Thursday, 27 August 2015

Magic Maggie

Many tributes have been made to the unexpected disappearances of Maggi. It all started when a enlightened wise person saw the claim made by Maggi “NO ADDED MSG”.  How could that be? For Maggi to be so tasty yet without harm.  It was not long afterwards that various test results showed an alarmingly high level of lead in Maggi, never mind MSG.  And numerous states from North to South placing a ban on Maggi. Never has the national government been so effective and swift in implementing arbitrary bans (notwithstanding the recent #pornban and quickie stand withdrawal) (no pun intended)
Just like any smoker is aware of the dangers of smoking so too are noodle addicts. Who fails to understand a simple packet of instant noodles is bad for health. Ranging from indigestion to an array of health risks like increase in cancer risk etc. Yet the humble packet of instant noodles is deeply ingrained into our culture. It is Maggi in India, Waiwai/Rara  in Nepal or other beloved brands in Pan-Asia. Be it for a quick breakfast, a fast warming bowl on a rainy day or the only subsistence on treks… instant noodles have always came to the rescue. Who the hell cared about MGS, lead, salt etc etc???
Not when it’s the cheapest and tastiest noodles around (after one develops a taste for it). Granola bars with all their nutritional overload is shadowed by the sugar content, and cornflakes and milk just does not do the trick for the spice & salt loving palate.
So it was out of the blue when Nestle voluntarily recalled Maggi off the shelves after test results showed it to be having 5-7 times the permissible lead level of MSG as per the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), therefore misleading the entire country with it’s “No MSG” labeling. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)But in my personal opinion I think the persecution of Maggi is driven by plain old vanilla economic espionage rather than the altruistic reasoning. Even if Maggi does deserve to be punished for lying.  
Still for #Maggians it has been weeks that us like-minded folks have had to forgo Maggi, instead being forced into regretfully purchase Yippee, Top Ramen or Knorr’s soupy noodles which co-incidentally had their prices increased marginally. No offense but really….Yippee takes decades to nature a liking too, and soupy noodles is the most sodium ridden noodles that I have tasted. And I try ALOT of instant noodles. Top ramen is the most expensive at Rs16/- for the curry flavor which btw is the only decent flavor.
Which begs the question wtf is that silly man, and why is he not filing truckloads of cases for all the noodles that claim “NO ADDED MSG??” Come to think of it- there are a few people (& lawyers) who like to boast and randomly file cases for no other reasons than to exercise their right to do so and gain some publicity out of it.
Nestle has of course had sent samples to be verified overseas yet the FDA department has so far refused to accept the results. Just what is happening?? It’s amazing that Nestle has taken such a laidback stance when millions of Maggi has been recalled, little PR damage control conducted, lost out in cores of sales for more than a month since the official ban on June 5th. Do they more or less accept the test results stating the lead level?? for the first time in over 17 years, in place of the usual doublr digits growth, it posted 64+ crores loss during it's Quarterly reports. Some financial even go far as to estimate a loss of 1000+crore (appx. $200 millions) in brand value.
As I was writing this post, Nestle has stealthy broadcasted several ads of  #maggians who are asking for the beloved friend to return back on various social media with the hashtags ##WeMissYouToo as part of their come back activities.  But is it too little too late??
The ads if one observes all features a grown up man wondering when is Maggi returning back to the shelves for how/what else would they be eating?? There's a potential misstep right there in brand management again. Instead of focusing on a wholesome image they are pinning their comeback on a small segment of their actual demographic base.
As for me even when I know instant noodles are bad for me... I still choose to consume it. At least not every single day. And yes I await for Maggi, just like millions of #Maggian of the #WeMissYouToo bandwagon. Not because I cannot cook to save myself but rather for the convenience and unique taste that's decidedly #Maggi. Soft, limpid noodles, thick, savory soup that manages to fill my tummy.  
here's another blog post from a disgrustled #Maggian

Monday, 24 August 2015

Easter over at Queen of hills for the inner hippy

#few months late post....

