Sunday, September 23, 2007

Moon Cake Festival Or Lantern Festival Or Mid-Autumn Festival

This festival, also known as the Lantern Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival, commemorates the 14th-century revolution led by Yuan Zhang who smuggled notes inside moon cakes and used lighted lanterns as a signal to launch the revolt. One of the highlights of the festival is the Moon Cake Fair where hundreds of festive stalls line the streets of Chinatown selling an astonishing variety of moon cakes, traditional paper lanterns, decorations and other delicacies. Children parade down the streets with their brightly lit lanterns in the Children’s Lantern Procession. The Chinese Garden becomes a fairyland of lights and colours for the Lantern Festival, and there is also a range of cultural shows and performances including lion and dragon dancing, Chinese instrumentalists and craftsmen.
One gets a cool flavour of this festival in Singapore at the Chinese Garden. The place is walking distance from the Chinese Garden MRT. The entry ticket is SGD 12 per person for adults and SGD 8 for children above 3 & upto 11 years. The whole of Chinese garden is lighted right from Chinese Garden MRT & usually there are different themes followed during the festival for the lighted showcase that is an attraction for all young and old at this place.
We, my family, Faisal's family & Chandrasekhar we all went for this wonderful festival & had a good time on friday evening. One good thing was there were decent food varieties available at the place. I remember last time I had almost starved walking around the place & couldn't find a place.

We took quite a number of photographs.. Few of them I have attached here. Rest I have uploaded on picasa.

Hope you can plan for this, its open till 30th September... Since it is lighted show one has to go in the evening. Hope you have a good time..capturing the Festival lights..with cameras...

Monday, September 17, 2007

My best Friend Cooks for us....

Anand and me have been together since childhood.. and we have shared our school days & studied together for our graduation & have always been there for each other. He has been married since a few years now and luckily he and his wife, Ranjeeta shifted to Singapore few months back as well & we usually spend atleast one of the weekends in a month together at their place or ours. This time they came down to our place.
Anand & Ranjeeta had a memorable trip to Thailand in Phuket & they had a wonderful experience of cooking with one of the Thai chefs in Phuket who taught them 3 recipes. One of them was Red Curry Chicken with Basil.. and we had a pleasure to have this made for us by Anand yesterday at our house. It was made like a professional and we ate it to our heart's full. I am sure the Chef would have given him 10 on 10 for the cooking skills.

I just thought of sharing this simple recipe for some of you who would like to try this themselves. It is very simple to prepare and tastes lovely with white rice.

Red Curry Chicken With Basil
Serve this classic curry over jasmine rice for a traditional Thai meal.
Yield: Serves 4 as a main dish
Time: 10 minutes to chop ingredients15 minutes to cook
Total Time: 25 minutes

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 & 1/2 Tbsp Red Curry Paste
1 can Coconut Milk, shaken
1 & 1/2 lbs ( 500-750 g ) boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into bite size pieces
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp Fish Sauce
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced
10 large basil leaves, chopped

A large frying pan, which works much better than a wok!

1 Heat the oil in the frying pan over medium heat.

2 Add the Curry Paste and simmer for 2 minutes, so that it is dissolved and foaming.

3 Stir in the can of the coconut milk. Cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4 Add the sliced chicken. Simmer for 4 minutes.

5 Stir in the sugar, fish sauce and bell pepper. Simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 3 minutes more.

6 Add the chopped basil. Season to taste with more sugar or Fish Sauce as desired.

7 Serve over rice.

Don't forget to drop your comments about the recipe. ... and keep coming back to the blog for more scintillating recipes..& other stuff..

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Vijay's birthday at Bombay Woodlands Restaurant

