Friday, August 29, 2008

My favorite photos - Bing Cherries

Finally got a chance to visit the cherry farms this year during the season in May.

These are some of my favorite photos. :)

Five cherries in a row.

Still together, even on ground - these cherries. :)

A bucket full of cherries.

It's things like these that make me go "WOW..." @ Mother Nature!

Photos taken at Dias Farm in Brentwood, CA

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ten Things I like about "Chak De! India" & More

Here goes:

  1. Kabir Khan's character and acting. SRK truly rocks! Loved his unshaven look too. ;)
  2. The lessons that the 16 girls' characters teach us - anger hurts you more than anyone else; you can come from not knowing English at all and still learn it and succeed in life; you can love your husband and family but don't have to give up your dreams for them; being egoist isn't worth it, and that if you're talented, people will learn to respect you if not right away over time; respect can not be snatched but earned; it is inappropriate to mix professional and personal life; jealousy brings you down; sulking has no benefits; it is better to not marry than to marry someone who doesn't respect you.
  3. The lesson the movie teaches us: anekta mein ekta (unity in diversity) - that no matter how different we are in looks, religion, in the way we think, the language we speak, when we are together we can make a difference, this has a bigger meaning if we want to look at it that way - a message for world peace.
  4. That saari is the most beautiful garment a woman can wear.
  5. If someone does something you don't agree with or don't approve of, there could be reasons behind it. Don't judge anyone to soon. Don't say mean things to anyone. You might regret it later on.
  6. That sports are not a bad thing. Of course, they shouldn't and don't replace education, but they make a great extracurricular activity and if you see talent in your kids, encourage them to pursue it.
  7. Kabir Khan's dialog "aaj ek firangi ko tiranga lehraate dekh raha hoon".
  8. Sukhlalji's character and acting. All through out the film, I was reminded of the 'HUM JEET GAYE!! HUM JEET GAY!!" screams by Ram Singh of Lagaan. And his "rakshason ki sena" dialog about the Hockey team is hilarious. Also, how Bindia confidently tells him they will come home winners, and the way they miss the homemade food he makes. Fantastic!
  9. My other favorites are Soimoi's affirmative "ho" dialogs, Balbir's anger towards everything, Vidya's passion for hockey, Komal & Preeti's fights, Bindia's pride, Rani's encouragement towads Soimoi.
  10. The fight scene at McDonald's. There's more to be said about this last one.

After I read about moments in filmi feminism (the first installment in an occasional series): the restaurant brawl in Chak De! India
and 16 Angry Women today, I had to write this post.

And while I was reading more about this film and this particular scene, I found out that this incident actually happened in real life and the scene was inspired from that:
The scene where they start fighting, happened to us when we were returning from a game in Bangalore, and some boys started passing comments...

To be honest, I find this scene so much more fun to watch than inappropriate for the message it might convey about violence, "not cleaning up after yourselves", "making a mess in someone else's place". It is because it shows triumph, triumph of women over men, that women or not any less than men, that they are not mere objects of entertainment, and that men making lewd remarks towards them should be responded back royally. This scene is an inspiration for women who feel they can not voice their feelings, their humiliation, the disrespect shown to them by those men who think anything goes when it comes to women of my country, who think of women to be lower than themselves, who have no respect for women.

One film where I remember I got really upset while watching was Lajja (2001). I hated some of the scenes in the film but at the end, I realized that it was actually the bitter truth of how women are treated in our society. Also, having a first hand experience of this harassment on trains, on buses, in theaters, in schools, in colleges and practically everywhere we go, every time some woman gives back what these men actually deserve, it gives me a sense of gratification. Sort of happiness that one can never imagine unless they experience it themselves. I say more power to these women!

I felt blessed the day I set my foot in the US. Here there were no boys winking at me while I walked back after school, no boys to ask me out the second time after I refused for the first time, no men staring at me on buses and trains while I traveled, no boys chasing me on their scooters while I rode my bike from that market, no men sitting on their parked vehicles talking about me and laughing while I crossed the road, no strangers asking the kiddie-me to sit in their laps on buses so they can make an attempt to touch me in wrong places, no men to stalk me up to my home, no men to make harassing phone calls to my neighbors or asking their friends to try and get to me. I breathed a sigh of relief. I was able to go out with an all girls group and not be harassed at all even if it was 11 o'clock in the night.

So when I look at these 16 girls beat up those &*%^&^*^$*&^ men, I wanna go "yayyy! go for it girls". My three cheers to you.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Warner Bros sue 'Hari Puttar' makers

What the heck!

