Month: May 2005

Of desserts and Cafe Mocha

I happened to see this amazing feature on Discovery Travel and Living on the most amazingly mouth-watering varieties of desserts and ice creams in America. The programme showcased every ice cream parlor, right from the world-wide known brands like Baskin Robbins, Dairy Queen (with its trademark curl on top of the cone !!) and then went on to even the exclusive and exotic brands like Michelle’s Ice creams, which offer unimaginable varieties like avocado, this place called Ben and Jerry’s and lots others !!

My personal favourite was the ‘Dairy Queen Blizzard’. An absolutely sumptuous concoction of ice cream, nuts, cream, chocolate or butter scotch sauce, and any other add-on that you may fancy, all whipped up into this creamy sundae, so thick, that it doesn’t budge an inch even on completely inverting the huge glass it is served in !!
No guesses that it is an absolutely rage at the DQ’s all over….now that’s one thing I have to get my hands on, when I reach the US…in the next 2 or 3 years !! :-P:-P

Definitely was the kind of show that grows onto you with every passing minute, and definitely left ME begging for more !!

Reminds me of the most amazing dessert experience I’ve ever had…..This was in January 2005. Gau, Gaya and I had gone for the IIT Techfest at Powai. It was the perfect setting- T1 was just done with, and it was our first impromptu trip together !! I’m not going to go into the details of the Techfest- this post is not meant for that, all I can say is- It was absolutely awe-inspiring !! Now I know why an IIT is an IIT !! Everything about it is so larger than life…a 50 lakh event, a McLaren on display, Humanoid robots specially flown down for a soccer match (But frankly, that one event was a letdown, the AIBO Robots at Fervor 2004 were MUCH real, the Humanoids didn’t exactly kick the ball !!), international level participation at Yantriki, the Drishti exhibition for the blind…all of it was just too astounding…add to that the entire IIT experience- the Powai lake, the Coffee Shack, carom at the boys hostel, the sight of whole lot of technology hungry wannabe engineers trying to grasp the most of the vast ocean of knowledge on display at the Fest, the IIT boys (I didn’t see any girls) who knew exactly how to have fun while they learn- way beyond my comprehension…and in fact, a tad too intimidating….

Coming back to the dessert…Now after the technological empowering we had experienced at the Techfest, it was time for some much needed diversion to other necessary recreational activities…so off we were- 3 girls and 9 guys- for some pet pooja, to this coffee shop called Mocha, at the Hiranandani complex, a stone’s throw away from IIT. From what I know of cafes at Pune, dessert aficionados here have to make do with simple pastries or doughnuts, and that’s exactly why this place was different !! To begin with, the most amazing thing about this place was its hatke ambience. Everything from the glasses to the furniture, to spoons, to the amazingly comfortable cushions and diwans, was uniquely mismatched…you know, high tables, low chairs, tribal masks hanging all over, no particular theme to the art work put up. Created a charm unparalled by anything I’ve seen so far. Makes you take an instant liking to it !!

And the menu…now that’s what deserves a noteworthy mention. And though Akshay did insist that even the water at Mocha is ‘really good’, I wouldn’t quite like to comment on that, and go straight to the dessert section. The picture below must have already given you a fair idea of what to expect. Well, firstly the variety they have to offer is so extensive, that it takes ages to decide what to order. Finally after much discussion, Gaya settled for a Chocolate Avalanche (what you see on the right, in the pic), and certainly an avalanche it was !! A sinful combination of cubes of brownies, ice cream, chocolate sauce and choco chip cookies, and the one you see in the pic was the smaller version !! But what I treated myself to- was the one on the left in the pic and it is called the ‘Vertigo’ (which Gau and I shared) I swear I will award half my kingdom to anyone to gets me something as soft, succulent and sumptuous as this !! Every spoonful just melts in your mouth and you just can’t stop eating it till you’re down to the last bite !! Icing on the cake- that beautiful swirl of frozen chocolate sauce on top !!

mocha!!

