And I did it too!!

Yes, I successfully completed this blogathon along with a lovely bunch of bloggers!! Congrats to everyone else too who completed it successfully :) and thanks to Maya and RM for this initiative :)

During the last year, I had not posted anything on my blog for 8 long months. There were times when I was extremely busy and at times when I did find some breathing space, I would be overwhelmed with too many things to write about. And hence I was unable to write anything. So the Blogathon was a perfect comeback for me… an opportunity to overcome this block.

In terms of being busy, I could not have chosen a more worse month… January was a very busy month workwise, we had just shifted homes, so weekends were also very busy, add to that in the begining of the month, I didn’t even have a reliable internet connection at home, Hubby had just returned after a long stay away from us and he was home only on the weekends, Cheebu had her annual day at school …  In short January was a very hectic month. So when I joined the blogathon, I really wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it. But I decided to give it a try anyway. And today I can say, I am very glad that I could do it :) and I did it :)

A big thank you to my friends and readers for enduring my month long posts. Thank you for reading and commenting. I know, I haven’t been able to reply to the comments, but will do that soon. And I loved reading everybody’s posts for the blogathon too. Yes, I did read every blog post of bloggers that I subscribe to. Most of the time, I was reading on the tab at home and hence could not comment, but I was very up to date with everybody’s posts and I will miss reading them on such a regular basis. Please don’t take a long break all of you and come back and keep writing :)

So how was the experience for me? It was tough given my schedule, but I was never in short of topics to write. In fact, I have lots of posts with just the titles written in my drafts, but could not get down to writing them for lack of time. For me writing a post needs lot of time, I review it several times and then publish. That explains my frequency of just one or two posts per week in the past. I did write some posts spontaneously and I am thankful for that as they could capture my instant mood. So, I guess the blogathon has also given me fodder for my future posts and I will publish them eventually. I am also glad that I could publish a couple of posts that were lying in my drafts.

So everyone, a short goodbye for now. See you all soon :)

Incredible India

One of the advantages of participating in a blogathon is that you can you can take up tags/ posts that you read in other people’s blogs and always wanted to do it but never got around doing it :) One such tag is this which I had read long back going through Swaram’s archives :)

I love travelling. I guess I have inherited this from my dad. If he were to do this tag, he would get a very good score as he has visited every state in India except probably a few of the North Eastern ones and Lakshwadeep. I don’t claim to be well traveled,  but yes, I have had the good fortune of seeing a few places in India. It would be a good idea to review it on the blog :)

The rules of the tag are:

1. The list contains all the states of India and their capitals are in brackets.

2. Make bold the states you have visited, and mention your favourite memories of that state.

3. Include only states that you have really experienced, and have felt the culture of the place.

1. Jammu & Kashmir (Srinagar)

This state tops my wishlist. Ladakh is my dream destination and I so want to experience the magic of the mountains in Kashmir. Visiting Vaishno devi temple in Jammu is also a long time wish of mine. Hopefully, someday I will get a chance to visit all these places.

2. Punjab (Chandigarh)

Chandigarh holds a special place in my heart as I got married there :) My dad was posted in Chandigarh for a couple of years, though sadly it was after I moved to Mumbai. But I made several visits to Chandigarh during their stay there. I love the city. It is neat, clean and probably the most organised city in India. It has some of the best gardens that I have seen. I remember the several visits to Sukhna lake … boating there or for morning walks, the beautiful gardens all so well maintained and the beautiful temples of Saketari and Mansa devi. Also the visits to sector 17. I remember it as one place with the most well dressed people :) Overall a lovely city. I look forward to taking Cheebu there someday to show her the Rock garden and all the beautiful places there.

3. Haryana (Chandigarh)

My husband is from Haryana, so I have visited the state several times. As a tourist, I have been to Kurukshetra with my parents. You can still see the places associated with Mahabharat here. The Geeta Sthali, the place where Bhishma Pitamah lay on a bed of arrows and the lake where Duryodhan hid to save himself from Bhima can be seen here.

I have also lived in Gurgaon briefly and seen around the place. I remember it as a place full of malls :)

4. Rajasthan (Jaipur)

I have been to Jodhpur, the blue city. Besides, sight seeing and staying at a heritage hotel, I loved the experience of shopping and eating here. I have never shopped so much at any other place :) The handicrafts, the lovely Bandhani prints, the colours and add to it the reasonable prices truly made it a shopping heaven for me :) And don’t even get me started on the food, the Rajasthani thali, the daal baati, the mava kachori, the sweets… everything was just yummy.

