Thursday, June 30, 2005

New look

My old template has been "spaced out" for a week now. And after a fruitless 15 minutes spent on matching div tags, I asked myself why bother debugging a template that I was not too fond of anyway. Voila! a new look ushered itself on this slim pretext.

I hope it makes for better reading experience. I love the font and colors :)

Friday, June 24, 2005

How to order food for a group

Last night I was at an informal dinner in a local restaurant. The waiter offered a single menu card which landed in my hand as I was closest to the pathway. The rest of the gang conveniently agreed that I should order dinner for all of them. Imagine this: Nine people at a dinner table, a single menu card and one person choosing items for nine to dine.

Miss.Manners came in a little late so I ended up ordering food that barely satiated anyone's hunger. Eventually we called the waiter and repeated the entire dinner order all over again!

After the fiasco (you should have seen the looks on the hungry faces when the dinner portion arrived. I got half a piece of Naan from someone's plate after I asked for it!), I grilled Miss.Manners for some tips and here is what she had to say:

Gentle Reader:
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to order food for everyone present, don't panic. Use your eyes, head, a dash of humor and save the day.

  1. As you read the menu, look around and count the number of people at the table.
  2. Don't assume everyone will share your taste for mushroom soup and scallion pancakes. Subtly call out some dishes that you think are good and see how the guests react. If you get a long drawn out OK, change the dish.
  3. Keep varying step 2 until you get a good list of dishes that everyone can enjoy.
  4. Go for the Law of Averages when determining the quantity of food to order. If you know the eating habits of the people you are out to dinner with, simply estimate the quantity that each person may eat of the dish you are planning to order and add it up. If you do not know everyone's eating habits, err on the generous side and order a tad more than you think is the right quantity.
  5. Strike a balance between variety and quantity. If there are more than four people at dinner, go in for two or three different items in suitable quantities instead of ordering a portion each of six different items.
  6. Make sure that every dish can go around the table atleast once with a generous tablespoon helping for each person. If it is breads, make sure everyone gets atleast a piece or two (depending upon the size of the piece) with a couple of pieces to spare on the plate after everyone has been served.
  7. Never assume everyone is terribly hungry because you are.
  8. Never assume everyone is not hungry because you are not.
  9. If you are bad at estimating quantity of food, get help from the people seated on either side of you.
  10. Get the waiter to help you understand the serving portion in the restaurant. Don't assume that one portion of Malai Kofta has just two Koftas floating around. Ask.
  11. Establish a rapport with the waiter so that he can replenish dishes that you nod at.
  12. Don't yell across the table and wave around to get your point across. Try the passing-the-message approach to communicate/clarify your choice of items.
  13. Make sure your estimate has some room for dessert.
  14. Ideally, let people make their own dessert choice. If not, you cannot go wrong with Vanilla ice-cream, a variety of sauces and nuts for flavor and fruit salad.
  15. Finally, keep the conversation about the dinner items flowing. You will get loads of feedback on how you fared at your choice.


There! Loads of tips from Miss.Manners. I am looking forward to the next time I need to do the ordering.

While on food, check out what Jason's post had to say about ordering food.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I hear what you say and see what you do and think I know you.
I hear other things and see another you and wonder if this is you.
I hear more and see more and wonder which is really you.
It has taken me twenty seven years to see that this is also you.

A pinch of inspiration

In a small neat corner in my memory shelf sits the motivation rack where I have been diligently stacking the most memorable words that were addressed to me. I pick them out in turns every now and then and give myself a strong whiff of inspiration. Over the years these words, picked out from several conversations at different points in time, have brightened gloomy moments and tickled funny bones. Words have a life of their own indeed.

Here is a serving from that collection:

You are someone I can show my back to and sleep without a worry.

If I had to describe you in a word, I'd say you are effective.

God! How did you find out?

It's another Arien, another V, another eighteenth. (a friend of mine announced her engagement to me in this fashion)

It is a privilege to be living a dream.

If Winter is here, can Spring be far behind?

"...Come dawn, I was away.
I looked around; no one.
I walked on.
At the edge of the enchanted veld
sat my friend.
sobbing
sobbing
crying aloud, I can't fly.

Her wings lay about her,
graceful and supple, restraining fetters.
I have wings, but I'm not flying.
I chuckled aloud.
The winds of Vayu in those wings,
and she can't fly;
a creature of the currents, graceful
above mere mortals,
capable of soaring flight, a falcon shamed,
I laughed aloud this time.
louder and louder.

She looked at me, hurt in her eyes,
I can't fly, she lisped petulantly.

I gasped out, amidst guffaws,
- Have you tried flapping them?

...her brow cleared
...she was a speck in the azure.

Me?...well, I'm growing my wings.
I'll fly soon.
I have a good mentor you see."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Soon it will be a year...so, hello!

Come next week and I will complete a whole year of blogging. I am besieged by sentiment, well ahead though, much like celebrating a first wedding anniversary. A first year of anything new always throws up an interesting perspective for me. There is so much to become aware of, so much of intimate newness that alarms, excites and teaches.

I like to take the first years slowly - hover in the background, sense what I have got myself into, let the cat out of the bag in an odiously slow manner. This first year has been no different. I have been very happy to stay tucked in my tiny corner, deciding that customary reticence has its uses. I just told a few friends that I had started a blog and could they please check it out if they wanted to find out how I was doing. Other than that, any new visitor was sheer serendipity. And repeat visitors was total surprise.

So, thanks to all of you who have been surprising me ever so often.

I think it due that I tell you a bit more about me, though it is rather easy to find out some facts from the stuff that I write about. No prizes for guessing that I am an engineer (easily the most common profession of a majority of bloggers). I went to college with Manjunath, Vimal, Prabz, VJ and a lot of others who are not in the blogging circuit. I live in Chennai and work with a bunch of people like Suku and Karthik. I have been married for quite a while to this tremendously talented Chartered Accountant who has spent the whole of last year peppering his teasing with "why don't you blog about this?".

I love books and reading would qualify as my prime hobby. I like to read in a relay fashion and am invariably in the process of reading some book or the other. When I take a break from books, I read magazines. I am not very obsessed with the newspaper though and briefly scan it for news that matters to me. I enjoy writing as well and usually compartmentalize personal, general and raw emotional writing. This blog has usually been somewhere between the boundary of personal and the general.

A lot of things matter to me - unflinching spirit, mutual respect, correct spelling and good grammar, random acts of kindness, the potential & purpose of life, the joy of smiling, the simple pleasures of daily living, excellence, stimulating conversations, bananas, the power of optimism.

I think I am pretty bad at cooking though a more accurate description would be that my dishes are reasonably decent but hardly experimental. I enjoy entertaining friends at home provided food is ordered outside ;)

So there - A short boring history of nearly everything.

Year two will be here - come join the joyride!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

She did. Really.

For all of you who asked me to tell you what happened to her on June 1st, my answer is, 'yes, she did it!' and what's more, she wrote the paper really well. Hats off to this amazing woman!

While I cannot pretend to understand her choices, I am definitely proud of her for standing by her decision to write the exam on her wedding day. She did have a lot of us discouraging her from doing so and she smilingly brushed away all the gyan she did not need.

And she married the right guy - he has two exams coming up this weekend :)