Saturday, July 30, 2011

Totally Time-Pass Lists #1

'3 Not-So-Nice Things About Me Which You Did Not Ask For':

1. I am a very short tempered person always ready to blow my fuse at the slightest provocation. I personally believe that I have improved over the years although my husband probably wouldn’t agree – but then he did not know me back then!

2. I am very stubborn so much so that I can be irritatingly inflexible. Once someone who was totally exasperated with me said, that every person is as flexible as their thumb. Try bending just your thumb backwards, towards your wrist. If it bends a decent amount then you are supposed to be adaptable. I have no idea if this is true and in fact I doubt it but my thumb doesn’t bend that much at all.

3. I do not like surprises. Whether it is a surprise party, surprise visits or even a surprise gift. I actually gave my husband a list of presents that I would like to receive and he is supposed to choose from that list only.

Just so you don’t think that I am meanie and before you go around feeling sorry for my husband’s misfortune, here are '3 Nice Things About Me Which You Did Not Ask For':

1. I am very loyal. Family or friends I always go to their defence if they are put down by anyone else.

2. I am also very sincere. Work or relationships, if I do anything without sincerity it irks my conscience a lot.

3. I don’t carry tales. I may indulge in gossip a little (Cmon! I am a girl!) but if someone has said something that I know would hurt or offend someone else (believe me, it happens lots of times!), then I am very careful as to not to let them know.

So why did I make this list? Well, no reason except that my husband is out at an office party and I have nothing better to do :-)
I am sure all of you have many better things to do, but still it sure would be interesting to read your lists too!

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Friday, July 29, 2011

TGIF #2: Good Samaritans

We were going to this mall the other day and while walking towards the Metro, I was stopped by a lady tourist, who was going to the same mall. She had no clue as to which train to take and seeing the cool, confident and suave me (Ahem! Ahem!), she approached me for guidance. I told her that we were also going to the same place and she gladly tagged along.

Firstly thank God she was going to the same place that we were. I am pathetic at giving directions. Once I was walking to my school and a car slowed down by me to ask directions to go to another school which was just next to mine. I couldn’t explain although I knew the place but I was eager to help. My parents had repeatedly warned me to beware of strangers and I was wary of getting into the car with the driver. So I confidently told him that I was also going to the same place and he could follow me! I don’t know what the driver thought, but the poor fellow did follow me in his car for the next couple of blocks at a snail’s pace!

So Kirsten, this lady I was talking about, is a South African Animation Specialist - pretty chatty and has a beautiful smile where her eyes crinkle up when she grins! When I told her that we were from India, she asked me which part and informed us that she had visited Mumbai and Delhi! The train was crowded and we had no place to sit. All three of us stood and gaily yapped away about this and that - well, actually she did most of the talking. She had come to Dubai on a last minute trip for her “baby sis’s” wedding! Arranged marriages, the Caste system, Astrology , Work, How I met My Husband were just some of the topics discussed in the short span of 30 minutes!

When we arrived at the mall, she was met by her (South African?)friend who on hearing that we were Indians, promptly greeted us with “aap kaisa hai?”. When I said that I was from South India, he then said “vanakkam!” Pretty charming, is it not!? Anyway then they went on their path and we went on ours.

We were running a little late for the movie that we had planned to catch and we had to drop into the library too. So my husband and I split up, with me choosing to go to the library and he to buy the movie tickets. We didn’t actually decide where we would meet up, as I thought that we could call each other, once our respective jobs were done. So I happily finished my books browsing and when I whipped out my phone to call, it was dead. I had charged it the whole day but I’ve been having a few problems with it lately and apparently one such problem was that the battery wouldn’t last for more than a couple of hours.

I went to the theater (or cinema if you will!) hoping to catch my husband there but he was nowhere in sight. I stood around wondering what to do (whatever happened to PCO booths?!). I then spied two Keralite Muslim women accompanied by a man strolling around. So I approached them and explaining myself, requested to use their phone to call my husband. I guess they were initially taken aback but they obliged. I made a quick call and let my husband know where I was and we were happily reunited in a few minutes.

I know that my no means were we in any kind of disastrous situation. If this kind stranger had not lent me his phone, maybe someone else might have. Or my husband and I would have been running around for a couple of hours trying to locate each other. (But by this point, my heels were already killing me. How on earth do people manage walking in high heels, let alone dance in them?!). Or eventually, I could have just hailed a cab and come home, hoping that my husband might do the same.

