Celebrating #PulaoBiryaniDay with Family - “So who decides that today is Biryani Day?” asked my family. I had cooked two pots of Biryanis (one veg and other non-veg) as a special treat. The morning...
Monday, 23 June 2008
Indian TV ads always interesing and some of them are really good. I have been enjoying nowadays an advertisement of one cell company. There are series of ads featuring Bollywood stars Madhavan and Vidya Balan as a married couple, who are connecting emotionally on the phone. There are three different ads so far, promoting their best network connection using this particular cell company services under the message: That it is cheapest, that you can pay your bills using their services and you can transfer money to your loved ones without leaving the comfort of your home. All the three ads have no music, there is soft and interesting conversation between a married couple, and I love all three of them. The first one is about the wife who is away for a holiday (probably to her mom’s place) and he keeps calling her (eight times in one hour) and the conversation are sweet nothings . (Message of the cell company in this ad is that with cheap telephone connections you don’t worry about the bills and can talk more often) The second ad on these lines is that couple are traveling in a train and are playing cards, and wife inquires whether he has completed all the last minute jobs before closing the house, light, water, doors, etc. She asks whether he remembered to pay the bills before leaving and he quickly pays his bill from his mobile and smiles when the message comes, ‘bill paid’. The third one features husband returning home, is tired and wife is messaging his shoulder. She asks him about his hard day at work and then she asks whether he had send money to his father, and he quietly transfers money from his mobile and then says ‘’long ago’ This particular cell company always portrays a gamut of human emotions and they really touch the cord. It is amazing how so many emotions are portrayed in just few seconds. All three ads are really cute and no matter how many times I have seen them, I don’t change the TV channel when this particular ad is playing…….
Friday, 20 June 2008
Once, on my visit to Lagos market place, I was fascinated by this girl selling crabs. Nigerians don’t like their pictures to be taken without their permission and they may get offended if they see you shooting their pictures. Some of them would run behind our cars and make noise, abusing us if they saw us focusing our cameras on them. However, I took permission from this girl before I took her picture, she agreed but she pulled her cap down covering half of her face, and asked us to remove the picture of her crabs. Now how do we do that? Can we? Not when she had such a beautiful skin….couldn’t resist…
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Neha is very excited that I will meet her sponsored, nine-year-old mentally challenged child who lives 10000 miles away. My bags are packed for my trip back home. I am ready to leave the next day. “Will you take this gift for Apeksha?” she says as she shows me a box containing a pretty doll, dressed in blue knitted suit and cap, holding on to a soft, tiny teddy bear. “Oh that is lovely. Of course, I will take it for you. I am sure Apeksha will be thrilled.” I say Neha brings out a roll of colorful gift-wrapping paper, few strips of pink ribbons, a pair of scissors and a cello tape. She squats on the floor beside my deranged suitcase and starts to pack a gift for her sponsored child whom she has never met before. For next fifteen minutes, she carefully wraps the gift-box and makes a cute pink bow curling the free ends of the ribbon with a sharp edge of the scissors. She brings out a card, writes a message for Apeksha, seals envelop and writes in a bold letter on the top of the envelop ‘For Apeksha, with lots of love from Neha’. “On my next trip to India, I would like to meet her,” she says as she attaches the card and the pink bow on the gift-wrapped box and hand it over to me. “Sure, I will take you to school to meet her.” I say. The box is too beautiful to dump it in my suitcase. I decide to hand carry it. A week later, I go to the school carrying Apeksha’s gift. It is lunch break and I see Apeksha standing quietly and watching the other children play roller skating. “Apeksha, How are you? Look what I have for you” I say as I show her the gift wrapped box. She looks at me suspiciously and then looks away to watch the children play. ‘Come and see what Neha has sent for you.” Says her class teacher as she approaches her and holds her hand to bring her into the room, but Apeksha refuses to come inside and frees her hand, stares listlessly at me and returns her gaze back to those children with roller skates. Her teacher throws her arm around Apeksha and guides her gently into the room. I hand over the gift to Apeksha informing her that Neha is a friend who loves her too much and she has sent a gift for her. She takes the gift from my hand and sits on the chair facing me. “Open the gift. Don’t you want to see what your friend has sent for you?” I say She makes no effort to open it and just sits there, staring at the gift. Her teacher bends over her and helps her open the gift, removing the card, pink bow and detaching the cello tapes to expose the doll in blue suit with a soft, tiny teddy bear. “Do you like it? It is pretty. Isn’t it?” says her teacher ‘Hhmn!” she says and then gets up and walks out to watch the children play roller skating, leaving behind the box of doll, torn gift-wrapping paper, pink bow with curly frills and the unopened card, all carelessly scattered on the table next to me.
