The Perfect Road Trip

The Perfect Road Trip
Runners Up Award- Ambipur Contest

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Eat Breakfast like a King


The smell of cooking that wafts through the kitchen from Guptaji’s house, who lives next door is mesmerizing! There have been occasions when my attention got diverted to an extent, that by mistake I rang the bell of their house instead of mine! Fortunately, before they opened the door, I realized my folly and quickly retraced the steps back home lest I make a complete fool of myself! Last weekend, when I was just getting ready to go out, the bell rang and there stood, Mrs and Mr Gupta.  I greeted them and ushered them inside! We talked for about an hour discussing several things when they stood up and got ready to leave.

‘Why don’t you come home for breakfast tomorrow’ Mrs Gupta asked my wife. ‘It has been a long time,’ she continued.

We could not refuse the lovely invitation and thanked them for their kindness.

Next morning, we got dressed for the occasion, and landed at their house exactly at 9AM. Mrs Gupta opened the door. She greeted us  and asked us to join them directly at the dining table which was beautifully laid out. The forks and spoons were neatly arranged on spotless white table cloth and the glassware sparkled. Radhika , their daughter came and wished us as she helped her mother in laying the table. We kept joking till the food arrived. There was fresh orange juice, a heap of choco-cornflakes, cold milk and fresh slices of papaya, peeled oranges, grapes and currants. Two big porcelain dishes arrived and were carefully laid on the table. As the lid was removed steam emanated and filled the air with an aroma which elevated the spirits! Before we could adjust our eyes two more trays arrived with steaming hot bhatura and another tray containing Khandvi( a gujrati dish). The kabuli chana garnished with coriander, sliced green chili and small chopped onions and sooji halwa with fragrance of cardamoms and lavish sprinkling of diced almonds and cashew nuts were difficult to resist. I regretted for having helped myself to fruits, rather than wait with  patience to indulge in the lavish spread that was to follow!
The tender ‘Khandvi’ decorated with grated fresh coconut, laced with chutney melted in the mouth leaving a trail of soothing satisfaction! Next I demolished the two huge bhaturas that continued to send trail of hot air till the very end with the delicious tangy flavor of  kabuli chana! The Kabuli chana that Mrs Gupta had prepared were a good match to a similar preparation of ‘Kesar da Dhaba’ in Amritsar! She sure had a of ‘Midas Touch’ to make the food taste gorgeous! The grand finale was the ‘Sooji Halwa’ and the lovely cup of freshly brewed Cardamom/ Ginger tea!

It was breakfast befitting a king and there was no place now left to eat lunch like a prince! I could only think of having the next meal like a beggar now!

So anytime an invitation from Guptaji is the time  to go on an eating binge!
 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Keep it Simple, Stupid

Most of us spend a lifetime looking for things that give us pleasure little realizing that we need not be born rich or have many possessions to feel happy. There is no dearth of things around us that can give a feeling of contentment .The god has created this universe such that each person has different parameters to gauge happiness. If I were to list the things that make me happy, it would be as follows:

1. Smile on the faces of people are perhaps the most endearing thing! A child or an old person makes my day alike when they smile. Each smile goes many a mile!

2. Smell of flowers and cold breeze which carry the fragrance are a thing that are welcome at any time , on a working day while on the way, walking along the street that has flowers and greenery or visit to a park, It  is a pleasure which is difficult to express!

3. The aroma of baking where fresh bread, cookies, or cakes are being baked is absolutely heavenly. Whether at home or passing by a bakery this is one smell which is unbeatable!

4. Eating very simple food comprising of dal, rice, chappati, and vegetable after a trip abroad is something which is always looked forward to! The joy of eating such a meal not only tingles the taste buds but also leaves me satiated.

5. Meeting old friends and reliving the memories is very satisfying and invigorating. Catching up the memories of time spent in having fun together is a pleasure!

6. Yoga and work out in the morning is a routine which I look forward to every single day no matter where I am! If I am unable to go for a workout or miss the session of yoga and short meditation, I feel that the day is not complete and I have missed something!

7. Reading is a pastime that I would love to indulge in any time when I get in between my work or at home. There is nothing more relaxing than reading a travel magazine, a literary piece or a thriller!

