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Uncategorized

Snip snip…

Snip snip...

(Photo of a baby girl at her ‘mundan’ ceremony). This was a prompt on a lovely Facebook group that I am fortunate to be a part of. This is what I came up with (an attempt at Haiku).

‘Snip..snip.. Curly locks fall gently to the ground.
Baby girl, you have no choice!
The first of many sacrifices.’

Categories
Food and recipe

Cheese n Tomato Swirly Buns

I wake up each day, wondering what to pack in my child’s lunch-box! I prefer non-messy finger-foods, but they aren’t always filling. My Little Prince hates sandwiches, and you already know about my exceptional roti-making-skills! Therefore I often resort to jam-triangles (er, a fancy name for two slices of bread with jam spread inbetween them and cut diagonally into two halves), or rolls (again, paratha rolled like a cigar (oops) along with fresh fruits/vegetables/salad and a tiny pot of Yogurt.

So when I saw some cute little tomato buns on display at the Bakery section of a superstore, my heart skipped a beat! They looked (and tasted delicious!) and were rather filling too. Inspired by the lovely chefs I know I decided to come up with a recipe to make these on my own.

Those of you who know me, also know what a ‘fantastic’ cook I am (Hick! Please take that with a bucket of salt!). And this recipe (Ahem… my own, by the way :-)..pulls collars up!) is so utterly easy, that even a Baking-Duffer like me cannot go wrong. Seriously!

When my little prince tasted the Swirly Buns, he said ‘Mummy, these don’t look like the store ones, but they taste quite similar’ J Good enough for a first attempt, huh?

I hope you do try it!!

What I think you need to have:

1) For the bread/roll:

2.5 cups of flour, 1 cup of warm water, 1/2 spoon sugar, 1 spoon salt (I prefer my food a little less salty, but feel free to add more if you wish!), 1 tablespoon Del Monte EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). 1 tablespoon of butter (I can’t measure out xy.z gms for nuts 😉 but again, feel free to add more if you like), 3/4 spoon dry-active-yeast (I bought the yeast that you add directly to the flour, and not the one that needs preparation. So if you are using yeast that needs to be proofed, then do follow the instructions on the pack 😉

2) For the cheese n’ tomato spread/filling:

I believe life is too short to waste time making tomato sauce from scratch!!! Blanching tomatoes, peeling and grinding them.. argh..takes the pleasure out of cooking doesn’t it?! So do take the smarter way out and use good quality ready-made store-bought pasta sauce. Like Del Monte pasta sauce (You can use any of the Del Monte range, but I prefer tomato-garlic – which translates to ‘Siliciana‘), Grated cheese, a handful of Dried herbs, and if you want, a few drops of milk for  basting (you could use egg, but I chose to go completely veggie on this one). I actually found the Swirly Buns go a little soggy if you baste them. They turn out light and fluffy if you don’t baste them. Up to you of course!

What I think you should do:

As always, mix all the ‘bread’ ingredients in a bowl, knead into a soft dough and leave it covered with clingfilm for about 20 mins until it has doubled in size. Then knock down the ball of dough, and roll it out into any shape. Rectangles would be nice though. (I got 2 big size rectangles for this quantity of flour.) Now slice these into thin LONG strips. Or make one medium length strip, and slit it into two halves (length-wise) to make it one looooong roll.

Onto each strip, spread some Del Monte pasta sauce, throw in some grated cheese and dried herbs. Now roll it inwards like a circle. Once you get a cute little Swirly Bun, top it with a generous spread of pasta sauce, more grated cheese and a pinch of dried herbs again.

OPTIONAL: Brush with a drop of milk or egg-wash if you like, but certainly don’t let them get soggy! I didn’t brush/baste it, and it turned out great anyway!


Now the dear husband decided to try his hand at the Swirly Buns and made an interesting variation, of Italian Pasta + Swirly buns 🙂 He included a few bites of lovely little Tomato+Basil Tortellini  and a dash of Pesto and made this huge dinner-roll 🙂 that tasted awesome.

Cheese n Tomato Swirly Buns and in the Right-hand top corner, the pasta Swirly Buns 🙂 ready to go into the oven.

