Saturday, 25 April 2009

Healthy (hopefully), wealthy (nope) and wise (not at all!)



I made a healthy breakfast for Ro and myself on Thursday morn. In case you are wondering how i woke up so early, its because there was some fire emergency and about three engines made their way through to our place with their sirens on. I could hear them from so far away and they stopped right below our window. Now, everyone loves a drama. So i forced myself out with the hope of catching some hunky fire men. Unfortunately they were all pretty old and they looked pissed off. The emergency was not really an emergency and they were off by the time i managed to get Ro out of his bath to take a look. They turned off all the hot water after after that. Don't know why though.
Anyways, I  made scrambled egg with cheese, chive and dill on a wheat bread and a slice of bacon (Ro begged for two..there goes the eating healthy bit). It was the first time i was experimenting with dill and chive and it might be a bit of a challenge to get used to the flavours. Its an acquired taste i guess. I liked it, Ro said he'd need to try it out a few more times to make a decision (yes, his life is always this complicated). The cheese was low fat and the bacon was back bacon with the fat trimmed. The milk used in the scrambled egg was supposed to be skimmed or semi-skimmed but I used whole milk. Very little goes in so it shouldn't be a problem. Ro prayed a fire engine would appear every morning so i would wake up and make him breakfast. He said he'd download a siren sound on the comp and play it every morn. High hopes on that one. 
Lunch was outside with a friend so i kinda screwed up on that. Didn't over eat though. I was majorly tempted to have waffles from the roadside waffle huts. But i bravely resisted. Did a lot of window shopping and decided what all to buy for summer. Ro ignored my discovery. Spoilt my friend who accompanied me (new to London) and she said she's definitely getting her husband to buy her some stuff. I'm bad influence when it comes to shopping. I remember going out once with my friend Jane and we were supposed to make sure we dont end up buying stuff. I tried on a pair of jeans which i couldnt afford. Jane was supposed to forbid me from buying it, but instead she said, 'Nishi if it fits you so well and if u really really like it, dont thinnk twice, pick it up.' Now that was all the convincing I needed, I picked it up. Its the most perfect slim fit jeans i ever owned. Thanks Jane. I, on the other hand, insist you try something out and then you would really find it difficult to not buy it cos it would look really nice (and im usually correct about most of the stuff i select for people). So yes, bad influence i am.
Dinner was not so healthy. Portobello mushrooms with spinach-cheese filling, prawns marinated in garlic butter and chive and jacket potatoes with sour cream. Had some perry to go with it:). Potatoes are probably the last thing you should have and staying off alcohol is important. But, what the hell, we went all out and had a yummy din din.
I am posting some pics. Its not the best, but I'm really proud of it. All said and done, Conti. cooking is way more easier than Indian cooking. I make less of a mess and its all oven and microwave cooking and so no back aches standing at the hob and stirring, making sure it doesn't burn etc.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

To watch or not to watch

Latest ones:
The Boat that Rocked: was simply awesome. I never knew 60's rock music was so good. Ro was brooding over how he completely missed being part of that era. I, on the other hand discovered 60's music and am in love with it. Blamed Ro for not introducing me to it earlier to which he replied id argue Robbie William sang a song and not Frank Sinatra. 

Older ones:
The Reader: No wonder Kate Winslet won the Oscar for this movie. She's brilliant. Its an emotionally inclined movie and quite thought provoking.
Australia: Super long movie, but i still liked it a lot
The Secret Life of Bees: Women dominate the film and some refer to it as a chick flick. I loved the melodrama and the emotions its provoked. A must see.
The Hunting Party: Richard Gere does a pretty good job in this movie (even if he doesn't, i can just gawk at him for hours). Its got humour, drama and adventure but no romance whatsoever (which Richie here is known for)

Monsters vs Aliens: Not really a 3D flick. Its just a waste of time
Fast and Furious: Looks like they made money on their first few parts and now don't know what to do with it. 
Paul Blart Mall Cop: I don't even know why we go for movies like this (actually i do..we have an unlimited movie card and don't need to pay!). Kevin James (King of Queens) should just stick to sit. com's.
Knowing: Nicolas Cage needs to seriously retire. I'm actually kinda sick of this alien shit.

