Thursday, December 5, 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

When life seems a little dull...

What do you do when life seems a little dull at 7 PM on a Monday evening?
I do this: 

10 favorite Calvin and Hobbes quotes that never fail to crack me up:

  1. I like maxims that don’t encourage behavior modification.
  2. Reality continues to ruin my life.
  3. Everybody seeks happiness! Not me, though! That’s the difference between me and the rest of the world. Happiness isn’t good enough for me! I demand euphoria!
  4. Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.
  5. I'm killing time while I wait for life to shower me with meaning and happiness.
  6. As a math atheist, I should be excused from this.
  7. When life gives you lemons, chunk it right back.
  8. Girls are like slugs - they probably serve some purpose, but it's hard to imagine what
  9. Weekends don't count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.
  10. And the bestest and the most favorite of all: Why isn’t my life like a situation comedy? Why don’t I have a bunch of friends with nothing better to do but drop by and instigate wacky adventures? Why aren’t my conversations peppered with spontaneous witticisms? Why don’t my friends demonstrate heartfelt concern for my well being when I have problems? …I gotta get my life some writers.

What do you do to cure Monday-evening-gloom :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Words in a new world

Image courtesy of Kittisak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Words are so interesting! I was chatting with a friend and he asked me why aren't there any blog posts on my blog since the last few days? Before I could answer, he said are you going through a blogger's block? Interesting, ain't it?

Internet has made everyone a writer. The very idea that anyone can write and share her opinions via blogs, twitter, Facebook, and other channels has made this world an interesting one.

It made me think, what are such words which have developed newly due to the entire advent of Web and social media. These are the couple of words that I have come across which I never learnt in school and I am not really sure if they are in any dictionary yet:
  • Blogger's block
  • Content Crafters
  • Information Developers (I am one)
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Tweeting 
  • Facebook-ing
Have you come across any such words?

Monday, July 22, 2013

An evening with sushi and the suave foodies in Pune

If there is any cooking class that I would willingly attend it has to be the one which teaches delicate, pretty food, with a complimentary glass of wine. Last weekend, on 18th July, I and my sister, Shilpa attended a Sushi making party at the O Hotel’s Harajuku restaurant. Harajuku is a town in Tokyo and we didn’t hassle ourselves in wondering why it is named after that town.

The moment one steps inside the restaurant, the conspicuous red and black décor puts one in a mood for some Japanese food. We were late and the session had already started just a few minutes ago. We walked in the middle of the amazing discussion on making the Shari (sushi rice) with Japanese vinegar. The chef recommends the Japanese rice as it is highly glutinous and thus becomes sticky. Surprisingly, even if the texture of the rice required to make is sticky, each and every grain of the rice is intact and can be notably tasted. Indian basmati rice cannot be a substitute. However, the chef claims that Japanese rice is easily available in fine food stores in Pune. (List provided at the end of the blog post).

The chef spoke about the basic ingredients required to make sushi such as Shari (rice), Neta (raw fish, either tuna, salmon, prawns, or crab), Nori (seaweed) sheets, and the most important ingredient – Wasabi. Wasabi is a green colored spicy paste resembling horseradish and is extremely pungent. For making a roll of sushi less than a pinch of wasabi can be used. Apart from wasabi, Gari or pickled ginger was added as a garnish, as it serves as a palate cleansing agent between two types of sushi.

Various types of sushi
The chef demonstrated how to make sushi with Nori sheets inside the Maki (sushi roll), with rice on the outside. This proved to be quite difficult to make but was an all time favorite. We made sushi with nori sheets outside, California rolls, Temaki (cone-shaped sushi), and Nigri sushi. The Nigri sushi was the most interesting and simple to make as it was just fish (salmon, prawns, or tuna) compressed on a mound of rice.

It was our turn now. After all, it was a “Roll your own sushi and eat it too” party. It seemed so easy when the chef was doing it, but when we stuck our hands and rolled up our sleeves, rolling sushi was a bit devious. After one or two attempts, we finally started getting it right. The suave food enthusiasts were quite happy with their attempts, and tried almost everything that the chef had showed us. Foodies were making the nigri sushi or the California maki, although I didn't see anyone daring enough to roll a temaki (cone-shaped sushi). A few daring ones made sushi with the ebi (prawns) in the maki (roll).

