Monthly Archives: October 2013

Pohe — Breakfast of every Indori

Pohe — Breakfast of every Indori

Breakfast in Indore means just one thing… Poha/Pohe. A very easy to make and digest dish, it somehow inspires an Indori to wake up in the morning, who would otherwise not leave his bed at all. Kiosks, sweet shops, thelas… you name it, every corner of this commercial capital of central Indian state Madhya Pradesh will have Pohe along with chai, usal or jalebi. Standard toppings include sev, kanda, jeeravan, dhaniya leaves and boondi. Yummmm….

Picture collage as wall corner

Picture collage as wall corner

Endless hours on Pinterest finally pay off! When my husband and I moved into our first house as a married couple, we decided to get some pictures framed and hang them on the living room wall. I saw this pin on Pinterest where someone had used up two adjacent walls and made a gallery there. So we tried out the same. First we got a general asymmetric design on the wall with the help of brown paper. Then we selected a bunch of pictures from our albums and decided which one will go in which size. Had to make some changes at this point since we had more horizontal pictures and couldn’t find any good pic to fill the two vertical pictures at the bottom. So replaced them with horizontal as well. And we were damn happy with the result (and the subsequent compliments from our friends).
A couple of pointers while you are trying this out… keep at least one or two pictures as the peg, that is, of a much bigger size than rest. In our case, we had three. And also, use a couple of thick frames among the thin ones. It gives it a little balance.

DIY Designing a lehenga

There was almost an year’s gap between my engagement and wedding, and when that happens, your brain kinda goes into planning some pretty unrealistic projects. You know, stuff like what you want to do on your wedding day, who all should be there, what everyone should be doing or wearing… totally random.

So I got this idea in my head that I will make my own sangeet lehenga since most of the lehengas I checked out in the shops were not what I wanted. And the ones which actually caught my eye were way too expensive.

Now I have a very simple taste, I don’t like a lot of embroidery work on my garments and usually go for something elegant and classy. I used to shudder at the thought of being buried in a lehenga which resembled a chandelier — both in cost and look.

Fashion Designer Vyoma Kawdikar
Fashion Designer Vyoma Kawdikar

So my fiancé’s cousin, Vyoma Kawdikar, who is a fashion designer and owns a label called Vyoma, got on board with this idea. She lives in the USA now, so we had to discuss most of the things online. She helped me out with what colours would go with each other and what kind of borders I should use on them.

Our combos changed almost every fortnight. But she was really patient with me and finally we zeroed in on the combo which was very very in at that time — emerald green lehenga, hot pink choli, and yellow dupatta.Then my colleague introduced me to Kaveri Batla in Delhi, who owns a boutique in Lajpat Nagar, who (again, very patiently) ironed out other design issues like what kind of fabric I should go for and where I would find all the raw material. She told me a gher-daar lehenga would need at least 8 metres of chanderi fabric which is light weight silk, about a metre of raw silk for the blouse, and 3 metres of net fabric with sequins work on it for the dupatta.

So I scan the Delhi markets and buy everything that I would need.

From Lajpat Nagar

1. Green Chanderi fabric – Rs 900

2. Raw silk in hot pink – Rs 250

3. Brocade fabric in hot pink, for sleeves – Rs 100

4. White net with sequins buti on it – Rs 450

From Chandni Chowk (Kinari Bazar)

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The final product

1. For dupatta, yellow border with kundan work (9m) – Rs 2000

2. For lehenga, golden heavy sequins lace (15m) – Rs 250

3. Golden ribbon – Rs 50

4. For lehenga, hot pink narrow lace with leafy design (9m) – Rs 350 (for two rolls)

So I buy all this, and give it to Kaveri, who got it stitched for me in her workshop. She added lining in blouse and the petty coat of the lehenga from her side and charged me Rs 3,750. She even dyed the white net fabric in yellow, which saved me a lot of running around the market. And voila! in just two weeks I have this lehenga ready which was very simple and the flair of the skirt caught everyone’s attention. I was damn happy that I achieved this within my budget in just Rs 8,100. A similar lehenga in Hauz Khas or Shahpur Jat would probably cost Rs 20,000! Way to go.

Check out Vyoma’s collection here
https://www.facebook.com/Vyomafashion

While Kaveri’s work can be viewed here.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Reet-by-Kaveri-Batla/159207244269258

What Lance Armstrong wrote in his book

I bought Lance Armstrong’s first book ‘It’s not about the bike’ a few months before the American anti-doping agency slapped the legendary cyclist with fresh doping charges in 2012. A seven-time Tour de France winner and a cancer survivor, Armstrong was accused of doping for a major part of his career and though he was never caught, he was not very popular among cyclists and press. I held him in very high esteem, and believed him every time he issued statements like, “I am a clean guy.”

