Archive for Is
I have changed houses, cities, states, and even time zones, yet the neighbors upstairs continue to rock my world. My house still shakes, the roof still threatens to cave in, the loud thumping noises still persist, I can still hear people walking around, banging doors, smashing furniture.
Whats with the upstairs neighbors all around the country?
My expenditure on light bulbs far exceeds grocery and rent included.
Here is why.
Rough but accurate timeline of bulbs that (lived &) died in my room
Bulb#1 – when a friend visited. I was moving stuff around the room and knocked the lamp over. The bulb could not withhold the fall and crash
Bulb#2 – when I switched the lamp off and on really fast really early one morning
Bulb#3 – early evening, I came back from classes, switch on the bulb, decide to take a nap, switch it off, that was the end of it
Bulb#4 – suddenly bulb fuses
Bulb#5 – I was living temporarily somewhere for a couple of months, 3 weeks before I left for home, the light bulb fused
Bulb#6 – another bulb went kaput in the above mentioned house 2 days before I left it
Bulb#7 – I have a pretty paper lantern inside my office, poor thing is the only source of life and warmth in otherwise cold, scary but cool! office. The bulb fused one evening
Bulb#8 – I swear there was a 5 second delay between switch off and on, RIP again bedroom light
8 light bulbs. Quite a record in 2 years
After an entire week of eating nothing but PB&J sandwich for lunch and dinner, I knew looking at the Smuckers bottle would not be a pleasant sight. It was half finished. Obviously, of course it had to. Peanut butter unlike Amul butter can be had in copious amounts as far as my taste buds and foolish lipo-recognizers are concerned. Result – half bottle of butter-jam finished. In one week. Ideally, do not butter, jams adorn the sides of doors of fridges for months till end, at least one month? I do not know why I was expecting Smuckers to surpass me by my lifetime, but the jolt was enough to get me to kitchen to cook for something real.
I am one of those – reluctant cooks, the people who do not get heard much on internet. At least, I for one fail to hear their noise umm.. voice. All I hear is sizzles of food blogs. I used to proudly declare in school, “I don’t know how to cook.” I would have still be proud of the same and reared the rebel in me more but when I look around myself, my generation suddenly seems to be born with spatula and olive oil. Making me more doubtful of myself. Am I lagging behind or am I years ahead of them?
Anyways, that distraction apart, I focussed on what could be cooked. It is important to know what could be cooked, if you are in my situation. You cook for yourself, there are no flat-mates taking turns at cooking, and you are a sloth when it comes to cooking. So, you buy vegetables in puny amounts and just two or three of them. So, of course my fridge is not as stocked as it used to be last semester. I had bought green peppers/capsicum on this trip becuase potato-peppers would be nice change and I had bought zucchinis because I am suddenly in love with them. And of course bag of potatoes followed me home, it is the most loyal food-item you could work with besides rice. So, peppers, zucchini, potatoes and an intention to cook. What could be made out of this. Of course the plain old peppers-potato for which peppers were bought in the first place but voice in the heart said Naaaaah!
I was then reminded of Sunday Cook-a-thon by my friend Arnab who has just recovered from his milestone birthday on Ze Valentine’s Day! How Special! Happy Birthday Arnab. So, with his help and special tip and very timely response to my SOS calls, I succeeded in making myself a real meal.
Of course, now that I was making a big deal of it, I decided to photographically evidence it. I do not know how or why this idea came into my mind, but I did! So, my very firsht food blog entry. Kavi would be so proud. She is one of the people who could teach me how to actually do stuff in kitchen.
So, without further delay, here they are, my thoughts in order of cooking (i.e. when I was cooking and not when thoughts were getting cooked)
(Photos are not great, but they are not the point either. I am the point, and I am great)
- Enter into kitchen. Wow! There already is a spread. Seems like my flat-mate is also planning to cook in a big way.
I had almost fifth of mind to snag some of her stuff. I did not. Good sense prevailed. Oh! but I did snag the knife she had used to cut her stuff, but well then technically the knife belongs to “the house”. So, I have clean conscience so far. I would towards the end pluck and use 4 leaves of cilantro, BUT I WAS offered to do that. So, we can rest in peace, I did not have to resort to theft to fill up my belly.
