rs 1500.

Love this top. It has a sexy back. I can wear it as a dress with a belt or add leggings.

Wanted a bolero for a long time but did not want to spend money. Cost- around Rs 150.
Sexy sexy lace. Was surprised to find it. Would have cost me 2k in a mall.

Tunis/Shirt- Can be worn with or without leggings... maybe with a belt.
Halter top. Cost- less than Rs 150.
Another favorite. Lace is in. Can be worn as a kurta or dress- with or without leggings.

A skirt, I should have bought this for winter. Nevertheless, have seen shorts like these in Promod but could not afford them.
Best time to buy shorts.

Happy Shopping. Looking forward to my next trip here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Nutella Lava Mug Cake

I came across this blog through Anita... and decided to give the Nutella Laval Mug Cake a try. It is awesome... so simple and unbelievably easy. I didn't think it would turn out right... nothing can be this easy.

Here is the recipe:
4 tablespoons self rising flour, sifted
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

4 tablespoons caster sugar

1 medium egg

3 tablespoons Nutella

3 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 teaspoon chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips. Beat well with a whisk till smooth and blended. Put the batter in 2-3 mugs 3/4th full. Mine was enough for 2 small mugs. Add 1 tsp of chocolate chips in each mug and push it through the batter. Microwave on high for 1.5 mins. I did it for 1 min and the bottom half was not completely cooked... which was ok since I liked the oozing chocolate. If you microwave for a longer time, it will become completely cooked and lose the oozing chocolate.

Check out the link here for amazing pics. I guess, it is a good party dessert... make in beautiful mugs and decorate with whipped cream and strawberries or something. Yum.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Everything I wanted to talk about...

Hey, there is a lot I have wanted to talk about... movies, restaurant, food, books, dance.... this post will cover everything I have been upto.

  • Movie: We watched 'I am Kalam' last weekend. Loved the movie... don't know why we didn't watch it in the theatre. Worth a watch.
  • Restaurants: I went to Mamgotto in Select City Walk Mall last week with colleagues. It serves Asian food and has some very innovative dishes. We ordered Thai Basil Chicken rice, Veg pan fried noodles and Cantonese chicken noodles. The food was so amazing that I have been looking for another opportunity to visit the same. Maybe this week. The next day, after working in the market at Green Park we headed to Hauz Khas village for lunch. Hauz Khas is a different place. You have to park your car outside the gate and walk down lanes... so many lanes, you can easily get lost. It is full of artists, designers etc. We didn't explore and headed towards Gunpowder. It is a South Indian restaurant on the 4th floor (stairs, no lift) of a building. It overlooks some ruins and a lake. Beautiful view. Sitting there on a summer evening will be amazing. On a weekday, the tables near the balcony were reserved. We had to sit inside. The food is yummy... we ordered a pork dish, rice, spinach daal, dry chicken and parotha. The pork was too good. I am going to take KC there this month.
  • Food: KC has been travelling every week to different parts of the country. It gives me a lot of free time... once I am home at 7 or 8 pm, I have little or nothing to do till bedtime (11 pm). I have spent the time baking... Chocolate chip cookies- the recipe was taken from here (Kalyan's blog). The only problem was that I do not have the mould and when placed on a tray, the batter melted in the oven. What I got was a flat base of cookies. I had to cut them into uneven pieces. It did not look too good, so no pics. But they did taste good. For once, KC and I polished them off in a week. I tried baking mini fruit and nut loaves. Recipe taken from here (Anita's blog). I went on an elaborate shopping trip for the fruit and nuts- cranberries, raisins, blueberries etc etc. The first time, the loaf was uncooked at the bottom. Same thing happened the 2nd time. The 3rd time, I baked it in large size muffin moulds instead of big cake pan (like I was doing earlier). The loaf turned out to be decent... but not as good as Anita's pics were. I guess, I should have used smaller muffin moulds.
  • Books: I finished reading another part of True Blood series and have picked up Delirious Delhi. It is a book written by an expat on his experience during the 18 month stay in Delhi. Very funny. It is an eye opener... the efforts expats make to understand the culture and fit in.
  • Dance: Today was my first day in the class in the basic elementary. Till now my biggest problem was getting a full split. Not anymore... now, I have to worry about other exercises which are extremely difficult. The class was from 4.45-6.45 pm. Till 6 pm, we were doing exercises. I need to go to the gym from tomorrow to become more flexible. Practicing only on Sundays will not help too much. I had become completely comfortable with my current instructors... batch mates... dance routines. I could let go. I listen to the songs played in class all the time. I used to practice with my batch mates before class everytime. Now, everything is new. The new instructor has his own style... his kind of music is different... his steps are more hip hop. It will take me atleast 3 months to get comfortable. But thats ok. It is a new challenge.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Got Promoted

Just got promoted... not at work... at my dance class. Every month, students get promoted and move to the next level. There is no test to clear or fixed hurdle to cross. The decision is made by the instructor basis your improvement. It all depends on hard work.... and talent. I went to the class at my usual time today. The instructor asked the new students to introduce themselves and then the old students to do the same. When it was my turn, she asked; "What are you doing here? You got promoted. You need to join the new batch. Meet J for further details."
Me: Huh?????????

I missed the last class since I was down with a stomach upset. I had no idea about the announcements made. On Monday, the instructors were planning to declare the promotions but then decided to do it in the last class of the month (Thursday). I wanted to get promoted... I have been hoping for it but I was not sure where I stand. I know I have improved but I still cannot do a full split and my preparations for pirouettes are shaky. I guessed, these were mandatory. Of course, I do pick up the steps much faster, remember them and actually enjoy the class. I can let go... feel comfortable in my body and just dance.

Every month students get promoted... some do after 3 months 'coz they are hard working and more importantly, they have talent. While others may be around for a year or more. So, I was surprised to be promoted after 8 months. There are some students who have been around longer than me... so, I guess its a good thing. I can work hard... but not hard enough to get a full split (they are awfully difficult and I am convinced about my inflexibility)... and I completely lack talent.

Anyway, now comes the hard part... the higher level class is on Sundays 4.30-6.30 pm. That is the time KC and I generally head out. So, no more free Sundays. I like weekday classes 'coz they refresh me... just what is needed after a hectic work day. I may join the gym again (yes, I have been absconding from there for 3 months now) on weekdays.

I am sooooo happy. I am still convinced I cannot dance... but I do enjoy dancing.