Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Khushi's dose of the day!!! (27th March 2013) Happy HOLI!!

Khushi had some funny notions off late
1. She works in Vibgyor (her school)
2. Papa watches cricket in office
3. A 5 star hotel is called a 5 star behind the chocolate
4. When she grows up, she wants to b like mummy and also work in mummy's office only!
5. She is naughty because her friend Ganesh is also naughty and friends are always alike!!
6. Bonfire for Holi Dahan is called born fire because its small as its just born

Monday, March 25, 2013

Holi - The festival of memories!!

You imagine Holi and the bollywood all time favourites start buzzing in your mind. From "Holiya mein Uddee re gulal"  to "Do me a favor lets play holi" all compell you to tap your feet!! Colors, food, family, friends, music, dance, all the possible good things in life at one place is definitely a deadly combination.

The longest pichkari and later on the gadgetized pichkari's of different shapes and sizes were the biggest ambition of life as a kid. The lovely gujiya's and snacks Mom made were to die for. The "Lal Odhana", the red traditional stole married women wear while performing pooja on Holi is the most colorful and warm peice of cloth one can wear. And the long sticks which are embedded in every nook and corner of the streets a month before the actual holi day used to intimate us about the grand festival in advance.

Kids used to start celebrating with their water guns 2-3 days before the actual Rang Panchami. The young responsible young guys of the community arranged wood for burning, water cans, water tanks, music and most importantly "DOLCHI". I dont know how many outside MHS know what is DOLCHI!! It is basically like a tumbler made of steel/aluminium with pointed cone like edge. The purpose of DOLCHI is when you throw water with force, it will hit the target hard. Young guys took pride in being the target and hitting the target as hard as they can!!

There are alot of fabulous memories of Holi in my diary of thoughts. Holi played with cousins and family on our terrace. Holi played with colony friends where we knocked at every door and pulled people out and colored them. Holi with 50 family friends arranged at a farm house where the water tanks used for watering the farm was our color pool and after a 5 hr holi, we made hot food on the chulha and had it with fun and laughter. Then Holi with school friends on a friends farm house where we were done with colors, water, food but still our feet refused to stop dancing. And then some quiet holis where I cursed myself of shifting to Bangalore (south India) and missing out on all the fun.

But the most memorable Holi would undoubtebly be the Holi I played in Engineering college Hostel!!

The scene in a college hostel a day before holi was hilarious!! All girls sitting on the stair case and oiling each others hair. The seniors giving tips of saving their beautiful skin to the juniors. Group of girls filling water ballons, some making all snack arrangements so that they dont need to go out of their rooms and escape from the horror of colors and water (read other super enthusiastic girls). Girls cribbing about spoiling their manicures and pedicures. Some even going to the extent of borrowing old clothes from their roommates. The phone booth crowded as those were the days of waiting and queuing on the phone booths.

I had just heard of all the stories about the hostel holi and how rowdy girls can get on the Holi day. I was pretty excited and in full enthusiasm went to the ground floor with colors in my hand. It was that moment I realised that this is not going to be anything like I have played earlier. Girls were in full swing painting each other in red, blue, black, yellow all colors. There were no pleas heard, no forgiveness till your identity is completely lost in colors. There was a tank filled with water and after the face painting was done, I was drowned in it. I felt like a prey and as the circle of life goes, every prey after initial few jhatkaas becomes the predator. I joined the gang and in no time the whole hostel was down colored and crazy!!

The music was especially burnt for this ocassion. Right from the ever green "Mungada" to the "Kajra re" all the item numbers were the hot favourites. The slick and stylish eye candies of the college dancing in the mud without their footware and the after effects on their faces were very funny! After first few hours, the perinneal water shortage crops up and the bullies start pulling all the girls in the mud. One after the other, everybody was drunk with the nasha of Holi and the diversity in unity was lost :). The stained teeth and eyes were the only thing standing out in the colored faces all around!

The major attraction of every holi in our hostel was the distant visit of boys from boys hostel after they had finished playing holi in Boys hostel. And as expected that year too, boys paid a visit from a distant terrace and hooted for their beautiful girlfriends! Looking at their torn clothes it was clear they would have played a much louder (couldnt find a much decent word) holi than the one at girls hostel. Our senior mams were busy tagging the known faces from the bunch of extra terristial species.

After our bodies gave up on dancing and the dry color on our faces started to itch, we finally decided to wind up for the day. Our stomaches suddenly started growling for food and knees colapsed for next couple of days!! That was the only time when we all knew we were looking horrible, but still wanted to be clicked. Today when I see those pictures, I go in flashback and wonder " Kaha gaye woh din??"

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Khushi's dose of the day! (25th MArch 2013)

Khushi is a total feminist. She doesnt really like to mingle and play with boys and in general boys are naughty and species from different planet for her. So Khushi came to me on Saturday morning and informed me

Khushi: Mummy, we will not call boys friends for my birthday
Mummy : Why? They are also your friends, so you have to call them. 
Khushi: No I don't want to call them
Mummy : But you should not differentiate between boys and girls, friends are friends!!
Khushi : Achaaaaaaa,,,ok lets do one thing
Mummy : What?
Khushi: Lets call only my girls friends this time, "waise bhi", we will have to call all my boy friends on my later birthdays!! Is this fine with you? 
Mummy (thinking in her mind) : Beta,, your Papa and Bade papa will definitely not be fine with your ideas :P

Avani's dose of the day!!! (25th March 2013)

Yesterday we went to a restaurant and I took Avani (1 yr) to the restroom. As soon as I made her sit on the pot, she reached out for the toilet paper roll and started pulling it down. I was amazed to see the rhythm and confidence with which she was pulling the roll!! Then I realised she has been playing this game on my phone with the talking cat Ginger and it was that expertise that made it look so easy for her!!!

I wasn't sure if Avani actually related to the elephant she saw in coorg to the EEEE she sees in books, I thought it was by fluke! But now I m sure, its her brilliant grasping and adapting skills that she can put the theory in practise with such ease!!!