Pop these pretty little Swirly Buns into the oven (180 degrees, 20-25 mins). And voila! You have an amazing-looking-and-tasting batch of Swirly Buns!!!

Take a look at these babies!!!

And on the inside…

 

The Swirly Buns are good to eat hot or cold! Pack these rolls into your kid’s lunch box for a lip-smacking snack 🙂


They make a nice accompaniment to soups as well. Or WTH, just munch on them while wasting time on Facebook 😉 😉

I think the shelf-life should be quite good. Unfortunately, I never get to find out, as they get polished off the day I make them!!

(PS: I am sending this as an entry to the Indiblogger Del Monte contest) (https://www.facebook.com/worldfoody).

Categories
Thought and Reason Short story Incidents Awards

Long overdue – Bagful of peanuts and more

This happened a couple of months ago, and I only remembered to write about it now (thanks to my friends on an online community).

Remember the innovative ‘Blogsplash’ conducted by Fiona Robyn (author of ‘The Most Beautiful Thing’)? My contribution to the Blogsplash was a little story about a touching incident that took place on my last trip to India. I’m very glad to say that of all the entries, mine was chosen as the top entry!

I’m very happy about this, particularly because it was the gesture of one humble man that has moved people (across the globe) to tears. Please do read it. Here: https://writerzblock.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/a-bagful-of-peanuts/

God bless such simplicity and humility. Need I say more!!

Once again, thank you Fiona for conducting the event, and many thanks to the One and Only: Shail for inviting me to it. It was a learning experience.

(Comments disabled. Thank you all so much for your warmest wishes :-))

Categories
Humour Incidents

Yo Partner!

‘And they lived happily ever after…’ – I’ve spent many a summer afternoon buried in fairy tales and adventures woven in a red-coloured hardbound, rather worn-out copy of Grimms. Three decades later, I had the privilege of visiting Disneyland Paris. Who said Disneyland was for kids?? I loved every bit of it, especially the parades where Princess Jasmine, Snow White, Cinderella and the likes were dressed in all their finery. With a deluge of thrilling rides (rain too!), good food, shows and parades, the trip was a dream come true.

However whenever I think of my trip to Disneyland Paris, one particular incident, a person actually, stands out in my mind. We had exhausted two days at the Disney resort, and were at the Marne-la Vallee-Chessy station, waiting for our train to arrive, so we could make our way back to London. The savvy travellers that we were, we decided to reach early (though the station was hardly a few minutes away from the resort!) and waited. And waited. And waited some more! But our train was nowhere in sight! In the meanwhile my little son, all of 4 years, managed to trip, fall flat on his face, and cut his lips! Murphy was right, you know? We needed the first-aid kit, and guess where it was? Right at the bottom of our bags! So, while we haphazardly unpacked, dug into and re-packed bags that overflowed unimpressively with  dirty linen, we heard an announcement that the train had arrived at the platform. There began our race!

We gathered everything we could find and stuffed it back into the boxes, grabbed the wailing child and ran like hell all the way to the platform, that was (in)conveniently a long flight of stairs down! However, the gates were closed! Panicking, we looked around and found another gate at the opposite end of the crowded station. Five minutes to departure. An entire length of station to cross! So, for the second time, we ran. Ran. And ran. Voila! The second gate was closed too!

Now with less than a minute to go for the train could depart, realisation dawned upon us! We were supposed to have checked-in through the security gates way before, when the announcements were being made cleverly in French. All we knew of French was the ‘kiss’ and that a guy called Sarkozy had a really hot wife! Just kidding!! We did not know ‘any’ French (well, we knew about Sarkozy.. bah!)! By then it was too late. We watched helplessly, as the picture-perfect train chuffed out of the picture-perfect station.

Our marathon wasn’t over though. We ran back all the way to the customer service desk. Imagine, to our surprise, a Mexican guy, aged about 30, was also carrying a bag and hurrying towards to desk. He too, had missed the train, exactly like us. Yo Partner! We sighed and cribbed in unison! Then we jointly explained the situation to the customer service officer. We had missed the last train to London. We had no place to go, no other trains to catch that day! Luckily, the Mexican spoke French, and kept gesturing to our poor baby with the bleeding lip, and garnered sympathy from the officer. He was relentless, sincere and so genuine!