But after extremely strong evidence against him surfaced and Tour de France record was wiped out (literally), I didn’t feel like peeling the plastic cover off his book, until last month when a long train journey required a good read. It’s amazing how one can read a book with a different perspective now that we know the truth. Here are some excerpts from the book, which made me laugh and smirk.

Page 8 (last para) Rick was used to hearing me complain about my sinuses and allergies. Austin has a lot of ragweed and pollen, and no matter how tortured I am, I can’t take medications because of strict doping regulations in cycling. I have to suffer through it.

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Page 117 (first para) Quite simply, I believed I had a responsibility to be a good person, and that meant fair, honest, hardworking and honorable. If I did that, if Iwas good to my family, true to my friends, if I gave back to my community or to some cause, if I wasn’t a liar, a cheat, or a thief, then I believed that would be enough.

Page 125 (third para) There is nothing to do but sit in bed and let the toxins seep into my body — and be abused by nurses with needles. One thing they don’t tell you about hospitals is how they violate you. It’s like your body is no longer your own, it belongs to the nurses and the doctors, and they are free to prod you and force things into your veins and various openings… When I was awake, the nurses ate me alive.

Page 127 (Last line) Nike didn’t desert me. (This was while he was undergoing chemo. Ironically, NIke did wash it’s hands off brand Lance when the doping charges were proved.)

Page 187 (first para) While I was sick, I told myself I’d never cuss again, never drink another beer again, never lose my temper again. I was hoping to be the greatest and the most clean-living guy you could hope to meet. But life goes on. Things change, intentions get lost. You have another beer, you say another cussword.

Page 205 (last two paras) In July, I skipped the Tour de France. Instead, I did some TV commentary and watched from the sides of the road as it turned into the most controversial and traumatic bike race in history. In a series of raids on team cards, French police found trunkloads of EPO and anabolic steroids. Team members and officials were thrown into French jails, everyone was under suspicion, and the cyclists were furious at the tactics used by the authorities. Of the 21 teams that began the race, only 14 finished. One team was expelled and the other six quit in protest.

Doping is an unfortunate fact of life in cycling, or any other endurance sport for that matter. Inevitably, some teams and riders feel its like nuclear weapons — that they have to do it to stay competitive within the peloton. I never felt that way, and certainly after chemo the idea of putting anything foreign in my body was especially repulsive. Overall, I had extremely mixed feelings about the 1998 tour, I sympathised with the riders caught in the firestorm, some of whom I knew well, but I also felt the tour would be a more fair event from then on.

Page 246 (last para onwards) I was making enemies in the Alps. My newly acquired climbing prowess aroused suspiciolancen in the French press, still sniffing for blood after the scandal of the previous summer. A whispering campaign began: “Armstrong must be on something.” Stories in L’Equipe and Le Monde insinuated, without saying it outright, that my comeback was a little too miraculous.

I knew there would be consequences for Sestriere — it was almost a tradition that any rider who wore the yellow jersey was subject to drug speculation. But I was taken aback by the improbable nature of the charges in the French press: some reporters actually suggested that chemotherapy had been beneficial to my racing. They speculated that I had been given some mysterious drug during the treatments that was performance-enhancing.

….I had absolutely nothing to hide, and the drug tests proved it. It was no coincidence that every time Tour officials chose a rider from our team for random drug testing, I was their man. Drug testing was the most demeaning aspect of the Tour… We called the doctors Vampires. But the drug tests became my best friend, because they proved that I was clean. I had been tested and checked, and retested.

Page 251 (first para) I decided to adress the charges outright, and held a press conference in Saint-Gaudens. “I have been on my deathbed, and I am not stupid,” I said. Everyone knew that use of EPO and steroids by healthy people can cause blood disorders and strokes. What’s more, I told the press, it wasn’t so shocking that I had won Sestriere; I was an established former World Champion.

“I can emphatically say I am not on drugs,” I said. “I though a rider with my history and health situations wouldn’t be  such a surprise. I’m not a new rider. I know there’s been looking, and prying, and digging, but you’re not going to find anything. There’s nothing to find… and once everyone has done their due diligence and realises they need to be professional can can’t print a lot of crap, they’ll realise they are dealing with a clean guy”

Page 252 (second para) Not long after I crossed the finish line, a French TV journalist confronted me: there were reports that I had tested positive for a banned substance. The report was wrong, of course. Le Monde had published a story stating that a drug test had turned up minute traces of corticosteroid in my urine. I was using a cortisone cream to treat a case of saddle sores — and I had cleared the cream with the Tour authorities before the race ever started. Immediately, Tour authorities issued a statement affirming my innocence. “Le Monde was looking for a drug story and they got one on skin cream,” I said.

