May Favorites

Okay, this is the month after which I stopped logging my monthly favorites. I had this one in drafts and, to be honest, its a very random set of things I made a note of, but I am still making it live.

Mango Lilac Sling Bag: I had a wedding to attend in Baroda and I was in need of some things for my trip which is when I ordered this bag on Myntra. Its a basic bag but I liked it a lot because it was a very compact design and super light weight plus it looked better than in pictures. Basically, it superseded my expectations. However, the moment I got the bag, I was randomly browsing Myntra again and saw that the bag got discounted heavily. Sadly I returned it then to buy it again at the discounted price. However, by then, my trip was done and my need was not there anymore, so I just never bought it again. I am not able to find the bag now on Myntra, but here’s a picture in a different color.

Carlton London Heels: I ordered them the same time as this bag and the only reason to put them in my favorites is that they were perfect for my purpose, I needed a basic golden pair which goes with all Indian wear but is low heeled enough for comfort while looking pretty.

Classique Cake: I saved the best for the last. This is a home baker in Surat and if you see yourself in Surat, you have to try their cakes. I don’t have a big sweet tooth but these are really best of the best.

Edit: I didn’t add this in May and neither did I try this in May but writing about Classique reminded me of a bonus favorite. Blue Vanilla Patisserie on Swiggy/Zomato has one of the best cheesecakes I have ever tried. I am pretty sure I’ll get some packed next time when I am flying back to Delhi.

Share some of your favorite things in this year or this last month, it’ll be fun!

Book 14 of 2022 | Why is my hair curly?

For the first time on this blog, I have caught up to write about just as many books as I have read. It is obviously sad because that means i have managed to read pretty less. The reasons for that are: a) my current read which sent me in a reading slump of more than 2 months, b) being obsessed with reading Reddit threads at night instead of reading or phone addiction in general.

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

Moving on to the 14th read of this year:

Why I chose this book?

I got this in one of those Westland sales when they were giving away one free eBook a day, really long ago. Westland has since shut shop. 😦

What I liked?

It is a children’s book and a really enjoyable one. The book is about a little, curly haired girl and her daily struggles at school and home. Later on, the book followed to involve a family mystery that the girl helps solve. What I liked most about the book was that its writing style was similar to an old childhood favorite of mine – When Amma Went Away. Basically, if you have read any children’s book by Devika Rangachari, it’s in the same tone.

What did I not like?

I think if (and when) I had kids, I would have been extra judgy towards kids books. for now, i was pretty much happy with it. Just one complaint – I wish the story had a mystery that was more related to the kid’s own life, rather than one focused on overall family drama.

Here’s the link to the book and you can give it a go as a cosy read!

Travel in 2022 | Taking Stock

2022 is a weird one for me, I cannot classify it as good or bad. It had some pretty big sad events for me, mentioned here and here, however, with much gratitude, I can say that my mental strength was alright this year. Additionally, this year I didn’t bother a lot about my unfinished goals (wishes :P) from 2021. They are bothering me now and, let’s see, I would probably need to make another post for it (heads-up – won’t be comfortable sharing all the wishes).

This post is meant to be fun and take stock of all the travel I did in 2022. Albeit less, I have gratitude for this, because I missed traveling only a little bit. I had a lot going on from a family standpoint, Rahul’s father passing away, my father’s retirement event, and later on the year, I was so busy over the weekends too with some or the other social engagements. I am not someone who likes to be on the move all the time (none of the digital nomads, wanderlust etc etc for me please), but I see travel as a change from my very much loved routines. (I say routines in plural because the past pandemic years have made me work from different locations & I am proud to say that I have managed to carve out a suitable physical as well as mental space for me. Also, acknowledging the privilege to do so here). I would definitely like to increase my travels in 2023.

Moving on to the trips:

