Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Off on vacation...

So finally my vacation plans have materialized and we're off on our 10 day trip to Europe tomorrow. After a lot of contemplation, we finally decided on Netherlands, Belgium and Czech Republic as our randomly chosen destinations. I picked them pretty much on a whim. I hope they turn out to be as beautiful as I imagine them to be.

Given the amount of time I've been planning this vacation, one would've imagined (like my good friend T) that I'd have bought a whole bunch of new dresses for romantic dinners and cruises, packed two large suitcases and checked and double-checked a complete list of things to take along, not to mention, day-to-day itineraries of things to see/do. Wrong. I'm one of these people who will experience almost physical pain on even trying to be organized. Everything must wait till the last day. As a result, no new dresses were bought, and as for the itinerary, I never really got past day 2 for some reason...

As if I wasn't already aware of the packing situation, I decided, on a whim today, to get a haircut. A haircut and some harried shopping for sunglasses later, it was 8 pm already (As for the cut itself, I'm happy I'm so busy I dont have time to think about it). At this point, I realize that it may be too late to start shopping for clothes, so I settled for the next best thing - freshly laundered clothes. So I scramble about to find change for the laundry, put a whole bundle of clothes into the washer and we just about finished shoving these into our suitcases. All this while cooking ourselves dinner, settling rent and other bills, and doing the dishes.

I guess, after all a passport and a credit card is really all you need for a vacation, isnt it?. Off we go..

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shrek and Hanuman

I just got back from a visit to the Hindu temple in Bridgewater, NJ. While I often wonder about how I would explain Indian/Hindu cultural and religious aspects to my children, whenever they are born and should we choose to raise them in the US, the past two visits to the temple have certainly given me a glimpse of what it would be like. 

During our last visit to the temple, I couldnt help but overhear an Indian mom desperately trying to explain the concept of Lord Hanuman to her children by drawing a parallel to Shrek. And today, we saw another trying to coax her kid into ordering a dosa as chicken nuggets (clearly his favorite) wouldn't be available in a Hindu temple canteen, that keeping in line with Hindu beliefs (and obvious to some of us) serves only vegetarian food. While I did feel somewhat amused at these incidents, I couldnt help sympathizing with these parents trying hard to explain these concepts to their america-born-and-raised kids.

While most Indian parents of our generation aren't exactly experts in Hindu mythology, and it may not be a stretch to assume that they do not sit their children down everyday to recite the Ramayana either, those who live in India can get away with relying entirely on their surroundings to offer this information to their children. For example, there was a huge Hanuman statue that we passed on our way to school everyday. Even if I had chosen to ignore the stories my grandparents told me about Hanuman, or Ramayana on television, just plain curiousity would've prompted me to ask questions and find out who exactly Hanuman is and why he looks the way he does. Not to mention, the numerous festivals, books, television shows and just the idols that you see in very house and every little store in India would've helped in this regard. While this is no revelation, I'm beginning to see the difficulty in inculcating certain social and religious ideals in one's children in a social set-up that offers no help in this regard...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Stress Puppy

These last few months have been stressful at work, today in particular, and that reminded me of the term Stress Puppy. I first saw this term in an email forward called Essential new words for the work-place vocabulary. It means A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny. I remember thinking back in 2006 that .. wow..that sounds an awful lot like me! This was the year I had just joined work, fresh out of college and ready to conquer the know the type. The problem was I over-worked and over-whined. Somewhere between this realization and a third viewing of the The Devil Wears Prada (you  know, the part where Nigel says - "You know it's time for a promotion when your entire life falls apart"), I decided to take charge of my life and not let work consume me (I continue to whine, nevertheless).

Anyways, I revisited that email today and here are a few of my favorite expressions. By no means am I claiming credit for this wonderful work (thanks SCRG for the forward!), and kudos to the creative minds that came up with these.

A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to die.

Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.

Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.

Boy, I definitely had a Salmon Day today...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Salt to taste...

Online recipes are a true blessing for people like me, who peek into the fridge on waking up late on a Saturday morning, only to find that they're out of frozen waffles and their only alternative is to put together a lunch using peppers, lemons, rice and a fabulous internet connection.

Last week, I got my reality check when I decided to shun the internet (very, very temporarily) and concoct something on my own. Having found avocado and mango in the fridge, I tried to make a mango-avocado dip. I pureed the two and added some Cayenne to it and ... decided never to try it again. (Although, I did save some of the pureed avocado and it made for a fantastic face-mask later that day. Also, for those who enjoy the challenge of putting together a dish from the most unlikely ingredients, may I suggest 'Chopped' on Food Network, Tuesdays 10 pm EST. One could learn a thing or two from that show..)

Now, I really admire all the food-bloggers out there who take the pains to share elaborate recipes with the rest of the world, complete with pictures, and down to the last detail in terms of how the pan must be greased and what temperate the oven must be set to. However, I can only wish that, at the end of a long list of ingredients and instructions, they didn't say 'Add salt to taste'. After painstakingly following all the instructions for a perfect dish, this is the part that leaves me utterly confused and clueless. How much is too little and how much is too much?

Now, we Indians don't take our salt lightly (pun intended). You could serve a perfectly cooked/baked/roasted dish, but if it's "missing salt", you'll see people wrinkle up their noses and tell u as much. Not having "enough salt" is just not excusable and until you've mastered the art of somehow figuring out the right amount to put in a dish, no matter who's coming home for dinner, you're not an accomplished cook. So, all you fabulous food-bloggers out there, I just wish that you would go the extra mile (or line) to tell us how much salt is to be added (just a ballpark will do), because, believe it or not, there are people who really need help in that area...