Saturday, September 29, 2007
Here is how i did it: i removed the stalks from the strawberries and chopped them up - or rather sliced them because i like to encounter some of the heart shaped fruit in my jam. Then i mixed it with some sugar in a bowl. So it was around a dozen strawberries and about 3 or maybe 4 tablespoons of sugar. And squeezed the juice of half a lemon on top. I stirred it around in the bowl and then transferred the mixture into a saucepan. This was then simmered on low heat till the sugar melted. I was getting impatient so i turned up the heat a little. The entire mixture then comes to a boil. At some point in the whole process the mixture starts thickening. Recipes on the internet generally suggest the cold saucer test - and i think you will have to do so for large batches that you would want to preserve. And i guess in that case you will have to measure the ingredients and worry about the correct process. But i can guarantee that for a small quantity of fruit that you want to put to good use so that you consume it before it goes bad, this works and works well. So after having some jam sandwiches at tea time, we will polish the rest off for dessert - vanilla ice cream with a dollop of jam to top it.
So just out of interest - here is the science behind it. I found this on a website called www.infoplease.com. Strawberries contain pectin. Pectin is any of a group of white, amorphous, complex carbohydrates that occur in ripe fruits and certain vegetables. Protopectin, present in unripe fruits, is converted to pectin as the fruit ripens. Pectin forms a colloidal solution in water and gels on cooling. When fruits are cooked with the correct amount of sugar, and when the acidity is optimum and the amount of pectin present is sufficient, jams and jellies can be made. In overripe fruits, the pectin becomes pectic acid, which does not form jelly with sugar solutions. Fruits rich in pectin are the peach, apple, currant, and plum. Commercial preparations of pectin are available for jelly making. An indigestible, soluble fiber, pectin is a general intestinal regulator that is used in many medicinal preparations, especially as an anti-diarrhea agent.
Friday, September 28, 2007
My father passed away June 3, 2006 after a long fight with pancreatic cancer. I live 2400 miles away and did not see him very often in the last 10 years of his life. One morning in August I was feeling very low so I called my mom. (Mom always said, "God gave you parents so someone would always care about you.") Talking to mom made me feel better but I really missed my dad. Later that morning I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend and telling her how sad I felt and what my mom always says about God giving you parents. I told her I had talked to my mom that morning and wished I could talk to my dad. No sooner was that said when a huge, yellow butterfly flew up to the window where we were sitting and flapped it's wings, staying outside that window for about 15 seconds before flying away. I instantly told my friend, "That's my Dad!" and started to cry. Huge butterflies like that are not seen where we live. Ever since that day when I am feeling lonely or missing my Dad I will cross paths with a yellow butterfly. My children also believe their Grandpa comes around in the form of a yellow butterfly. On my daughter's first day of Junior High in September "Grandpa" flew in front of us as we walked up to the school. My son was saddened because Grandpa didn't walk him up to the school that morning, but was happy a few days later when he and I were sitting in the pool and "Grandpa" flew around the backyard. When I pointed to "Grandpa" and told my son to look, "Grandpa" landed on my hand where he remained for about 15 seconds before flying away. On a recent trip to Death Valley National Park I was extremely lonely for my parents. When my companion asked me why I was so quiet I told him I really missed my Mom and Dad today and a little, yellow butterfly flew in front of us! How comforting. I feel blessed to see these wonderful creatures of God and the signs they carry with them.
Marcia, Barstow, CA
Sunday, September 23, 2007
The whole of Chinese garden is lighted right from Chinese Garden MRT & usually there are different themes followed during the festival for the lighted showcase that is an attraction for all young and old at this place. This year the theme is the Sea, and there is a great variety of wonderful sea animals, fish, jelly fish, star fish, coral, etc. Aadi's favourite were the penguins and we had to stay there the longest. There were also lots of stalls with light-toys for kids, sparklers, and other tit-bits for one and all. Amol was happy to see the large variety of food stalls at the festival. I was personally very happy to see so many lights and so much colour, the whole place had a warm and welcoming feel to it. The different shapes and sizes of lanterns was amazing. There was also a huge lantern from Sri Lanka!!
We, my family, Faisal's family & Chandrasekhar we all went for this wonderful festival & had a good time on Friday evening. We took lots of photographs..
Friday, September 21, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Around a week back...
It was slightly after six in the evening. Mihir had just finished his bath and was all ready to go to bed - we were just winding down, have a quiet chat and walk around the house. I still had to cook dinner. My only aim was to get Mihir to bed, have a cup of tea and then start cooking dinner. The phone rang.
X: Can i speak to Mr Raddi?
He was still at work and i mentioned so, and asked who was calling and if there was any message that i could take for him.
At this juncture,
X: Am i speaking to Mrs Raddi?
