Three Awards in One

The way I look in the photo is how I felt when my dear lady Cherylene nominated me for three awards. Not all at one go but over a period of time. I take my time in getting around to answering these award questions, not because I do not want to do them, but because I take time to babble. You know I take it seriously – the art of talking as little sense as possible.

Through her blog titled ‘Living Vs. Existing’, Cherylene motivates and inspires readers to stay strong through the travails of life. She almost always pops up on my various posts from time to time and leaves lovely thoughts. You can see why she is a great friend to have your back. To get to the task at hand, the questions under each award are all hers.

Thank you Cherylene, I had fun answering these questions. Made me ponder and smile.


Sunshine Blogger Award

Do you prefer to smell the roses or grow them?

Grow them, smell ‘em and see them wither away. The cycle of life is inescapable.

Are you the adventurous type or more reserved?

My stomach will tighten into knots and my heart shall pop out of my mouth, but Adventure, you scamp, you’re not getting away easy!

Do you prefer cake as a dessert or ice cream?

There are whiffs of existential crisis in that question.

Do you prefer to drive or be driven?

I drive in my dreams. My husband does not dare to let me drive in reality, yet. But I have agreed to polish up my driving skills by enrolling in a driving school in the US, ‘polish up’ being the key words here.

Where is your ideal vacation spot?


Can you cook?


What is your favourite dish to prepare?

Chicken biryani/ Aglio e olio

Who is the most supportive person you know?

My husband. My brother and father have been my rock during the formative stages of my life.

Who is you favourite singer?

Bob Dylan/Leonard Cohen. How do I choose between them?!

When you think of blogging, list one word to describe the feeling it gives you.


Do you pamper yourself as much as you like?

Without doubt.


Unique Blogger Award

If you could be any Marvel superhero who would you be and why?

Marvel needs to contact me for a patent. Cuptain Cupcake. Need I say why after you read my name?  I even know what I shall charge Marvel. A lifetime’s subscription to cupcakes from The Hummingbird Bakery.

How do you cope with stress?

Devouring popcorn and reading crime thrillers. Works like magic for me. I also walk around the room talking to myself (so I reveal at the cost of coming across as a certified loon).

If you were given the opportunity to act in any movie, would you take it? What type of movie would it be – action, romance, horror, drama, sci-fiction or comedy?

Why, of course, the superhero genre. Remember Cuptain Cupcake? I think I would be a darling at it.


Real Neat Blog Award

Your three favourite foods 

Mustard Hilsa (freshwater fish cooked in mustard, atypical of Calcutta), Chicken Biryani (Calcutta-style biryani strictly) and Lal Shaak (red spinach the way my mother cooks it).

Do you prefer watching sports or playing sports?

Playing sports

Would you choose a vacation in Hawaii or Alaska? Why?

Both. I would love to walk upon the volcanoes of Big Island and soak in the charms of its canvas of environments. I have watched some fascinating documentaries on Alaska which intrigued me. Plus I would feel like I were on top of the world.

If you would go back in time, what year would you travel to?

To the year 2011. Adi and I travelled together through the UK and discovered our common passion for being on the road.

What has been your biggest challenge?

To return home safe each day when I lived and worked in Delhi. Just reminiscing about the incidents that were a part of my daily life makes me prone to ranting about the importance of safety of women in that city.

Something you miss the most from childhood?

The early idyllic years in Salalah, Oman. My brother would visit us from time to time during summer vacations – he lived in a monastic hostel on the outskirts of Calcutta. I remember days spent on the beach by the rugged Jabbal mountains; attempting to steal flowers from my neighbour aunt (who used to open the door just at the time that I reached it – I realise that I used to turn up at the same time every day); heading to the souks in the evenings with my parents for Lebanese bread fresh off the tandoor (the fragrance of which is still lodged in the memory cells); and long drives through the deserts of Oman.

What does a perfect day look like to you?

Just being in the company of my love.

