Monday, 24 August 2015

The all-encompassing world of Blogging #BNLF

Once upon a time I used to Read and Write.

(The 'once upon a time' is because although the time I am talking about was maybe a couple of decades back, it seems like another lifetime.)

So I used to Read and Write.
Then came a time, when I would only Read.

Next, 'life' took over. I was busy... at times, busy doing nothing. But usually I was actually busy.
I was not Reading and I was not Writing either.

Years later, I started Reading occasionally.

I knew of Blogging... rather vaguely.
I knew I could write and post it online. What next? I had no idea.

I started blogging, because I needed a reason to write. Blogging is a reason to write, a platform to share one's writings, a blogger's personal abode... and more.

What I had not ever even imagined was that blogging is such an all-encompassing life in itself.

I googled and visited different blogs, read about blogging - and kept blogging myself.

During all this googling, I came across Blogging Communities. Now this shouldn't have come as a surprise. There were bound to be some kind of Club or Community or Group of bloggers.
But this is different. This is huge.

I have found readers in this Community of Bloggers. I have found inspiration to write more. I have found links to other inspirational websites. I have read words of bloggers and have been awed by their expressions.

I have participated in contests. I have received books for reviewing.

I have attended Meets of Bloggers.

None of this I could have ever imagined. It has hardly been a couple of years since I started blogging actively. This world of blogging has me amazed.

Now I have #BNLF to look forward to... Blog Now, Live Forever.

Indiblogger describes BNLF as -

BNLF is about all of us, our generation of pioneers who define our era by the content we create. This is a movement to revel in the sheer joy of our responsibility to translate what we know and feel into a form that will live on forever.

This. Changes. Everything.


The first thing that struck me when BNLF was initially announced was that it is about celebrating the pioneers of blogging.
I have met many bloggers over the last year or so. Some have been blogging for years now.
They talk of a time when blogging was a personal, isolated experience. There were no communities, and there were certainly no contests, or invitations to events. Forget about any opportunity to make any money out of the words that they would painstakingly put out on the World Wide Web.

I started blogging for myself. I thought it would be an isolated experience.
Then the whirlwind of the fascinating world of blogging took over.

The pioneers stuck through the years, when blogging was not as 'interesting', when inspiration to write was not as easily available.

They must really love Blogging.

They 'blogged'... the 'living forever' part they most probably didn't even dream was coming.

BNLF is about enjoying the world of blogging. That is how I see the Indimeets. The fact that one learns tons, that just happens.
I am looking forward to enjoying BNLF. I know I will meet many new friends, passionate for this outstanding world of blogging.

The obvious reality that it is about being casually immersed in the nitty-gritties of this world - Well, I know I will enjoy the nitty-gritties of the art of blogging.

I like that for those two days of BNLF, I will be first and foremost a BLOGGER.

Friday, 21 August 2015

The need for speed...

Aldous Huxley on Speed and Modern Pleasures (Image Source)

Decades back, Aldous Huxley said – “Speed provides the one genuinely modern pleasure”.
He certainly knew what he was talking about.

The reason for speed may be different, what one is seeking speed in may vary, the quantum of speed may increase with time – what remains the same is the high one gets from speed.

There is the high of power and letting go. And then there is the comfort and cocoon of getting things done.

There are two aspects to speed.

Speed is not just about fun. It is also about getting things done…

High speed internet… it certainly is about both fun and getting things done.

Once I have the high speeds of interet on the go with me, what all would I do? A very interesting question to ask. Actually it is like letting a kid free in a huge Toy Store and asking him, what do you want.
I want it all, seems like a good answer.

Anyway I will be a responsible, sensible grown up here.

When I think of the quick speeds, I think of all the time I will save.
Imagine what all I can do with the time I save, when I am not waiting for the videos to buffer, audios to download, pictures to show and pages to load. I will save loads of time.
So I will read more, sleep more, spend more time with family… by default I will smile more.

Now that I have given the sensibly right answer, can I please move on to the real (read not-always-sensible) reasonshigh-speed speed internet has got me excited.

  • ·      I don’t watch videos usually. It is not a choice I make. It is a choice made for me by the time it takes for the videos to play and my impatience. I fight the impatience, but then the logic rebels against waiting for these videos to load.

    Is it important? Is it more important than writing that blog you have been thinking about for days?

    I will watch more videos because there will be no breaks in which impatience and logic can interrupt. 

