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Cabo ke Parindhey

Year 2012  ended with a nice relaxing vacation at Cabo, Mexico. What a trip! The vacation started with a massage, walk around the town, parasailing, lands end tour, visit to TadosSantos,pingpong,pool,book reading,entertainment…. And FOOD, FOOD,…FOOD.

San Jose Del Cabo: A little coastal town, reminds you very much of India, with mud roads and pits right in the middle of the road. I loved it. This was as close to home as one could get. We encountered all these, as we walked away from the downtown, searching for a bank. The first building which we assumed to be a bank, was suggested duly by me , as it had a small sign saying bancomer, with visa,master card symbols..We walked in , encountered people speaking only in Spanish and partner tried explaining that he wanted some pesos.. I piped in, ” Bancomer????  Pesos” . Till today, I don’t know what the building was , but the lady at the counter did show us the route to the bank…yes, you guessed it, few blocks down the same road on which we were on.

sanjosedelcabo

Tados Santos:       A quaint,beautiful city nestled in the Baja California Sur. They “claim” to have the “HOTEL CALIFORNIA”, made famous by the Eagles.Wikipedia sees it differently though. This city is an oasis in the desert, filled with palm trees. A sight to behold. Surprise ! Surprise!, we found our californian roots in a homemade chocolate shop and to my delight,a juice( the real deal using an omega juicer) shop with free wifi, run by an american lady(who else?). Finished the tour with an authentic Mexican food. Yummy! Our charming, overly exuberant, talkative driver took us to his secret place, from where we could get the full view of the city, and where you get   to whale watch as well.Lot of humpback whales frolicking close to the shore. Awesome!

As you can see, we really relished the margaritas. IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST! AT Tequila Sunrise, opposite to Hotel California. There were Aztec calendars everywhere. Just to make sure everyone understands, Suresh is pointing to the day of the end of the world. :) :)

tados santos

Oh! Btw, how can I forget the museum that we visited.North Americans(New world) don’t have much history and so, all they could muster was a  washing stone( Vogiyo kallu(in Kannada)) and a grinding stone( ammi kallu(in Tamil)) No, I am not joking. Nostalgia! Reminded me of hostel days when it was a big chore and we all queued up with our bucket full of clothes and month old bedsheets to wash.

tados santos1

Parasailing- Cabo San Lucas:      Given an option between snorkeling and parasailing,I decided to parasail.Was not too sure about snorkeling, as the water was a bit deep for my comfort level. No! You are not allowed to ask if I know swimming or if it would have made it easier if the water was any shallower.Lets leave it at that.  It was the highlight of my trip. The captain and the sailor, both were very skilled and made it all seem very easy. And, we ended up whale watching during this trip. Too many humpback whales, close to the marina. We saw three in a row, playing around. And, how can one mention Cabo San Lucas without clicking a photo of Land’s end.You can see some whales in the following collage.

Cabo San Lucas

All-inclusive resort:    A first for us. Food, drinks whenever you want,whereveryou want. Lot of quite places to meditate, read and loiter in general. Noisy pools with kids running around. Enough entertainment to keep you occupied. We loved the Movie Trivia night, Karoake night and International dances night. Mexican was also part of the international dance night. What were they thinking?Waited for Bhangra, but never happened. Oh Well!

Resort

Have you ever heard about the mexican coffee…. A mixture of Tequila,Coffee,Kahlua liquor. More than the drink itself, the highlight was the making.Here is the video of the coffee making…

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2013 in General

 

Upside-down Persimmon Date cake

And you thought only Popeye could load on iron, with all his spinach. Even I CAN !! With lot of dates and blackstrap molasses. With all the mejdool dates, who wants sugar? And , it is eggless too. Ended up being eggless, as I ran out of them. Well, wheat has some protein too , though  not as wholesome. ;)

Here goes the recipe.

