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Worth the Weight :)

Priyendra and I are very pleased to announce that we are growing our family. We are very excited about it and taking it very very easy. I am looking forward to a healthy growing baby and a smooth pregnancy. I have been so excited but I have decided to keep myself calm this time and not jump to tell anyone..yes anyone means even our parents. We will tell them after our first doctor’s visit.

There have been multiple times when I have wanted to tell my mom since she has asked me once too in the last one week but I have had to keep the conversation away by distracting her.

I am sure she will be very excited but just for the sake of the baby we are trying to play very very low key this time. Cannot wait to make these posts public :)

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Changes

 

(An old post which I wrote but forgot to publish it :))

…and then back on track now.

Does it ever happen that life appears to change for you in a bat of an eye? At times, making professional decisions over personal ones triumphs and sometime we need to take stricter and more futuristic decisions for ourselves which means leaving behind everything and starting from scratch. I am not sure if it is such a big decision for many since it is such a common thing to quit your job and enter the start up world. But for us, it was a Herculean decision. Yes Priyendra decided to quit Google and move ahead in life.

This itself was a colossal step in his life. But the interesting thing is that in front of him lay two options. One was to stay here and join a 3 month old start up in a core field where he would continue doing what he is best at and the other was to move to New York and join the 2 week old start up as a CTO. Yes! moving to New York came as a big shock to me but becoming a CTO of a small company kind of lured my husband.

There was a lot of back and forth. Priyendra went to New York to visit the company too. Thank God he went before Sandy struck the east coast. He came back pretty excited about the opportunity and the weekend Sandy hit the mainland USA, it also hit our lives. We had almost decided that we are moving to the east coast. I had started looking up apartments and jobs. I was gradually trying to get excited about the move too by watching a lot of New York based chic flicks.

After a lot more thinking, some Math and some emotional decisions, we have decided that we will not move out of the bay area and stay here with Scaligent!

 

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Happy 2013

I am alive and so is the world even after 2012 but there seems to be some kind of death of humanity. There is a lot going on on the map of the world: rape in India, killings in Sandy hook, slaughter in Syria and the natural disasters are not helping much either. There is a lot being said and written about all of this. Let me not go on that road but look forward to a better 2013 and look back at the happy times of 2012.

2012 was the year for traveling. We traveled to a new state almost every month. Out of the 50 states in the US, we traveled to the following states

  1. Arizona
  2. Texas
  3. Illinois
  4. Colorado
  5. Wyoming
  6. South Dakota
  7. Nebraska
  8. Washington DC
  9. Maryland
  10. Virginia
  11. New Mexico
  12. Nevada
  13. Oregon
  14. Washington

Not to forget we also traveled to the two ends of Canada. We went to Vancouver in February and to Toronto in September. It was a fun year since we got to make impromptu plans and end up in a state for the weekend. Our trips were short but very detailed. We would try and cover up as much land as possible.

One of my favorite trips was the trip to Mount Rushmore. Here I got to travel to the midwest. There was very little establishment in Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska (at least  through the parts we traveled) and that was the beauty to it. Driving through this place was a very calm and soothing experience.

Another highlight for 2012 was Priyendra quitting Google and joining Scaligent. He was very nervous initially but he is extremely happy and satisfied now.

2012 was the year for kids too. Two of my best friends had babies. I am so glad they are both here and I get to play with them very often.

Life is a series of frames and I always hope to capture each frame either in the camera or through pen but I always fail miserably at it. I hope 2013 can give me some stamina to capture as many frames as possible for this year.

 

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April travels

People can call me crazy but the fun I had exploring the least populated areas of the US of A, was exhilarating. The grasslands in particular were spectacular. They might have been very (very very very…) vast but there was something mystical about them. Each time I would look outside the car in Nebraska, there would be a “wow” from my mouth uttered involuntarily.