  • ·      I will write blogs faster.
    This is one reason for being excited about 
    high speed internet  that both the sensible and immature ‘me’ agree with.
    Everything from searching background information about a blog to inserting images while writing the blog, each step is a painfully slow process.

    The creative juices flow and get 
    wasted, while I wait for the page to load. 
    I will blog faster. So I will blog more. I am grinning as I am typing this just thinking about this.

  • ·      I will procrastinate better.
    I have decided to alternate between good and brilliant uses of speed.
    Watching videos is a good use. Blogging more is a brilliant use.On to another good use… procrastination.
    You see, procrastination is an art.

    I know I will always procrastinate till almost the last moment. Fair enough. But if I am using the time to do things that help me relax, wouldn’t I work better at the last minute.

    So whether it is spending time on Facebook and Twitter, or going through the numerous messages of Whatsapp groups,
    high speed internet makes it a pleasurable experience.
    Procrastinate at leisure to achieve the best results at the last moment.

    High Speed Internet can be thanked for this.
  • ·      On to the last brilliant use – Video Calls.Keeping in touch is good. Across cities, across continents, across a couple of kilometers even J
    The point is that I deserve to be able to make good quality video calls whenever I want to talk.

    After all, Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai…

Tom Cruise said in Top Gun – “I feel the need… the need for speed”

Well, I feel the need… the need for High Speed Internet

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Three colours of libertà - Happy Independence Day

August 15, 2015... For once, as my family and I sat listening to Prime Minister's Independence Day speech, there was no special anticipation for the day that stretched in front of us. Usually our National Holidays are planned well in advance - picnic, visiting friends, barbeque in sun (that has to be 26th January obviously) and much more.

This Independence Day dawned with no special plans. The morning tea was an unusually leisurely affair that day. Boredom threatened to set in.

What's for lunch, came the question from my daughter. Thus started the discussion.
Rajma Rice, Poori Aloo, Bread Pakore, Dosa, Noodles - we moved across various cuisines rather effortlessly, but could not decide on anything that everyone would agree on.

I lounged on the sofa, not participating in the discussion, except for when they would come up with an option, which was practically not possible to prepare that day - either due to unavailability of ingredients, or because the dish took a long time to cook.
I find deciding what to cook, almost as much a task as the cooking itself.

Then came the option of Pasta. I liked that idea.
I had a packet of Del Monte Pasta with me, thanks to Del Monte and Indiblogger. I had been procrastinating on it for a couple of weeks and the deadline was approaching.
I gave my Aye to this option.

Which pasta? Another decision to be made.
Red, White, Green Pesto???
We even considered experimenting with a new flavour - Chinese flavoured, with soya sauce, etc. Luckily (or may be not) we gave up on the last idea. May be some other day though.

Why not all three, came the suggestion from my son. The previous year, on Independence day, we had tried tricolour Pooris, and everyone had loved them.

How about Tricolored Pasta this year?

Four nods and the menu was set for the day.

Would it spoil the suspense if I reveal the end results first? I think not. And I just cannot resist sharing them now...

The Three Colors of Pasta

Happy Independence Day - Foodie Style

We couldn't think of anything edible in blue to make a semblance of ashoka chakra in the centre. Any suggestions for the same are welcome. Do mention them in the comments below.

Anyway we did try to make one with green but gave up on the idea. Here's a capture of the effort though.

Tricolor Pasta. The Ashoka Chakra not right though.

Okay, back to the beginning now.

The start of this was the Pasta that I received. Thanks Indiblogger and Del Monte!

Happy Cooking... from Del Monte and Indiblogger

Ready for cooking... Del Monte Pasta

To the Penne sent to me, I added Spirali too. At my home, everyone loves at least two types of Pastas mixed together. I do wonder if it is the 'right' thing to do. 
The fact that we like it this way does make it right for us, I think.

*  *  *

So I started with the red sauce. Here's how I made it.

Red Pasta Sauce

Tomatoes (Ripe and Red) - 500g
Tomato Puree - 1 tbsp
Dried Oregano - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/3 tsp (or to taste)
Black pepper - 1/4tsp
Basil leaves -5-6
Olive oil - 1tsp


Blanch the tomatoes. 

Tomatoes - soft and blanched (Ready for the next step)

Peel them. Keep a couple of them aside to coarsely chop and add later. Puree the rest of the blanched tomatoes.