My sister Shilpa- The only vegetarian in the party
Among the gathering of 20-25 odd gourmets, there was one brave vegetarian – my sister. She had the courage to spend approximately 1400 rupees on learning sushi with avocado, carrots, or cucumber inside the roll. She made a carrot roll, which was interesting and one of its kind. Thanks to her, I came to know that there is a concept of vegetarian sushi.

At the end of the two hour session (which we didn't realize how happily we spent), all foodies were invited to taste their own creations, pick and choose from other’s plate all accompanied with a glass of wine. The only disappointment was that we didn't get to drink the Japanese sake – rice wine.

The chef overlooks while I make the crab sushi roll
If the chef was a smiling one with bright enthusiasm for teaching us how to make sushi, the staff was no less. We had people explaining us the correct way to eat a sushi, with chopsticks. Heck! The chef taught us how to hold the chopsticks and he actually managed to tear pieces of the gari (pickled ginger) with his chopsticks.

We were not so skilled, but managed to pull it off by picking up a sushi piece, dipping it in a small bowl of light soy sauce with wasabi mixed in it and putting it in our mouth in one go, without spilling a bit.

It is considered unkind and rude to leave any rice bits on the plate and we decided not to be rude (The pretty and delicate sushi on our plate ensured that we fall short on only licking the plate clean).


And that’s how we ended a wonderful soiree with sushi.

Places where one can find all the ingredients required to prepare sushi:
  • Godrej Nature's Basket - Aundh, Koregon Park
  • Fine Foods - Karve road
  • Dorabjee's - Camp


All set with my plate

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Goodness feeling

There are some people in life who brighten up your face, your day, your life with just their mere presence. Today a strange thing happened to me. As usual, I was Facebooking (oh yeah! That's a word) and I saw this  photo of very dear friend:


And I smiled. I had a huge, wide grin on my face :).

This girl has been through a lot (and who doesn't) and yet, this smile of hers means the world to me. It is very reassuring. Forget the fact that this photo is brilliantly composed. Forget, for a moment, the amazing color combination that works fantastic in this photo. Just take a moment and look at that smile! If anything can be so refreshing than this one, you gotta tell me.

Thanks Mani, this one is for you. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Passion towards life

There is something missing in my life. I work, I cook, I clean, I love my husband, talk to my mom and sister everyday, I read new blogs, I listen to music and then I just realized what is missing - passion.

Passion towards life. I started this blog when I had so many things to write about. Writing was the only way I could express myself. I don't have too much to write today too, yet there is something I feel like sharing.

If I can translate better, this amazing guy is saying:

"In you life, do things that you must do to earn a decent living, learn all the arts required to survive and swell, but do not stop at it.
Befriend any art, music, dance, painting, theater and so on.
If your work tells helps you live, your friendship with an art will tell you why you should live"


Sunday, May 12, 2013

And I got inked...

Last few days I haven't really been posting much to this blog. I was busy at work is just one excuse. I was not motivated to write. I was actually facing a writer's block and couldn't develop my two liner ideas into a full post.  Again this time, Mani asked me the reasons for my silence and her kind words motivated me to write again. And since we are talking about writing, I am gonna share my own experience of writing albeit on a different page, with a different pen.

I wanted a tattoo from a very long time.

This post is not about justifying the reasons why I wanted a tattoo. I wanted it and that was it. However, it was easier said than done. There were many hurdles, deciding the place on my body, the design, the pain, the permanence. I spoke to a lot of people who already had tattoos and discussed things with them. I took extremely long time in deciding upon a design because a tattoo is a permanent art on your body.

There are a lot of people who think about getting a tattoo and have a lot of questions. These are the questions I had and I will try and answer them after getting my first tattoo.