Add to that, the company of friends, absolute freedom to throw the cushions around till you’ve found you’re comfort zone (we guys were near horizontal on the diwans !!), the occasional conversion of the coffee shop to a dance floor and the whole atmosphere filled with joie de vivre !! Truly an experience to cherish !! Blends so beautifully with the Mocha slogan- Come in, Make life wait, Take a twenty minute vacation !!




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P.S.- The whole experience did burn a little hole in our pockets…but hello..it was our vacation !! ;-);-)
The waiters at Mocha did say that they were contemplating an outlet in Pune. What can I say- they have their first set of customers all waiting eagerly in queue !!

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Living your dream

I am a regular subscriber of this famous youth magazine in Mumbai, called JAM. The people at JAM recently started this new column, called ‘Chronicles of a Budding Entrepreneur’, written by this guy called Abhishek Thakore who used to work with them earlier. This guy’s an IIM-B graduate, with an excellent curricular and extra-curricular record, which is too long to chronicle here. Anyway what makes this guy different is that he decided to opt out of placements, chucked away a plush white-collared job in foreign land, only to venture into entrepreneurship, because that’s what he always wanted to do. Sure, it’s the hard way out, with lesser money initially, more work, high stakes and every chance of the entire deal going kaput, but in his own words- “Each of us has a dream deep within us, a hidden talent, a hidden calling that we need to manifest. And after all, it’s my life and I have a right to screw it !!” His entire journey of getting his vision to become reality appears in the form of COBE, a reality series in print !!

Had read this quote in my school journal once- ‘Don’t take a trodden path, leave behind a blazing trail.’ Heavy. Very heavy. Never realised the significance if that statement way back then, its got my mind tiking now.

A little reality check here: Do we really follow our dreams? Is what we do, really what we WANT to do? Or most commonly, aren’t the dreams we dream, often replaced by societal norms and ‘doing what is right’ ?? And the ones who decide to take the plunge, with little consideration for the risks it carries, only because that is the very path that is going to satiate their thirst for excitement, fulfill that adventurous appetite, and most importantly, make them happy, are applauded for sure, but when the time comes for us to figure our life out, we’d rather go with the norms, thank you !!

A friend of mine too, is a standing example of the ‘living your dream’ way of life. In spite of being a topper in COEP, and getting a comfortable job at a top MNC, he decided to quit it all and work in an NGO, only because he couldn’t gel with the corporate culture. Most people would possibly call that stupid, but hey…every person has been guaranteed the freedom to live life, on his own terms and conditions.

I often get amazed at how people can really convince themselves to risk it all, for the sake of one dream, how people can possess the passion, an unending belief in their idea, the keeda to do it right !! Truly inspiring !! But again, as my friend says- ‘Tasa inspiring vagaire koni nasta. You are truly inspired only by the spark you see within yourself !!’

Heavy. Very very Heavy.

Random thoughts..

I’m just a month and 5 posts into blogging and just realized some rather inconsequential but typical characteristics of my writing…thought it should pen…oops..type it down here…

Firstly..me ‘kevdha lihite’…can I ever stop writing once I start ?? I guess not…it just has to go on and on and on and on….But again..that’s been a habit since the first time I wrote an essay on ‘A visit to the beach’ way back in 3rd or 4th grade !! Now probably that speaks ‘volumes’ (pun intended) about my love for writing, but maybe I’m calling for a tad too much of perseverance on the part of the readers, to get past the beginning, the middle and finally reach the end !! And hell no, thats not because my writing is even a wee bit tortorous on the young, innocent minds of the readers..thats probably because generally people don’t have enough time to read through so much..So from now on- The posts shall be within suitable word limits !! (Happy Niri !!) 🙂

Another point I realised was the high frequency with which I use the ‘!!’. Nearly every sentence I write, has to end with a !!. One of my friends noticed it once and mentioned that it conveys a very happy state of mind (now that statement deserves a !!). Well if I try to reason out the frequent use of this punctuation mark…its probably because of the extemporaneous flow of thoughts that make up most of my writings…the ‘!!’ just sort of flows in, without me realising that it has. Maybe a ! would just do fine, but what the hell…I like to be different, so the !! is here to stay !! (see..)

