Wednesday, December 11, 2013

10 Confessions Of A Bookaholic


I know that many people are embarrassed to be tagged as bookworms. However, I don’t suffer from any such inhibitions. Yes I am a bookworm or bookaholic as some would say and I don’t see anything wrong with it at all. As a bookaholic, here are 10 confessions which I am sure other bookaholics like me will be able to relate to: 

1. People who borrow our books and don’t return them are our enemies. We hate them and are sure that there is a special place in hell reserved especially for them! 

2. We do not like to lend books, precisely due to the above mentioned reason. Plus, even those who do return our books – after much pestering and wheedling from our end – tend to have handled the books badly and it saddens us to see our beloved books rumpled or worse.  

3. We feel guilty about folding the pages of a book to mark where we have paused. It bothers us because we almost feel as though we are hurting the book. We always try our best to use bookmarks or atleast remember the page number in case a bookmark is not to be found. 

4. We might hesitate to splurge on designer clothes or high-end cosmetics, but we don’t think twice about spending huge amounts of money on books.  After all, we say to ourselves, the money is being spent on something useful. 

5. While some people can spend hours at fashion boutiques, we bookaholics can spend hours in book stores. To us, it feels exactly the same as a child might feel being let loose in Charlie’s chocolate factory – or actually, even better. We love going to book stores and it doesn’t matter if they are big, shiny ones or the local, shabby one. Book stores are one of our all-time favourite places on earth – or in paradise, come to think of it. 

6. We never fail to list the smell of books under our favourite smells. Much like the smell of freshly baked bread, the smell of a book talks to us, it calls out to us, it enchants us and we don't care if you call us dorks because of this!

7. We judge people who say that they don’t like to read. We think everybody must read. 

8. We consider books to be our best friends. We laugh with them, we cry with them and we dream with them. That’s what best friends are for right? 

9. We always have a book with us - one can never say when they will come in handy and we like to be prepared for emergencies. 

10. We cannot begin to fathom a world without printed books. Whatever studies and trends show, and even if we begin embracing ebooks, we can never really give up on printed books.

So, my fellow bookaholics, do you have anything more to add?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Where Have All The Humble People Gone?

I had recently been to a fashion event and the make-up artist who worked on me was really good at her job. She was a thorough professional who has many high-profile gigs to her credit and is in much demand. She does a lovely job, is really sweet and extremely humble. Looking at her and interacting with her, you might never guess that she is such a successful make-up artist who deals with several leading models frequently. She was really down-to-earth and simple. I was quite impressed with her skill and with her as a person. 

On the other hand, there are some people who simply think too much of themselves, in spite of hardly having achieved anything worthwhile in life. There is no better example for this than someone I meet almost every single day. So, I happen to travel to work by a car pooling service, since I live a fair distance away from my office. The driver is a young fellow in his early twenties and God, he has a bucket load of attitude and arrogance in him! I suspect that he is delusional enough to think that is driving a Ferrari, when in fact it is nothing more than a regular old Toyota sedan. Or perhaps he thinks that he is Schumacher’s twin. Whatever the assumption, one nearly gets a heart attack when seated in his car. He drives like an absolute nut. You know that irritating guy on the road who believes that he owns the entire road and has no intention whatsoever of following any road rule? The one who refuses to wear the seatbelt despite travelling at high speeds on the highway, the one who starts honking impatiently a good 15 seconds before the red light changes, the one who tailgates incessantly and bullies you off your lane, the one who makes driving a stressful activity for all other drivers and the one who couldn’t care less about anyone else on the road? Yeah, he is this guy. 

As if his driving skills are not enough to drive you crazy, his banter is even worse. He sounds like a teenager, never mind that he is actually a married man and a father to boot! Whenever he speaks it is like getting a peak into an adolescent’s naïve and inexperienced mind. And don’t even get me started on his silly jokes and an even sillier laugh that is guaranteed to get on your nerves. 

Even if one forgives these transgressions and looks past his shortcomings, his over-confidence and know-it-all attitude is too big a factor to overlook. He spouts really lame life gyan with such superciliousness that I honestly feel like giving him a good, solid whack on his head! And does he stop with sharing his life musings? Oh no, not at all! He goes on to enlighten us about ourselves, how we lead boring lives going to steady and stable jobs and spending time at home over the weekends and how we will make bad parents and how we all need to die young because we become useless when we grow old – and mind you, his definition of old is 35 years. Okay mister! So you have a car and you drive. Honestly, that doesn’t make you an expert on my life and nobody really asked you for your opinion in the first place. Why do such people think that they can go around sharing their non-sensical philosophies with unsuspecting individuals such as me? Arrghhh!!! Why God, why! Somebody save me from this jerk please!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Expat Life: Food Club Master Class At Kempinski, Ajman

BBC Good Food Me's Editor Sudeshna Ghosh
As a member of BBC Good Food Middle-East’s Food Club, I was invited to a cooking masterclass at Kempinski hotel in Ajman last evening. Usually, most interesting events like this tend to happen in Dubai and I end up not going all the way. When I heard that this one was closer to home, I jumped at the chance! 

