March 31, 2009

Kakkabe - Amongst the clouds

This was yet another trip planned right at the last moment, and after some thoughts on possible places, we zeroed in on Kakkabe, Coorg, Karnataka. We had two days and a night to spare, that is if we drove through the night to reach the destination by morning. We wanted to do a road trip, and also some relaxation once we reach our destination. So the plan sounded good and we managed to rope in some people too!

Why Kakkabe?
  1. It is a hill station, well actually any part of coorg would have sufficed, but this being the closest to the tallest peak in Karnataka, we choose this in the hope of maybe trekking up.
  2. It is not too far from Bangalore ( 250 kms one way)
  3. The place is quite isolated, such that not too many people know of it, and hence would be simpler to find accommodation on such short notice
  4. Heard previous reviews, good ones especially regarding the trek up for close to 8 kms.
We started at 1 am ( Yes I know, that sounds crazy!) and then went Bangalore - Mysore - Hunsur - Virajpeet - Kakkabe at 6:30 am. Also I must add, we had an excellent person driving us through the night. Someone who loves to drive and also drove quite fast! 

On reaching, we had to look around a bit for the accommodation, and we did manage a room finally at Palace Estate. Slept all through the day and decided to see the place around when it was post sunset. That should explain the very few pictures which were clicked. We went to see the Nalnand Palace, which was the Summer Palace for the King of Coorg during the olden days. The interior is still very neat and the watchman told us that a large part of the wall paintings were spoilt by film crew who re did the paintings to give a more realistic look. There are some parts which are till date the age old paintings. The palace has been handed over to the Archaeological Department of India the year before last.

Once we reached back to the Palace Estate, we were just in time for dinner, and the food was amazing, and to kill for practically. They had typical Coorgi food, as is the case with most home stays, and they were very cordial so that made the atmosphere way more relaxed. All in all, I think they made sure that their guests relaxed and were able to absorb the serenity and beauty of the place. 

The next morning was beautiful, sunny and bright. Had a heavy breakfast and started off from there around 11 AM. Looking back, it does look like we just merely slept and ate, right? Anyhow, was relaxing for sure!

Following are a few pictures.

Fitness Fervor

After many failed attempts when Roop came up with the plan that we need to have a group to motivate, and ensure we all stick to our plans, I was 'Oh so happy'. Then slowly started to dawn that its going to be a hell lot of hard work!

The name we ended up coming up with Fitness Fervor, all fitness and nothing else. I think its wonderful initiative, all the members have so many ideas, tried and tested ones and also some which we come across else. The plans and efforts everyone is making shows that there are so many folks in the same boat, and their dedication and efforts only pushes me towards the goal that I shall be setting for myself every week.

There will be a weekly goal, diet restrictions which are to be followed ( as per what suits/does not suit each person). We set a goal, then review it next week, and alter and reset for the new week. I think its a wonderful plan! I am so looking forward to doing this correct this time around! We shall be counting calories, and watching the burning calories too. I shall be doing that at The Daily Plate. All in all, we see what everyone is doing, and going on to achieve which makes the fighting spirit real strong. And as Roop says, there is also going to be public humiliation if you detrack! *Yikes!

Tomorrow is my first day up from the bed at 7 AM and hitting the gym after a long 2-3 month break and infinite fat being loaded on me! I started with my diet watch program yesterday. I have done this before too, so initially you tend to have the rumbling stomach, but after 2-3 days, your body just starts to adjust and realize the deal involved!

I need to do this! I am too young to be unfit!

March 23, 2009


I have successfully finished off my very first lipstick!

I am ..well.. happy and also quite sad as that shade does not feature in their catalog anymore! The shade is called Manish Malhotra Shimmer 2, and in fact I have the Shimmer 1 also, which is also bound to finish in another month. I believe this was the first time Lakme came out with the designer inspired line of cosmetics, and from then that has been more like a trademark for them during the India fashion weeks.

I have been looking out at a similar shade once I realized that I would be needing to replace my age old lipstick, and I have also been thinking (maybe because of the saving money streak in the air), why is it that when we have a perfectly nice cosmetic line at home, why did I always keep looking longingly at the Chambor and MAC counters? I looked up the Lakme webpage, and the entire range of products which they have, and I must say, I was quite impressed with the variety and also that there was a great deal more suited to Indian skin tones. ( Ya, I know that was quite expected!) The shades were similar and I already knew that Lakme products are good, infact after visiting lakme salons I know their service is also great! Adept and friendly staff.

This led me to think as to why do we need to pick up a Body shop or Lush product to feel good! There are certainly some products which I believe are not available with Indian brands, but why do we have a tendency (especially in cosmetics) to trust foreign brands over Indian ones?

Is it because of the head start they had? But then we could have learnt and picked up the tried and tested results of the west, right?

Is it because the models who adorn these products are way prettier? Well, we do not look like them, so maybe we should not try to emulate them, right?

Anyhow, at the end of all the reading and surfing, I decided on getting the Aquashine lip colour from Lakme, shade - Wine!

