Random Ramblings

#152 : I’m Not From Around Here by Ishai Klinowsky : Book Review

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I’m not from around here is a memoir of a Jewish man whose family survived the World War II. It typically reads like the diary with sequence of events which moves on from generation to generation with each set of characters slowly fading out of relevance as the generation progresses. The denominator in such memoirs have always been the torture methods used and the impact it had on the person’s psychology. This book was slightly different in that aspect for me as it was a diary which focused more on resilience rather than failures.

The author traces the journey of his mother from surviving a labor camp to being married twice breaking cultural norms. The author also talks about his father and step father – both of them ended up getting arrested for smuggling cars into the country. The rest of the story is how the family survives in spite of ending up in different places.

The narration is surprisingly from a young version of the writer. However, there were multiple POVs in some place which really didn’t work in favor of the memoir in general. Given the diary itself is spread across generations there were too many characters which really didn’t seem of consequence once this generation faded.

I jumped at the chance to read this book primarily at the mention of Israel. I’ve not read a single account by an Israeli about the war. I expected the narration from a middle aged man. It was uncharacteristic of a memoir to be narrated by a young boy. I could connect quite well with the story and the underlying emotions as the tone of the narrator is quite young.

Note : Received the book as a part of b00k r3vi3w Tours in exchange for an honest review.

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#177: Book Review : Waterboarding by Bragadeesh Prasanna

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Waterboarding – involves the torturer to pour water over the face of the captive, over a damp towel to give a sensation of drowning. While the mind knows that he is not actually drowning, the captive’s body sends contrasting signals to the brain making it a very painful experience- The kind of a title that you would expect of a psychological thriller or a love story which would probably involve an absurd character. This story turned out to be neither, however, the title was very relevant to situation the protagonist Ved is in.

Post a life changing accident, the protagonist Ved’s memory is blanked out. He relies on his friends – Sara and Ramesh to fill in the gaps. What follows is a story of a complicated man and a perfect love triangle.

The story was simply gloomy. It is fairly apparent that the writer intended it to be this way. The characterization, the narration all of it gave just one feel – The feel of gloom. Having read the previous work of the writer, it was quite a surprise to see his writing undergo a paradigm shift. His previous work was more of a rant rather than a coherent story. Though this plot is fairly similar to of his last publish novel (300 days), this story was a much better read in terms of writing in general and the narration/characterization in particular. The writer has crafted all the characters with care showing enough amount of their traits and aspirations. However, there were parts of the story where I felt a couple of secondary characters weren’t of much use – like the prostitute and the friend who comes from US. It felt like they were are in a mild deliberation to properly tie everything up and bring in a conclusion.

To sum it up, the book was a good but a gloomy read.

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#175 : Another Year Gone!

“Another year gone!” Dumbledore said cheerfully. “And I must trouble you with an old man’s wheezing waffle before we sink our teeth into our delicious feast. What a year it has been! Hopefully your heads are all a little fuller than they were…”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 

What a year 2017 turned out to be. Sitting all alone in a different country, it is not difficult to slip into a pensive mood, reflecting and looking back at the year that has almost gone by. 2017 turned out to be a year of learning. I learnt to adapt right from the start of the year to the end. I was just a little over 20 days into being married when the year began. Adapting to new place, people, food and culture is not an easy thing and that’s exactly the challenge 2017 hurled at me. Again, at the end of the year, here am I, in a different country adapting to a different environment, food and people with out my loved ones near by. Thus by large, I spent the whole of 2017 adapting and re-adapting. However, I have no regret at all in doing what I did.

I managed to take some time out to make beautiful memories – A neat trip to Kodaikanal and a short one to Pondicherry. Of course, towards the end of the year, the trip to Cordoba, Aranjuez and Toledo. I did discover that I loved clicking pictures, especially when the visuals in front of me were vivid and rich.

Reading wise, 2017 was one of the best year I had. A Harry Potter re-run, my first Neil Gaiman and what not.  Thanks to all the kind folks who gifted me books.

I’m not divulging much am I? As they say, be happy and tell no one.

However, I have a list of goals for 2018. The use of the word “GOAL” is deliberate here. Resolution aren’t my thing. Here are my top 5 goals for the year.

