Sunday, August 30, 2009

Home hunt in NCR

House hunting can sure take u places. Our house hunt began with excitement, sputtered through at the realization that the damn recession has affected nothing but our salaries, figured that one must add at least Rs 8 lakh to any apartment's advertised price and finally concluded that even with our Double Income No Kids (DINK) status, all we could afford was an apartment in the NCR region, esconsced some 25 kms off the centre of Delhi. These 25 kms make a world of a difference, most importanly coz it means there will be 7-8 hours of power cuts- for which ur builder will give u power back that will come at a hefty price. Anyways after researching Indirapuram (Rs 3,000/sq/ft), Noida (Rs3500/sq ft) and Faridabad (Rs 2,000 sq ft)-the last I ventured into hoping for a huge lawn for my floor. However, one look at the Neharpar area- the cattle grazing there and the sheer distance from Delhi through a convoluted busy road made me give up all lawn plans. Finally, it was a tussle between Olive County in Vasundhara, Ghaziabad which I like much and Crossings Republic for which hubby dear was rooting. The balance tilted in favour of Crossing Republic- to get to which one has to just drive straight through Nizamuddin bridge down 20 kms on NH 24- purely owing to economics.
Even a 2 bedroom was costing me some 7 lakh over the price I was getting a huge-ish 3 bedroom at Crossings. There is a huge price to pay for this big house though. One has to cross some 3 kms long Dhanduhera village on NH24 before getting to Crossings and believe me it's hardly the right rustic feel. It just makes me feel so like I am in UP badlands and so so so far from saddi Dilli, that it again and again gives me second and third thoughts.Anyways, the deal is sealed now and we are feverishly and gingerly managing the damn funds and home loans that u need to even buy a house 20 kms from Delhi!!! A House for Mr.Biswas--- over and over again. All for a roof of my own over my head!!!!

P.S.- a word on Crossings Republic- nicely coming up township with malls, markets, cineplexes, Max/Fortis hospitals, DPS/Amity school etc as claimed. Nice apartments at Supertech, Wellington Panchsheel, Arihant. Ajnara and Mahagun could give you a good deal too, just ensure u don't have an apartment with balconies opening into Dhanduhera village for a view.

Yum salad dressing

Here is a mantra for a low fat and absloutely yum salad dressing. Whip up a tablespoon of low fat yoghurt, sprinkle pudina masala (avlbl at FabIndia/Khadi), amchoor 1/2 teaspoon, black pepper 1/4 teaspoon,salt to taste and optionallly cinnamon powder(dalchini) and mix. Add diced cucumber, kakri (the long wiry cucumber), steamed sprouts (microwave for 1 min or so), onion if you like, for a green salad. Or skip the onion and instead add fruits of your choice for a filling salad especially if you want to skip a meal and still relieve hunger pangs. Shake it up and there is your quick fix salad. Also a very easy, healthy carry to office instead of a fried evening snack. Basically the dressing is a tested and tried one and have always had the plates polished off with this one. Try it with practically any salad ingredients.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Dev D is super!

Dev D is super! Irreverent, dark, quirky, sexual, tinged with a strange senselessness, pity, longing and empathy, the movie is quite a watch. I am an Abhay Deol fan and he doesn't disappoint. But the ones who really take you by surprise are the debutants Mahie Gill as Paro and Kalki Koechlin as Chanda. Paro is THE Punjaban, true to her element, and the woman so many of us have met so often. Kalki is the one to whom your heart really goes out to, some great acting skills by her, she is the vulnerable looking 'CSW' who comes up with some lines that stay with you. Awesome music, great lyrics, the oh so Delhi Paharganj feel, the careful rendition of the MMS scandal, a great job on dialogues and the interesting denouement I felt particulary thankful for- Dev D is a must watch- a contemporary classic with some must have music. Bhansali's Devdas in contrast is opulent, dramatic, reminiscent of a bygone era.- my mom loved it. I would pick up this gritty, real version instead especially for the Paro character fleshed out in Dev D and the same goes for Chanda. Music, as I said, is a must have on your playlist-I particularly like Payalia, Pardesi, Nayan and emosional atayachaar ofcourse. Don't miss this one.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Maruti A Star booted out

Maruti A Star comes with the biggest oomph factor from amongst her other siblings in the Maruti stables. With a sexy front, dazzling headlights, all four power windows, power steering, tubeless tyres, toggle mirrors, a neatly mounted music system, clubby spaces for bottles etc a good mileage (19.1 in test conditions), the mid version of the car is a piece of work that so makes you want to buy it at Rs 3.8 lakh . But, wait until you have a look at the rear. While the rear seats are about as scramped or worse than an Alto, the boot is the hugest of disappointments. It can at best accomodate your laptop and may be a small carry bag. That was THE factor for me to decide against the new Maruti car. While I know I am not going holidaying or picking up relatives from railway stations every day, what happens the day I do have to- C'mon I will need to do that every two months or so. So thumbs down for the lovely A star solely due to the boot. i10 Era minus the music system may be a better bet. Or just hold on and wait for Maruti Ritz/Splash to launch in either March or June this year if you are hung up on a Maruti, else there is the super Honda Jazz and i20 you can pick from. What I have seen of the i20 looks cool, but I bet Jazz which launches in June will be a league apart.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

$10 laptop

India's $10 non-laptop has generated curiosity, followed by global jeers. Check out what arstechnica has to say at Boy, how the HRD ministry's brave attempt has been trashed by the world media. Best they did more homeowrk on it before unveiling the minimal 'prototype' in Tirupati. Hope they are working on a better version, for their sake.

