Thursday, June 4, 2009

my first day at cooking

Atlast after eating in restaurants for about a month I plunged myself into the waters of cooking.

I was indeed inspired by the way Akhil made it easy for me during my visit to Paris to atleast give it a shot.

So, I and Sharjeel decided to cook our dinner last nite, Narendra wasnt involved as he gets hi meal from the landlord. I took out the packages and baggages of masala and rice. Got some potatoes from the landord's basket. While I was washing the rice I told Sharjeel to peel the potatoes, it turned out that he didnt even know this art, which I think everyone should know. Nevertheless, I washed the rice put it on the stove, peeled the potatoes and let it to boil. While the cooking was being done by the stove, I opened the packets of masalas to figure out exactly what were they, thankfully my mom had put a slip in each of them. But still I didnt know what all to put in a sabji, so I decided to gamble(I think gamble will not be a good word, as I had tried this once in my home) to put little of all the stuffs in. But I do had the idea of how much salt to put(I do help my mom in the kitchen sometime) so I was pretty safe in ruining the sabji. Finally after 20 min the potatoes were boiled and rice was cooked, I drained the excess water from the rice and kept it aside.

Now main test of my memory was to begin, in what order do I have to cook the sabji(means wat to put in first and den on). I remembered mom used to fry the potatoes first, so i did dat untill the were brownish(another thing learnt while helpin mom in kitchen), den put in the water and pinch of all the masalas(kaali mirch, haldi, zeera and many other) and waited it to form a dense gravy, which is when U know sabji is cooked.

After about 10 min wen I opened the lid, to my amazement there were no dense gravy but only water. Then smthing struck to my mind and I realised, dat I have to put the onions too. Hurriedly I drew one onion(again from landlord's basket) peeled it, cut into small pieces and put into the pan.

And den started coming the good smell of the sabji, 20 more min and sabji was ready and we(sheru came wen every things was done and ready) were on the table to have the dinner(my first self-made dinner). It was nice. As Sheru hadnt helped me in cooking so I left the washing of dishes to him.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

BeNeLux Trip

finally ... got the time to write this blog ... after tiring and awesome trips to amsterdam,brussels, antwerp and paris.

We were having holiday on thursday so by getting Friday off we were there with 4 continuous holidays, anyone will agree that it is a great oppurtunity to travel and that too for us, who have to spend considerable amount of time traveling. Our intitial plan was to visit Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris, but due to unavalibility of train tickets to Paris we had to confine ourselves to Amsterdam, Brussels and Antwerp(talking in Eu-rail lingua BeNeLux). So we had our tickets booked. Our train was at 11 am from Kobenhaven station and we would be reaching Amsterdam central station at 11:30 pm(pretty long and tiring). Intitially Akhil and G2 were to meet us there at Amsterdam but because of some problems ;) G2 couldnt join. The journey to Amsterdam was fine, except at Duisberg where the German Fedral Police came to Sharjeel and asked for only his passport and none of others(now this is common as people are scared of Sharjeel's beard). Finally we were there at Amsterdam at 11:30 pm and after searching for Akhil for some time we five of us (me, Narendra, Sharjeel, Akhil and Akshay) were on the streets of Amsterdam starting our Eurotrip phase-I. Though it was midnight but the streets were full of people. You could see groups passing by with beer bottles in their one hand and joint in other(Sadly I dont smoke). We kept on moving around, had dinner at MacD, I had big french fries for 3.10 euros. Well wen u convert it into INR it would be approx 200 for 100gm of potatoes(first few things I learnt after reaching Copenhagen was to stop converting else I would be starving to death). Anywayz we continued our street patrolling. Then a strange thing happened, an old man came to us and asked for the lighter, as Sharjeel is only smoker in our group I asked him for the same. Out of sudden Sharjeel tossed the lighter to the old man and it hit him on his head. Being heavily drunk, man didnt feel the pain and went on to light his joint. Sharjeel was delighted(and so was Akshay, God knows why as neither he smokes nor was inclined to start) after seeing the joint and so he went on to ask the couple(sry if didnt mentioned that couple was heavily drunk or whatever u call wen people are on high). Couple was delighted to see the indians as for the people over there Indians means weed-supplier and dats the reason why we were asked for the weed by many during our stay. Anyway Sharjeel got some free weed, sadly he couldnt get the hash as women couldnt find in her bag. Sharjeel later complained about the weed of not being of good quality(have no idea wat a good quality means in weeds, wait for his comments if u want to know details). Now it was 2:00 am, every thing in Amsterdam closes at 2:00 only few bars and clubs :P open till 4:00 and they are in the Red Light District(RLD). So we went in, looking for the bars, dont know why as dere were only two drinkers in the group me and Akhil(sry occasional drinker, as this was fifth time for me and similar for Akhil), but we couldnt find any so at last we sat on the footpath and started playin cards. We later noticed that the place where we were playin cards was rite in front of the RLD, so were nagged by police on regular intervals. We played till 5:00, its wen the station opens, we went dere to have a short nap. So this how the first nite at Amsterdam went.

