Happy Birthday Ma

Happy Birthday Ma! I hope that this day brings you everything you ever wanted and keeps you happy and loved and blessed, wherever you might be right now.

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Found this treasure while going through old family albums in Shimla with Akanksha. I had so many questions to ask about this picture.. what were you thinking, who clicked it, what all did you do in Bombay, how was the camel ride, did you all have fun?? But will leave that for the day when I get a chance to do so, if that ever comes. For now, I will content myself on keeping you as close to me as I can. Can’t believe I had not put up a picture of you in my house, but when I found this one, I knew this is what I wanted to remember you as. Always. Happy, young, beautiful, and loving the feel of the water lapping at your feet.

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Chicken Kiev and All That Butter….

I must have been 9 or 10 years old when I first had a bite of Chicken Kiev and fell in love. It was an experience I never forgot and I never thought I would taste it again for a long long time, well until I reached Russia this year. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go to the beginning first.

Continue reading “Chicken Kiev and All That Butter….”

The Blog-aversary Special

May in blog-sphere is always a time to celebrate for me. Last year I began a new monthly link-up blog party with my fellow blogger buddies Pooja, and Upasna, and we have now completed a full year woohooo. And if you remember from last years first #BlogAlong post, May was also the month when I completed a year since my first blog post; so a double whammy!

So May 2016 rings in 2 years of blogging solo, and one year of #BlogAlong. So Happy Blog-aversary to me, Happy Blog-aversary to me, Happy Blog-aversary to meeeee!!

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Dancing Queen

Sunday morning.

Wake up. Walk groggily to the laundry room, put clothes on wash, rinse, repeat cycle. Get back into bed. An hour later, wake up to the sound of the washing machine politely letting you know it’s weekend duties are done and now the ball is back in your court, (or the laundry back in your basket, hehe).

Make the morning coffee, sip it while rolling up the blinds to let the morning sun in. Leave a cup for Arjun Singh while he catches up with the news. Take the clothes basket to the clothesline. Still groggy.

Uh-oh sun’s still not out. And I woke up an hour early to wash these clothes.

Friday night and the lights are low
Looking out for the place to go

na-uh, not me. The girls in the apartment next door and their radio. Can hear them laughing, singing along to the song.

Continue reading “Dancing Queen”

#BlogAlong: February 2016

With all of this ignoring the blog and admitting I have a mental block plus lazy ass there has been one silver lining: my reading has gone up tremendously.

I was on an Amitav Ghosh reading spree the last few weeks. Finished books 1 and 2 of the IBIS Trilogy and just last week I finished the Hungry Tide.

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#BlogAlong in 2016

The first post of the new year and how apt for it to be a part of my very own link up party with Pooja and Upasna, the monthly #BlogAlong.. Hoot hoot. 

The year has started off crazily hectic indeed;

The first weekend of the new year was spent diving in the Great Barrier, the next 2 weekends thereafter went in house hunting (sob sob story of being unexpectedly asked to vacate currently rented apartment), and then this last weekend went by in a mad rush of packing, cleaning, moving and unpacking into the new place (it’s just gorgeous and my head is exploding with the number of decor and DIY ideas I want to implement!)

Time does fly!

The theme this month was to plan the year ahead, as is the theme for every January, year on year, for each and every one of us. We plan, pursue, persevere, procrastinate, and then politely (or maybe sheepishly) forget it all! 

What is it with resolutions eh… Brings out the utmost dedication in us and then also brings about our inevitable descent back into our set ways..

My resolution this year, like every year was to send greeting cards to all near and dear ones for birthdays, anniversaries, and what nots. Have I sent a single one yet? Nope. Heyyy, scroll back up to know why. But then again excuses excuses excuses. 

I think I should just resolve to let this year be and bring what it may for me. Life has pretty much been kind to me, year after year (with a few glaring exceptions) but resolutions or no resolutions, every year turns out great indeed. And I end up being a whole new and sometimes improved version of myself. 

So there you go, my resolution for 2016, I officially declare that I am going to let the winds of change or the tides of tomorrow take me wherever I am meant to be. And smile more. And worry less. 
PS: 2016 is also the year I turn 30. Any other day I would be panicking and making my things before I turn 30 list. But today is the first day of the chill-pill me. So not yet. 

Tomorrow? Who knows! 
post is a part of the 3Girls and a #BlogAlong hosted by Upasna from Life on My Plate, Pooja from A Bit Of This and A Lot Of That and yours truly. We would love to know what you have planned for the coming year. This month’s theme is Resolutions 2016! Come join in on all the fun!

