Wednesday, 18 May, 2011

The Garden Cafe, Tottenham...

We keep passing this cafe on our way to the Seven Sisters Tube Station. Kept seeing parts of the book shelves from the bus, so one day decided to check this place out. It is a lovely cafe, right next to the bus stop on the main road. They have both garden and inside seating. Since the couple of days we went there, it was pretty cold, we generally have sat inside. But must check it out their lovely garden, now that the sun is out and shinning (oh well at times!).

The best thing about this cafe is its ambiance. They have a wall full of books and also space for musicians to play. The space is pretty big and you can spread out and not feel cramped. I would happily go back there any day just for the space. It feels more like sitting someone's home, than eating in a cafe. This is an ideal space to go with a big group of friends just to chill out.

The menu has a mix of all day breakfast and Turkish fare. The food is wee bit over priced compared to other Turkish joints in and around North London.

For starters, we had our staple--humus, olives and Turkish bread. I love this bread, it is so soft and fluffy and we can literally finish a whole basket of bread just with humus. The humus was fresh and tasty, much less dripping in olive oil than other places, but no less flavourful.

For the main I ordered grilled chicken breast which came with rice, salad, grilled veggies and mint sauce. The chicken was good, succulent and juicy, the rice much less greasy than I am used to and the salad lovely but the grilled pepper stole the show.  It was perfect, crunchy yet well done. The tomato went to my husband, who said the tomato was as good.

Of course my husband cannot go to a Turkish place and not order lamb. Forgetting the name, basically it was chunky pieces of lamb meat served with mashed potato and veggies like mushroom and pepper.

Loved the mint. In most of the Turkish restaurants they serve something on the house at the end...we have had Turkish tea, small piece of Baklava and here they serve mint mouth fresheners. If you are wondering around Tottenham, this is a good place to visit.

Tea With Friends...

Went to this place in Covent Garden, was so busy chatting, did not notice the name of this place. We had coffee and awesome desserts!

Waffle with maple syrup and fresh fruits

Dark chocolate tart

Strawberry tart with clotted cream

Thursday, 12 May, 2011

Shri Rathiga....

My husband tells me that Rathiga is Radha's Tamilian version. Do not know if Rathiga/Radha was a good cook, but this quaint restaurant, just off the Ilford town centre is super awesome and delivers good food every time we go there.

We found this by chance, we had gone to the Cineworld in Ilford to see 'No One Killed Jessica' and got hungry. Most of the places looked unappetizing, walked along the High Road, directed by my husband's android phone to this place called Shri Rathiga, where the web announced authentic South India cuisine is served. By the time we landed there, they had closed for lunch. But a nice waiter kindly let us in and said he could serve us just doass and idlis. We were famished and I was in a dosa craving phase, so we settled down. The food that came swept us off our feet and cost us less than a tenner!(They had a lunch special going on at that time) Ever since we have become regulars, never mind the almost one hour bus journey. We happily settle ourselves on the upper deck of the London double decker buses in anticipation of good food and pass the hour gazing out of the window (which I hog by my birth right) and chatting (spending quality husband and wife time).

A few weeks back during our lunch there, I ordered Chicken 65 which is absolutely yummy and  is quickly becoming my staple starter there. It is chicken marinated in spices and deep fried. It has a kick but not too hot and super delicious. I can easily polish off two/three such plates! My husband ordered Guntur Kodi Vepudu-- boneless chicken fried in a special Andhra sauce and served dry. Man this had a super kick. When you put the first fork full into your mouth, it gives you such a kick, that kind of wakes you from a deep slumber and makes you come alive. Once your taste buds have gotten over the heat shock, you become aware of the rest of the spices. This being several notches over my usual heat standard, I told my husband that he could finish it himself. But I just could not stay away from it.

This time we ordered meat dosas-- I ordered mutton dosa and my husband chicken dosa. A sneak peak into mine. The meat was soft and succulent and was not too hot, but super flavorful. But truth to be told I prefer my dosa vegetarian. I was missing the aloo ka sabji. I think in future I will stick to their ghee roasted paper masala dosa. Apart from the masal inside, the dosas are light and crispy, just like they should be.