Big Move & Blog Awards

Anxiety is a deadly thing. It makes little coils in your stomach. So the days went by and I wondered everyday about where we would find ourselves at the end of this month. A week ago we were enlightened. New York it would be. We might choose to live in New Jersey but that is yet to be figured out. I know, you true-blue people who live in the city get all worked up when someone (erroneously) deems New Jersey to be a part of New York. I am not taking a chance of being clubbed by a New Yorker lurking around the corner of one of those glitzy avenues.

Yesterday after a long long chat with the woman co-ordinating our move about flooded gardens, motherhood, full-time work, the joys of putting up the feet with pizza and no laundry when the husband is away, I had to make another important call. The council office for a parking waiver because there is that small matter of the mover’s vehicle which has got to be parked on the double yellow lines outside our building. Now my darling, you never do that, e’en by mistake – park on double yellow lines that is.

You get a billet-doux of 70 quid, from a patrolling officer who will sniff his way to your car just like I find my way to cheese and popcorn. The councilman was a jolly fellow. I promise you that I had not expected a laugh with a councilman on all counts. But do not underestimate the chattiness of an Englishman. He asked me promptly where I was abandoning this fine borough for. “New York! You are leaving this little borough for NEW YORK and you expect sympathy, eh?” Chortles. “Just drop me a donut in return for the parking waiver”. The dilemma remains: To do or not to do. I mean I have bought hapless men drinks in bars (because they sweetly informed me that it was their birthday) without meaning to hit on them (which earned them the wrath of their girlfriends and me a scowl) but a donut presents a different degree of sweetness.

Now to the important business of answering questions. Some time has passed since I have been tagged by four lovely ladies, Cheila, Grace, Jamie and thebeyoutifulgal (do take a look at their blogs if you have not already), but I take things slow usually, so here we go with the awards. Except for Cheila’s Liebster Award and thebeyoutifulgal’s Awesome Blogger Award nominations, I had already participated in One Lovely Blog Award and Sunshine Blogger Award before, but Jamie had taken time to put out some questions of her own so I wanted to answer them along with Cheila’s and beyoutifulgal’s.

Off we go:

Cheila’s questions:

  1. What show are you binge watching right now?

Designated Survivor, Riverdale, Pretty Little Liars and Grand Hotel

      2. What are you reading?

Another Time, Another Life by Leif G.W. Persson, How it Happened by Shazaf Fatima Haider and Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (because how can you even be in just one world when there are so many waiting out there).

      3. What do you usually go for if you’re cooking just for yourself?

Chilli garlic noodles

     4. What’s your favourite eye and hair colour?

Hazel and black

     5. What sports did you practice in high school?

Badminton has been a constant love. Baseball was fun too. Cricket did not leave its mark on me (I am shamelessly breaking stereotypes here – putting an Indian and cricket together is like arranging a sure-shot love match). I had a deuce ball fly into my face when I was about 10 and after it smacked me on the cheeks with the kind of hardness you can expect from a ball made of cork and encased in leather, it was a no-show for me at any cricket game.

    6. How many hours a day do you spend on the internet?

I do not even count.

    7. Do you choose your outfit in the day before or in the morning?

That very morning the bed will end up looking like a battleground, make no mistake about it.

    8. Can you play any instrument?

Harmonium. Have you even heard of it? I am terrible with phonetic alphabets, okay? So where you would normally use ‘Delta’ to indicate D, I would think of ‘Donkey’ or ‘Dumb’, both words you should not be using with a stranger, and where you would use ‘Hotel’ for H, I would probably pop up a poor, unloved ‘Harmonium’. I did it once at a store here and the girl in front of me had the blankest look possible. That is the day that I realised that the harmonium needs to be left alone in its corner. It does not care about recognition, it will have you know.

     9. Do you prefer hot weather or cold weather?

Cold though I do love spring. You have to understand here that I hail from India where temperatures on a hot summer day scale up to 50°C. But what I would take wholeheartedly is a British summer’s day with Pimms.

