Monday, July 6, 2015

Checking-in

Blah. That’s what I’ve been feeling since a few days, or should I say, weeks. There is so much happening in my real life that online life has taken a back seat. Now, ofcourse, I am no Salman Khan busy with promotions of loser of a movie called Bajrangi Bhaijaan, nor I am Mr. Modi aiming for 65 before 65 (countries, ofcourse), but I am a lazy housewife with, mind you, plenty to do!

So I fired a temporary housemaid because I felt she hated her job and was giving me an awful lot of stress. Firing is no easy task - I had to mince my words, be as kind as possible, and keep my mouth shut about the fact that she sucked. I didn’t want to do anything to her self-esteem, so I just lied and said I am going on a vacation.

Now this wasn’t a complete lie. I am indeed going for a vacation albeit for a week. There will be sun and sand and a whole lot of other stuff which would keep us happy for seven whole days in Cyprus. It’s an exotic destination. But then what do you do if you have already covered a lot of the famous ones. Ahem! No, no, I am not bragging. We just want to cover like 40 countries before we turn 40 and we have our list ready. Although Cyprus wasn’t a part of it, we made the list after we booked our vacation. So. Anyway. A vacation is a vacation is a vacation. I am EXCITED!!

Every time we go on a holiday we try to shed some weight before boarding that plane. This is just to stay fit and make sure that we eat to our hearts content while we are in a foreign land. These days our schedule runs tight. I do atleast one and a half hours of exercise. Now that needs a lot of rest in between for my amazingly feeble body. So, after finishing the daily chores and doing that workout, I chill the rest of the day! Ha! See I have a very valid excuse!!

And then we’ve been eating yummy salads to shed some more kgs. I’ve started making a delicious chicken salad that I actually crave for in the evenings. Whoever said that diet food was boring didn’t try searching the internet for recipes, and didn’t love his body. If you think you’re being cool by being a foodie, you also need to be health conscious to survive being one. I love food, but I love myself more. I wish people had a similar mantra.

Oh ya, this lecture will get over as soon as we are on the island of Cyprus! But that’s only for a week na, and we are prepared!

I also had a social anxiety disorder lately. After having a couple of glasses of wine, people change apparently. I did too. I became aggressive in my debates which I regretted the next morning. And since I hate confrontations so much, I don’t know how I will ever rectify my behaviour.

I could have had an altercation with a Muslim friend as well on the whole Gay marriage thing. But sanity prevailed and I didn’t say anything. I would rant here ofcourse. That deserves a whole post and post I shall.

Hope I keep reading and writing. I just like to read non-fiction and so I am reading blogs of prostitutes these days. They are very interesting to say the least. Google and hop onto one!

Much love!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The House of Outlaws

They said you can’t eat it. Now I wasn’t addicted, but when they ban something, it becomes more enticing.

So I went to the store and bought bundles of it lest they stopped selling them. It wasn’t right of me, like mother would have said, but when it is not right, it is perfect!

Mother always had rules. Eat your greens. Have your milk. Drink plenty of water. Even after the wedding when we would Facetime/Skype with her, she would go on and on lecturing me on how to nourish my body. I would, like all sincere kids, listen with one ear and… you know.

Oh, Mother. She was coming in two days to visit me and the husband for the first time after the wedding. How would I explain the bundles of prohibited stuff to her? The menu for the next day was declared so that we finish all the packets – we would consume these morsels fit for the kings in the morning for breakfast, cook it with some veggies in the afternoon for lunch and then devour like dirty kids at dinner.

I felt naughty. And scared – what if she found out? Even in our 30’s mothers can have that power, especially when it came to food.

Things went exactly like we planned -  the day before she came, we opened the yellow packets. The husband, he likes his dish spicy, so I slit through two green chillies and mixed in the water for him. Mine was regular – water, masala and the spiral stuff. We made two separate bowls – no sharing of course – and had a hearty meal. Health is wealth went for a toss.
    

Afternoon and evening went in deciding how to make varieties of the same. I googled and came up with pakoras, he concocted his own dish and came up with a sandwich filled with appetizing, yellow mix. It tasted divine.

