Thursday, December 17, 2015

Movie Review – Dilwale

My Rating: 3.5/5

For starters, I’m not a very big Shahrukh or Salman fan. I find them charismatic and somehow never get bored during their movies. Yet, I don’t go crazy when I hear about their upcoming movies.

So when Dilwale shows were more than Bajirao Mastani’s in Bahrain cinemas, I was just fascinated. It is not surprising though, the theatre was filled with Arabs who are major Shahrukh fans. They were clapping all along as well! I was more keen to see a king’s love story, but the Boy thought he would be more interested in a masala film.

He couldn’t be more right – Dilwale is a typical Bollywood masala movie. It has romance between the epic Shahrukh Khan and Kajol. They look as cute together as they looked 20 years back. The chemistry between Kriti Sanon and Varun Dhawan is fine – they are any way not as passionate as the former couple. However, all four actors look absolutely stunning in the movie.

Then there is drama – Meera’s (Kajol) father and Kaali’s (Khan) father are dons and like one can expect, rivals. Some confusion and the duo are separated only to meet later and then unite for a – spoiler alert – happy ending!

But then this is a masala movie, it will have a happy ending. Johnny Lever was the most hilarious, so was Sanjai Mishra. The songs, except Gherua, were passable. It is commendable how a 50-year old actor can still manage awesome romance in the songs. Gherua was spell-binding.

Overall you won’t get bored watching the action, drama, comedy and romance that this movie meticulously combines. It has been long since we had a good Bollywood movie sans a message – this might just be the one. King Khan – you have done it again!

Hopefully I will convince the Boy to watch Bajirao tomorrow. What is with boys and their aversion to a little bit of bling!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Restaurant Review - The Orangery, Adliya

The Boy and me, we try to cover at least one new restaurant every week. It is a tradition that started almost a year back and is being carried on. Sometimes we do a new thing if not a restaurant, anyway..

So this week, since the weather was so gorgeous, we thought of going to an outdoor place with some sunshine. I had read about this newplace very close to my house. I googled for it online and found it to be quite impressive.

The Orangery sits in the Palace Boutique Hotel in Adliya. If you check its page online, the first impression that you get is that the place is very British.

And it is not wrong. We parked our car in the vast area and headed inside. The lush green garden is a rarity in the middle of Adliya. I was impressed straightaway. We sat in one of the cane chairs and made ourselves comfortable.

The service was quite fast and we gave our order – a Syrian Frittata and a Saffron infused French Toast. I ordered an Iced Latte because the sun was shining on my face and the Boy ordered a Juice because there was no wine!

While we basked in the sunshine, we could hear the incessant chatter of the women around. We could not help but notice that most people in the restaurant were Arabic women who had come for some kind of a celebration. Maybe the restaurant needed a wee bit of publicity amongst the Expat community!

The Frittata was an absolute delight. I was sceptical earlier because it didn’t have any vegetables. But the herbs and labanah made up for it and I loved my breakfast.  We thought that the French toast was a little too sweet for our palate, but that’s just us. Our drinks were fine, nothing unusual, nothing disappointing!

We even walked in inside to check out the d├ęcor. The interiors are breathtaking with cutesy wallpaper done in tea-cup like prints. The furniture is in tune with the whole ambience and is pretty charming.

We paid 18 Bahraini Dinars and walked out quite satisfied. If you’re looking to celebrate this winter, I suggest you pay this impressive Orangery a visit. It is ideal for lazy winter mornings and afternoons. And I'll let you know how my dinner turns out in my next visit!

I promise to click more pictures next time!

Middle Eastern Frittata

The lovely Outdoors

Saturday, December 12, 2015

#madeofgreat Zonal War - Chandigarh rules!

I had heard about Chandigarh from many people. My father use to go on his business trips regularly and drive from one city to another in Punjab. Chandigarh was definitely his favorite.

Fortunately, my brother-in-law moved here in 2010 and since then, I have been visiting this city atleast twice a year. Not only that, now my in-laws live there as well and it may very well be our post retirement city!

