The Apprentice Diaries #8

The husband and I eat out a fair bit, and even more so before I quit work. We sample all sorts of joints — ranging from hole-in-the-wall-joints to the more foo-foo fine-dining kind of places. Despite the adventurous foodies in us, there are a couple of places we keep going back to. For days when we want to kick back and not have to think twice, just want be served without too many questions asked, when we know the service will be smiling, friendly and prompt (even if the food doesn’t make my skirt fly up), we have a couple of places we frequent without thinking twice. One of our favourite eateries in Panjim is pretty much a hole in the wall. It is cozy, fits 5 tables, the menu doesn’t boast of a wide selection and I can’t even say everything on that limited list is excellent. We have our staples, we stick to them. And yet, we keep going back there, once every week, on average. Because while no other place has nailed the local chorice-pao (minced Goan sausages, fried up and served up in a pav-sandwich) like they have. It’s the only place where I can walk in and know a smiling Pankaj, our friendly waiter, will plonk a large Gin, a bottle of tonic water and a couple of slices of lime before me, within minutes of setting my bum down. I don’t have to do so much as ask. And that is something I value much more than a 10-page menu with everything from lobster to tiramisu.

Anyhoo, the point of this long winded story is to say that I realised long ago that we’re the kind of people who value service and an overall experience, as much as (if not more) than just the quality or taste of food. And this hit home the most when I worked at the cafe. One of the advantages of being on the other side was to get a glimpse of what it takes to go beyond the obvious good food, good service, good ambience triumvirate. And because I’ve always been a hands-on kind of learner, and harboured the constant nagging thought that my last-job was not hands-on enough, this little stint really hit the spot for me. It was like diving deep right from the start, and from then on all efforts were real efforts to stay afloat. Every day was like field work — live, in the flesh and real. Of course getting hands-on from day 1 was fun, scary and exciting all at once.

And here’s the verdict: it’s far from easy.

The result: it’s made me far more forgiving of waiters and stewards as people, but not so much of those who set up food-related establishments and think the job is done.

I got to see and experience a fair bit of the ups and downs of life behind the counter. I realised just how important time management and precision in being organised in jobs like this really is. I experienced what being dog-dead-tired is. I learned what its like to face an emotional rollercoaster, swinging from frustration to ecstatic highs all in one day. It wasn’t all easy, and some of the things I’ve had to do were downright the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. Some of them truly tested my patience. Some even made me an emotional wreck.

Some highlights from what I remember:

Taking on rush-hour: We had our off-days, the slow days when people would trickle in, in ones and twos. And those were the days I enjoyed. Because I’d get the time to preen and primp the pastry case, try and make patterns on the cappuccinos, attempt something new like tasting and putting together salad dressing, frosting cupcakes and the like. Things that would otherwise be left to more experienced hands. And it was only possible because we had the luxury of time! Because when rush hour came in, we worked like a factory assembly line. Covers flying, remembering it all, working faster than the speed of light, balancing a gazillion things on a salver, remembering who ordered what, trying not to step on peoples toes, I can’t even finish the list here. There were days when someone managed to send a packet of ice crashing onto the floor. And the whole pantry was a fast-melting pool. One day we mucked up one persons order, three times in a row. Nothing is more painful than making multiple trips back and forth from the same table. One day, bang in the middle of rush hour the busiest time, I spilled hot coffee over my feet and I didn’t have the time to stop and take care of it. Rush hour was a bitch. But it was also where the best highs happened. When the peak time would subside and we’d get a breather, we’d also all be smiling, glad that it was over but also really, really chuffed that we’d pulled it off.

Dealing with children: I’m not a fan of toddlers that are old enough to talk, observe and understand stuff, but incapable of making decisions. Every time someone brought a tot to the pastry case and lovingly uttered those dreaded words, “What cupcake would you like?” my heart would sink. Because it meant nothing less than 15 agonising minutes of painful toddler-driven decision making. Which is basically non-decision-making. There were also days when the toddler would wander off from the table where his adults were seated, come up and demand a cupcake. We’d politely hand it over, only to be told later that it wasn’t authorised. By then the hopped-up-on-sugar kid had climbed up the railing, screeching at the top of his voice, when the mother rushed to grab him before he jumped.

Dealing with finicky/specific/annoying guests: “Can I have a pink lemonade, but not pink?” I was once asked. I took one look at the man and wanted to ask him just how weak his ego was, if a pink lemonade was enough to make him feel less manly. FYI, the pink came from fresh plums that we’d soak in the lemon concentrate. There is nothing more refreshing than that, and when you’re in need of a refreshing drink on a hot day, the colour is usually the last thing on your mind. Unless you are of course, the indecisive kid from the point above. Or the overly beefed up man who asked for the pink lemonade to be made non-pink. There was also a woman who would habitually arrive at 10 am every morning and ask for a club sandwich made of pound cake and cream cheese frosting. I was pretty sure she was doing some hard drugs. Because the mad look in her eyes as she watched me pipe the cream cheese over the slice of pound cake was baffling. It would have been less absurd if she just took her druggie-snack and went away, except she’d want to step in and assemble said crazy sandwich herself. Piping oodles of cream cheese on herself. One day she stacked 4 slices of pound cake laced with illegal, coronary-inducing amounts of cream chesse frosting inbetween. We had to tell her we couldn’t do it anymore. There were plenty of pesky people who came with them whims and fancies. Hummus in a pool on the platter, not in the dip bowl, please. Grilled sandwich, without butter please. Deconstructed salad, please. Bah.

Schmoozing with fancypants socialites: Possibly the hardest part of working at a fancypants cafe, being on the other side, was hobnobbing with the socialites that frequented the place. I realised that visiting the cafe as a customer leaves an impression that is worlds apart from the one that forms slowly when you are there everyday, seeing the same snobby faces day in and out. I was exposed to a weird bubble of socialites that I didn’t know existed in Panjim. Where were these people for the last three years that I have lived here? Panjim is small, surely I ought to have bumped into or at least seen them somewhere before. But it turns out they exist in a bubble, wander around invisible, hobnobbing only with each other at a select few places. Mostly far away from us mortals. I’m not good with fake PC. More so with fancy people who throw their money around but do not display the slightest bit of class otherwise. I serially observed that many of the richest people, who ran up the biggest bills often tipped the lowest. That kind of nonsense gets no respect from me. It was harder then, to keep a fake smile plastered on and be gracious to them lot.