God why did u make my generation so dumb and our kids so brilliant on top of that?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Incredible Bharat!! (21st March 2013)

Most of the mothers these days, especially in India comes in OM category. OM stands for Obsessed Mothers. Right from our child's birth weight to their teething, most of us follow standard milestones and read alot of stuff on internet. We get worried about missing the milestones and sometimes pay panic visits to our pediatrics also.

But the most ancient OM characterstic is food.The first dialogue of our old hindi movie mothers narrated was "Beta tu kitna dubla ho gaya hai kuch khata nahi kya?", from what angle Shammi Kapoor looked malnourished to them?

Kid might be eating two bananas in the evening at 6 and we still try to feed him dinner at 7. And then, I hear people saying "Mera beta to kuch khata hi nahi hai","Eska diet to bahot kaam hai". Poor 10 kg boy, he has to blow up his stomach and fit the love of his mother (FOOD) in his little belly.

As mothers, we go out of the way to feed our tots/even 6 ft tots :P hot, tasty and home made food. Gerbers, Cerelac, First bite are still not the primary food for kids in India. On second thoughts, this is why its always "MA ke haath ka khana", "Ammi's biryani", "GrandMAs recepie" and never "Cook ke haath ka khana" or "Bawarchi's biryani" or "Chef's recepie" we miss.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Khushi's dose of the day!! (19th March 2013)

It was dinner time and I was persuading (read negotiating) with Khushi (almost 4).

Mummy: One roti and a little rice for Khushi, One roti for Mumma
Khushi : Mummy why extra rice for me?
Mummy: Because you need more food, you are a growing child
Khushi : Why ? Aren't you also growing?
Mummy: No I am not a growing child
Khushi : Mumma, you also celebrate birthdays. You are also growing!!

Mumma thought in her mind, "Wish I also had metabolism of a growing child :P"

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Khushi's dose of the day!! (17th Mar 2013)

We went to our cousin's place yesterday evening. When we were returning back, I was generally asking what did you play? What did you eat? After a while she asked me
Khushi: Mummy what did you play?
Mummy: We did not play anything, we were generally chit chatting!
Khushi: why didn't you play?
Mummy: Because adults don't play when they meet, they usually talk
Khushi: Why? Adults play card na!!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Khushi's dose of the day!!! (16th March 2013)

Mummy: What are you doing Khushi? That is Avani's sipper bottle, don't play with that, it's not a toy!!
Khushi: Mummy, I m not playing. The babies r thirsty, it's summer time so we should give them lots of water!
Mummy: Ok, use toy glasses for playing not Avani's bottle
Khushi : Mummy they are babies, they will not b able to drink in glass, so I'm using sipper bottle!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Funky Fusion dishes for the love of food!!

Today I am going to introduce you to a different genere of food. Food which might be an abuse to the traditional cooking style, but mouth watering for the palate. It is the kind of food we all love, but havent ever spoken about it or read about it. Infact strangely nobody writes about them.

I mean the Indian tadka in chinese and to go a step further, Indian tadka in Italian and Mexican food. You must have had many times that spicy paneer chilli manchurian with desi ingredients and yummy dumplings with Indian filling. But how many of you have tried spicy spegatti in white and red sauce with coriander seeds and cumin powder in it? Have you ever tried Chinese Bhel? Who has eaten tacos with yummy aloo paneer filling? Yes, this blog talks about those unusual and yummy cuisine which I called fusion cuisine which is not recognized but loved by all.

When I talk about Fusion cuisine, the best place to have such Chinese bhel and Indianized spegatti is Shiv Sagar on Commercial Street.

From last 7 years the quality of food and service which you get in Shiv Sagar is commendable. They havent changed a bit apart from the change in decor and a slight increase in their rates recently. But it is still a very humble place with fantastic food. Usually, south Indian joints like this one is known for its south Indian style dosa, chatni, wada, thali and maximum for the fruit salad (basically custard with cut fruits). But this place is different. You can order anything there and it will be tasty. But here are few must try's here.

Spegetti with red sauce/white sauce is amazingly beautiful both lookswise and taste wise. You can see the coriander seeds and green fresh coriander sprinkled. Not only that all the Indian masalas blend with this sophisticated dish soo well that even an Italian tasting this will be in awe of it. Ofcourse if he can take the spice in it. They have included all the fancy vegetables like Zuccini, red and yellow capsicum and borccoli to keep the authenticity and to make it attractive for the janta! The quantity served is also very handsome.

Another striking dish is Chinese bhel. Fried noodles with fabulous mix of gratted carrot, cucumber, onion, garlic and alot of soya sauce, vinegar and ketchup. You will not find anything like this in any of the Chinese restaurants across the world. For somebody who likes to stick to authentic taste, please dont enter this joint. Its for foodies who like experimenting and mixing everything available.

Another interesting dish which now we get at alot of places is sizzling brownie. Its only after coming to Bangalore and in this restaurant I had this lovely sweet dish. Its an unusual combination of walnut brownie, vanila icecream placed on a sizzling hot sizzler pan and then on your table they pour this fabulous hot choclate sauce and nuts. The sauce sizzles and the steam fills the whole room with the aroma of choclate. Nobody sitting on the next table can resist the temptation of ordering it. Its a must have if you havent eaten it before. (Another place for sizzling brownie is Lakeview on MG road but that later). The crunchy nuts and hot sizzling choclate sauce on the frozen icecream is divine. The brownie gets and choclate sauce gets a distinct burnt choclate flavour which you would die for!!

So to wind up, everything routine and basic in North Indian and south indian is great here. But the must try's are Spegatti in red sauce, Chinese bhel and the awesome Sizzling brownie. Great for the pocket and great for the taste buds, so when you go shopping next time to Commercials, give it a try!!

Name of the restaurant : Shiv Sagar
Location : Commercial street
Cuisine: TBD (To be decided by the readers)
Per person damage : 250-300 Rs

Score Card:
Ambiance: 3/5
Service: 2/5
Food: 4/5
Experience in total : 3/5

Virtual Culinary delight for foodies in Bangalore!!!