Will keep updating the space.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

An attempt at dieting and staying fit, again!

My ever pertaining weight problem has started bugging me again. I have been complaining about it for way too long but been absolutely lazy to do anything about it. Same thing happened when we were in Nottingham and one fine day i just put my foot down and decided to go on a diet. So after tonnes of research i decided on the South Beach Diet because i thought it was easy. It didn't restrict me on the amount of food taken in and sounded much easier compared to the GM diet and Weight Watchers. It was a three phase diet and you gradually increase the variety of food you can take in. I followed various blogs and forums to get easy recipes and found them really helpful. I convinced Ro also to follow the diet, mainly because i wouldn't have to prepare two sets of meals. We missed the potatoes, rice, breads and the occasional wine, but soon was into it full swing. Ro threw tantrums at times and so we used to go easy once in a while. And then at the end of phase two we left to India unexpectedly on a one month break and there, it all went for a toss. Its impossible to stay on your diet while visiting home. Also, after one year of the wife's tasteless cooking anyone would want to hog on food made my moms.. Ro freaked out on mallu food and at the table i used to roll my eyes asking him to go easy. My mom in law probably thought i was starving him to death back in England or something, I'm sure.
Came back to London and since we were in a hotel for close to three weeks, it was impossible to follow a diet. Moved into the apartment and still i ignored the 'eat healthy, keep fit' mantra. Last week i tried on a tank top and it look hideous, i almost cried. So while we were grocery shopping I picked up a Low GI Diet Cook book (Ro sneaked in a dessert recipe book as well) and decided to eat healthy. The diet book is still in its cover, but i tried two desserts already (If i haven't mentioned this before..i love baking esp. cakes, cookies and pies). I'm not a pro at it mainly because i don't have the patience and half way through i just want it to somehow end. 
Yesterday i woke up early (actually coz Ro was on a conference call and he was too loud) and was full of energy. Made breakfast for Ro and a sandwich for lunch (all the way reminding him how wonderful a wife i was and he's so lucky blah blah). But after a while i kinda started getting restless and so bugged Ro while he was working and then he told me not to wake up so early tomorrow onwards and its ok if I'm not the dutiful wife. Duh! so much for all the enthusiasm. But anyways, after he left i actually cooked lunch (i usually have just an apple or something) because i stumbled upon a sausage fried rice recipe from sigsiv's blog and it made my stomach growl. Did a few adjustments here and there and ta daaaa...i had a yummy lunch. Then there was no looking back. I prepared an elaborate dinner (elaborate according to me would be three items max including rice obviously because its a hard-ass job) and i was still in high spirits for a change. I didn't wish for the genie this time. Strange!
These days we have an early dinner. Ro comes back home cranky and serving him dinner immediately would make life easy for both of us. By about 8.00 we were done and i was still so enthu i decided to go for a jog (dragged Ro also). It was still bright and nice and there were fellow joggers. I was pooped by the time i did half a mile and then decided on brisk walking. We discovered a Yacht Club with a restaurant and an Eco park right on the river bank (I am ashamed to say that we discovered all this only after a month of moving in. Ro is into sailing and rowing and so we have decided to check on membership etc.). Got back home with an aching leg and back and worse, an aching conscience of being out of shape (literally). So out came the Low GI recipe book and I shortlisted a few easy recipes. I'm determined to get back on track and will update you on how it went. Will post a few pics and recipes if they come out well. 