Watching people: That I am a complete people watcher, is no secret. I love observing people, but I rarely stop there. I analysse and hypothesise and build entire worlds that I think they come from. And the cafe was a hotbed of great subjects for this activity. When I wasn’t tripping over my own feet delivering coffee and getting my brain in a knot totaling bill I was busy creating histories and backgrounds for so many people. I met and spoke with a lot of interesting characters too. The cafe is in an art gallery, so it attracted a fair number of intellectuals. And they’re always fun to mock chat with. Artists, writers, journalists, wannabe actors, restauranteurs, the works. World famous in Goa could be found at the cafe. With it came a fair bit of unwanted attention too. Like the one restauranteur who wanted to poach me because he thought having pretty girls as stewardesses wa s agreat hook to attract crowds. Yes, I wanted to spit in his coffee. There was also the bald Italian man who came to the cafe three days in a row and ordered espresso after espresso after espresso and when I still didn’t get why, decided to get rather forthcoming with his intentions. As luck would have it, he was bald and hot. Killer combination where I come from. I was gobsmacked, dumbfounded, speechless. For realz. And I cannot divulge how that story ended.

Getting it wrong some times: No matter how hard you try, there is always that 1% chance of a slip up happening. There was the time the salad dressing went out untasted and miserably lacking in salt. Then, another time when the tea bags were served with luke warm water. And yet another when we ran out of hummus mid-day and it hadn’t occurred to anybody to let the kitchen know. That is just the tip of the ice berg really. Things like this happened every so often and invited varying levels of wrath of the forces that Be. The trick in a hands-on workplace like a restaurant/cafe is to pick yourself up, dust yourself and get going again. All moping and self pity has to be shelved for later. There is almost no time to show that you have fucked up, or that you are low. Because that invariably sets odd a downward spiral of more things that go wrong. And they inevitably do. Trust me. I’m talking from experience of having set cupcakes down frosting-first, toppling coke on a table just as I gingerly set the glass down and cutting a cake off-centre. Wet Hands and Butter Fingers are my other names and the cafe taught me a thing or two in slowing down, focusing just a wee bit more and seeing what a long way that can actually take you.

Breaking old habits: The cafe tested my OCD to the max. There are few things worse than wanting so badly to stack the tissues ina  perfect pile, or line up the cupcakes just so, or keep endlessl wiping down the counter so it is always spotless; but not ever being able to, because you simply don’t have the time!! The same frustration crept u on me when I’d find an odd number of cupcakes remaining in the tray, or Id have to pack and uneven number of toasties, so the foil packages were on varying sizes. Needless to say I was forced to overlook many things, grudgingly, and focus on the big things. Did it reduce my OCD? Nope. Not even in the least bit. The other huge challenge I had was confronting my fear and hatred for math and numbers. I had to learn to sop spazzing out every time I had to total a bill, or key in a long list of things into the cash register. One time I mixed uo the product key with the quantity and ended up with a Rs 58,000 bill for a small pack of cupcakes. It only further enforced my fear of numbers.

This post has been long pending, and I realised every now and then that because I never completed the series, several people think I still volunteer my time at the Cafe. The truth is, it ended up being a 2-month stint because I was ready for more, and the limited space in the pantry just couldn’t give it to me. I wanted to be in the kitchen but that plan was moving slower than anticipated. C’est la vie. Because I had a blast for the 8 weeks that I was there and I cannot even begin to put in words what that experience did for me.


The Apprentice Diaries, was my attempt to chronicle life at the cafe. Follow the rest of the journey here.


Updates from the dark side

Grab a chair. We need to talk. This is the longest I have been MIA and I feel like I need to blurt it all out. So much has been going on, but I have had no time to stop and put the million floating thoughts down. It is possibly one of the worst things to happen to a compulsive writer. To have the unbearable itch to write, only to have that itch thwarted by temporary distractions and preoccupations. But such is life. But when some of you who wrote checking if everything was okay, and asked why I had gone silent, I realised I had to make some time to fill you in.

When you are the sort of blogger that beams out inane, but interesting details about your completely ordinary life week after week, there is a certain segment of readers who come to expect it of you. To them, silence means trouble. Something must be wrong, of course. But the truth is far from it. Things could not have been any better, as a matter of fact.

My eagerness to do many things all at once was putting me in a difficult place, setting me up for disappointment. At myself. At wanting to do many things, but not being able to achieve anything completely. Reminding myself to slow down and take one step at a time, and more importantly stay with one thing till it is done, has been a constant refrain in my life the last year. So once again, I decided that some things needed time. And focus. If I had to nudge them on to completion. And inevitably, focusing on one thing means several other things fall out of immediate line of vision. Like this blog, for example. C’est la vie.

So on Sunday morning, when I willingly woke up at the crack of dawn to get a head-start on the days to-dos, it dawned on me, I was choosing to wake up way earlier than normal. On a Sunday. To work. And I hadn’t spoken about it here.

I should tell you at this point, that the to-do list looked something like this:

– Bake banana cake
– Bake apple cake
– Bake chocolate cake

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That should give you some indication of what has kept me busy. And after that long-winding premise, here are the updates.

– So, what’s keeping me so busy? Well, mostly cakes. I’ve baked and delivered 8 cakes in the last 14 days. Orders. This has been in the works for a while, and though I very informally took my first order in March, more because I was forced into it by the kind lady who told me she’d pay money to eat my cakes, we only began to put the wheels of this little business idea into motion more recently. It took me a good long while to actually accept that I can do this. Since then, thoughts have turned into plans, random chitter-chatter about “what we should do” has morphed into intense lunch and dinner meetings between the husband and I, words have been put down, pictures taken and ideas pinned into place. Hungry & Excited is going into business!

– I now know what they mean when they say its not easy being an “entrepreneur”. Of course I use that word very loosely, because I’m keeping the business simple and very much home-based. And even that has kept me on my toes. Endless lists of little things to be looked into, odds and ends to be accomplished and it has kept me off the grid weeknights, weekends, holidays, afternoons and everything in between. I know this, because I have the bestest Business Partner around. The husband, who somehow manages to unlock secret reserves of energy and enthusiasm even at the end of long days, and on weekends when he should really just be kicking back. If it weren’t for him I’d still be tossing the idea about in my head. Instead, we now have a facebook page, a spanking logo (Thanks again, Shyam!), a nearly-complete website wireframed out, the 3 cakes we’re beginning with shot and paparazzi’d and I’m on to thinking packaging and product innovation. It’s harder when you’re on your own and have nobody running after you with a deadline chasing not too far behind. And somehow, that is where the fun is too.

– And doing shit on your own means equal parts heated arguments, equal parts sudden overwhelming love for your partner who is probably the only reason you’re actually putting this idea to life. Like I love to say, and he hates to hear, I am the hands and he is the brain. Tell me to bake a cake and I’ll do it happily. Ask me what my vision is, tell me to write copy and invite me for a brainstorming session and all my creativity flies out of the window. So we’ve had to take ourselves to day long meeting places, adequately armed with cocktails and laptops in order to crack the website, we’ve turned my second bedroom into a photo-shoot zone by placing cutting boards on my laundry stand, and then gotten goofy with our ideas running wild.

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On Sunday, I baked the three cakes I’m planning to launch the business with, and distributed them in little packages to some certified H&E Guinea Pigs. We spent a large part of the evening driving from one home to the other, handing out samples and explaining what we’re trying to do and inviting feedback. I have to say, I am more than touched and overwhelmed by out forthcoming people have been with the ideas and suggestions.