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups milk
13 mejdool dates
2 Persimmons
1/3 cup olive oil ( can be substituted with apple sauce)
2 tbsp ghee( or butter)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon  ( you can use whatever spice you want)
1/2 cup Walnuts ( optional)
2 tbsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses

Preparation:
1. Soak the dates in 1 cup of warmed milk. After 10 minutes, blend them well in a blender. Slice the persimmons into rounds.
2. Chop the walnuts coarsely.
3. Mix the flour,baking soda, baking powder and all the spices with salt in a bowl. Add the walnuts to this dry mix.
4.Mix well the oil, the blended dates , molasses and the remaining 1 cup milk.
5. Take a cast iron sauce pan and melt the butter(ghee) and add the brown sugar. Wait till the sugar fully melts. Let it cool a bit. ( A minute or two)
6. Place the persimmons in the pan. ( If you are not using a cast-iron pan, melt the butter and sugar ,caramelize it and transfer it to your baking bowl and place the persimmons in that)
7.Mix the wet mixture and the dry mixture and pour it on top of the persimmons.
8. Bake it at 350F in a preheated oven
9. Mine took 20 minutes in a convection oven,using a cast iron pan,which was already a bit hot. It can take anywhere between 20- 35 minutes depending on the shape of your bowl. Wait till a fork comes out clean when it is getting baked.

Variations
1. I actually used regular whole wheat flour( instead of pastry flour) and had to add a bit of water and just make sure my batter had the cake consistency.
2.You can use 1 egg and reduce the milk by 1/4 cup
3.You can use butter instead of olive oil
4.I wanted to add a tsp of rose water or vanilla essence, which I forgot. I am sure the rose water would add an unique taste to it.
5. Just taste the mixture once before baking, to make sure the sugar level is up to your taste. If not, add a bit of sugar.

Voila!! An awesome sweet treat, without much added sugar…

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2012 in General

 

The Ultimate Bond Girl

Skyfall has brought me back to blogdom. A fitting finale to the ultimate bond girl, M.

My favorite hero and none does it better than Daniel Craig. IMHO, he is the best bond till to date. We have had more handsome ones in Connery , but Craig fits the bond profile, the ruthless, cold agent. I first liked him in Munich  and has been a fan ever since. And Skyfall has some cool moments , just like any other bond movie. It always surprises me how one can deliver dialogue ( Ex: “Welcome to scotland”) after shooting five guys. And only a Bond entertainer can get away with it. Skyfall, as a movie, for the first time,gives an insight into Bond’s childhood. Also shows the warm side of Madam M, a rare sight to behold, so much so that even Javier Bardem calls her Mother. In my eyes, she was always the bond girl , who would never flinch to take a tough decision. And, she holds her dignity till her last breath.

Watching skyfall brought back memories of “The Golden Eye”, which starred Pierce Brosnan as the bond. Did I say Sean Connery was the handsomest… let me take it back , it was Brosnan. When it was announced he was going to be the next Bond, I was ecstatic and waiting for the movie eagerly. Knowing my excitement, dad booked two tickets and surprised me one day with a call to my office, asking me to meet him at the theater and we watched Golden Eye together. Sigh!! No one can beat Brosnan and his smile though… not even Craig.

Take away dialogue – ” Being young doesn’t guarantee innovation” – Bond to Q , when he meets the young kid. Yes, it is my middle age talking.

Saw the preview of Tarantino’s “Django”. Waiting eagerly for that too, next one after “Inglorious Basterds”. ( My review of the same)

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2012 in movies

 

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Where was I

When the world smiled,
Full of sunshine,
Where was I?

When the sparrows chirped,
Full of enthusiasm,
Where was I?

When the roses bloomed,
Full of fragrance,
Where was I?

When the moon shined,
Full of brightness,
Where was I?

When the trees swayed,
To a beautiful rhythm,
Where was I?

Ah! There I was,
Shouting at the sparrows to stop,
Plucking the roses,
Shivering with the swaying of the trees,
Making my life…

Little did I realize,
Life was indeed happening..

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in General

 

A year that was.

India trip, fun with family- check
Trying to adopt a dog and realizing that there are some things which is not one’s cup of tea – check
One overseas trip – check
Regular scans, anxieties – check
Wine making, 30 gallons of wine aging slowly – check
Good food, eating out – check
Volunteering – check
A hectic job, with much enjoyment and fun – check
Lot of time with friends – check

A year, with some ups and some downs, but one to remember. Wish 2012 will be even better.

I had created a bucket list, 4 years ago. Some more things in the list waiting to be accomplished. 2012 might answer them. One important resolution – More Yoga and Meditation!