  1. Being Thoughtful and Mindful – I have never been the type to be expect much from people. That just worsened when a certain relationship I had turned toxic. I stopped emoting much and that leaded to me being less thoughtful.  I ought to pick myself up and become a better human.
  2. Cutting out all toxic relationships completely – Some people enter our lives just to teach us few important lessons. I learnt mine the hard-way. High time I flush such people out.
  3. Click better pictures and build a scrap book – I hope to learn the art of photography a bit. Not that I am keen on buying a professional camera. I simply hope to learn the science of light and lenses.
  4. Read a variety of books – Manu Joseph, Jeeth Thayil, Shashi Tharoor – Just the starters there. Wish to go wild and explore this year!
  5. WRITE – I ought to complete what I stared. One full length novel is about 20% done and a collection of short stories 15% done. However, not really beating myself up over this. Writing is a creative process which requires immense discipline. My life right now is way too exciting to bring in that discipline.

Its the first day of the year, here I am miles away from home in a tiny room reading a nice book while sipping a hot cup of tea. What a way to start the New year! 2018 – you better be good to me.

 

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#174 : Me Time @ 11PM

The clock struck 11 as I entered my bedroom. It was one hectic day filled with tons of technical discussions which made me want to pull my hair apart. On the home front, the husband wanted some help with his project work. The in law wanted me to help her with some grocery shopping. All of that was finally done! Looking back, I realized I had hardly spent time for myself in the entire day. I woke up at 6AM and I’ve probably spent all of 1 hour to wash, eat and dress! My in-laws are asleep and the love of my life is snoring softly already.

Finally! It was time to clear my head out and un-wind for the day! I sat down with the journal and began penning down my thoughts randomly. I lost the habit of journal keeping after my school days. Engineering and a business degree didn’t give me the luxury to write, nor did incessant travelling to remote factories. Marriage however, seems to have made me find the time to write. I know this isn’t going to last with plans for raising a family soon on the cards. Ought to enjoy while I can!

30 minutes down and I felt relaxed. The feel of a rich ink pen gliding over a smooth paper when words flow like there is not tomorrow is unparalleled. Just as I shut the journal, I heard a weird rumbling noise. I burst out laughing as I realized the origin of the sound – It’s was my own tummy! The husband stirred a bit on hearing the noise. I decided it’s time to raid the cupboard! Mid-Night snack it was.

It’s been ages since I ate something post 11PM. I used to sneak about and munch on biscuits while studying in the wee hours, during my college days. I grew up and my sleep cycle changed. Plus to manage weight, I started cutting down on anything other than vegetables, fruits and nuts! My stomach rumbled again as I tip-toed to the kitchen caring not to wake up the people.

I slowly opened the lower rack of the shelf. That shelf contained all snacks. I wasn’t much of a snack person. That was my husband’s forte. He stocked the snacks for the week. This week, much to my surprise, I found a couple of packets of Kurkure!  It was unlike of him to buy any form of chips, that’s of course partly because of me. I tend to binge eat any fried form of potato. He swears by fried grams, puffed rice and peanuts. Kurkure was a complete surprise. I was craving for something tangy. There was one pack of Lime Pickle triangle and one pack of Masala Munch. The choice was easy! Lime Pickle triangle it was.

I slowly opened the pack ensuring not to make any noise. A tangy citrus smell filled my nostrils. I slowly popped in one triangle into my mouth and savored the flavor. Yum! Just the tangy taste and right amount of crispness like I wanted. I tip-toed back to the bedroom, munching away my perfect mid-night snack. Just as I took another bite, I suddenly remembered the video that had gone viral some time ago. It had been something about Kurkure burning and containing some form of plastics. Must be some competitor at work I mused. After all, my really picky husband wasn’t going to stock a snack which was rumored to have plastics. While eating I got a distincttaste of corn.