Chance encounter

Luck By Chance is a queer one. While every actor is reasonably good, I quite like Rishi Kapoor and Dimple in it- as good as ever, Konkona seems to be doing what she has been doing for a while now. No freshness in her character, I thought. Farhan is ok, Isha Sharvani is just so funny and made up- meant to be I guess. My problem is with the way it ends, it's not a closure, I don't quite get what Zoya Akhtar is trying to say. But I suppose that is it- the open endedness, the lack of closure, the fuzzyish ending is the best way to leave it- a quality very few movies have. So its a a strange feeling it leaves, a closure and non-closure and individuals and their constraints and failings and fallings and rises and luck by chance.
P.S- I think that's enough bumbling about for this flick.


Chandni Chowk to China is the worst ever movie. While I have to plead guilty for even having gone to watch this complete disaster, this is a serious no-no. I wonder what made Warner Bros invest in this crazy flick! Akshay Kumar seems to have lost it.

Slumdog Millionaire

For anyone who hasn't watched the Danny Boyle movie, the amount of debate it is generating should be reason enough to go get a look. The movie is positively worth a watch and for all the hue and cry on its focus on the ugly side of India by a firangi, all of us know that the underbelly exists, very much so. The music is good too, Jai Ho is nice on the ears and so is Saaya and Dreams on Fire or something besides the Latika theme. Rahman has given us still better music but it's great if this gets him an Oscar. All in all, I like the movie, Dev Patel, the little Jamal and the defining moment of the movie that pops up in my head when I think of the movie- poop-covered little Jamal victoriously holding up a dog-eared photograph of Amitabh Bachchan autographed by the man himself. For that alone I could watch the movie again.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Letter to Indian Mujahideen and Co

IM & Co,
I am angry and tearful and helpless, cannot make sense of this. I have lost no one I know so far in the second series of bomb blasts that I have lived to see in this city of Delhi- my home of ten years. Yet today I feel I have lost something. Tears well up in my eyes and my heart when I thing of the 20 minutes I spent in my car on a jam packed road between Lajpat Nagar and Dilli Haat desperately trying to hear my brother's voice at my phone's end. My brother's exams ended Saturday and he had told me he would go out in the evening and as news poured of the six bomb blasts in Delhi I was nervous, calling him up continously but with no luck as millions of Delhiites did the same for their loved ones and phone lines jammed. While I heard my brother's voice after the 20 minute ordeal, there were many others who did not and no one can imagine the hell they have been through.

I am sick of all this. I look at dustbins suspiciously, skull capped youngsters watching while I get into my car at the office parking lot at night make me nervous and I hate myself for this and I am angry with all those who are making me feel and think like this. Why, why why and how will anything be achieved by killing college students, weekend shoppers, parents, random people...what is this mission. I have read those crazed Indian Mujahideen mails and the irony of it. All I have to say to them from among the lines with which they open their vengeful mails- Whomever Allah has Guided will not be misled and whomever he misled will not be guided. There is a far deeper meaning in these lines than they seem to have figured.

Meanwhile Indian authorities will keep holding rounds of meetings while the likes of IM plans bombings in other cities and towns targeting innocent people of all hues. While we need tougher laws, strong deterrence effects and a pressing need to keep building bridges between communities, terrorism has to be renounced in one voice and louder than any blasts. There is no place for terrorism and for hidden wars. Nothing ever will be achieved with it except creating distrust, suspicion, communalism, riots and more mails ad blast- its a vicious circle IM, grow up.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Its Jodhpur

Jodhpur's Mehrangarh fort is maginificent and so alive. The shenai and tablas played by locals at the entry, the grand museum, the Sheesh Mahal like dancing rooms, winding stair cases and the intriguing 'jharokhas' for the women of the Rajputana to view the happenings in their mahal- its just so waiting to spring to life. Imagine being a woman within such forts with jharokhas, sheesh mahals, watching the King watch women dancing. Strange. And the hand prints of all those countless women who dived into the fire filled 'jauhars' to salvage their honour. Phew.
Outside you can see the stamp of the new age royalty. The Umaid Bhawan royal residence cum museum cum five star hotel is modern, real, tangible. I prefer Mehrangarh though- its so damn riven with character.
80 kms off is Osian- great place to catch some fun in a sms version of sorts of the great Thar desert. A couple of sand dunes to get the desert feel, the touch of smooth sand slipping under naked feet as one climbs up and then slides down the golden flowy mountains of the desert. Next time, I will see the real thing at Jaisalmer. Goodbye to a vacation I shall always remember fondly.

