Madness

It feels like I’m about start leaking marbles from my ears. Can you see it? Can you see the veins against my temples starting to split at their seams? In a moment, I’ll leak and be declared insane.

You, darling reader, would be happy to know, that I have survived a meltdown. Of elephantine proportions. There is a chance I’m exaggerating, but allow me this. Saying that I have “been busy” would be an understatement. You already know that I have been in this state of busyness, for a while. But last week was it for me.

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Seriously…

It started two months ago with a small idea of reviving the “book”. Which in hindsight has proven to be a bigger task that I have ever come across, but we all know that I’m prone to biting off more than I can chew. The “book” has been on and off for the last ten years. Even before I graduated from college. Back then, it was mostly about friends and the comic heights of being a student of architecture. It then moved on to life inn Mumbai, graduate studies in Nottingham and then finally London.

I’d write pieces. Stow some away. Some I would use and put them in the blog here, mostly the ones related to food. The others would just sit quietly in the vastness of Google Drive. Right after we traveled back from our SE Asian holiday, an ad-man friend, Richard — who comes as a complete set with the sculpted beard and curled up mustache — asked me to review a short story he had written and was thinking about submitting it to a literary magazine (!!!!). As expected, the piece was brilliant. But more inspiring than anything.

“Do you think you can take it on?” I found Priya asking me, a week later. We were discussing Richard’s piece over Skype, and how I felt hungry and tempted to fire up that old Google Drive account and retrieve all my forgotten stories.

“You know where we are with the company,” she continued. I did know. I do know.

We have a Bali retreat coming up (in a week’s time!) and in my anxiety I have chewed off all my finger nails. Priya’s daily routine now includes rocking back and forth on her office chair, every morning, for two hours, imagining all organisational disasters that could possibly happen during the retreat. There’s an Egypt trip coming up in December, which adds to the frenzy. We’re about to announce our 2018 dates. The website is being pricked and prodded and torn apart by an SEO expert. The Indian banking system is a nightmare to navigate. We’re rapidly running out of money we had set aside for marketing. The affiliates’ program is about to be launched. Bloggers and influencers rule the world. Our tech guys are more scholars than executors.

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Lemon cake to comfort us

Hellooooo.

I have cake!

And some news. But I will totally understand if you skip the news and scroll right down to the cake recipe.

The travel startup I started with Priya, a while back is in its final stages of conception. We’ve named it Altertrips.

You know, after the words “alternate” and “trips”. Get it?! Ha ha, LOL.

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After 12 years of being an aspiring nomad, of changing jobs and countries and continents and holidays, certain acute aspects of the travel industry has started to bother me. And we’re looking to address that problem.

As we’re inching towards the launch – December, yikes – my palms are getting sweatier, my fingertips are bloody with all the nail biting, I’m hoarse after continuously yelling at my co-founder and my tech guys (I’m quite sure they’re ready to strangle me by now, but that will be a battle for another day).

I will talk to you about it soon, in another blog post.

Let’s just say for now, that it has been lesson after lesson, on life and on overcoming obstacles. We’ve been deeply humbled, overwhelmed, excited, triumphant, confused and angry at times. Sometimes all of that at the same time. And the intensity strengthens as we near, what we will call from now on, LAUNCH DATE.

But until then, we have lemon cake to comfort us.

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we do nice things with roast chicken here

fenugreek roast chicken

When you’re single, envious of your married friends, self un-assured and plummeting towards 30 like nobody’s business, you start making promises to yourself. About your future no less. Yep. You have very little clue where you are in your present, but nevertheless, you make promises about your future. The word you’re looking for is “optimism”.

When it’s late enough in the night and you find yourself tossing and turning on your bed trying to find a cool spot on your pillow, or you’re hungry enough to constantly keep opening up the refrigerator door as if something suitable to eat would magically pop up any second — that’s when those promises show up at the forefront of your mind. And they refuse to go away till either you resort to counting imaginary sheep, or till you’re distracted by something smothered in chocolate or by someone with an invite to the latest bistro (apparently) in town. Oh but I’m rambling.

I made myself a few promises, quite a while ago, notably while eating greasy strands of bacon over the sink at midnight after returning from work. It was cold and damp like most English evenings, the house was as quiet as death and it was a quick dinner after a long day.

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I’ve been thinking

We’ve had quite a mellow week. I love weeks like that. They start amicably and end weary, but happily. The weeks that start with the rustle of newspapers, a simple bowlful of cucumber and tomato salad or mayo sandwiches. And then goes on to a lunch of plain – and sometimes under-seasoned – lasagna at the office cafeteria.

Weeks that don’t come with the threat of deadlines and that end with a warm eggplant hash for dinner. Instead, they come with laundry that needs to be done and put out to hang till dry. And then for good measure we’ll pull out an umbrella and keep it within arm’s reach, just in case the city decided to pull an 8th April.

These weeks are sometimes likely to be punctuated with a soft cake and glasses of cheap port. Weeks like these call for spending time with your mother over out-of-season cocoa and introducing her to things like Touch and a salad that uses tinned mackerel.

These are seven days that end with happiness, food, family and with you. I would like to mention here that I’m trying to act all dignified and grown-up right now, but its difficult to hide your excitement and to stop flapping arms when you know people like reading about [or maybe even making?] the food you eat.

A quick shout out to Jeannie of Jeannie Richard and Esti of Coffee Camera Love who think I deserve the Versatile Blogger Award [gasp!]. Thank you! You guys really know how to make my day.

I know I keep coming back here to talk to you about food. And it doesn’t even begin to quantify the amount of food-oriented thinking I do throughout the day. I think of sandwiches and yet I haven’t told you anything about them. We love sandwiches here.

I try my hand at pastry but when I look back at it, I feel like I haven’t cooked anything real. For starters, I haven’t baked bread yet [!]. I haven’t yet made homemade ricotta. And even though I make sure I know where my chicken is coming from, I haven’t ever spatchcocked any. I understand that many of my readers may have done all that already and that makes me bite my lips and look at my feet.

Now that I’m typing this I’ve just realized that I’m a dabbler. A dabbler who doesn’t know how to bone a duck or is too chicken to make puff pastry from scratch. I have been happy to look and salivate at a pork terrine for the last two years but haven’t even had the guts to attempt one. But this is about to change. At least, I hope it is. If I ever have the chance to give my 23 year-old self a piece of my mind, I’d tell her to suck it up and dive into making a three-tier wedding cake instead of dilly-dallying with watery tomato soup.

I will see you next week. And it will be good.

Have a happy weekend you lot.

P.S.:- the photographs were taken with my dad’s old Yashica that I’ve been tinkering with. And those trees below are what my folks see when they wake up every morning. When on earth is that going to happen to me?