 I turned the packet and read the contents just as I always did. Being from the manufacturing services industry it intrigues me to no end to know what it takes to manufacture something. It read just the basic ingredients as does for any other traditional snack. I couldn’t find one chemical name or a preservative. I decided to fire up my tab and do some Googling. What I found thoroughly surprised me. It was common knowledge that anything which contained a form of carbohydrate when combined with high quantity of oxygen can burn if ignited. The traditional kurkure is light and puffy. Evidently, Kurkure contains Corn, dal and rice. All the three ingredients are high on carbohydrate. Thus when ignited, it burned. This didn’t imply that it contained plastics. I also found a good video of their manufacturing process. Given it’s my own domain, I decided to dig deeper. I found out a very basic outline of the process which goes as follows,

1. The raw material – Corn, Dal and rice, is first cleaned, ground and mixed in a specific proportion.

2.  It is then sent via an extruder to bring in a shape.

3. It is fried in oil and then seasoned with spices in a rolling drum for uniform coating.

Having never worked in the FMCG domain before, all this interested me a lot. I powered off the tab and went back to munching the snack. With my mid night pang satiated, I slipped into the bed, thinking about how I could come up with such a formulation and prepare my own snack. One can dream to achieve greater things. After all, for all we know the snack I just had would have been one such formulation!

Random Ramblings

#172 : To my long lost Best friend – A letter

Dear Best Friend,

I’m not sure if I can call you that any more – It degraded from being a best friend to friend to a nobody now. You were the one person I reached out to, in times of happiness or melancholy or peril. You were my rock solid pillar who stood by me and put me together when I lost faith in myself. Together, we enjoyed reading, writing and talking about food. We achieved new heights in whatever we did as a single unit, until one day it all came tumbling down like a set of dominoes. I choose to believe that the chips were pushed by a mutual ill-wisher. It took me ages to realize that the force wasn’t external. That realization shattered my heart to pieces. The shards kept picking and wrecking my brain until I decided to sit down and work backward. Working backward has always been my strength. It didn’t come tumbling down in a day. In fact, I realized it was a grand illusion I was trapped in.

When I reached the first important milestone in my life, I really needed your support. I was anxious, you decoded my anxiousness as show off and almost quit talking to me. You shut me out completely and I felt lost. Then some how we patched up and went about as if nothing happened. Life went on, we both found love and got jobs. Life turned serious all of a sudden. That’s when I decided to escape reality for a while by doing what I always did. I wanted you to be the partner in crime just like old times. Things moved in a break neck pace. That’s when the second misunderstanding happened. We fell apart. This time it hurt me more. I missed those endless conversations we had. I missed being us. What happened next shattered me totally. Social media interactions aggravated my depression. Snide remarks, indirect statuses, stream of people asking me what was wrong with me and our relationship in general. Worst of it all, a lot people simply moved away from my life without notice. I never understood why, nor did I bother to find out. We again some how patched up. Or so I kept cheating myself. Little did I realize, it was jealousy that crept in. Right from the start it was jealousy. The snide remarks never died down. The indirect taunting never went away. I felt boxed and suffocated. You always picked me up at my lowest, but sadly you were the cause this time. I was such an idiot that I didn’t even realize that. To me, you were incapable of causing me any grief. Yet, I was still depressed and our relationship was still bitter, sugar coated bitter though. How long would this last? Too many things were a reminder of the good times we had. I gave up on activities I loved doing the most because it was a bitter reminder of what I lost.

I had other people who picked me up from my misery and tried their best to put me together. I’m truly lucky to have found them. However, all of them were of a consensus that I am the only person who can pick up myself and get going. As a matter of fact, they made me realize that every time life gave me lemons, it was me who managed to make a lemonade out of it. I am the only person who can find my own happiness. I can either choose to move out completely ignoring all the taunting and mind games or confront sit down and talk it out. What would the latter yield? A broken mirror can never bit put back. At the risk of this sounding cliched, our relationship is like that mirror. A relationship built on a myriad of lies would never last. The lies had finally manifested. I choose to move on and come out of the delusion that I was in.

If you decode this letter to be my attempt in salvaging my name and garnering sympathy, think again. You’ve  always complemented me for my thick head. I am thick headed. The name or the sympathy never mattered to me and it will remain to be so. I needed to get that toxicity out of system. That’s just about it.

I have to thank you for teaching me the most valuable lesson of my life and making me a better person.

Hope you find all the happiness you’ve ever wanted. I bow out.

Best,

A person who once believed was your friend

Note : Is this a work of fiction? If this my life story? Is this the story of someone whom I know? Some things are best left unsaid. This is one such thing. For all you know, this might have been your story too.

Random Ramblings

#169 : Milk Delight!