That was my first reaction to this, then I just laughed at Warners. How can Hari Puttar even come close to Harry Potter? I don't see anyone wearing round glasses, has lightening bolt shaped scars or flying cars. I feel bad for the Bollywood guys. Let's wait and watch what happens today...

Do you think Hari Puttar will win this battle against Lord Warner? :P

Here's the article:

Warners suit takes issue with Indian film's title

By Nyay BhushanSun Aug 24, 9:36 PM ET

Warner Bros. has filed a lawsuit against Mumbai-based producer/distributor Mirchi Movies related to the title of its upcoming film "Hari Puttar -- A Comedy of Terrors," which Warners feels is a tad too similar to its franchise about a certain young wizard.

The case is being heard in the Bombay High Court and comes up for hearing Monday (August 25). "Hari Puttar," a comedy that centers on a 10-year-old Indian boy whose family moves to England, is slated for a September 12 release.

"We have recently commenced proceedings against parties involved in the production and distribution of a movie entitled 'Hari Puttar,"' London-based Warners spokeswoman Deborah Lincoln said. "Warner Bros. values and protects intellectual property rights. However, it is our policy not to discuss publicly the details of any ongoing litigation."

The Hari Puttar name began making the rounds here as a comic gag when the first "Harry Potter" film was released. Hari is a popular Indian name, and "puttar" means "son" in the Punjabi language.

"Since the case is sub-judice, we can't comment as of now," Mirchi Movies CEO Munish Purii said. "However, we registered the 'Hari Puttar' title in 2005, and it's unfortunate that Warner has chosen to file a case so close to our film's release. In my opinion, I don't think our title has any similarity or links with 'Harry Potter."'

"Hari Puttar" is directed by Rajesh Bajaj and Lucky Kohli and stars Jackie Shroff, Saurabh Shukla and Sarika.

Warners' next "Harry Potter" installment, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," is slated for release worldwide in July.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Silent Treatment

Have you ever given silent treatment to anyone? Or has anyone given it to you?

I do know someone who does it to their spouse on regular basis for every single time they both disagree on some point, which is in fact almost on weekly basis.

What makes people do it? What makes them not express their feelings?

Does silent treatment resolve the problem at hand, if at all you'd call it a problem?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ten Things I Like about "Hera Pheri"

  1. How easily the film portrays the bitter truth of life that every one of us have our problems, things that worry us, and still life moves on.
  2. The honesty and innocence portrayed in Baburao Apte's character.
  3. How Ghanshyam and Raju fight but still love eachother.
  4. How simple the romance is between Ghanshyam and Anuradha.
  5. Kharagh Singh's acting
  6. Manager (Asrani) has just convinced Anuradha to go after Ghanshyam to soften him up, she climbs up on the bus behind him. The guy at the bus stop (Snehal Dabi) thinks he is some dalaal and tries to get him to find another raapchik maal for him.
  7. Babubhaiya's love for santra/khambha/sharaab.
  8. The song "chhana-chhan-chhanaana.. jab bhi koi haseena main dekhoo..." and everything about it - the hummer, the ferrari, the sand-surfing, the horse-back riding in ocean water, the rugby-like sport, the beach boys, the cute-chubby-Mamta-Kulkarni-like actress and of course oh-so-handsome Akki!
  9. The fight/action scene at the end of the film, specially when Babubhaiya's gun fires off.
  10. Kabira's sidekick (Razak Khan) saying: "the end, sir!" at the end of the fight.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Elders Edwise

Edwise is advice or wise words of elders that help gain personal education.

"It is easier to keep/maintain a troubled relationship than mend a broken relationship."

My notes: ...depending upon whether it is worth keeping that relation or not.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

This is one song that has an ability to make my eyes filed with tears and make the hairs on my body stand up.

जय हिंद!

Video courtesy: Bharatbala Productions

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Next Harry Potter film - 8 months delayed!!!

The film release date is being changed from "its planned Nov. 21 release to July 17, 2009". It sounds fishy to me, but they say otherwise.

Why would they want to delay it by such a long time when the film's going to be ready and sitting around waiting to be watched?

The move was made to take advantage of an open weekend in Hollywood's busy summer season, said Alan Horn, Warner Bros. president and chief operating officer. The film had been on schedule, and the change was not due to any production snags, he said.

"The picture is completely, absolutely, 100 percent on schedule, on time. There were no delays," Horn told The Associated Press. "I've seen the movie. It is fabulous. We would have been perfectly able to have it out in November."


Photo copyrights: (Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros. Pictures/Handout/Reuters)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gold medal 1 and counting...

