Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Catch-up #10

Though my last post was only last week, I feel like a catch-up post is in order, considering the number of things that have been happening.

We just got back from a gorgeous road trip in Iceland, and I'll get to updating my travel blog as soon as I'm done battling my PhD. Post-holiday Depression, of course. What did you think?

Our home has been a busy nest the last few months. First, Mom was here for a month and we had a super time. Strangely, her visit felt very 'sisterly' this time (and I'm not just talking about the times when we got on each other's nerves). We went for a 'glamping' vacation (Canopi in Bintan), a movie (Dishoom, which I thoroughly enjoyed mainly because of the company -- my mom is even more forgiving of Bollywood than me!), a pedicure, shopping, checking out restaurants, and generally roaming around for no good reason. Heck, I even took her to the Singapore Night Festival (which was spectacular, by the way)!

Within three days of her leaving, I had more visitors -- S2 and family! What's better than friends from Hyderabad visiting you? Friends from Hyderabad visiting you, armed with Paradise biryani! Yumzaaaadoooozaaaaa! (Dad was posted in Hyderabad for a couple of years. I'd made a brief visit during my university holidays, and the ONLY thing I remember from that trip was Paradise biryani.)

One of the highlights was Shub, Pizzadude and me going to Cafe Iguana, the place where we first met a decade ago! The good ol' jug of mango margarita, the good ol' jalapeno poppers, the good ol' riverside view, and the good ol' company. It was heartening to see that we were all still the same. I still can't believe we met through our blogs! I am very tempted to recount the hilarious incident that happened at the restaurant involving a hot waiter, but I'm sure I shall be lynched, so I shall just say this -- 'What happens in Cafe Iguana stays in Cafe Iguana'.

Workwise, it's been extremely busy as the 100th issue of the magazine that I work for is coming up. I started working on this magazine in early 2003 with issue 19, and so it's a big personal milestone for me too. Of course, the milestone issue meant that I had to work extra hard when Mom and S2 were here in order to make time to hang out with them, and also do a bit more to get ahead so I could have my Iceland vacation in peace, but it all worked out well. Of course, now that I'm back, I'm madly scrambling to catch up again.

Viv is travelling again. In fact, he took off for Melbourne on a work trip the very next day after we landed. Melbourne of all places in that terribly jetlagged state! But then like a friend says, "Company toh in logon ke jet lag se hi chalti hai."

Meanwhile, Xena and I are moping and coping with our respective PhDs. Luckily, an India trip is coming up and I'm thinking winter+Diwali+wedding in the family should be all sorts of fun.

Signing off till the next time,

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ice, ice, baby

Okay, so I have a cool (quite literally so) photo to share today. We braved the cold, the wind and the rain, but we were determined to get as close to the Myrdalsj√∂kull glacier as we possibly could. Fortunately, Xena hiked along with us without any complaints! 

Viv and Xena admiring the grand glacier (photo not edited in any way)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

We have seen the light(s)!

It's 2.30 am and I'm posting this with the biggest grin on my face!

Okay, so we are on a road trip in Iceland right now. Knowing how elusive the Northern Lights can be in non-winter months, we decided not to plan our trip around aurora-chasing, but fill it with other things instead. But, it was SO HEARTENING to finally capture the Lights tonight, after many nights of closely watching the forecast and two nights of setting an alarm to wake us up every 2 hours.

I'd read that 2016 might be the last year to see the Lights in all their glory as they are expected to dim for a decade. I'm so glad we got to witness this stunning phenomenon. Even Xena woke up (Viv and I made quite a commotion I think) to witness them!

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Not a piece of cake

Like many people, I've also had my fair share of chuckling at articles that show the contrast between how a dish looks on the recipe website and how it looks when a normal human actually makes it. Which is why, when I saw the Youtube recipe for a cake that had a colourful checkered pattern on the inside, I went, "Yeah, right." Seriously? You want me to believe that I can cut open a normal-looking cake and it will magically have a colourful checkered pattern inside? Ha!

Months passed, but I still couldn't get it out of my head. The math in the recipe seemed about right, and more importantly, curiosity was killing me. So I decided to do it. In a low-stakes setting. Our old gang was getting together for a night out after ages, and Viv was flying off the next day, and as usual wasn't going to be in Singapore for his birthday. I figured this was the perfect setting to attempt to make the checkered cake.

So I did, and the results were phenomenal. Viv's expression when he cut open the innocent-looking pale cake justified the 46429436034532 hours I'd put into making this cake. And I got some high praise from the two big bakers in my family -- my mom and my sister. My mom said it was the most beautiful-looking cake she's ever seen. Praise from her on anything food-related is like ZOMG levels. Friends have been trying to figure out how on earth I made it. A neighbour has already asked me to help her make it for her daughter's birthday. Since it's been such a hit, I thought I'd blog about it, and also share the instructions for all you bakers out there.

Here you go!

