Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Foodie Heaven - Singapore

I close my note book. My flight lands. 

Without a second look, I await my destination. So I walk towards the conveyor belt, grab my luggage and head towards the doors into - food heaven - Singapore!

This was my motto for the food trail !

As I step outside the airport enclosure a lovely Singapore morning greets me. I was jet, set and ready to go on a mini food trail in Singapore - in 24 hours. I had noted down the dishes I just had to try in my notebook. 

10.00 am
I am told by the cab driver to not miss sampling the breakfast that powers Singaporeans daily - Kaya toast with soft-boiled eggs and a piping hot kopi (coffee) or teh (tea). The Kopi and Kaya Toast culture originated from the Hainanese cooks who used to work for the British as cookboys. This was where they learnt to make coffee and toastListening to the way kopi and teh is pronounced reminds me of how it's pronounced in a similar fashion for kaapi and chai back home too! 

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I reach Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 Northbridge Road to have my breakfast at 
Toast Box. And glancing around the restaurant at others 'breaking their kaya toast' I emulated. I dip my toast into the soft cooked eggs drizzled with soy sauce and a sprinkling of white pepper and devoured it. I wash this down with the syrupy Nanyang-style kopi.

12.45 pm
Some sightseeing and shopping later, it was almost lunch time and the next stop on the food trail was grabbing Singapore's unofficial National dish - Chicken Rice. It is much more than just another tasty dish, chicken rice to Singaporeans is akin to 'soul food'. 


I walk to Tian Tian at Maxwell Food Centre and grab a seat and wasting no more time, I order 'Chicken Rice'. I am told that Anthony Bourdain, Gordon Ramsay and Dr. Leslie Tay have graced this restaurant and I cannot wait to sample it. I get a generous serving of chicken chunks with sweet dark soy sauce to accompany steaming Haianese rice. I indulge as any typical Singaporean would - drizzle a generous amount of sweet dark sauce onto the steaming rice, “dress” a chunk of chicken in the chilli sauce, and then heap a dollop of minced ginger on top of it. The condiments balance all the flavours of the rice, chicken and the sauce and give me a wholesome experience.

2.00 pm
'You cannot leave Singapore without tasting our Crabs' my dad had said. How can I miss out on the de facto National dish of Singapore? With that thought I get all nostalgic and remember home. And home food reminds me of my fondness for seafood. 

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I head to Roland Restaurant and I am greeted with the aroma and the bright sight of Chilli Crab. I bite into the succulent fleshy crab and take my time to grab all the beautiful flavours! Lip Smacking !

4.00 pm
Satiated with my extravagant lunch, I then take a cab to hop over to a popular stretch of eateries along Upper Thomson Road and over to Sing Ming Roti Prata for my next food destination in my trail - Prata

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Flaky buttery goodness with chewy insides and a dough that is a fresh mix of flour, eggs, sugar, salt and water is what maketh a good prata. It might sound familiar like the home made paratha and I am told that it is loved by many in the South East Asian subcontinent. I love the fact that the prata is like the south east asian cousin of the Indian parantha -Simply adore the confluence of cultures in food !

After a short break, I continue on and I remember from the geography class back in school of Singapore's famous fruit and local produce - Durian. I cannot miss this opportunity to sample this one-of-a-kind fruit so I head to the market to find it. I notice that the Singaporeans have certainly found ways to include this pungent fruit in many desserts and sweet concoctions and one of them is: chee cheong fun (steamed rice rolls). 

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I head to 89 Killiney Road and over to Rice Roll & Porridge shop to get my durian fix. I waste no time as soon as I get my order and I bite into the chilled roll that is stuffed with durian flesh and topped with a mixture of ground peanuts and sugar- YUM ! With that yummy treat and ended my delicious supper. 

9.30 pm
Only a couple of hours before I was to leave for home. How I wish this trip wouldn't end !

11.30 pm
Heading to the airport I was still savouring the amazing flavours the culminance of cultures I had experienced in the last couple of hours. I bought a souvenir for myself to remember this culinary journey and mainly Singapore.

When I reached back home, my souvenir sang to life:

Singapura, oh, Singapura, 
Sunny island sets in the sea. 

Singapura, oh, Singapura,
Pretty flowers bloom for you and me. 

Come along join the song in merry singing,
Blend our voices, 
Join in the chorus. 

Singapura, oh Singapura, 

Pretty flowers bloom for you and me.

My thoughts exactly! 

My trip was really memorable all thanks to all the information I got through to made my culinary trip to Singapore truly unforgettable !

It's a matter of taste after all.