BlogAlong
To #BlogAlong with us, here’s what you have to do…

Write and publish a new post on the monthly topic, or share an old post you might have written around the theme.

All posts are welcome, as long as they are relevant to the current topic!

Add the #BlogAlong badge to your post (grab the badge codes from the sidebar on each of our blogs) & link back to at least one of the hosts. This helps to promote everyone’s hard work.

Follow your hosts! Join the party by clicking on the inlinkz button below, and adding your post to the blogroll.

Comment on each other’s posts and spread the love. Promote your own and fellow bloggers’ posts on Social Media using the hashtag #BlogAlong.

The link-up will remain open from the first Sunday of the month, until the end of the month…!
What are you waiting for? Make adding a post to the monthly #BlogAlong a resolution for 2016! 

Pretty please?!

2015: The Year That Was

It’s December already? Wasn’t it the start of this year just a teensy while back? I feel like a goldfish, purely because I’m trying to remember what all I got up to in the past year, and I just am unable to. It all flew by in a whiz. Pffffft.

I do know where some of my last few months went; being so caught up with work and home that the blog was ignored. But see how loyal I am to our monthly #BlogAlong, that Upasna, Pooja and I host every first Sunday of the month. It’s pretty much the one thing that I make sure I post to the blog lately. So much to share with you and so little I actually am. I am not going to jump the gun and start spouting my New Years resolutions, not just yet. However what I do want to share is my favourite memories of the year that was 2015.

This post is a part of the 3Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up, hosted by Pooja from A Bit of This and a Lot of That, Upasna from Life On My Plate, and yours truly. The theme this month is Flashback 2015

Lately, Arjun Singh and I are saving all our moolah and energy for our trip to the Great Barrier Reef for New Years Eve, so most of the weekends go by binge-watching The Walking Dead. So when I sat down to write this post and recapped some fun times, all I could picture were zombies running after me. Ugh. Not good. So flash-backed a bit more, and realised it wasn’t all zombies and lazy time. 2015 was special in so so many ways, and the following are just a few of my favourite blog posts of the last one year.

The Hobo Road Trip: 5 friends, one car, 6000 kms, and some epic memories

We drove all the way from Melbourne to the Gold Coast and back, meandering here and there, and created memories to last a lifetime. Along the way, we discovered this trippy little town Nimbin, the story of which I shared with you all a while back. What a trip. haha.

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Hooligans in HoboLand

Starting my #MarketsofMelbourne series for the blog

I love markets, and Melbourne has a gazillion of these. Ranging from farmers markets, to art and craft, to food festivals, its a crazy smorgasbord here. Just another reason for me to get up and go market-walking every other weekend, but hey it’s all for a good cause, innit. (Albeit I am behind on the posts, but too many markets, one little me: Hold on for 2016, it’s going to be market heaven here :) )

And did I mention that my blog post on the Esplanade Market, right here in St Kilda, got covered in Elle China. Woot Woot!

Elle Feature
Elle Feature: Esplanade Market, St Kild

Spectacular New Zealand

Oh New Zealand, what can I say about you that others haven’t raved about already. Until I figure out other unique ways to describe the Kiwi country experience, you all can read my post on the adorable little seal pups I visited off the coast of Kaikoura in South Island here.

Cuteness Maximus
Cuteness Maximus

The Intoxicating Barossa Valley

A vacation which consisted of wine-tasting, lazy strolls in wine-yards, and lots of me and him time. Do I need to list out any other reason at all why this made it in here? :) Yes, there is so much more to do in Barossa other than wines, and which you should definitely experience them when you are there. But the wines, oh the wines, I swear it’s like it’s literally in the air up there.

Wine Wine and More Wine
Wine Wine and More Wine

When My Recipe Got Featured On Buzzfeed

What a win! And it was a Himachali recipe of mine, to boot. It’s not like I am super creative or a hyper-perfectionist or pull out all stops with the food styling and my food photography with the blog. All I want to get right is the detail and the colors. And then one day I wake up to tons of traffic on the blog, directed from Buzzfeed, and you just smile to yourself, knowing yes, that’s a Win for today!