One fine day as I attempted to find some inner peace amongst screaming excited children running amok inside one of Bangalore premium indoor play center, I received a call from a dear friend- enquiring if I would be interested in going for a trip over Easter weekend… and why the hell not yeah?? After all my romantic life has been in the dumps ever since.... #nevermind

On the departing I took the auto rickshaw and went off towards one of the designated boarding site, except it was another hour and half before the driver came to a half. Thank god, sa friend’s friend to allowed a stranger- me, to wait out in her house.

As we went toward the Queen of Hill stations- Ooty but we had to first pass through Wayanad Nature Reserve~ or what I thought was Wayanad. From the time I alighted I had started dozing, waking up frequently to adjust myself within cramp quarters.
It was a fine cool morning when I awoke to sounds of equipments being unloaded. Amongst our group of 11, there existed 2 cycling fanatics who were to cycle all the way to Ooty and beyond I presume- not that I cared much at 6 in the morning and swollen legs. There was a time when I would take the overnight bus passing through Naubise from Kathmandu to Birtamod and wonder why mom always used to complain about it. Now I know, even without giving birth multiple times (as mom had), age has caught up with me. Now a relatively simple overnight journey has me suffering from jet-lag- even without even stepping on to an aircraft. Since the nature reserve is closed off at night, the roads were opened up soon after dawn. I basically ignored the scenery as my previous trip across Wayanad had few glimpse of wildlife. Well, not so this time….saw scores of what I presumed was spotted bucks/deers/sambar and peacocks, hell bent on ignoring humans encroaching upon their land.
It was late morning when we started climbing up, stopping at Pykara lake for a bite of bite, boat ride but mostly selfies..

Pykara lake is errily gorgeous with it’s emerald turquoise still waters and devoid of wildlife. It was scene often repeated during the duration of the trip. Nevertheless some of my travel companions took some spectacular shots, click on the pics to view their site.

Next up was the Pyara falls- 50m waterfall….only it was this…… ok. I was about scream my guts out for WTF - where was the natural beauty!!!
meanwhile at the same place, fellow traveler took some superb shots. Not sure if it's his high-tech gadgets or Photoshop editing skills..
Still I had yet to reach proper Ooty and reined in my temper by stuffing my face with raw mangos, boiled peanuts and snacks contributed and passed on by everyone on the tempo. Aboard the darn tempo we had an option of stopping for lunch first or visiting avalanche lake. Maybe it was the utter ordinariness of pyara lake but the majority opted to see the lake fist. Based on a friends’ research it was supposed to be like 7 mins away…. But turns out 7 mins is more like 20km plus.. jialat *dying of hunger already lah!!
We stopped to ask for directions to Avalanche Lake and for some reasons- everyone is point out the fact that it's 4pm. Ok. it's

ah.... darn it, it closes by 4pm. apprently some defence/army/govt run doctrine

disappointed we returned, after dozens of pics in a small tea plantation field. it was a #mustdo on one of my travel companion list

with no permission to visit Avalanche Dam, we opted to see the Emerald Dam since it was enroute...only to land up at closing time. on the way back to Kodai we past this place...not sure where it is exactly but it is a beautiful place and we got some nice shots..

with a mandatory cutesy shot

and the crazy selfie group shot. we started out with three but then others wanted to be in the group shot on-coming truck blasts it's horn- yet we persisted in taking a picture first. lol..

finally it was back to the damp dorm...with a quick bite of dinner, and an even superfast shopping spree, bought 2 woolly sweaters since I felt my bits might fall off in the cold winds.
 and buying a few bottles of the Tamil Nadu's strongest beer... as trusted by Goldfishes... sorry no picture of the said most of us huddled over tepid beers and choice snacks..and went off to sleep, all drowsy... the crazy multi colored coordinates person is me, with the just bought sweater.  o_O
except for me. i had the pressing need to flush out the alcohol from my system... several times in the night, climbing up & down the upper bunk, while the rest of the gang slept easy.

the next day, I was one of the first one up and... went off in search of coffee and some breakfast

Which i had this in little tea-cum-snacks shop

we had stayed the night at Snooze Inn, which has a fine location for zipping around but the dorm is like a dungeon. Cold & clammy.

