Time for some Upgrade Tata Sky? How about Big CBS?


BIG CBS

I am not a big fan of Indian TV soaps, reality shows which usually are pathetic and I guess it will take a million light years for India to have sitcoms. Since ages I have watched some of our favorite shows by downloading the latest seasons from Internet wasting a large amount of bandwidth, time and effort in that process. I always wished there was some TV channel which showed the latest seasons instead of the repeat telecasts of old seasons. A complete package of Humor, lifestyle, fashion and music at one place. Big CBS network with its three channels Prime , Love and Spark  has something for everyone and a good choice to watch when you wish to just veg out after a hard day’s work.

An extensive search revealed that  Prime and Love  are channels showing most of the much-loved shows like Sex and the City, 48 Hour Mystery, The Game, The Good Wife,  America’s Got Talent, CSI- New York  and many more  but Tata Sky, which is supposed to be India’s premier DTH TV had no such option although it showed old seasons on Star World etc. I realized that switching to Tata Sky was a complete let down when some of the leading networks had Prime and Love.

Just imagine how much fun it would be to curl up, let your hair down and have a little laugh or listen to some great musical talents in America’s Got Talent and American Idol. Who can forget the haunting voices of Haley Reinhart, Adam Lambert, Jessica Sanchez and many more.

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I am a huge fan of crime thrillers like CSI- New York which has become more interesting with each season and also 48 Hours which I think is the hottest Mystery Show.

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And on those days when nostalgia hits you and you have no one to cuddle up to all you need is some Love in your mundane life. Big CBS Love has insane passion, laughter, love and latest fashion trends to make you feel like a Diva.

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I enjoy the refreshing episodes of Sex In The City , a show about women – for women, though many argue if it is good show from a feminist point of view I love it for a good relaxed time. Even with all the lead characters being obsession with men. :p With all its controversial aspects it is a clever, funny show.

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I hope people at Tata Sky are reading this and guys if you bring these channels to us I may even opt for Tata Sky + .  So let us bring on some good entertainment home and have a good time.

Picture credits go to BigCBS website.

Dreams and Dark Imaginings – Dream Diary


Hippocrates had a dream theory that the mind received images during daytime and produced images during night-time.

Phantasmagoric is how I would describe my dreams. Usually I do not take naps during daytime but a few days back sheer mental, emotional and physical fatigue made me crash while my laptop and cell buzzed ceaselessly. I was in a sort of hypnotic trance and yet fully aware of the sounds that filtered through the closed-door of my room. The afternoon sun shone brightly and filled my little room with brilliant sunshine and warmth slowly sucking me into a gateway of a private fantasy land. Unlike the known realms of fantasy this one did not have any magical stuff . Somehow I feel that many of my lucid dreams are sequential and  bizarre. It seems I am shape shifting into some another being or sometimes I see myself with people who are either part of my present life or past at places known and unknown though I may have known them at some other time.  The scary twist comes to a normal lucid dream when your subconscious mind takes control and the dream feels like reality. You can actually feel, touch ,smell what surrounds you.  The senses are sharper than normal and visual impact is much more than what it may be in wakeful state. The thin line that separates wakeful state and sleep diminishes and dissolves.

On this day I was taken to an old house. These are the kind of houses you find in old cities. Houses with many big and small rooms, a veranda, a store-room in an old style kitchen, steep staircase leading to terrace. Heavy doors  and windows which bring in more darkness than light.  Old style flat wooden beds, iron trunks and wooden furniture that makes the atmosphere slightly daunting. There is always  fragrance of age, a murky presence of cobwebs and cold feel of stone under your feet if you walk bare feet.

I was in a big room where on a large wooden bed my mother sat but she didn’t look like her. Her physique resembled that of  my paternal grandmother whom none of us have seen except in a few yellowing photographs. She wore a soft cotton sari of some pastel shade. Her hair silver streaked with black tied in a loose bun resting at the nape of her neck.