Monday, 20 April 2009

Always an open book

A lot of people told me that my blog is like a personal diary. Well i really don't care at this point of time. When i started the blog i was a bit concerned as to how long it will be alive. But i now am enjoying it so much that i am not quite concerned about what i portray. Yes i am an open book and intend to be that way for as long as i want. I might take serious deviations in between but penning down my day to day activities and thoughts will be my first love. I don't like to write intellectual stuff simply because i hate reading intellectual stuff. I had to do this travel article the other day and i took two days to complete it. Today, i submitted one in exactly an hour and was so proud of it. I realised its after i starCheck Spellingted my blog, that it now comes to me automatically. So at least for the work I'm doing, I need to make sure i update my blog as frequently as possible. 
The choice is yours..stay or move on. Whatever it is keep the comments flowing and no hard feelings.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Cambridge- A photo story

King's College (Salman Rushdie)

Well manicured lawns of Corpus Christi College

Daffodils and Tulips on campus

The magnificent stained glass windows

Inside King's College Chapel. Note the huge Pipe Organ

Student rooms on either side

King's College Chapel

River Cam

Trinity College grounds. Isaac Newton and Prince Charles were undergraduates at this college.

St John's College (Manmohan Singh and William Wordsworth were part of this college)

Punting on River Cam

Thursday, 16 April 2009


Day 3 started pretty early since we decided to head to Cambridge for the day. If i didn't get a good nights sleep, then I'm a cranky bitch. But on Easter morn i was as fresh and awake as a sunflower, except that Ro insisted he make breakfast..that too an elaborate one..and i was not too happy leaving the unwashed vessels in the sink since we didn't have enough time. I cant have a heavy bf as soon as i wake up and so i opted for just the coffee, which again I'm very particular about and make it on my own even if I'm at my heights of laziness.
Cambridge is about an hour away by train and is as beautiful and scholarly as you imagined it to be. The University comprises of 31 different colleges (something i didn't know) and has a strong alumni. Isaac Newton, William Wordsworth, Rajiv Gandhi, Prince Charles etc. were some of the renowned people who studied there. We opted for a walking tour of the University and was absolutely worth it (would have been even better if the weather was a bit generous). The guide explained every single thing about the Univ-from admissions to graduation, what every nook and corner of the Univ was known for, the people who studied there and its age old traditions. I seriously would have taken up some sort of course if it wasn't for the exorbitant fee international students had to pay even after a scholarship. My days at Madras Christian College were deeply missed. I regret not having stayed in campus to enjoy the MCCian way of life, to be part of the elections, the hall days and the traditions. 
The tour ended at the famous King's College Chapel known for the Carol service broadcasts on BBC on Christmas Eve. The chapel is a true example of Gothic architecture. Flash photography was not allowed inside, so the pics we took doesn't really do justice. There is a massive pipe organ in the middle and the stained glass windows are a sight to be admired. We were supposed to make it to a choir service but got held up at the pub for lunch and missed it. Ro was pretty upset. He's a real music buff and wanted to be part of it so badly. I promised him we'd come back another day.
After lunch at The Eagle (where Francis Crick and James Watson discovered 'the secret of life' after they figured out the DNA structure) we headed out for the punting session along River Cam- one of the traditional ways of exploring the college. Since we had already taken the walking tour, this was more or less a repetition, but the whole boat ride was so romantic and serene, none of us complained. The more adventurous types opt to do their own punting and so be prepared to be bumped by/into other punts since most of them don't know how to professionally steer. We however opted for a chauffeur. The 2 hour walking tour plus the 45 minute punting session cost us about 11 quid per person which is not a bad deal at all. By the time we headed back home it was about 10pm and we were pooped. Ro cooked dinner for us even after all that. 
Most of Day 4 was spent at a Desi restaurant in Tooting called Dosa & Chutney. We were about 8 and ordered so so much that by the end of it, we just wanted to sleep somewhere. Which is what everyone except us decided to do. We caught Monsters vs Aliens at the theatre. It was a 3D movie, but there was absolutely nothing 3D about it. There was probably one scene in the entire movie - a ping pong ball which had some sort of 3D effect- and i managed to miss exactly that cos i ran to the loo. That's so typical me.
And thus came to an end my fabulous bank holiday weekend. I was so lethargic for the next two days that i seriously wished for that genie to appear and do all the cooking and cleaning. The genie never appeared but Ro in the form of a genie was all i needed:)

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

No Easter bunnies or Easter Eggs but loads of food, fun and good company

Jazz at South Bank

Fruit Preserves at the market

Freshly baked bread, cake, brownies...