1. Does it hurt?
Yes, but it is bearable. They say everyone has a different threshold for tolerating pain. If you are the kind of a person who fears needles, then stay away from tattoos. The pain isn't great, the sound of the machine resembles to a drilling machine, I guess that's what scares half of the people. When I got mine, I refrained from looking at my hand, on which the artist was drawing and thus avoided half of the pain. I asked my husband, my sister, and my friends to be with me, talk to me and distract me from the pain. It worked :).
Make sure you tell the artist this is the first time you are getting a tattoo and he will give you frequent breaks, or go a bit slow. My artist also kept answering my horde of questions quite patiently.
If you feel nauseating, which I did, take a walk. Step a moment into the fresh air, do not go outside, but stand near a window. 
This helps!

2. What kind of design should I select?
One thing is for sure, tattoo is permanent and so select a design that you wouldn't mind seeing at the age of 65. It is a very personal choice of what you want the tattoo to say. My tattoo means a lot to me and that's also the reason why the direction of the flight of the birds is such that I can see it. 
For me, a tattoo is for my pleasure, if others admire it, good. So make sure you do not get a tattoo just for getting people to admire it. You are bearing the pain, you have every right to be pleased by your tattoo. 
If this is your first time, do not select an elaborate design. Go for simple ones. Use colors, and the outlining hurts more than filling a tattoo with color.  

3. Where should I do it on my body?
Again, a personal choice. I went by a simple logic - I wanted a tattoo on the part of my body which will not change drastically if I put on or lose a lot of weight. Hence, I chose a wrist.
Also, if it is your first tattoo and you have no idea how much it will pain so do it on a body part with a lot of flesh. Do not do your first tattoo on a bone. It hurts more, and it pains more even after you are done with the inking. 

4. After tattoo care? 
The artist wraps up your tattoo in a bandage. Remove it after an hour or two and the wash it with mild soap and using your fingers.
This much every website tells you.
What my artist told me is to apply coconut oil on my tattoo after every few hours. Rub just a few drops, enough to cure any itching. Do not immerse it in water or use too much of the ointment.
Basically, treat it like a wound and it will heal perfectly.
If you find any untoward reactions, immediately contact the artist. He will be able to guide you further.

In the end, I would like to share a graphic that summarizes the whole experience in one word!


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Men Against Rape and Discrimination

Lately we are seeing a paradox in the Indian Subcontinent. Where campaigns and messages like these are spread across the country, we also have our elected representatives "goofing up" big time.

I support the movement started out by Farhan Akhtar - Men Against Rape and Discrimination (MARD).

If only we could teach our men to respect women irrespective of what they wear, where they go, what they drink, what they speak, and so on. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Herb and vegetable garden in containers

It is my dream to have a kitchen herb garden and a vegetable garden of my own since ages. I don't live in a bunglow so I don't have a space to create a garden of my own choice. We have a terrace garden and it houses plants like Palm, Tulsi, White chrysanthemum, and some flowers.

Then I came across this blog Geek Gardener, by a person in India who writes about growing gardens in pots and containers, that too on the terrace. I was thrilled! He has written about almost everything that I ever wanted to plant. There are cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, coriander, chillies, eggplants and so on. He was a vast experience in  growing plants. What encouraged me more is that since he is located in Bangalore, he writes about Indian seasons, plants, sowing time, seeds and all. It will be much easier to find the required tools and seeds that he mentions.

So, after wondering a lot, I finally sowed my first plant - Coriander, yesterday. Now begins the wait for the germination and the actual plat. I am so exited. If this plant grows the way it is written in the blog, I will move on to the next plants such as mint, basil, and eventually may even try bigger plants such as tomatoes. I am crazy for tomatoes and I would be on seventh heaven the day I pluck a ripe tomato from my own garden.

I feel so anxious and impatient. Eager and exited...let's see what happens in a couple of days.

Here's a snapshot of my terrace garden.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Athavani



I have a wonderful group of college friends. We are together for more than 10 years and I love these people. We fight, we yell, we laugh, we even sometimes cry together. We are there for each other. We may not be able to attend someone’s wedding, we may not be able to go and see the first baby in the group, but we are there. Just a phone call away.