We were so touched by his evident concern. Here we were, fellow passengers in the face of adversity, connected simply, by an invisible thread of humanity! This is exactly where life teaches us valuable lessons. In faith, in partnership, etc. Truly, humanity knows no boundaries. Colour/race/country…nothing matters as much as brotherly concern for another person in trouble!

Pic courtesy huddle dot com

The officer was a really kind gentleman. He offered a solution! Catch the local train (that was leaving in 10 minutes from the local station that was at the other end of this international station) to Paris Nord station, and catch the last Eurostar train from there to London! Yippee!!! We all but clapped with glee!

But wait! He added something in fluent, rapid French. The Mexican listened carefully. By that time, he had stopped gesturing to the bleeding lips. He stared at the officer. And back at us. Then, back at him. He wasn’t even attempting to beg for help any more!

And without a word, he made a rapid dash towards the exit that led to the local train station!!!

Perplexed, we waited for the officer to explain. He said, slowly and clearly, ‘There are only two seats left on the last train from Paris’. And there were 3 of us adults, and one bleeding child. So THAT was why our Mexican Partner ran for his life!!!

Anyway, with no hard feelings, we dashed too. Racing pulse, swollen lips.. we were quite a sight by the time we boarded the local and reached Paris Nord station. The check-in queue was winding all the way down from the first floor! We were quite sure that by then, the kind Mexican had hitched a ride to the station and was comfortably grabbed one of the two remaining seats on the train to London! Like I said, no hard feelings! We managed to reach the staff in-charge, who were incredibly kind, and who also checked us onto the train.

In true Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge style, we RAN towards the train, tugging child and luggage, and boarded it just a second before the doors shut!!

To our utter surprise, guess who jumped in just after us? Our Mexican friend!!!!

Huffing and puffing, we made our way through the aisles, and found our seats, co-incidentally next to each other. We sank into our seats, heaving a huge sigh of relief.

Then, our friend turned towards us, flashed a huge toothy grin 🙂 and gallantly did a High-Five. ‘We did it!’, he added.

Yo Partner!! Ofcourse ‘we’ did! So much for teamwork. Remember those life-lessons I told you about.. the ones on faith, partnership..yada yada.. er, let’s just say, they were lessons best unlearnt!!

But hey, it made one hell of an interesting tale for the Indiblogger Expedia contest, didn’t it?

Categories
55-er Short story Thought and Reason

A cup of tea – a set of 55-ers – fiction

KING This post is published as an entry for the KING AND QUEEN OF 55F CONTEST – The first ever unique, challenge for the coveted title in micro fiction category. To catch the crowning moments and also be part of future editions and other contests, visit and register at Cafe GingerChai

Rules of the contest:

  • You have to write a set of three 55F.
  • The first two sets should be a story on its own.
  • The  two stories should  climax / conclude / inter-twine in the third set of 55F.
  • The story could be of any genre i.e, love, crime, mystery or thriller etc.

…………………………………………………………………………………………..


He lay sprawled in usual drunken stupor. She stared unseeingly at the tea boiling in the pan. Fifteen years of abuse flashed before her. Last night however, he had stooped too low.

‘Bloody pimp’, she swore, but smiled harshly.

She did not need him anymore! A cup of tea (and some poison, perhaps) would suffice.

…………………………………………………………………………………………….


pic courtesy: evanatasha00 dot blogspot dot com

Sunlight momentarily blinded her. She picked up her torn dupatta, wound it tightly around her bruised shoulders, and entered Amma’s kitchen.

Their eyes met. Cold, vacant, almost chilling.

The young girl lowered her gaze. Ashamed.

‘Go now. Wash yourself. Come fresh and clean, for tea’

‘Clean? I’ll never be clean again…’ hot tears rolled, unrestrained.

…………………………………………………………………………………………..


Laila scrubbed herself until her skin burned.

Beauty!’, father’s ‘friend’ had grunted as he ravaged her last night.

Amma had been livid. Until, she had seen the money.

Drink!!!

Trembling, Laila brought the scalding tea to her lips.

A bitter smile. A quick flick of the wrist.

Splash!’

The cup of tea had indeed sufficed!