     10. What is your favourite fruit?

Blueberries and mangoes

     11. Can you swim? How old were you when you learned?

One of the many chinks in my armour. I learnt swimming at the age of 14 and I sucked at it because I could never raise my head to take a breath, but I Did learn it. Over the years, this necessary life skill has decided to abandon me. I have the wonderful Kristyn who has promised to teach me the art of one-legged swimming and I am waiting to become her protege and prodigy (in reverse).

Beyoutifulgal’s questions:

1.What impact do you want to have on the world?

I am not sure I want to have any impact really.

2. What is a skill you’d like to learn? Why?

The art of saying no without feeling like an ant.

3. What are you most grateful for?

For life itself. Most importantly, my husband, my family and this extended blogging family (you guys make me happy everyday).

4. If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?

Let judgement take a back seat.

5. Which activities make you lose track of time?

Blogging, reading, talking and running.

   6. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

Scoffing a scone.

Jamie’s questions:

  1. What is one unpopular opinion you have?

Hand over All the books in the world (Psst: I foresee stoning by hoards of book lovers in the horizon) and no one shall get hurt.

      2. If people start moving to Mars, are you going?

No way. This planet has too much happening for me to leave it for all the luxuries on Mars.

     3. What’s your favourite sandwich?

Ham and cheese

     4. If you could live in a movie, which would you choose?


     5. What’s your go-to snack?

Salted Caramel/Peach Melba yogurt with blueberries, pecans and pumpkin seeds.

     6. If you could turn into an animal, which animal would you be?

Polar bear. My husband loves polar bears.

     7. Coffee or tea?

Both! I could not decide which but tea relaxes me and coffee wakes me up.

     8. What’s your favourite go-to outfit?

A flirty dress

      9. Do you have any guilty pleasures? Share one!

Tsundoku. It is a Japanese word for someone who is a book hoarder and keeps buying them. The only exception to the definition would be that that I do read the books I buy, but after an extended period of time, because there is always a tall pile waiting on the bedside table.

10. Who’s your favourite TV show character?

There are so many but I will go with Sherlock Holmes.

11. If you got abducted by aliens, what would you ask them first?

You got popcorn?

Clutter Books and Clobber

I acquired that pile of goodness last weekend at a lovely town called Sedburgh which lies within the scenic lushness of Yorkshire Dales National Park. Winding cobbled streets lead you past stalls selling beautiful sheepskin rugs, vicarage lanes and cottages with twee names. Then you trundle down the lane further past book shops called Sleepy Elephant, spectacularly green cricket grounds and shop facades that seem to be peeling away at leisure, till you arrive at the point of why Sedburgh declares itself the book town of the Blighty.

You may ask the question of the cheerful lady at the till of a charity shop and she would smile (because she must have answered this one a few times) and say: “Every cafe, shop and store in this town is stocked with books, and if you go up the street, you will see Westwood Books. It is worth taking a look into because it came from the Welsh town, Hay-on-Wye. They have done a fair bit in promoting Sedburgh as a town of books.”

Now my dear readers, you must have heard of the Hay Festival which for bibliophiles is supposed to induce a Christmas-in-the-mind-at-any-time-of-the-year feeling. It is takes place in the book town of Hay-on-Wye in Wales which boasts of a dozen bookstores. My husband should thank his lucky stars I have not set foot inside that market town yet. But the point of this is that Westwood Books is indeed a jewel of sorts. I entered it, I read inside it (a Gertrude Stein book which was thoroughly mind numbing because boy that woman knew how to pile on the negatives in one sentence – forget double negatives), then I did not know how to leave it behind.

Even Adi, who is not a reader, bought a book and browsed inside the store. Usually he takes a quick look and then hangs around my neck with the look of a bored child who demands to be entertained.That is what a book store worth its salt should be able to do – convert a non-reader/browser into one. Don’t you think?

Sedburgh and Hay-on-Wye are not unique really with their book town status, keeping in mind the fact that there are 40-odd book towns spread out across the world, but here’s how a book town can charm you.