This got Buzzed
This got Buzzed

The #BlogAlong

2015 is also special because this is the year I started my blog link up party with two absolutely delightful blogger gal-pals and we LOVE it. Every month, we get alarm-clocked by the enthu-cutlet (you know we heart you Pooja), and then we put on our blogger hats and come up with our topics for that month. It’s pretty much an endless discussion on food, and travel, and then some more food. The way to our hearts is ALSO through our gluttonous stomachs. And eyes.

We hope you are enjoying the #BlogAlong as much as we are. This is as much your link up party as it is ours, and we want you to tell us if you have any exciting ideas for us to #BlogAlong about in 2016.

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Phew. I did manage to get up to a lot this year. No wonder I am so tired. Haha. The last month of this year and I are going to continue to make some wonderful memories, and ring in 2016 with its wonderful delights. Am glad I had a chance to recap some of my favorite blogging memories with you all, and I cannot wait to read a round up of yours.

 

This post is a part of the 3Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up, hosted by Pooja from A Bit of This and a Lot of That, Upasna from Life On My Plate, and yours truly.

The theme this month is Flashback 2015, and you’re all invited to the party!

BlogAlong

It’s YOUR turn now. Your best memories, lessons & learnings, musings & deliberations; #BlogAlong with us & tell us what stood out for you this past year!

To #BlogAlong with us, here’s what you have to do:

  • Write and publish a new post on the monthly topic, or share an old post you might have written around the theme. All posts are welcome, as long as they are relevant to the current topic!
  • Add the #BlogAlong badge to your post (grab the badge codes from the sidebar on each of our blogs) & link back to at least one of the hosts. This helps to promote everyone’s hard work.
  • Follow your hosts!
  • Join the party by clicking on the inlinkz button below, and adding your post to the blogroll.
  • Comment on each other’s posts and spread the love.
  • Promote your own and fellow bloggers’ posts on Social Media using the hashtag #BlogAlong.

The link-up will remain open from the first Sunday of the month, until the end of the month…!

 

Sisterhood Of The World Bloggers Award

“Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award recognizes the unique voices of women bloggers around the world.”

 

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My first blogger award! yayiie! And boy, it feels good. So good!

I used to keep seeing others around me get the Liebsters, the Sunshine awards etc and I knew I was missing out on all that fun. Primarily because if I am being honest, I wasn’t very regular in my blog posts (I still am not, but I am trying to improve haha). And also, because I wasn’t making much of an effort to know more about other wonderful bloggers out there who are travelling the world, sharing their stories, sharing family recipes, forming new friendships. But the moment you take that extra step, they welcome you right in. And that’s what is incredible about this community and these forums.

These wonderful bloggers and their stories make me realise that I am not alone in a far away land, away from best friends and family. Thanks to this sisterhood we are all a part of. And I won’t have it any other way.

And an even bigger thanks to Lyn for welcoming me right in by sharing the Sisterhood Of The World Bloggers Award with me. I heart you Lyn.. and your super blog. It’s such a fun read, eevry single post of yours…You’ re my Oz neighbour too :D

After looking into the rules I must acknowledge the blogger that nominated me, answer her 10 questions, nominate 10 worthy bloggers and ask them 10 questions. I accept the conditions, so read on.

  • What is the most memorable food you have had while travelling?

Food is always such a highlight for me in my trips. I don’t think I have bad memories of food at all. But one of the most memorable food memories for me was this incredibly soft, and fresh blueberry scone I had in Lake District, when my friends and I were on our way to Edinburgh. I wasn’t particularly hungry but these guys wanted to have breakfast. We stopped at this lakeside cafe, and ordered food. I ordered the cafes famous homemade scone with freshly whipped cream, not expecting what I got.

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I took a bite and I was in heaven. It was soft, just the right amount of sweet, and that combination of fresh cream and juicy blueberries. When I did the trip with Arjun Singh, a year later, I actually took him back to this cafe just so he could partake in my food-orgasmic memory too. ;)

  • If for some reason you couldn’t return home and could no longer travel, where would you settle?

Italy, methinks. They love food, I love food. The weather is Mediterranean. I think I would settle down very comfortably in Italy. Under the Tuscan sun, perhaps? :)

  • Where is the one place on your bucket list that everyone asks why you want to go there?

This is tough because I don’t have a travel bucket list yet, but the one place I probably am questioned about is Valley of Flowers, in India. It’s supposed to be a treacherous trek, at the end of which you are rewarded by beautiful panaromic views of alpine vegetation and flowers. I am not highly athletic and just the fact that I want to do this trek and trip so bad makes people wonder why do I want to do that.