So what makes this city so unique? If you know, it is amongst the most well-planned cities in the world. If you go to this city for the first time, you will easily be able to find your way even without a GPS.

Chandigarh is marked with sectors. Each sector is easily connected with another. Not only this, each sector has its own park and market. The roads are marked with lined trees. According to a study in 2010, Chandigarh is also the cleanest city in India.

Apart from the great planning of roads, sectors and amenities, what makes this city unique for a good drive and design is the disciplinary action of the policemen. You will find strict, turban-clad policemen at every roundabout hunting for offenders. Drivers make sure they wear seat-belts and stay in lane just because they know they are being monitored.

This Punjab and Haryana capital has one of the nicest roads without bumps and potholes. I am not exaggerating when I say that it is indeed the best city in India in terms of design and drive.

What makes it even more impressive is its connectivity with other northern cities. We or our family members have made trips to Shimla, Manali, Amritsar, Delhi, Panipat, Mussoorie, etc. with extreme comfort. The International Airport of Delhi is just 4 hours away connected with the most reliable highway. If you need a getaway from the humdrum of life, Manali, Shimla, Kasauli, Dharamshala, Dehradoon, et al. are just a few 100 kilometers away. Chandigarh is well connected by road by NH 22 (Ambala - Kalka - Shimla - Khab, Kinnaur) and NH 21 (Chandigarh - Manali). The connect is so simple and smooth that it undoubtedly makes Chandigarh a highly recommended base.

We visit the city as tourists but have made it our home with ease. Since everything is so clearly marked, there is no chance of getting lost. The smooth and green roads make our drive even more refreshing. And if we need to get out, we have many options as well.

Apart from good food and good humoured Punjabis, Chandigarh is indeed a beautiful city. I really wish we had more well-planned cities like this one. A lot of states can take cue and start planning. Like they say, it is never too late. Chandigarh may as well be a model city for our incredible India. 

A beautiful rainy day in Chandigarh

I am participating in the #madeofgreat Zonal wars on Indiblogger. Clearly North India rules!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Nisha Punjabi - Why I hate it, Why I love it!

If you have reached this link looking for my biography for 'The Race', please email me on nisha(dot)punjabi(at)gmail(dot)com and I would revert ASAP.

Soumya of Life of Leo asked us the story of our name. While commenting I remembered that my name has an interesting angle to it which I have never mentioned here. Since this is the story of my life, Teeth that Sparkle should have a copy of it!

So I was born on 17th November 19something! The pandit ji made my janam kundali and took out the alphabet 'N'. I think he was the one who named me 'Neeta Devi'. Of course my folks didn't use the devi bit, but well, the story would have been funnier then!

Our landlady who lived upstairs had a daughter called Neetu. Somehow it confused the families when they called out our names. I was subsequently named Nisha for convenience! I have a second cousin by the same name who was born one month before me; I figure my unimaginative parents just stole that name!

Anyway, Nisha Punjabi stuck with me. It was one of a kind. In school, my second cousin was a teacher. Her sister was a headgirl one of the years. So I was famous belonging to a renowned clan. I was famous for other reasons as well, but that's not important.

When we were in class IX, Sunny Deol decided to do a lot of songs with the word 'Punjabi' in it. To my amusement, that year we had our classroom right above a dhobi's house. Now this dhobi needed entertainment while washing clothes. He played all Sunny Deol's numbers while the first period was on. I am sure I don't need to tell you the trauma I went through in a co-ed school while this happened!

So much so, the boys even wrote 'Punjab ka Tempo' behind my tempo. The driver was, guess what, a Sardar!

Oh yes, my life was amusing. While I was getting married, I was in a dilemma whether I should change my name or not. Since I had written quite a few poems and was also published in the local newspaper a number of times, I couldn't bear the thought of changing my name. So it just remained what it was. I wasn't a feminist then, I am not an extremist even now. This was just because I wanted my name to remain unchanged.