PS. This is a my fictional account of a foodie trip to Singapore. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I #ChooseToStart a new memorable journey

Back in the 11th standard I was gifted my first phone. Before you get all 'what-is-so-great-about-that', let me tell you it was 2004. Thats like 11 years ago and not everyone had a mobile phone. Not even GSM or colour display ones. Forget touchscreen, smartphones even! 
So much so those privileged owners would like to flaunt its presence by playing those electronic default ringtones out loud and would enable the key press sounds, that would make a loud * beep * every time a key was pressed. And I would notice the onlookers watch them in awe whilst traveling in buses and trains them fingering their prized possessions.

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So I had my first phone ever-'The Motorola C131'. This simple phone had a black and white display. It was a CDMA phone with the same key press beep and the electronic ring tones. It was a phone with limited means with all the basic features of messaging, making voice calls, calculator and stopwatch. Plus it had games like BlackJack and Snake, which I used to adore. Back then playing Snake ad BlackJack was equivalent to playing today's CandyCrush and Temple Run - Super Addictive !

Then a year later, still with my C131, I saw a new flood of bright colour display phones coming in to the market. I couldn't afford one then but aspired to get one.

Years later, as I write today, I am remembered about my first phone. Some may say, not to get attach to things; and attach with memories. I would differ a bit here. 
These 'things' do give us the memories for a last time. 

I remember receiving congratulatory SMSes and calls when I got my 12th Standard results.
I remember talking to my mom while jumping with joy when I got the seat in the college I wanted.
And I still remember receiving my dad's call when he could finally get network when the Mumbai 2006 floods had hit.

One phone and so many wonderful memories associated with it.

This was my back story of my first ever phone.

Now, owning a new smartphone for anyone is not only affordable but is a choice for everyone. And if I have to start my smartphone journey, I would start with the latest entrant to the market -  Moto E 2nd Gen.

With the new Moto E, I would love to capture thousands of memories with it's 5 MP camera with auto focus. I would love to easy launch my camera JUST by twisting my wrists! Not all moments can be remembered and capturing them makes them immemorial.

The new Moto E will help me experience for the first time the buttery smooth, flawless touchscreen and it's scratch resistant and water resistant corning gorilla glass will prevent any scratches or water spills that I may "accidentally" drop.

I will have the liberty to access the internet at break neck speeds with the 4G LTE and 3G model versions and high performance Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will stream in a heartbeat. Not to forget, publishing my blog! This is a must have when living in 2015 socially connected generation.

MotoAssist will help me seamlessly get all my data from my old phone to my new Moto E phone - in minutes.

I even have the freedom to personalize my phone with colourful grip shells that fit with ease - like my phone is making a style statement.

So let's start all over again. Let me make more memories. After all, it's always a good time to #ChooseToStart

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Family: #Together Forever !

Our adult lives are so busy and defined by our Whatsapp/ Facebook statuses.

Can we get those days back where we talked face to face and not face to screen?
Can we rebuild those cherished memories where we talked and walked along the streets of a garden, beach or playground rather than the escalators and elevators of mall or shopping arcade?
Can we go back to those days where I was not judged by the time I took to receive a phone call?
Can we sit #together in front on the TV and have dinner, rather than be in different places for different dinners with different people?
Can we get up in the morning and look at our reflection in the mirror rather than the IMs we missed last night?
Can we not judge a person based on why they have read but not replied to our message an hour ago?

I miss those simple times. Where we were not bound and gagged by technology.
I miss those uncomplicated relationships and people.
Regardless of those rich, vibrant memories of more than a decade ago, I love my times with my family.

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This is my memory of my source strength and optimism for more than two and a half decades now:

My brother, mom, dad and I have this routine of a "sitdown". We never timed it or planned it in advance. It just happened. We love to share our viewpoints on anything under the sun. We share food together, discuss plans, do homework, go back to our fond memories and funny anecdotes. We used to differ in our opinions too, but in the end, either one of us used to play mediator and get back the house in order. We shared our day's stories, our feedback on things, simple things that did not make much sense then, but used to make a lot of difference in our lives. 

In the end, we came together as a family, we came together as a team, brimming with optimism and positive attitude to life. My family gave me strength in my times of difficulty and distress. Be it flunking in an exam or missing out on an interview. When we sat down together as a family, the words of support and wisdom poured in and mended the wounds of difficulty. They were through thick and thin. That's what I cherish the most. That's what is lacking in perhaps many families now-a-days. 

We need another person or a gadget to"connect". In my opinion technology might have brought the world closer, so to say, but building and preserving relationships perhaps is difficult using technology.

It is funny, that we used to do this more than a once a week every month and it is now that I miss those times the most. Since after my marriage, I have a new family. A family that I have to nurture and bring to the table the same ideas and routine of a sitdown. I hope to implement alike thought processes, positivity and the values of togetherness, bonhomie and optimism on life.

Family. After all there is nobody like family. With family, you are #together forever.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Starting Afresh - One word at a time

This is about me taking a detour in life and beginning again. Starting afresh. I can talk about this as if it happened just yesterday.