Pic courtesy: Dailymail dot co dot uk

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

Categories
Incidents Short story

Old but not forgotten contests

Not just one, but two exciting contests that we held in Blogworld, one by Chatterbox and the other by Ruchi, caught the fancy of a lot of bloggers. The catch though, was that we were not allowed to reveal the ‘author’s name’ or publicise it on our respective blogs. Which, obviously ensured a very fair voting system, with wonderful results. For a change, it was posts that really deserved the prize, who won 🙂 And that is really far cry from all those blog contests that thrive only on votes.

So the first was a completely awesome ‘Complete the story’ contest by the princess of fiction – Chatterbox. Now every time we read or hear the words Will or Grace, Chatterbox comes to our mind. And so does Vimmu’s top post that was an outright winner 🙂 The Grand Finale was as interesting as the IIFA awards 😉 Btw, guys and girls, a HUGE thank you to everyone who voted for my post. Here it is: ‘Escape’ Now, Pinash said ‘Writer, who are you?’ And here I am, PNA 🙂

The second contest was an equally exciting. This was another complete the story contest titled ‘And then...’ Now Ruchi had promised exciting prizes ‘up for grabs’ and she sure kept her words. The winner actually won a Landmark voucher for Rs.1000!!! Sigh!!! If on;y I’d come first instead of second 😈 This is my entry, folks, ‘A game of shame and revenge’ – written with our one and only Kalmadi in mind 😉 and I am so thankful to everyone who has read, commented and voted for it 🙂 This contest again worked only on the basis of votes, and as expected, the truly deserving posts won 🙂 This was my most favourite post – among all the entries – and I am so glad it won 🙂

So there, people. Unfortunately, exciting contests like these do not often get the publicity they deserve. However, Chatterbox and Ruchi, please take a bow, for organizing these and giving us a lovely opportunity to have some fun 🙂

Categories
Humour Incidents MommySpeak

Friday Frolic – Take a guess

Come Friday, and here’s another challenge for you!!

For the first time ever, my brat uttered those three precious words!!! The three words that made my heart flip. Why me? It would make any woman elated!!

Just as he was getting ready for school, he stood at the door, stared at me very intently, then said……. *** *** ***

So proud of you, sonny boy!!

So folks, guess what he said!!

Comment moderation is not on, so you can guess or copy, but atleast edit before you paste 😉

Happy Weekend, everyone!! 🙂

EDITED TO ADD….

Thanks girls and boys for your charming entries…

Let’s break the day’s suspense with The Correct Answer…..

It is…

Is…

Is…

Scroll…

Scroll…

And scroll further…

..

..

..

..

..

..

..

..

‘Let’s go Shopping!!!!’

You can imagine how exhilarated I was, when I heard my brat say those words… I thanked the good Lord for blessing my boy with such good sense!!

All those years of training have not gone in vain 😉

🙂 🙂 🙂

And now, the announcement of the WINNER .

Thank you, and Congrats to EVERY participant of this (mis)contest 😉 Loved each of your entries!!! Would like to make a special mention of our dear Ritu’swant to pee‘ suggestion, that really took the cake 😉

So… without further delay….

The winner of ‘Friday Frolic – Take a Guess’ is…

The one and onlyCelestial Rays‘!!! (for her second entry)

CR – Here’s your award!! A fully sponsored coffee and cupcake at Starbucks. To redeem it, just give me a ring (er, A phone-call, is what I meant ;-)) You can redeem this any day between now and 31-Dec-2010 🙂

Cheerio folks.. have a great weekend!!!!

Categories
Health n Fitness MommySpeak Short story Thought and Reason

Past Promises, Forgotten Futures (Fiction)

*** If you happen to like my post, Pliss to Vote on Indiblogger, here: http://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=34664 *** Thanks 🙂 ***

==========================

(This is purely a work of fiction, but I believe this is what most women go through at some point in life! Some survive it, while many don’t get to ever live their dreams. I hope this post will act as a catalyst to those who fall in the latter category.)

Cngrts!’ – the phone beeped with this simple message. She stared at it, rather uncertainly. Who was this from? What were the ‘congratulations‘ for? Try as she might, she could not recall anything specific worth ‘celebrating’.