The next morning the sink smelled of the same delightful meal. While I inhaled the aroma thinking it might as well be the last time, a thought made my whole body shiver. What if mom smelled the same in the utensils? Did the house smell of it as well?

Bedlam broke lose. Agarbattis were lit around the house. The last I smelled Jasmine from the incense stick was on Diwali – mom was definitely going to get suspicious on my sudden transformation. I poured copious amount of liquid that had a yummy, lemon smell onto the utensils and scrubbed with both my hands. Yes, the maid would think it is her birthday or something since I finished the chores even before she came.

We opened all the windows, mopped the floor with antiseptic, and made sure every corner smelled like a place fit for doctors, and not like a young, married couple high on MSG. This was exactly like the time we had to hide the smell of fish curry from vegetarian guests. Or, like the time the husband's parents were visiting and we had to find ways to get rid of the smell of smoke from a party the previous night. We sprayed and cleaned like pros, like we did always, and took a bow. 

Then we rushed to the airport. It was a delight to have her in our town. She gave us the best hugs and kisses and the warmest smiles. When she stepped into our house, she complimented me on how I had kept it so beautiful and clean. She patted my back and even said something on the lines of ‘this is just how I would have kept this house’.

I think my day, no, life was made. And yes, we WERE successful in hiding the two-minute goodness smell.

She asked us for all the dishes we would like her to make during the next few days. I opened the drawer and handed over a list. Of course it was ready. She asked me to take her to the kitchen and show her around the place she would rule during her stay.

As I was pointing out the basic items, her detective eyes landed on a corner I may have never ever seen in my kitchen.  She held the tiny bit that we had missed on the floor and spoke in decibels unheard in our lawless abode, “Noodles? Have you two been eating Noodles? Have you not read how they are high on MSD and lead and can give you the most horrendous diseases?”

We never heard the end of it. Forget compliments, we were henceforth treated how a principal would treat school kids.


Much like I expected though. The only solace was that the son-in-law was treated with equal 'respect'. He was finally being accepted as her own son now and was getting the perks that come with it. Needless to say, mothers are the best!

*All the pictures above are mine created with the help of a Smart Phone application.

I am blogging for #SmellyToSmiley activity atBlogAdda.com in association with Ambi Pur.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bahrain Diaries - Liquor Shopping before Ramadan

Me and the Boy have been living in the Island of Bahrain for the past six years. For him, it is the longest he has ever lived in one city. Most people we meet here are bored and want to leave at the first given opportunity - not us. We love this city-country and somehow find new things to do all the time.

Well, atleast we try to. It started a few months ago - we vowed to visit atleast one new place every weekend. Be it a super-market we have never visited or a road we haven't seen or the obvious restaurant we haven't tried - we are trying to do it all. And since I like to document here everything I do, I thought of starting this weekly column. I just hope it survives!

Anyway, so this weekend was crucial as Ramadan starts on Thursday, 18th June, and we needed to stock up on liquor! Bahrain is a fairly liberal country where alcohol is served in licensed restaurants/lounge/pubs and hotel bars. We also have stores around the city to shop for hard drinks. It is only during the holy month of Ramadan that alcohol is NOT served in restaurants or sold in outlets/Duty Free.

We basically know of two two big stores - BMMI and Gulf Brands. Since we live in an area called Juffair, we usually shop at the Gulf Brands International retail outlet located near the Gulf Hotel in Adliya. This weekend, to do our new thing, we visited the BMMI store in Mina Salman. (Not lame at all!!!! To find a new thing to do/place to visit in a small place of some 700 square km is hard!)

Since it was the last day before Ramadan, there were quite a few offers going on. The store seemed like it had just been robbed! Shelves were empty and cartons were lying around; basically the thirsty, expat community had grabbed all that they could so that they don't have withdrawal symptoms during the next one month. Also, since restaurants don't open till iftar/around 6 in the evening during this month, weekends are fairly bland. So to spice up our lives, we have house parties in the afternoons where we need to entertain guests with booze considering the fact that it is a luxury. Things taste better when they are prohibited, right?

