The food blog ....

.... is dying, people!!!! Please to update. In the meanwhile, click on the pic below if you are craving some mouth-watering chaat !!

Chuck Norris can divide by zero!

Thanks E-I-S-I and Avdi for tagging me! The title is just something random, in the spirit of the tag !!!

Rules:Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

1. If a butterfly flaps it's wings in any corner of the universe, I gain weight.

2. I used to be an adventure sports gal - bungee jumping, para sailing, even swam across the river sharavati once and sky diving was next, until I got onto a freaky ride in a small park in Bath, ended up puking my guts out and they never went back in. The rides at Disney are all I can manage now.

3. I get extremely competitive when playing games

4. I'm a food voyeur. People who have those amazing food blogs, yes, I'm that lurker ....

5. I want to learn to play the piano and then the veena or sitar.

6. Procrastination is my middle name, I've had access to a piano for about a year now ......

7. I'm pretty unartistic - my stained glass instructor had to gulp before he complimented my work.

8. I found recently that not all young adult fantasy fiction can be enjoyed by adults too. Twilight is rubbish.

9. I love buying makeup, when I was single this was where all my money went

10. I can get drunk on a glass of beer

11. I dont forget faces, names yes ....

12. I'm bad at languages ... the ostensible reason is because I had a traumatic incident in high school involving my language teacher, her knuckles, my head ....

13. I get loud when I'm excited or angry.

14. I'm short tempered, but once I've had my say I forgive very easily too and dont harbour grudges

15. I love fashion and designerwear although I'm a huge cheapskate. If it wasnt for B, I would still be ogling the things I lusted after on the internet while convincing myself that I couldnt afford them.

16. I love to get flowers, even if there's no occasion ....

17. I recently developed the biggest obssesion for high heels, my fav pair are animal print slingbacks with 3" heels. Loooove them!!!

18. Yes, yes, yes, I'm obssessed with shoes.

19. I'm always being mistaken for Mexican, I've lost count the number of times random strangers have come upto me and started jabbering away. Even Indians think so sometimes. I've often thought I should just learn Spanish so I can lead an exciting double life. But,but, but .... see point 12.

20. My favorite color changes every year, generally I wont have a clue what it is until I look into my wardrobe and suddenly find every article of clothing in shades of a single color. Currently it's brown.

21. I cry for most movies, but I was dry eyed during Titanic. I hate that movie.

22. I crack up over Chuck Norris jokes ... here's another 'Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.'

23. I'm a cat person

24. I love painted toenails .... looking at this list I think I might have a foot fetish.

25. My name is short, and I was thankful for that fact when I moved abroad since (I thought) it would be easy for people to pronounce/ remember/ understand etc. And then I got called Bryan.

I think most people I know have already been tagged so I wont tag anyone but feel free to do this if you want to. Coming up with 25 random things is pretty tough, btw!!

Review: Careless In Red

Rating: 2.5 / 5

I know I said that I would stop reading Elizabeth George, but after the twist in her last novel - which shocked millions of fans worldwide this Papaya being no exception - I knew that I would have to at least read this one just to see where she was taking the series.

For an introduction to Elizabeth George and her Lynley-Havers mystery series go here.

After the events of the previous book, Lynley has taken some time off from New Scotland Yard and is engaged on a walking tour of the coast of Cornwall, where his ancestral home is located. One day at the foot of a cliff near the picturesque Polcare Cove, the holiday home of vet Daidre Trahair, he finds the body of a climber.

The body is of a local boy, Santo Kerne. Santo is like the Energizer bunny, upto a lot of stuff, none of it good however. Santo has broken up with his girlfriend Madlyn after making her pregnant, has an older lover, a sister who will inherit the family business after him, a father who was suspiciously involved in a similar death years ago and an unstable mother channelling Mrs. Robinson. To add to these are a local boy who loves Madlyn, Madlyn's father and a surrogate grandfather who are mad at what Santo has done to Madlyn. Sex, jealousy, money, rage, the motives for doing away with Santo are plenty and more.

DI Beatrice Hannaford, in charge of the investigation, with a limited number of officers available to her in out-o-the-way Cornwall, quickly realises that she might as well use Lynley's expertise even though he is a suspect. Lynley turns to Barbara Havers for help and soon the duo are doing what they do best.

While George is back to her old style of writing, instead of the police procedural format she chose for the previous one, I didnt find myself getting involved in this story as much. She adds to her repertoire of dysfunctional families, however I knew even while reading that a large number of the sub-plots were getting nowhere and I didnt particularly like any of the characters. And a lot of times the story felt static, even though I skimmed .... a LOT. 620 pages will do that for you.

But, Lynley is back, people!!! And I'm always happy to see Barb who livens up the proceedings the minute she steps in, these two are the sole reason this gets the extra half points in the rating. I did feel it was impossible for him to recover after the last book but George does a great job with continuity for her fans exploring his grief and subsequent re-connection with the world, even having him getting protective of Daidre who the police suspect is lying through her teeth. Of course, this being George she gives that sub-plot no resolution, but at least it shows Lynley almost ready to return to his world.

So, summing up, a book to be read only as part of the series. Others will definitely find it a boring read, and as there are plenty of George's novels in the series which make great reads I see no reason for someone to start here.