  • Have you met anyone famous while travelling?

Oh YES. This has to be one of my epic memories while travelling. Infact, Pooja and I were in Hyde Park in London sigh, and I was on the phone with Arjun Singh, when this super pretty girl ran past me, and I said to him, I think Katrina Kaif just ran past me. He did not believe me, but I turned around and there she was playing cricket with a bunch of her chums. And then a few minutes later, Shah Rukh Khan turned up. Pooja and I went crazy and literally staked out there for the next hour, after which their bodyguards had promised us that they would pose for pictures once play time was over. We nerded out completely but it was so worth it.

shah rukh

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  • What is the most risky thing you have done while travelling?

Hehe. Tons. But the one that I will share with you all is this story. I was working in the UK and had a work permit. And  I really wanted to visit Ireland on the Easter break weekend. With my work permit I could travel anywhere in the Uk and Northern Ireland, but not Ireland, for which I needed a tourist visa. However, it was a week to go and I hadn’t gotten the tourist visa. But then someone told me that that they had taken the ferry from Liverpool to Dublin, on their way to Belfast. So you could spend a day in Ireland in transit on your work visa but would have to travel onwards the same day.

Well, I took that to the next level. I took the ferry, yes. Reached Dublin in the wee hours of the morning. Passport was checked yes. No one said anything. In fact the officials at the ferry station saw my visa and asked me if I was a student. hehe. I told them I was on my way to Belfast from here. And they believed me. And then I stayed 3 nights in Dublin!. The first day I was petrified that someone would know I am not supposed to be here and ask me to leave. But the Irish wouldn’t do that, nahhh, they are too nice. They know when someone is there for a genuinely good reason.

I wanted my Guinness and I got me some. And no one was caught or deported. Phew.

  • Where do you want to travel to the most?

Himachal Pradesh, my hometown. It’s a dream for me to do a backpacking trip across my home state in India, meeting the people there. Visiting their homes. Collecting recipes. Making jam from the fresh fruit. Spending a winter there. Spending a summer there. Maybe settling there? Who knows.

  • What is the best advice you can give a new blogger?

Write for yourself. Don’t write to increase the hit counter, or increase followers. Write about what you believe in, what you love, what delights you. And trust me, the appreciation follows. Because people know a good story when they read one.

  • What is your most read blog?

My own. haha. No, I am not kidding. I keep revisiting my blog posts because I am super critical about my own posts. and super narcissistic too.  But apart from that, definitely Life On My PlateA Bit Of This And a Lot of That, and Slightly Astray.

  • When you are not travelling and blogging you are… ?

Doing things that I would forego in a heartbeat for more travel and blogging. Just kidding. Maybe not. I have a full time job as a consultant and it pays the bills and the travel tickets so wouldn’t really want to forego that now. Or would we ;)

  • Is there anything you collect from your travels?

I collect tons of stuff. I am one of those shopaholic travelers for whom yes, the experience of visiting a new land is magnificient but then I want to remember it furthermore by buying things from there. When I was younger it used to be postcards. And now, I have added shot glasses as a must from my travels. There is a bunch of them with me here, a bunch lying back in India. I miss them all.

 

Now time for me to share this award with 10 increeible bloggers out there. My list is as follows,

  1. Pooja, A Bit Of This And a Lot of That
  2. Upasna, Life on my Plate
  3. Bharti, Suitcase of Stories
  4. Anna, Slightly Astray
  5. Laia, Colibrist
  6.  Mabel Kwong
  7. Andrea, Cooking With A Wallflower
  8. Nandini, Goanwiki
  9. Rachel Mankowitz
  10. Edlyn, Egeedee
  11. This one is not needed, but just right back at you, Lyn, thank you SO much :)

My questions for the ten amazing women I nominated for Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.

  1. What is the most memorable food you’ve had while travelling?
  2. If for some reason you couldn’t return home and could no longer travel, where would you settle?
  3. What is the one surperpower you wish you had?
  4. Have you met anyone famous while travelling?
  5. Is there anything you collect from your travels?
  6. What is the best advice your Mom ever gave you?
  7. What is a recipe you wouldn’t part with.. ever?
  8. What is your greatest fear?
  9. What is the inspiration behind your blogs name?
  10. When you are not travelling and blogging you are… ?

Hats off to all the nominees. Each of you have been chosen because of the unique individualities in your blog style and photography that makes each of you wordsmiths and inspirational bloggers. The reason I keep visiting your blog is beacuse it’s honest and that reflects in every blog post.