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Clutter Books & Clobber charity shop
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Past the gorgeous tulips you enter the shop that will cast a spell
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Collectors’ editions
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Quirky personalities
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The Punch Library, ladies and gentlemen. 
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That spot of red is Adi browsing books. A rare sight it was.

Finally I leave you with the words of a writer, Eric Robson, who makes me nod vigorously (here you have the Indian head nod), as he says this: “First, a confession: I spend far too much on books. Which is why this idea of creating a Book Town in Sedbergh is a thoroughly bad idea. Until now my nearest Book Towns were Hay‑on‑Wye and Wigtown, which meant my obsessions were held in check by sheer distance. Now it’s going to be far too easy. I can already hear my bank manager turning in his vault. I won’t be able to resist. And there are thousands of other bibliophiles holding their heads in their hands as we speak. ‘Not Sedbergh!’ I hear them cry just before they get into their car and are drawn slowly but surely towards the Howgills.”


Biryani and Postcards

What a strange combination. I am not asking you to chop postcards into biryani. Though I quite appreciate paper in my mouth. As a child I used to tear paper, make little balls and pop them into my mouth. Then chew, chew, chew. Did you too? I cannot judge as you can well figure out.

Wednesday has rolled in with the promise of a long Easter weekend. Yippee. We have extended it by a few more days and the mission is to soak up the sun in Cornwall. That is our favourite haunt in the country. Cornflower blue seas, full-fat ice creams, fish & chips, amphitheatres overlooking the sea, caves and cliffs, how can you not fall in love with that kind of a holiday? What are your plans for Easter?

Before I start with the (slightly lengthy) process of biryani making and listing out the ingredients, I want to thank you all, dear readers, because you make this journey of living full of fun and frolic. I look forward to it every day and enjoy my random conversations with you. When I am 80 (if I get there), all this will count in making a toothless me grin. This biryani is my way of saying thank you. If you put yourself through the process of making your own biryani spice mix, cook it and dish it out to your family, you might just get shut eyes and mmm sounds.

I also wanted to send out extra love and thanks to KristynAngelaV and Michaela who nominated me for blog awards which I had already participated in. Nonetheless it makes my day to be thought of by any one of you. These girls have lovely blogs, so please take a look at them?

Now, to get down to biryani brass tacks. It is a slow-cooked aromatic rice dish from India. As you know India is not exactly small, plus its various regions have diverse styles of cooking, which makes it like a treasure house of delicious recipes. The biryani itself has some 20 avataars. My favourite one is the style that belongs to my city of Calcutta.

In an area called Metiabruz there, the 10th (and also last) nawab of the former princely state of Oudh/Awadh arrived in 1865, freshly stripped off his royal privileges by the British. With him travelled his retinue. But of course. This nawab, Wajid Ali Shah, was conscious of his image and he wanted to feed them well. Yet it was difficult on the stipend he received from the British. His Awadhi style of biryani was cooked using potatoes to add volume to the rice dish – which would also supplement the absence of enough meat.

Potatoes at the time were a delicacy because the British were growing the crop in Dehradun. For Bengalis, potatoes (or alu as we lovingly refer to them) are a staple that will not be left out from most dishes, no sir. You will possibly not have biryani anywhere else with potatoes in it.

This particular biryani reminds of the wonderful Arsalan, an eatery in Calcutta that dishes out the best biryanis and Mughlai dishes you will ever sink your teeth into. If you are in Calcutta next time, or for the first time, you know where to head.