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in General

 

hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia

I have been attending a Toastmasters club for the past few months as it is a nice break from routine, every saturday morning. For my speeches, one particular evaluator( its always the same one!!!) keeps on telling me to improve my vocab. I know my vocabulary does not contain long complicated words, but I do know it is not limited to “is, was, the”. Well, you get the gist. I believe in using simple words while giving a speech, as you want your information to reach the audience, not go over their head. Writing is a different cup of tea. Here is an example. PGW ( my favorite author) uses the word “champ” for “chomping” . In my perusals, I have not seen any other author using the word “champ”. Most say “chomp”. Some might even say “masticate’ when it comes to animals. PGW is in a different class, but when it comes to mere mortals like us, what is it with people who think just because they use long & rarely used words, makes them good speakers or writers. Yes, I would rather try a speech using easy to understand words than ” endeavor to give a recital utilizing excessive number of complicated words”. Get it?

One more nice example I found in the web

You can say

“You will receive reactivation and assistance consistent with your requirements.”

instead of “You will get the amount of help you need.”

Personally, IMO, the first one sounds funnier and exaggerated.

Now you know why legal documents are worded the way they are.

Did you know that fear of long words has a name?

hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2011 in Trivia

 

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The Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Apes ruling the world and humans used for experiments. Ridiculous concept, I agree but one I liked watching, again and again with all the reruns of the classic “Planet of the Apes” on TV.

Storyline: The Rise of the planet of the Apes is by far, the best prequel I have seen. Little Caesar, who is born to “bright eyes”, a lab chimp being treated with Alzheimer’s drugs that could create new channels in the brain, is adopted by Will(James Franco). He is smart, wants to be like neighborhood kids , looks after his grandfather(Will’s father) suffering from Alzheimer’s and so on. Because of the drug being passed genetically, he ends up thousand times smarter than a regular ape. Simple, yeah? Growing up, he gets confused when his ape instincts kick in and he angrily hurts a neighbor who is rude to his grandfather. Put in an ape jail, he suffers like any other high school newbie. What we should not forget here is that Caesar is smart and in typical hero fashion, conquers the inmates in the jail with his cunning, smart antics and becomes the leader.

After tasting a little bit of power, he refuses to go home and plans his escape to Muir woods. During his fight with the evil jail keeper, out comes the first word “NO” and you thought only kids learnt that as their first word. Till the last scene, Caesar’s speech progression is kind of slow( I think the ape instincts kicked in again) and you see him pretty much saying “NO” whenever a zealot ape tries to kill a human. Btw, all this happens in our own SFO. Finally, Caesar thinks he is home in Muir woods. If you are thinking, “OK, so the apes call Muir woods their home and live a peaceful life, with maybe the elders forming a panchayat, building schools and teaching the ape kids how to speak, assuming Caesar would have somehow learnt all the words without much interaction with humans, the smart ass..oops ape that he is, how did the humans vanish and get annihilated as shown in “POFA” ?”, here is the killer. The latest virus AR3 that are injected into the apes to test their brain stimulation, are harmful to humans, but the apes are immune to it. Cool, huh.

Bottom line, good vs evil, a classic regular old concept in a new bottle……I mean movie. Not a moment of dullness. I loved it.

The tie-in:

I loved this prequel as it ties in all the loose ends in “planet of the Apes”.
The spaceship which crash lands in “POFA” is shown in the background.
Now, you know what Caesar was up to as a kid and how he became the king. It might have been better if they had shown him wearing a wreath and riding a Tonga into Muir woods.
Of course, it explains the talking apes ( assuming Caesar learnt lot more words) in “POFA” though makes you wonder why the humans were not talking in “POFA”. Maybe, I missed something there.
The last flight which the virus infected neighbor takes , is to “New York”. Remember the “Statue of Liberty” that Charles Heston sees in the last scene. Suresh had a valid question about this though. How did the apes go to NewYork from SFO. Suggestions, anyone?

Awwwwwwwwesome moments:
When Caesar, though sulking himself, helps his Alzheimer affected grandfather hold a fork. A very touching scene that also shows how his intelligence is steadily growing.
When the apes escape is shown by falling leaves.
And, of course, when Caesar shouts “NO”, his first word.

Contrary to what the promos show, the Apes don’t want to destroy humankind and rule the earth. They just want to be blissfully happy in Muir Woods , sitting on top of trees, looking nostalgically at the Golden Gate Bridge. If you think James Franco is the hero of the movie, you would be far from truth. Andy Serkis, yes, the man who gave the “precious” emotions and expressions to Gollum in “Lord of the rings”, is the true hero. His portrayal of Caesar, from the expression of an innocent child to the fully mature human-ape in the end. MARVELLOUS !

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2011 in General, movies

 

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