Priyendra suggested this idea to drive to Mount Rushmore from Denver. I was thinking of New Mexico this month (April) but the idea of seeing 4 states in one trip appealed to me more than just one state.
We started our journey on the 27th of April. We spent the night in Denver. Next day morning after having a hearty (free ) breakfast at the hotel, we drove towards Cheyenne Wyoming. Cheyenne is the capital of WY but believe me, it just went by. WY is the second least populated state in the US after Alaska. We stopped at this big town of WY called Lusk (1400 population) where we decided to have lunch. Deeksha yelped for restaurants and found one highly rated place called “The Pizza Place”. I think it was rated by everyone who stopped by Lusk while traveling to Rushmore. The Pizza was hand tossed and genuinely worth 4 stars. And that was the end of east Wyoming for us :)

We entered South Dakota and trust me there were a tons of things to do in the Mount Rushmore/ Custer State Park area. We went to the Wind Caves which was one of the longest caves in America stretching to about 163 miles. It was a very different kind of cave since it was more like a 3D cave. We could go down some 300 steps to the second level of the cave. The cave was famous for its boxwork on the roof. Some 95% of the boxwork roof was found here in the wind caves. After taking a tour of the wind caves, we proceeded to drive through the Needles Highway. Now this was one of the very beautiful drives. Needles Highway (SD Highway 87 between Sylvan Lake and Legion Lake ) is located in Custer State Park in the Black Hills area. The 14-mile scenic highway winds through pine forest under a vista of granite spires called “the Needles.” The route snakes through several small granite tunnels. This was worth the 1.5 hours we spent here. We were supposed to do a hike called the cathedral spires hike but since it was flurrying, we could not go for one.

After this drive, we started towards the final aim “Mount Rushmore”. We reached the town of Mount Rushmore at 8 and all the restaurants close at 8 so we had to hurry up to get food. Without checking in into our hotel, we went to eat at the hotel called Ruby House Restaurant. I knew it would definitely offer some bread if there were no vegetarian options. The restaurant was kind enough to accommodate 4 people at the time of closing. We ordered our food after much discussion over what I like and what I should eat.
Priyendra thinks that I do not like spaghetti and I would prefer a bean burger over it. I was not keen on having a bean burger but Priyendra was twaddling that “AJ tumhara toh kat gaya:)
After dinner we went to see the well lit nigh view of the Mount Rushmore. It was good.

Next day morning again after a hearty (free) breakfast at the hotel, we went to Mount Rushmore memorial again. This time we decided to take the audio tour. One suggestion would be to avoid it :) It was long and spoke only about Gutzon Borglum and his family. He was the artist and sculptor behind the historical monument.

From there on, we moved into Nebraska driving though the Oglala grasslands of Nebraska. They were genuinely beautiful and till horizon one could see the grass. Eastern Nebraska does not seem to be very popular and is very thinly populated as well. The road from Nebraska to Colorado was a straight road and and for miles we could see the road ahead of us. We did take a take out pizza from Dominos in Scottsbluff (may be one of the only Dominos in Eastern Nebraska). We were to travel via Alliance and see the carhenge there but since we were short on time, we planned to take the faster route.
<br/>We managed to reach Denver a little ahead of our schedule and had enough time to try out the best ice-cream in town.
After a sweet ending to our trip, we started with our journey to SF: dropped our GMC, took a shuttle to the airport and discussed about the weirdness of the Denver airport.

Our route for the trip was:

View Larger Map

To check out the pictures, click here.

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Dosa Republic

As it is said “The Third Time is the Charm” and it was the Jainwals turn to pick a restaurant for the third meeting of gravy gurus. We picked ‘The Dosa Republic’. This is a new restaurant by the famous food truck owners of Curry up now, Akash and Rana Kapoor.

I picked this one up from the “hot new business” section on yelp. I was pretty sure from the start that the food would be good since I have heard great reviews on the curry up now truck.

The food is like south Indian street food with some different cultural flairs to it. The portion sizes are large. Two people could comfortably share a dosa and a starter. We ordered all the starters on their menu.