Anjali looked around her apartment… ragged grey sofa, cushions encased in faded Rajasthani mirrored covers – received six years ago as a wedding present, cream flowered curtains that had turned a unique mixture of brown and grey, over the years, toys scattered all over the floor, the kitchen sink overflowing with dirty utensils. She was not poor. Only chaotic.

It was all she could do, to not cry when she looked into the mirror. She looked a tired, balding mum struggling in her fourties. Interestingly, Anjali had turned just turned thirty. That very day, infact!

Voices from the past echoed within the walls of her mind.

‘Congrats, Anjie babe, well done!!’

‘Hey Anj, awesome.. you’ll come out with flying colours…’

‘Anjali, we are so proud of you, dear!’

Best friends, classmates, parents… they were all congratulating her on her graduation day. She had topped the MCA batch, and had the best job on campus, as Project manager in a reputed IT organization. She was to even wed the next month.

Her thoughts went fleeting past from that day of euphoria, to a year ago.

A stressed husband, two active children who drained her of every ounce of energy. Her career was now a thing of the past. Life revolved around baby-feeds, changing dirty nappies, making visits to the doctor, and arranging playdates. The only friends she had were other ‘mommies’.

‘This is it, Abhi. I cannot take any more!’ – Anjali cried reproachingly.

‘But you wanted all of this, didn’t you?’ Anjali crashed some crockery into the sink, in response.

She was tired. Completely dependent, financially. Diffident, and terribly overweight. She had even started to stutter while talking these days, and didn’t understand why. She had been so eloquent earlier. At times, she even hated herself.

‘I will change my life around. Wait and watch!’ she promised to herself. And to Abhi. He merely shrugged, ‘What’s for dinner, honey?!’

A look of steely determination flashed across Anjali’s eyes. She quickly ran to her bedroom before the moment could pass, took out her mobile phone, and feverishly typed out an SMS. Once done, she wiped away her tears, and went back to serve her family dinner.

The  phone beeped again, jolting Anjali back to the present.

Cngrts on yr new job!! Cngrts on losing wt! – Anjali’

She peered at herself in the mirror. Shabby. Unkempt. She glanced around her apartment. Ditto!

She was supposed to have hired a nanny. She was to have searched for and found employment. She was to have hit the Gym. All this, over the last year. However, none of this had materialised. Mundane chores had got the better of her, and she had lost sight of her own goals.

As she looked closely at herself, reality hit her. And hit hard. She had lost sight of the beautiful future she could have had, if only she had kept that vital promise to her past.

Anjali slowly pulled out her phone, and dialled a number. And then, two more, in quick succession. The first was an employment agency. Then, her old nanny. And finally, the local Gym that had been hounding all the residents with glossy brochures featuring ‘super-(wo)men’ 😉 with six pack abs!!

She washed her face, combed her hair and got down to revamping her resume.

It was time again, to make a new promise. One she would keep. She took out her Docomo One Touch Net phone, and typed out a new message.

‘Congrats Babes, This time, you Really did it. Love ya! – Anj’

She set the timer to a date twelve months from then. Yes, she would receive her own timed-SMS a year down the line. This time, she would re-arrange her Life – the way she wanted it!

——————-

Folks, this is an entry (fiction) for the Indiblogger ‘Tata DOCOMO OneTouch Net Phone’ contest, which explains why I used the name so frequently in the post 😉 They boast of a feature called ‘timed sms’ which to me, sounded exciting. I assumed one could send an SMS scheduled for some date/time in the future, and wrote this story based on the assumption.

Voting begins tomorrow, so If you liked this post, please do vote!!

——————————–

To read more fiction, please click this link.

Lazy readers like me, please click this link to 55-word fiction 🙂

Categories
Incidents

Finish and Win Contest by Chatterbox

If you haven’t heard before, you’re missing out on something really interesting 🙂 Please hop over to Chatterbox’s very cool ‘Finish to win’ contest. Vote for whichever entry you liked most!! (Fingers crossed for it to be mine 😉 )

The Dialogue

Categories
Incidents

BPL – We won!

And… WE DID IT!! We won the first ever Bloggers Premier League 🙂 by Cafe Ginger Chai dot Com. The Tigers roared all the way through, and swept most of the awards too 🙂 When Cafe Ginger chai announced BPL, I was very excited!! It was an innovative concept,something nobody had tried earlier. And considering the number of players (6 groups of 8 players each), and the fact that this contest would run into a couple of weeks.. fortnights even, it seemed to be quite a challenge!!