Thursday, 12 June 2008
28th March was the day circled on my calendar. It was the day to celebrate my cousin’s birthday. What was exciting was that it would be celebrated in a strange land, a place that I had never visited before, exciting also because all of my family from different parts of the world, had also circled this date on their calendar. I belong to a close knit family, but all are scattered around the world and we meet whenever there is an occasion to celebrate, a wedding or a holiday, but this time it was special-‘A 50th birthday in Dubai!’ Who would want to miss it? The preparation started one month in advance. Email found their way to all the inboxes, we exchanged notes on planning the trip, the venue, the staying accommodation, the visas, the shopping….there was so much homework to do and the excitement was building each day. Accommodation was no problem, Nikki and Dina, who live in Dubai, happily agreed to share their house and were willing to accommodate everybody into their house. The birthday girl- Gitu- (from Lagos) first to arrive in the city with her sister Rajni(from Chicago) and her daughter Neha and went for shopping for air-mattresses, blankets, towels, and all the sundry items that would be required for our comfort and then they settled to receive with warmth the family that began arriving. One by one, family arrived, each received with hi-five, hug and laughter. Chandru and Baby (from Hongkong); Suresh (from Texas); Laju (from Lome); Reza (from Bahrain); Raju, Rani and Devkadidi (from Pune) and yours truly (from Mumbai). Sanju and Kareena (who stayed just few block away in Dubai, were of great help) and Asgar (the banker who would foot the bill) arrived just few hours before the actual event. And the fun began. The birthday party was held at the newly opened ‘Zen” a Chinese and Thai restaurant (a family restaurant in Dubai run by our Dubai host-Nikki). One thing good about celebrating in the family restaurant is the freedom to enjoy the food and the song. We went crazy clicking pictures, messing with the birthday cake and over-eating randomly from every table, and sometimes from the kitchen. The party went on till late at night and then continued for next ten days. A mini van (15 seated) was hired for traveling within the city as we did malls and restaurants hopping. Then there were Dessert Safari and Abra rides and long drives through the city. Morning were the best, when we would laze around, munching breakfast and sharing vague stories, jokes or ragging the weak ones. Late nights were for watching a film. Sixteen family members were merrily squeezed into 3BKH apartment and nobody was complaining. Those were the memorable events that refuses to fade away and they brighten my day, each time, when I browse through those pictures. I have captured each moment and framed it into my memory album, forever.
Thursday, 5 June 2008
While in Dubai, one evening we were invited for a cruise down the Dubai creek. Abra was hired for us for 2 hours to enjoy the picturesque view of the city. After a lunch of Dim shims, we set out to the creek, our meeting place, to wait for Abra ride which was schedule for 5pm. We were a big group of twenty five members that included family and friends. For first one hour, half of the group was comfortably seated in the lower deck while rest of us braced ourselves on the upper deck, enjoying the cool breeze and watching the sun set down the creek. We had carried some bread for the birds and it was fun seeing the birds glide down towards our boat and pecking the bread away from our hands. The cool breeze mocked against our faces as we watched the old and the new harbors of Dubai. The Dubai creek is the foundation from which Dubai grew. It originally served as a port for trading vessels plying to and from India, Africa and the Middle East. Today a bit of the old shipping culture still remains. In and around the creek one can see some of the original buildings that have served as customs houses and defense structures. Then there were mosques, palaces and museum that were the important landmarks of Dubai and were dotted on both sides of the creek. there was lot of construction all over city and the sky line was interupted by lines of huge metal cranes After sunset, we joined the rest of the group at lower deck and danced to the rhythm of the music. There was food in plenty and we spend rest of the evening chitchatting and relaxing.
Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Outing in Lagos meant going out to dine. Be it Chinese, Nigerian or Lebanese, Lagos boasts of its finest cuisine that is exclusive in taste and its presentation. On the road, they would run behind our cars to sell the plantain chips which were very delicious. I would also see the locals roasting corn, yam and fish at every street corner. Eating in restaurants is a treat. Every restaurant had its own specialty and it was quite an experience trying out the various dishes. I loved the Nigerian cuisine that comprised of hot pepper soup (the best that I have ever tasted), Suya (roasted meat on bamboo sticks), Jellof rice (rice cooked in stew) fufu of cassava, Garri (mashed yam) and charcoal roasted fish. The best Nigerian cuisine were served at Ikoyi Club 1938 (a local club) and in Terra Culture (a cultural centre) The Chinese cuisine that I tasted in Lagos was superb. The meat so tender that it just melts in the mouth. There were three main Chinese restaurants that we visited: Jade Place, Pearl Garden and Golden Crown. When we go to a Chinese restaurant, they serve the condiments of onions, ginger and capsicum. We can combine these condiments with chilly sauce and Soya sauce to suit our taste. A hot and sour Peking Chinese soup with crispy rice is the specialty of all Chinese restaurants in Lagos. Other dishes that were on their menu included Sesame Puffs with the filling of minced chicken, fantail prawns, reddish cake, chicken dumplings, crab balls, spring rolls with the fillings of mayonnaise and prawns. (These were real good and just melted in the mouth). There were many Lebanese restaurants spread all over the city and enjoyed by all Indian society. The most famous Lebanese restaurants were ‘Double Four’, 'Oasis' and 'Goodies'. My cousin was mentioning that she had tried Lebanese at many places around the world but nothing could compare with the Lebanese cuisine of Lagos. And she was right. I tried Falafel, Kibbeh (lamb kheema), Hammus, Babaganoush (brinjal dip), Potatoharra, Shovarma (meat roll) Istanbulli Kababs,and Shishtaul (chicken Kabab) Fatoush salad (salad of cucumber, tomato, lettuce and fried bread) Tabouleh (salad of Parsley) garlic sause and Tatashe sauce (chillies sauce, which we would often pack and take it home). I was amused with the menu card in the restaurants. All the restaurants had colorful menu cards with the photograph of the actual presentation of the food that will be served. It would be easy to decide what we could expect on our table and we were never disappointed.
I have poor memory therefore I tend to forget the good and the bad times easily. What is past is forgotten, each day I try my best that my ...