But we would have most definitely missed our movie, wasted a lot of time and energy and probably cursed each other. In short our day would have been spoiled. But instead, because of that good Samaritan, we had a pleasant time together. I’d like to think that my small little good deed earlier in the day earned me some good karma. As they say, what goes around comes around , eh?!

So today I thank all the good Samaritans out there, who have helped me in any way, big or small. (BTW does everyone know the history behind the phrase "Good Samaritan"?) I remember, when I was a kid, I used to go to a creche after school. Having too many kids around me was too great a temptation and instead of having my afternoon nap, I used to happily play with all the other kids. This resulted in my nodding off, sitting on the backseat of my dad’s scooter when he picked me up and took me home. If not for the numerous passersby who alerted my dad time and time again, “Paapa thoonguthu!” meaning “Baby is sleeping!”, I would have probably, slept and fell off the bike and seriously hurt myself.

There must be loads of people whom I have asked directions to go somewhere. The many people who have helped me lug my luggage through the many airports, when I teeter around with bag, baggage, coat, passport, ticket, book et al. And the people who have helped me shove my usually-heavily-over-loaded-bursting-at-the-seams hand luggage to the overhead compartments, without dropping it on the heads of the poor unsuspecting passengers seated below. These people were neither my friends nor family, or even acquaintances I vaguely knew. They were strangers. It wasn’t their job to help me. But they did. I would have probably managed to survive without their help. But the truth is however inconsequential their help seemed to be, it made my life slightly more tolerable; a tad bit easier. It made this world, a little brighter and a little better.

My thanks to all those good Samaritans out there! May I too find it in me to pass on all the good deeds that I receive!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wednesday Wishlist #1: Cookbooks

I am a bookworm. Of all my hobbies if I have to choose only one, then it would be reading. I read almost anything and everything. When I had to live alone for months together without TV or Internet, one of the main reasons I survived without going mad was books.

I actually started reading quite by accident. My brother is also an avid book reader and being 6 years elder to me, he used to read/still reads a lot of books. At around 7 or 8 years of age, having a lot of idle time to kill, I started looking through the pictures of the comics that he had. It was a Little Archie book and I was so engrossed in looking at the pictures that my dad thought that I was reading earnestly and said something on the lines of “Good! You have also started reading. That is a good habit!” Having been thus (falsely) appreciated, I was too embarrassed to admit that I was only picture-gazing (Cmon! I was only a small kid!). But I felt a little guilty and so thought that I might as well read the book (See? I was a good kid.). And thus started my reading odyssey and from then on there was no turning back (the pages), so as to speak! Aside my school library, the first library I was a member of was Rajeshwari Lending Library on Kutcheri Road, Chennai. Later on I joined the Eashwari Lending Library in Gopalapuram – a small hole in the wall place, which has grown into quite a large franchise now! Every Saturday used to be ‘Library Visit Day’ and was eagerly looked forward to. If for some reason the trip got cancelled, I used to be terribly upset.

Starting with comics like Archies, Tinkle, Phantom - The Ghost Who Walks, Mandrake - The Magician, Spiderman, Superman , He-Man (you must understand that my reading choices were greatly influenced by my bro!), Casper - The Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich - The Poor Little Rich Boy, Jataka Tales, Panchatantra I think the first novels I ever read were by the quintessential kids’ favourite author Enid Blyton. (For a long time, for no apparent reason, I always imagined Enid Blyton as a guy.)