Few days back I read a very interesting article on Food blogging 
in Times Life. Before reading this article I never took food blogging seriously. Who the hell is interested in knowing what you ate, where did you go, how does the food look like? Who will search for your reviews and follow your recommendations? Realization struck!!Don't I do that all the time?

Yes, I am following food blogs from almost a decade. I admit that the industry then was very premature and I 
didn't have any favourites that time. But today, I do not enter a restaurant unless I have read rave reviews about it. After all Bangalore is booming with restaurants all over. Right from street food to exotic international cuisine, we have everything. If not food, we have the novelty factor, the ambiance, the service, the little extra edge in hospitality to talk about.

Today food has become the centrifugal of entertainment industry. If there is nothing else to do on a weekend, we know at least one form of entertainment is always there,,,i.e Dining out!! It has the same affect on your stress level as a one hour massage does. It completely takes you off your routine boring life, to a new high. 

I am a complete foodie, I like to dine out and I like to cook new dishes, I like to read 
about cooking, I love all the cookery shows right from MasterChef Australia to Vicky goes veg! I am into food and that is quite visible when you see me :) So the crux is, though I have started late, I can be a potential star (blinking eyes) food blogger one day! To be more precise, a Vegetarian food blogger who can eat different cuisines and exactly tell you whether its worth a try or not!! 

As soon as I see the menu, I try to scan the wackiest named, the most innovative, the most weirdest of combination which will challenge my taste buds and which will change my insight about the combination of those ingredients. And while I order such a risky dish, I also order one regular, safe dish for my tummy which needs some food even if its the basic malai kofta or enchildas or green/red thai curry with rice. I am also fond of ordering mocktails just to admire the creativity of the bartender of making you high without alcohol in it. Ofcourse as you have got it right, I am not fond of the bitter taste of alcohol and hence this facade of mocktails to pamper my heart.

So what exactly I have to offer you? I would start with some all time favorites of mine. If you are new to Bangalore or have recently started dining out, you can follow the below list of must visits in this city. Since I am a vegetarian, I would be inclined towards recommending vegetarian dishes which I have a first hand experience on! So gear up yourself for this extravagant journey of culinary with me!!! VVVrrrrroooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmm............

I would like to start with the latest favorite restaurant in the city for North Indian food.

Punjabi By Nature (Near Manchester United, Kormangala)

One of the most appealing restraunts I have been in recent times. Good food, great ambiance and lovely seating arrangements.Read further to know why I say so.When I entered the door of this new restaurant in Kormangala, the first thing you see on the entrance are three pillars converted into a waterfall and from the middle of it there is fire raging high. In Hindi we call it " Pani mein aag laga di " :). 

The whole seating area is smartly designed to give you a feeling of vastness and privacy. They have used different 
heights to stage the sofas which automatically gives you that feeling of your own private dining area.The dining areas are demarcated with ceiling high glass doors which are opened and closed as per the crowd. They have beautifully done the landscapes with water bodies and plants, again plants used for decor are high length palm trees which gives you a feeling of grandeur. The place is well lit and at the same time not too flashy. Basic colors, beige upholstery and alot of natural elements make it very soothing and calm place for a perfect dinner. 

Another striking element in the restraunts are those huge copper vessels which they use for brewing the beer. They boast of freshly brewed beer which makes this place exciting for beer lovers. But for me, those copper vessels added to the vanity and also the basic colours made it more interesting. 

Thinking of interesting elements in the restraunt I remember they had these cooler fans kept here and there. Cooler fans as the name suggests are big big black fans which throw water droplets along with cooling the air. They are strangely very effective and best suited for open spaces like this one. So overall a very smartly decorated place which has addressed all the small small issues which can put the customer off.

Now about the food! Being a pakka North indian joint, there was alot of aloo, alot of paneer and for Non-veggies,,alot of chicken in it! But there were two distinct dishes which I wanted to try. Flambe GulabJamun and Dahi Kebab. For those who are fond of alcohol, you have another very interesting stuff Gol Guppa Shots. 

Dahi ke Kebab are the best i have ever had in Bangalore. A MUST TRY!! They just melt in your mouth and to my surprise they were not deep fried. The kebabs were very mild in spices. The natural taste of green chilli and coriander gives that required punch and they leave you with the smooth taste of curd . The other starters like Aloo bharwan and paneer are also good. 

In main course, be careful about ordering breads.They have a very handsome amount of peices of bread in one order, so one bread should suffice two people. And after couple of platters of starters, we were almost full. So we ordered basic Kofta, paneer and kulchas. The taste of all the veggies were distinct and nice. 
Another must haves is Malai Lassi. Heavy as the usual punjabi lassi and the layer of malai adds that perfect  spunk to it. Pistachos, almonds and nuts add to the crunchiness in the drink.

After soo much of food, I was not able to have the Flambe jamun,but i m sure they must also be good. 

So to wind it up, Dahi Kebabs and lassi are a must try! Live brewed beer and Gol Guppa shots for the alcohol lovers. And the very own Flambe Jamun for those with sweet tooth. Enjoy the culinary delight and dont forget to write your feedback!!

Name of the restaurant : Punjabi By Nature

Location : Kormangala
Cuisine: North Indian 

Score Card:

Ambiance: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Food: 4/5
Experience in total : 4/5

Redefining Italian cuisine - Sunny's Bangalore

Today let me talk about the worlds most popular cuisine. Any guesses? yes,, it is our very own Italian cuisine. Now olive oil, cheese, macaroni, pastas , oregano, basil, olives, parsley etc are very common everyday ingredients in every Indian house. Reason is simple, easy to make, delicious, neutral taste (nor to spicy, neither very bland) and you cannot go completely wrong with olive oil, cheese and basil, so cooking it is not rocket science.