Anyway, we bought a few cans of beer since we had everything stocked up from before. I don't know whether is was 'vandalism' or it was actually like that, we thought the Gulf Brands store is much better with more variety and a larger stock.

I wanted to click pictures with people pushing their trolleys and loading the trunk of their cars, but it just seemed too much. Hopefully I will use my phone's camera a little more from next time and give you a sneak peak into our weekends and also into our beautiful country that we call home - Bahrain.

P.S. If you landed here searching for liquor in Bahrain during Ramadan, I can suggest three places where you can check -
Country Club, Budaiya
Bahrain Rugby and Football Club, Saar
Royal Golf Club, Riffa.
It would be best to call these places and check before heading there. And you are welcome!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Poultry Pictures


Pout. Arm Triangle. Tummy in. Leg swirl. Chin up.

The above are few of the many ways in which you can pose if you are using your 5 megapixel, smart phone camera to capture your every move in every place – the washroom of a swanky restaurant topping the list. The phenomena of taking a perfect picture which apparently looks absolutely identical to the last one, thanks to the use of a certain teapot pose, has been around for some time. You might have found your perfect pose (mine is a left angle, by the way), but there is always something new to learn.

The purpose of this post is to let you know how I absolutely abhor the chicken wing and the duck face. Every single day I see atleast one picture on my timeline which screams ‘I’m Angelina’ at the top of its voice. Apparently the subject thinks that bigger lips and thinner arms can genetically change an ugly face, more so because it doesn’t smile, it pouts.



I mean, whatever happened to giggling and saying cheese or like my husband likes to call it – the shaadi pose! You stand next to each other, wrap your arms around and smile. If you’re having a good time, the giggle will show. What will you know from looking like poultry? Moreover, when you are in the year 2030 and they are looking at your pictures, how will you explain your aquatic existence? My mum still has a hard time explaining the high pants, giant buns and gangster shades.

I am not saying I have never done it. What I’m saying is whenever I have done it, I have deleted it. The only other time I had my arms on the waist was when the husband walked with his dirty shoes on a wet floor creating marks on a clean surface. Although his pose was perfect for a picture – hands on ears and chin touching the neck.

It is so insanely weird to act like a celeb when you aren’t one. I would be fine if you were called Kareena Kapoor or Katrina Kaif. But if you are a regular Neha and Priya, you really need a reality check and a natural smile.

To add to it, the trend is to take candid pictures in a wedding. You no more have cameramen standing in front of the stage clicking pictures with your mom’s aunt’s pervert son’s father-in-law. Rather, he moves around the hall and clicks random pictures with genuine smiles.

This opposite style of capturing moments is very confusing. When you’re creating your wedding album, you pose looking at each other’s eyes trying to fool the world saying that it was a candid click. You try to show the world that everyone had a gala time at your party. But as soon as you go for your honeymoon, you quack and cock-a-doodle-do, collaging fowl imagery. Thankfully the husband is on the other side of the camera because otherwise his duck face would be much harder to explain to any children created during or after the holiday.


The only time I forgive girls with such a pose is when they are 16 and have problems that only they can understand. When a 32 year-old makes a sassy arm triangle, she loses my respect. And the pleasure of posing next to my awesome, natural smile which comes out perfect without trying to ape anyone in particular. 

You may say the grapes are sour: in one such picture with people (read: girls, women) from all age groups, I had my hand much below the waist. What would they have thought – I had no clue about the angles? I, on the other hand, feel ignorance is bliss and chicken wings are tastier when on my lips and not on my hips.
Same line, multiple meanings.



Saturday, June 13, 2015

Skin Care Tips that Work

Not all of us are blessed with naturally beautiful skin. We have to work our way through, find things that work for us, and consistently apply those techniques to keep our skin healthy and beautiful. Although there are various products in the market, there are some things that we can do on a regular basis that can naturally help our skin. Over the years I have learnt the following:

Regular cleansing, exfoliation, moisturising: This is an age old mantra which a lot of us fail to follow. We should clean our face every day with a face wash that is gentle and suitable for our skin. A night routine is a must for those who step out a lot and face pollution and dirt. After that an exfoliation scrub should be used atleast twice a week to pull out any black heads and dead skin that we may have developed. To keep our skin soft, a gentle moisturiser after this is extremely necessary.