Page 254 (last para) But after five hours on the bike, I now had to face another two-hour press conference. I was beginning to feel that the press was trying to break me mentally, because the other riders couldn’t do it physically. The media had become as much of an obstacle as the terrain itself.  That day the International Cycling Union released all of my drug tests, which were, in fact, clean.

PS: Do not intend to violate any copyrights. This is just a post to make it easier for people to know where all Lance Armstrong mentioned about doping in his book.

There was a baddy lover, who lived in a shoe

I love badminton and it was a part of my duties as a sports journalist to cover this sport. It is always a thrilling and energising experience to be at any badminton tournament, doesn’t matter if its a district level tournament or a Super Series. And now that we have some great badminton players, it’s an even cheery experience to watch the matches as the crowd cheers on.

For the first time, after I quit my job to take a break post-marriage, I travelled to New Delhi to watch the third Indian Open Super Series in April 2013 to attend this tournament purely as a ‘spectator’. And trust me, if you are covering a tournament, the chances are you might overlook certain interesting bits on court, but as a spectator stories would just jump up in your face.

And so that April I was mesmerised by how colourful and vibrant badminton players’ apparels and shoes are.  This time I had a camera with me and had ample time to laze around at the Siri Fort Stadium.

Neon is particularly in fashion and it was surprising (and unsettling) to see some players wear it. Badminton superpower China had this eye-popping florescent orange uniform with matching shoes and it seemed they were trying to blind their opponents across the net. I just went crazy looking at all those colourful shoes!

FYI, the single pair of shoes in yellow, belong to our super star PV Sindhu. 😉 Her entire picture took too much of space.

Choco Decor, Bhopal’s chocolate bouquet service

My sister Rachana told me about chocolate bouquets an year ago…trust me before that I had no idea any such thing existed. I am strictly anti-bouquet (the flower kind) and when I heard about chocolate bouquets, I was honestly thrilled. The idea was quite appealing, instead of flowers, you have decorated chocolates sticking out of a bouquet. Pluck them, eat them and either throw the rest away or recycle it. Cool na?

So Rachana was going through a very bad phase in life and wanted a change, so she went to Mumbai to learn how to make chocolate bouquets. She also learned how to make chocolates of different shapes using moulds and then wrapping them up in colourful foils. She would then fashion them into bouquets of different shapes and designs.

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She came back to Bhopal and started this service — Choco Decor— where she would take orders from people near her house. The smallest bouquets cost something like 250 and had around 10 chocolates. I went to visit her a couple a months ago and learned that she was to deliver a lot of bouquets and assorted chocolates soon.

She found a willing slave in me and we sat down to set up our own mini production line. I would melt bars of chocolates and pour it into moulds shaped like hearts, stars, roses, tulips, smiley faces etc, and Rachana would cool them down in the freezer and them wrap them in foils and decorate the bouquet.

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I then did a little research and found that though such services are available on a large scale in bigger cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Kolkata, people in smaller cities don’t know much about it yet. The response Rachana received in Bhopal was mediocre at first, but as the word spread, she soon started wishing that I was there to help around 24×7. Aah now that’s not happening is it. 😀

That perfect haircut

I always tell my friends that it is easier to find a good husband than a tailor who understands your needs, than a hairstylist who gives you a perfect haircut, and a housemaid who doesn’t come in our nightmares.

You have seen my picture on the left side of this blog right? (If you haven’t then gimme your email id, i’ll start sending you hate mails.)
I had shoulder length layered hairstyle till a breakup forced me to revamp my life and my mane caught the brunt of it. I have always been a big fan of the pixie cut and a senior colleague told me about this place in Pune which is famous for that.

Indian women are extremely proud of their long hair and are intensely protective about it. Trimming just one inch means the girl would have shed a mugful of tears before getting into the chair (and after it too). So it’s pretty hard to find someone who understands that SOME women like short hair and it needs to be different from a guy’s haircut…however similar they might look to you.

So this place in Pune is on Ferguson College Road and is called Techni Art (they are listed with Justdial.com). The gentleman who owns it, Manoj, is also a fantastic hairstylist and I have always made sure he is around when I take my appointments. He understands right away what I am looking for and his results are fabulous.

I hated myself for doing it, but I had to move out of Pune as I got a better job in New Delhi. Worked for two years in Delhi, then moved to Lucknow after getting married, and then within three months to Dehradun.

I have not found anyone else who has given me that perfectly sexy pixie cut. Last week I went to Pune on a week-long holiday. And it was after exactly two and half years that I got a satisfactory haircut 🙂 Finally!!!