The first day in Kodai we headed out to see some of the sights. Pillar hills, guna caves. 

and it didn't impress me much. Oh lord that makes me sound so pompous..But hell yeah, the sights of a hidden cave, a cliff wall and a few hundred drop did not even raise an eyebrow of mine. Listen, if you are here to checkout if Kodai is interesting, don't bother reading further. It was Not for me. 

What i did enjoy from the trip was blowing bubbles...Literally. A few of us got hooked to aimlessly blowing bubbles. Whilst they attempted to blow the biggest bubbles i was happiest seeing a river of tiny kaleidoscopic bubbles all around me. 
even while walking, still blowing away

 taking group pics with the mates... a few posed and ready, a few natural shots, caught relaxing

the best place in Kodai must be the lake. Where we spent an entire afternoon and part of the evening, paddle cycling the boat, enjoying ice creams, singing and a cycling into the evening traffic- heart in my mouth. Did i mention that the last time i cycled, i kind of had an accident - twice? Well this time, i somehow managed to survive with nary a scratch to myself or the bike and managing to mock fight with various drivers, all to the tunes of

driver: #honking hey you!!  #Honk! dont you know how to cycle??
me: what?!! yea, i don't! so stay away from me.... #pedal furiously away

have you ever been caught in traffic of cows? Honking and screaming but the cow refuses to budge or move or worse moves to it's will?? ummmhhh.... that i was that cow that evening.
and the obsession with the biggest bubble continues...

Kodai is also full of Nirgilis trees
Which makes great backdrop to click pics...

While it was a much awaited trip the expectation drowned out the actual experience. Not sure if it was the travel mates, which is highly unlikely since everyone was jammy but a traveller used to rough itineraries and major detours... having to stick to a schedule kind of bugged me down.

we also had *cough* plans to find some mushies in the woods but it was just the wrong season..

While in Kodai, i never realized the pollution & contamination that existed till one day,this video popped out in my wonder i did not see any darn fishes in the lakes!!

PS: i think one the memorable part of this trip was running into & hiding away from a ardent admirer (or plain old nut case). After returning from Guna Caves which by the way is soo boring (since one cant see no cave), one of my mate saw "Rex" (nicknamed since he's short, black, hairy, bald and more than a few loose marbles inside his head) and ran over to inform me that he too is here!!! Needless to mention that i whipped out my sunglasses, put on some earphones, attempted to be busy eating/walking and studiously ignoring him as we walked pass.... all the while almost begging my friend to please shut up and DO NOT let him become aware of our existence in that short stretch of road.. phew...he did not see us.

at least he didn't approach us. i got a message some time later but i deleted it without bothering to read it.some things are better off not wasting time.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Winter shopping

Right now, my life has really really been boring. I'm literally in a 2km radius circle. Work, work & work. Jill has become a boring person.

a persistant cold, that i'm half fearing might be penuemonia, a month long fast and a measly 1 weekly off has meant that instead of going out doing things I love like movies, travel, volunteering, i'm lying in bed willing my body to recover.

Thank god for clearance sale!!

I have started shopping for clothes, shoes and other stuffs for my upcoming trip to Nepal. In Winter. Some months away. Gotten superb deals at Marks & Spencer, and Clarks.

For example, got this top for 490rs!!
Thick tights at 190rs
  this one is a bit too Christmas elf-ish but at a bargain price of 190rs for 3 pairs..why not eh??
Swim wear at 490rs each
maroon-purpleish suede ankle boots at 950rs!
comfy regular day shoes at 550rs!
linen coat at 1000rs from FabIndia..
Did I mention, I love clearance Sale? More so since it's the only time when being fat with voluptuous hips &  smaller than average feet size works out in my favor. :D
 I think I have save over 10,000/- by just shopping during clearance sale. :D :D

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Of blooming flowers

A few months ago, while checking out Orchids I came across Brahmakamal also  known as Queen of the Night and even King of the Himalayan - my curiosity was piqued. Little did I expect that I would see the same right where I live!!
While rushing to work my landlord enquired if I had seen the plant. My first instance was actually- yup, the same one which they grafted out my plant outside the door, till he mentioned that it would probably bloom at night. O_O'' OMG, the same plant which I had wanted to see some moons ago!! >_<
It was just a bud and would probably take a few days to fully develop & bloom. Each night as I returned home, I would hope that it is blooming.
Till one evening, there was no flower bud!!!