There is a small girl whom I call with my niece’s name but she looks nothing like her. A thin wispy creäture dressed in a frock and leggings.  I bring her in and tell the two domestic helps to stay in the outside veranda. These girls work for us here now in real-time. So here is some present merging with past.

The room has another door at the other end leading to a row of dingy , vacant rooms smaller in size. I take the little girl to one of the bigger and airy rooms to wash her dirty face and change her clothes,

She is unusually quiet and obedient.  Not her usual self at all.

The scene shifts from these dark interiors to one of the flats I lived in as a teenager. It shifts to my room with again two doors , one leading to the balcony and another to the lobby. The setting is almost the same as it used to be in my time but there is an overpowering presence of an old wooden wardrobe. Heavy dark wood.  stuffed with clothes and things with bundles of more clothes and saris and sheets on top. I tell mom to clean her and put fresh clothes which she does. here her real image is clearly visible.

I may be in early thirties not younger for sure.

The scene sifts back to the old room where I put her on the wooden bed with a glass of milk. A modern glass with lid and nozzle, on of those insulated ones.

I go into the bathroom among one of the rooms in the row and come out to find a drunken , disheveled man shouting his lungs out to take his daughter back. I manage to push him out but can’t find the girl.

I call for the house helps but no one is there in the murky summer afternoon pregnant with various smells rising from inside and outside of the house.

I run around in panic constantly yelling for the helpers and the child.  I find her sprawled on the floor face down at the bottom of the staircase and in the twilight filtering in from door I see the pool of blood near her head. The house help comes running down the stairs and swears to know nothing about her fall or injury. I turn her carefully . She is unconscious and cold as ice but her heart is beating. I rush inside to pick up my purse and car keys ( By the way I don’t drive) and by the time I return everyone has disappeared. There is a dark pool of red seeping slowly in the crevices of stone flooring . The door is open and swinging slowly with evening breeze. I run around in the by lane but there is no sign of  life not even the usual street dogs.

I find the younger house help who tells me that a couple has taken the child to their house in the next lane. (These people are neighbors from where I lived two years back). I rush with her to their home crossing series of old dilapidated buildings. We reach a deep blue wooden door with a huge chain lock on it. I open the lock and step into another dark corridor and set of rooms. On my right is room with curtain drawn. I can hear hushed voices inside and a dim light is visible if you look carefully through the coarse material of the curtain. The gentleman comes out and tells me that the child is still unconscious but the bleeding has stopped. Nothing else can be done for now. I argue that we should take her to the hospital and he looks at me in surprise.

” Which world are you living in girl? There is a curfew in the town since last four days. I am surprised you even managed to get here and did not get shot. The town is shut.” I just stare at him wondering  how long have I been cooped up inside the four walls of that formidable house.

As we talk we walk into an open courtyard.  His fingers find a switch on the dark side wall and the naked yellow bulb springs to life. He turns to face me and his eyes freeze with alarm and concern.

‘What happened to you? You are bleeding.”

“What? Where?” My hand automatically reaches to the side of my left temple. I feel the sticky liquid run down my fingers.  There is no pain, no sign or remembrance of an injury.

I woke up with the feel of blood still on my hand. I realized that my hand was still at the temple and it that semi awakened state I saw the deep dark liquid on my hand, that unmistakable irony smell of blood filled my nostrils. I could feel its sticky texture and how it slowly made its way down to the elbow and down to the floor as I looked at it  with astonishment. By this time I was actually awake. The  laptop battery had died and the blank screen stared at me from the side of my bed. The sun had gone down and the room was in darkness except for the tube light  peeping from under the closed-door. I got up and switched the light on. My legs a little shaky and a definite ache in the neck muscles especially to the left.  I realized I was sleeping in one awkward position for more than three hours.

Slowly the sounds had faded and the house had become silent with my mother bent over her book somewhere. I went into her room and into the bathroom. Switching on the light above the mirror I looked closely for any marks on the side of temple but found none. While washing my hands with liquid soap the same feeling of feeling blood between my fingers returned  and for a second I actually felt it was blood but it wasn’t.