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– When I haven’t been testing recipes, baking endless cakes, delivering a few, writing copy, maintaining that damn fb page and thinking of allied ideas for the site, I’ve been indulging in all things related to baking of course. I’ve been lucky to find likeminded friends, who share the same wild obsession with baking goodies, for learning new tricks, and losing track of time with oven mitts on. So it was a happy afternoon when G came over and we laboriously whipped up this fruit tart. A rainy day spent indoors could not have been more fun!

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I made these mini pies stuffed with peaches and cherries, with leftover pastry dough from the pie above, and they were perfect for rainy evening dinner with friends.

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And then I made these sausage tarts for our annual monsoon Coke Studio Sessions. Suffice to say I ate half a slice, and the rest was finished by the others.

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– There is also the minute detail about how my life is suddenly filled with people. Somewhere in the drafts I have an unfinished story about how I feel about the changing face of friendship, in adulthood. Kinship and a sense of belonging has always been close to my heart, and I’ve recently realised that for the introvert that I always was, avoiding big gatherings and sticking to the back of the room at parties waiting to be spoken to, I am now the person who is seeking out various relationships and friendships with all sorts of people. In Panjim alone (which is to say I’m not even counting the bloggie buddies, and friends from out of town here) I have a set of old friends from work, I have friends from the blog, I have a friend from school with whom I rediscovered a past relationship, I have baking buddies, I also have a group of girls with whom I meet once every week, and minus the exchange of money in the form of a kitty (as in kitty party, of course), we do it all. Eat, drink, giggle, gossip, cook and generally have a good time for a few hours every week. Most recently added to the mix is a senior citizen couple, with whom the husband and I enjoyed drinks and dinner a few times. This is not how I used to be. And if I had the time and mindspace, I’d write that post, finish it and hit publish. But it must be said that there has been a fair bit of socialising of all kinds.

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Not so long ago I was basking in the glory of being alone, and having all the time in the world to myself. It’s funny how things change. So quickly.

– As much as the mind has been stretched beyond its limits, my body has had to keep up. In an attempt to shake things up, as I do every 3-4 months, I have now joined a Zumba class. I went in without expectations, as I have had previous bad experiences with hopelessly anaerobic Bollywood moves being passed off as Zumba. But this class has hit the spot for me. It is just the right kind of vigorous sweat-it-out kind of workout I need, but it keeps the interest going by mixing in peppy music, and twice a week I have been treating this time as my time to kick back and dance like nobody is watching. Of course it helps that nobody is actually watching!

Life’s neverending to-do list grows on, but I’m happy to report has been tackled, tamed and pinned down. Temporarily. I’m far from done, and isn’t that always the case? I’ve learned to make peace with a satisfactory level of accomplishment and give up that compulsive need to be on top of everything all the time. I’m not multitasking supermom, and I think I’m okay with that.

The going has been good. My head has been filled with ideas, my hands have been busy, my mind and body feels stretched beyond belief and most importantly, my oven has been mostly warm and overused through it all. For now, that is enough. Because it has all left me immensely happy. In a content, peaceful sort of way, rather than the hyperactive frenetic happiness that I am used to feeling.

You realise your life has taken a turn for the better, in moments when sleep eludes you, and you lie awake because you are bursting with excitement, and yet all you feel is an immense calm sweep over you. You silently watch the fan above you whirr on endlessly, listen to the snoring person next to you, all the while wishing you could just fall sleep (because God knows you need the rest); but no, a weird sort of thankfulness for how things have turned out keeps you up at night. Things have turned out simple. But just right.

Goofing off on a self-timer shoot for the picture in the prototype above
Goofing off on a self-timer shoot for the picture in the prototype above

I think they call that feeling gratitude. And as is always the case, simple truths don’t dawn on me subtly. They don’t silently slip in like the guest who arrives at the party late, who lurks around at the back before melting into the crowd. They tend to crash-land, face-first, right before me. Making me stumble and stare, completely agog. Like when the attention-whore of a guest, who has a serious knack of making his presence felt, no matter how late he arrives shows up and does something outlandish.

So on Sunday morning, when I chose to wake up way earlier than normal, to work, I realised things have changed.

I’ve crossed over on to the dark side. I’m going into business.

Love on a rainy evening

Love is a sticky, sweet thing. And most days I find it in the crystalline strings of mundanity that neatly form a web around me. The same threads that bind me to my stupid little life. The life I am grateful for every single day.

On a perfectly uneventful evening, when nightfall comes chasing us down earlier than expected, I see how difficult it is to escape its gummy warmth. I stare out at the inky emptiness that is starless sky. The velvety sheet spread out before me, makes me want to reach out and grab. But all I get are fist-fulls of nothingness, filled with plenty of peace and calm.

A few days ago, on a night washed out, or as I called it, ruined by a sudden downpour, I felt it again. The dull murmur of the drizzle humming along incessantly, and with every unexpected breath of fresh air that wafted in speedily, my mellow surroundings stirred. I looked around and realised that the ruins that remained, were normal. Except they were everything but boring.

Love is a bully. With a gooey grasp it clings on, refusing to let go. Challenging the gnarled, fixed ideas that sit like blocks in my head. Making me pull them out, toss them in the air, re-arrange and fix them anew. So when I went hunting for love in an escape from work and life, I found love in getting work done together.


Every now and then the viscous strands of love catch me by surprise. Tugging at the line on my face, turning it into a smile. Love is a crafty, sly thing, like that. Creeping up in ways I wouldn’t imagine. Not in elaborately designed perfect date-nights, complete with candles, roses and wine; but on unplanned evenings indoors, spent lazily slumped on beanbags, with mugs of beer and a content silence.

Love is annoying too, I suppose. Like a sickeningly sweet song that plays on and on. Seemingly perfect in the glow of a rainy evening. Gomez has been discovered, shared, played on loop and abused. Until the object of your love, begs for something new.

Some days I run races in my mind. Escaping this stupid, little life. On journeys far and wide, as far as my tanned legs will take me. Building multistory castles in the air. Imagining an ever-after. Moving ahead too soon. And it is on those days that I feel it the most. The sticky, sweet, sugary strands that bind me together tug at my heart. Pull me in, bring me right back to where we are. To just being, coexisting, cohabiting, and feeling absurdly content and happy.

Love is a sticky, sweet thing. And most days I stick my tongue out and taste it.

Happy pills

Coke Studio is like my boomerang music. No matter how far I fling it, it comes back. Harder. Knocking me down all over again, like it is the very first time. That is probably the single biggest thing that separates good music from the bad. The good stuff never really leaves you. Like the classics, like good old real rock, like The Beatles. You know how you never outgrow them? That’s what I love about it. Repeat-value. Even after a 100 plays, I am still as excited and enchanted when these playlists make a comeback into my system. I’m pretty sure many years from now I’ll be sharing the Coke Studio awesomeness with several nieces  and nephews.