By now the whole world knows that India has, at last, won the very first ever gold medal in the Olympics, thanks to Abhinav Bindra. Hats off to the guy for all the hard work and to his parents for supporting him to achieve this goal! It's fantastic news. Congratulations to Abhinav & India.

While the billion plus of us Indians are getting joyful with tears in our eyes and celebrating this achievement, some of us also feel helpless, shameful, angry, upset, ... (list continues) for not being able to make it to the top ten list despite being the second largest populated country in the world.

Question is: Why do we feel the need to show off without putting any efforts? I'm not talking about the people who've already made it there and are participating... they have actually worked very hard to get there and they should be very proud of that. I'm talking about the kind who sit in front of TV, make wisecracks about others but refuse to move their rears. When will these people learn? Don't they realize that what sowed is what will be reaped? And if nothing is sowed, there won't be anything to reap. And when they are argued with, they blame the country and everyone else but themselves. Why is it like that?

Another thing I couldn't help notice is that Mr. Bindra comes from an extremely rich family and has studied in the USA. Why does it take a freaking rich father to achieve something so grand? I do not think India has anything to be ashamed of with the fact that this was the first and only gold medal. The progress by Indians have been made in so many significant and variety of fields and it's only growing strong by leaps and bounds. Olympics is not the end of the world. And for those of us who feel it is, are we putting in enough effort for it? I highly doubt it. It is true that we are learning from our mistakes and avoiding the ones we are aware of. We are also learning from observing others and the creative minds and hard work are helping take things to next level. While all of this progress is going on constantly, there are challenges, higher than the highest mountains we have ever seen. Challenges to earn the daily basic needs for us, for people around us. Challenges that keep us from moving further in our paths. We will only be able to continue this if we have good support in every area of the society starting from the lowest level to the top most. The awareness needs to be created at every single level. The carelessness would need to go away gradually and it is possible. When everyone's needs are fulfilled and they feel satisfied with what they are receiving, and they know they are deserving, they will get more motivated to do more of what they're good at. Parents need to start encouraging their talented children to master the areas they have an aptitude for. Sports and other extra-curricular activities are not something derogatory and something that replaces education. These two can coexist and progress can be made. These changes need to start from ourselves and then move to people around us. May India and Indians keep progressing in all fields and God give us courage and strength to change with time.

Jai Hind!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Finger tips philosophy

A couple of months back when I attended a wedding, one of the speakers asked us to do this. I found it interesting, and at the same time thought whoever thought this up must have had nothing better to do. :P In any case, I finally found a photo to go with it so thought of sharing:

Open your palms (face to face), bend the middle fingers and hold them together - back to back.

Then open and hold the remaining three fingers and the thumb - tip to tip.

Now, try to separate your thumbs (representing the parents), they will open, because your parents are not destined to live with you lifelong, and have to leave you sooner or later.

Please join your thumbs as before and separate your Index fingers (representing siblings), they will also open, because your brothers and sisters will have their own families and will have to lead their own separate lives.

Now join the Index fingers and separate your Little fingers (representing your children), they will open too, because the children also will get married and settle down on their own some day.

Finally, join your Little fingers, and try to separate your Ring fingers (representing your spouse). You will be surprised to see that you just CANNOT, because Husband & Wife have to remain together all their lives
through thick and thin!!

And here's some more interesting stuff from a forwarded email:

Have you ever wondered why should the wedding ring be worn on the Ring finger?

There is a beautiful and convincing explanation given by the Chinese:

Thumb represents your Parents
Second (Index) finger represents your Siblings
Middle finger represents your-Self
Fourth (Ring) finger represents your Life Partner
& the Last (Little) finger represents your children.

Hmmm... this last one reminded me of a little time-pass game we used to play as toddlers. In Gujarati, we call it "aa koni gaay?" (whose cow is this?) and we would assign each finger to our family members' cows. Pretty funny, it used to be! :D

Friday, August 08, 2008

Only for Him

As she left home, she couldn’t stop thinking about him... "how will my day pass without seeing him?" She felt depressed.

She remembered how she didn't shower all day (when she knew she won't eat without taking a shower/bathing first) because she was getting to watch him all day.

She even kept fasts for being able to see him, for a few more weeks, even days.

She thought once again, feeling so desperate "when will I see him again?" She couldn’t hold her horses.

She got all upset with her friends and everyone else she met that day because she thought she would see him at 1 PM, but other things and other people kept her from seeing him, yet again. She thought may be at night she will get to see him, if not now. "oh god! how long would you let this go on day after day? Only if I didn't have to be away from him..."

She took a deep breath and sighed and only hoped she had remembered to press that one button before she left home.