Calcutta Chicken Biryani

Serves: 4

Chicken thighs              700-800gm

Basmati rice                   400gm

Large potatoes               2

Hard-boiled egg             4

Beresta (fried sliced red onions, using 3 medium ones)

Plain yogurt (beaten)     3-4 tbsp

Ginger-garlic paste        1 tbsp

Lime juice 1 tbsp

Red chilli powder           1 tsp

White pepper powder   1/2 tsp

Biryani masala                1 1/2 tbsp (Dry roast each of these spices separately on a medium flame and grind them into a fine powder – 10 pods of cardamom, 10-12 pieces of clove, 3″ cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves, 2 nutmeg, 5 mace, 1 1/2 tbsp of caraway seeds)

Cloves                               5-6

Green cardamom          5-6 pods

Alubukhara/dried plum 2-3

Milk powder                   2 tbsp

Kewra water                  1 tbsp

Rose water                     1/2 tbsp

Few strands of saffron (soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk)

Milk                                  1 cup

Salt, to taste

Ghee                                  3 tbsp

Cooking oil (mustard/ rapeseed) 3-4 tbsp

Initial Preps

  • Marinate chicken with salt, ginger-garlic paste, yogurt, chilli powder, white pepper powder, 1 tbsp biryani masala, 1/2 tbsp kewra water and 1 tbsp cooking oil for about 2 hours. For even better flavours, marinate overnight.
  • Peel potatoes and cut them into halves. Coat with salt and turmeric. Boil them till they are half-cooked.
  • Smear boiled eggs with salt and turmeric powder. Shallow fry them in 1-2 tbsp of oil.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a big pan over medium flame and cook the marinated chicken in it with half the beresta. Cook till oil separates from the mixture. Add approximately 1 1/2 cups of hot water, cover with a lid and let the chicken cook. As the chicken becomes tender, remove it from the pan and keep it aside. In the meanwhile, reduce the gravy to about 3/4 cup measure.
  • Wash and soak the rice in cold water for at least 10 mins. Boil it with 2 1/2 tsp salt, green cardamom and cloves. Cook the rice till it is half done and then drain the water and discard the spices.

The Final and Easy Instalment

  • Grease a heavy bottomed pan (with a narrow-ish mouth and a lid that fits well) with 1/2 tbsp ghee. Pour the chicken gravy into it, add lime juice, dried plums, remaining biryani masala, 1 tbsp ghee, 1/2 cup milk, chicken pieces and mix well. Then place potatoes over the chicken and sprinkle the remaining beresta.
  • Now spread half of the rice over it. At this point you can add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder blended into 2 tbsp milk (if you want to add colour to you rice). Pour in saffron milk, rose water, kewra water, milk powder and remaining ghee over the rice.
  • Finally, top up with the leftover rice and milk. Bung in the eggs. Cover the pan and put it on medium flame for 6-8 minutes. Lower the flame and let it be for 30-35 minutes till the rice is properly cooked. Check for liquid at the bottom. If that extra liquid has almost dried up, your biryani is ready.

Ta daa. Now all you gotta do is gobble it up.

Below are the postcards from my big box of them.

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Was he the strongest man on earth? He would never say no to biryani surely.
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French Advertising Poster for the grand fete of Paris in 1893.
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Le Pantheon, Paris.
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La Belle Epoque. The French brand of nostalgia.
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An 1897 portrait of Le Comte Robert de Montesquiou, a French dandy and poet, by Italian portrait painter Giovanni Boldini. An author described him: “Tall, black-haired, rouged, Kaiser-moustached, he cackled and screamed in weird attitudes, giggling in high soprano, hiding his little black teeth behind an exquisitely gloved hand—the poseur absolute. Montesquiou’s homosexual tendencies were patently obvious, but he may in fact have lived a chaste life. He had no affairs with women, although in 1876 he reportedly once slept with the great actress Sarah Bernhardt, after which he vomited for twenty-four hours. (She remained a great friend.)”
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Oil painting of a Parisienne beauty by French painter Jean Beraud. At Place de la Concorde.

