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26 November 2013

A tale of two tags...

Funny incident at Bangalore airport today.

I pride myself to be a frequent flier. When I enter the airport, I enter it with a sense of ownership. I give a condescending smile on the 'Newbie' passengers who struggle with the routine airport tasks. I give a wink and a nod to the bevy of attendants who swarm the airport. I hand over my boarding pass and my ID card to the bored security guard with an even more bored expression. I ignore the clutch of pretty air hostesses flitting from one gate to another in search of aircrafts. I don't even bother to answer the security guard when he asks if I have kept my mobile phone and wallet in the bag as I keep my bag on the security tray (As if I will forget something that basic). If the security conveyor isn't moving, I give it a push and give a knowing look at the other passengers.

Been there done that, if you see what I mean.

That is why the incident at the airport today is even more memorable

Most of my travels are short distance, mostly between Mumbai and Bangalore. I do not have any check in baggage and carry only two cabin bags including my laptop bag. As soon as I enter the airport, I go straight to the security area, since I already did the web checkin and carry my printed boarding pass. On the way to the security area, I take two baggage tags from attendants of any airline, whoever happens to be near. I give opportunity to serve me the baggage tags to the first attendant whom I see.

No favoritism. I am fair and balanced.

Today it was the turn of Emirates executive to have the pleasure of giving me the tag.

'Please give me two tags', I demanded casually. I am not even looking at him. That casual.

Instead of giving me the tags he turned the script around.

'Which airline?' he asked

'Does it matter? Since you asked, it is Indigo', I replied with a bit of irritation

'Sorry sir, these tags are for Emirates airline passengers', he informed me.

What a nerve? Not giving ME the tags?

I flipped out. 

'Look, I am a frequent flier with Emirates (no idea why I mentioned that). Anyways, I am asking for only two tags. It is not as if I am asking for gold ornament or something', I told him sternly

Scared, he gave me the two tags.

On the way to the security I am irritated. I continue building it up in my mind. These airline guys are not getting trained properly, I decided. They do not know customer service, I thought bitterly. I should go on Facebook and Twitter and raise a stink about the bad service, I planned. Let me show these big airlines the power of Social Media !

I was irritated.

I reached the security gate and pushed my bags through the security conveyor. After completing my security check, I am waiting for my baggage to be scanned and stamped. 

Just before stamping, the security guard asked, 'Whose bag is this?'

I said it was mine.

'Sir, where are you travelling to?', he queried

'Mumbai', I replied truthfully since that is where I was heading to.

'Why have you tagged the bags with the tags of 'International Flight' for a domestic flight? It causes a lot of confusion. In future tie only domestic flight tags for a domestic flight'

He removed my 'Emirates' tags, replaced them with tags of domestic airline and stamped the tag.

Now I knew why the Emirates attendant hesitated to give me the tags. Tagging bag for a domestic flight with tags of International airlines will cause confusion at the security gate, as mentioned by the guard. 

I was humbled. This was new.

One lives and learns, doesn't one?



10 November 2013

After a year at the Gym, this is what I got !!

A new counter has opened in the Gym that I go regularly (well....where I wish to go regularly). I have been a member of this gym for about a year now.

This counter sells Juices and Health Drinks.  A set of bottles are lined up with exotic looking stuff.

What are these, I ask,

That cruel, heartless fellow looks at me and points to the first bottle and says, 'This is for weight gain. Of course, you don't need it'.

Curse him.

06 November 2013

30 Days, 30 Veggies: Day 10: Kabuli Chana(Chole) Masala (Chikpeas Maasala)

Today is day 10 of my project '30 Days, 30 Veggies'. Today we are going to prepare Chikpea Masala.

What is Chikpea? See the image below.


Chikpea is also known as Kabuli Chana and is famously used to prepare Hummus. Chikpea Masala is a very tasty veg preparation and it goes great with Puris and Chapathis. You can also eat it with Rice and Dal.

Or you can eat it solo.

Many options, so many options !!

See image of Puri and Chapathi  with Kabuli Chana (Chole)below. Both are made of Wheat Flour.

Chapathi Chole
Poori Chole
Looks Yummy, don't they?