It is intriguing how I am able to actually feel the wetness of blood and know the right thickness and color of it. It is also intriguing how this is repeated in dream like sequence. This is the second time  I bled in my dreams and surprisingly it never scares or upsets me. Read DEATH RED here.

26th Annual Garden Tourism Festival – A Slide Show


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At this time of year as the winter bids adieu and spring comes knocking at the door, all the streets, roundabouts, public parks and landscaped and home gardens are a riot of color with spring blossoms.

Flower Girl Delhi opened its doors to the 26th Annual Garden Tourism Festival last Friday even though the chill of winter made a sudden comeback with all its fanfare of rain and thunder. I was sure my plans will be washed away but the scent of spring was too potent to drown in the winter rain. On Saturday, the second day of fest, I decided to venture out hoping the universe will support and it did.

A nip in the air and slight drizzle continued all through my visit to the sprawling lawns of Garden of Five Senses spread over 25 acres of peaceful and tranquil greens. The whole place was alive with multitudes of gorgeous seasonal flowers like exquisite Dahlias, Petunias, Gazanias, Carnations, Roses, Cinerarias, Candytufts(Iberis), Sweet Williams, Poppies, Pansies,  etc. There were beautiful bonsai, cacti and succulents of all kinds on display and for sale.

A section was entirely devoted to garden enthusiasts who wanted to buy saplings, bulbs and seeds apart from all kinds of garden tools and equipment.

Even with slight rain large number of people including children had come to watch the uniquely arranged flowers.

Joyfully wet and our senses filled with the exquisite colors and delicate fragrances we spent an entire day taking in the amazing beauty of Delhi’s floral treasures. As the evening sun smiled for a while from behind the gray clouds we left this oasis of serenity to head again into the hustle bustle of city life.   Here is a slide show of the event.

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Grilled Pineapple with Dash of Rum


I love pineapple. Sweet, juicy, delicious, it is one of the many nutritious tropical fruits. Pineapples are packed with vitamins and minerals  including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. It is also rich in fiber and calories. It’s low in fat and cholesterol too.

Apart from the exotic raw fruit one can always indulge in the grilled version and make it as magical as one wants. I love to flavor it with aroma of spices and toss in dark rum to jazz it up and I call them “fruit kebabs” like Nigella Lawson :p

A perfect desert after a sumptuous meal or in breakfast or maybe as an evening snack like I did.

The trick is to pick up a fragrant nice ripe golden color pineapple.  If the fruit is just a little soft to touch then that is what you are looking for. Anything green is under ripe and spotty browns are over ripe.

Now that we have picked the right fruit, lay it on a chopping board and cut off both the ends. Make it stand and cut the skin in strips. Once the fruit is skinned dice it in circles or make wedges. It is up to you whether you want to remove the core or not. This time I did not but usually I do and make wedges instead of circles.

Now, to grill the fruit you can either use the traditional grill or oven or even a non stick pan if you don not have the former two.

Here is how you do it.

Ingredients

Fresh Ripe Pineapple – 1

Dark Honey –  6 table-spoon

Cinnamon – I teaspoon

Powdered cloves – 1 /4 teaspoon

Lemon zest – I teaspoon

Dark Rum – 4 table-spoon

Method 

Prepare  the fruit as described above and collect all the ingredients at one place

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Here you see whole cloves but you need to powder them fine.

Take honey in a mixing bowl , add cinnamon and clove powder. Place the pineapple slices or wedges  in it so they are fully covered with the marinade.

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Pineapple in Marinade

Heat the grill or oven (Preheat the grill at 400 degree Fahrenheit ) . I used a non stick pan here. Heat the pan and glaze it with a little olive oil. Arrange  the marinade pineapple slices once hot. keep the flame at medium to low as sweet things tend to burn easily.

If you are using grill or oven arrange the pieces on grill tray and close the lid.

Check  in sometime and if  both sides have a gorgeous deep golden brown tan,  remove in a serving plate.

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This is how it should look from both sides when grilling  in a pan.

Do not throw the remaining marinade , brush it on the top of grilled slices.