- So, I am using boiled potatoes, corn, zucchini (of course, no?) onion. And aah! Pepper
- Onions are fried in olive oil, corn cob is thawed in boiling water.
- Zucchinis are thrown in and green chillies too follow with ginger and garlic. I have noticed these days, I am replacing red chilli powder with thin slices of green chillies.
Of course, the photo is staged to get the pair of scissors in to tell you all about my brilliance. I use them to cut chillies as I use peeler to get thin layers of ginger.
- And tomatoes, and corn!
I tried to keep the amount of stuffing low. Per habit, I end up making more of everything. I can’t help it. So, I consciously decided to cook only small amount of vegetable stuffing.
- And mashed potatoes go in. I am excited. I even put in some cheese. I intentionally did not photograph the cheese. It was simple Kraft cheese not some fancy one. You would have realized some of these photos have been carefully crafted, like this one to get the Seasoning Salt, and pepper and oregano in. Ooh! that was not done to tell ya they were used while cooking but I think I am growing vain. Well so, we can say these photos ARE serving dual purpose. Also, it was here, that I realized the stuffing would fall short of what is needed. Oh well.
- So, I massage the inside and outside of hollow seeded pepper with olive oil as per Arnab’s advice. The stuffing goes in, the top of pepper goes back on top of it. And the whole package goes in an oven preheated to 350F.
- Now, that I was getting so fancy, there was simply no stopping me. I cut slices of boiled potato spread some oil on them and sprayed some salt. This idea was given to me yesterday by another ex flat-mate, Jasleen who too should be acknowledged as one of the people who could teach me about stuff in kitchen. This potato had to had some of my touch. So, I threw some oregano and minced garlic on it. Now, this guy totally hates me for buying frozen vegetables and minced garlic. He somewhat understands convenience and cheapness of frozen vegetables for a grad student but he denies to understand need of bottled minced garlic. Well, just to let you know Ed, minced garlic bottles also have this watery garlicy thing which came in very handy while casually dropping some garlic and garlic-water over potatoes. Anyways, Ed also tends to be high-maintenance when it comes to cooking.
- Things come out of the oven, looking mmm mmm and yum yum. I had kept them in oven as long as they needed to be in there. Kept checking “if they were there yet”. I guess it took pepper some 30 minutes and potatoes some 15 minutes.
Oh! Oh! Pepper was also sprinkled with cheese on top of it before it went into the oven. The molten cheese looked awesome.
And peoplefolk! the aroma was totally awesome. It was a successful meal.
But during the whole procedure, I got a few questions in my mind. So, people who actually take photograph of their food at every step, how do they do it. Sometimes, hands are wet, sometimes they are oily, sometimes they have mashed potatoey stuff sticking on to them. Washing and drying hands before every camera click almost tired me.
And of course, you also run in a chance of having your camera smell like an onion, or garam masala or worse, cauliflower. How do you guys do it? Do you have separate camera – one for food related photos, other for rest of the stuff/life. Even though I can’t answer that question, I am extremely thankful that you do it, whatever is the motivation. People like me benefit a lot. We the ones, who are adept at ruining something simple (yet profound) like tea. Well, who am I to say “we”, I have never heard rest of us. So, me. Me is confused but still thankful. And full of goodness too.
This meal was followed by Klondike’s dark chocolate ice cream.
Aargh! My two semester capstone project… Where should I store it—> Fall 2007 folder or Spring 2008 folder or should I be able to somehow magically tag them.
Tagging tends to be disorganized, and somehow tags like Fall 2007 and Fall 07 get created. No; tagging will be too much work, besides it cant be done (right now).
So, do I break up my capstone in two different places. I am not sure how I think about it, as one long piece of work, or this is where I got till Fall and here I begin in Spring. Well, I did have deliverable which concluded my work in Fall. So, I can break it into two. But what about Literature and Research, that is certainly not possible to break in two folders. Additionally, I will be hopping up and down directory structure to find certain something. Document Organization and Management always seem to take a toll on me, and generally raises its head in Spring Sessions (though the numbers are small to support this assumption) as does extreme lethargy and want-to-but-can’t-care attitude. Maybe the snow and rain is to be blamed.
Plain simple life is what I lead.
The plainness and simplicity of it does not mean, it is non-hectic or smooth in any way. In fact, it is more hectic than various calendars or schedulers or my own mind can contain.