Worried I asked my landlord what had happened to flower, (minutely panicking inside) and there it was 2 blooms in a cup. Sian heh!
Why do people pluck flowers?? Okay fine, if there is an entire valley of daffaoils or lanes full of sunflowers but why when a plant flowers once a few years? For the sole enjoyment of a select few instead of all in it's natural habitat....
here's another article of flowers with long blooming cycle...


Friday, 14 August 2015

flowers over the weekend

Geet's has already started her jet-setting lifestyle based on how soon after going back to university she has already started traveling across the country for official reasons. (I'm startin to get jelly)
Lucky for me, she made sure to keep some time for friends (me!! :D)
Having 2 foodies together meant that we had to go out for dinner, preferably somewhere new; and sattvik/vegetarian. That's how we ended up at Carrots. A eco-friendly, organic, vegan-vegetarian-sattvik restaurant.
First off the glowing skin juice consisting of beetroots, carrots & cucumber is AWESOME!!! And we totally forgot to take pics of the same.
I ordered for a healthy platter that comes with various dips, steamed vegetables, fruits, salad, stir-fry vegetables & tofu  and brown rice. The chef was kind enough to substite hummus with mint chutney for satvik option. This is healthy the taste was not the top priority. Hell I was happy enough to have sattvik option..... till... I noticed ONIONS in the stir-fry veggies. O_O
 Of course they offered to replaced it but WTF lah!! who will eat?? The highlight of the meal was that it was waived off & we got further 25% discount on the bill.

Thank God the next night's dinner at ALBA, J.W. Marriot was better. Slightly.

The girls had pizza primavera which 2 out of 3 did not like. I liked it. But I think all felt it could have been better. no comments from me as I did not even taste it.
 The risotto al funghi was marginally improved. Rich & creamy if trifle undercooked. Or so they said.
My choice of spaghetti with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil, garnished with a thin sliver of parmesan cheese was unanimously declared as the dish of the night. Pasta cooked till al dente, the simple cherry tomato base with lots of olive oil. And satvik to boot!  Check out my recipe 
But really the downer was the service. Fancy a top notch restaurant like Alba takes 10 mins to deliver the menu, another 10 mins for someone to take the order and bartender fresh out of high school. Drinks very overwhelming saccharine and tasted like "gola"
The good side is that they replaced my drink, the bad news is that it still tasted bad. And they offered a complementary Tiramisu, or rather a cheap version of Tiramisu, without espresso, or lady fingers but lots of  Kahlau & rum. O_O

Then next day, we went to MTR & Lalbagh. Yes, Lalbagh. What can I say. We love the greenery. And MTR. Actually I do and she has never dine there before.. Only we ended up being late for breakfast & too early for lunch. Good thing the bakery is always open.
Post breakfast, it was time to head off to Lalbagh and there was an Independence Day flower exhibition. I think Lalbagh always has some flower exhibition or the other to commemorate some occasion.  -__-''
At least, the flowers are nice and pretty.
me...not soo much.
But the fruits are yummy! I was asked why guava in Bangalore is pink in color. Well I know some guava are pink due to the carotene content, but that's it. I guess it's just due to different varieties being grown in various localities.   
When we finally returned back to MTR after exiting out from a wrong gate and walking a kilometer, this is what we saw.....
No, not the man...but A super long queue with a waitlist of at least 45mins. ... man, that's really too long for some idlis. In the end we opted for Anand Bhavan. and although I had sworn off Masala Dose, I ended up ordering plain dosa. -_-  #blamethesattikdiet
 and a plate of rava idli to share...
ps: I ate only the idli & dose not the side dishes/chutney
 it was not an exciting weekend experience but it was very pleasant interlude spent with good friends.

But one thing I am so sure of....I am going to this place for some ragi ball, nati chicken & nati chicken fry. as soon as my fast is over. ..with or without friends....