It all started with the kickass first scene of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, along with the rest of the lovely soundtrack that featured several Coke Studio favourites of mine. Naturally, I’m back to savouring these little happy pills again. In not-so-small doses, of course.

Can you tell I really, really love Coke Studio? Is it too early to do round two of my ode to them? So soon after the last one? If you think it is, shut this tab and go back to whatever it is you were doing. If you want some more nuggets of musical genius, stay. Scroll, hit play, enjoy.

Coke Studio has done a lot of good for my listening. It’s widened my perspectives and introduced me to kinds of music I wouldn’t know. Like Pashto — traditional Afghani music, characterised by the use unequal metres in percussion. There’s just no way you can listen to a pashto track sitting down. It is smack-you-in-the-face, get-up-and-tap-your-feet-music music for me. Unless of course you’re in an office. In which case you make do with some not-so-subtle shoulder shaking and grooving, ignoring the speculative stares your co-workers give you. At least, that’s what I used to do.

Speaking of happy music, nobody does it like this man does. If a song has the capacity to make you break down into a stream of happy tears, its done its job.

And then there’s my go-to light, happy-happy instrumental track. Never fails to make me groove a bit. In the car, in my home walking from my desk to the kitchen, while cooking and when the dude in the kitchen opposite me is staring into my kitchen window, while out for a walk, any.goddamn.time.

That is my track that proves you don’t need words. You just need some good old musical sense. The kind that seems to be fast disappearing off the face of this planet. That, and some funk. Like the old man violinist at 1.01. Oh and if you have a pretty face like the backing vocals girls Zoe and Rachel Viccaji, it definitely helps.

Okay, I can see why good music is a rare package to find. Hmm.

Then there’s my quintessential rain music. The few tracks that always make a comeback when the rains hit, get played over and over till the husband wants to throw me out of the house, with complains about how we never listen to his kind of music. I don’t know how this kind of music can ever get dull, or monotonous, or unpleasant.


Do you think its something they eat that makes their voices so unbelievably grainy and sexy? Grain with lilt is the ultimate sex-on-tape music for me and that’s why I love these men.

Or maybe its that grubby stubble that makes me a little weak in the knees and clouds my judgement.

And because this whole second helping of happy pills was brought on by the soundtrack of that movie I just watched, I must share with you the other favourite track that was covered too, by Atif Aslam. Here is the original by an original diva. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.

Apart from introducing me to Pashto, Coke Studio has showed me a riffy side to traditional Qawwalis, another one for a dark, rainy night.

Forced me to give Atif Aslam another change, and he did so good.

Showed me the powerhouse that is Abida Parveen.

Most of all its given me hours of endless happy music and kept me coming back for more and more and more. But I’ll stop now, and let you discover the magic for yourself.

Coke gets me high

No powdery white contraband substances for me. No vile, dark liquids passed off as cola either. The only kind of Coke that gets me really high is Coke Studio. The Pakistani variety, to be really specific.

This post has been a long time coming, ever since I promised here that I list my top 5 reccos from the beauty that is Coke Studio Pakistan. I dilly-dallied over it for the longest time because I couldn’t commit to just 5 tracks. I had a horrible time choosing from my favourites. Every time I made a list, I felt like I was letting the excluded tracks down. I even consulted with friends, fellow Coke Studio junkies, and everyone agreed — top 5 was just not enough. I would be doing the show and the musicians an injustice, given the hundreds of hours of intoxication, entertainment and emotion I have enjoyed thanks to the show.

If you’ve been reading this blog for long enough you might think I’m being a stuck record with the Coke Studio Pakistan love, when I lay it thick as I usually do. My love for the Pakistani original increased many times over when the lame Indian imitation hit MTV. I was overcome with a feeling of anger and frustration that a so called music channel can pander to the incestuous, you-scratch-your-back-I’ll-scratch-yours melting pot of mediocre music that forms the majority of the Indi-pop and Bollywood scene these days. Leslie Lewis doesn’t know his elbow from his arse, when it comes to composing and producing a show like this, and I felt outraged at the sham that he put up, two seasons in a row. I felt like it went against the philosophy that is at the heart of a show like this one.

I can’t think of a single day that has gone by without listening to at least one Coke Studio Pakistan track. I have gone through highs, and seriously obsessive phases of listening to a single or a couple of tracks on loop, all day, for days on end. And even in the lows, when my interest shifts, I still play a track or two every now and then. But the love came rushing back this past weekend when we plugged in out iPods at the shack in Arambol, and I realised that both Shashank and I had playlists that were almost 70-80% Coke Studio led. That is some serious love, I think. And now I feel compelled to share the love.

Because it was impossible to drill down this list to just 5 tracks, I have cheated a bit and plugged in a few extra tracks. I’m sure you won’t mind.

1) Chori Chori – Meesha Shafi, Season 3

This was the track that introduced me to Coke Studio, in 2007 and I remember being completely bowled over Meesha Shafi. For her voice, her poise, her confidence and for pulling off that illegally gorgeous shade of red lipstick. This is one of the songs I listen to only on youtube, because the video adds to the intoxication. I have harboured a serious crush on her ever since, sometimes listening to her tracks into the night, dreaming about her and discussing the nitti-gritties of the Meesha Phenomenon with the boys.

If you find her as lusciously beautiful, check out Alif Allah and Dasht-e-tanhai also featuring her. Strong contenders that almost made the list too.

2) Chal Diyay – Zeb & Haniya and Javed Bashir, Season 3

Sometimes music inspires instant love and this track did that for me. Javed Bashir’s grainy, raw unbridled vocals perfectly complemented by Zeb’s supple, sweet voice make this track so laden with emotion. It gives me goosebumps. Every. Single. Time.

I was charmed by Zeb and Haniya for the longest time after I first heard them and was introduced to how upbeat and rock-y Persian music could be, with so little effort. Bibi Sanam and Nazar Eyle are some of my other Zeb and Haniya favourites.

3) Rang Laaga – Sajjad Ali and Sanam Marvi, Season 4

Coke Studio hits are definitely women-heavy, with the sheer variety and spectrum in female voices rocking the series. Sanam Marvi and Sajjad Ali are another duo that work like a charm. There is a certain inexplicable beauty that comes through when a duo fall in sync so perfectly and completely, this is one track that really brings that to life for me. I wish more Indian female singers in the commercial realm would aim for a voice with such body. I’m so sick fo the Shreya Ghoshals and the Sunidhi Chauhans of the world. Its time to bring some bass back to our music.

I have always applauded Rohail Hyatt’s sense of balance. In using the right blends for the most appropriate tracks. Rockifying only those tracks that lend themselves to heavy instrumentation, knowing when to cut back and keep things simple, letting the words shine through in lyric-led tracks, using the brightest and best voices for those tracks that need range and emotion. Rang Laaga has the right blend of rock influences, getting heavier as the song ends, yet without leaving you wanting to shut the music off. Neray Aah and Saari Raat are two of my other favourites from this category.