Plain simplicity however means that I am generally out-of-topics to talk about and I marvel at the people who can speak non stop. Of course, I can discuss school work, but one of my previous lives have taught me enough not to do that and in fact stops me from doing that.
And, when I am made to confront and undergo certain situations, the first and the most nagging thought that pushes its way through my mind is, “But this happens only to other people or people on TV”. And I am neither. And such moments are thick. Every second passes really s l o w l y, in fact refuses to.
To recap, I was doing my laundry tonight. And, I generally do laundry in nights. And generally, I choreograph these nights to be the nights when lots of submissions are due. So, I pop in the clothes into washer and dryer really late and I have to stay up to retrieve them and hence in bargain, I study, rather than giving in and sleep. I can’t say for sure at all, but lets delve into some maths, really elementary. I have spent around 15 months in this country. So roughly, lets say, around 30 or so laundry nights. And in none of these 30 times, did my load of may-leak-colors and require-cold-water and have dark hues ever accounted for more than a half or even a third of the washer capacity. I always feel bad when I stuff this load into the washer. Not only it is a a waste of my $2.5 (the money which would have otherwise funded my coffee, in that coffee shop in that building where without fail, I always get the coffee I did not want or request and is expensive, the few times the original request has been repeated, the money was politely refunded after lot of fumbling through with the bill/cash machine which always breaks down, delaying me for my meeting. This happens with such a regularity, that I no longer care as long as my cup has some caffeine in it), but also water and electricity wastage. The washer runs for a full load wasting too much water and energy. And on every laundry night, I have done my bit to destroy the environment a little more.
Of course, it irritates me and so much so that in my last shopping binge, I actually bought clothes which would go towards this load. Well, I think it was a perfect shopping criteria. To say it made me happy to see a full load of may-leak-colors and require-cold-water and have dark hues today for the first time in my life, would be an understatement. In fact, I did a victory dance. Of course, no one else washes clothes in vampire hours. “Full value for money”, I thought to myself, water chugging down into the bin did not make me feel guilty. Till, a friend of mine complained that I promised to call him yesterday and did not keep my promise. Uh-Oh, some thought bubble bursted. And, I woke up my roommate who had not slept entire day yesterday (I think I am a bad influence on her), grabbed her very cool iPhone, and sprinted down the stairs, two at a time.
And there, it was. Moment stopped, I am neither person on TV or the other person. This can’t be possibly happening. A very confused me with a totally confused phone motionless for five minutes. The phone does not work. :’( Room heater was employed, till my throat could not be any more dehumidified. Now dismantled phone lies near the laptop heat vent. Maybe, I should throw it in the dryers in which the whites are tumbling right now.
My hand, very accustomed to phone is feeling the loss already. What good can being phoneless bring and I can’t buy a phone till I have mulled for hours on end, the very hours that I don’t have? I am also expecting an important call on Monday, something regarding the trouble I got into because of my phone. This, anyways, was not the solution I was looking for.
Aarghness happening, I feel worse now. What an irony. And I am not even one of those people.
Either people living in the apartment above mine are deliberately trying to annoy me (and being successful at that) or they are just plain annoying.
For last 30 minutes, I am being subjected to extremely loud and distracting music with very catchy beats. I forgive them for this act. I might have unknowingly done the same to others, though I am very cautious when i play music. But, when I start singing… that’s a whole new level. Hence, they are purged off their music sins.
But what really is unpardonable is their act of landing with a THUMP on the ground. People living above me, this act can’t be overlooked. Numerous times my heart has leapt into my mouth, so strong your impact is. I am never quite sure if it is a natural calamity or people-living-above-me-made calamity. You have to have to stop. Especially at 4 AM. What in the whole world are you even doing? Do you toss obelisks on ground to pass time and have fun? Seriously, I would not be surprised if you come crashing into my house through the roof. In fact, I expect it. And as a woman full of vengeance, I have strewn floor of my room with lots and lots of stuff. Sure, it is inconvenient for me, when I go away from my computer but you see, that is rare, very rare. The day you fall in my room, all the things are gonna rebound and land on you. You would be lying in the debris of wood & paint and books & print outs.
You have been warned. And very severely at that.
One thing that you could not go wrong with is estimating my height class.