To which i answered yes After which, X asked me a couple of questions regarding how much i spend on making phone calls - to what countries, internet connectivity details and expenditure -, etc, etc - in short a quick picture of my communications setup at home and average expenditure on the same. By this time Mihir had given up on his sleep, had jumped out my arms to crawl out and explore the bookshelf. So I tried to answer as honestly as i could - knowing that we do spend a substantial amount every month. And i wanted to know about the product on offer.
X talked about his product and its cost - i had a couple of questions, which he answered. I mentioned that i would definitely consider this and if he could send across any documentation either by email or mail or if there was a website that i could check out. Because having seen enough of similar products, i know there is small print - like costs go up after the initial trial offer, or sometimes a phone number change is required, you know how it is - the works. And by this time, Mihir had decided he had had enough of the book shelf and my tugging on my jeans.
X, there was no stopping him - he had to make that sale right away. I was interested in what he had to say - but i had to attend to my baby. So i mentioned about the baby, hoping that he would get the hint and i could politely get off the phone.
X - oblivious to the sound of the crying baby in the background - still expounding upon the million ways in which i will save money, and how superior the product is - urging me to take on a free trial. At this point, i mentioned, that i need to speak to my husband about the offer, do the sums and consider if the free trial/product-service offer made sense to me. I explained this but he still talked about the free offer. At this time, I explained that i had a baby and generally a free trial means, you need to return the piece of equipment if it doesn't meet your expectations - and that trip to the post office is always a pain for me. I didn't want to take on the trouble and hence wanted to carefully examine the offer beforehand.
X: i do understand that you need to speak to your husband and discuss it with him. What time will he come home? I will call in two hours. Can you discuss it with him by then?
By this time, Mihir was positively howling and i just said yes, taking the immediately available opportunity to get off the phone. However before i could hang up, X warned me that the offer was a special one and only available for that day.
Later in the day...
At around 8.30 or so - my husband is just back from a long day atwork - mihir is still battling sleep - but i have managed to put together dinner somehow, and we are famished. As we sit down to dinner and just as we are about to start, the shrill ring of the phone. Who could it be - mostly its someone from the States (accounting for time-zone differences) - and the phone is promptly answered. He spent half an hour explaining the offer all over again to my husband - who clearly had an expression on his face saying "who is this guy and when can i have some dinner" - although he managed to glean the fact that X was calling from a call centre in Bangalore. At that time of the night, my hubby hung up saying he needed to revisit the information before making any decision and that X should atleast give us a week to do so and that if the offer was not available to us then - well we had missed out and it was our misfortune.
A week later in the evening...around 6 PM or so.
I dont know how but X managed to call exactly at the time when Mihir was extremely sleepy and just about to drift off - only to be woken up by the telephone ring. X asked if my husband was around. Dear hubby was out of London and going to return later that evening. I explained to X, very patiently too, i must say and X agreed to call later.
The next day... this time in the afternoon just after Mihir's lunch...
Again impeccable timing, this time he managed to wake Mihir up just after he had drifted off - i picked Mihir up and answered the phone. It was X. I had dropped my voice to a whisper and explained that i couldnt take the call at the moment as the baby was just drifting off. X, as we have established by now, was not ready to just hang up and persisted on.
X: Mrs Raddi, the offer will not be available later. What time can i call you?
Me: later, please - not now.
X: tell me a time.
I, once again, requested to get off the phone then. Mihir is up and wants to grab hold of the phone. I was exasperated, irritated and really angry.
Me: I am not interested in your offer. If i lose the fantastic offer, its all my fault.
X: in an angry tone - Mrs Raddi, i knew the first time i had talked to you that you would not go for the product.
Me: then why did you bother to call me? i was just looking at the phone in disbelief.
X: Thank you.
Hangs the phone up.
Baby bawling in the background.
That was the first time, a salesman hung up on me. Not only that he managed to really insult me by implying that i was just getting him to call because i had nothing better to do - and really spoiled the rest of my day.
I have been a salesperson myself and i know how difficult it is to secure a sale. But i have also been a generous buyer of products and services - and i have responded to all forms of promotion activities - telesales offers, catalogues, internet offers. And in this particular situation, X almost had a sale. If he has just understood my predicament with the baby, understood the fact that in order for me to consider his offer properly, if he had just emailed the details to me - it would be easier for me to consider the salient points of his offer. I couldn't possibly remember the zillion things he was offering. Or better still, he should have just secured an appointment to call. I was interested in the product. I was fully aware that i might lose out on the offer and mentioned so.
I think the worst blunder was to imply that i wouldn't have bought in the first place - what kind of accusation is that?
In either case, thats how it happened. I would be very interested to know what X could have done to secure the sale and what i could have done to have had a better experience.
Monday, September 17, 2007
After the lunch and the fantabulous custard we sat down to watch the movie "Apne" starring the Deol Khandaan of hindi cinema. Malina & family had to leave as Iba was sleepy and Faisa had a cricket match to watch.