4) Seher – Farhan Rais Khan, Season 5

I was tempted to exclude this one from the list because I have already posted it as one of my favourites. Cheeky way to free up a spot for another track I’m dying to squeeze in. But this list would be sorely incomplete. So here is Seher again, bringing you the Sitar like you have probably never heard it before.

Season 5 was the best season by far, with every episode having at least 2 tracks worth remembering and turning into earworms. It was also the season with some really intense/heavy (lyrics-wise and music-wise) tracks, like Rung and Wah Wah Jhulara.

5) Aik Alif – Noori and Saieen Zahoor, Season 2

I have always been a sucker for rustic, unrestrained throw that folks singers are blessed with. The way that they effortlessly toss their voices around, hitting every note perfectly and making it look like child’s play, gets me every time. Saeen Zahoor is one such voice. He performed in Goa in 2011 and I still kick myself for not finding a way to crash the gig. Noori has a vocalist who manages to do the same, but with some degree of rock-refinement. Listen to the track and you’ll know what I mean. He has a polished, yet effortless throw and knows how to use it well.

In my next life, I want to marry a singer. Because when men sing like this, its very easy to fall in love. Aaj Latha Naeeo and Hor Ve Neevan further reinforce this thought for me.

I wish there was a way to get you to listen to each one of these tracks, without tiring. But I’ll just have to settle with hoping that I can pass on the love. I am lucky to have a bunch of friends who share my obsession. From the time I was introduced to Coke Studio in 2007, to date, I have been fortunate to meet friends who are equally or more obsessed too. Long distance exchange of files, sharing, obsessing, discussing these tracks to death, to screening the videos late into rainy monsoon nights, I think we have more than done this show justice and I cannot wait for the next season to hit us.

As I patiently, I go back to listening to these favourites on loop. As the seasons progressed, Coke Studio only kept raising the bar and beating their own benchmarks. Season 5 was the peak, for me. Even though some of my most loved tracks are from seasons 2, 3 and 4, season 5 was consistently stupendous. And for that reason alone, I think the Pakistani original knocked the pants off the Indian imitation. Evidently, I am not the only one who thinks so.

Sea-ing is believing

You know you are just a step short of turning irreversibly Goan when you get that annual itch to re-embrace the joys of living in a place the whole world comes to holiday in. When you spend the whole season avoiding the hardcore tourist-y areas because you can’t stand the onslaught of outsiders. And then just when it is all about to close, you feel that unbearable urge to have a little taste of what you now consider your own. So you brave the heat, the humidity, the possibility of getting a sunstroke, and make that annual before-the-season-ends trip to the beach.

the end

When you live in Goa, things like the beach, cheap booze, nightclubs and parties, sunbeds and massages become passe. Normal life takes over, and you forget that all these holiday pleasures exist just a stone’s throw from anywhere you might be in Goa. And like everyone else here, we mostly take these luxuries for granted. People think living in Goa means that we exist in a permanent bubble of inebriation and when the weekend rolls along, we obviously find ourselves collapsed in a drunken stupor, on some beach or the other.

The truth however, is far from it. When you live in Goa, holidaying by the beach takes effort. It takes planning, it takes scouting out untouched beaches, it takes hoping and praying that the secluded spot you once discovered still remains beyond the ever-increasing reach of the growing multitudes of tourists. And most often, it takes a whole lot of motivation to break out of normal life and get going.

But invariably, trips like that end up like no other. Despite the best efforts to plan bring people together, pick a place and head out at a mutually agreeable time, we found ourselves heading out over an hour later than we had planned, short of one man in the army, with no destination in mind.


All we knew is that we wanted to get away for a day and a night, relax by the sea and have a good time. There is usually no better time to do this than in the wonderful twilight zone between the thick of season and the start of the torrential rains. It is in that in limbo zone that there is a lull in the air, the shacks are half torn apart, the beaches desolate and you cannot ignore the mild ache in your heart when you realise that its that time of year again, when Goa says goodbye to a blistering summer, and begins to prepare to get totally washed out by the monsoon.


We were lucky to find a rather empty spot of beach on Arambol, with just enough beach-hut-acco options, a couple of decent looking restaurants and a roaring sea, within a hundred meters of where we finally decided to stay. Right on the beach.

photo 2

Plans work best when there are no plans, I think. And a weekend of meandering relaxation was just what all of us needed. The highlights of which were:

– A chatty shack-owner who was excited that he had some, as he described us “dhang ke log“, to keep him company after a long hiatus of boring tourists. He was a tad too chatty for our liking, but we couldn’t complain though because he shared his Goan goodies with us and kept the beer flowing.


– Being the only people in the shack that night and getting a free reign with the music. In went out ipods and out came a never-ending loop of our kind of music. And that is the biggest boon one can ask for on a beach in Goa. To spend the entire time without suffering through copious amounts of Akon, Pitbull, Rihanna and the like.

– Having a random private scene in a shack that is otherwise open to public. A few other regulars showed up, and it turned into one big gathering of people sharing the music, conversation and laughter. In the amber glow that dotted the shack I realised, this almost never happens to us in our daily lives. Back home in Panjim, we step back into the routine, get on track with life. But it is on a beach in Goa where the shack owner who wants to retire at the age of 35, an Iranian didgeridoo player who has lived in India for nine years, and us non-Goans feeling as Goan as ever, can actually bond and be one.


– Getting unabashedly overwhelmed by life lessons on how to make the most of a cheaper living expenses in Goa for some, realising that I must crack on with my “plans” quickly, lest they remain just that — plans, and some of us were given pearls of wisdom at the hands of a foreigner meting out simple truths quite unthinkingly.

– Laughing uncontrollably at one of us hallucinating poles holding a thatched roof where there wasn’t one, one of us confessing to being Deepika Padukone’s hang-out-buddy in his dreams, one of us having an epiphany and realising all he really wants to do is “be a hippe, man” and one of us choosing to suddenly start listening to David Guetta, in private. Yeah, it was that kind of night.

– Realising that Fellini’s was shut, and landing up in 21 Coconuts Inn (yes, you can laugh. we did too.), spotting things like peppAr chicken and hOmOs and pita bread on the menu. Way too much giggling, dubious videos filming, over-enthusiastic dog feeding, and more giggling followed by chilling on deck chairs even though all of us really just wanted to crash. Its quite a trip to be on a deathly quiet beach, with no light in sight for miles ahead, and just the sound of the waves crashing on. It lulled me to sleep and I yanked myself away before the whole night passed by, with me on a deck chair, in the open.

– Breakfast with chatty shack owner and random profusely drunk Frenchman who gave us all fist bumps, made himself at home at our table and told us his life story in a very vehement and bordering-on-violent manner. He then went across the whole shack, making himself at home at every occupied table. In Arambol, it works, apparently.