With Diwali around the corner, it’s high time one experiments with sample recipe so as to perfect making them during the actual festival. Preethi appliances gave me one such opportunity. I got to attend their very informative blog jam event last month which was conducted to introduce their new range of Wet Grinders which brought back the traditional mechanism of wet grinding. Apart from the introduction, there were two other informative sessions – One on SEO by the famous food blogger – Archana of Archana’s Kitchen and the other by Chef Umshankar Dhanapal on Food Styling. The company also introduced their range of choppers including the Turbo Chopper.

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The Turbo Chopper is one kitchen appliance that I swear by. I’ve been using this chopper long before I went to the event. In fact, it was one appliance that my mother personally gifted me for my wedding. Given my very limited chopping skills, I would probably take eons to chop one onion and in the process would also probably cut my fingers. Onions and my eyes don’t really go well. I’m ultra sensitive to strong fumes and tend to water up at the slight exposure. She wanted to make sure I didn’t shed tears. Literally.

It’s compact, it’s easy to use and it gets the job done very quickly without much effort. Peel off the skin, slice into half, dump it into to the chopper, press the motor and voila, you have finely chopped onions without shedding tears. This is one appliance that every woman needs in her kitchen.

This chopper is essentially a cross between a full fledged mixer grinder and a traditional vegetable chopper. However, this appliance is not as versatile as a chopper, but serves the purpose it is intended for rather well. Here are the tech specs

  1. A 450 Watt motor as the head. You need to gently press the motor to operate it.
  2. Stainless Steel blade ( 2 wings)
  3. An adapter to interface the container with the motor
  4. A sturdy container with level graduations

Here is a little tutorial I found online just in case you are in doubt as to how to operate this simple yet very efficient machine – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkBlp8ClK1w

I’ve been using the chopper extensively for chopping onions, making tomato/steamed carrot puree apart from the occasional chopping of cabbage. This time around, I used it to chop nuts for the experimental recipe – Basundi.

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What you need :

  1. A heavy bottomed pan
  2. A liter of Full Fat Milk
  3. One Tin of Sweetened Condensed milk
  4.  Nuts – Pistachio, Badam and Cashew – Not chopped too finely.
  5. Strands of Saffron – Optional
  6. A lot patience!

The method :

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  1. Boil the milk well over the heavy bottomed pan.
  2. Keep stirring over the edges initially so that the milk solid doesn’t stick to the pan
  3. Keep stirring a bit more
  4. Stir a little more – Gently there!
  5. Yeah, you need patience for this.
  6. Now add the condensed milk.
  7. Give it a quick stir and let it settle.
  8. Now add the nuts/Saffron. Here is where the chopper comes handy. Chopping nuts can drive you nuts. Throw them into the chopper and press gently to chop coarsely.
  9. Finally you are done 😀

You can slurp away all the milk goodness once you’ve transferred the contents to a nice bowl and refrigerated it. A milk delight truly this dish!

Note : Thanks to my colleague and friend Ramakrishnan! You know for what I’m thanking you 😀

 

Random Ramblings

#168 : #FaveFridays – Fave Five Book to TV Series/Movie Adaptations

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I’m not much of a movie/TV series person, but I always sit up and take interest in if they are adapted from books I’ve enjoyed. Curiosity gets the better out me and I end up matching my visualisation from reading the book to the visuals from the movie/TV series.

  1. Heidi – The cartoon – This is my earliest memory of enjoying an adaptation. The cartoon is simply delightful and totally mind- blowing. The creators of this show have done quite enough justice to the book. Though I have read only an abridged version, I intend to read the unabridged version in German. I also intend to learn German for this very purpose. Heidi_zpsyauojrqs.jpg
  2. Sherlock – BBC TV Series – Benedict Cumberbatch – Need I mention more? Though the makers have tweaked the story a bit to adapt to the devices of new generation, that thrill of having read a good mystery is there upon watching the series.
  3. Harry Potter Series – We’ve all whined enough as to how the movie adaptation doesn’t do enough justice to the book, but on the retrospect, is it even possible to reproduce visually something as grand as the original book. I think not.
  4. Game of Thrones – I’ve just started reading the book. The TV series is actually way too good. It’s always been the other way round with me – I’ve always read the book before I watched the series. This is the first time I picked up the book after watching the show till date.
  5. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – Tom Hanks totally suits my image of Robert Langdon, Sir Ian McKellen as Sir Leigh Teabing was also very convincing. Of course, as expected, the movie makers didn’t do enough justice to Dan Brown’s writing.

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