Ok…I really don’t know whether this ‘write-up’ qualifies as a decent post and whether I really needed to delve into the intricasies of my writing styles…I’m going to continue writing the same way anyways !! And I don’t want to exceed the word limits I set for myself earlier…so with that I sign off !!

Adios Amigos !!

$ups

50% Engineer ??!!

Ok…so its that time of the year again !! End semester exams done, a rather disappointing end to an absolutely fun-filled 4th semester. It doesn’t take too long for the realization to dawn on me, that I’m nearly half through engineering now. Everyone I meet (read: the innumerable relatives, who’re ever enthusiastic to drop in those usually unasked for ‘valuable’ views !!) keep reminding me of the fact that I can now call myself a ‘50% Engineer !! (Ok…the results aren’t out yet, but I’m definitely not getting a Year Down !)

Been brooding over the whole ‘50% Engineer’ phenomenon for the past 3 days since exams, and here’s a low-down on the semesters that were:

First semester: Naïve, vulnerable me, all excited and geared up for the new world…after all it was COEP Mech yaar ! Got a whole new cool gang of 14 people- timepassed like crazy. Discovered how much fun bunking lectures and not going home, or giving proxy can be !! Not done much except give the now-routine T1, T2 and ESE.

To quickly chronicle the events- A fun Freshers party with great food, first outing with Gau, Gaya and Rads on tub four- amazing time, Pardeshi’s gay histronics, Mrs. Ekhande’s new-age physics fundas, dreadful time with Electrical !! But loved Workshop and had a marvellous time with Joshi sir in Elements of Mech Engg. !!

Getting to know seniors- the baaps, the geniuses, the GODS, the influencial ones, the inspirations and the ones to be steered clear of…

The only prominent activity was the cultural audition, where I got selected (hurray !!), found a place in the COEP Firodiya 2004 team. Now that was something to look forward to !!

Second semester: The whole of the vacations went in Firodiya practice, the late nights, the music, the freedom, the creative satisfaction, the thrill of being on stage, the COEP maaz, ‘new friends’, ultimate bliss..

6th February- Show done, enter Zest (thanks to Gau) and Fervor (thanks to Sonia)

Celebrated Valentine’s Day- COEP ishtyle !! Full Kalla….:-)

Turned 19 in style with a brilliant surprise party (Thanks Mom !!)

Gau and I passed the swim test, ambitious beginnings on the clinkered pair..

Next in the pipeline- Gathering (participated for ‘friends’ sake)

Of course, exams figured somewhere on the agenda !!

In a nutshell- 4 events, 4 bunksheets (that was the new buzz word !!), a whole new life..

Highlight: Post exam stay over at Soumya’s place- romping around town at 1 in the night, drive to Singhagad with new friends, baring my soul to near strangers…rather enriching time !

On the dark side (which I realized later) – made some wrong decisions, trusted wrong people, took uncalculated risks, lived life, probably a little too much on the edge !!

Was the COEP maaz getting on to me a tad too fast ??!!

Lesson learnt: Never take life for granted, Time and tide wait for no man !

Third semester: Begins with new resolutions, new goals, new aspirations…

New department, new class, new friends, new professors…

Elections in August- campaigning, voting, publicity gimmicks, strutting around with funny badges pinned all over, putting up banners…fun !

Getting chosen Joint Secretary, MESA- Thanks to my F.E. work !

MESA Inauguration- first taste of what being ‘politically correct’ is all about !!

Taking up the job of revamping the music room- first hand experience in Gymkhana politics, quotations, faxes, money matters, persuasion, the government style of functioning, delays, maska-giri…the works !!

Fervor 2005 work begins with sponsorships- read: visit with Sonia to TATA Motors (and lunch at the executive canteen, thanks to Cheri and Manisha Singh !!)