Today morning I and another friend of mine we were talking about how it’s been a long long time since we went on a trek. And the very mention of the work trek opened a box of memories. This poem is an outcome of those nostalgic moments.

तुझ्या अंगावर शहारा 
माझ्या डोळ्यात पाणी 
अशा कशा ह्या कॉलेजच्या आठवणी...

माझ्या मनात उठले आठवणींचे पूर 
तुला गवसले कवितांचे सूर 
त्या सुरांमध्ये गोड वेड्या आठवणी 
ज्या दाटल्या कितीवार्षांपासून आपल्या मनी...   

दोन वेड्या मित्र-मैत्रिणीने रचलेली कविता  – Ranjit Ahire and Shweta Hardikar



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rhydhun

I can spend hours listening to each of the track in the album by Taufiq Quereshi - Rhydhun.

It's been years since I was introduced to a complete different genre of music by Taufiq Qureshi. I am not someone who has studies music, neither am I a big fan of classical music. However, Rhydhun is beyond classical, it's mystical. It speaks the language of rhythm.

Taufiq Qureshi belongs to a legendary family, with a father like Ustad Allarkha, and a brother like Ustad Zakir Hussain, it is not easy to retain your individuality. However, he not only retains his individuality, but creates a different genre of music.

His music has no barriers of language, country, region or religion. You are definitely transported to another magical world when you hear the sounds and rhythm.

My favorite track in the album is Nand. It has soft and beautiful music and enthralling vocals by Geetika Varde - Taufiq Qureshi's wife. Her voice is too beautiful to be called haunting, but I am lost for words now. I have tried scouring the internet and music cafes for more vocals by Geetika Varde. That she should only sing for Taufiq makes her voice even more precious.

If you have ever seen Taufiq Qureshi perform live, in front of hundreds and thousands, you will notice that he is an out-an-out entertainer. He does bit's and pieces of percussion in between just to entertain you. His train music emitted only out of a tabla is legendary. Conducting a live performance that comprises only rhythm based music is not an easy task. But with Taufiq and team, two hours seem so less.

I have not attended a program in a long time and now yearn to listen to new music by a legend in itself. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Makar Sankrant


This is not a post about what Makar Sankranti festival is all about. This is about what Makar Sankranti was to me.

I grew up in Nashik so the first thing that reminds me of Makar Sankranti is the kites. We used to start flying kites from December onwards and on this day the sky would be so full of kites that you could hardly make out that it’s blue. We had only one guy in my building and rest all 10-12 girls. I remember I used to be his crony for holding his chakri while he flies the kites. He taught me how to tie a thread to the kite, in a fashion known as ‘Mangalsutra’. I always wondered why we would call it ‘mangalsutra’. Obviously the analogy of the thread being tied to a kite, which was essential for the kite to fly high was attributed to the holy bonds of matrimony.

Kite flying was more competitive that even our exams. We used to get together on our building terrace and there used to be a huge competition on who cuts other’s kites. We used to should till our voices became hoarse and till it becomes so dark that you can’t see the sky at all!

I never learnt how to fly a kite. I was always the ‘chakri’ bearer.  Even when a group of college friends started flying kites, all I could get was to hold the kite for either soaring it high above or getting to hold it for 3 minutes when the kite was high in the air. For those 3 minutes, I would be ready to run around to fetch the fallen kites, get more thread, hold the kite tight and leave it in the air so that someone can fly it higher and what not.

As if the entire day spent like vagabounds was not enough, we would take a 180 degree turn in the evening. Evenings were for visiting friends and families, dressed in best clothes and eating as much of til gul as possible. It was also an occasion to eat all sweets in plenty. Inni and my mom would make ladoos and gul poli and all the sweets and I would actually get a scolding for eating too much of sweets by the time it was evening.