Pushkar Tales

We reached Pushkar at 10 pm and the small town was like under curfew. But then there was some bhajan and shayari that wafted with the breeze along the mellowed Aravallis. The only place we found open at that hour was the Sunset Point and it was love at first sight. So boho with its colour heavy decor, cane furniture, arty lamps and an enviable menu. Whatta line up right from a chocolate pan cake, pastas to desi paranthas. Sitting pretty with its translucent drapes and oh-so-bohemian feel, Sunset Point is right on one of the ghats across the holy Pushkar lake. After a great dinner and some stretching out of sore limbs, the best thing to do is to just sit quietly near the lake side and let the pleasant and breezy silence of the welcome darkness wash you over and over till you feel there is something that's just so peaceful about the place. During off-seasons ofcourse.
The Panditji at Pushkar lake next morning related a mythological tale I had never heard before. Here goes the story of Pushkar and the genesis of Ved Mata Gayatri who gave the power packed gayatri mantra to scores of Indians. Lord Brahma was to perform a major yagya and when he was all set, the priests reminded that he must be accompanied by hsi wife for the ritual. His son Narad was asked to get his mother Mata Savitri to the spot as soon as possible. However, Narad being Narad decided that it would be against his true nature to not cause a tiff between his parents now as he did with everyone he meane. Accordingly as he told his mother of the yagya, in teh same breath he suggested that the occasion demanded she dress well and arrive with due pomp and show. Savitriji concurs and takes her time while the priests are ruing that the 'muhurt' will pass with further delay. So they come up with a bright one- a local Gurjar girl is 'purified' and wedded to Lord Brahma as Gayatri devi and the yagya is completed. Savitri arrives just to see the end of the story and flying into a rage diminishes Brahma's holy status casting a curse that he would never be worshipped anywhere else except here where the flowers from his palms fell- at Pushkar where the flowers fell to form a lake. The holy lake by the way is not as inviting to take a dip in. Really big fish can be seen swimming at the shores, gulping down every flower in sight- that, say the pandits here, keeps the lake clean and rather green. BTW the lake is said to change colours according to seasons. In mid July it looked a bright mossy green. Nice place.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Delhi to Jaipur in an Innova packed with 8

The road's alright and the toll is high. But the destination can bowl you over. And I am not talking about the oft visited Jaipur. There is so much more to Rajasthan. Jaipur is just the gateway and does not prepare you for the countless havelis and forts you will find staring at you out of nowhere. Once again I hit the road to one of my ever favourite destination- Rajasthan- a place I ancestrally hail from and a land I feel a soul-strong connection with. Here starts the whirlwind journey I plan to stretch out longer over the years.

Jaipur has never been my favourite Rajasthani city but since it fell on our way to the picturesque Jodhpur, we decided we might as well troop our way through the Amber Fort. Everything at the Pink City’s fort is under renovation and appears quite in disarray as of now. Though no heritage conservation expert myself I quite did not like the paint shades being brushed up on the entry areas of the fort and it just did not look authentic enough. The ‘Sheesh Mahal’ is decidedly looking better though and they plan to charge people exorbitantly for a peek into the mirrored walls of the famed royal boudoir after the renovation is completed, the informed guide at Amber told us.
Highly recommended a look into the Rajput style air conditioning system of those days and the existence of a palace for every season- winter palace which got enough sun, the summer palace with smartly crafted stone tunnel based air cooling systems and ‘jaalidaar; windows drawing in the saffron laced cooling aroma wafting from the Kesar Garden beneath and a monsoon palace with ‘Sawan ka jhoolas’ and a mirror on top so the queen could catch herself in the mirror as she enjoyed the swings. Do take a photograph of the woman’s only section with small ‘jharokhas’ for the ladies to watch their husbands got to war. And then there are the queen size bed like ‘Kadhais’/vessels to cook for the army. Don’t miss the huge canon visible near the fort walls- reminds me of W B Yeats poetic fascination with the Tower.

I quite like Jal Mahal just along the road down from Amber. The romantic sunken palace. Untouchably scenic.

Then there is Chowki Dhani- an ethnic Rajasthani village created by artifice some 15 kms off Jaipur. Verdict- great for NRIs and not bad for Indians also. With Jaadugar and Kathputli shows its back to childhood capers along the streets. Then there are some good folk dancers as well who have a keen eye for foreign visitors and. Camel rides, elephant rides are all there besides the beloved Jyotishi ji (Astrologer). But what’s the best is the food. The Rajasthani thali served in just the right ambience, seating on mats, pattals or dried leaf plates, bajre ki khichdi, daal, besan ki sabzi and pyaz ki subzi, makke/jau/wheat rotis and jalebis- quite a mouthful. I missed bajre ki rotis thoughL. Overall quite a likeable experience.

P.S.- Nice stop over on the Delhi-Jaipur route- Moti Mahal somewhere along NH 8. Fresh food. Great pakoras