Varieties of Cheese

The four day weekend went by so fast and i had loads of fun. In UK, we have something called Bank Holidays where they club a weekend and give the Monday or Friday off so people can enjoy their Spring/Summer. We have four or five i think every year. So the Easter weekend was also a Bank holiday weekend, where we got Friday and Monday off. Last year we never knew this Bank holiday deal and so stayed at home when the whole of England was on holiday elsewhere. So this year we decided to plan way in advance and make use of the holidays. But as usual getting the whole gang to decide on something and plan turned out to be a mess and i gave up. I had Europe in mind and by the time Ro got his company to approve etc., it was too late to apply for the Schengen Visa. I lost my interest by then. Some of our friends came up with the idea of Dover and Isle of Wight. I did my research online and found out there was nothing awesome about the place other than the scenic beauty. Now, dont get me wrong here, i love the nature and the beauty and all that. But I think, here in UK, if you have seen one you have seen it all. The castles, the coast, the hills...I have been to Wales and Scotland and have seen some of the most beautiful places on Earth. I know, i know, it may not be the same, but seriously an overdose of nature kinda makes me bored. There is a limit to how much ohhh’s and wow’s you can do. Also, it worked out a bit expensive and i didn’t think it was worth spending so much to see the same thing again. Of course we argued about it (we never let anything go without an argument!). Ro wanted to see the White Cliffs of Dover, but he didn’t and now blames me for it!

Anyways, coming back to my Easter lunch, it was a success, atleast i thought it wasJ. Ro helped me out a lot. Seriously, i would have lost it way before if it wasn’t for him. So a friend offered to split the cooking and i had to make pulao and chicken roast and she, prawn curry and dessert. Ro cleaned the chicken and marinated it the previous day itself. So it was a cake walk the next day and it turned out absolutely gorgeous (although i think we could have made a bit more, since it was just about enough for all of us) and was a good combo with the pulao. By the time everyone left it was about 8pm and we watched a movie for the rest of the evening. Revolutionary Road is a nice movie. Women stay away from it, men it so you’d get an idea of what women really go through even todayJ

Day 2 was laazzzyy. Had leftovers for lunch and was watching a mallu horrible flick when a friend called asking if we wanted to meet up. So off we went to South Bank- a beautiful riverside stretch. Restaurants, markets, theatres, movie halls dot the river side and there are these free events like jazz concerts, dance workshops, art programmes etc open to the public. We walked around a bit and headed to the Jazz concert. I’m not that into jazz and so didn’t really get it. But it was a pleasant experience..some sipping wine and chilling out, some requesting songs and some soulfully into the music oblivious of their surroundings. Dinner was at Phoenix Palace, a Chinese joint. Ambience was good, a bit noisy though..but extremely child friendly (im not sure if that’s a good thing or not. I personally like it quiet). The tables were an inch apart from each other. You had to make sure you wouldn’t bump into the table behind you when you were taking a breather in between your courses. The pretty stewards running around in short skirts, who didn’t really understand or talk proper English, were obviously the highlight. Beers and wines followed and pork ribs and garlic chicken which were starters were nice. My aversion towards seafood was persistent and so didn’t enjoy the prawn dish (i forgot the name) but the duck in black bean sauce was just out of this world. I am not that adventurous and usually don’t try out meat that is not too familiar, but this was really really good. Ro was darn surprised about the fact that i atleast tried it out. The service is really quick, which is something i really appreciate while eating out. I found it a tad too expensive for a Chinese joint but, what the hell, when the food is good and the company even better you tend to not mind the exorbitant bill sometimes. Well this was one of those days. On our way to PP we passed by a Belgian waffle van and decided to come back and have that for dessert. Unfortunately they had packed up by the time we were done and so missed the chance. Now since the idea of having dessert was already in us, we decided to get some anyway. As usual none of the places were open (they close at 6pm, leave alone 10pm). So we headed to M&S, picked up a chocolate and fudge mousse and headed home. I wanted to catch a movie but Ro and this other friend who was staying with us were too tired and so chucked the idea (This is what happens when you marry really old men!!!).  We however ended up watching Cliffhanger on TV, munching on the fudge.