8. Going for long strolls whenever, I get a chance specially in the evening is not only soothing but gives me an opportunity to see the beautiful world and the people around me! To see the changes in fashion by observing young women, the old men huddled in jackets on a winter morning, small babies in prams, or young men exhibiting their biceps on a summer morning is something I do not like to miss !

9. Watching a good movie with the family which is gripping and has a good story line adds pep to the life!

10. Listening to the music, especially the old Indian and westerns hits is extremely enjoyable.

I have been a connoisseur of things that are simple and also believe in the philosophy of KISS ( Keep it Simple, Stupid) that was first advocated in the US Navy in 1960s and is widely used in design of goods and in the management of modern enterprise!(http://CokeURL.com/96jnc.)


 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

From Singapore With Love


Some people eat to live while others live to eat! This is all about those who live to eat and what better place could there be, better than Singapore. Eating with passion is a national pastime and on an average a Singaporean eats out nine to ten times a week which by statistical record would beat any place in the world. A myriad of foods can be flavored on the streets of Singapore ranging from Mexican, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Thai, and Lebanese and from every part of the world. The hawkers with delightful array of food to the upmarket restaurants are crowded with people at any time of the day. Don’t be surprised to see the serpentine queues at shops selling just the frozen yogurts like Ilao Ilao near Plaza Singapura  to ones selling Korean BBQ in CBD! It is a truly international destination for the food lovers.

Singapore boasts of one of the best cuisines that have been prepared by fusion of cultures by scores of people who have settled here from all parts of the world! ‘Fish Head Curry’ first introduced in 1950’s by an Indian, Gomez are as popular as ‘Chilli Crab’ or the local ‘Chicken Rice! They come from mild flavor liked by Europeans to tangy and spicy flavors loved by Asians! The best thing about Singapore is that while one walks along the spick and span streets enjoying the city sight -seeing delights, food is never a worry! Just walk along the River Valley Road to Clark Quay and Robertson Quay and you would be surprised to find some of the strangest dishes like Bak Kut Teh a Pork Bone Tea which is very popular and considered to be an energy drink! Equally popular is 'Laksa' - vermicelli and curry of coconut milk, spices and prawns! ’ Satay’ prepared by different kinds of meat and tofu on skewers  grilled over the low heat of charcoal marinated with tangy herbs and spices and dressed in peanut sauce is a hot favorite!

'Nasi Padang' a Malay and Indonesian spicy dish is loved by Singaporeans and are sold in every part of the city from Jurong to Tampines. It is listed as one of the forty dishes without which Singaporeans cannot live without. Hokkien Mee, another Malay and Singaporean fusion food preparation of prawn, noodles, and eggs prepared in huge woks is a very popular street food. The way the locals prepare it by tossing the food in woks is almost an art!
In Singapore one can get stuffed Parata, Naan, Chicken curry or even Idli and Dosa better than one can ever imagine. The dessert choices range from Pandan and Durian chiffon cakes, to the best of puddings, ice creams, and baked products.

 'Killiney Kopitam’ at Kimberly Street is a haunt recommended for Kopi(Coffee) lovers. The aroma of Robusto beans, roasted with corn, butter and sugar and a dash of condensed milk, along with a toast grilled over charcoal and a slow melting frozen butter attracts customers  like opposite poles of a magnet! ‘Kopi and Kaya’ toast is worth dying for! There are flavors of sweet Kaya available too!

Singaporeans take pride in the food that they eat! They prefer local cuisines,Hawker food is far more popular than any other option. The love for technology and food in Singapore is unmatched elsewhere. The stalls at Woodgrove Food Centre to fine dining at Raffles Hotel offer  a range  that will spoil any tourist or the local alike! According to celebrity American cook and TV host of CNN , Anthony Bourdain
Nobody in Singapore drinks Singapore Slings. It's one of the first things you find out there. What you do in Singapore is eat. It's a really food-crazy culture, where all of this great food is available in a kind of hawker-stand environment.