March 19, 2009

Visiting Home

Every time I go home, and its time to head back,

Every time Amma asks me to stay for some more time,

Every time I sit in a flight and watch the coconut trees becoming smaller and smaller,

I have tears swelling up in my eyes!

PS: I have just been home for a good 5 days and I just did not want to come back so quickly!

March 11, 2009

An excellent source of Bio diesel

I have left coffee overnight at the office desk to come back the next day to find the film of oil on the surface. But, me being no great researcher, never bothered to find out if that can be put to any use.

Here is a researcher and his students at University of Nevada at Reno who took up this simple observation and have given the world a recycling methodology to help everyone in this era of fuel crisis.

Read about the Bio diesel produced from Coffee

March 10, 2009

Legalize or not?

Most of my thoughts are spurred from some piece which I read across the web. This time too, I read an article in The Economist, that suggests a law and the same it suggested 20 years before also.

The article talks about legalization of drugs, and urges the UN and the next assembly to take a step towards it. They say that if we are not able to curb the trafficking of drugs,then the next step should be taken such that they are legalized and will be available for purchase.

The argument in favor from their end being that drugs have been and are ruining lives of many are the following.

There is an associated black market for these drugs which also results in the impurities in the drugs, which can be in many cases much more harmful to the person who intakes the drugs. Here the suggest that when the drugs are legalized, then we can have checks on composition and then the sales to minors will also reduce. The impurities reduced would mean the intake of drugs and the money spend by addicts would significantly reduce.

Cracking the ring or network does not seem to a very good option, as then the land where the production takes place changes, but the ring remains intact far and wide. They claim to have even tried dumping chemicals on the areas where the cultivation takes place of opium and cannabis, without yielding much/any result. Cultivation of opium and cannabis used to be predominantly in Thailand and Turkey, and following the restrictions on growth, there was a shift seen towards Burma and Afghanistan. They have always aimed to grow it in areas where they have a strong communal acceptance, especially in hope of gaining money in return.

When there is such a great deal of sales in drugs, and also as a result the increase in the number of addicts, then they say that why not legalize and hence make money through taxes on these products? They also go on to elaborate that why not use the money gained from these taxes in setting up addiction support and hospital services for those in need.

How would you justify giving people the causal agent and then offering a solution? This would be seen in the same light as computer security companies, introducing insecurities into the system, and then coming up with a patch for it! Is this what the government supposed to do? With a computer we can replace it, if something goes complete hay wire, but here we are talking about abuse to the body, and killing oneself in many cases. They argue here that many drug takers, take only the amount required to make them in a happy state of mind, and they do not to lead to death. But, maybe this is because of the restricted amount which is available to them. If these drugs are to be offered in drug stores, are there chances that the number of deaths will increase?

They also claim that since no improvement has been seen after the last decade when a law against drugs was passed, we need to try to pass a different law and study the effect of the same.

Far too many questions, that too flying in all directions, and I do no think the solution is as simple as what they make it to be.

March 8, 2009


My first attempt at making a Dhokla (was quite happy with the result)

Spicy Macroni with cheese: Thats  something which I make quite often, and thought I should take a pic (as an after-thought, after I had started eating it!)

There is Your Highness, on her royal couch!

For the women, by the women, of the women! 

Happy Women's Day!

March 7, 2009

March 6, 2009

R3project, composting and more

With my new found interest in gardening and household betterment, I have been on the look out for nice small additions/changes which I can do to make my new place nicer. I have made a list of things which I can do from all the comments I received previously, and I am on my way to get the required stuff to make that happen too.

Today morning on reaching office, and being very happy that my croton seeds have germinated (patting myself on the back), started the look out for gardening tips and came across this article in the NY Times. This article talks about a large scale sustainable living development in a small one bedroom place. I guess it is wonderful to know that one can do quite a bit with something as small as a one bedroom place also. And on reading what all has been done with all the odd problems of this place, it is certainly very motivating! I wonder how one will have all these things if you have a house which does not cater to just adults, but to elders, kids and pets.

The whole set up is certainly very awe-inspiring, and you might think why not do all these options before settling into the same old path of buying fuirniture. I guess I am just into all these ideas now as I would prefer to have recycled stuff in my home now, and then when I am settled someplace, then I would want to buy things which I would like to keep for a longer duration.

Another interesting bit which I really liked was the composting practice which looked very simple and quite very goood if you have a gardening practice. I did a bit of research and saw that there is an option of doign the same in Bangalore too. Daily Dump sounds to me like a wonderful idea but with some limitations when it comes to doing the same within an appartment. They have various containers which can be also doubled as pots for plants, and they have varieties which allows for the pots to be stacked in a vertical, space conserving manner. The entire process looks very clean and easy to manage. And as we anyhow end up throwing the waste outside, without bothering to separate recycle and biodegradable stuff. (I have seen IIT Delhi having two dustbins wherever there are garbage disposal bins, one says biodegradable and the other recyclable), I guess with no space constraints why not just throw all the kitchen waste separately.

