Monthly Archives: August 2012

Notes on studying abroad – Part 3

It is an unwritten rule that every Indian who travels to the US packs a pressure cooker. Some  use it , some don’t, then there are those like me who should not use for the safety of every body else.

” All of those?” ask  Namrata. She had just made it known that she did not like beetroot.

“Yes”. I answer chopping  250 gms of beetroot into uneven slices, cutting my finger in the process.

Namrata squints her eyes. Then  widens them when I add the chopped beetroot to the pressure cooker along with the potatoes, beans and carrots.

We  are going to have mixed vegetable curry, rice and a ready to eat paneer butter masala for lunch.

There is a knock on the door  and Vinay promptly enters with “Girls, have you finished the DO assignment? Last one was a joke compared to this one.”

I wonder why both of us don’t bother reminding him that he said the same thing last time. I have learnt the art of tuning him out. Namrata is only getting there.

He hands over a box of brownies and with that the sin of having uttered the word assignment on a perfectly good Saturday is forgotten.

Namrata unwraps the frozen paneer curry and flops it into the microwave while Vinay makes himself comfortable on the couch.

“Three minutes”, Namrata reads out the instructions from the back of the paneer wrapper.

“Make it five”, advises Vinay.

Namrata looks at me and then punches 3 on the  digital pad of the microwave and presses ‘start’.

A few seconds later there are sparks and abnormal sounds issuing from the microwave.

Namrata screams.

Then I scream.

Then Pause.

Then we both scream together hugging each other and closing our eyes in the process.

Vinay rushes to the microwave opens it and pulls out the *tin* foil wrapped frozen panner.

“Idiots you cannot microwave that! And please stop that screaming.”

Barely had he finished  when there was a *POP* and whistle, a swoosh  and a spray of pinkish red across the ceiling and on the kitchen floor.

Then silence.

Then a clank as the pressure cooker cover finally hit the floor.

The three of us stand around pink soup.

How in the world did I manage to blow up a pressure cooker?

“I have some patties in my fridge”, Vinay broke the silence wiping vegetable soup from his face.


Categories: North America | Tags: , | 6 Comments

A one night stand

If there was  a contest for the most expensive one night stand, I know of one that will hands down.

The Jehangir Mahal in Orchha was built for the state visit of Mughal emperor Jehangir by Bir Sing Deo. It has a little of over hundred rooms, airy balconies, three stories, ornate elephants, turquoise tiles imported from Turkey and a central courtyard.  It took a while to build and in the end the emperor stayed at this palace for a night.  The irony of it all is that is despite almost depleting his state exchequer to impress Jehangir Bir Sing soon fell out of favor with the mughals and was crushed by a teenage Aurangzeb.

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Categories: Heritage, India | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Sanchi – The devil is in the details

The stupas at Sanchi is another testament to the quality and craftsmanship of  Indian artisans. Stupa one is the most dominant of all the Stupas on the hillock with four gates leading to it.


The carvings are intricate and to the learned eyes it portrays scenes from the life of the Buddha.

Let’s take a look:


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The binary nature of travel

Now there is a positive and a negative attached to everything, the two sides of the coin that the (clueless) noble souls keep talking about.  How do I know about this binary nature of all things travel? I experienced it. Just yesterday!

Lets start with the bit that I want to spend the rest of my life forgetting; the not so good ( but could have been worse) bit. Here goes

There is this nagging feeling that devours all peace of mind, it eats away at the layers of self-confidence and happy anticipation even before you board the train. Don’t ignore it. That’s your gut telling you ‘ Adventure is good, alright, but hey baby, baby its a wild world’. I had a lot of it on this dare-devil trip.

Travel is supposed to be relaxing. It’s supposed to fill the vacuüm and clear away the rubble. It’s supposed to be  simple happiness. It’s a place ( pun un intentional) you go to, to find yourself, re discover forgotten strengths and explore new possibilities. It is not supposed to wear you down. It’s not supposed to make you jump off the train ( at the platform, just clarifying) , rush to the nearest airport  and sprint to the booking window and scream “Get me the hell out of here!” Then after hours of delays when you finally get home, shut the door and drop your back pack and sit on the floor with your back against the door  you smile for the first time in days.

 Travel is not supposed to do that. 

Then there is the proverbial silver lining.

When everything is going wrong. When every day you fight with that part of you which wants to turn back, head home to all things familiar and safe. When you are exhausted even before you wake up. When you have tears in your eyes. When you are alone. When you feel alone in an all crowded train. When you begin to  wonder why God bothered with Adam when He should have got to Eve first and then been done with creation.  That’s when you come across something that makes it worthwhile. Sometimes its a towering fort lined with turquoise elephants. At times it’s as simple as a  perch with a stunning view. And when you sit there and all the things that have happened from the time you boarded the train till that moment flash across your mind, the lesson reveals itself. It tells you “Adventure might hurt you, but monotony will kill you.”

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Cruising down Kerala’s backwaters

You have got to LOVE Kerala!

Categories: Everything Else | Leave a comment

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