  1. Jan’22 | Shimla, Kasauli & Naldehra: The year started off with a very fun trip to the mountains with my cousins. For me, the highlight of this trip was the old, colonial style villa we stayed at which also gave us an opportunity to sit in the sun and eat breakfasts at a leisurely pace. Also, this was my first time to the quaint town of Kasauli which seemed like a very laid back, colonial town but i got the symptoms of big C the next day of arriving there and my husband and i just drove back home post testing.
  2. Feb’22 | Jodhpur, Jaisalmer: It’s going to be funny when I mention the highlight of this trip as food again – I loved the hing kachoris at a random shop and also the gol gappe. However, there’s one thing that stood out in this trip. I had been to these cities before and done the forts, sand dunes etc but I hadn’t been to the Golden Fort city in Jaisalmer. It’s basically a proper city dwelling inside a fort! It has markets, cafes, people’s houses – all inside a fort.
  3. Mar’22 | Mussoorie & Nag Tibba Trek: I planned this for my husband’s birthday, but since i am the one who hadn’t been on an overnight trek before, it was more of a gift to me. Of course, I am scared of heights and on the way down, my feet gave away which kind of ruined it for my husband. However, the feeling of reaching the peak was something else and totally indescribably beautiful.
  4. May’22| Baroda: Was here for a wedding and i liked the idea of experiencing a very different Gujju city. how you ask? Baroda has a very service class vibe but combined with a small town vibe. Usually the cities which have a lot of jobs are the metro cities, so Baroda has a very different vibe. Its almost like a town but usually in such places, you see business class more often while that’s not the case here. It’s also where my husband did his first job so it was quite nice to visit his old haunts.
  5. Aug’22 | Bangalore: This was the time when my husband had his office offsite to Spain and I had planned to go with him but had to drop it. Then, I ended up visiting my brother in Bangalore with my parents. It was good to be back in Bangalore after so long. Also, this time we visited IKEA which was good.
  6. Oct’22 | Jaipur: Rahul and I made this trip for a wedding and the wedding was quite fun. However, this trip was fulfilling in many ways. I got to stay with my cousin after a long time and it was good to spend time together. I also got to visit the gorgeous Bar Palladio which I had wanted to visit since long in Jaipur.

Aside these strictly leisure trips, I made two business trips to Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City), multiple trips to Surat to my in-laws and multiple trips to Raipur too where my dad was posted before his retirement. I tried a lot of food places in these cities which I love. I may make separate posts on places i love in surat, as there are a lot of good places to eat in Surat and I’ll love to document those.

Kasauli
Jodhpur
Nag Tibba Peak
Bangalore
Jaipur
Bar Palladio, Jaipur
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

April Favorites

I talked about my impulse to share about some things I am loving here & got some really good suggestions on how I can make it interesting. Hence, I started with this monthly favorites series.

For my previous monthly favorites, go here.

I actually got pretty lazy with keeping a track of my favorites after a couple of months, so I have very few in this post which I managed to draft back in April. :O

Prelude to a Riot: I talk about this book here. Its one of the good books I read this year, albeit too small. Weirdly, not in an I-don’t-want-this-to-end way, but rather that it felt incomplete, I wish there was more to the story. Maybe, there’s one coming soon and the book is strategically named a “Prelude”? (I mean, yes, that name has another meaning in the book but a girl can hope).

Om Sweets Gol Gappe: If you don’t know what are Gol Gappe, what are you doing with your life? Anyhow, specifically Om Sweets Gol Gappe is a pandemic favorite. So, this is an Indian street food and before the pandemic, I used to judge every single person who would even consider making it at home, forget ordering in. However, during the pandemic, a friend ordered it at our place and we made fun of him for the first 5 minutes, but eventually we were hooked. Gol Gappe are just as tasty at home, you guys, and Om Sweets has set the bar high now with convenient packaging and all.

Pencil Case for Kiyan’s Return Gifts: Kiyan is my husband’s nephew and we spent a lot of our pandemic period in Surat at my in-laws place with him. We were there for his 5th birthday which was also a timeline when people were trying to bring back kids birthday parties post the pandemic dry spell. I took the responsibility of being in-charge of return gifts for his birthday party. Since I love kids stationary so much, I ended up loving what I finalized so much that I took one for myself as well. 😀 Below is a picture. By the way, I had many other cooler ideas in mind for kids birthday party return gifts which didn’t end up working that time, so, if you are looking for any such ideas, do hit me up. 😀

Book 7 and 8 of 2022 | Two books I didn’t realise would be so related

Every year, I try to read at least one book from some literary prize shortlists and almost every time, I end up disliking the book. This year I picked the JCB 2021 winner – Delhi: A Soliloquy. I was in for a surprise. Before we get into that, something about my reading habit.

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

And, now, here it goes:

Book 7 of 2022:

Delhi: A Soliloquy

Why I chose this book? I pretty much mentioned the reason in the first paragraph.

What is it about? This book is a narrative on Delhi through the years from a Malayali person’s standpoint, with the backdrop of various wars that happened in modern day Delhi, starting from the war with China in 1960. Sahadevan, protagonist and also the narrator, is convinced to come for a job to Delhi by his known person from his native – Sreedharanunni, a communist person who loses his life when Delhi is attacked by China (yes, the irony). The book then has multiple characters who grow up and old in Delhi, all from Kerala and everything happens from Sahadevan’s point of view against wars like the 1965 one with Pakistan, 1970 one with Bangladesh and so on. The riots after the murder of Indira Gandhi were hair raising, and to know that this is not just a book, but rather something that actually happened, is something else.