– A long and lazy morning that featured some swimming, some serious sun soaking, more beer downing, some idiotic dancing, some more film-making and finally when the hunger pangs struck, we packed up and left. Making our way back home, and grabbing lunch en route.



It was a short, but extremely relaxing and fun-filled getaway. I know I speak for the husband too, when I say this. As usual it reminded us how we ought to take advantage of the beach in our vicinity more often. As usual we pledged to do it again. At least once a month. And as usual, we came away rather full of beans, happiness and some of us, wisdom too.


As usual I realised that there is really no better way to rejuvenate myself than having the damp sea-air in my face, the wind in my hair and the atmosphere pregnant with a languid relaxed vibe to drench myself in. Its funny how this fact escapes me every now and then, until I go back to the sea, and it hits me like an epiphany all over again.

It seems some people travel the world to find it and fill themselves with life again. Thankfully, for some of us, its just a matter of wandering into our backyards, before we find peace again.

Post title inspired by my very own Bhaisaab, without whose enthu, the weekend away might not have ever happened.

Before the moment has gone

Bright ideas. They creep up on me tauntingly, at the oddest time of day. Like the other day, when that genius thought that’s been dodging me for weeks now, finally decided to strike home, at exactly the same moment I had my fingers soaked in sticky bread dough goop. Or the time I wanted to suddenly eat BR’s new Belgian chocolate flavour and decided to have it delivered home. Except, it was past midnight. Then there was the time I suddenly wanted to wear the new dress that’s been stowed away in a corner of my cupboard for weeks now. But for the tiny part about my legs sporting a neat little two-week stubble mini forest, the kind even my boho self couldn’t bear to ignore, it was a super idea. Just badly timed. Also, the day I decided I would make palak paneer for dinner because I had two bunches of the freshest palak. I proceeded with alacrity and went through the prep at top speed, only to realise at the very end that the brightly coloured packet in the back of my freezer was actually frozen corn and not paneer.

Multiple self-face-palm moments are becoming quite the norm here. It is like my head has a life of its own. I have to then swat various ideas, before they take on the gargantuan proportions of that Monster in my Head, occupying every inch of bandwidth in my tiny brain, leaving no room for some real, productive thinking.

I have to push it far into the rear end of my priorities, for fear of it turning into a stuck record that cannot move forward until I’ve banged out that idea that was bursting in my mind. Or I’ve gone waxing and worn that damned dress. Or gotten a brain freeze from that delicious ice cream. Or I’ve re-made that palak paneer. Ahem, with the paneer, this time. Exhausting. So a couple of nights ago when the thoughts of that Vietnamese Iced Coffee came to me late one night, as I lay thinking up new ways to cool off, because the AC is just not cutting it anymore, I knew I was doomed. I knew that the thoughts of tiny globules of condensed milk laced with dark coffee shooting upwards out of a straw, into my mouth would haunt me until I actually went to said cafe and got myself some.

The upside is one serving of that coffee was bound to shake me out of this summer lethargy. One drink would calm and cool me down for a few hours at least. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Just when I am beginning to tear my hair out wondering just how much hotter it can possibly get. But there’s nothing I could do about the idea then. When all of Panjim around me was fast asleep.

Once again the thought hangs around, floating about at the fringes of my mind, at a time when I really needed not to think about what I cannot have. . Hogging mindspace, like a constant reminder of a wish unfulfilled. A craving unsatiated. A summer-harassed body deprived. An overheated mind, un-caffeinated.

Sometimes though, at the most opportune moment thoughts like this leap forth from the back of your mind, and turn into large impossible-to-ignore ideas that cannot be pushed away any longer. I wait for those moments, the most. At 4 pm one afternoon last week. I took off and went back to an old haunt. Because there’s nothing like a thought that’s acted upon immediately. Like giving into a craving, unthinkingly.

Iced coffee, check.


Almost-forgotten idea now put down on paper, check.


Bright ideas. Some times, creep up on me tauntingly, at the oddest time of day. And sometimes, the timing just couldn’t be more perfect.

This business of writing

I’ve had my head in a muddle the past few days. Well you already know that, but from the obvious things I have written about in the last few posts, I’ve had my head mixed up with the state of my writing, in particular. I’m tossing up ideas of a overhaul for the blog. I’ve gone full circle and back on that one. I’m sending out my samples to people around Goa. I am constantly getting disappointed with the lack of enthusiasm around here. I have a couple of half-baked ideas but I am sputtering at the start, unable to give it that heave-ho that it needs to turn into a well-formed work. And it seems like the words that need to find their way out are just bubbling beneath the surface. I’m feeling a bit stuck.

There is work. And there is this blog. And somewhere I want the two to meet. I know most people would scream and shout and tell me never to mix the two. But I am on that road already — the one that takes you to the thing you love, gives you that mighty high from the joy and satisfaction that comes from doing what you really love all the time, and makes you want to never leave. So no, I don’t think I can chuck this again and go back to a life of writing contrived, empty words that don’t mean anything to me. Words that don’t reflect me in some part.

I want to continue to write about the things that I care about. Things that I can put my voice into. Things that I know and feel for. Blabbering on about my life as a self-proclaimed Goan, about bringing together my love for food and the love for words, about my experiences as a kitchen newbie, about Goa, about travelling around, about living away from home and finding your way around.

I want this to become the thing that brings home the bread. The thing that I spend endless nights labouring over. The thing I want to come back to again and again. I want the two to meet. To become the thing I do. And not just the thing I do when I have nothing else to do.

I guess what I’m saying is I want to be a writer.

I am neither qualified, nor do I have any accolades to prove it. All I have are my words. Lots and lots of them. But being turned down by half twits, getting edited by people whose grammar is worse than mine, sending samples into the ginormous black hole that is “writing opportunities in Goa” has a way of making you wonder what those words are worth, if it doesn’t lead me to being this writer that I want to be.

When does one become a writer? If the word “writer” conjures images of a misanthropic person holed up in an attic, banging away his/her next bestseller on a typewriter Macintosh, wipe that away now. I have shied away from calling myself a writer for so long now. Silly really, considering its the only thing I have consistently stuck to, since the day I could string a few sentences down together creatively. Since the time my dinky baby poems were published in a community magazine. Since those adhoc attempts at interning with music and lifestyle magazines. Since struggling and fighting to keep a high school magazine alive. Since the time I spent endless hours of college class time furiously scribbling stories in a notepad hidden under the desk, rather than taking down copious subject matter notes like I was supposed to. Since I decided to take off on a whim and enter the world of advertising. Since I bumbled along that for 6 long years until I realised it wasn’t the kind of writing I cared for. Since I quit it all to the writing I like. Since I decided to spend my days and nights dedicated to indulging in the things I love — and reading and writing all about it.