Ah the chutneys. No review of Shri Rathiga can be complete without the chutneys they serve. The first time when we went there, they put this tri colour chutney pot right in front of our nose and went away to prepare the dosa. Like I mentioned I was famished and the chutneys were so yummy that I almost finished them before the dosas made an appearance! My husband kept teasing me that they will not let us eat here next time cos we finish off all their chutneys. The four times we have eaten there, the chutneys are always fresh and oh so tasty.
And their sambar-- my husband having lived in the South for over 5 years and having eaten in  numerous friends' homes, is very sambar specific. In London's most popular South India chain restaurant he hated the sambar, calling it watered down and some other choice words. But here he loves it, he claims they make it Tamilian style, a little sweet or something. Every time we eat there, I get a lecture on how the different Southern states make sambar in different styles, but now when I need to write about it, do not remember a word of it! Shows where my attention was during those lectures. Me, am not a sambar aficionado, but I do like the taste of a good sambar. 
I think this restaurant can safely be called London's best South Indian food joint and we love going back there. We hope their chef does not run away till the time we are in London!

Wednesday, 11 May, 2011

Some new additions in our home...

Ever since we moved to this house last September, we have been working hard to make this our home. Over the months, gifts given by family and friends and stuff bought by us has helped us in that effort. Glimpses of some new additions!

Let me start from left hand side top. When Dupu, my brother-in-law visited us last September, he got us this wall hanging. Finally Indranil mounted it and much to our surprise it has fitted in perfectly with our colour scheme.

An attempt to bring some colour in our kitchen cum dinning space!

Our flower basket in the back garden...

This lovely sun hanging with bells was given by Anubha when she came to visit us. Our garden looks more homely with the sun dangling in it!

A poster and a couple of plants to cheer up the loo!

We set out to create light bulb plants, gave up and instead decorated regular tubs with beads. I had these ornamental hooks lying around from my Delhi days...we have a plant wall now!

Our new workspace and book shelves rolled into one.

A closer look at the sun to wrap this up!

Friday, 6 May, 2011

Sushi Has A New Job...

The day Sushi had to appear for her interview for the job of personal shopper she was almost shaking with nerves. 

Meeting Tanya to discuss her chances, she realized that they usually employed people with five/six years of experience and that too those who came highly recommended. With her seven months experience as a  sales assistant chances of her getting this coveted job seemed really slim. However Tanya was upbeat and  genuinely thought that if she gave a good interview, her chances of getting the job was fair. She was grateful to Tanya for giving her this chance. She realized that if Tanya had not recommended her, she would have never been shortlisted.

For the first time in her life, Sushi seriously started to prepare for an interview. Initially she asked her friends' advice but they were as clueless as her. In desperation she asked Snow. In Snow's academic world interviews were very different, realizing that, Snow advised Sushi to visit the career counselor in their local community centre. Sushi was a bit nervous about visiting the career counselor, but the lady was kind and did a couple of mock interviews with her, also directed her to the library. The helpful librarian gave Sushi a couple of books on how to crack interviews.

First thing Sushi read was the chapter on dress code and started discussing with her mother and best friends, what to wear for the interview. She wanted to look smart and  fashionable. Going through her wardrobe, she pulled out several skirts, trousers and shirts. But they did not seem appropriate. Then her mother reminded her about the suit that she had brought  four years  ago. Ah yes the suit! Sushi had bought it on a whim when she fancied that one day she would become the secretary of a company's CEO. She had shopped as soon as  she joined an organisation as a temporary assistant. That job lasted for a week, the only good thing that came out of the job was the suit. It was a smart two piece suit in jet black with silver lines running through it, the  pencil skirt was till her knees and the coat was cut fashionably fitting her snugly. But the problem was four years ago Sushi was twenty pounds lighter. Now she had to literally wrestle herself into the slim pencil skirt and then also the zip. Once zipped she could hardly breathe in the fear of her skirt bursting!

For a day or two Sushi toyed with the idea of buying a new suit. In fact the next day on her lunch break, she even tried on a couple of suits. But the ones she liked were really expensive and adding another five/six hundred to her already pending credit card bill put off the newly wise Sushi. But she could bot resist the temptations of black Italian leather pumps. They looked perfect and were so comfortable and would look perfect with her suit. So she had to buy the pumps.

Sushi was wondering whether she should get a suit on hire when she got a call from Anna that due to some internal problem the interview dates have been pushed back by a month. That left Sushi with one and a half months, she calculated that if she went to the gym for at least five days a week and did a spot of serious dieting, she may be able to loose all that weight.