Once you have arranged the slices in a serving plate, pour the dark rum and sprinkle the lemon zest.

the sinful grilled pineapple slices

Serve hot  just as it is or with chilled yogurt or vanilla ice cream.

Variations 

Tip 1– You can use brown sugar, maple syrup, golden syrup or if you are adventurous then toss the pieces in marmalade with a little salt sprinkled over them  instead of honey and it  will blow your mind. I hate chocolate syrup with it but folks do use that too. ( too overpowering for me. Kills the natural sensuousness of the fruit)   🙂

Tip 2 –  Try using  fresh cracked black peppercorn and vodka instead of the above ingredients. It will tickle your senses like anything.  Trust me, there is nothing like a spiced up juicy sweet pineapple straight from the grill.

 Tip 3 –  You can also try salt and cayenne pepper or red chili powder too.  It rocks.

Tip 4 –  Try using wooden skewers or chopsticks for each wedge /slice . Makes it easy to eat and looks neat on a party table.

Enjoy this tropical delight and let me know your experience.

Bon Appétit

Scent of Yellow – A Spring Poem



Scent of yellow

Lemon zest
And Daffodils
Ripe bananas in yellow jackets
Juicy pears one in each pocket
Grapefruits and pineapples
Tangerines and mangoes
Sweet corn and lime
Amorous musk melon
Some Apricots time to time
Sunflowers and laburnum
A shaft of sunlight
Slipping through the
Autumn leaves
Lucid sunbeams
Flowing in your curls
Mellow yellow orange red papaya
And the golden yellow pumpkin
An old swing,
A surprise in the mustard field
And your smile on a soft yellow dressed afternoon
The yellow brick road
And the song
Yellow submarine
A yellow flash of mountain bird
Yellow birch, maple, beech
The butter gold moon spread over our bodies
A large cup of butterscotch
And the sparkle in your eyes
The marmalade skies
Honey dripping
From the corner
Of your mouth
A bumble bee
Dancing amidst the marigolds
Irises draped in sunshine
Primrose blossoms and the daylily
A canary singing near the birdbath
Blush lemonade, sweet, laced with salt
A sunburst margarita
By your favourite window spot

For a very special friend. He knows. ·٠•●♥♥Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ♥♥

“Silence is not always golden; sometimes just yellow.” It is sweet, tangy, full of sunlit dreams and vibrant hopes. It is the nectar of life of universal love. Be still, be silent.

Happy Basant Panchmi .. Spring love to all of you. Enjoy some sun-kissed pineapple flowers.

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The Song Bird


Someone asked me,”Should a blog be used to rant about personal issues? Is it alright to expose your vulnerable side to the entire world?  Is it in good taste to bare your heart’s innermost feelings in front of  everyone? One can write about so many other things then why whine, rave and rant on a blog and why not use a pillow instead to cry your heart out? There will be hundreds who will offer you sympathy but that’s all BS. Actually no one cares a hoot.”

I listened patiently and said,”I don’t do it often and I don’t do it for sympathy. That is the last thing I want from somebody. Sympathy and pity. I write for no particular reason. Not everyone reads my meltdowns and those who do, maybe it helps them overcome theirs. Who knows? ”

Obviously she and I did not see eye to eye on this like many other things. So, if you think personal outbursts are not your reading material, move on. For, this is going to be one such post.

Sometimes one goes through this deluge of “what ifs and whys, If only and I wish” and seeks answers to questions which are better not raised. Questions which burn like embers in a dying fire. If you stir it you might start a wild fire. Uncontrollable and Unstoppable.

Your heart gets filled to the brim with this deluge and overflows on the blog. I think it is cathartic in more than one ways.

It makes me restless to realize that there is no escape to freedom. There isn’t a thing called ‘freedom.” It is always a caged reality. The cage gets bigger and better than the previous one but the walls begin to rise magically the moment you want to step out and not just the walls , the roof and the floor begin to close in till you choke and gasp for breath and surrender to “what is”.

It’s a woman’s life. A caged song bird.