When I portray this amazing cuisine to be very easy to make and simple, let me tell you that there is another side to this popular cuisine. There are alot of Italian dishes which needs that finesse in the chef's cooking which not everybody can deliver. This cuisine needs a balance of cheese and herbs to get that perfect Italiano flavour. The taste may vary from person to person as we have wide range of brands with very varied tastes to it. So unless its 9/10 no restaurant can be called the perfect place for Italian cuisine. And when I say that only one place come to my mind immediately, its Sunny's (both Indranagar and Lavelle road).

When you dine out, especially when you are fond of fine dining, its very important that the wholesome experience of that outing is good. Sunny's is one such place for sure. This is one of the oldest fine dining restaurants in Bangalore and the most popular among all ages. You can find here an old retired golf playing senior citizen and at the same time kids and teenagers relishing their Thin wood burnt pizza.

So coming to the ambiance. Sunny's Lavelle road and Indranagar, both are  very minimally decorated and when I say minimal it means no heavy center pieces, no shimmer and glitter, no over the top chandeliers, no cozy couches or unnecessary furniture all over. It is very aesthetically decorated. It is divided into one open roof area where metal white table chairs are placed with nice umbrellas in the middle. Very basic but still soothing. And then there is a huge dining hall with a mezzanine floor for the lounge bar. Indranagar branch is comparatively a newer place, and it has mirror false ceiling in half the hall which makes the area look bigger than what it is. On the walls as well, mirrors are used aesthetically for the same effect. The only foreign element or I must say decorative elements are the lucky bamboo sticks which are nicely placed in between the mirrors which gives that natural green freshness to the area. Its a well lit place with lamps hanging quite high on the roof so it doesn't clutter the space as it does in so many other places I have been.

The lounge area in the mezzanine floor is also quite basic and elegant. There are very few couches on the top and mostly that area is occupied by small groups who are hosting private parties.So overall, a simple refreshing place which has nothing over the top.

And being a Sunny's fan I can vouch about the quality and taste of the food. I have visited this place more than 100 times in these last 7 years of my Bangalore stay and every time I am rest assured that the food will be fabulous. Sometimes this place is a party place, sometimes mood lifters, sometimes socializing arena, sometimes romantic outing, sometimes desert evening, sometimes fine dining and sometimes just a reason to splurge on my favourite cuisine. I need no excuse to dine here.

So coming to what I enjoy here most. They have some exquisite variety of contemporary deserts here. Right from apple pie to lemon tart to cheese cakes and Meringue, its a treat for your eyes as well as for your palate. You get the most variety of cakes, pies and tart here. For Tiramasu fans, its a treat. You must try the Ganache tart which is a combination of chocolate tart and sweetened milk. Chocolate tart has a very nice soft chocolaty texture on the top and frozen biscuit y slightly hard texture at the bottom. One of the best tarts you would find in Bangalore(other being Truffles on St Marks Road). What makes this dish special is the condensed/sweetened milk they serve with the tart. Its has the same effect which you get when you put some sugar syrup or warm sugar water on a hot cake. The sweetened milk enhances the flavour of the tart and at the same time it makes it more smooth. And believe me the portions look pretty small, but they are too heavy to be finished by two people, so order accordingly.

Apologize to jump to dessert straight before discussing the food, but couldn't help thinking of them when I think of Sunny's! :)..

So about the food. The first thing they serve you after you place an order is freshly baked bread with a cheese spread. The cheese spread which they serve is the main highlight of the food there. It proves the saying " Good things don't come free" wrong! It is complimentary but still delicious. The spread has a perfect combination of cheese, hung curd, basil, oregano, olive oil and just a dash of garlic. If it was on the menu, I am sure it would have been the most popular dish in itself. Strangely,they are pretty generous with the helping of both the bread and the spread. So don't fill yourself with it. There is alot more to look forward.

You would find alot of variety in appetizers if you are a non vegetarian, but for vegetarians I would suggest you jump to main course directly.

Pizza's here are a treat for those who like Italiano style authentic pizzas. Pizza hut and Dominoz can never match those lovely thin crust wood burnt pizzas which Sunny's serve. You can smell basil, parsley, jalapeno,cheese and olives. As they say, you eat your food with your eyes and nose before you do with your mouth. So I can even change the proverb to " When in Sunny's behave like a Italiano" :P. My personal favourite is Zucchini, sun dried tomato, basil pizza. I am in love with sun dried tomatoes, the zing it adds in your food is awesome. With freshly baked thin crust wood burnt pizza, both basil and sun dried tomatoes are a hit. I have tried replicating it at home, but they have that secret ingredient which gives it the flavour which makes it a winning pizza.

And the usual Risotto, Lasagna, Ravioli are all fabulous and very authentic. But the dish which is a hit in my list is the Vegetable medley with saffron rice. I never thought rice dish in Italian cuisine beyond Risotto. They have really exceeded my expectations from Italian cuisine with this one dish. Very beautifully plated, an inverted bowl of rice in the middle and the sauce spread around it. Very international and very colorful.

It is our very own perfumed basmati rice with mild and lovely flavour of saffron to it. And then there is this awesome sauce full of exotic vegetables from zuccini, broccoli, asparagus, red and yellow bell peppers, basil, onion etc with a very unusual and delicious white sauce which again has a hint of saffron in it. Its nothing like anything we have in our Indian cuisine and I doubt if its an actual Italian dish also. Innovation which turns like this one make history I must say!! Baked eggplant with penne, Baked mini crepes w/spinach, dill & cream cheese  and the other main courses are decent.

The owner of this place is a dog lover and there will be at-least one pet tied up outside the place to show his love for dogs. He also donates Rs 10 from your bill for this stray dogs and monkeys. Though I am not that much of a pet lover now, I still appreciate his efforts on doing this.

So next time when you are in a mood to dine in a fine way, consider this place. Its a little expensive compared to the usual Italian dining places, but definitely worth the while. For wine lovers, they have a range of old wines on the menu. Your steward can even suggest you some beautiful combinations to suit the food. Some say, its a sin to have Italian without that perfect glass of wine. So enjoy your glass with some awesome preparations at this place.