I liked the manchurian idlis and the uttapam nachos. I did not care for the Panko Crusted Bharwan (Stuffed) Anaheim Chili but really liked the kale wada sambhar and their samosa bits.
After liberally splurging on starters, we ordered main course. Everyone ordered different items. The orders were as follows:

  1. Priyendra: Mysorean Masala
  2. Priyanshi: Sinhala with Paneer
  3. Atashi: Mumbaiyya
  4. Vishal: Mumbaiyya
  5. Arthi: Paisano
  6. Chirag: Vegetarian Tangra
  7. Deeksha: Purani Dilli
  8. Asim:Chilli Chicken and noodles.
  9. Aishwarya:Chennai onion masala
  10. Saumil: Purani Dilli

We had sweet dosas for dessert but the gulab jamun was unparalleled.
Almost all had fun eating the different kind of dosas but I thought Mumbaiyya was the best.

The decor of the place a little rustic with wooden tables and the menu on the chalk board somehow reminded me of Roma burgers in San Francisco. I think they also have their menu written on one.

Wish we had taken pictures of all the dosas. The only one picture that Aish took was :

.

The reservation was under my name and somehow the lady on the phone heard my name  “Apishi” :)

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Our first motorcycle: Ninja Kawasaki 650

Do you wish for something you never had and before you grow old, you want to fulfill this wish of yours. Motorcycle was one such thing for Priyendra. He has been wanting to ride a bike since times immemorial.

It has been a couple of months with Lalli now and we have been having loads of fun. We rode it twice to the city (San Francisco) and a couple of times in the South Bay. Priyendra rides it to Google most of the days.

Few more pictures :
while we were at the dealer and other one when Lalli was parked in the garage :)

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Cheesy Lasagne Rolls with Spinach and Ricotta

This is my first effort in this year to try something new in the kitchen. This is not an original recipe but one that I got from the whole foods website. It was an easy one. I should have baked it for some more time but I was pretty impressed with the end result.

There was piping hot tomato soup tonight too. This is the same that I prepared at Shradha Ramesh’s Christmas party.

For the people who wanted to know how it was made.

  • Take a can of tomato puree.
  • Now take a pan and add a teaspoon of oil.
  • Once the oil becomes slightly hot, put some cumin seed, salt, red chili powder and coriander powder.
  • Once the cumin seeds splutter, add the puree and about 1.5 cups of water.
  • Mix the puree and water and the cumin seeds well.
  • Now add some cream or milk and keep stirring for about 7-8 minutes.
  • Your soup is now ready to be served with some croutons :)

Enjoy till I come back with another new recipe soon :)

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The Insider (1999)

Lying and hiding facts by a few major food giants is not a new thing. Coca Cola was vilified for putting pesticides in the aerated water they used which contributed to cancer and breakdown of the immune system.

“The Insider,” the story of a man who revealed long-believed tobacco company lies and changed the way the world looked at both smoking and the big cigarette companies. This is a real life story of a man called Jeffery Wigand. His life was turned upside down because he exposed the deceptive production practices at Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company (B&W), maker of the Kool brand of cigarettes. They were adding some ammonia to increase the absorption of nicotine by our lungs.

The movie revolves around Dr. Wigand and his relationship with 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman, who convinced Dr. Wigand to speak on camera about his knowledge of B&W -only to have executives at CBS kill the story out for fear of being sued by the company.

It is a great movie and tells you the deep and dark secrets of such big giants.

For the full article from the Vanity Fair magazine, click here.

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When in Rome, roam as Romans do!

I love the pizza, I love the pasta, I love the bread. And so we make a dash to Rome for a day from our week long Switzerland trip. We had an option to go to either Paris or Rome. Both the tickets were costing us the same, both had a forecast of light showers and both had lots to see. We chose Roma. The city had a lot of history and belonged to the past. The city was less tangled, it was raw and gritty compared to any other Swiss city. And at the end of the day in Roma, we felt we got the bang for our buck. So much to see and we did a good job of sight-seeing too.