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After having seen a teeny weeny bit of Rajasthan, I am now greedy for more. I would love to see more of this state.

5. Himachal Pradesh (Shimla)

I have visited Shimla and Chail (World’s highest cricket ground is located here), but would love to explore more of the state. One of the places that I really wish to visit here is Dharamshala. Popular tourist places like Kullu and Manali are also on my wishlist.

6. Uttaranchal (Dehradun)

Again a place close to my heart, specially as Dehradun is my birth place and my brother’s too. I spent the first 6 years of my life there. I wouldn’t have much memories from that time, so my dad took us back there when we were grown up to see the place that we were born in. I love Rishikesh and Haridwar, the Ganga Arti at Haridwar is one of the most spiritual experience I have had. Besides, I have been fortunate to visit Nainitaal, Mukteshwar, Uttarkashi, Harsil and Gangotri in this state. Harsil is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in my life. It is a small village in the valley on the way to Gangotri from Uttarkashi. I remember it as a place with a lovely stream flowing surrounded by lovely green grass, apple orchards and the snow capped Himalayas. It was paradise. Here is an old picture of me and my brother at Harsil.

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7. Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow)

I spent 8 years of my life in Lucknow. So it is a special place. I have also visited and seen a lot of cities in the state… Agra, Mathura, Vrindavan, Jhansi, Allahabad, Varanasi, Kanpur…. Each city has a rich history and culture to be seen and experienced. I keep getting to see more places or revisiting the already seen places in Uttar Pradesh thanks to my parents who now stay there.

8. Bihar (Patna)

I don’t think, I would have got to visit this state if not for my father who was posted here for a couple of years. I got to see some very nice places during my  visits to my parents place. Patna has one of the best zoos that I have seen in the country. It has almost every animal that you can think of and Cheebu enjoyed every visit that we made to the zoo.

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We also made trips to Nalanda, Rajgir, Gaya and Bodh Gaya. Amazing places all of them, which I am glad I could see and unbelievably maintained. This was a very special trip with the full family (Hubby, me, Cheebu, my parents, brother and SIL)  where we had lots of fun. We have some great memories from this trip.  I have also visited Vaishali. I would highle recommend these place to everyone.

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9. Jharkhand (Ranchi)

Okay, I have been to my uncle’s place at Dhanbad as a baby :P but that doesn’t count as seeing the place. So, I still have to visit this state. I have heard Ranchi is a beautiful place. Need to research about other places in the state.

10. West Bengal (Kolkata)

I have been to Kolkata a few times and visited a few places, shopped for ‘taant sarees’ and also enjoyed eating the Sandesh :) I have also been to Darjeeling. Read about it here.

11. Orissa  (Bhubaneswar)

Sadly, haven’t seen anything in this beautiful state. Visiting this state is high on my wishlist.

12. Sikkim (Gangtok)

I have visited Gangtok. Read about it here, here and here. Loved this state and would love to visit again to explore more of this state.

13. Arunachal Pradesh (Itanagar)

14. Assam (Dispur)

15. Tripura (Agartala)

16. Nagaland (Kohima)

17. Mizoram (Aizawl)

18. Manipur (Imphal)

19. Meghalaya (Shillong)

Sadly, not seen these states at all. Arunachal Pradesh is very high on my wishlist, ever since I had seen about it on a travel show more than a decade ago.

20. Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal)

MP is a special state again as I met my husband here for the first time. I have lived in Indore for a year. My dad was posted in Bhopal for some time and thanks to him, I have seen Bhopal and its surrounds that include Bhojpur, Bhimbetaka (amazing place) and Sanchi. from Indore, I have also visited Mandu and Ujjain. Long ago (in 1999, I think) we had also made a trip to Orchha in MP. I think MP is a very beautiful state with lots of diverse things to see. High on my wishlist here are Jabalpur, national parks of Kanha and Bandhavgarh and Khajuraho.

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21. Chattisgarh (Raipur)

22. Gujarat (Gandhinagar)

I have only been to Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad. I would love to visit Rann of Kutch, Somnath, Dwarka and Gir forests.

23. Maharashtra (Mumbai)

Hmm…  Mumbai!! What should I say? It is the city I love, the city where I always wanted to be and the city where I live. I have lived more than half my life in Mumbai and I could do an entire post on the city.

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Living in Mumbai, I have seen a lot of places around Mumbai. For regular readers of this blog, my love for the Konkan coast is no secret :) We have also explored several places around here like Lonavala, Khandala, Matheran, Malshej and Bhandardara. I have also visited Nasik, Pune and Mahabaleshwar earlier. Next on my wishlist in Maharashtra are beaches of Tarkarli, Kaas Plateau, Shirdi and Aurangabad.