Using a sunscreen:  A lot of us skip this very important step in keeping our skin healthy. The sun’s ultra violet rays penetrate into our skin making it prone to damage. We need a good sun screen lotion with an SPF of atleast 20 to protect our face from damage.

Diet and Water: Apart from cleansing and nourishing, we need to watch what we eat. Oily and greasy food is not only bad for our sculpted body; it is also harmful for our radiant skin. Plus, we need to keep our skin hydrated by drinking atleast 2 litres of water every day.

Skin Packs:  My aunt is a fan of fruits. She eats about 3/4th of her share and applies the rest to her face. I have heard her put watermelon, banana, orange, and every other tasty fruit on her face. And trust me, her face has been thinking her for the yummy treats by keeping itself younger looking.

Multani Mitti: I remember applying multani mitti ever since I hit puberty. Yoghurt/rose water mixed with multani mitti is a perfect grandmother’s recipe for the best looking skin ever. Even if you are not aware of any other technique, this will help you immensely.

Stay Away from make-up and other harsh products: We follow the do’s but what about the don’ts? In an attempt to make ourselves look beautiful we apply tons of harmful products on our skin. These products are loaded with chemicals and are harmful for our skin. Use proper ones if you just have to, otherwise wear a beautiful smile and do away with make-up altogether. I am also against regular face treatments at the salon. By rubbing your skin with products, the beauticians convince you that your skin will become prettier. This may work against you in the long run and you may regret it. So choose your products and treatments wisely. Or, simply do away with them.

A simple skin care regime not only gives you a healthy and glowing skin, it also boosts your confidence. Give yourself some me-time and watch your skin become happier!


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Back, but no bang!

Now this must be the longest I have been away from reading and writing on Blogosphere. I feel horrible to say the least.

I mean, a lazy trip back home is no excuse not to jot down the million thoughts that go on in your mind. Really, everything amazing you do and see starts a series of thoughts in your mind that you want to pen down here. What is it with us bloggers, huh?

Like when I went to Lucknow this time - we visited this beautiful, beautiful park that I had surprisingly missed in the last two years. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, the park was unmistakably clean, and the greenery was to-die-for. I have seen a lotttt of parks in my life, but I think this is my favorite now. All I wanted to do after visiting it was write a review on my blog! It is called Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Park and is located in Gomti Nagar. After you are done with eating Tunde Kebab and shopping for Chikan Kurtas in my city of Nawabs, do check this little piece of paradise whenever you visit.

My least favorite thing about traveling is flying. Every time something or the other happens that leaves a bad memory in my head. This time was no different. While taking a flight from Delhi to Bahrain, I encountered this rude gentleman at the check-in counter. When I told him I cannot lift my suitcase and that he should call someone to help, he gave me a wicked smirk saying that there was no one around. I told him I will try to lift but I am not sure if I will succeed. Even though he saw me struggling, he didn't have the decency to get up and help. I guess Air India deserves all the flak it gets. Their staff needs to learn from a lot of other airlines that I have taken in the past and have never once faced a similar issue.

Anyhoo, you see, you learn, you grow; that is what my 3-year old nephew is doing these days. He's a boy with an attitude problem who wouldn't smile even if you tried your best. So these days, my mom - his grand-mother, has been tickling him a lot to give him his daily dose of laughter. Now I don't know if it is the right thing to do, but it sure is spreading a lot of joy in my house.

And to spread the joy across borders, my brother is getting his family here in Bahrain. I've been dying to see my niece and nephew in my house and this is really getting me extremely excited. I think when these kids are around three, they are the cutest. My niece is now nine, and she has been showing signs of entering teenage! But whatever it is, they are my most favorite people in the world right now and I cannot wait to see them.

Guess this space will have to wait a little longer to see me in full form! Goodness, what English!!!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Trip report – Mykonos, Greece

It has been six months since we visited Greece. The details are now blurry, but the stories from the vacation need to be here. And so it goes.