Sandwiching Two Awards with Love and Nutella

Jen, a Canadian blogger who lives in Japan and is kicking her way towards a double black belt, thought of me when she was nominated for One Lovely Blog Award . She likes to whizz up dinosaur avatars of herself and tempts you to do the same. So, I shall get on with the job. But before I start waffling, I have got to thank Lori, a blogger multi-tasking in the creative arts – playing the piano, writing, indulging in photography, sewing and spreading her talent through coaching. She thought of me for the Versatile Blogger Award. It runs along the same lines as One Lovely Blog Award, so I thought, why not put them together? One can take only that much of narcissism in a day, plus 7 different facts about myself twice over might bring out more skeletons out of the closet than I can let go at one point of time. Once again, thank you, Jen and Lori.

The rules for this award are as follows

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link.
  2. Post about the award
  3. Write 7 facts about yourself
  4. Nominate bloggers and notify them

Seven Facts about Myself

 1. Eternal goof. Just the other Saturday we were on the way to Ludlow, a vibrant market town in Shropshire when we made our quintessential stop. Services. Adi waited in the car and I sashayed off. In a few minutes, I came out strutting with the wind in my hair and feeling quite very happy as you always do after a services break. Erm, why on earth was the door locked? I grappled with it and bent to peer through the window, righteous indignation writ large on my face. Only the face inside was not my husband’s. Mortified I turned around and tottered off towards the other black car a little ahead – this time I peered and saw the husband’s teeth on full display.

During such momentous (and frequent) occasions, individuals like me should have a motto. Never leave witnesses. I had one shaven headed witness. Laughing at me as he sat outside the services with a cup of coffee. The world is big. I am a wuss. And I hope never to lay eyes on him again.

2. Devilish blackmailer. During my growing up years my father set off a trend of bringing me cheese puffs and cream rolls – during exams – because why, a child need nourishment. Much to the annoyance of my mother who looked down upon such unhealthy, fatty indulgences. On days when he would fall short of delivering on the goodies, I would lay my hand on his heart, and say solemnly, “Baba, I shall die unless you bring me a pack of Lays and a cream roll.” Never underestimate the manipulative power that a child possesses.

My brother refused to fall for the same line. His standard retort was,”Please go ahead and die.” Ruthless fellow.

3. Detective; Star Baker; Ballet Dancer; Black Belt Ninja. I am none of those but they are my alter-egos. What are yours?

4.Goggle-eyed witness to life. There are many strange things in life that you experience, right? The most vivid one in my life took place when I was in journalism school in Delhi. We were taken on a field trip to Tihar Jail (the largest complex of prisons in South Asia which was once notorious as home to serial killers but has been developed since into a correctional institution). As the warden showed a group of us around, along with him for a fairly long time was a fellow in spotless white clothes with shaven head and glasses. I assumed he was one of the officers till I overheard the warden say that he was a prisoner. I scampered up to him and asked him what exactly was it that he was serving time for. “Murder,” he said. “I stabbed a friend more than a dozen times in a fit of rage.” To say that I was gobsmacked is understating it. But he had this air of sincerity about him, so I wonder what happened to him. He was supposed to have gone to the States in a year or so, after I met him, to live with his sister and complete his studies.

5. Sous chef to my husband. He cooks on weekends. By the end of the afternoon, I flop down and make him promise not to cook for at least the next couple of weeks. But he makes good on what he puts on the plate.

6. Fitness fanatic

7. If I was a dinosaur, my names would range from Brachiobasu, Allobasusaurus, Diplodobasucus to Styrabasucosaurus, Troobasudon and Gallimibasumus.


If you like these awards and want to reply to those questions, feel free to tag yourself.

Peace out.

Blue Sky Tag II

Cheila has passed on the Blue Sky Tag II to me. She blogs about all things that matter to her with a touch of humour and in a candid conversational style. Let’s put it thus, when you find yourself clicking on the link to her blog, you will not be calling me a fathead.

The Rules:

  • Give 11 questions
  • Tag 11 people
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you

Cheila’s Questions:

  • Do you live an a house or an apartment?


  • Where are you from?

I was born in Oman and lived there the first 8 years of my life, grew up in Calcutta for the next 13 years and then went to New Delhi to study further and work. I now live in Northampton, UK. I carry all of them with me.