Tomatoes - Blanched and Pureed (ready to be made into Red Pasta Sauce)

In a pan, heat a little oil and add the pureed tomatoes. Cook for about 2 minutes. 

Blanched, pureed tomoatoes in pan for cooking (Red Pasta in making)

Then add the coarsely chopped tomatoes and a couple to teaspoons of readymade tomato puree. (This puree gives a bright colour to the pasta sauce and also gives it a tangier flavor). 

Packed Puree added. Visual treat under preparation. Red Pasta coming up.

Add salt, black pepper and oreganos, and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Spice up the sauce. Red Pasta in the making.

Add finely chopped basil leaves. 
(Although I always add basil leaves to the red pasta sauce I make, this once I seriously considered omitting it, because I was aiming for three distinct colours. In the end I did add it. The basil leaves are not visible in the red sauce but add to the flavour and texture)

*  *  *

White Pasta Sauce 


Olive oil - 1tsp
Butter - 1tsp
Garlic (chopped) - 2-3 cloves
Onion (chopped) - 1 small
Mushrooms (chopped) - 100g
Golden corn - 1 tbsp
Milk - 1 cup
Fresh cream - 1tbsp


For the white sauce, heat a little butter and olive oil in a pan. 

Oil and butter join hands to make the sauce for White Pasta

Add garlic and then onion. Saute a little. 

Garlic and Onion are ready to be sauteed into the White Pasta

Then add chopped mushrooms and golden corn. 

Mushroom and Corn - My family's favourites in White Pasta

Cook for a couple of minutes, before adding milk. Let the milk boil. Add salt and black pepper. Add cream and remove the sauce from heat as soon as it starts boiling.

Milk and Cream give colour, taste and perfect consistency to the White Pasta Sauce

*  *  *

Green Pasta Sauce


Basil Leaves - 50g
Walnuts - 5-6
Olive oil - 1tbsp
Garlic cloves - 2


Churn all the ingredients in the grinder and the sauce for the green pasta is ready.

*  *  *

The pasta is boiled, the sauces ready and the vegetable chopped...

Ingredients for the Tricolor Pasta - Ready to be brought together
For the red pasta, I decided to add finely chopped carrot and red pepper.

Since I had already added mushrooms and corn in the white sauce, there was no need to add any more vegetables.

For the green pasta, I had chopped spinach and blanched brocolli ready.

*  *  *

Red Pasta


Red Pasta Sauce - 1 cup
Boiled and Drained Pasta - 2 cups
Finely chopped carrot - 1tbsp
Finely chopped red pepper - 1 tbsp
Olive Oil - 1/2 tsp


Heat oil in a pan. Add carrot and red pepper and saute for about 1 minute.

Adding crunch and redness to the Pasta - carrot and bell pepper

Add the boiled Pasta. Pour the sauce of on it. Mix properly.

Coming together in all its' red glory - The Red Pasta

*  *  *

White Pasta

White Pasta Sauce - 1 1/2 cups
Boiled and Drained Pasta - 2 cups
Grated cheese - 1 tbsp

In a pan, take the boiled pasta and add the white sauce to it.

Pasta, White sauce with veggies - come together

Add grated cheese, mix and cook for a minute.

The white beauty - ready to be served

*  *  *

Green Pasta


Spinach (chopped) - 1 tbsp
Brocolli (blanced) - 1 tbsp
Olive oil - 1tsp
Pasta (Boiled and Drained) - 2 cups
Green Pasta Sauce - 3/4 cup


Heat oil in a pan. Add spinach and brocolli. Saute for 1 minute.

Health in a pan - Spinach and Brocolli

Add Pasta and the sauce. Mix well.

Green and Shiny - the 3rd in the trio

*  *  *

The three pastas and ready to be plated.

Red, White, Green - Before they came together

Red, White, Green - the three colours waiting to meet

*  *  *

Once the three pastas were ready, I sat back and enjoyed watching everyone else arranging the three colours in the bowl. 

Here are the results. Once again :)

Tricolour Pasta - Dig in

Once the pictures were clicked of the pasta with three distinct colours showing, I did grate some cheese on it, heated it in the microwave, poured some juice in a glass...

Pasta and Cheese and Juice - Good Food :)

And as Italians would say -

Felice Giorno Dell'indipendenza

Happy Independence Day