While sitting at the desk that afternoon, she missed him the most. She remembered how she had clad herself in a white saari, didn't put on any make up (even being the make up freak that she was) and didn't put on any jewelry for a whole week, because he almost died.

While driving back home, she thought: "oh heavens! how much more do I need to wait? Now I just can't wait to see him... just once more" and prayed to God.

She got home quite late after mid-night without any energy for anything but him.

She got in, threw everything she had in her hands, rushed to the TV, turned that DVR on happily realizing she didn’t forget to press that REC button, only to watch him yet again on her favorite desi soap-opera that she had recorded from her favorite cable channel. Until the next morning.. she thanked and prayed to God for "long live Ekkta Kkapoor and her clan".


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Space Bags

Traveling today has become more challenging than it ever was, specially if we wish to carry more things in baggage than allowed. The extravagant charges on extra baggage are growing by the minute because of the higher gas prices and whatnot. So here's little tip to make the whole experience a little more pleasant and bring a smile on your face. Finally you can buy a few t-shirts that say "someone who loves me went to timbaktu and got me this t-shirt" for your loved ones instead of those silly looking key chains for souvenirs.

Use the space bag! No, they're not only used when you travel into space, but they also save a lot of space in your baggage.

Here's how they work:

  • Put all the clothing items in the bag.

  • Firmly close the zipper bag shut.

  • Use a small hand-vacuum to suck out the excess air from the valve on one side of the bag.

  • Close the valve cap to secure the bag from getting more air inside.

  • Ta-da! your space bag is ready for travel.

Personal experience tells me these are the best things that I ever traveled with. One thing to be careful, don't put food/perishable/liquid items in the bags and stay away from putting any sharp objects in the bags.

The only drawback of using these bags is that you'll need an access to a portable vacuum cleaner to suck out the air.

You can buy these at stores like Target, Walmart, etc.

Happy traveling!

Craziest Gift Idea

When it comes to do crazy things, I am all for it so long as it doesn't hurt anyone or upset anyone. I really enjoy them and if more people are part of it, the merrier it gets!!

So it all started last summer when we had a bowling event taking place from work. We were to form our teams consisting of four people each and come up with our uniforms. One of our creative team-mates suggested we go for personalized t-shirts for the event and we ended up implementing the idea; we customized a famous character and created custom logos and signs and put them on the front and back of the t-shirts; we also had our very own cheerleader who wore the exact same outfit as the rest of the team. Now it's another story that our team sucked as bowlers, but we all were so proud to have won the best uniform award and a prize of free movie tickets for the entire team!

The most exciting thing about this whole event was that I got to learn how to create personalized t-shirts!!! A couple of days before the event happened to be my sister's birthday so I decided to create a personalized t-shirt for her as well with a photo of two of us on there. She was so happy to receive the gift. I couldn't believe my eyes when she declared that she'd actually wear it at work all day on her birthday, and she did! Every single person who saw her that day asked her about it and also got to know who her crazy sister was, who gifted her that t-shirt for her birthday. I am so proud of her for that and of myself for implementing the idea. ;)

Then at the end of the last year for the holidays, we had 15 of us family members getting together and guess what! This brilliant brain thought how about the same t-shirt for every single family member?! Then I thought how cool would it be to get a picture of all 15 of us and put that one on 15 t-shirts. My wish was to surprise everyone but I knew that there was no way I would be able to do it all without letting them know as each one on average takes more than 4 mins to prepare. So I decided to share the idea with everyone once we were all together and when I did, they all loved it. The elders, the youngsters, and everyone in between all got super excited about it. It was like there were 15 kids loose, doing some crazy fun activity that they all love. Just imagine! After almost a 2-hr long photo-shoot and about two dozen photos, we came up with one that we all liked. Then after some editing and decorations, we were ready to start the mega task of printing and pasting them on t-shirts. It took us one whole evening and one almost whole morning, and three to four people at work at any given time, to complete the task as we had a lot of other activities planned simultaneously (we didn’t want to waste any time inside home during the daylight or the early hours of night) but the excitement level was much too high and we had them ready in almost no time. Once that was done, now it was time to wear them outside so everyone can see our beyond-brilliant creation... and we did, when we went to Ghirardelli chocolate factory on Xmas eve!!! ;) That’s nine of us kids (yeah right!) at the chocolate factory.

Recently, I also created personalized t-shirts for my niece and nephew as well, which I know they love a lot! :)

Now the idea seems little outdated but I still get the same excitement every time I want to make a personalized t-shirt. And now for time to share the how-to's of this creative gift.

Helpful tips:

  • The best fabric for these t-shirts is cotton.