And that brings us to where I am today. To spewing one too many words, here and here. To days spent chalking out story ideas in numerous word documents. To jotting down random thoughts on my phone, in a book, while I’m out running, when Im shopping, in a car, on the beach, desperate to turning each of them into words that tell stories. To a point where I write and rewrite blurbs and plot lines in my head all the time. To constantly thinking of new ways to express my food stories. To turning to this blog, every day. Penning down so many of these words. Whether I post them or not.

This is my scribbling pad. My training area. My practice. My daily riaz, as it were. Having a deep background in Hindustani music, its ironic how these concepts of discipline, structure and tedium that my mother (also my music guru) dinned into me for so many years come back to me now. The art may differ, but the path remains the same.

Music then, writing now. But the daily rigour continues. And then I saw the same thoughts echoed here, in a way that really spoke to me.

If I keep writing words then I’ll become a writer.

So I guess what I am saying is I want to be a writer. But in so many ways, maybe I already am.

As easy as pie


Slice up some squidgy pink figs. Dice a box of pulpy ripe strawberries. Toss with flour, honey and cinnamon. Line a tart tin with pastry. Pile it up with the lovely fruity goodness. Weave a lovely lattice over it. Paint it shiny. Stick it in a hot oven. And that’s how you celebrate a milestone.

An almost-missed milestone

At some point today, silently, unbeknownst to me, this little space on the Interwebz has crossed over to the far side. When I was busy meeting my deadline for the day, ranting over an annoying client, and wondering what hope there is for writers like me when dealing with clients who don’t know their elbow from their arse (actually, the quandary was in figuring out first-person from third), this blog crossed the 100,000 hits mark. And just like that another milestone went by. Noiselessly.

In 2011, I made a big move with this blog. I moved to wordpress. It’s when I let analytics start clocking things like hits and follows and comments and what not — things I never worried my silly head with before. And like I said in my first post here, I’m usually not one for change. But something about this move felt like I had pulled out my vintage typewriter, put on grown-up pants and writer’s glasses, and changed something very central to this blog. The writing itself. One year later, I could tell the difference (something I have spoken about somewhere in this very, very long post). It is still the same old me, same old self-obsessed personal blog. In fact, I think it’s all you’ll ever get. But I can safely say I’ve moved from sharing inane details for the sake of chronicling my life, to sharing inane details because they form a part of a larger thought process of my life. Thought processes that evidently are universal. Because it rings true for others out there, and has brought me closer to so many like-minded people.

To say this space has become an indelible part of my life would be an understatement. VC thinks I spend more time on my blog than out in the real world. He says I have more blog friends, than real world friends (and he just might be right, on that one). He says I am bordering on obsessed and must make time for other things in life. Well, he can blame himself completely for the way things have turned out, because the truth is, I wouldn’t have made this move if he hadn’t pushed me to. When he is not busy wagging his finger and chiding me, he thinks there is a book-worthy writer in me, more than I think of myself. And today, he drank an extra drink to celebrate the milestone, out at a work dinner.

A hundred-thousand hits — I couldn’t have done it without him. And you. And you. And you…and you! I could go on, but you know who you are, ladies and gentlebugs. Those of you who subscribe to my incessant self-involved chatter. Those of you who click through and come back day after day and humor me. Those of you who share your thoughts in the comments section. Those of who you I read, who provide constant inspiration, entertainment, contemplation and silent strength. Those of you who I read over and over and feel so akin to.

Those of you that are clued into the the trivialities of my mundane life. The minutiae of my stream of consciousness. My eternal, never-ending monologue, rants and raves, and the many times I wax eloquent about the same things that overwhelm me time and again.

And then there are those of you who send me emails. Those of you with whom I have exchanged words beyond the walls of this corner in cyber space. Those of you who have become real people, rather than names in my list of comments to moderate. Those of you who have become friends, fellow-passionate women in arms, kindred spirits.

This blog has played so many roles in my life. It has helped me, across various instances, get up, get well, get over, get going, get good, get happy. Like Stephen King says, “Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for letting me. For indulging me, for giving me the freedom to drink and be filled up.

Thank you, universe

Even three years down, some times, I have to stop to pinch myself. As a reminder, that some of the events that transpire are not wholly concocted by my hyper-active imagination. That it is in fact real life. Really happening. In the flesh.

I have to some times remind myself that, even when I wake up on a Sunday morning with absolutely no plans whatsoever, it is not impossible to soon find myself in a little spot of sunlight, beneath a canopy of drying vines, with a spicy chai between my palms, and a book with its pages fluttering, placed in my lap. Maybe a cat will make itself at home by my feet, maybe I’ll look up at the end of the chapter, and see the beaming smile of a woman with blonde dreadlocks down to her waist, greet me from across the table.

It is entirely possible that I will then spend the next few hours lazily lounging around, legs outstretched before me, hungrily finishing my book, only pausing to sip the third cup of chai or to dodge a bumble bee that darts towards my face.

And somewhere in the course of the day, it might probably dawn on me that it is in fact completely possible to spend a whole day with a friend, in near-silence. Without hanging out. Without the constant chatter, banter and incessant communication. That it is in fact completely possible to enjoy a whole day together, in peace. Him with his book, me with mine.

Maybe somewhere, I will lose track of time and suddenly realise how my morning has turned around, and how I am so far removed from the lazy day I envisaged for myself. I might sit back and smile to myself, chuffed. Because it is a good feeling to know that just three hours after I woke up even on a Sunday with no plans whatsoever, it is not at all unusual to find myself in place like this.


Completely normal. Completely possible. Completely at home.

Some times, even after all these months, I have to pinch myself. As a reminder to savour the little pleasures. The short drive to the beach, to escape the lull of routine. A a dip in the sea to refresh my summer-scalded body. The joy of wearing shorts and putting my feet up at a cafe. Of having a cat amble by, reach out and tickle it. And to continue to sit around for hours without the unspoken pressure to buy copious amounts of food and drink, but with the liberty to chill out with a book, not leave until it is done.

Some times, I stop and pinch myself. When the many little events of our every day life wane grey and meld into one, as they become passe. Part of life. Every day life as I know it, this is my way to remind myself to wake up and smell the summer sunshine. I have to pinch myself to remember that this is real life. In the flesh. That the universe did good, when it conspired to put us here, now.

Way too much sexy for one evening


And so it happened. Last night. An evening I will probably never have the pleasure of witnessing again. Norah Jones live in India. Standing barely 12 feet away from her pretty self (despite having the cheapest tickets har har), screaming a bit hysterically, and then getting goose bumps at the start of every single track.

That white-faced splotch on the left is Norah herself. Small, petite, so effing gorgeous. No frills, just plain old good music. She came, she belted them out one after another like she owned the evening. And she took a bow and she left. That’s my kind of artist. The kind that lets the music do the talking.

The white-faced splotch to the right (her left) is her incredibly energetic, I’m-totally-rocking-this-lead-guitaring-for-Norah-Jones-thing, looking rather cute despite his superbly tight jeans. I think the way he enjoyed himself took the hot-factor up a gazillion notches.