Coming out of an interview for a 'Sales Manager' at a well known and upcoming organisation, the only thing that rang in my head was what the interviewer said to me after the official interview was over: "You write very well. Why aren't you writing for a living? " Everything about that interview after that moment - seems like a blur.

On the way back home, I was still wondering if there was any iota of honesty in that question. I sat deep in thought. In retrospect I reflected on my past. I remembered those days in school how I loved finishing those essay questions, grammar quizzes. How it seemed to me that Verbal Ability section was a breeze in comparison to Quantitative and Logical Ability sections in CAT.

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Come to think of it, this wasn't the only time I was asked about my writing. I then realized that I had not paid attention to my strengths and followed it.
I went back to my earlier posts, those that I wrote on a whim and out of sheer boredom back during engineering. Those were some good posts.

Till that very moment, the question, I realised I was doing something that I didn't LOVE. I was not being true to myself. I wanted to #StartANewLife.

Is it too late to begin afresh? I still look at my peers - they're all at high and mighty designations in their career paths as I'm about to start from scratch. I will be a beginner while my peers have settled and mastered at their profession. I would be falling behind others.

I was trained for two years to sell, but to be honest, closing a sale did not gimme an adrenaline rush like the one I got when I was lauded with appreciation for writing a blog.

I now write, compose and create. I become a voice for somebody. My words walk the talk. Now, work does not seem like work. It has been more than six months since I took the step ahead.

No regrets. I will never have regrets in life, as I know everything happens for a reason. There was a reason for these turn of events.

Now there is no turning back. No more U – Turns. And it does not stop here. I want to write now and keep writing and build meaningful conversations that can make a change. I want to be remembered for my writing. I am not the best, I know it. But I will write nevertheless.

And not to look back in life and wonder, if only, I had chance to change.

And as for my blog, there is no thinking about shutting it down. No way.

Change is good. Change is for the better. After all it's time to #StartANewLife.
The all new in their new avatar. They highlight positivity and showcase optimism in life.

Life can change, only if you're willing to embrace the change. And for me, this is just the beginning.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mumbai's lifeline has a heart

In a city like Mumbai, it is uncommon to pause. Forget pausing for a minute, even a second is precious for every Mumbaikar. Especially for those who take the daily local for work or business, every split second makes a difference.

Ask those who wait earnestly at the platform for more than twenty minutes on an average in the hopes to catch a relatively less crowded local with breathable space to Churchgate station.
Ask those at Borivali station's crowded platform number 4 who scramble inside the very second the 8.47 am local slows down to ten kilometer per hour.

(Glimpse of Andheri station during peak travel hours. Image source: )

Yet a midst this daily routine cacophony, post the scramble to get in the train, the 30 second halt, the seat reservation post Dadar, the 4th seat buttock adjust, the footover board space negotiation and the local leaving the platform is the phase when an unsuspecting commuter meets his fate - falls off the train.
If one is lucky, falls on the platform but is up and about within a second. If unlucky, falls on the tracks with bruises and blisters.

I met with such fate once. It was a 6.36 pm evening Borivali local from Andheri on a rainy July.
I wasn't hanging on the footover board or hanging off the train. I was trying to board the train in the huge crowd of ladies gathered in the second class ladies compartment and within a split second I slipped and - fortunately for me - fell on the platform number one of Andheri station.
Such was the impact of my fall, that I hurt my knee in the process.

That 1 second cost me my train, but would've cost me limbs.

I took time to gather my senses. Panting, I did what anybody hurt would do - gather my belongings.
Then I checked my knee, there was a scratch. No major damage. Silent thanks to God.

When I got up, I was helped by 2 sets of strangers. And was asked if I was okay. I mumbled something, I do not recall. And was helped to a bench on the platform and offered water.
I refused, after all they were strangers.

I touched my knee and realised the I had hurt it so grimaced at the pain. One of the strangers, a lady advised me to go to the station master's cabin and get first-aid. I refused initially whilst flexing my knee to account the damage but then agreed when she thoughtfully insisted.
All this time I notice others on the platform waiting for a train staring at me constantly.

I got up, with some help and walked to the station master's cabin. The station master was there, sitting nonchalant. My strangers asked for some first aid for me. He enthusiastically helped us with some pain relief spray for my knee which I insisted on applying.

Feeling alright and relieved with the pain balm, I made sure I thanked the strangers and left for home in the next local. When I reached home I narrated this story to my parents, were in awe like me.
I said a silent prayer to those strangers who helped me at that opportune moment.

This whole event that transpired left me with a feeling of optimism. It was just so surreal.
Surreal because, we get to read such negative reporting in the newspapers of commuters being left on their own and the railway force's apathy. Thankfully, this was nothing serious, but I was left in awe that there are people still left in this city who are not apathetic towards other's problems.
It left me with an optimistic note, full of hope that Mumbai has not lost it's heart.

This is one story that made me #lookup to life's optimistic moments

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