Today is Vijay's birthday.. but we had the party yesterday for this cheerful and jolly person from our office. It happened so, since we knew Vijay would be fasting today since it is saturday. You heard it right fasting!!! You can find Vijay when you hear a heartful laugh when he and Tanmay specially will share a joke or when you catch Vijay trying to figure out things his own way.. We have been tolerating his N73 from the time, this toy has got into his hands almost about 6-8 months ago.. He shall have a new ringtone everyday.. and will never miss a chance to get a photograph on any occassion in the office... He has made lot of guys in the office change their ringtones...and you bet he has a good choice for these...
You can always see the naughtiness in his eyes... the moment someone says something about any subject.. That's what is another reason...for him being liked by us all.
Well it was a little hard to convince him to take us for this party since he had plans to postpone it for next week, but finally he agreed when there was a total majority..
I found this place on internet - Bombay woodlands which is a branch of the one in Bombay. The place is located at Tanglin Shopping centre at the basement. There are couple other Indian outlets at the same place which I guess are owned or partnered with by them. There is this place Indian Grill which is not too far from this place.
Bombay Woodlands is a Indian Vegetarian outlet, located in the happening Orchard area. You guessed it right, it is pricy.. and so one needs to watch his wallet while planning to dine here. Lunch Buffet costs you 14.90++ & a dinner Buffet is about 16.90++. We had been there during lunch so we opted for the lunch buffet - the items available were - Dum aloo, Paneer, Bottle Gourd, Cauliflower, Tamarind rice(ponni rice), plain rice, Naan, Roti, Papad, Dosa, Idli, chutnies & sweets like gulab jamun and ras gula.
The place has sitting for about 30-35 people when fully packed. There is a nice Hindi music going on at the background. Food is ok, I later came to know it is known for udipi food.. so maybe we didn't find it too good. Anyway, we had a lovely time having food here and celebrating Vijay's birthday and having some sweet memories of this day.. Looking forward to more such celebrations in future..

10 ways to manage ANGER!

“Anyone can become angry- that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way- this is not easy.” ------ Aristotle

This is a story shared by one of my friends and I found it really good to have it as part of my blog. I am sure this is useful for everyone. In today's compettive and stressful life, we are bound to lose our patience and control on our emotions and get the feelings out in the form of hatred, anger & abuse. It is good to decide on actions once you have come out of the emotional turmoil. So here goes ....

Anil and Aniruddh came out of the business meeting, very angry. Their boss had been very critical of their work and had not even a word of praise for them. Anil followed the boss into his cabin, started shouting at him, and told him what he thought of him. He threw in his resignation letter and walked out, still in anger.
Aniruddh, instead, waited till his boss was in a relaxed mood, and then, sought an appointment. He told his boss how terribly pained he was by his criticism and asked for clarification on how to improve his work. Aniruddh came out of his boss" cabin, satisfied and with a better understanding of what his boss expected of him at work.
Anger is a normal reaction to any situation or person that we perceive as frustrating or threatening to our well-being. However, when anger gets out of control, it can destroy our relationships and the quality of our life. Can we manage anger so that the immense energy produced by it can be useful to us? Yes, if we follow Aristotle"s diktat.
Here are some tips to help you practice it:
Tips for anger management:
1. Note the triggers
Step back and note the triggers--the people, events, and circumstances--that set off your anger. This will give you some indication on what led to it
2. Pause and deploy logic
When you are angry, your thinking can get very exaggerated. Logic defeats anger. Replace thoughts, which reinforce your anger with more rational ones. Eg. instead of thinking, "oh, this situation is terrible," tell yourself, "it"s frustrating, but it"s not the end of the world."
3. Postpone important discussions
Avoid discussing important issues with your colleagues or spouse when you are tired or distracted.
4. Use words that describe only the present moment
Be careful with words like “always”, “never” when referring to your or others" behavior. Statements like “ My boss never appreciates me ”, “ I always mess up” are usually not correct. When used on others, it can make them both defensive and offensive. It does not leave room for discussion nor improvement.
5. Request instead of demanding
What are your expectations of others--do you demand fairness, appreciation, and agreement with your ways of doing things? Translate these demands into desires: “ I would like it if........” rather than demanding it.
6. Make expectations clear: Communicate your expectations to others. Find out other"s expectations of you. Decide which of these you would like to satisfy.
7. Don’t jump to conclusions:
Consciously slow down, think carefully before you act or say anything. To get a balanced perspective, remind yourself that you are experiencing a rough spot in your life and others are not trying to “get at you.”
8. Think of what you expect:
Ask yourself “By expressing my anger now or in a particular way, will it achieve the result I seek?”
9. Breathe deep:Maintain your cool through deep breathing, using a relaxation response, visualizing a positive situation.
10. Accept life:
Sometimes we cannot change, get rid of or avoid people or events that anger us. At such times focus on how to face the problem rather than getting frustrated by it.

Finally, if you feel your anger is affecting your relationships and important aspects of your life, consider consulting a psychologist for help.You can decide whether you react in anger or with calm to difficult situations or people. Anger is a CHOICE YOU make.

This article is originally authored by Dr Vinaya Prabha - V BaligarDr Vinaya is a professional online counselor.

A Great Story

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Listening Skills

I have been thinking of putting this topic for sometime now, since I had noticed among my friend circle that the importance of listening was totally lacking. I am sure this article summarises what listening is all about and what needs to be done to be a good listener. One probably spends more time using one's listening skills than any other kind of skill. Like other skills, listening takes practice.