Day 3 and 4 is way too long for me to write about. So il post that later. 

Saturday, 11 April 2009

New addition

Ro bought me a really nice calamondin orange tree or rather bonsai and i am pretty kicked about it. Well i think he basically wanted to test me.. whether i could look after a plant before i have a child or somethin:). Usually people start with a dog (hint hint!!), but in my case first a plant, then a dog and maybe then a baby if all goes well. More than anything it looks very oranmental with the miniature oranges (which are very sour) and the fragrant white flowers. Take a look..

Thursday, 9 April 2009

My 'oh so pretty' tulips

Picked up some really pretty tulips from the Greenwich market yesterday. I need my house to look presentable when i have guests over:)
I also painted the vase and the plate its on. In case you are wondering what the guitar is all about..its a souvenir from Las Vegas. You can have your drink in it and keep refilling it at different stations. I had a cosmopolitan:)
Also, its the beginning of spring here and the trees have all started to bloom, new carpets of grass have been laid out and its a lovely sight from my apartment.

Confessions of a bad cook

I just hate cooking and everything after and before that. Right from searching for a recipe online, to shopping for the ingredients, to cutting and marinating, to cooking, to cleaning up after my mess, to washing the utensils, it is too tiresome and by the end of it all you hate what you have made and don’t want to eat it. Ro is an absolute foodie and loves anything from anywhere. I am fussy, extremely fussy when it comes to food. I hate seafood after a bad experience of a fish bone getting stuck in my throat when i was five years old. I think i will carry that experience to my grave. I don’t mind prawns as long as it doesn’t taste prawny (seafood haters would understand what im talking about). So when i make a prawn preparation, i masalafy it so much it hardly tastes of prawns. I like chicken but not the legs (i don’t have an explanation for that). I don’t like the liver, gizzard and the like. Ro loves it but since its too yucky for me to handle i don’t, and if he wants he does the needful on his own. I am also not a big fan of Mutton or Pork. So that leaves me with very few options. The irony of it all..i used to do food reviews for a living. The first review i ever did was at a Chinese restaurant and they served me lobster. You really don’t want to know what i did!

Well, the reason im writing this is because, after a huge argument at the super market the other day, we bought cod fillets. Ro was supposed to make his signature dish but then i thought i would give it a try and made this really awesome fish curry. I was so proud (obviously i used the ready-made masala for it). But i improvised it a bit after tonnes of research online. It’s come to a point where i can’t survive without the internet. I need to even check how much water to put in while making rice (laugh all you want..but i manage to mess it even after all that). My first experience with rice was not so pleasant. This was right after we got married. I used to call my mom every other day and find out how to make dishes (i was trying to be the good wife who cooked for the husband). Anyways, i asked her how to make rice in a pressure cooker and she explained it to me. I have this habit of switching off after a while (a habit i have now excelled in after listening to endless conversations on IT security, data privacy and the like..courtesy my bestest half). I made the rice in the cooker and tried to open the lid immediately after it was done (yes, now you know why Ro insisted on a maid). The pressure weight went flying all over the place and there was rice on the ceiling. I freaked out and i have a phobia about pressure cookers ever since. There is a joke that goes around in my family, ‘if you go to Nisha’s for lunch, you need to take a ladder with you, cos you need to scrape the rice off the ceiling and have it.’ So now i just boil it on open fire. Takes ages, but i’d rather do that.