  • The white colored t-shirts work the best with the regular transfer paper. They also have different kind transfer paper for darker t-shirts (which is a bit more expensive) so get the kind you that works with your t-shirt color. Per their instructions, you can't use the white one for darker and vice versa.

  • I have bought almost all of the cotton t-shirts from Target as they have good quality t-shirts for reasonable price. I personally don't like the ones that turn into chewed-by-cow kind of material after first wash. Plus, I want the gift to last a few washes instead of just a one-time wear so I spend a little more on t-shirts (more than $7 on sale). They also have nice collared t-shirts at Target. I love those too! Here are all different ones that you can buy from in case you're buying from Target. If you're buying from other stores, just make sure their stitches are well done and the fabric looks strong enough to last a few washes.

  • Work on this project in open ventilated area as the ironing the art-work on t-shirt creates a weird smell. I find it a little suffocating but it's not that bad; it helps to be near circulating air. Makes the experience more pleasant.

  • The care for t-shirts after wearing them, before washing them: take about half a gallon of cold water in a bucket and add about 4-5 table spoons of regular salt. Mix it well and soak the t-shirt in it for about an hour. Don't let it move around too much, just let it sit in the salty water. Wash in cold water. Avoid machine wash if possible, hand wash is better for the ironed-on art-work.

  • Do not use laser printers to print the art-work, it will melt in there.

Buy: Avery Fabric Transfers

Instructions: Avery t-shirt transfer - full-sheet of paper (PDF File link), Avery t-shirt transfer - 4x6

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Coconut Bay

One of my favorite restaurants for Thai food on the Peninsula. I actually like Narin that's next door from this place better, but since I ate here only last week, I thought I'd write about it.

I do have to tell you that it's a little pricey for the amount of food they give, but it's good nevertheless. The place is very well lit from the inside and also has quite a lot of daylight because of being located on the corner.

For lunch, as a vegetarian you don't have too many choices but you can request them to make a meatless/egg-less Pad Thai noodles and their Panang Curry is quite good.

They have a bar next door as well and the place is small but very cute and clean. The service is good but they get very busy at meal times so if you're planning to eat there, make reservation or go a bit early.

* - the dinner item I've tried in the past and liked.

Garden Fresh Rolls * - Rice paper rolls with fresh vegetables served with a carrot sauce

Roti with Curry sauce * - Grilled East Indian flat bread served with a curry dipping sauce

Jungle Tom Yum Soup * - (Special request to make it vegetarian without chicken broth or meat) Chicken or prawns in spicy and sour soup with mushrooms, tomatoes and lemon grass

Papaya Pok Pok Salad * - Shredded green papaya mixed with green beans, Chili, carrots, tomatoes and ground peanuts. This stuff is very delicious! They do give a small amount for this one.

Vegetarian Delight Salad * - Green salad, bean curd, tomatoes, cucumbers, Red onions, bean sprouts, topped with peanut dressing.

Then they have a whole section for the veg. items:

Spear & Shield - Sautéed asparagus spear with whole shitake mushrooms and garlic sauce (Seasonal)

Curry Powder Vegetables - Sautéed mix vegetables with mild curry powder and garlic

Tangy Vegetables - Sautéed mixed vegetables with pineapple, onions tomatoes, cucumbers and black fungus

Oyster Sauce Broccoli - Sautéed broccoli with oyster sauce garlic and black mushrooms

Vegetable Combo - Sautéed fresh seasonal vegetables with soy sauce and garlic

Curry Vegetables * - Fresh seasonal vegetables in panaeng curry with coconut milk mushrooms and sweet basil

Peanut Sauce Vegetables - Boiled spinach, cabbage and bean curd topped with mild curry peanut sauce

Sweet Basil Bean Curd - Sautéed bean curd with sweet basil, chili, garlic, zucchini, bell peppers, green beans and snow peas

Bean Curd with Eggplant * - Sautéed bean curd with eggplant, egg, chili, black bean sauce and sweet basil

They have about five or so desserts. I've tried the fried banana with ice cream only, but I am sure others will be good as well. Can't wait to try the fried banana with honey the next time I go.

My rating for Coconut Bay: 4/5

Name: Coconut Bay
Type: Thai
Average Price: $8-10/person (Lunch), $12-18/person (Dinner)
Address: 1300 Howard Ave, Burlingame, CA 94010 (At the intersection of Howard & Park Rd)
Phone: (650) 558-8268

Friday, August 01, 2008

To All Maggi Lovers Out There

Some good info about how to prepare it the right way, the healthy way.

Nutritious way of cooking instant noodles! by Neha.

Thank you, Neha.