I appreciate you are all busy and may choose not to accept the award, and that is ok. I just want to thank each of you for taking time away from your blog to assist with a like, a comment, a retweet, hosting or participating in a Link Up

 

If you liked this post, please share or like via the buttons below or if you have something to say please leave a comment.

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How Dogs Love Us

How Dogs Love Us

I am a dog person. Always have been, and will be so for the rest of my life. And I love big dogs; the bigger they are, the more I get to hug and cuddle with. Although to be honest, I am also fond of Dachshunds, having had one for 12 years, they have a special place in my life as the best winter warmers, for my cold feet.

Growing up, I always had dogs around me. My grandparents loved dogs, my mom loved dogs (that’s where my brother and I definitely get it). Our dogs were family, never show-ponies for the world. I miss all my darlings. I remember calling up my dad from the UK, and telling him ofcourse I miss him, but I missed Fido (my doberman) and Caesar ( my dachshund) even more because I couldn’t talk them.

Right now, we have a Great Dane, Mufasa. My brother is going to contest the we here because Mufasa is his dog, and I know it. (You should see how Mufasas eyes follow Anuj around the house, it’s adorable). But from his puppy-dom to the first 6 months of his life, I mothered that cutie. So for me, it’s a we-dog. I am his mommy, nuff said.

But I am far away in Melbourne, and my brother and Mufasa are all the way back in India. And try as I might, I have been unable to get a dog here. Tried applying for foster care, volunteer work, but to no avail. Just going to go plonk myself in the RSPCA office and wait out my watch.

So anyhow, to curb the dog craving in my life, I started reading a lot of books about my favourite animal. Mostly written by animal behaviorists, these books talk about why our dogs behave the way they do, how they observe us, what can we do to improve communications with them, and the behaviorists also share anecdotes from their personal and professional lives. For a dog-affection starved me, it’s like manna, like a drug that I get a pooch-high from.

How Dogs Love Us

How Our Dogs Love Us is written by Gregory Berns (MD, PhD), who like all of us crazy dog lovers would constantly wonder what our dogs are thinking. All of us think we know what our dogs are saying, but these are surmised guesses at best, not scientific rationale or deductions. Nothing wrong in that too. But so much of the dog-human interaction could be improved if we just approached behavioural problems with logical reasoning, and not just on the basis of give treat, dog will sit.

The question that Berns asked, that most resounded with me, was when he wondered if his dogs loved him the way he loved them. If someone asked me if Pixie (my gorgeous lady Doberman who passed away in 1994) loved me, I would answer with a thumping yes. But if they asked me how much did she love me in comparison to how much did she love mom (the one who fed her), and dad (the one who walked her), I wouldn’t be able to tell you confidently. Of course she loved me more than she cared for the next door neighbour, but in our family, I might not have been her top-dog :)

So you know how Berns attempted to answer these and many other questions? He decided to do MRI scans on willing and participating dogs and owners, starting with his own pet Callie. As a research scientist in Emory University at Atlanta, he was backed by his brilliant team (most of them were dog-people). None of the sick and abusive treatment of animals under his watch, he wanted to treat the dogs with the utmost respect, and provided them with time and the right training.

You should read the book to learn more about the trials, tribulations and the hilarity of getting the dogs into the scanner. Its so insightful and enriching. The more I read it, the more I realised that we confuse our dogs more with our sub-conscious behaviour than how much we actually teach them. And our dogs are not always incentivised to do something for us just because we feed them.

But my favourite part of the book?

You know that question, as proprietorial as it sounds, of Does my dog know I am family, and someone else is just a friend/acquaintance? Does Mufasa still remember me, even though I am so far away from him? You know they do, but getting a scientific validation is just heartbreakingly delightful.

Gregory Berns had the same idea for one of his experiments, and he ran 3 categories of scents past Callie: self, family, and st,ranger in dogs and people both. Sure enough, when the scent swabs of family (dog and human) was passed to Callie, the caudate area in her brain (where the pleasure centres get activated) lit up like crazy, plus her brain cells worked less harder to track or identify their scents, coz she knew them, and had filed them already. With the stranger scent, she worked harder to store them in her brain, plus no caudate activity.

I cried a bit when I read it. I don’t know why. Call it emotional gratification, maybe.

I heart dogs. 

To know more about Gregory Berns, you can visit his website at http://www.gregoryberns.com

To know more about his book, you can click here