So much to Snow's surprise Sushi started getting up at an ungodly hour every morning and dragged herself and her kit to the gym. He was even more surprised when she refused refused pizza for dinner and instead drank low fat soup. But Snow was not much worried, all Sushi's health madness lasted for a maximum of two to three days. Usually after a bout of exercises, once her muscles started aching in protest, she stopped going to the gym till she made the next year's resolution. 

This time even though Sushi grumbled and complained a lot about her aching muscles, she did not stop going to the gym. Neither did she give up on her dieting. Snow was most impressed when she had a weight watchers microwave dinner while he had fried chicken.

Sushi was feeling horrible, her muscles were aching, moving became a pain and she had to move around the shop the whole day. When she bent down to pick up a shirt dropped by one of their customers, she almost could not stand up. On top of that she was feeling light headed with hunger. The soups and the microwave dinners that the dietitian at the gym had prescribed hardly seemed to fill her up and within a hour or two she started to get hungry. She was also tired of eating yogurt, veggies and fruits. Never in her life had she ever eaten so much of healthy food. Every day at lunch she looked longingly at the fast food joints while eating her yogurt and fruit salad. Yet the interview was steadily coming closer  and  sheer nerves made her stick to this torture. Every evening she tried on the black suit to see if it fit any better.

Sushi kept herself from the temptation of weighing machine, vowing to weigh herself only after a week has passed. On the seventh day she weighed herself  and to her amazement found that she had lost seven pounds. Out of her target of twenty, she had lost seven pounds on her first week itself. If it went on like this, in one and half  weeks she would be twenty pounds lighter. It made her feel on top of the world and also a little too confident. She felt that she had discovered the key to weight loss and that the programme would work the way she wanted it to work. With this new found confidence she went out and gorged on a burger meal. Once her binge was over, she felt extremely guilty and decided to work harder at the gym the next day. But when at the end of that week she weighed in, she had lost just three pounds and she was extremely disappointed with herself. She realized that if she wanted to achieve her target within the timeline, she would have to be firm and resist all temptations. When she told her instructor at the gym how she had binged, she suggested that she weigh in after a month, rather than every week. 

So Sushi trudged on, never before in her life had she had to work so hard. She had to get up really early every morning, go to the gym, come back, take a shower and dash to the shop. By the time she came back  she felt so tired that she started falling asleep around eight-ish in the evening. She gave up all her usual evening activities-- watching television, chatting on the phone with her best friends and mom and trying on clothes and make-up.Once she even fell asleep while watching her favorite soap in the television. She woke up to a concerned Snow peering at her worriedly while shaking her. It took her about an hour to convince Snow that she was not sick just plain tired.

Since she could not keep awake in the evenings, Sushi started reading the books that the librarian had lent her during her lunch break. She realized that reading kept her away from temptations-- both shopping and eating.
Over the weekend Sushi called her best friend Polly over and did several rounds of mock interviews with her. They even watched several videos on interviews. Finally a bored Polly suggested an outing of the mall, but Sushi refused because she had too many things to prepare. Again Polly though that Sushi was sick and it took  Sushi the bigger part of an hour to convince her that she was not, just busy. Sushi was starting to get exasperated by the way everyone kept thinking that she was sick when she refused junk food or a trip to the mall. Sushi sighed to herself thinking, it was not the fault of other, it was the way she usually behaved. She vowed to stick to her healthy lifestyle as long as possible. But she knew in her bones that once the interview got over, it would be really difficult to stick to this punishing regime.

Finally the day of her interview loomed. Even though her interview was in the afternoon, Sushi had taken the day off, so that she could dress at her own pace and reach the venue a little early. Her mom came over to help her with her hair. After an early, light lunch Sushi went to change. By the time she came down, her mom had cleaned up the kitchen and was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs. After having lost almost 25 pounds, yes five pounds over her target, the suit fitted Sushi perfectly and went really well with her new black pumps. Seeing Sushi, her mother almost had tears in the eyes. Sushi also felt choked with emotions. It felt like she was back in her parents, about to go out in one of life's important occasions. She knew others would laugh if they got to know that she and her mom were getting emotional over a smart dress and an interview, but it was more than that for them. For the first time, Sushi was getting a serious chance in life and more importantly she had worked really hard over the last one and half months to prepare for this interview. Kissing her mom goodbye, Sushi confidently marched to her car. She knew it would be tough, but she felt ready for the battle.