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24. Goa (Panjim)

I have been to Goa with parents. I would love to go back there with Hubby and Cheebu sometime.

25. Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad)

I have been to Hyderabad and seen around the city. Would love to explore more of this state.

26. Tamil Nadu (Chennai)

Been to Chennai, Mahabalipuram and Ooty only. Again, would love to explore more and specially see the beautiful temples that the state has to offer.

27. Karnataka (Bengaluru)

Been to Bangalore and Mysore only. Would love to see many more places in the state… the ruins of Hampi, the beaches of Udupi, Jog falls, Coorg and many more places.

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28. Kerala (Thiruvananthapuram)

Haven’t been here at all :( Living on a house boat on the backwaters is an old dream. Hopefully, we will make a trip to the state soon.

29. Delhi

Have visited the capital city several times for work, interviews and also sightseeing and have seen most of the touristy places here. We also lived in Gurgaon briefly and luckily for us, the Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan were open to the public then and we got an opportunity to visit. I was awed by the magnificence of the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Everytime, I visit Delhi, I love the greenery, the wide roads, the metro… wish I could say the same about the people there :( (No offence meant to anyone) That said, the greenery, the magnificient buildings, the architecture and the food is truly a treat to the senses.

Let me add a few places that were not on the list, but I wish to visit. The Islands of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakswadeep are on my wishlist. I would also love to visit the Union territories of Daman and Diu and Pondicherry.

These are a few of my favourite movies

For the past couple of years,  hubby and me have been watching lots of movies… movies that we missed out seeing in the past… language being no barrier. We have watched movies in English, Persian, German… all with subtitles and really enjoyed some of them. We usually rely on the imdb ratings of the movies  and most of them have been good, though some of them disappointed us too. Let me list some of my favourite movies here. The list is not exhaustive and I will update on the blog any movie that I like as and when I see it or remember about it. So here are some of my favourite movies in no particular order.

October sky It is a beautiful movie, based on a true story about how not to give up on your dreams. It is one of those movies that leaves you with a very good feeling after watching. A must see.

Life is beautiful I loved this movie. It is based on how a father tries to protect his son in a concentration camp after being captured by the Nazis. I watched this movie with a heavy heart. Even though it is based on the troubled times when the Jews were captured and sent to concentration camps, no violence is shown in the movie. Thank God for that, otherwise I would not have not been able to watch this movie. One movie which I could not watch for this reason was Schindler’s List. We started watching it, but I could not continue. I didn’t have the heart to see it. I can’t even imagine the horrors those innocent people have suffered for no fault of theirs. Hubby watched it alone and later recounted to me that it was a very, very heart touching movie. Maybe someday I’ll have the courage to see it, but as of now, I can’t bring myself to see this movie. Strangely, this has never happened with me  for any other movie before.

The Shawshank Redemption This is one movie that has got one of the highest ratings ever and so we were curious to watch it. It did live upto  its reputation and to our expectations. It is a brilliant movie in terms of plot, characters portrayed by the leading actors and the direction. It shows how if you think positive, you can bring out the best in yourself in the worst of situations. A must watch movie.

Catch me if you can Hubby is a big fan of Tom Hanks :) So we had to watch this movie :) His character in the movie was great and it was a total fun movie to watch.

A beautiful mind Again, a very beautiful movie … a beautiful example of how it is your attitude towards the situation that matters and you can either make or break yourself with it.

Forrest Gump This movie has stayed back with us for long. Occasionally, you will find the Tom Hanks fan at our home (yes, that is the hubby :D ) speaking like and behaving like Forrest Gump :) Again, a movie that leaves you with lots of positivity.

As good as it gets This is the most recent movie that we watched. This one is a must watch just for the great performances by the lead characters, Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. I loved the humour in the movie.

The Lives of others This was a very different type of movie about how a spy gets involved in the personal lives of people he is spying. Let me not say anything more about the plot as I don’t want to reveal the plot. A movie that kept us engrossed throughout.

Groundhog day A lovely comedy, this one had me in splits throughout. Even thinking about it brings a smile on my face. One of the best comedies I have seen. I loved the concept, it was so unique. Definitely a must watch if you love comedy.

Hindi movies

Mr India I believe this is one of the best hindi movies ever made. It has everything.. good songs, dance, comedy, romance, emotions  and a great plot. To this date, I never tire of seeing this movie. And I love the parody song in this movie. I think both Anil Kapoor and Sridevi were great in this movie. And not to forget Annu Kapoor :D I loved his character in this movie.