  • What do you do for a living? Are you happy doing it?

I write articles for magazines and newspapers. It has lessened a fair bit with all the blogging and reading blogs but I am working on a book alongside. I am content with the way things are at the moment because I know a change is coming up soon and there is nothing better than living in the moment.

  • What do you do to stay fit?

I do anything that catches my fancy. Once it was hot yoga (but boy it makes you almost pass out), spinning, pilates and and working out using weights. Now I go running in the park almost everyday and do yoga a few days a week.

  • What time do you wake up and go to bed?

Some days I get up between 6-7am, other days at 8am, and am off to bed by 11.30pm.

  • What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday?

I like to badger the husband to go on long, long walks to a park in another part of town. The badgering itself takes time and patience but it pays off with a lot of frowns and scowls and then the walk. After which we work off all that walking by sitting with a massive tub of popcorn each and binge watch films and shows.

  • Have you ever been in love?

Everyday of my life. I am in love with something or the other. The jackpot in my life is the husband and the memory of his dog Tuktuk who is the other great love I have. Tuktuk was a handsome, kebab-loving labrador who passed onto another realm a few years ago but has not left our hearts.

  • What do you always have in your fridge or pantry?

Salted caramel yogurt, milk, dark chocolate bark, berries, sunflower seeds, popping corn, baking soda and pecans. I have a lot more of course but if I put out an inventory…

  • What TV shows do you follow right now?

There are so many. Off the top of my head, The Americans, The Wine Show, Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotland, The Vikings, Mr. Selfridges, Pretty Little Liars, The Man in the High Castle, Billions, The Voice, Happy Valley, The Missing, Storyville, Black Mirror…We are your quintessential TV show addicts.

  • What was the last book you read?

The Sword of Justice by Leif G.W. Persson.

  • If you could only wear one for the rest of your life, lipstick or mascara?

I am in a bold lip colour phase right now. For now, I hold on to my lipstick.


Not everyone wants to be tagged so I shall quietly leave the questions below and you can answer them in the comments or not.

My Questions:

  • Has the year begun well for you?
  • What do you have on the travel list for this year?
  • What books do you have by your bedside table?
  • Are you a city or quiet town/village kinda person?
  • Are you happy with where you live or do you want to live in another part of the world?
  • Which loyalty programs (airlines/hotels), according to you, are the ones to watch out for?
  • What are your plans for the upcoming weekend?
  • Books or films?
  • Mountains or the sea?
  • Your favourite buy from the last three months?
  • What’s for dinner tonight?

Before I wind off, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! May the feast be fantastic.



Cirencester Under a Colourless Sky

You cannot let the weather beat you. We learnt that lesson in Norway when we went on a hike to Pulpit Rock. If the Norwegians did hold their head in their hands and sit inside because of inclement conditions outside, they would be inside, forever. The night before travelling to Stavanger, we were contemplating cancelling our flight tickets. The forecast was for thunderstorm and showers the whole weekend. Now, when we called the hotel we were booked with in Stavanger, we heard a cheery line from the other end: ‘There is no such things as bad weather, only bad clothes’. Right. Levels of optimism that might have tempted us to ask the person at the other end to ‘go take a hike’, except for the simple fact that we were the ones strictly off for a hike. Right after midnight we decided to lump overthinking and go for it. There is a point to all the rambling. It changed our attitude to travel. Unless of course there is lightning and thunderstorm predicted for hikes like Trolltunga. Then you would do well to think twice – imagine the troll’s tongue turning slippery and you jumping on it (for the simple joy that you have made your way to the tongue) but then finding yourself sliding off it into the rocks below, not even the fjord.