So then, after devouring all the Famous Fives, Adventurous Four, Secret Seven and even the Faraway Tree series among others, also boarding school stories like St.Clare’s and Mallory Towers, I went onto adolescent detective series like Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Perry Mason, Agatha Christie and The Three Investigators. In between I also read loads of other stuff like Sweet Valley and a Tom-Sawyerish-series whose protagonist was called William, although I can’t remember the author. Then I grew up a little and started on Sidney Sheldons (and for a long time I thought Sidney Sheldon was a lady), Jeffry Archers, John Grishams, Erich Segals, Robert Ludlums, Ken Follet and Stephen King. Later my tastes diversified and now I read a whole variety of authors including J.K.Rowling, Paulo Coelho, Mario Puzo, Ayn Rand and the list goes on - much too long to list everyone here plus I'm sure to miss out on many! Also there were a lot of classics and miscellaneous books thrown in like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gone With The Wind, Diary of Anne Frank, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and such fare along with all the non-details books at school such as Heidi and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Lately I’ve been trying to read more Indian women authors like Anita Nair, Janhavi Acharekar, Rupa Bajwa, Anita Jain not to mention a whole lot of time-pass magazines. I must say here though, that my brother’s and my tastes have grown quite apart over the years. Being the hot-shot banker that he is, he reads lots of boring (to me) finance, banking, and business related books.(I know you are reading this ;-)) On the other hand, my husband is also an ardent reader, but he refuses to read any non-fiction books. (You STILL haven't read the very first book I gave you! Hmph!!)

So coming to the point of this post. I had spoken about my love for cooking shows here. But for all my ramblings on how much I love books and cooking, I happen to own just a single cookbook, 'Cakes & Bakes', which I had picked up at some book fair. Much before I even started cooking, I had created a scrapbook of sorts, noting down recipes that I would like to try out alongside some drool-worthy pictures that I cut out from newspapers or magazines. Unfortunately, after I actually started cooking, I could not find that scrapbook :-(

After regularly blowing away a huge chunk of money on buying books, the husband and I decided to go frugal and enrolled at the Public Library here. So on every trip I make sure to pick up an interesting cookbook. One such book, I picked up was Anjum's New Indian, by the BBC celebrity chef Anjum Anand. I have not seen any of her shows so I wasn't sure about trying out her recipes but I did anyway. I must say that all turned out to be yummy! Although I did increase the heat quotient significantly as her chilli quantities seemed rather tame-more suited for the "firang" tongue! The book is organised into sections for Light Meals & Snacks, Seafood, Chicken, Meat, Vegetables, Beans & Lentils , Rice & Bread, Raitas a& Chutneys and Desserts. So far I've only tried out some chicken recipes (Sorry NS!) including Punjabi Chicken Curry, Black Maharashtrian Style Chicken, The Raj's Chicken Cutlet, Punjabi Chicken Curry, Goan Chicken and Potato Stew and Chicken with Pickling Spices but I soon intend to try out a few dishes from the other categories too.

Even with all the lovely cooking blogs that one can find at the touch of a button these days, I still enjoy cookbooks. I really like going through the list of ingredients and ticking them off in my mind and comparing the processes involved. But most of all - here I touch base with some primal, subconscious urge - I absolutely adore gawking at the pictures! And if they come accompanied with interesting stories or anecdotes, what's not to like!? Beautifully illustrated cookbooks are such a joy to behold!

And therefore, this Wednesday's Wishlist Item is Cookbooks!

Friday, July 22, 2011

TGIF #1: Weekends

Well, first things first. I ask you, what is the point in saying TGIF without being thankful for weekends. Right?

Over the years, my weekends have varied a bit. In school, we used to have Saturdays & Sundays off while in college it was Sundays & Mondays. In a former life, while working as an IT professional it went back to Saturdays & Sundays. Later on when I wasn’t working, all days were weekends! Currently I have Fridays and Saturdays off.

The first thing that comes to my mind when someone mentions weekends is... sleep! I get to sleep a few extra hours! I’m a sleepaholic so yay for that! My husband is exactly the opposite. On weekdays he moans and groans and grumbles to get up but on weekends, he is up bright and early and is pottering about long before I drag myself out of bed. (Sometimes I need to be bribed with a hot cuppa coffee too. Mrs.N S don’t cringe - coffee is good for you;-)) This weekend, we are going to drop in at the library (Yes I am also such a nerd) and then go watch Harry Potter! So yay for that too :-)

But more than anything else I am grateful for weekends because my husband and I get more time to spend with each other. The whole week goes by with him slaving away at office and me cooped up by myself within the four walls of our apartment (as I work from home). Whether we go anywhere or do something useful is immaterial. It just feels nice to simply be with each other.