The rest of her band was beyond impressive. Super prepped, tight, seamlessly going from one track to the next. You idolize a musician when you’ve heard so much of her music online, on CDs and by abusing youtube, and then you hear her live. And you realise, man, the woman can sing.

I went. I listened. I swooned. And then I died and went to heaven.

Something sweet, something savoury

It all started on a lazy Thursday afternoon, as I lay in a pool of sunlight, hungrily finishing up my book. The trouble with reading so much food literature is that it is impossible not to eat something while you’re reading. When you’re not giving into that temptation and stuffing your face with something, your mind is bursting with flavours and that immediately piques your taste buds. You dream up things you have to eat. And you want to eat them pronto.

First there was this superbly rich (but simple) coconut cake.


I could very well have just made a plain and simple cake. But I didn’t. I kind of went and OD’d on the coconut. Threw in some coconut milk, freshly grated coconut and coconut oil. Making this cake coconut-central. And then I raised it a notch with a wannabe-bountiness by chucking in some chocolate chips. If the sound of that excites you, wait till you hear what I did next. I drizzled it with a rum + honey glaze. And then I gawked at what I had created.

The wonders of coconut milk and coconut oil resulted in an incredibly moist and intensely coconutty pillowy cake. The nibs of melted chocolate interspersed with shredded coconut was like the perfect meeting of the South Indian favourite coconut barfi, but in cake form. And in case you’re missing that extra bit of sin, there’s the glaze. As if the cake wasn’t moist enough, I doused it in glaze, let it sit in a glossy plash of rummy goodness, till it could drink up no more.

And then I dug in. Heaven.
With a scoop of vanilla ice cream, Heaven ++.

Then there were these instant dosas and red chilli chutney.


What can I say? Maybe the South Indian in me is threatened. Maybe I just needed a touch of homely lovin’. Maybe I was just in the mood to experiment. Maybe I just needed it all instantly. But whatever it was, I’m just glad I listened and followed through, because these dosas are going to be the cure to my I-need-a-Dosa-NOW moments, and what’s better they go especially well with this not-so-regular chutney, I can make a meal of it.

There’s quite nothing like feeling experimental, confidently listening to your instinct, pairing unlikely things up and discovering something new. Something that works. Something that is tasty and something you know you can make again and enjoy over and over. The experimental side of me is on a bit of a roll. You’ll just have to bear with me, haan.

Out of the blue

When a song makes me get out of my chair, get up and break into a jig, all by my lonesome, I know it is a goo0000d song.

And just like that I slipped out of the blues I have been wallowing under for a large part of this week. I’ve been in a funk of sorts for the last couple of days. Blame it entirely on working procrastinating too much. Like I mentioned in this post, earlier this week I found myself in a spot, forced to cram my way through a pile of work I had pushed unendingly, with no real end in sight. I’ve spent more frustrated afternoons in cafes trying to focus on word documents rather than my food blog. I’ve blocked out the cacophony of the yuppies around me, and tuned into this song as it quite snugly turned into a earworm, embedding itself rather deep inside of me. I’ve spent my evenings settling into an unfathomable sulk — the worst kind that cannot be blamed on PMS, cannot be pegged on a trigger that brought it on, and the kind that shows no sign of retreating.

Its true what they say about all work and no play. Because doing nothing by working all through this week, with no time to think about much else, has soaked me dry and left me uninspired and lifeless. I’ve missed going out for my walk for over 10 days days now (yes, don’t ask. Its a ridiculous and unhappy story) and I’m craving that much-needed endorphin kick that is just the thing I need to crack myself back to life.

Even though ARR’s voice has been on loop for a while now, it just did that wonderful thing songs sometime do. In a split second it flipped backwards on to me, stopped being a track in the background, and glued itself to some twitchy muscle inside of me. And in that instant, I had no choice but to respond with a mini-hop-skip-and-prance move that lasted right through till the end. Because when I dance, I dance like nobody’s watching. And when I enjoy a track, I enjoy it like everyone is.

5, okay 6, reasons to be addicted to Girls

I’ll admit, I first heard about Girls, when I read this article on the hot mess most 20-something girls seem to find themselves in. And yeah, I’ll admit, given the levels of shit-hitting-the-fan that was going on in my life back then, I identified with the piece almost 100%. What with all the being stuck in job I wasn’t entirely happy in, spending inordinate amounts of money on things that are not entirely useful, eating buckets of crappy food to feel better. And continuing to do it, even though I was almost completely miserable, because of some misguided sense of martyrdom. Of having to struggle just to frikking keep it together.

One day, I watched the first episode. And everything just fell into place. The missing piece clicked into the gap that was waiting to be filled and it just all made perfect sense. This, the way I was going about my life, was not cool.

Yes, I’ll admit. Its a show called Girls. With Girls. Likened to Sex and the City. Some go so far as to say its SATC for the next generation. And I goddamn love the show.

Its almost icky to admit it. But yeah, I do. Here’s why:

1) With all its horrifyingly lewd, completely unabashed, brutally raw and honest views on the shit 20-somethings want to put themselves through (including some totally outlandish things that I don’t think any girls I know/knew got up to), I saw a brilliantly pinpointed focus on exactly those things that not many people choose to talk about on popular TV.


2) For a change, it is a show that presents a completely audacious look at the minds of most girls my age. The insecurities, the angst of dealing with adult relationships, discovering ourselves again, following our hearts — all that romanticised stuff that overshadows the real deal. Like saving enough money, having a decent job that you love, being unsure about it all, rediscovering relationshipsin the light of adulthood, getting real, getting brave, finding a new sense of self esteem, being fat and happy, and just doing it all without taking yourself too seriously.

3) And the best part? It’s not all pretty and cute and girly. It is gross, its stark, and it is honest. Such a pleasant departure from the portrayal of 20-something girls on every other show on TV. There are no happy endings. There are no cutesy aww-inducing moments. There aren’t too many things that will make you go, hey-I-want-to-be-like-her. But more than one event will make you stop, ponder, think and realise that you’ve definitely been there before.

4) Second best part? Like the name suggests, it really is all about the girls. For once, the male characters, even the main ones, are sort of fringe, supporting characters. Very central to the overall theme and story, but still sort off feed off of the girls’ character, rather than have nuanced standalone roles for themselves.

5) Okay maybe that wasn’t the best part. Because when I realised that the show was written, directed and produced by Lena Dunham, that’s when I was blown. It is excruciatingly funny, with sharp and witty writing, and pulls out the most specific traits of us girls, with a finetoothed comb. There is not a single episode that has passed by without more than a couple of moments that make me sit up and think wow-I-have-totally-felt-that-way-before.

6) Oh and I also like how its called Girls. As opposed to, Ladies. Or Women. Eek. Because let’s face it, none of us is quite there yet. We’re each in our little bubbles of self-obsessed self-discovery, desperately trying and only almost getting it kind of together.