Name of the restaurant : Sunny's
Location : Lavelle Road and Indranagar
Cuisine: Italian
Website: http://sunnysbangalore.com/menu.htm
Per person damage : 600-800 Rs

Score Card:
Ambiance: 3/5
Service: 4/5
Food: 4.5/5
Experience in total : 4/5

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Khushi's dose of the day!! (13th March 2013)

Khushi was changing clothes of her barbie doll and after a while she kept the doll in the balcony in sunlight.

Mummy : What are you doing?
Khushi : Giving her sun burn
Mummy : SUNBURN!! Why? Do you know what is sun burn?
Khushi : Yeh, it happens when you are in sun for long time
Mummy: (Impressed and confused!!) Why would you want your doll to get sun burns? Isint she very dear to you?
Khushi : Yes, she is!! I am giving her sun burn similar to what you gave Avani when she was small. Aap bhi to Avani ko sun burns dete thee naa
Mummy : (Again confused) Ohhh,,You mean SUN BATH!!!

And I used to give Avani sun bath, 10 months back. Khushi is learning about season and summer and sunscreens these days in school, so her super associative mind associated me giving sun bath with long exposures to sun and indirectly to sun burns!! Human Mind is amazing!!

Thankfully, she did not mention about me giving sun burns to Avani when she was small, else Child Rights people would have arrested me immediately!

Coorg- Club Mahindra- The perfect family holiday!!

This was my third visit to Coorg and this place never disappoints me. It is basically a hillstation in Madikere district of Karnataka. Its 247 kms from Bangalore and with the awesome roads a 5 hour short journey from Bangalore. 

Though its a hill station, but dont expect The Shimala like weather in Karnataka, its still hot in the day and slightly cooler than Bangalore in the evenings, say 17-18 deg in the evening. There are alot of small small places to visit in Coorg. To name it a few, Bylakuppe is known for The Great Gompa of Sera Je and Sera Mey which are buddhist monasteries, Abbi Falls which are good only during monsoons when they have enough water and for the other attractions you may refer http://www.holidayiq.com/Coorg-Sightseeing-339.html

Since it was our third visit, we did not have the same tourist attraction list as above. We wanted to have a fun, relaxed and kids oriented sight seeing this time. Out of the four days we had aloted only one day for sight seeing because the main attraction for us in Coorg is the Club Mahindra resort of Coorg. We have been to a lot of resorts earlier and in that many from Club Mahindra also, but we love the Coorg property more than anywhere else. I will gradually tell you what makes the holiday special in Club Mahindra, Coorg for us.

So here we go in the flashback... On Thursday morning 6.40 am, we all head towards Coorg, the much awaited holiday after our Thailand trip in December last year. Luckily for us, we had a smooth ride without much traffic in the city and reached Kadu Mane (small but popular south indian restaurant just after Bangalore) by 7.40 am. From the concrete jungle of Bangalore that placed seemed like heaven. We ordered our food and the kids went into a small park with few slides and swings. There were three interesting cages in the park with lovely yellow, white and greenish yellow with red neck love birds in them. Their houses inside the cage were made of small inverted teracota pots (matka) with a big hole in it. The restaurant people fed them with a plate of vegetables and it was amazing to see how coordially they ate in turns. Avani and Khushi both were very amused to see these birds.

After a hearty breakfast we reached Club Mahindra, Coorg around 12.30 pm. We all were very tired at the same time excited about the holiday, so we decided to eat lunch, sleep for couple of hours and then start our holiday. CM offers alot of options for dining. They have three different restraunts namely Coffee Blossoms, Green Cardamom and Mercara. Green Cardamom and Mercara hosts buffets mostly and with our prior experience, the spread is nice but not that enticing for our palate. So we opted for Coffee Blossoms which has A-la-carte and the food is scumptuous. The North Indian, South Indian  ,Chinese, Italian and Thai dishes all are quite nice. So we opted for North Indian food and went back to have a nap.

CM has a nice culture of hosting colorful events every evening, the day we arrived it was Housie and DJ nite. We lost horribly in Housie, but the DJ made up for the loss. The music was amazing and both the kids freaked out. Khushi got a dance partner so she was insistent on being around her and Avani showed her classic moves and attracted the whole crowd towards her. She was quite amused by the disco/lazer lights flowing around and wanted to catch them. It was a lovely dance floor with people from all walks of life. 

Then we returned back to the room, made some dinner for the kids. Ordered food for us and went to sleep.

Next day as planned we got ready by 8.30 am and headed to Dubare Elephant camp. We have visited the camp in our earlier visits but kids are very fond of elephants, so wanted to get them a real feel of this huge beast. Avani has only seen her EEE in her book and wasnt sure how she will react when she sees the real EEE. So we reached the camp and what we see? 

The road was under construction and our cars cannot go there. So we have to hire a jeep or an auto to cover that 1.6 km to reach the actual camp near the banks of river Cauveri. After alot of argument between the both of us(me and Ashish), we finally choose the auto as the kidos had never taken an auto ride till now. And I was sure they would love it.

The kuccha road towards the camp amidst the paddy fields was an experience in itself. The 2 feet steep slopes made our heart skip a beat whenever we climbed them, but it was surely a memorable ride for Khushi. Then we finally reached the bank of the river and hired a boat to reach the other end where we saw two huge elephants bathing. The elephants looked on a holiday and were enjoying their bath thourougly. Avani(1.2 yrs) was pretty excited and confused at the same time. Unlike what I had expected, she instantly recognized her EEE in the water and wanted to jump in the water and touch her friends. It was tough to keep her away from the water. Khushi(3.5 yrs) being a little timid was standing 20 feet away from the beast and observing how the Mahawat(Elephant care taker) was rubbing the elephants harshly with the wooden brushes. It was funny how they stood up and changed their sides (read bum to be rubbed). One elephant yawned for almost 20 sec and gave an opportunity to the viewers to see the world famous HAATHI KE DAAT (If you dont know, we have a very famous saying in India - "Haathi ke daant, khane ke alag and dekhane ke alag, so he showed us the khane wale daant). 