Mercedes Benz- awesome time !! Great company, great technology, great employees… getting people to shell out 50 grand for an event couldn’t get easier !! Of course, a part of the package deal was- a lecture series by two of the nicest men I’ve met- Mr. Chandavarkar and Mr. Mandpe, and approval to get the new Mercedes Biofuel car to COEP….yippee !!

Highlight: The Diwali ‘high’ (if you get my drift..)- a brilliant time with Soumya, arguably one of the craziest but best times of my life !!

Another highlight– industrial visit to a sugar factory, special for ‘special’ reasons !!

Again on the flip side– disagreements with friends, a few people ka parda- faash, a sour end to a few relationships, a fiasco with the Maths department for being caught giving proxy (Result- we haven’t given proxy in a single lecture ever since !! Unbelievable, but true !!)

Lesson learnt: Learn to say NO to people, Never trust people too soon, Speaking your mind is not always such a good idea !!

Fourth semester: Visit to the IIT, Bombay Techfest, and needless to say, the trip was fantabulous !! Inspired the engineer in all of us. Added attractions- the local train journeys, Hiranandani, Vertigo @ Café Mocha (smack !), travelling by the last local at 1:32 am !! An absolutely marvelous weekend !

Uniforms made compulsory on Mondays and Thursdays- thanks to Dr. Sathe (that SSB !!)

No Firodiya, so immersed myself headlong into Fervor. Sponsorships, printing permission letters (Sick !!), endless discussion sessions with Ohol and Kajale Sir, minor ego clashes, lack of communication between team members….don’t really want to get into all that…but in general, not a very fruitful period. Add to that…the trauma of compering a flop valedictory function !! All’s not well that doesn’t end well !!

Lesson learnt: A joint secretary’s job at FERVOR is limited to drafting and printing permission letters, never put your finger in too many pies !

Zest was opening up new avenues, something exciting and never-done-before, but alas…the Regatta incident changed the face of the whole scheme of things..

Highlight– winning the Personality contest at the Gathering- I now am Miss COEP/PIET !!

Another Highlight– Gau, Gaya and I decided to participate in the VIT Techfest Model Making competition- we were finally doing something technical !! Two sleepless nights and late night brainstorming sessions with Gau’s genius dad’s genius friend and the baaps of COEP (read: Addy, Pushkar and Mangesh) later, we had a beauty of a bridge made of ice-cream sticks, cardboard, straws of two different thicknesses and cross-sectional areas (!!) and a whole spool of black thread !! The joy, the exhilaration of creating something with your own hands…priceless (not to add the exposure the whole experience gave us !!) And of course, our bridge was a runaway hit at the competition. And had it not been for the wrongly interpreted rules by a certain Mister Mittal of VIT, we’d have been proud first-attempt winners at a techfest !!

Highlight of Highlights: Brand new, flashy, 25 grand Magnum (read: videsi..imported man !!) drum kit arrives at COEP- An extremely satisfactory end to four months of toiling !!

All in all, managed to garner up bunksheets for three out of the three and a half month long semesters we have (legalized fun !!), hardly attended lectures, bonded better with old friends, made really treasured new ones !!

So..very frankly speaking, the past 2 years have hardly been straight out of the life of an engineering student !! Probably they should be giving us an Event Management and Disaster Management degree instead of the B.Tech we’re getting !! Loads of ups and downs, loads of disappointments, lots of fun and masti, lots of growing up and too many lessons learnt and the learning continues…!!

What the future holds for me- I don’t know, and I don’t even want to know !! All I know is, at this phase in my life- I’m blessed with truly wonderful people, and cherished bitter-sweet experiences that’ll remain an integral part of me, at every point of my life.

As for Engineering- we have all that sorted too !! Come June, and we friends will be off to the Mercedes School of Mechatronics for a month long training course (Thanks to Kadlaskar uncle and Gaya !)

Anyway, as I get ready to enter T.Y.B.Tech, I am reminded of what a senior friend once told us- Students undergo a major transformation as engineers, in their third year !! I can only say….AMEN !!

