I spent a good part of the last post cursing the unpredictable Rochester weather and the boring summer. But to think on the positive side, there are two advantages of this weather too- Firstly, I am cooking a lot nowadays. Well, that is a good thing because those who know me decently well know that until about a year ago, I couldn’t make anything except tea, coffee and fried egg. Because I was coming to the US and had to live here with strangers, my mom forcefully taught me to cook a few simple dishes. But I was always like a fish out of water in the kitchen; cooking was always an ordeal! Moving into a house with three guys as roommates and no coursework gave me the time and desire to at least attempt to develop my expertise in the kitchen. And wonder of wonders, I discovered that cooking could be quite enjoyable! And what’s more, I could actually be good at it !! 🙂 Besides, it’s a known fact that there’s no better way to lift your spirits than good food! So the past few days have seen me make pretty successful attempts at Ragda Patties, Gobi Manchurian, Thalipeeth, Indian Chinese, North Indian fare and many other dishes that I otherwise would have stayed 10 feet away from. Of course, it’s not that I cook fancy stuff everyday but now I’ve reached a stage where if I have to rake up a meal for 5-6 people, I at least don’t get all nervous and jittery at the thought of it. And that is definitely something my mom and I are proud of!
I think now is a good time to mention a few people I credit this new-found skill to. Of course, a major source of ideas and recipes is my mom. I think we spend at least 10-15 minutes discussing what I cooked and what she cooked everyday! Apart from that, I also vehemently hunt around for good food blogs nowadays and this has been quite a revelation actually! I cannot believe the number of Indian women settled in various parts of the US who are actively running food blogs. Now these are all young, working, married women who have kids and a husband and maybe even in-laws to look after. And I don’t even know if they earn any sort of revenue from these blogs, apart from probably Adsense. But in spite of that, they regularly write about the food they cooked, add some pretty yummy pictures and conduct events to encourage fellow bloggers to come up with innovative recipes. Quite a strong network they have out there! Of course, you can always tell if the author is someone from the US when she uses cilantro instead of coriander and cayenne pepper instead of red chili powder !! 😉 While I do wish to thank all of them for their contributions, there are some who I am particularly fond of:
1) Naina’s recipes: Naina is actually my neighbor from Pune who has lived in Rochester for seven years and moved to Seattle just a few months ago. She has some pretty innovative recipes. I have yet to try out her authentic Italian fare though.
2) Aayi’s recipes: Now this is one incredible lady. She writes about the most complex stuff as well as the most mundane, every-day recipes. The thing I like best about her is that she cooks a lot of Konkani fare which is pretty simple and easy on the tastebuds too- afterall, who wants heavy, fat-enriched food everyday!
3) Manjula’s Kitchen: I guess most students in the US know about her website. She puts up videos of her recipes and though her website is not very exhaustive, it’s good for some of the North Indian dishes.
4) Hooked On Heat: I love her site mainly for the amazing tempting pictures she puts up! And she also has some very interesting recipes.
Okay, now enough of food stuff !! 😛 The second good thing about having to stay at home because of a rainy Rochester summer is that I get to watch a lot of movies nowadays !! You already know how fond I am of movies, but the funny thing is that until now, I have seen a lot of Hindi films but have somehow missed out on some of the most famous of English movies! And PD is a major fan of all Hollywood flicks. So we invariably end up hunting for movies on IMDB, download them and watch them. Add to that, one of our professors gave us his old TV and we bought an S-Video cable last week, so now we hook up our laptops to the TV too! Imagine what a heavenly combo that is- good food and a good movie !! :):)
The past few weeks of movie-watching have made me realize how much I’ve have missed out on all these years! There are some pretty incredible movies out there, which can haunt you for days on end! And you can always tell if I’ve liked a movie depending on whether I’m awake or not at the end of it! What happens is this- we usually see these movies in the night while having dinner and I am already pretty tired coz of school the whole day. So it is only a really good and gripping movie that manages to keep me awake all through it! 😛 Like I saw Shawshank Redemption (yup, I was seeing it for the first time! :P) till 2 am but it was alllll worth it! That movie is one of the most incredible movies I’ve ever seen. That’s the best thing about Hollywood flicks actually- they don’t glorify the “hero”; he’s not some brilliant chap who set out to do great things. He’s just an ordinary guy who made the most of the cards he was dealt with! And the whole movie is just about capturing his experiences and thoughts- and that’s what make them such extraordinary movies!
Of course, what blows you away is the expertise of the film-makers and technicians- they delve into such intricacies of their film’s characters, it’s almost as if they’re living each of their lives! Like take a movie like Wall-E– the story of this film is so painfully simple but you look at the animation and you actually feel for Wall-E and Eve. You don’t think of them as just cartoon characters. Same goes for Cars– I don’t know about you, but I found the idea of making a delighfully cute film about a racing car lost in a small village where he finds the true meaning of friendship to be pretty innovative. Talking about innovation, I saw Memento today and I have no words for a movie like that! I haven’t seen Ghajini so I’m not going to compare the two. But I do believe that even a master like Aamir Khan would not have been able to capture the true essence of the film. This is probably why Murudagoss had to resort to making the hero seem like a violent, angry guy seeking revenge. Memento is hardly what you can call violent! That is another thing about Hollywood films- everything is so understated in them. Most of the emotions the characters are going through- pain, grief, joy, guilt, pride, jealousy- are either explicit because of the dialogues and screenplay, or are left to the viewer’s imagination. Unfortunately Indian films resort to very strong display of emotions, everything is very in-your-face and that sometimes does little to excite the viewer or make him think. But I guess that has more to do with the way we are- we tend to be more gregarious and loud than the Americans and so this behavior is reflected in our movies too. (Interesting view on it here by my friend Ketaki).
Of course, I don’t love all the movies I see. Like, I saw The Hangover the other day and it is the dumbest, ickiest movie I have ever seen. Why would anyone make a movie like that!?!
So anyway, going by the trend, I’m looking forward to loads of yummy dishes being cooked at home and even better movies being watched.. 🙂 And that sure does make it a wonderful summer! 🙂 Oh and by the way, I saw Harry Potter in the theater last week and it somehow was such a letdown! I think what is happening is- people’s expectations of the movie have risen so far that the directors are finding it hard to live up to it! I was specially expecting a good movie from David Yates, given that he did a fantastic job of the previous movie. But this somehow just didn’t have that magical touch. I can’t pinpoint to exactly what it was, but that awesome feeling you get after watching an HP movie was missing! I honestly hope the last two are brilliant- otherwise it would be a wayyy too disappointing end to the series…