 PS : 1.This post is my entry for Indiblogger/ Takeaway Level: Singapore sponsored contest http://discover.stayfareast.com/

2. Image kind courtesy Memegenerator .net
 


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish


The get together at the house of my aunt who had a huge house and an equally big heart were always memorable for us right from our childhood times! Each occasion was looked forward to , as it would give us an opportunity to indulge in lots of eating , playing cricket matches in the abandoned historical site across the road and later watching the movies on the TV. Be it a birthday, a festival or any occasion we would never give a miss to the invitations that came.  Time passed as we grew up and eventually parted for pursuing our own lives. We would catch up during vacations and share jokes, laughter and have fun!

A few years back, she returned from United States where all the cousins had migrated many years ago and now had their own grown up children. It was decided that we would meet during ‘Goverdhan Puja’ which falls just a day after the Diwali! It was decided that everyone would prepare a few dishes and then reach their place by 12 O clock to be together at ’Puja time’.

When we reached their place my uncle, aunts, their children, grandchildren and four generations were there. In all there were more than 70 people at home. Some had traveled long distances just to be there. The house reverberated with laughter and when the time for ‘Puja and Aarti’ came the ‘prasad’ ( food offered to god) comprised of more than sixty dishes ranging from all kinds of lentils, vegetables, sweets and savories all prepared at home! The aroma filled the air with all kinds of delicacies and the spread was very tempting.  We offered the prayers together and to see everyone participating with enthusiasm and vigor gave a feeling of true bonding and togetherness which had not diminished with the number of years that had passed. Our children were indulging in the games that we had indulged when we were young. Our uncle and aunts sat huddled together and played the game of cards just the same way that we had seen as small kids. On that day it appeared that the time had stood still. Small toddlers shrieked and created ruckus while the teens were busy discussing their aspirations and plans. The cousins who had returned from States had not changed a wee bit except for strands of greying hair. The purity of relationships had withstood the test of time and we remembered the pranks we used to play as kids. I remember when I was a small kid someone had asked me how many brothers and sisters were we? I had replied ‘almost a dozen and started telling the names’ . His eyes widened in disbelief and later he realized that all my extended family had been included in my count. Such was the innocence that would be looked upon as foolishness in today’s world! This was my world filled with love and optimism of ‘Stay Hungry and Stay Foolish’ the words uttered by Steve Jobs in his famous speech! (https://housing.com/)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Turning Point


My superior a Rear Admiral looked through his reading glasses and stared at me with the raised eyebrows. It was quite unnerving as this was one moment for which I had mentally rehearsed. At the spur of the moment  I was trying to gather my wits sitting on a chair opposite to him, in his spacious room.

‘Well what is wrong, why do you want to leave the Navy’ he queried.

My appointment had been fixed with him the previous day, by my Director with whom I was serving at the Headquarters for almost three years.

‘Sir,  I have enjoyed my work  immensely but am now am looking for a change ‘ I replied. ‘ I wish to explore the outside world' I continued’. After having a discussion  which lasted almost half an hour explaining the virtues of continuing as the future was bright, he gave in and finally told me, ‘Ok, find a job and let me know’!

I had been contemplating a change in career but to leave a well -paying job with security, and honor of having served the country, was not an easy decision.  I was the only earning member at home and calling it quits at this stage with host of responsibilities made it even more difficult.

Next three months went in floating my CV to various companies; I kept waiting for the dame luck to smile at me. Sometimes, I was almost there but then the trail died down. There were moments of frustration as the time kept ticking away, but I never lost hope. One day, I was called for an interview with an MNC and then got another call after a month, with the VP visiting fom Israel. It lasted for forty five minutes and the most assuring words told by them which I can never forget is, ‘We will wait till you get released from the Navy’!

The procedure for quitting was set into motion but as I was in the zone of promotion, it was a very tough going. Eventually, with the support coming from my superiors I got the approval for resignation on Children’s Day ! It was a Saturday, when I hung my boots and uniform to step out in yet another brave new world. From Monday, I was in the new job and the work environment was a sea change from what I had seen in twenty odd years in the Navy! I got a chance to work with youngsters who were almost half my age and grappling with the new ways of working and in techno savvy environment was challenging, as well as, enjoyable at the same time. There has been no looking back since then and I have enjoyed every moment of life! ( https://housing.com/.)#StartANewLife
 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Giggles


I was hiding under the bed and had folded my body into as small a ball like structure as small as my stiff joints could permit. I peeped out to find the small frame of my nine month old daughter dragging herself towards the bed. She stopped for a while and then looked around not sure if she could find me. Next she picked up speed once more and with all her energy let out a squeal in delight as she found me hiding!