(P.S.- Gau and Gaya- have I missed out on anything else that we’ve been upto in the past 2 years? Do let me know if you remember anything !! And looking forward to another 2 years of chill marne with u guys !! :-):-))

Orkutting !!

To put it very simply- Its addictive !! Its been only a month and a half since I got introduced to Orkut by Gaya, and since then it has truly succeeded in taking over much of my Internet time ! Whether its building up my friends list, or participating in online community forums, or even ‘sharing my friends karma’ !! Latest count- I have 8 smileys, 4 ice-cubes and one fan !! Now how cool is that ??!! :-):-)

My homepage changes from the usual Google to Orkut
The first half an hour of my net time is spent scrapping people, replying to scraps and messages and updating profiles and photo albums !!
‘Orkutting’ is the newest activity to hit COEPians- if the participation in the COEP community is anything to go by !!

And communities- a plethora of them to take your pick from- from the usual Puzzles, Books, Politics, to the more personalised ones like Poona, Chintoo, Hotel Vaishali, to the absolutely feel-at-home ones like COEP, Boat Club, COEP Mechanical, and of course the out-and-out whacky ones like ‘Born Losers’, ‘Arbit, Completely Arbit’, and what not !!

Ok…now I’m not advertising for Orkut or anything, but hey…its really a wonder site, where networking and maintaining contacts is concerned !!
Where else can you keep in touch with your friends all over the world, absolutely free of cost, and without the hassles of writing emails all the time !! Just a two line scrap does the job ! After all, its just a question of telling people that they are remembered !!

My favourite activity on Orkut – writing testimonials !! I was once on an absolutely feel good trip and ended up writing testimonials for nearly 8 of my very good friends ! And I must say, definitely feels great to know that you have so many cool people in your life !!

With that…I’m off to scrap few other people on my list…Chao !!

$ups

My take on Feminism…

Last month’s issue of India Today, had this cover story called ‘Power Goddess’, some kind of a review on the 50 ‘Most Successful Women’ in India, and how they have stood up against all odds to prove their mettle in their male dominated careers etc etc. Good article, I must say, and kudos to all the women featured up there….I truly salute thee and look up to thee in reverence and hope that some day I too shall be featured in one of those lists (high hopes !!)

But one particular young-and-successful woman’s interview caught my attention, which is the prime reason I am writing this post. It was none other than Ms. Ekta ‘I-am-obsessed-with-K’ Kapoor of Balaji Telefilms, arguably the biggest TV production house in India (I don’t know why I needed to add that tagline there, but nonetheless !!) As is not new to the soap-a-holics, Balaji is run entirely by two headstrong women Ekta (or is it Ektaa now, numerological reasons ;-)) and her mom Shobhaa Kapoor, along with an extremely ‘creative’ team comprising primarily of women !! Well, of course, they’re doing really well, if TRP rating are anything to go by, and minting their money, thanks to the duo’s obsession with K and their faithfully churned-out saas-bahu sagas !!

Ok now I’m deviating from the true point of discussion…

There was this one comment by Ektaa which went- ‘The men at Balaji’s are treated like the men in my serials. They are mere props.’ Yeah right…so that’s what evolution and modernization is all about, huh ??!! Some overweight, self conscious gawky kid turned hip creative director of sappy soaps commenting on men being like doormats !!

Another so called contemporary, confident, 21st century woman’s take on feminism: The highly over-rated Mallika Sherawat, the quintessential girl with big dreams, born in a terribly backward and conservative Haryanvi home, who runs away from her oppressive dad to prove her worth in the Big Bad world of Bollywood !! Now here’s a dame who can’t stop commenting on how the New Indian woman is all about being comfortable with her sexuality and speaking her mind and not being ashamed of her needs..und so weite…(Latest on her list of outright brash desires- Being in a threesome with Robert DeNiro and some other Hollywood hunk- Obnoxious !!) Well, ok, you may have highly ambitious desires and totally ahead-of-your-time viewpoints, but is it really necessary to be saying it on National television or in print ??!!