More than 'Punjabi', 'Nisha' has a more interesting story. I always hated my first name. I don't know why, it just didn't sound right. I even hate it when the Boy calls out my name. Yes, I am weird!

But do you know the best part about my name? I met the Boy 12.5 years ago on the Internet. Do you know how? Well, the Boy randomly messaged all the Nishas who were online on ICQ. He said he liked this name! I was the one who was most vela that night and responded to his 'friend request'. The rest, as they say, is a happily ever after tale.

What if I didn't have a landlady? What if they never changed it from Neeta? Imagine, they even moved abroad after a year. What if that cousin wasn't named Nisha? They say what's in a name? - apparently my life wouldn't be the same if it wasn't for my name!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Punjabi Takkar Marriage Diary #7

This is a story I have not told many people. Even I came to know a few years after my wedding day. It fills my heart with pride and my eyes with crystal clear tears! It is about the Boy and what a stand-up man he is.

So I was at the wedding venue at 7:30 pm. Like all Punjabi baraats, this was late as well. My day had been really normal – some Pooja, some haldi, getting my face painted with 25 other brides at the parlour, the works. Frankly, I wanted this day to end. Yes, it is unusual for a bride to say this, but for me, my wedding day was a terrifying event. I hate being the centre of attraction, and this was exactly how it was meant to be.

Over the years, I had never imagined being a bride. I had weird thoughts of settling down in a farm with my own field and animals. I even have a diary entry written in code language mentioning how I want to live my life! I had my childhood issues and not good ones at that.

When me and the Boy decided to get married, the only worrisome thought I had was the wedding day itself. I knew I could manage the rest, but this, this was nightmarish. And so I decided to remain as calm as possible and take one single moment at a time.

I’m proud of the fact that I did exactly that. When I was waiting for the baraat, I chit-chatted with all my friends and relatives. Someone or the other kept bringing me snacks and I kept hogging. I asked my cousin to check how high the stage was, since I had trouble climbing it. She went out and told me it looked fine. I took her word.

The Boy had his problems at home. The Delhi board decided to switch off their power and all their ceremonies were delayed. At last he made his horse run to reach the venue by 11:30 pm!

His other problem was his embroidered Sherwani - it kept hurting him on his neck and he just couldn’t bear the pain. I saw later and he had bad rashes. Anyway.

He and his bandwagon entered the wedding hall. I was still in the waiting room. Now this is the story my mom told me a few years later which reassured her that she was giving her daughter to the best man possible – as soon as the Boy entered, he called my mom and whispered in her ear that the stage looked too high for my comfort. My mother immediately called my brother and he arranged for a small step that would make the climb easy. Actually a tray covered with cloth because nothing else was available at that time.

My immediate family and best friends – all of them knew how difficult this was for me. Yet none of them could notice it in the few hours that they were there. The Boy, on his wedding day, with several things on his mind, noticed this the moment he entered.

When you know that someone cares about you this much, you can do anything for this person. You can love him and care for him more than you do for yourself. Love is not in the Rolex you buy as a surprise, it is about sharing the discomfort of your partner. For in that, true love and true character is revealed.

We are going to be 7 tomorrow, and I cannot thank God enough for the precious gift He has given me. God Bless you Sumit Takkar! I know I am annoying and irritating and dominating and weird, but the way you manage me and still love me is praiseworthy. You are a rare gem and together (I think!) we make a great team. Here’s to us – cheers!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Make a Change, Now.

How do you feel when you see floods in Chennai? What comes to your mind when you see mass murders in Paris? What happens to you when you hear about a missing plane in the Indian Ocean? What is your reaction when you hear that 20 crore people in our country sleep without having dinner?
I feel scared. I feel what if it happened to me? I find ways to do something better for the world. I feel grateful that God has not put me in a trying condition.

I try to write for the sake of humanity. I pray to God to lessen his fury. I use less plastic to decrease the effect of global warming...

When you read about history, you find that the world was and always has been a difficult place. We have had world wars. We have had wars for independence. We have had droughts, earthquakes. There have been train and plane crashes. Yet no history can lessen the effect or prepare us for what is happening today.