I sense George has this evil formula thing going on here, until she keeps cranking out these novels I will be compelled to read them. I'm not going to fight it anymore ....

Review: Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure

Rating: 2 / 5

Taken from the blurb:
In her twenties, journalist Sarah Macdonald backpacked around India and came away with a lasting impression of heat, pollution and poverty. So, when an airport beggar read her palm and told her she would return to India - and for love - she screamed 'Never!' and gave the country, and him, the finger.

Macdonald's boyfriend, Australian Broadcasting Company news correspondent Jonathan is posted to New Delhi in the year 2000, Macdonald gives up her high profile job to be with the love of her life. What follows is her journey to a mellower-almost-love for India.

Dealing with a lack of focus and feelings of uselessness and vulnerability because she doesn't have a job, she decides to travel all over India to explore the many spiritual avenues available and finds India to be a secular melting pot of Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Jews, Islam, Sufism, New Age Philosophy, delving through which she hopes to find a means of attaining salvation for her soul and a way to a better understanding of herself.

You would think that a book with the title of 'Holy Cow' would explain the reverence for the cow a bit more. Sarah Macdonald's Indian Adventure says

'Hindus revere cows probably because one of their favorite gods, Krishna, is a cowherd and Shiva - the Lord of Destruction - has a bull called Nandi.'

That is only part of the explanation, the main one is that Hindus revere the cow as gou mata (Mother Cow) because the cow provides milk to sustain human life from babies onwards, you can make essential food items like yogurt and ghee from the milk, the cow gives birth to bulls and provides the necessary muscle power for farmers to till their fields, provides cow dung which is used as manure, fertilizer, anti-pollutant and pesticide and even cow urine finds use in Ayurveda. But this subtlety is lost to the author who says

'I've always found it hilarious that Indian people chose the most boring, domesticated, compliant and stupid animal on earth to adore..'

And this, unfortunately lazy, journalism forms the the initial part of Macdonald's book. The lurid pink cover should have provided the initial warning. The author spends the entire first half increasing the shock value of her book, bemoaning the superficialities, the dirt, the shit, the poverty, the disease, the pollution, the heat, every page uses the word filthy atleast once, even natural disasters all come under a myopic biased scrutiny.

In Rishikesh, when an earthquake jolts them out of their bed Macdonald wakes up screaming with rage 'That's it, I've had it with this country! This place is unfit for human habitation, it's mad!'

I could have understood the author's dilemma. Stuck in a completely alien culture, away from the solitude and serenity which she so prides in Sydney, and more importantly not having a job or like-minded friends to occupy her time and mind, she is adrift in a number of sensations and experiences which overwhelm her. And I think it is positively intrepid that she chooses to travel alone all over the country in her spiritual quest. However, she lost my sympathy when she chooses to externalize her issues with self-absorption and self-pity and the aforementioned hatred towards the country. A passing aghori chooses to curse her with pneumonia and she moans that she has given India her health and her hair after her hair starts falling.

The author also makes rapid generalizations of everything she encounters, a beggar with a burned face is instantly recognised as a dowry burning victim, when she is ill at the Apollo 'apparently it's not uncommon for women in Indian hospitals to be raped', 'Indian society forces its middle class to live an extended adolescence' and an Indian male telling her that he would like to be friends with women but it wasn't possible in the country, statements which only marginally describe the India of 2000 which I am familiar with and grew up in. Even her experiences in Pakistan make for sweeping statements which she cannot possibly verify 'India's humor is predominantly slapstick but it seems Pakistan understands cynicism and dry wit'.

The second part of the book was a better read for me, once Macdonald gets over the 'culture shock' and starts trying to actually understand and accept the culture. Her writing describes humorously the different people and religions she encounters along with an account of being caught up in the aftermath of the events of Sept 11 with Jonathan being in Afghanistan.

She is still very outspoken against people whose philosophies she doesn't agree with, but the writing style is more critical and irreverent rather than on emphasizing things for shock value. The pot shots this time around however, come at the expense of people's accents and incorrect English, everything being heavily accented or emphasized ... 'Sarrrrrahhhhh'...

The path to spiritual salvation that she undergoes in her journey, however, is dubious. After a Buddhist retreat where she is taught to come to terms with her mortality and embrace the thought of death, a conveniently faulty propeller when flying back home, teaches her she is not yet ready to die. The general format is the same for the rest of her experiences. I got the feeling that while the author was interested and invested enough to search out different religions, she wasn't interested in digging deep into any of the philosophies , she's just looking for what the religions can do for her .... and her book of course.

Macdonald's conceit in the acknowledgments is to offer up thanks 'to India for making me'. Holy Cow follows the bad cop-good cop format in an effort to get the author to that particular state but I cannot recommend it as a journalistic endeavor, it is just a different angle for yet another insightless story on India. I cannot recommend it as a travelogue either because it goes against the spirit of discovery, inquiry and open-mindedness of any travelogue I have read. As an astonishingly honest personal memoir, it might have it's moments.



From the above,

“It quickly became obvious that Jane [Austen] had laid down the blueprint for a zombie novel,” said Grahame-Smith, a television comedy writer. “Why else in the original should a regiment arrive on Lizzie Bennet’s doorstep when they should have been off fighting Napoleon? It was to protect the family from an invasion of brain-eaters, obviously.”


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