The only thoughts that run through my head on reading such statements are- OUCH !! Is this what they call ‘New Age Feminism’ or the much-hyped ‘Women finally emerging out of their shells’ syndrome or the highly over-rated ‘Battle of the Sexes’ !!??

Whatever you want to name it, if this is what contemporary society is all about, I’d rather be medieval, thank you !! After years and years of ambling on and on about position of men and women in society, I think its time for both the species to accept that NO ONE CAN DO WITHOUT THE OTHER !! Period. Then why this attitude adjustment problem ?

Methinks feminism lies in accepting your male counterparts as friends, colleagues, competitors, acquaintances, and EQUALS !! Just like how you ought to treat any other woman in the same field as you. There no more exists a ‘male dominated society’ per se. Yes, the women are still oppressed in some god-forsaken rural areas of Madhya Pradesh, female infanticide does exist, bride burning does happen…but in multinational companies, in the urbane societies of metropolitan cities, among the Page 3 la-di-da’s….definitely not !! In fact I think, probably the males have it the harder way in the cities- what with having to deal with terms like ‘metrosexuals’, MCPs, reservations (especially the 30% reservation in engineering colleges- ask any guy about that !!), casting couches (you think women don’t make passes at men ??!!)..and what not (whoever coined such terms !!)

To quote an example from home- I have a 65 year old grandmother, who is ANYTHING but your stereotypical 20th century nari. She runs a house with 13 people, takes care of 5 grandchildren, manages the kitchen, the family and still finds time for the gym (yes, she’s an ardent health freak), frequents the beauty salon and attends all her kitty parties (where they discuss the latest microwave friendly crockery !!). And needless to say, all this would never have been possible without my absolutely supportive and accommodating grandfather !! God bless them !! And wouldn’t that much rather be what a comtemporary Indian home is all about !!

It’s the age of DINK couples (for the uninitiated, that’s Double Income No Kids) and not-yet-30-but-multi-millionaire teenyboppers. Youngsters today dream of fast money, better lifestyles, larger-than-life homes and plush white-collar jobs. Women driving their own cars, men managing the laundry, both pitching in to run the household finances etc. is not considered all that big a deal anymore. True that the Indian middle-class society still doesn’t accept absolutely westernized concepts like live-in relationships, still squirms at excessive PDA on the streets, and still can’t come to terms with girls drinking and partying till early dawn. But again, that’s entirely a matter of personal choice and upbringing, and has little to do with the generalized face of the society, as such. If there is anything that needs change- it is the attitude of these self-obsessed femme fatales who think they can have the men eating out of their hands, just by posing half nude on cover pages of high-society magazines. If there’s anything that needs attention, it’s the people in rural India who still believe in child marriages, female infanticide and dowry. If there’s anyone who needs a good shaking-up, its Larry Summers, President, Harvard University, who proclaimed that men have more ‘intrinsic aptitude’ in complex science !! (Why the hell is he wasting time researching on insignificant theories !) Today’s world is all about progress and evolution and success and the only way to achieve that is to embrace the other race with open arms and work together towards a better tomorrow !! So move over feminism, the Age of Equality has arrived !! (God, I sound like some Youth Party Speaker !!)

And probably Ms. Kapoor should be reminded that Balaji runs because her dad supports her in selling her clichéd melodramas and because her brother still continues working in her meaningless movies, in a desperate attempt to shift his career into first gear !! 😉

Why ??!!

Why is it sooo difficult to comprehend people most of the times !!??!!
Why are things not always the way I would want them to be, or people not really the way I think they are initially !!
Why is friendship such a taken-for-granted relationship ?
Why does it just ‘click’ so amazingly well with some people and then, when all seems to be going great guns, things just take an unexpected, unwarranted-for turn…and suddenly..its just not the same again !!
Why aren’t humans born with remote controls in hand- rewind, play, overwrite and fast forward as you please !!
Why are there so many questions and just no answers ??