While I sit at my desk and write a blog remembering old times I feel fatigued. Somewhere in the race to make a living for myself I am missing out on all these things. This feeling does not come frequently, it’s days like these, when I should technically be outside shouting on top of my voice and flying kites, meeting relatives and eating sweets till I can stuff up no more, that’s the time I realize that I am not going anywhere. I am at my desk. Trying to work, imagining all my friends who are flying kites. Yet, I know, none of my friends are out there. They are all inside, making an honest day’s living, no sweating in the heat, no sore throats, no red eyes and no frolicking around.

We are what we chose to be and I chose to sit in the office and dream about the sky filled with kites outside!  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Everything at once


Things I wish to do today...

As sly as a fox, as strong as an ox
As fast as a hare, as brave as a bear
As free as a bird, as neat as a word
As quiet as a mouse, as big as a house

All I wanna be, all I wanna be, oh
All I wanna be is everything

As mean as a wolf, as sharp as a tooth
As deep as a bite, as dark as the night
As sweet as a song, as right as a wrong
As long as a road, as ugly as a toad

As pretty as a picture hanging from a fixture
Strong like a family, strong as I wanna be
Bright as day, as light as play
As hard as nails, as grand as a whale

All I wanna be oh, all I wanna be, oh
All I wanna be is everything
Everything at once
Everything at once, oh
Everything at once

As warm as the sun, as silly as fun
As cool as a tree, as scary as the sea
As hot as fire, cold as ice
Sweet as sugar and everything nice

As old as time, as straight as a line
As royal as a queen, as buzzed as a bee
As stealth as a tiger, smooth as a glider
Pure as a melody, pure as I wanna be

All I wanna be oh, all I wanna be, oh
All I wanna be is everything
Everything at once!


What lessons will I teach my son ~ a thought over what's going on in my world

There are a lot of debates over the recent Delhi rape case. Some blame the police, some blame the government, some blame the girl, and some blame our films, our culture, and our society. I am tired of the blame game. It's time for some serious action. We are all a bunch of professionals, yes, even a bus driver is a professional. We should have an action plan now.

I have an action plan of things that I will teach my son, and they are:
  1. Women are not objects. Neither are men. Treat everyone with the same respect.
  2. Women and Men are not equal. You cannot compare oranges and spinach. Each has it's own reason for existence. 
  3. There is no work which is meant to be done by only men or only women. If you think cooking is a woman's job, you haven't heard of Sanjeev Kapoor. If you think being delicate and graceful is a woman's forte, you haven't seen Kelucharan Mahapatra dance. If you think running a country is a man's job, you have never lived under Indira Gandhi's reign. If you think women can't fight for the country, you haven't been at the receiving end of the women's fight over the water pump. 
  4. Being educated does not mean you ignore the ills in the society. You are to be blamed if you simply watch women being troubled. 
  5. Being physically weak does not mean women can't hurt you more. Read the news where a women castrates her abusive husband and you will understand. 
  6. It's one thing to like a girl and propose her. It's another to force her to accept you. While the earlier is acceptable, the latter is punishable. 
  7. Do not blame a woman for your thoughts. If a mini skirt entices you, you can always look the other way. Never tell anyone what to wear. Women don't rape men who walk in their ganjis and shorts. 

New year, new resolutions!

I love making new year resolutions. But before I begin, let me wish everyone a very happy and prosperous new year!

So, with the formality over, I am eager to share my new list of resolutions and here it comes...

My new year resolution is....no no..wait..let me think..what was that I had planned..oh! What the heck! let me read my last year's post again..http://shwetahardikar.blogspot.in/2011/12/new-year-begins-on-sunday.html

Hmm...so I had decided to do few things in the last year and I managed to complete some of them, for instance, my cupboard is cleaned, tidied and all wonderful now, without me having to pay someone to do it (now that's a real achievement folks! No kidding).
Well, I am working in my home, cooking and cleaning and wiping and swiping and stuff, so that's done!
Finances...err..umm..aah...well, I have one more year to continue working on that part.

To come back to the topic of resolutions, well, I haven't made a single resolution this year. The reason being, I always tend to focus more on the resolutions and forget to have fun. Last year I did so many new things, had so many wonderful experiences, met a lot of interesting people and hence, I have decided not to stick to resolutions.

Happy no-new-resolutions year!