What we need to do is NOT spread negativity. We don’t need to go on twitter and start fighting with each other. We need to fight together. We need to fight climatic changes by changing our lifestyle. We need to inculcate values in our children so that they don’t turn into terrorists. We need to end these Hindu-Muslim differences. A lot in this world is against us – the least we can do is not turn against each other.

We never think it can happen to us until it does. We cannot live with an attitude of ‘If it has to happen, it will’. We need to be prepared. And more than that, we need to change.

The intolerance debate only indicates that we are increasingly becoming rigid. The floods tell us that nature is not happy with what we are doing with it. Spare a thought - what can you do?

And while you are at it, feed a mouth which might have not eaten for a while now. Recycle bags. Don't throw garbage on the street that can clog drains. Hug a friend from a different religion. Switch off that light. Don’t wait for others, make a change. Now.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Organizing a Decade of Memories

December Resolution – Day 2

Remember the day you bought your first camera phone? Well, I just have a faint memory of it. I can’t remember if that phone had the ability to transfer photos to the computer. And because of that, I don’t have some of my most precious pictures.

My second phone came in December 2006. I clicked hundreds of pictures from that one and made videos as well. My Nokia N96 lasted for more than 3 years and I could back up everything on the laptop.

Since then I have changed 3 phones and have collected thousands of pictures. We don’t realize but we click numerous pictures of the same thing. At that moment it seems worthwhile, but do you want to keep it as a memory? Would you want to look through lakhs of pictures 10 years from now? Won’t some pictures be your favourite but you wouldn’t be able to find them since they will be lost in the pile of pictures you have? Same goes for videos.

So last week I took up the mammoth task of organizing my photos and videos. I made a folder with sub folders sorted by year. It was fun to see pictures that were 6 years old, the new ones were still fresh in my memory; sorting the gallery from 2008 was easier than sorting 2014!

I even saw all the videos and labelled them! If I need to find a video from my college days where me and my friends are dancing in the car – I can find it in a jiffy. I can find the video where I am singing on a date. It's a hard task to find a video when they all are marked by numbers and you need to open it and see what it is about.

I did find some hidden gems - some absolutely adorable videos of me and the Boy and my niece and nephews. I found a video from my first day in Bahrain (June 2009) where I was cribbing why there is no fan in the room! I found a video from Kuwait 2009 where we were talking about the city. I found my dancing videos. I found videos of the Boy and his friends totally sloshed and doing the weirdest things! Oh, it was fun. *note to self - make more videos*

This weekend, I encourage you to take out all your pictures and put them in a hard disk. Find ways to organise them. If you are like me, you would have a decade worth of precious memories hidden in different binaries of your laptop. It needs your attention. You would regret it later if you don’t organize it now.

Just do it, I say!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December Resolutions

This year, I am making resolutions at the end. Or, how I like to put it, one month before the beginning of the next year.

It has been a weird year in many ways. I have questioned my existence much more than before. Maybe because I have had way too much free time. I wasn't writing and I wasn't concentrating on my health - the two things that I always prioritize. I ended up watching more TV, socialise and involve myself in stupid things rather than meaningful activities.

So December is my last chance to make 2015 count. I have decided to write every single day (except maybe weekends - Friday and Saturday). You will be swarmed with my incessant banter and sometimes, inherent wisdom. I will write poems and stories and anything that comes to my mind on a particular day. Imagine my laziness - I haven't even written trip reports this year. What the hell am I doing?

I have also kick-started my diet. Endless eating binges have increased my weight by 1.5 kgs which is way too much than what the doctor has recommended. Ideally I should be 10 kgs less than what I am now. Now if one more person tells me that I am thin and I don't need to lose any fat, I'll start with '10 years ago I met a renowned doctor...' - yes, I am done with secrecy regarding health and all that shit!

So peopless, watch this space to read my thoughts and help me do well. If I skip one day, please let me borrow a post :p

See you tomorrow!