‘Taa’ I said looking at her while the house reverberated with her giggles as I crawled out of my hideout. Every other day, this was the routine for me to indulge in new antics to amuse my young one! One day, I would hide behind the curtains when she would desperately look for me, as I switched my positions behind the curtains to avoid detection. This would continue till she got tired! It was difficult to find new tricks each day to amuse her but every possible place in the house would serve as a hideout like the store room, the big door on the verandah, even the huge cupboard and sometimes the bedcover laid out on the bed.  It was a never ending fun and now the memories of that lovely time run like a movie in the mind. The moments of childhood times are perhaps the best time in one’s life though my firm belief is that every moment is worth living as it come!

During that time I was posted in Goa and our house overlooked the sea. Down the flight of a rocky terrain was a pristine beach which had almost no visitors, due to its location in the restricted area and inaccessibility from elsewhere except the sea route! Hours of fun playing on the beach, taking a swim while delicately holding the young one lest she slipped through my nimble fingers were moments that can never be forgotten. We would carry her change, feed, and some soft toys as any of them could be required on the need of the hour.

Those days diapers and huggies were not easily available and some foreign brands were available in some premium stores at a hefty price. So most often we would use homemade diapers stitched by the doting grandma! Each change involved meticulous cleaning and hygiene standard that my wife had laid out to ensure that baby rashes etc do not occur. Now with changing times many options are available to the young parents and companies fall head over heels in advertising their products elaborating their effectiveness and utility. ‘Pampers’ the well known brand a market leader enjoys the market leadership for the quality product that it delivers(http://www.rewardme.in/tag/Pampers.)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Rescue at Sea


I put my hand inside the cupboard to pull out the shirt and from the side a folder dropped spilling all the contents on the floor. There were some old cards, clippings of some events from the newspapers, and some old stamps! The cards were sent by relatives on occasions like my birthday and wedding anniversary. A host of memories rushed through my head as I gathered them from the floor and deposited them inside the folder.

Among other things that caught my attention was a picture of mine with my younger brothers that had been taken in Dwarka, a coastal town in Gujrat way back in the year 1978! It was an year after I had joined the Navy when I was posted in Jamnagar to undergo a technical training. The month was June when my parents and younger brothers visited me , while they were on a trip to see Western India. On a weekend we all went to Dwarka, the town famous for “Lord Krishna’s temple’. We all went to see the ancient temple and on the way back to the hotel, we decided to take a plunge in the sparkling sea!. There was no regular beach but just an expanse of sand. The blue water was very inviting! So we all quickly changed and got into the water. I was the only one who knew how to swim while my siblings did not! With great confidence we entered the water but within minutes I realized that there was quick sand on the expanse and soon the sand bed vanished and my brothers started shouting in panic as the water reached the level of our head! I desperately tried to hold the hand of one of my brother while other one held my shoulder! I struggled and tried to move towards the shore, pushing my brothers towards the shallow patch! I could see one tall dark fisherman running in my direction as the world around me turned into a dark abyss as I gasped for breath!. I could now feel the sand bed once again under my feet, and saw the fisherman pulling my brothers away from me towards the shore. The few minutes seemed to be ages since I had entered the water! All three of us were coughing out the salted sea water and looked in the direction from where our savior had come only to realize that there was no one to be seen! The whole thing appeared to be surreal but a divine help had ensured that all three of us lived to see another day!

This episode taught me an important lesson of never to venture out in unknown water for the rest of my life. It filled me with optimism that power of goodness is omnipresent and in times of distress it is just at an arm’s distance to come to our help!

The life is one roller coaster ride and hope for a better tomorrow full of promises is what one dreams of as long as one lives  (https://housing.com/lookup)