Unlike other preparations in this series, which can be prepared using common household ingredients, you will need Chana (Chole) masala to prepare this. The good news is that this is a very common masala, easily obtained in any Indian store.

In addition to it being tasty, Chana masala has the added advantage of being healthy.

So here goes.

Ingredients / Preparation

1. Kabuli Chana / Chole / Chikpea: 1 cup

  • Sock the Chikpea overnight. 
  • In the morning, wash it and boil it in a pressure cooker. Drain and keep aside

2. Oil, 2 table spoonful
3. Finely chopped onion, 1 Cup
4. Ginger Garlic Paste, 1 tea spoonful

  • Heat oil in a frying pan
  • Add Onion and Ginger Garlic Paste and Saute till onion turns golden brown
5. Dhania / Coriander Powder: 1 tea spoonful
6. Red Chilli Powder: 1 tea spoonful
7. Chana / Chole Masala: 1 Table spoonful
8. Chopped Tomato: 1 Cup
9. Salt to taste
10. Water, 3 Table Spoonful
11. Dhania (Coriander / Cilantro) leaves, chopped, for Garnishing.

  • Add Dhania, Red Chilli and Masala to the Sauted Onion.
  • Fry for about 2 minutes in medium flame, till the smell of raw masala is replaced by smell of fried masala
  • Add tomato and fry for another 2 minutes
  • Add the boiled Chikpea (Chana)
  • Cook in medium flame for about 10 minutes
  • Switch off the stove, top it with Coriander leaves, allow to cool.
  • Your Chana masala is ready.
Fun Facts (Nutrition Facts)


03 November 2013

Steps to improve your website speed...

I found this excellent link which provides you with a comprehensive technical evaluation of your website.

This site is called GT Matrix and you have to input your website URL.

I tested it for this site (http://manofallseasons.in) and the GT Matrix came out with a 21 Page report with specific recommendations.

Unfortunately, I don't understand most of it !!

02 November 2013

30 Days 30 Veggies: Day 9: Baingon / Brinjal / Kathirikai (Eggplant) Fry

This is day 9 of my series. These days are moving very slow. After about 25 days of starting, I am still on Day 9.

You may wonder why this series is moving slow. Shouldn't he be eating some stuff, you may be asking yourself. Does he prepare for 3 days at a time, you may query.

Well there is no secret. When I prepare a Subzi, I prepare it for three times. Night / Morning / Night or Morning / Night / Morning. For preparing these vegetables, I do cut and keep them in the fridge, but end up only cooking a smaller amount than I cooked. So on other days, I prepare vegetables that I have already used in this series. For example, the other day, I made Cabbage Fry, but since I have already written about it on Day 3, I can't use it in this series again.

Yet another reason is that I use potato as a filler. Since this series has decided to leave out Potato, those preparations get missed out. Also note that I prepare good Dal (Lentils). But since Dal is not a vegetable, I cannot use that in this series.

One final point. You can see that most of my preparations are 'Fries'. There are a few reasons why I prepare 'Fries' as a part of the series. First of all, unlike the name suggests, they are not real 'Fries' in the sense of using too much oil. My preparations use very little oil. Second, they cook pretty quickly. Most of my preparations can be done in about 15 minutes. Three, they (my preparations) use commonly available ingredients across the world, for example, 'Coriander Powder', 'Cumin Powder' and 'Haldi' (Turmeric in English and Curcuma in Spanish) are available in Bombay and Bogota. Finally, all the vegetables that I prepare are ok to be cooked alone. They do not need partners, except Onion and Tomato (in certain cases)

Having got this off my chest, I am feeling very happy.

The vegetable of choice today is the good old Brinjal, also known as Eggplant or Aubergine or Berenjena (Espanol). It is also called 'Kathrika' in Malayalam, 'Kathirikai' in Tamil and Beguni in Bengali. 

Let me tell you something. World is divided into two kinds of people. Those who like eggplant and those who don't. I fall into the latter category. I am not a great fan of eggplant. If it were not for this '30 Days, 30 Veggies' project, I don't think I would have touched it with a barge pole. On the other hand, Eggplant cooks fast and cooks well. That is a great boon for a person as hard-pressed for time as I am.

Get the hell into the topic, do I hear you say?