By the time the secretary showed Sushi to the waiting area, there were five other candidates already waiting. They all seemed to be sizing Sushi up the moment she entered the room. No one seemed in a mood to talk, everyone looked busy with their phones. Muttering a general hello, Sushi sat down to wait. Unable to control her curiosity, she decided to check out her fellow interviewees. They all were smartly dressed in similar suits like her, with perfect make-up and hair and all of them were rake thin. Sushi felt thankful for having lost those pounds.  After a brief wait, the first candidate was called in. Sushi felt as if a bunch of butterflies were fluttering in the stomach. She wished she had skipped her lunch. To calm down she slowly sipped a glass of water, just like the book on interview had suggested. But she was afraid that too much water may make her want to peel and also bloat her tummy. To distract herself she started to read one of the glossy magazines that were lying around.

Sushi was the third person to be called for the interview. There was a panel of five people sitting there, waiting to interview her. Sushi almost felt faint with fear. Thankfully Tanya was also there, she smiled at her encouragingly and that helped Sushi to get a grip on herself. The interviewers were all nice people, they smiled at her and asked her to relax. Someone even offered her a drink. Sushi had read in the book on interviews that having a glass of water and sipping it occasionally helped relax one's nerves and also gave one sometime to answer questions. So she asked for water. Then the interview started. They asked her all kinds of questions regarding her experience in the shop and how she dealt with customers--the rude, the difficult, the short and the demanding. Then she started asking her how she convinced them to buy stuff. After about twenty questions or so the interview came to an end. By the time the interview came to an end Sushi was almost disappointed. She was on the roll, talking about the job, the customers she loved serving and how much fun it is when she suggested some cloth to her customers and they actually picked it up. They promised to call her tomorrow or day after and let her know the outcome.

After coming out of the interview Sushi called her mom, Snow and her best friends to let them know it went well. Since she had nothing to do for the rest of the day, she decided to meet up her best friends and go for a movie. She was in the movie hall with her mouth full of buttery pop corn and sipping Diet Coke in a middle of a teary scene when she got a call from Tanya. By the time she managed to locate her phone, the call had already gone into a voice message. Tanya had asked her to give her a called back. With beating hearts Sushi called up Tanya. Without beating about the bush, Tanya said that Sushi had got the job. She was to come in tomorrow and talk about the details. Sushi could not believe that this was actually happening to her. She, Sushi, the girl who floated from one job to another for a week or so, was being offered one of the most coveted jobs of retail! These things happened in movies and in other people's lives. If someone told her this even two months back, she would have never believed them. Suddenly she heard Tanya's voice on the other side. With a start she realized that she has not said a single thing to Tanya. Hurriedly she said she was really happy and she would be there tomorrow.

This was how Sushi got the job she had not even dreamt about. Suddenly there was a metamorphosis, Sushi was no longer a happy-go-lucky girl, she was a professional earning serious money.

In her new job she was loaned smart clothes, had a good salary, sat in her cute cabin. But the best bit was the customers. She dealt with some really rich people but to her amazement they had no clue about fashion or what suited them. She got a kick out of suggesting them clothes and when they often got back to her thanking her for taking care of their wardrobes. It hardly felt like she was working, except for the dreary meetings they had to attend every week. The jargons used by the managers often flew over Sushi's head. Often in meetings she sat pondering over her clients and their tastes and deciding on their wardrobes. Then much to her amazement at the end of quarter, it was announced that she was a highest seller in the department, exceeding her target by almost thirty percent. Sushi almost fell off her chair. Initially when she joined she saw her colleagues were rather perturbed about sales. They kept pushing people to buy more and more and kept calculating the sales target they met. Sushi knew she would never be able to work that way. So she had a chat with Tanya, who suggested that she follow her own style. So when it was announced that she was the highest seller, Sushi got really surprised. Because she did none of the stuff her colleagues did, she was just herself with the clients. From being a wannabe on the block, she felt she had arrived. Her colleagues sat up and took notice of her. Later coming back home, Sushi decided that success was sweet and she enjoyed being successful!

Thursday, 5 May, 2011

I'm nobody!

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us-- don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know

                                          Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

How perfectly these lines describe the present me. Me, the present tense is surely a nobody and an outsider to boot! Hmmmmm......