We picked a hotel close to the Rome Fiumicino airport. Strangely purse snatching and wallet lifting are highly prevalent in the city. So it is best to have a cross bag being held tightly to you always.

We start the only day in Rome by visiting the Colosseum or the Flavian Amphitheatre as it was originally called. It was an imposing and an august architecture. You have to be there to feel the magnificent building. It speaks of a lot of bloodshed though. You can feel each and every brick speaking of gory killings in the gladiatorial contests. The inside was very raw and injured.

The Roman Forum had the same rugged feeling. It has one of the most ancient constructions in Rome. Just walking distance from the Forum was the Piazza Venezia which is the city square. We walked around the area and reached the Trevi Fountain. This sat in the center of four small cross streets very close to the Spanish steps and Oh yes, it was indeed a very very busy area. We sat there for a while taking a few pictures but yes all this while we were very worried about our bag and camera.

Now we headed to see the Pantheon. Priyendra was very excited to take pictures of it but unfortunately it was getting a face lift and we could not show off his photography skills. We still had to see the Vatican city now but before that we were famished :(

I wanted to eat in a restaurant with patio dining. We found one very close to the Vatican city just across the river. We ate to our hearts content but the water crisis existed everywhere in Europe seems like. We had to purchase water to quench our thirst even in a fine restaurant.

Now I was ready to meet the Pope :)only if he was ready to meet me :( but I enjoyed my short two hour trip to the Pope city. Funny thing was they did not allow people in shorts and sleeveless inside the St. Peter’s Bascilica and Yours truly was not really dressed for the Church :) I had a stole with me and we purchased a T-shirt. I wrapped the stole around like a skirt and wore the 12 euro “I love Roma” tshirt and then headed into the city.

Now from this time onwards Pope for me was a like a celebrity. My celebrity radar was on and I thought I might see Mr. Pope somewhere waiting for me :) But alas! it was not to be like that :)

We had a lovely day, though very hectic but a very enriching and a fun -filled one.

I love the pizza, I love the pasta, I love the bread.
Oh yes, and lest I forget, I loved Roma.

Here is the link to the pictures from one day Rome trip :)

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Switzerland Day 6

Today we had to start again after two days break in Zurich. Frankly now I am tired of Zurich. All the more since I did not find it pretty. It was just another cosmopolitan town. So today we decide to explore Lucerne, Bern and all the DDLJ locations (without which my trip to Swiss is not complete..but ofcourse ;))

So without much planning we start off our day. We boarded the train at 7:30 to Lucerne just to get down there and get wet in the rains. We planned to board the train to Bern in one hour. I wanted to see the ‘Kapellbruke’, the Chapel bridge spanning the Rheus River in the old town of Lucerne. Fortunately for us it was just 300 metres from the Railway station. So without getting much wet, we rushed to the bridge. It is supposed to be the most photographed place in the Swiss but with full due respect to the water tower and the creaky bridge, it was disappointing. Since it was raining and we were disappointed too, we thought of taking the next rain to Bern instead of waiting there for one hour for the next train. We returned to the station in 12 minutes and there was a train to leave in 3 minutes. We rushed to board it and finally thought of looking around Bern in a little more detail.
I looked into the Lonely Planet while Priyendra tried to doze off. Suddenly he sprung up with the idea of going to Rome. We got off at Bern. Cancelled our bookings for Friday night hotel at Chur and Saturday night hotel at a hotel near Zurich Airport. We booked airline tickets to Rome as we could not get the Euro rail train tickets from Swiss. We booked a hotel in Rome for two nights. Priyendra spoke on the phone to the hotel folks for the cancellation and in the meantime I video chatted with Mummy for 10 minutes. Now Priyendra was back on track with his energy to the brim. He thought we had seen enough of Switzerland and wanted to bring our trip to a ‘dhaansu’ ending. Although I would say it was ‘dhaansu’ + expensive.