Wen we came outside the station it was like if a carnival is just over. Warm atmosphere, bottles, cigg butts and wrappers scattered all around. The muncipal workers were cleaning the roads. The hotels and restaurants were being delivered the drums of beer and wines in similar fashion as as milk is delivered in India. And soon after an hour and so street were crowded wid people as if its another day of a carnival.

We bought the I amsterdam cards to travel in Amsterdam(58 euros .. 5k INR, never mind) and the tour package for Belgium(53 euros), went on a canal ride which was included in the card fell asleep in the ride, went to various museums. Sharjeel and Akhil took the room for a nite(50 euros per nite per head), I had no enthu to spend so much. Den again came the nite. After having the dinner(french fries again), Sharjeel and Akhil went to their room and we(me, Narendra and Akshay) were on the streets again. First we went to the station(as it is open till 2), had a good sleep(generally you are not allowed to sleep but you can at the platforms as there are no cops dere). Then at 2 we were told to leave the platform, went outside and slept in a shade outside, but again were nagged by the cops for sleeping, this woke me and askhay and we couldnt sleep but narendra went on. slowly and slowly time went by and it was 5:00. We again entered the station, I went flat inside and was later woken by narendra wen police again nagged us for sleeping(Why the hell we not allowed to sleep at station ... take these people to India we will provide enought space to sleep at stations). We went ot Sharjeel's room, I had little sleep while other got fresh, den took a tram and randomly stopped at a station, it turned out to be "I amsterdam" park we got few pics and headed back as our Belgium tour was starting from 10:00. I was pretty sure Akhil and Sharjeel were still sleeping so went to their room they proved me right :P. I woke them and we hurried to get the bus. Luckily we caught the bus and so out trip to Belgium began. Our first stop was Antwerp, we went to Cathedral, castles, Akhil ordered white beer(dont know why they call it so, colour is the same and so is the taste). Den we were off for Brussels. It is an awesome city, with lot and lot of beautiful ancient architectures, huge palaces, city squares and buildings similar to Vienna(ohh i havent yet written about our Vienna trip, will write it soon). We had 3 hours of stay at Brussels, we went around tried the chocolates for free, they were awesome. Not much to write about the visits as you can find them in the pics. Boarded the bus and were back to Amsterdam by 10 in night. Akhil stayed there as he was having his train to Paris from Brussels next morning. As this was our last nite at Amsterdam, we went deep inside the RLD to explore it. There were many things .... oops cant write about them ... The whole of RLD was marked by the red lights as if it was circled with a red light ribbon and every shop, club and etc had the red lights in the front. We walked into the streets exploring it .. and spending our last nite at Amsterdam of the trip. We went to windmill and had the canal ride nest day ... and finally were on the train at 5 in the evening. It was as if we were returning to our home from a long journey(which ofcourse it was .. 3 continuous night on street sleeping here and dere).

Our train back to Copenhagen was one which you see in the movies with 6 people compartment. All of us were in different compartments, I went direclty to sleep and was sleeping until Utrech wen a fair Dutch girl came and woke me. I was in deep sleep so what I could manage to utter was which is your seat and she said seat 85 one rote in front of mine near the windows(nywayz it hardly mattered as only we two were in the compartment). She was a lively girl who always smiled. Then we talked about each other. I told her dat I was on a visit to Amsterdam and she told dat she was going to Copenhagen to visit her boyfriend who was a Phd student at Univ of Copenhagen. Den the talk moved to the arbit topics like the lifestyle in Amsterdam and India, she suggested me the places to visit in Rome as she had been dere and I strongly recommended her to go to Tivoli Gardens. She gave me one of the juice which she had brought, it was made from some flower, it tasted good. Den Sharjeel, Akshay and Rahul(we met him on this very train) came and we four (Akshay was excluded from the game) started playing cards. We played till late nite and den we went to sleep to wake up next morning in Copenhagen, back to the daily routine "office".