Here goes.

Ingredients.

1. Onion, 1 medium sized, finely chopped
2. Oil, 2 Tablespoonful
3. Ginger - Garlic paste 1 teaspoon

1. Pour oil into a pan. Once the oil is heated, add the onion and the paste. Wait till it turns golden brown

5. Haldi powder, a pinch
6. Coriander Powder, a pinch
7. Green chill, 1 medium, cut small
8. Curry leaves, 4-5
9. Chopped Tomatoes, 1 cup

2. Add the Haldi Powder, Coriander Powder and stir for 2 minutes till the raw smell of masala is replaced with the fried smell
3. Add Green Chilli and Curry leaves and cook for 2 minutes
4. Add Tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes, mixing well.
5. Add a bit of water, 2 Table spoonful or so, and mix thoroughly.

10. Cut Eggplant, 2 cups cut in small

7. Add the Eggplant, mix well and cook in medium heat
8. Cook for 10 minutes. 
9. Your Brinjal fry is ready.

Happy Diwali !!!

Wishing all my readers a very happy Diwali !!

May the festival of lights bring you and your family lasting peace, cheer and prosperity !!

01 November 2013

My 300th Blogpost: A milestone

My post on Failed Project was my 300th post in my blog !!

Like your age, or your experiences that creep up on you unobtrusively, my 300th post came without any announcement, without any fanfare.

I have been regularly posting my blog posts and there it is !! . My 300th Post.

My year wise number of posts are as below.


I started blogging in December 2005. You could say that I was one of the early bloggers in India. In the initial days, I did not give a lot of thought to blogging. As my 301st post will tell you tomorrow, I was extremely busy in a project in the year 2006. Hence my posts were very rare. That is an overstatement. In 2006 my posts were zero.

I did 54 posts in 2007, most of them earlier in the year. In the middle of 2007, I joined a new company. Since I did not know the blog policies of the company, I decided not to take risks and not to post in my blog.

In the year 2008, I went to Bogota, Colombia and most of my posts written from that country. I enjoyed Bogota and my posts reflect the affection that I felt for that country.

You can checkout my posts on Bogota here.

I also had a couple of posts from the USA, which I visited in 2012 and one from UK, which I wrote in 2007.

2009, 10 and 11 were a lull because I was busy with my project work. Well, that is a silly excuse. I did not write, period.

Somewhere in 2012, I started writing a series on 'Tribute to My Batchmates'. This was on the lines of the book 'The Class' written by Erich Segal. I was a part of Class of '81-'86 of Government Engineering Collage, Trichur, Kerala. I wanted to write about how my batchmates were faring after 25 years. The story is mostly positive, I don't like to write negative and hurt people. This is an ongoing project.

Couple of my recent posts got published in the 'Spicy Saturday' feature in  Blogadda, one was on 'Gym Perspectives' and the other one on 'Ice Cream Sandwich'. I enjoyed writing them.

Many of the posts, like this one, just came out on to the page smoothly. Those are the posts that I enjoyed writing and also which the readers liked. Where I have laboured to complete a post, neither I had the satisfaction of writing nor my readers had the joy of reading...

Somewhere in 2012, I changed the focus of my blog to personal growth. I renamed my blog to 'Grow Together' from the earlier 'Thoughts out of the Box', to show this focus. 

I also see that the best blogposts are written from the heart, with feelings and emotion. The moment I distance myself from the emotion of the experience, I write bad. 

I also enjoy writing about people, about books (Check out my section on Book Reviews) and cooking. Currently I am in the middle of a project to cook thirty different Vegetable dishes in thirty days. You can read about my recipes and emotions in My Cookbook.

The key task for me going forward is to tag my blogs more scientifically. Each post should have the correct tag so that cross-referencing becomes easy.

I also missed some key posts in my blog. I remember reading about the horrible Josef Fritzl episode when I was in Bogota. I was devastated by the cruelty and depravity shown by Mr.Fritzl. Regretfully, I did not write anything about that incident. That was one key miss.

Similarly the Satyam Scandal. I purchased Shares of Satyam at a price of 13 and sold it off at about 100, but I did not write about the scandal even though I followed the case very closely.

That's it for now. I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy writing my blog. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it...