We picked up a tour map from the tourist information center. We had to see the Old town for which the focal point is Bern’s Zytglogge, a clock tower. Apparently Einstein (who hailed from Bern) honed his thoery of relativity studying the clock tower. Few of the landmarks marked were fountains. There were 11 such fountains and believe me they were very very normal fountains. Moti Jheel’s dancing fountain has more glory associated to it than these 11 fountains which were marked as tourist spots. The three other highlights for us in the old town were ‘Einstein Haus’ where he developed his thoery of relativity in 1905. He stayed in this house in the old town which is now a tourist attraction, Berner Munster and the Bundeshauser. Berner Munster is a very pretty 15th century cathedral whereas Bundeshauser is the house of the Swiss Federal Assembly. It had a very impressive building and it contained the statues of the nations founding fathers.

Well now enough of Bern. But we enjoyed our one hour stroll through the Old town. After Bern, we felt we have achieved something for the day.
We started off for Spiez now. Spiez is very picturesque. The small railway station is at a height and from the platforms you could take beautiful views of the lake.

We had to board multiple trains from Spiez as after this the places are very small but I think this was the most beautiful part of Switzerland and I am sure you will all agree if you like the locations in all Yash Chopra pictures. This is again countryside but this is all in the base of the Alps. Although I would not deny the beautiful train ride from Lucerne to Bern. But guys this is the point from where we knew we have seen this place in some movie.

We had crossed Spiez while going to Interlaken but we did not get down there. Btu now we had to board the train to Swiezman from Spiez. Now all those wondering what is this place Swiezman, this is the same place where Kajol missed her train to Zurich in DDLJ. There was this shop where SRK is buying a Swiss knife where he is asking the price and says “This one… and this one…” This shop is like a small Wheelers shop on the Swiezman Railway Station. Kajol runs on the platform before missing her train is the parking area nest to the platform.

Enough of Swiezman, from here we board the train to Gstaad. Now Gstaad is this small extremely rich town where I could see mostly the 401k junta. This is the same place where SRK and Kajol have to board the bus. The bus station is still there and here she looks at the church and says “Woww! This is so pretty” So the funny thing is this church is in Saanen but they shoot it from Gstaad.

Gstaad also had the Early Beck shop where Kajol in the song “Zara sa jhoom loon” picks up something from a shop and the shopkeeper stops SRK to pay the money. apparently this shop was in the movie ‘Bachna Ae Haseenon’ too. At the end of this song they are on a buggi. This place is again Gstaad. You see the Early Beck shop there again.

Next stop was Saaned. This place has the church, the bridge where SRK says “Raj, agar yeh tujhse pyaar karti hai to yeh paltegi…Palat, Palat Palat” and ofcourse the same train station. We found about all these DDLJ locations searching for stuff online but Saanen is the only confirmed thing (ofcourse other than the Early Beck shop) becuae you see the stations with “Saanen” written on it in the song too.

Now all DDLJ locations covered and we have to take a train to Zermatt. Now Zermatt effectively is on the other side of mountain of Saanen but one has to go back to Spiez and take two trains from there to reach Zermatt. We reached Zermatt at 10:14 in the night. This is one of the few places where people ski all the year round. This again was a very very pretty hill station.

Here we had booked ourselves in a boutique hotel. This place offered the spectacular views of Matterhorn but sad enough that same night and the following day it was cloudy and we missed Matterhorn. But we enjoyed the hotel. It was a bed and breakfast. I had toast with butter and cheese while Priyendra ate eggs which he was craving for :)
xxx
We decided on what to do in Rome on Saturday and slept well although just for 4 hours again. I am sure we will need a break from this break to sleep well. We have slept little and seen a lot. I have also been forced to sprint to catch the train which is about to leave in a minute, multiple times now :)

Here is the link to the pictures for the day :)