You're welcome. :)

Friday, September 02, 2016

Blood brothers

It's after hours. Three figures, wrapped in black blankets, are quietly making their way into a tiny bar without any signboard... it's a hole in the wall really.

Strangely, it's open.

The three of them push open the small door and throw off their blankets. On each blanket is the word 'Being Human'. It's the three Khans! Collective gasp! Wait, no collective gasp, because there is no one else in the bar. Well, almost.

"On again, huh, you three?" The bartender jokes.

The Khans acknowledge him. They've known him for years. He's someone they can fully trust. He's a friend, a confidante. He's almost family.


He's also family, third cousin specifically, to... Bollywood reporter Sayesha Smitten Showbiz Kitten (SSSK). Which is why she is crouching under a chair at the very back, taking notes using a pencil and a notepad.

"Thanks for the support, guys." Salman points to the heap of the blankets on the floor.

"No worries yaar. Ab tuney dus-dus ghar bhijwa diye toh use toh karna padega na..." SRK says.

They make themselves comfortable on the bar stools.

"So... is it true?" Asks Aamir. "You're really getting married in November??"

"Sigh..." Salman sighs.

"I still can't believe it. YOU... are getting MARRIED?" SRK says.

"I'm just being human yaar... uska work visa expire hone wala hai. And Mom bhi zid kar rahi hai. Waise toh press bhi zid kar rahi hai, for about two decades now, lekin ab Mom ne bol diya hai toh... family comes first, no?"

They all nod gravely. Even the bartender who steals a quick look towards the back of the bar to make sure his third cousin is well-hidden.

"So... Iulia Vantur, huh? Sounds like a tourist blogging about India - yun liya van tour." Aamir says.

"Hey, don't make fun of your bhabhi's name! And you toh don't even say the word 'tourism'!" Salman looks angry.

Aamir sulks.

"Kya yaar, I'm sure they do the same to you in Romania. You must be Salmon Can there, no?" SRK tries to lighten the situation.

"Speaking of Romania, whatever you do, don't have the wedding in Romania, ok? Please please please?" Aamir pleads.

"Why??" Salman asks.

"Errmm... Kiran and I... err... can't go out of India anymore..." Aamir says sheepishly.

"Speaking of that... don't get married in Wankhede Stadium either..." says SRK.

"But tera ban toh lift ho gaya na?" says Aamir.

"Just playing safe..."

"Don't worry. You guys aren't even invited. I've decided it's just going to be a family affair. 15-20 people only."

SRK and Aamir fall down on the floor laughing. SSSK tries hard to stifle her giggles. Even the bartender is shaking his head and laughing.

"What?? What?! What's the big joke?"

"YOUR family? 15-20 people only?" SRK is clutching his tummy and laughing.

"Haan toh immediate family na..." Salman looks annoyed.

"Since it's just a family affair, we should at least have a rocking bachelor party, what say?" SRK says.

"Abbe! His whole life has been a bachelor party only, no?" says Aamir.

Collective nods all around. Including the crouching reporter.

"Give me some marriage advice, guys..." says Salman. "Can't go and ask Arbaaz and Sohail now, can I?"

"Marriage advice... Just... errrm... stay married?" SRK says, looking unsure.

"Marriage advice... hmmm... I have one! Never tell the press what your wife tells you at home. Rock. Hard place. Me." Aamir does a Chandler Bing impression.

"Speaking of the press, my advice to you is to actually never open your mouth in front of the press. Remember what happened during the Sultan promotions?" asks SRK.

"That was so unnecessary, Salman. At least apologise toh kar deta..." Aamir says.

"Apologise?? Abbe maine blackbuck mara, apologise nahin kiya. Maine aadmi mara, apologise nahin kiya. Main ek comment maarke apologise karoon???" Salman is getting riled up.

SRK and Aamir calm him down.

"I just had a funny thought..." says SRK. "Maybe after you get married, your fans will be so disappointed that even your movies will have half a chance of being flops, like ours? Ha ha ha!" SRK tries to lighten the situation. Aamir nervously joins in the laughter.

"Bhai's films are not hits because of the women who want to marry him. Bhai's films are hits because of the men who want to be like him." The bartender interjects, with a serious face.

They all nod. Even SSSK is nodding under the chair.

"Achhe rehne de, aage ka kya plan hai? Matlab bache-wache kab? Soon, I suppose? Since you're like... 50." Aamir asks.

"Nahin yaar... I'll wait about 20 years or so."

"20 years???!! Are you crazy?? Why???!!" SRK and Aamir are shocked.

Salman lets out a long and deep sigh.

"Let Aryan, Suhana, Abram, Junaid, Ira and Azad get established first. Then I will unleash my progeny upon Bollywood. I can't let my kids do to your kids what I have done to you guys. You guys are my brothers, yaar." He looks at the two of them, teary-eyed.

Everyone gets emotional. The three Khans get together for a group hug. The bartender discreetly wipes away a tear. SSSK puts her notebook down and says a silent 'Awwww...'