The symbolic windmills in the beautiful town of Mykonos. 

Lovely views

We had to take a ferry from Santorini to Mykonos. It was the first week of October and I had read stories of ferries being cancelled at the last minute. Thankfully, the weather was fine and we set sail to what was a an extremely beautiful beach destination.

Now Mykonos is the party capital of Greece. Unfortunately for us, the party ended in August. The most famous beach there – Paradise beach – has thousands of visitors shedding inhibitions and dancing all day in the summer months. We went to Paradise beach twice, only to enjoy the tranquillity and the beautiful sand.



Our hotel was in the centre of the town. But the GPS fooled us and our first outing was a disaster. We were going to the centre and it took us from ‘the shortest route possible’.  It was dark, the road was narrow, cars were coming from all directions, and we were walking to find restaurants!

When we did reach the area, it was absolutely beautiful with lots of narrow walkways, shops and restaurants all around. Our friends wanted Indian food, so went to this desi joint and encountered a horrible waitress. She kept glasses on our table with a loud bang. When we asked for chapatis, she came and said with a disturbing attitude,“We don’t have them. What will you do?”. When we look back, it was absolutely hilarious. That ‘what will you do’ has become a famous quote in our house!

The next day was another adventure on its own. Again, I must say, the GPS was at fault. We hired a car and went beach hunting. Our first stop was the pretty and simple to reach – Paradise beach. The ocean was cold and so we just lazed around on sun loungers with beer and good food. The waitress was the cutest! Close to the beach there was a cliff where they had an Indian restaurant. We called the owner to ask about it before driving there. He asked us to come after a couple of hours!

The sandy beach of Paradise!

The Boy - exposed!!! :p

Yes, October was not a peak season and people were relaxing. Now these Indian restaurants in European cities usually have two people managing a small restaurant. One serves, the other cooks. This guy was no exception. Only thing is he was having a conversation with someone back home and expelling BC/MC with ease!

We had a laugh with that too. And then we thought of going to Super Paradise beach. If we would have taken a U-Turn and gone to the highway, the road to the beach would have been easier. We didn’t know. So we asked our GPS for help. She took us from mountains and pebbly roads which were extremely dangerous. It was the most adventurous ride we’ve had in our life. It was steep, it was uneven, it was long, it had blind turns, it was a SINGLE road on a mountain…hmm!


But we managed to laugh that off as well and went to two more beaches after that. They were mostly empty because the water was cold. Even then, there lay a couple of topless women and the boys were happy!
We imagined how those beaches would be in summer. They were absolutely gorgeous. The clubs were amazing. The bars were superb. We thought we’ll go there again sometime..

In the evening we went for dinner at an Italian place in an area called Little Venice. The water from the sea splashed on the banks and the place was a beauty. Nobody asked us ‘What will we do’ and they even gave us blankets because it was a tad cold. We felt welcomed.

Little Venice in Mykonos

The next day we thought of not taking our chances and visiting Paradise beach again. We have lots of fun with the couple we went with, so it didn’t matter. The vacation was chilled out and we had nothing to tick mark. The people at the beach were humble and it was another feel-good outing. In the evening we went to eat Doner kebabs at a smallish restaurant. The owner was clearly stoned! Our friend couldn’t find him and so, he started tapping the counter mildly. The guy appeared from nowhere and started saying ‘What are you doing? Have some respect. You have to respect me.” Man, what was up with these people in Mykonos? Summer had been long it seemed!

We walked around the beautiful market area again in the evening and discovered little corners. Our hotel room was perfect, their breakfast was huge, and the beaches were blissful. Even with some rude encounters, our trip was perfect. We thought we’d go again.

Loved these lanes in Mykonos

Our plane out was a very small one, with sort of a ladder to the door! We went to Athens for a flight back to Bahrain. The next day was Karwachauth, the friends were going to stay over-night before going to their home in Dubai, there was supposed to be a party at my place that night… I loved every bit of it!

Sunset from our Hotel
Read about Athens and Santorini in previous posts.