Thus ended our lovely Saturday spent in good company of our friends.
Malina has promised to share her custard recipe on the blog...so hang on !!
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Chak De...Symbi !!
We didn’t have Shahrukh for a coach, but we made it
The movie, Chak De India, has caught the imagination of the nation. Here is a bunch of hockey-playing girls, who cannot spell the ‘T’ of teamwork. Yet, their coach effects a magical transformation through the power of self-belief.
As I stepped out of the theatre, my mind did a quick rewind. Circa 1986. We were students of the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Pune. One day, to get over the monotony of a production management lecture, someone suggested we take part in the inter-college hockey tournament.
The Maharashtra Hockey Association clerk laughed at our application. “Since when did business school students start playing hockey?” he said. This snub was just the spark we needed. We were a rusty lot. Most of us had consigned our sticks to the loft after the undergrad or even school level. Yet, we had two stars in Sunil and Amin. They had donned Maharashtra state colours at the junior level.
We built a side around them. What followed was rigorous training every evening. Three hours of gruelling play followed by nimbu paani and a motivational film. It was a racy, ten-minute sports film on how to overcome challenges through self-belief. With the popular ‘Eye of the tiger’ tune, the film was a major adrenalin booster.
We were a diverse bunch. The bearded Kharkhanis and chain-smoking Potti were defenders. The speedy Bartakke, talkative Parry, brooding Parulekar, and confident Sunil were the forwards. The scheming Amin, the two Mohans and Agnello, the joker comprised the half line. Yours truly was goalkeeper minus a helmet and chest guard.
We played hard, exercised harder, swallowed litres of nimbu paani and watched the film a zillion times. The ‘Symbi-Symbi’ war cry was in place. In our first game, we beat the defending champions, Nowrosjee Wadia College, on their home turf and followed it with wins against fancied teams like Armed Forces Medical College, and others.
We reached the finals, no less. In that hard-fought game, we went down on penalties. But not before proving that a team of no-hopers could become champions simply through the power of self-belief.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
So once we were strolling aimlessly in a mall, and chanced upon a stall that did family photograph sessions. We were hooked on immediately and booked ourselves for the following Saturday.
We had been asked to bring one set of clothes, and another set we were to choose from the studio. So each of us wore a red shirt and thought that would make the photographs special. Upon reaching the place, I was ushered into a makeup session, and I must say she did a good job, as I usually don't look good with make up. We then did some posing and tried to be natural..but the photographer insisted on a pose...so we did as we were told!! We changed into our nest set of clothes, I did not want to wear any western wear from the studio, so stuck to my salwaar kameez. After some more poses, we were done, as the photographer informed us we had already taken 50 odd snaps. Now was the toughest part of selecting 5 best ones from the existing tray...it was really tough!! We sat through it and finally had our favourite 5.
Now that we have the prints with us, I think it was the wisest money we ever spent.
Just to give some background, e e cummings was a 20th century American poet and painter and what i remember from studying his poetry was the unusual way in which it was written - it was not written but depicted on a page. The best way of describing it - is from this extract from wikipedia - A number of his poems feature a typographically exuberant style, with words, parts of words, or punctuation symbols scattered across the page, often making little sense until read aloud, at which point the meaning and emotion become clear. Cummings, who was also a painter, understood the importance of presentation, and used typography to "paint a picture" with some of his poems.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
- i really like chatting to my grandmother - every time i call her i am greatly relieved to hear that not much has changed in the world of parenting since her time - thats atleast for the last fifty or sixty years - its very comforting to know that while everything is about change around us - some things never change.
- i like going for a walk - you get to meet the most interesting people when you are out and about - and of course it helps you to lose pounds and inches.
- its great meeting up with old friends and i really like it when i have an unannounced visit from friends - it really makes my day - its nice to have a chat sitting around the table with a steaming cuppa - it transforms the mundane things that we talk about into scintillating conversations.
- its fun to see old photographs and videos - you can laugh at yourself and you are the only one who does not find it boring.
- i subscribe to heartwarmers - a website that sends me emails every couple of days about things that, well, warm the heart - this morning the usual story came with a bonus of some witty one liners. I have taken the liberty of pasting some of the ones that i really liked- i hope i am not violating any laws in doing so.
On a Plumber's truck: "Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber."
Pizza Shop Slogan: "7 days without pizza makes one weak."
At a Towing company: "We don't charge an arm and a leg. We want
On an Electrician's truck: "Let us remove your shorts."
On a Maternity Room door: "Push. Push. Push."
At an Optometrist's Office: "If you don't see what you're looking
for, you've come to the right place."
In a Podiatrist's office: "Time wounds all heels."
On a Fence: "Salesmen welcome! Dog food is expensive."