The actual camp where elephants stay is at a little higher level on a hill from where the elephants very gracefully climb down. We were lucky to see two baby elephants climbing down the hill and going for their bath. We then headed to the feeding area where you can feed elephants with your hands. The guy sold a nicely tied bunch of dry grass with some grains in between the grass. Avani and I fed the baby elephant with our own hands. However little the elephant may look, but still its quite intimidating to go near that huge animal. I was surprised Avani was not even 1 % scared of it, she wanted to touch it. And if I can describer her expressions and the way she looked at the elephant she was more like, "I am the tigress, you are just an elephant so I you cannot intimidate me!!". 

The elephant ride was two hours away and it was Avani's breakfast time, so we decided to head back to the resort. On our way back, we stopped at a garden where they have a wonderful Toy train for the kids. The train reminded me of the 60s-70s where the small engine pulled the boggies and it whistled and threw smoke every now n then. Kids had a blast in the train ride. 

Then after an eventful morning we returned to the resort. After the afternoon nap, kids were all ready for their fun zone at Crocodile club. Crocodile club is basically an activity centre for kids where they have activities for everybody from 1 yr old to 60 yr old. For toddlers they have a big, child proofed room which hosts few slides, ball pool, sea saw and some little tables and chairs. They also use that room for their fun arts and crafts session which they conduct throughout the day for all kids. This room was our main attraction to come back to Club Mahindra, Coorg. It can keep the kids occupied for hours together and make your vaccation more enjoyable. There are other board games, carrom, tt,badminton, Playstations, air hockey, hand football, pool table, books, CD/DVDs, computer center, tatoo artist and what not. You can spend the whole day just in that activity area.

So kids went to the fun zone and me and Ashish headed towards the lounge. It was a beautiful evening and it had rained the earlier day so quite pleasant. This lounge, I think it was named Planters Club  was very well made. It has that cosy rich and warm getup with skillfully placed lamps, coffee books, center peices, liquor bottles, paintings, high chairs and wine glasses. I can sit there for hours together just adoring the interiors and enjoying the lovely club sandwich, chilly cheese toast and breezers. It was a wonderful Women's day evening for me and I felt liberated and happy about it.Then we returned to the fun zone.

The kids enjoyed the fun zone activities till 7.00 pm after which it was time for the Champ's night. Champ's night hosted a traditional Coorgi dance, Magic show, couple of solo performances, Women's day cake cutting, Fashion show for women and then they called all the kids on stage to dance. It is always a proud moment for the mother when your kid is on stage. They even had Mickey mouse and a monkey man cartoon characters to come at the end and dance with the kids. It was yet another fun evening for the kids. Though I was not able to sit and see even a single performance. Ask Why? Because my little one refused to sit at one place. She wanted to run all over the place and talk to people around. In a way, the whole world is a stage for her :)

Next day was allocated by us for the adventure sports inside the resort. They have some world class adventure activities in the resort itself. I had done the Flying fox and Rock Rappelling activity couple of times earlier, but this time I wanted to try all the difficult ones.So I took the package which contained Burma Bridge, Tyre Hanging Bridge, Balancing Rope walk, Commando Net,Rope climbing and free fall activity. They looked quite easy from the ground but when I actually went up and started my first activity, Burma Bridge, the Burma Bridge started shaking like there was an earthquake. I am assisted by an expert at every point and that kept my morale up. Finally I was able  to cover those 25 steps gradually. The next came the commando net, my daughter shouted, Mummy Monkey net!! And that was pretty simple. The next activity was the Tyre Hanging Bridge which was the toughest. You have tyres hung next to each other and a rope tied to all of them. You are holding your body weight with your hands and that too 30 feet high from the ground. At the end of this activity my hands were swolen and red. I acted brave and after few secs of rest went for the Balancing Rope walk. This has a trick! You have to slide your feet and not pick them up, once you learn this trick, it would be doable. Your feet may hurt a little as the cable on which you are hanging is hard and when the whole weight is on that small string definitely your feet would hurt at that point. Next activity Rope Climbing again needs alot of hand strength to climb the rope, if you have done it as a child you know it is so much fun. The best part of the activity was the free fall, because you dont have to do anything in it :). I totally enjoyed my adventure sport activities. 

Ashish and I also did the Flying Fox activity and this time I took Khushi along with me for the free fall. Unfortunately I only have videos of this, so couldnt include it in this travelouge. 

The approach road to the adventure center is also very beautiful. There are narrow pathways made in between coffee plantations and tall trees which had creepers all over. You have a feeling of entering a dense forest when you go there and climb the machan (elevated house). Amidst the coffee plantation we also saw pineapple growing on the plants.Not sure if they were actually pineapple but they looked exactly like pineapple.

Then it was time for enjoying the pool. Pool is another fun activity which my kids love to do.We all changed to our swimming gears and went towards the toddlers pool.The water was cold, 12-15 deg approximately. Ashish backed off and I was contemplating whether I should step inside or no!! And what I see? Avani is already putting her feet in the pool and Khushi has dived in the pool and enjoying the water. Both my babies are WATER BABIES, they love water. The expressions on their face would say a million stories of their fascination of water. 

Finally I gathered all the courage and  stepped in the water and screamed like somebody has attacked me. Yes, the cold water had indeed attacked me; the only difference was it was a self choosen attack :). And as soon as we entered the adult pool, it started pouring. I wanted to enjoy the rains but Khushi is prone to catching cold easily so had to curb my temptation and go back to the room. 

CM takes that extra effort to make your holiday a lovely experience by doing little little adorable things. When we returned from the pool, we saw two towel ducks sitting on our bed. Earlier they had demonstrated rabbit, elephant and peacocks using towels.