I cant do stuff off-hand. Ro on the other hand just needs an outline of the recipe and he will go on his own trip. Its like watching Rachel Ray enjoying her cooking. At the end of it all, he will have this satisfied smile and would enjoy the meal so much. I, on the other hand, would crib while cooking, after cooking, while eating and then hate the mess i have created and pray a genie would appear out of nowhere around this time and grant me a wish (a wish would be too little..many wishes).

Sometimes its irritating that Ro knows so much about cooking, that the one time i actually get a bit pepped up, he gives his suggestions and ideas and gyan about what to do and what not to, i get so pissed off. The same happened while i was making the fish curry and we argued about it (yes our lives revolve around arguing). But it ultimately came out really well and i read somewhere (thank you lord for google) that if it stays on for another day, the better it is.

I bragged about it to my mom, but she didn’t believe me. I brag about the stuff i make but she’s never tasted any of it. She says she’ll believe it when she sees it. Fair enough! I have guests for Easter and now I’m a bit tensed. I am not sure i can carry off a whole meal on my own. Back in Chennai i used to entertain guests every other day. I had a driver to go buy grocery, a cook who was just out of this world and a maid to clean after the mess. But this time its me alone and hope i can do a good job. In case i don’t catch you guys in a couple of days, it’s because I’m slogging it out in the kitchenJ

Happy Easter to all of you.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Cant really think of a heading

The weekend was pretty amazing for a change. I actually ended up having a nice time. So here’s what i/we did.

I woke up on Friday with this extra oomph and was up and ready by 10am (it is an achievement for me because these days i don’t even bother waking up till 11 or so). Headed to Oxford Street- the busiest shopping area ever. There is this energy when you get into Central London. It’s bustling with tourists and shoppers and what not. It was comparatively a warm day and it was colourful for a change. Otherwise all you see are dull black and grey coats and depressing umbrellas.

I have a friend who works in Oxford Circus and so decided to catch up with her for lunch. She took me to this really nice Thai Pub called Masons Arms. I had the chicken Phad Thai noodle and Olivia had the Thai red curry with rice. The food was awesome and we thoroughly enjoyed it (the gossiping and the catching up was even better). Dessert was at this French bistro. I picked up a fig and peach tart and Olivia, a blueberry cheese cake. Continued our yak yak session and then i pushed off to galavant a bit more. Checked out quite a few stores on Oxford Street but didn’t buy anything. After a while i got sick of window shopping. That doesn’t interest me much these days you know. Whats the point when you cant buy anything. Also i have decided i would only shop when sales are on. Last year i bought this really expensive leather jacket and two months later it was on sale for Christmas for half the price. Felt pretty stupid.

Had to pick up some grocery from M&S and so hung around there for a while and then headed home. Fridays are pizza nights so i didn’t have to cook anything (not that i otherwise prepare a feast, but still). A movie and pizza was perfect, when we both had this urge to have wine. So off we went to the nearest store and picked up a 3litre can of wine (yes absolute drunkards). Watched Vicky Christina Barcelona and i thought it was just watchable whereas Ro thought Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson made it worth (you seriously need to see the movie to know what he’s talking about..sigh!men..I say).

Saturday was good fun too. We headed out to Londons desi area called Eastham to have mallu food. There’s a restaurant called Thattukada and we hogged everything from soda lime to karimeen to full meals. We had friends who joined us there and so decided to catch a movie afterwards. Saw ‘Knowing’ which was an utter disappointment. Two and a half hours in the theatre without ‘Knowing’ what the hell was happening was torturous. We are on a membership card and so we pay a monthly amount and watch unlimited movies. Otherwise watching movies, that too in London, is super expensive. Anyways, we decided to head back to ours, drank up and called it a night at about 12. Sunday was laaaaaaaaaaaaaazyyy. Stretched outJ. Did absolutely nothing. Well, I did absolutely nothing. Ro went on a cooking, cleaning, tidying, ironing spree without complaining. Now that’s a good husbandJ