What I liked? The book has so many characters but i found it in me to love most of them, they all held some place in my heart and i don’t even know how. Usually, books with multiple storylines get really annoying for me but, here, i waited for every character’s chapter to come up again. A lot of good work has gone into giving ample character building to each character. i think it also has to do with the fact that the narration is uniform, told from a single point of view. All the events were based on historical events (various wars in modern Delhi) but there were some that stood out for me. For example, reading about emergency riots was like watching a tragedy happening on screen. Very well written. i usually don’t enjoy the introspection kind of parts in any book, but Sahadevan’s monologues with himself were also worth looking forward to. the book is essentially a growing older of Sahadevan as Delhi grew up with him too.

What I didn’t like: I can’t think of anything honestly, because I went in with no expectations. Additionally, I have been reading a lot of war fiction these days, so it was a natural pick at the time.

Book 8 of 2022:

Prelude to a Riot

Why I chose this book? can’t say why i am going from one war book to another but I am and i am just into that right now.

What is it about? Coincidentally, this book was also based in Kerala, so the Malayali community basically. It’s about different perspectives of various characters as the Hindu Muslim divide begins to be “seen” in Kerala. primarily focusing on three friends and their respective perspectives, it also has many characters like the previous book and each one stood out. It’s a great thing that I don’t remember right now how this book ended but I do remember most of the characters. The most endearing part of the book is how the three friends one out of whom is Muslim start falling apart due to their changing perspectives and the ongoing events at that time.

What I liked: Obviously the fact that how relevant it is in current times. Also, how true to its name is the title of the book – it was really a prelude to what was to come, i.e. riots between two communities/religions. it highlighted the kind of differences or stigma that one starts associating with another community because of the propaganda. The book was scary, because it felt close to home.

What I didn’t like: Why was this book so short? I can totally see it to be intentional but can’t figure out why. It could have been so much more detailed and that would have made it all the more lovely. i hope a sequel is planned.

The Most Productive Meal Menu

What is a productive meal menu, you ask? Depends on what you are trying to achieve from your food habits, but I classified this week as productive because I managed to completely clean the fridge before I embark on my trip for two days and also didn’t order in even once! Not that anything is wrong with ordering in, in fact, its one of the things I enjoy, but you know what I mean.

You will notice as you go along in the list of things I ate over the week, that the consumption of protein was not as good as I would have liked, but that’s because I was focussing on using up stuff. In general, I am critical of food wastage and my fridge is usually easier to clean before a trip because its not filled with a lot of store-bought condiments or things like that which you can’t consume in one go.

Have a look at what I ate this Monday to Friday 😀 and I am thinking of doing this again soon, when I eat more of what I wanted to and didn’t focus on fridge cleanse. This week also had a lot of other things that are not part of my usual routine. For example, it was a chill work week, so I was waking up quite late which meant a heavier breakfast & a snack type lunch. Also, a friend was staying over, so lots of rice type one pot meals instead of roti (Indian flatbread) which require more effort.

Also, I enjoy Youtube content of meal plans and such a lot, do share your food related stories in the comments as I would love those!

Don’t forget to look beyond the picture for some explanation of the meal menu :D:

I created this table in my notebook especially for this post and I am going to give you some more context if you are not an Indian & some of the words don’t make sense. First of all, my husband and I usually can’t do without three proper meals. However, in this meal menu, you would notice two lunches as just chai (Indian milk tea) and something to munch on. As I already mentioned, that’s because I was waking up late and breakfast was heavier than usual. Aside this, I would like to incorporate a lot more protein and actually my other weeks are definitely better than this one in that regard.

Now, a glossary of sorts 😀 –

Roti is nothing but the staple Indian basic flatbread, I usually use multigrain flour for this, but its traditionally meant to be whole wheat.

Chawal is nothing but plain boiled white rice.

Chai is Indian milky tea, which some people call as masala tea, but just so you know, I hate masalas in Chai. Only ginger and tulsi (holy basil) for me.

Idli is steamed rice cakes, traditionally made in South India.

Sambar is a vegetable stew that goes well with Idlis.

Poha is cooked rice flakes, and I would say its an acquired taste, but its a staple in our home, especially because its filling but not as carbs heavy as bread and also because we make it with matar or green peas always, which are high protein.

Gobhi is cauliflower & paratha is a heavier Indian flatbread. So, Gobhi paratha is an Indian flatbread stuffed with cauliflower and then fried with ghee (clarified butter), again a winter delicacy but this is one of my husband’s favorite treat so its a regular with us.

Methi is fenugreek leaves, which is a gift of winters in India and both of us love it.