Dilwaale Dulhania Le Jaayenge An all time favourite movie of mine, I think it is a total entertainer. I love every single thing about it. I must have watched it countless number of times and still don’t tire of it. Need I say more about it :) To me, Raj and Simran are the perfect couple leading a happy life somewhere even today :)

So that is it for now. There are many more. Maybe I”ll have a few more lists like this on my blog.

So have you seen these movies? What did you think about them?

A senseless post

Just as I see the end of the Blogathon approaching, I find it getting tougher and tougher. Not that I am any short of topics to write. But I am definitely very very short of time. Workwise, things are very hectic, but I thought I’ll just scribble a little post before leaving, as there won’t be any time to post once I reach home today. Cheebu has her annual day tomorrow and her dress is not yet completely ready :(  She also has exams starting this saturday, for which I need to help her study. Add to this, I have to do some technical reading at home too tonight.

So, apologies for this senseless post. Got to go now. Hopefully I will come up with a better post tomorrow.

Carrot tomato soup

Today, we are having Carrot tomato soup (inorder to utilize some of the tonnes of vegetables that hubby bought yesterday :) ). Let me share the recipe here

Ingredients

Medium sized tomatoes: 8

Carrots: 2 peeled and coarsely chopped

Potato: 1 medium sized peeled

Onion: 1 Medium sized

Ginger: 1 inch piece chopped coarsely

Garlic: 2 pods

Coriander leaves: A handful

Sugar: 2 tsp or according to taste

salt: according to taste

Black pepper powder: according to taste

Lemon juice: according to taste

Method

Add all the ingredients except the black pepper powder, sugar and lemon juice into the pressure cooker along with a cup of water and cook until 3-4 whistles. Let it cool down a bit. Open the pressure cooker and remove the skin of tomato. Put the contents of the cooker into a mixer and blend. Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer. Pass this mixture through a strainer. Add sufficient water according to your desired consistency and cook for around 5-7 minutes. In the end add the sugar and stir.  Your soup is ready :)

Garnish with black pepper powder, lemon juice and finely chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot.

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Just finished the soup. It was yummy and healthy.

Let me update it with a picture

DSC06349If you make this soup, do let me know how it turned out to be :)

My day in bullets

It has been a long and busy day today. These days, weekends are turning out to be busier than weekdays. I can’t think of anything to write, so I will just write about my day in bullets.

  • Woke up early as Cheebu had school. Went for a nice long morning walk with hubby after dropping her off to school.
  • Back home, had breakfast and got ready to go to market. Bought a few things for the home and looked up some furniture. Bought some diamond (imitation) studded laces. Cheebu’s school has annual function next week and she is participating in a group song. The teachers have given me an oversized frock (probably fit or 10-12 year girl) and asked me to modify it by hand(so that it is not permanent) to fit her :roll: stitch some diamond lace on it and also  make a necklace and bracelets out of the lace. I am in total despair over it :(
  • We were back just in time to pick her up from school after her singing practice where the teacher informed me that I need to get white stockings and white belle shoes as well.
  • Back home, made a quick lunch of Khichdi, while husband bought tonnes of vegetables :roll:
  • Had lunch and managed to have a short nap.
  • Had nice adrak chai after waking up and washed those tonnes of vegetables.
  • A neighbour from my old building had invited me for haldi  kumkum. Went there with Cheebu who was super excited to see herold friends and so were they. Managed to get white stockings from an old neighbour :)
  • Back home, got ready to go out as it was the annual day celebrations of our building.  Went down, and saw the programmes on stage, all wonderful performances by the kids and some bythe adults too. Cheebu was sad as she was not performing. We missed the celebrations at our old building very much. Last year, Cheebu performed on stage with friends in a group dance and a fashion show. We had a good time preparing for it. Hubby and I had won first prize in Antakshari. It had been lot of fun. Sigh! Maybe by next year, we will start enjoying here too. Had a dinner of Veg Biryani with boondi raita, pav bhaji and gulab jamun. Went for a short walk.
  • Back home, I was panicking as I had not posted anything for today. Hubby busied himself in making strawberry shake while I got down to writing this blog post. Enjoying some yummy strawberry shake as I am typing this.
  • Even as I write this, I am thinking about altering Cheebu’s dress for her annual day and getting it ready and the white belle shoes that I have to find by tomorrow :(
  • Good night folks! See you tomorrow :)
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