At a Car Dealership: "The best way to get back on your feet - miss a
Outside a Muffler Shop: "No appointment necessary. We hear you
In a Veterinarian's waiting room: "Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!"
In a Restaurant window: "Don't stand there and be hungry, Come on in
and get fed up."
In the front yard of a Funeral Home: "Drive carefully. We'll wait...
Monday, September 10, 2007
I was on the lookout for a good parlour, but found none near my house, and worse still I was worried about leaving Aadi and going out without him!!
Finally I found one...again a lady in the park told me about this one (no it's not the same lady!!) the name is Indigo Palace, and is located along Serangoon Road in Little India.
I left home without having time for lunch and then bought some Samosas along the way, reached the parlour a good 20 minutes late for my appointment. I was greeted by a very friendly lady Saru, who told me about all the available services etc. I told her "do what you have to do, I just want my skin to look better". We settled for a Diamond Peel facial, though I was in favour of apna Shanaaz Hussain, but Saru said that the DP one was worth a try and that she would do it on half my face, and then show me the difference...If I like it she would continue on the rest of it...I was game...
Well as you guessed, half of my face looked clean, and all the dark blotches I had managed to accumulate were gone, so I consented into getting it done all over my face & neck. The process was quite painstaking, and it took good 2 hours to finish the facial. I was completely relaxed & at ease. Also feeling good about finally looking a bit like my old self.
I did a few other trivial things at the parlour, and finally headed home to meet my bachha and his Papa who were busy playing in the park when I reached.
I Promised myself to take good care of my skin and visit Indigo Palace every month. The place is spacious, clean and hygienic. Staff is helpful, smiling, and not pushy.
I don't know what got me to pick up the book from the library but still I did...I must admit I liked what he says in the book and amazingly have started admiring the guy (man).
Let me tell you a bit of what I read in the book.
Simon grew up in an affluent family and his parents were friends with a lot of the top actors in Hollywood. He did not know what he wanted to do for a living, but he knew he wanted to earn a lot of money!! After a spate of boring interviews at various jobs (he did not want to take them up, as his father was trying to set him up) he finally accepted being a mailroom boy at EMI records. He worked very hard. He then worked as a runner at a TV production firm. All along he learned the trade from ground up. He came to know that music was what he was good at and that he had the knack of knowing what would be a hit...so he worked hard to make his dream a reality. He then tells us how he found and made numerous no. 1 hit songs. He then goes on to tell us how the Pop Idol show was conceived & then how after a lot of tough resistance the show was showcased in America as American Idol. He gives vivid details of the first two seasons of both Pop Idol as well as American Idol.
I liked the book because it was as if Simon himself was talking, the language, the honesty and the sheer guts to speak the truth on some one's face...i mean everything Simon. It was a good read..
Our hands go through the onslaught of dishwashing, laundry and other household work. Our hands become rough and dry also because we do not give it as much attention as we give to our face. However, caring for hands is very vital as they tend to age very fast....and they age prematurely if we don't give them the care that they deserve.
The skin on my hands had become very rough and dry recently and I was wondering what to do.I started applying baby lotion before going to bed but it did not make much of a difference.Then I started using Nivea's "Age Defying Q10 Plus" and it has really softened my hands.Here are some other tips to keep your hands looking great:
- Always use sunscreen on your hands when you go out during the day.
- Apply a good hand creme everytime you use soap or detergent.
- Once a week warm a cup of whole milk and soak your hands in it for ten minutes to hydrate skin.
- Once a week use a rich moisturizer on your hands and wear cotton gloves before retiring for the night.
Beautiful hands are an important part of our overall grooming. They are very visible parts of our body as we tend to use them quite frequently while talking or expressing ourselves. So I feel that setting aside time to take care of them is worth it!
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Through this book we get to see what war looks like through the eyes of a child, why he thinks it is justified, how he forgets his childhood, how quickly he learn to kill and also not get affected by it. Child soldiers are a reality in the war torn nations of our existing world. Ishmael is one of the lucky few who got a chance to come back to "normal" life, get rehabilitated, get rid of the drug addictions, the war-nightmares, get a family & above all get a better life.
The following passage is from the book that i liked a lot
''We must strive to be like the moon." An old man in Kabati repeated this sentence often to people who walked past his house on their way to the river to fetch water, to hunt, to tap palm wine; and to their farms. I remember asking my grandmother what the old man meant. She explained that the adage served to remind people to always be on their best behaviour and to be good to others. She said that people complain when there is too much sun and it gets unbearably hot, and also when it rains too much or when it is cold. But, she said, no one grumbles when the moon shines. Everyone becomes happy and appreciates the moon in their own special way. children watch their shadows and play in its light, people gather at the square to tell stories and dance through the night. A lot of happy things happen when the moon shines. there are some of the reasons why we should want to be like the moon.