“You always think as if  the entire world is out to get you and is conspiring against you.” She said. (It is strange when women talk about women’s issues in this fashion. Why am I surprised anyway? )

I think it is because at times I feel it.

Not the entire world maybe but then my world is very small. It is a world within a world and in this world are people who don’t give a damn about what I go through but are ready to make snide remarks, pass judgement, show all kind of indifference camouflaged as love, care, support and what not. It is an art. Not all posses this skill.

How does one feel to leave behind young children  in a personal quest for dignified living?  Mind you it is very different from “empty nest syndrome”  and ‘one day kids will grow up and do their own things and go their own way” thing. It is a living, pulsating, raw hurt which eats you away bit by bit. You try to reason with your self  but fail. I always said, “I have given my boys roots and wings”, never knew it’s not them but I , who will fly away leaving them to fend for themselves. Leaving, in search of myself.

Did I find “myself” ?

“No” and “Yes”.

“No”, because there is a lot that is concealed. There is deeper play of shadows that I do not understand at times. A door opens and closes behind me. I forge my way through the unknown only to discover a wall , a trap or again a door, sometimes just a window or a crack. The search continues.

“Yes” , because I managed to cut out most of the weeds which were blocking my way. I bled and bruised myself but finally found myself at the edge of a new beginning. Another challenge but certainly not as suffocating as the previous one

Some prisons have no bars. Some cages are imaginary. Some others we build around us unknowingly or knowingly because we are used to certain comfort zones.

I sometimes wonder who has got who locked in the cage. I just might be free, on the other side of bars. Looking in. Remembering my time within the cage. The feeling sweeping through me whispering to me that I am still there when I am not.

Have you heard the song of the caged bird? Do you find it different from the one who is free?

One day when I woke up I saw I had grown new wings. They seemed so unfamiliar and yet they were part of it. I was scared to spread them lest I lose an illusion. Instead I wrapped them around me and found comfort in the new-found warmth but wings are meant for flying. They throbbed with exciting energy sending sparks into my listless soul to make use of them as I should.

With the break of new dawn I decided to take a plunge into the valley of unknown. Either to sink or to rise.

The cage suddenly didn’t seem to be there. Was I living an illusion or just a shattered one? I wondered.

I looked around at the crumbs , the bowl of water now empty and turned upside down. I looked at the blue sky , slowly spread my wings, flapped them, took a deep breath and folded them back. I wasn’t ready. Then the wind began to blow. It picked up the momentum and I could feel my cage sway with it. Scared of this wind of change I buried my head in my breast but with one shove I found myself at the edge of the window. Perched precariously. Now there was no turning back. I leaped on the back of the wind and dipped my wings in brilliant sunlight and claimed the sky which was truly mine but the storm raged in insane fury and rain lashed like whip of bare skin. Bewildered and panicked by the raging storm, blinded by the dark rain I plunged and rose with the tempest fighting the forces beyond me, trusting my wings to keep me afloat. Fear gripping me from within, a tight fist beneath my breast. Caught in the whirling skirts of winds I circled and circled and longed for the comfort of the cage I had left. I scanned the murky unknown, shadowy in parts brightly lit in parts, a plethora of possibilities that could take me anywhere.

Startled by the fire bolt that swept the sky with lurid glow I screamed and was shocked to hear my own voice, stilled for so long. If I could scream in fear I could sing in joy. I began to hum and the words came back to me. Muted words buried in some deep crevices of my heart. In the midst of rolling thunder and chaos I had found my song. I began to sing and I don’t know when and how I glided out of the storm into a blaze of color — oranges, pearly pinks, vibrant purples, molten gold and when I looked down I saw deep green mountains and rivers coppery with sunset.

Then , at that moment I realized , “Deep in the heart of winter, there lay within me an invincible spring.”

I realized that the cage though real was also imagined. I had built it myself.  It was wherever I went and no matter where I would run, I just ended up running into myself. If you stay within the patterns and conformity you carry the cage with you. I broke those patterns and reclaimed myself, my freedom.

Songbird

This post is especially written for a songbird who lives in the Pyrenees.