Neha and Kanagu have already blogged about our Journey in BPL.. and I would just like to add this… When Cafe Ginger Chai and LakshmiRajan announced the Teams, I was so sceptical, because I did not know anybody!! But I knew, for sure, that team performance would be so much better if we already had great team dynamics in place.

Fortunately, for us, Neha and I hit it off on Day 1, and we chatted on FB like long lost friends 🙂 She was my pillar of support, friend, guide.. and source of encouragement all through the League. And ofcourse, like I mentioned earlier on her blog, she is a chatterbox, leader, busy little girl – all rolled into one – I called her my favourite ‘Hitler’ 🙂 And to think that I subsequently wrote on Hitler in one of the rounds and topped that category 😉 (so much for modesty..phew!!)

At first, GC announced a WARM-UP round, to introduce ourselves. This was perhaps, the best thing they did 🙂 It gave us all a fair chance to get to know our writing skills and interests. Which was very important for a ‘team’ to perform ‘together’. Neha and I were chatting (again) on FB, and we decided to go ahead with the Limericks format, because Neha had already done some work in that genre, and I found it very interesting too. The rest of the team took to this idea so readily, and in no time, we had an awesome set of limericks to present!!

It was at this stage, that 2 out of 8 members disappeared 🙂 And therein was a grand entrance made by Kanagu 😉

Now we had this super-duper-writer who calls himself IdliVadaSambar 😉 and his email Id has a ‘king’ in it, so he became our defactor  King Sudhakar:-) I had never read his work earlier, but this 55-er took my breath away 🙂 and I just KNEW that he was a hell of a player in BPL 🙂 Infact EVERY post by Sudhi was a stunner in its own right, and I am so glad he was adjudged Best Male Player of the entire tournament. He completely deserved it!!!

We had this particular round, where the teams had to come up with a Magazine name, and Sudhi stunned us by designing an entire Magazine itself!!! Infact, it was so fantastic, that somebody even contacted Saurabh, to ask if he could write for our next edition!!!

To complement King, we had a Himalayan-returned Debs, who charged into action with a whopper of a post. Again, it was her little 55-er that gave me clear indication of what a fantastic performer she would be in the rounds to come 🙂 True to it, she won almost every time she wrote something!! Proud of you, Debs!

Infact one of her posts in the tournament was so exceptional, that in a fit of frenzy, I vowed that I would give up blogging, if her post did not win. Luckily, she won 😉 😉

Kanagu – as you all know – is this simple, sweet guy. Pretends to work at office, but is mostly blogging away. What I like most about him is that he is so unassuming, so humble, that he simply takes on ANY topic assigned to him or left out after everyone else had chosen. He’s such a no-fuss guy, and we could always count on him, to write some strong analytical stuff on even the most boring topic. I especially liked his post on Education – totally rocking!!

Arpita – Unfortunately, I haven’t read much of her work, and since I am miles away from Poetry as a genre, I cannot comment much on her work. Though, she was a very sweet and encouraging Teammie 🙂 She was always there with kind words for me and the rest of the team, and with suggestions and comments 🙂

Rashmi – Again, sweet little kid. At the times she wasn’t writing exams, she was working really hard at blogging, creating interesting posts like her Aliens Report. Always ready to take feedback from the rest of the team, this little girl was a pleasure to have around.

Saurabh – How could I forget my favourite hip hop guy!! I call him that, because that’s what his email ID sounds like 🙂 He would churn out hilarious posts, though I really wish his ‘Maa’ interview had won – it was outstanding 🙂 And I remember one comment of his, on this post of mine ‘Princess of the Dark’ –  when he said he was happy to have lived to read my post 🙂 I was utterly humbled and touched *tears in my eyes*

So thank you, LakshmiRajan, Mani Padma and Cafe Ginger Chai team. Thank you, AWESOME PANEL OF JUDGES, for giving us this super duper opportunity to get to read a bunch of utterly talented bloggers.

And ofcourse, for having ajudged us THE WINNERS OF THE BLOGGERS PREMIER LEAGUE 🙂 HURRAY! ROARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR……