Showing posts from March, 2014

Many years ago, in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary...

It all started in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. Our bird love. I think I will have to go back a few years to explain this…

We first visited Bharatpur in May, 2010. Our marriage was just a few months old then and the husband and I were still getting to know each other. I was still in the process of getting adjusted into the four member household after spending 8 years as a single girl in Delhi and Mumbai. I think I was doing rather well, to the surprise of my parents and relatives. 

One fine day, the husband asked me out to any place I fancied. Alone, just the two of us.

I could have jumped for joy, for all I had been doing since reaching Delhi after our marriage was to search for weekend getaways. But I was a bit apprehensive since all the places were rather non-touristy ones without any historical significance. Would the family be interested to visit such places? The dormant wildlife lover in me would sometimes make its presence felt. It had been just too long that I have been away from …

Two women...

It was on a slack afternoon in office that I stumbled upon Anita’s travel blog while wandering on the internet, looking for travel options. The year, I guess, was 2006. She had been writing since 2001. I was fascinated by her introduction; it was very different from what I had been reading in other blogs. (She has changed it since then.) The image posted showed her to be a pretty girl with an impish smile, holding her precious cat Kit Kit. In an instant, I was drawn towards her – her effervescent personality, and her writing. Somewhere, it struck a chord with me. At that point, I was a restless person, dying to travel the world, and not be tied down to anything or anyone. She was the person I wished to be. 

Over the years, as I followed her blog, I saw her travel extensively and try newer activities. Her writing was always crisp – she knew exactly what to write and just how much to write, without being overtly personal. Sometimes, while writing about visiting her hometown, she would p…

The library of my dreams

I love being surrounded by books. My earliest memories are of sitting cross legged on the wooden floor of our bungalow-on-stilts in Manas Wildlife Sanctuary and rummaging through my parents’ book shelves. I remember devouring everything that came my way, so much so that Ma had to shift her novels that she deemed unsuitable for a five year old to the upper compartments, out of my reach. Later, when we shifted to our granny’s house for schooling, I realized that there was an amazing array of books waiting for me. Apparently, in their youth, Ma and her older siblings had pooled together their vast book collections and formed a library called ‘Friends Library’ with proper seals and all. By the time I came along, the number of books had dwindled to maybe just half of its original size. But it still appeared to be a wonderland to me.

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My cousin, who used to be quite possessive about her books, later told me that I had become quite a terror since I would leave …

My most memorable memento

I am hopelessly in love with a memory. An echo from another time, another place. — Michael Faudet

That pretty much sums me up. I have a truckload of memories, and even a heavier burden of mementos. Things that I refuse to let go lest I lose that part of my life. At my home in Guwahati, I have stashed away in some corner a treasure trove of such sentiments. Bound with a rubber band lie a bunch of letters, from my cousins and friends, letting me know about their new lives far away from home. Then there are the cards, gaily wishing ‘happy birthday’ and few sighing ‘I am sorry’.  Colorful strips of friendship bands, trinkets with my name, slam books asking ‘who is your favourite actor, your secret crush…’ 

My bag used to be choc-a-block with stuff that perhaps I did not need much, but they were that much more precious. I was told that I was a fool to hold on to such things after the bag snatching incident, which had left me with a scar. And yet, I continued to hoard up till the time I had…

In the quest of hidden treasures in Malaysia

I am a quirky traveller. If you are like me, you will wait for the throng of tourists to take the right turn towards that world famous monument so that you can take the dirt track on the left, towards the little known, rarely visited remnants of a hanging bridge. Or an artists’ village. Or whatever is remote and not adorned with neon lights.

I like to be away from madding crowds and buildings with glass facades. With the same fervor, I am crazy about secluded rocky beaches, moss covered forest tracks and dilapidated structures of bygone eras. I like to savour my food without any reservations, sitting on wooden benches or propped up against a wall, at road side stalls and hole-in-the wall eateries. 

I like to travel and dine this way when I am going around my city or country. And I will do the same if I visit Malaysia, too. If you are game, come along with me and I will show you five hidden facets of Malaysia which you never knew existed. Here we go then, the five things that I wish to…

Chicken Momos, made with love and....whole wheat!

Momos or steamed dumplings have always been one of my favourite foods. It never fails to remind me of winter mist even if I am standing at a momo stall in the middle of the day with a blazing sun scorching my back. I may be having momos in Bangalore but at that moment, I could very well be in Shillong, shielding my plateful of momos from the perennial light drizzle. I like it best when the momos come paired with a bowlful of steaming hot clear soup. There is nothing better on a foggy, wintry evening than slurping on peppery soup and alternately taking little bites of momos dunked in spicy red chutney.

I remember feasting on momos whenever we visited hill stations. There would always be an amiable Tibetan lady selling a bunch of them, standing quietly by the bustling mall road with her wares.

“Finish the momos fast or they will become cold,” she would urge us with maternal concern. She was right, there should be no break for chit chat while having momos. They are best eaten hot, with …

Awaiting an Adventure...

I had very few friends while growing up in Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, for the greater part. My sister, who is two years younger than me, used to be quite an introvert then and lived in her own world. Sometimes, my dad’s colleague’s daughter would skip across to play with me. But mostly, I was to be found rummaging about in my parents’ book shelves. My mom would tell me about the time when the family had left for some place, not realizing that I was still in the bungalow. Later, there was much commotion about my absence and they returned to find me buried amidst a tome of books, oblivious to everything around me.

I grew up reading a lot of Enid Blyton, Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. I started with innocuous titles like ‘Bedtime stories’ and ‘Toyland stories’, dreaming of enchanting creatures like goblins and pixies and talking rabbits romping about in lush green forests.  Soon I graduated to the somber yet delightfully romantic, classical settings of Austen. I read about old Georgian …

Cheese Baked Fish

I have a cheese tooth. I just luuurve cheese! My sis had a hard time tearing me away from the cheese section in departmental stores when we were in Mumbai. I still have the habit of making a quick, furtive run to the cheese section whenever I am out shopping for groceries with the husband. I wish cheese would not be blamed for weight gain. I wish the doctor had prescribed having cheese as way of losing weight. Sigh.

In any way, I have been introducing cheese in my recipes. My dad especially loved my chicken in cheese sauce. So much so that he asks Ma to make it whenever there is a special occasion or if a guest is dropping in for a meal. Also, he says my cheese chicken is better than Ma’s! 

That boosted my morale quite a bit and I decided to expand my cheese realm. By that, I meant replicating the dish with fish, instead of chicken. I saw a similar recipe in Priyadarshini’s blog and the idea of using breadcrumbs came from her. I first made it for my cousin and sis-in-law for a ‘farew…