It was a spectacularly drab day when we woke up on Saturday last weekend. The kind that makes you think that a stormy blue sky is a blessing. The original plan of setting out for a walk in the Carding Mill Valley, a lovely heathland in the West Midlands, changed to a sedate saunter through a town in the Cotswolds. Cirencester. We make incessant trips to the Cotswolds (ref: The Wolds on the Windrush) but somehow we had missed out on this traditional market town. When we got into the town, we found the traditional limestone coloured buildings that are a key element in the landscape of the Cotswolds. If it was sunny how they would have glowed a honey gold.

But it was dark and the stones on the buildings seemed to acquire a weathered look. That said I do have a soft spot for the way those stones look aged like the ones on the church below. They give it a certain dignity. It impresses upon the gaping onlooker that it has been standing there for ages, a silent witness to the comings and goings of the people of the town over generations, which is as well because the parish church of St. John the Baptist is over a 1000 years old.

Now Cirencester is not your average pretty Cotswold village, crammed with chocolate box houses and bakeries. No sir, this is more of a busy and chic town made up of expensive Scandinavian-style fashion boutiques, a fair number of vintage and homeware stores to delight the senses, art centres, old halls (Corn Hall) that have been converted into crafts markets and a list of warm pubs, country inns and bistros. Not many tourists come through and I suppose locals are quite content with the fact. But if you are in Cirencester you know you have reached the former Roman city of Corinium that ranked second only to London in size and importance.

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St. John the Baptist is one of the best of the lot of wool churches in the Cotswolds funded by donations from rich wool merchants.
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Fossil-rich limestone typical to the Cotswolds adorns the gate and the cottage. Beyond the gate and hedges lie the property of the Earl and Countess of Bathurst, the Bathurst Estate. 

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We stopped at The Bear Inn, a fine gastro pub, for lunch. With its open fireplace, Tudor-style beams and rustic decor, it is supposed to be the oldest coaching inn in Cirencester.
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Bread and butter and Merlot. Can you possibly go wrong with that?
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Possibly the thickest cut of gammon Adi has had in all his time in the Blighty.
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I stuck with a chicken and mushroom fricassee topped up with arugula
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A pint of Brains, a smooth and hoppy ale from a Welsh brewery

After lunch it was time explore the town for knick-knacks.

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The Stableyard
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On Black Jack Street
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He Says She Waffles. A suffragette would shoot through the roof.
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Delicious full-fat Winstones Ice Cream. Double scoop of toffee crunch and honeycomb.
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A bit of this and that
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Stores inside The Stableyard

How to Get There: Cirencester is known as the Capital of the Cotswolds because of its central location in the area. Hiring a car is your best option to reach the town located at the intersection of four A roads and connected by the M4 and M5. The train station nearest is Kemble, about 6 miles off. Buses to and fro cannot be counted upon. So really, just drive.

Where to Stay:

The Fleece ( is a centrally located former coaching inn that dates back to the 17th century. Standard double rooms start at roughly £110 per night including breakfast.

The Old Brewhouse ( is a good old bed & breakfast run in a 17th-century townhouse. Double rooms are pegged at £95 per night.

Where to Eat:

Jesse’s Bistro ( offers modern British fare. A two-course menu starts at £20.

The Bear Inn offers British classics. They have a host of pre-set menu offers that are quite cost-effective and the food is good.

Made by Bob (, a deli and café in the Corn Hall is a hit with the modish crowd. Its chef is Bob Parkinson, who trained at the South Kensington restaurant, Bibendum, in London. A two-course menu costs between £25-30.

What to Do:

Cirencester Roman Amphitheatre on the outskirts of town. It’s free.

St. John the Baptist church. Behind it are the abbey grounds where once stood an Augustinian abbey. It was razed down in the 16th century. Through the abbey’s remnant Norman archway, a path leads to Harebushes Wood for a woodland walk.

Cirencester Park, home to the Bathurst Estate, is open to the public for free. Timings: 8am-5pm.

Cirencester Antiques Centre (Antique Hunting in the Wolds) if you are fond of all things old.

Black Jack Street for more vintage browsing.

If you are done with seeing the town, head off to the picture-postcard villages of Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water or towns like Burford.