As I see it, there needs to be lots of air to be given to the complete process and it can be done in an appartment only when you have balconies and even then you need to be careful of what all will be coming to attack your waste out in the open. Maybe rats and ants and lizards will be a major issue then. I guess this whole system has been designed to a large extend for gardens. And I hope there will be a good upgradation which will be more suited to indoor usage, there are bound to be some issues when we have these gamlas and khambas inside the house. For one, there is going to be less fresh air for the bio waste and we would not want a smelly corner reserved for the composting. More importantly a house gettign infested with ants/maggots/pests should not be a side effect.

Another set up which I came acorss from the R3project blog is the worm composter where they use red worms to help in the composting process and hence this results in faster results by not leaving it to microbes( which are a slower process). Red worms are also said to be very good composters and the most common too.

On a completely different note, I am wondering if I could get my hand on some second hand lamps ( ceiling and floor), that would surely make my weekend (sunday). I have looked around, and the things I've seen are just plain horrible. They are not the lovely colours, and simple kinds, they are all too gaudy and obviously too pricey for my budget. I need to figure out where to get my lamps from too! ( I am planning on having a floor lamp in the living room at the new place)

March 5, 2009


I just acme across this article!

I am just plain shocked. How can someone deny the right to health now!
Would she have made a mother at all?

And worse she was raped! How can one say that she needs to go ahead with the pregnancy, when she never wanted it in the first place!

I am nevertheless glad that they have some matters which the law can still intervene on!

March 3, 2009

Holding Hands

Ordinary guy tagged me to pen down my thoughts on "Holding Hands". Here goes... in the spirit of the day and the fights that we are fighting today, I take up many mixed emotions.

When I think of holding hands now, there are many things which come to my mind.
  1. A parent holding a child's hand while walking on the street. The parent gives the courage to the child, that come what may, I will not let anything happen to you. You see children dancing up and down the pavement, their hand safely tucked into a big warm safe hand, always holding them tight and preventing any fall.
  2. A couple holding hands across a dinner table. A longing gaze, a gentle squeeze, two glasses wine and bouquet of dreams in between.
  3. Family meeting at the airport and walking out hand in hand. Hearts warm with love for the returned one, and all the same for the family being back together.
  4. Kindergarden children playing Ring-a ring-a roses in the school ground. The fun and frolic of jumping and falling, and singing and dancing.
  5. World holding hands in prayer to victims of all wrong doings. A gesture shown by lighting candles, peaceful protests, petitions signed and much more.
I do not know if there is any one of the above which are more important or less. There is a feeling which is associated with each of them and on thinking further all these thoughts boil down to love and courage. Or maybe love giving way to courage.

On the other side, there are also many things which I feel if people extend a hand, hold hands and fight, things might change for the better. We need so many protests and far more changes, and we can achieve this if we hold our hands, imparting courage to each other and striving ahead for what we believe.

Now, as this is a tag, I think I should pass it on, but it is always better if those who would like to write a few lines on this pick it up. So, go on... " Holding Hands" !

March 2, 2009

Shopping & Gardening & Cooking

I have a few interspersed thoughts in my head about many things, like shopping, gardening, cooking etc. So here goes about the all and some of these thoughts.

I thought that I would go and get some stuff as I always seem to be getting bored of clothes. I visited AND, being recommended highly by a friend but was quite disappointed at the collection that was on display at their Bangalore outlet. I expected much more considering they claim to be a working woman’s design wear. In fact the reason I was more shocked was that I seemed to be finding a wider variety at W, even in their Indo-western wear section. I found an interesting range of stuff at Pantaloon, and something I noticed is that Lifestyle and Pantaloon chain of stores seem to house some other apparel brands, which might not have else drawn buyers as they do now through these stores. And in both cases, their in-house brands are not strong in their style that the stores can sustain on just these and the lesser known brands are only helping to increase their footfall.

Have you heard of anyone who is capable of killing a green simple leafy plant called a money plant? I think I am on my way to achieving just that! A friend got the above said soul carefully for me, and I dutifully kept in it water for a few days and then shifted it into a pot mixed with soil and manure. After that for some reason, the plant has only shrivelled up, and after waiting and hoping for two days that it shall decide to resurrect itself, I decided its time I did something. So took out the plant from the soil and put it back into the glass containing water and there it stands now. I am not sure if it is dead, dying, hoping to live or worse standing still! Can someone please tell me what is it that I did wrong?

Oh, and also there were so many ants which seem to love the moist soil of the pot where I planted this sapling.

Cooking has been one of those things which I do when time permits and the mood pleases or the mind craves for something very specific. And when I start to cook, I like to make something slightly out of the normal or else something which looks pretty at the end of it. At times I very strongly think I should stick to all those crafty and artsy things and not venture into cooking, but invariably I do slowly trod in and then when the end result is not as pretty as I would want it to be I lose heart. I love to make pasta and Chinese precisely for this very reason! :) They look wonderful after being cooked. I personally do not find vegetables very appealing after cooking it too much such that it loses the natural glow and becomes really coated with masala. Well, the natural glow of vegetables would be best appreciated in salads and speaking of which I have bottle of ranch dressing waiting to be used! Maybe even the grill should be used to have filling, healthy meals.

And, to start and finish all that I hope to do, I need time, and I do not even get a good long weekend. I work 6 days a week, I do not even get a 2 day weekend! :(