It was sleeping time for kids and since it was our last full day in CM, we wanted to make the most of it. There was Bull ride, A T V dirt bike ride, sports, spa and so many other things we havent yet explored but we had to choose one as all the things close by 6.30 pm. And we finally choose A T V dirt bike ride. We had done this earlier in Coorg at a place named Juegos and we quite liked it also. 

The CM A T V bike ride track is not as adventurous and exciting as Juegos but it was still a decent one. We took four rounds on the rocky track and on the last round included Khushi for an experience. She loved the ride and wanted to do it again and yet again.

That was Saturday evening and it was Carnival night in CM. Carnival night is supposed to host stalls of games, food etc. But due to the rains they had to do a last minute change and organize a Karaoke and Antakshari night instead. A very enthusiastic gentlemen among the guests named Vijay Bhatt organized the Antakshari. He was sounding quite pro in conducting such events and he had jotted down lovely rounds. I was appointed as the team leader of Team Devanand opposed to Team Rajesh Khanna. I did a few goof ups but I was lucky to get such wonderful team members. And finally we won by a slight margin of 10 points. The winning feeling gives u a different high, and being the team leader I quite liked the attention I got (wink) (wink).

We had dinner and went back to our rooms. We were towards the end of our wonderful vacation. We had a great time as a family and we did everything possible in those 3 days. Such short breaks rejuvenate you for the monotonus life you live everyday. It is not the place which matters but the quality time you spend in those places. Keep travelling and keep exploring new horizons. I will remember these wonderful days forever and ever and ever!!

Can Working Women Manage Their Families Better Than Homemakers?

Tough question with controversial answer!! YES! 

Few reasons why I say that:
1. They get paid for their work, so the job satisfaction and financial independence makes them happy
2. They have 7-8 hrs of ME time to clear the clutter and also their emotional baggages
3. Job involves alot of travelling and interacting with varied people, it teaches you more than any book can ever teach you
4. Organizing the day/week/year/vaccation is not the to-do list but the must-do list, so you are well prepared
5. Emotional dependence on spouse reduces, so you give more space to each other 
6. The daily 4-5 hrs you get with family are quality time, and kids look forward for it
7. Weekends are better utilised and since the chores get divided between the partners, the family bonding increases and nobody takes each other foregranted
8. Nowadays many offices have recreational facilitied, they organize workshops, they have cultural events, family gatherings which again adds to the personality of working women
9. The extra help like maid, cooks, drivers and servants have a stipulated time, so things are more or less on time and hence managed well
10. The extra income you get in the house will give you a free hand to manage longer vacations, splurging for that luxury item you craved for from your budget.
11. Work graph in any industry is sinusoidal, you have highs and lows. So during high tides, you need to put in all your time and energy, but during the low tides you can leverage that time to pursue your hobbies, do the fun and learning activities with the kids, socialize, read a book etc. But at home you always have high tides, pardon me if I am wrong!
12. Kids of the families with working mothers learn to be independent faster and if you reassure them of your affection, they start taking responsibility of household chores also13. Last but not the least, your negotiation skills are honed everyday and those help you at home with your kids, staff and even spouse :)

There are few Conditions Apply to the above facts of working women:
1. You have a reliable support system at home to take care of your kids and day to day needs
2. You have a flexible culture in office where your smart work is appreciated more than the number of hours you spend in the office
3. You are not very tough on yourself and dont opt for perfection in everything
4. You are not very ambitious, yes I know what I am saying. If you are too ambitious, long hours and onsites are part of your work life, then you cannot manage home equally well, so being a little less ambitious or atleast putting your career to a back seat for initial few years is the key to have a successful long inning. Eventually things will fall into place and you will get your due, so dont worry!!
Management and multitasking comes naturally to women and when you are continuously challenging yourself and honing your skills, you definitely become better at all your jobs.
Disclaimer: This blog is an entry to Women's Day special contest in one of the blog sites, I am sure all my wonderful homemaker friends are equally managing things well this is entirely my perspective and I dont mean to put down anybody in any ways!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Khushi's dose of the day!! (11th March 2013)

We had halted at Kadu Mane (a small but very popular place for breakfast on Bangalore- Mysore highway). They had this interesting play area for kids where there were three beautifully laid cages. Each cage hosted atleast 50 love birds. One cage had green species, another white and the last one green with red neck.  Khushi was amused looking at the birds and more so looking at their tiny houses made of terracotta pots which had holes. Then when we headed back to our car, she asked

Khushi : Mummy,What birds were they?
Mummy : They were love birds
Khushi : Love birds!!!
Mummy : Yes, they are called love birds in general. They have some scientific name also, I will search it and tell you later.
Khushi : Why are they called love birds?
Mummy : Mmmmmm....(Thinking of a brilliant answer to satisfy her curiosity...)
Khushi : Because everybody loves them, that's the reason they are called love birds?
Mummy : Yes, because everybody loves them, they are called love birds!!  
(Aanhh,, Mummy saved of the hurricane task of explaining her, how they stay in pairs and are together for a long time etc,, in short the wikipedia answer I had read sometime back!!)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Avani's dose of the day!! (8th March 2013)

Avani's habits, mannerisms, interests all remind me of the typical Ekta Kapoor's soaps Mother in law. Everyday morning she makes sure I do my pooja before leaving the house. She is 14 months and even at this age she is very particular about keeping the things at their designated places. She will get restless if her hands are dirty and unless u wash it with flowing water she is not satisfied! Like u have to put bhog (prasad) infront of God before eating anything,  everbody in our house has to feed her one bite before having food.Ashish might fail to notice that small change in hairstyle or that extra peice of jewellery but Avani has to be updated with it.

Recently she did a very funny and unusual thing. While playing in our building lobby, one of my neighbours came and started interacting with her. Neighbour put forward her hand for a handshake and Avani gave her a broad smile and did a Jai Jai(Namaste) to her.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Incredible Bharat!! (6th March 2013)

We all know how much Indian men, or rather all men love their cars. If you call them telling about the minor accident you had, their first question would always be "Car ko kuch hua to nahi na?". In short, men are from Mars and on Mars the cars are their life partners, so obviously the affection!
When we talk of men and their cars, we always imagine either an exotic bike or any car.