Welcome Drink: Mango Lassi
The event was held at Bukhara, Kempinski’s Indian restaurant which serves up delicious north-west frontier fare. Sipping on our chilled glasses of mango lassi, we got to learn 3 recipes from Chef Manoj Aswal.

Chef Manoj Aswal of Bukhara, Kempinski, Ajman
He started off with a very innovative Dahi Ke Kebab with raw mango and onion chutney. When I heard the name of this dish, I assumed that the chef would be marinating pieces of meat with yoghurt (dahi) before grilling them into kebabs. However, he totally surprised me by making kebabs out of yoghurt itself! One would imagine that the yoghurt would disintegrate and fall apart, but he added a secret ingredient to avoid this - roast and ground lotus seeds! Really different!

Veg Starter: Dahi ke Kebab

This was followed by the ubiquitous Chicken Tikka, which was served with raw papaya relish. The chicken was tender and juicy. Scrumptious! Chef Manoj explained how we can incorporate the trademark smoky flavour of tandoori cooking at home, where most of us don't own tandoors. Want to know how? Simply ignite a piece of charcoal, add a dash of ghee (clarified butter) to it, place it in a heatproof ramekin and place the ramekin into the bowl of marinated meat. Cover and let it sit for about 30 minutes to allow the meat to marinate and the flavours to infuse, before proceeding with the cooking process. Voila! 

Non-veg Starter: Chicken Tikka
The demo was wound up on a sweet note with a tasty and crispy Saeb Ki Jalebi. We were given samplings of the 3 dishes – my favourite was the dessert, but the other two were pretty good too.Chef Manoj Aswal was very helpful in addressing our queries and shared several tips and tricks for cooking Indian food. The dishes demonstrated were simple with the perfect balance of traditional and contemporary flavours.

Cooking away!
All participants were given goodie bags which contained a copy of BBC’s Good Food Middle East magazine, a jar of raw papaya relish, printed recipes of the 3 dishes and a bright red coffee mug, which proudly proclaims, "I'm a foodie!". I am definitely going to try out the dishes at home and I am indeed looking forward to more such great events! If you are around the Ajman area, do consider dropping by Bukhara for a mouthwatering Indian feast. I'm sure you won't be disappointed!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Lazy Minimalist

Pic credit: Sigurd Magnusson (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)

A friend has recently bought a new house and is in the process of decorating it. She is busy putting up sweet family photos on the walls, placing beautiful antiques in strategic corners and hunting for one-of-a-kind knick knacks to add to the décor of her new home. I must say that she has a good eye and fine taste from what I have seen and her home looks lovely – cozy, stylish and welcoming. I looked at all the pictures and then I looked at the walls in my house. Stark.

My walls are painted a neutral cream colour. Apart from that, I have not put up any photos or paintings and neither have I beautified the house with carefully selected artefacts. Strangely, whenever I used to dream about my perfect house when I was growing up, I always imagined that I would do it up with classy décor. However, thinking back to all the different houses that I have lived in from the time I started staying away from my parents’ home, I notice one similarity. I did not do any sort of personalization to any of my homes. Of course, the basics are there – furniture and the like - and I like things clean; but beyond that, zilch. The only exception being our bedroom door, which has stickers of Disney characters that the previous occupants left behind and I haven't even bothered to remove.. If we were to move out tomorrow and a stranger drops by I doubt if they would have any clue as to the kind of people who were living there – except perhaps for a faint smell of Indian food and a misconception that we are parents, maybe?

I think one of the reasons behind my approach is because I know that this is going to be my temporary home. Since it is rented and we have really not been involved in actually designing or building the home, perhaps I don’t feel that personal connect. Having said that, I do know many people whose houses are so artfully done up despite them being in rented accommodations. Secondly, I feel that more the objects around the house, more the dusting and cleaning involved. And frankly, I am too lazy. I try to avoid buying too many things unless they have a specific use. I guess I would prefer to maintain a minimalistic abode if it means less chores! Plus, when you need to move homes - or as an expat even countries - there is lesser number of stuff to pack or dispose off, which means less work for me. 

What about you? Do you enjoy customizing your home or do you lean towards minimalism?


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