When I say height class, I mean categories – really short, short, average, tall, really tall.
I have seen all kinds of figures hurled at me when (presumed) friends try to guess my height.
5ft 11”, 6ft, 6ft 5” which just wants me to place my thumb on their heads and force them down into the earth.
But, this has never happened before.
My university health records indicate that I am 4ft 11 inches tall!
I have no clue how such gigantic erroneous data found its way into the system.
Oh well, I did discover though that I am an inch shorter than what I thought.
One of my friends does not like Oreo, he does NOT like Oreo. I absolutely love those bundles of creamy sweetness in trickle of bitterness. Later on, I even discovered my friend (the same one) does not know about S’mores. Which made me describe S’more to him, which (obvious by now) made me long for them. Which (very unobviously) made me (well, uh) miss school.
There are several reasons why I am missing my school (somewhat, I mean all that academic work and research is duly missed, neither more nor less) but I miss my friends and professors, they are truly a terrific combination. And, everyone goes out of their way to ensure the international students feel at home, don’t feel much lonely. A couple of campfires have been organized (school sponsored!, and on road trips with class), and all of them have been attended. S’mores discovered me at these camp fires and are relished very muchly by me.
So a quick S’more-for-a-dummy 13 step guide.
- Get a campfire burning
- Gather friends
- Get a long metallic skewer
- Hook a marshmallow to one end of skewer
- Poke it in fire
- till its golden brown
- Ask a friend to put a bar of Hershey’s plain chocolate on a graham cracker*
- Take out the golden brown marshmallow out of fire
- Slap it in on the chocolate on the graham cracker thingie
- Put another graham cracker on top of it
- Get a hold on this sandwich, tighten grip, pull out the skewer off your grub in one nice quick liquid motion as if you are drawing sword out of its scabbard
- Ideally, heat from marshmallow would have melted the chocolate bar a bit
- Pop in mouth, enjoy
Since a picture is worth 13 steps >>
[Pic from www.colbowdesign.com]
Aah, to go back to school, and to one of the picnics and prepare and have ‘em
*Graham cracker – pronounced gram cracker [a as in ham]. These are thin biscuits like, very crunchy, do not have much of taste, quite coarse, and induce a “Marie” like feeling
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I am surprised by the amount of daily domestic work I end up doing. I am living all by myself and very diligently attending to the household chores. Alright, alright every other day. But there is surprising amount of cooking, cleaning, scrubbing, tidying up to be done every day (or every other day). Even if I scale up the effort to what it was when I was living with two other people, it just is not proportional. Frankly, if it had been India, I would have hired a bai/mai (household help) till now but such is life. I have no clue how a person of humble habits and means such as me can generate so much amount of work.
Besides that, I have sort of settled in this house. To begin with, it was tough, there was just no one around, and I hardly got to speak anything the entire day. My friends Neha, Kavi, Harshal took upon themselves to retrieve me from the non communication shell I was being drawn into. Joint efforts have ensured that I get to talk a lot, almost talk-a-ton types and lately, the distraction of internet and daily supply of movies has made life much more hectic, and enjoyable. As far as daily supply of movies is concerned, there is one or one and a half which are going down my system. All this watching movie business has thrown a lot of situations where a word in a particular language would mean something totally different in other language and these situations have been hilariously funny. Such is also mingling of cultures and languages, it can only get very interesting. About talk-a-ton, I have been finally able to achieve my year long goal of getting those rollover minutes utilized which I do not know why gives me a happy kick inside. I feel like monthly bills of $45 are finally getting justified.
With a friend just arriving in this town, there is suddenly much more to look forward to. And then there would be two more friends, who would be here for a short trip, one of whom tried to strangulate me twice in past, the other one tried very hard to steal my dearest cap. My social diary has taken such a sudden turn [even if I get away without my funeral and with my cap], that I have decided to take a big step, suspend my movie subscription. And that would mean a lot to Kavi, because all her conversations begin by her asking me “Which one today?” which totally signifies this month of May for me.
May has presented to me a range of emotions and of all contrasts, I had strangers becoming my friends, I made one more place my home even though I have hardly got to be home at all this month, happy and disappointing moments. This really has been a yin-yang month. If I was effected, time ensured that I taste a totally opposite feeling too. Very nicely balanced.