But in India, we have another genre of men too. We have our very own auto drivers for whom their DHANOO(autos) is the love of their life. Right from fancy seat covers to bose speakers, from decorative flower pots to pictures of their idols, everything is magically organized in that small space. Those autos can compete any disco floor lights when it comes to the fancy lights they have. Some auto drivers even go to the extent of keeping their autos smelling wonderfully all the time.One should see the passion by which they are cleaning the front glass of their auto with their shirt sleves at times.

And how can I not comment about the Basanti's of our very own Bharat! The charming trucks of our ever enthusiastic Paaji's? The PARANDA's (used to decorate long hair of Punjabi girls) and the lovely one liners written on the rear lights? "Buri Nazar wale tera bhi bhala ho!" "Use Diaper at night!" (FYI,I havent done any spelling mistake!!)"Phir Milenge" "Bunty aur Pappu di gaadi!" "Dekho magar pyaar se"

Do we women have any such passions in our life? Food for thought!!

Khushi's 2nd dose of the day!! (6th March 2013)

We went to a Chinese restaurant and as usual Khushi requested for chopsticks. She loves collecting chopsticks from everywhere she dines.After getting the chopesticks, she was super thrilled and showed it to me
Khushi : Mumma drum sticks!!
Mumma : They are chop sticks and not drum sticks.
Khushi : No mumma these are my drum sticks
Mumma : They are chopsticks,drumstick is a vegetable we eat, this is not that
Khushi : Mumma, these are sticks you use for beating the drums!! So these are drum sticks!! Samajhe?

I was speechless!! I was close minded and for me a chopstick was a chopstick. But I never thought out of the box as Khushi did. She reminded me that a chopstick becomes a chopstick because we are using it as a chopstick, but if we use it for beating drums, it can be a drum stick too :). Children are focused on their perspective of things!

Khushi's dose of the day!! ( 6th March 2013)

Ashish was gazing his mobile and trying to figure out something.

Khushi (peeps into Papa's mobile) : Papa are you finding the route to Coorg using a map?
Papa (zapped)                            : Yes, but how did you guess that? I am using google map   indeed. Mumma have you introduced Khushi to Google Maps?
Mumma                                     : No, not yet!!
Khushi                                   : Papa, your map is similar to Dora's map and since we are going to Coorg I thought u must be looking for route to Coorg only.

Thanks to the cartoons, we dont need to teach our kids so many of these things. Its just part of their day to day life now :)

That first flutter of Adolescence!!

The recent Dove hair fall therapy commercial brought all the good ole memories back into action for me. Those who know me from my college times might know me even as that "Long beautiful hair girl". It wasn't my choice to chop my lovely long hair short and adapt the contemporary look I have now. It came as part of lifestyle changes and also a side effect of ever changing shampoos. 

As a small girl, I used to be always attracted towards those long strands they showed in the shampoo commercials. I had beautiful hair, but nothing close to what they showed in the commercials and I was quite convinced that it was some photo trick which made them so shinny, thick and lovely. And with my out of the world Mumma, literally out of the world as she never thought using shampoo/conditioner for hair was a good idea. She insisted on using natural Mehendi, Rita, Hibiscus etc for washing hair and keeping the hair oiled almost everytime.So till I was exposed to the world of fashion, the world outside my house where looking good was very important, I followed my mother diligently. 

There was nothing different in that morning. As usual, I shampooed my hair and braided them neatly in one long plait and went to school. I must have been in std 9 that time. Age where you are just getting over your childhood and stepping into a beautiful world of adolescence. You are still a teenager, but that flutter of youth passes by every now and then. For guys, these are the days when their voice cracks and they start seeing slight moustache on their face. Age where you discover your personality. Age of attractions, age of revolt, age of miracles, age of that pehla nasha of your life!!

So coming back to that day. We had finished half day of our school and it was our English class. Our teacher in her process of improving our communication skills had given a topic "Compliment your bench partner". So all the classmates told various funny, nice, boring and some offensive things about each other. Then it was my bench partners turn, he told "Aditi is very beautiful, she has lovely smile, lovely long hair!". I never thought that compliment from my class buddy would change my entire perspective towards myself. I never thought I was beautiful till then. I never thought I had lovely long hair. I was just an average rather below average girl till that point of time. 

Suddenly, after the school, I saw myself for the first time in the mirror. I wasnt the same Aditi who has left in the morning from home. I was beautiful. I opened my braided hair and noticed they were beautiful. I discovered that I could have been a potential model for that shampoo commercial. I smiled at the reflection I saw in the mirror and was surprised at my ignorance. That day, my hair became my most priced possesion.

They were the best assets for me now. I received alot of praise in my college days too for my hair.
But as they say "Change is the only permanent thing!"

Slowly life became hectic, with work, stress, deadlines, I started having split ends. Hair began to fall and I had to cut my hair short regretfully. All these days I had no time to reflect about what I had lost. I have discovered myself, my inner beauty. It doesn't matter now whether I am beautiful for the world or not, I have gained all the self confidence to face the compliments and criticism with a smile. I have a beautiful world around me, where I can be myself. Ironically, my short hair/bad hair/thin hair doesn't matter to the world around me now, but I have an emotional connect to my hair. I have discovered myself through them, they have been my backbone when I was learning to stand straight and face the world. When you never forget people who have helped you in your wonderful journey called life, how can I forget my priced possession?   And today when I read about this "Beautiful end to your beautiful braid" I couldnt stop myself of reliving those priceless moments of my life.

"Like the musk deer never knows its worth, we humans always look ourselves with others perspective. I am glad I was able to discover my musk bag so beautifully!!"

This post is part of the Beautiful Ends to Your Beautiful Braids! Contest on Indiblogger.in, in collaboration with Dove Split Ends Rescue System.