Apart from that, I also think that in this busy-busy world, all of us need to pause and spare a moment to “smell the roses”; and this is where weekends come in - After all even God rested on the 7th day so hey, who am I to argue?! On that note, I will leave you with a lovely poem I learnt in school (Don’t I have a good memory!?) called Leisure (In fact, I even remember that this was when I came to know that it was pronounced Lee-sure and not Ley-sure)


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

- William Henry Davies

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Fresh Perspective & A New Approach

The downside of having a creatively satisfying job is that I don’t blog that often as I used to. Usually when I go for a short period of time without expressing myself creatively, I have this compelling urge to blog. But having that urge met by my digital publishing job as well as my travel consultant one (now, now, don't be jealous!), I find that I am neglecting my personal space over here. Obviously lack of new and interesting content translates to a drop in the number of people visiting Abstract Admissions. And let me be honest. I do like having many people - some whom I know personally and some whom I don’t – read my (brilliant!) thoughts, laugh at my (witty) jokes, nod at my clever (!) insights and generally appreciate this little corner of mine in the vast and ever-widening blogosphere. I get so excited when someone drops a new comment and I am thrilled to hear from someone about their opinion on my blog. In fact, sometimes it even surprises me that there are other people out there who like reading what I write :-)

So this being the state of affairs, I decided that my blog needed more focused attention. Therefore from this week onwards, I intend to blog regularly atleast twice a week. For maintaining this discipline, I thought of choosing a couple of particular subjects that I can talk/write about every week. I pondered over Tip Tuesdays, but frankly I really don’t know any great tips and I would probably be shelling out some rather lame advice which everyone already knows anyway. I thought of Sexy Saturdays, but well, let’s just say that my knowledge is pretty limited there too ;-) Whiny Wednesdays? Nah, I crib too much already, without even having an allocated day for my complaining! After bouncing around many such great (!) ideas I finally settled on two: Wednesday Wishlist and TGIF.

Wednesday Wishlist, as the name suggests is for me to share anything that I yearn for. (No, not just 3 wishes-that is only if you are a genie). If you think that I am being a spoilt, greedy and ungrateful brat, think again. This is where Thank God Its Friday comes into the picture. Every Friday, I am going to count my blessings and write about one thing that I am thankful for.

So there! With this new (to me) approach, I hope to maintain a steady blogging pace. This would help me in improving my writing skills and help you read interesting (Yes I know I think too much of myself ;-)) stuff! Plus it would help me live a more meaningful life by truly realizing how blessed I am and help you lead a meaningful life by making you realize... er, what are the things that you could possibly gift me ;-) Smart, huh?!

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yip, Yap & Yippity Yap!

I was reading an old blog post of an old friend of mine here. And I couldn't stop myself nodding to her words (Although the main subject of her post is something else - which I intend to blog about in a separate post.) She mentioned that she is bad in the art of small talk. Same here. I simply suck at small talk. Don’t get me wrong - by no means am I a silent person; although I may seem so at first, once I get to know someone really well, nothing can keep me from yapping away. Ask my husband or my close friends-they probably have a part of their ear missing by now ;-) I have spoken for hours together over the phone, much to the irritation of my parents. My friends and I have chatted away into the wee hours of the night not even realizing the time. When I was small, my only worry when my parents came to school was that my teachers would complain that I was too talkative. In fact, that was indeed the only complaint against me for a long time.(Oh that and my math skills-but that’s a story for another day.) Many a time my poor mother, at her wits end has snapped “Can you just keep quiet for some time?” My husband on the other hand, just gives me an exasperated look and listens. Well, mostly.

Anyway the point is I have a lot to say. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here blogging would I? But small talk? Uh-huh. I honestly envy people who seemingly, can carry on conversations with others whom they met barely a few minutes back – about everything and anything. Many people have told me, that they often see me smiling. The simple reason behind that is – I have no idea what else to do. I answer whatever I am asked and I might even throw back the same question with “and u?” and nod my head at the answer. Beyond that I am clueless. On countless occasions I have racked my brains to say something interesting. Or just plain something. But no - my mind stubbornly resists and turns up it's nose at me. In fact, I think I have hardly ever initiated a conversation with anyone; it is generally the other person who starts first. I am usually comfortably lost in my own thoughts.

In earlier days young women used to be instructed in the art of small talk as it was considered to be a beneficial social grace to possess. Hostesses who could entertain their guests with their small talk were greatly admired. Hmm... Looks like I need to find out some such course and get myself enrolled in one ASAP.

P.S: I shall hold a seat for you too Neeru ;-)

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