What does it mean to really listen?

Real listening is an active process that has three basic steps.
Hearing. Hearing just means listening enough to catch what the speaker is saying. For example, say you were listening to a report on zebras, and the speaker mentioned that no two are alike. If you can repeat the fact, then you have heard what has been said.
Understanding. The next part of listening happens when you take what you have heard and understand it in your own way. Let's go back to that report on zebras. When you hear that no two are alike, think about what that might mean. You might think, "Maybe this means that the pattern of stripes is different for each zebra."
Judging. After you are sure you understand what the speaker has said, think about whether it makes sense. Do you believe what you have heard? You might think, "How could the stripes be different for every zebra? But then again, the fingerprints are different for every person. I think this seems believable."

Tips for being a good listener

  • Give your full attention on the person who is speaking. Don't look out the window or at what else is going on in the room.

  • Make sure your mind is focused, too. It can be easy to let your mind wander if you think you know what the person is going to say next, but you might be wrong! If you feel your mind wandering, change the position of your body and try to concentrate on the speaker's words.

  • Let the speaker finish before you begin to talk. Speakers appreciate having the chance to say everything they would like to say without being interrupted. When you interrupt, it looks like you aren't listening, even if you really are.

  • Let yourself finish listening before you begin to speak! You can't really listen if you are busy thinking about what you want say next.

  • Listen for main ideas. The main ideas are the most important points the speaker wants to get across. They may be mentioned at the start or end of a talk, and repeated a number of times. Pay special attention to statements that begin with phrases such as "My point is..." or "The thing to remember is..."

  • Ask questions. If you are not sure you understand what the speaker has said, just ask. It is a good idea to repeat in your own words what the speaker said so that you can be sure your understanding is correct. For example, you might say, "When you said that no two zebras are alike, did you mean that the stripes are different on each one?"

  • Give feedback. Sit up straight and look directly at the speaker. Now and then, nod to show that you understand. At appropriate points you may also smile, frown, laugh, or be silent. These are all ways to let the speaker know that you are really listening.

Remember, you listen with your face as well as your ears!

Thinking fast
Remember: time is on your side! Thoughts move about four times as fast as speech. With practice, while you are listening you will also be able to think about what you are hearing, really understand it, and give feedback to the speaker.

I am sure this is useful not just during official talks but also in our day-to-day talking at home, office or any public place. Use these tips and you shall surely be a Good Listener!!

Happy Birthday to Jitender

He loves his mobile which is " Sony Ericcson" and does not stop praising about the features it has and of course he is a great fan of Sony Ericcson, so mind you if you utter the name of any other mobile brand in front of him. You are sure to have a good debate about the features of the mobiles vis-a-vis his Sony Ericcson.
Second love of his is for photographs and again he loves to talk about a photograph which is taken using a Nikon vis-a-vis any other camera. Ask him how do you know it is a good picture and he will take you to his desktop monitor and zoom a picture with a person's face and show you the difference of a good quality photo against a so so picture. What does he show... well zoom it to an extent where one can count the hair on the face - moustache, beard or even nose hair :))
This is our beloved Jitender Saini. He hails from Dehradun the lovely city on the eastern part of India. We came to know about his birthday today and we got a good reason for getting a treat from him on this lovely occassion.
We all decided to have lunch at Madras Woodlands at Little India. This place is walking distance from Tekka Center bus stop or from Little india station. You have to walk towards the Indian temple near these places. It is very close to Andhra curry & Peshwai if some of you know these places.
We were 7 of us walking in with scorching heat over our heads. We were glad to know they had a Buffet which would cost about SGD 7.90 each. Menu consisted of normal rice, Jeera rice, Dosa, Idli, Sambar, Idli, chutnies, Spinach, dal tadka, indian chinese noodles, veg manchurian, papad, Malai Kofta and to top it up with a apple custard. Of course there was tomato soup at the beginning, but it was not that great. The hotel also has facilities of drinks, soft and hard so if one plans for a party in the evening, they can enjoy with the drinks as well. I am not so sure the rates will be as reasonable as they are for the afternoon buffet.
We all had a nice time feasting on this sumptous lunch and returned to the office, almost starting to plan for another birthday party, which is soon to happen since we got Vijay's birthday on 15th sept. I shall write about where we went to celebrate that..

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

House Hunting in Singapore

House hunting is become a big task nowdays in Singapore after the rise in the prices for rentals or buying houses. One is always on the lookout for sources to find decent houses at reasonable price. Saving money on agent fees is something everyone will be looking out for. Secondly putting an advertisement for rentals & selling houses directly could save owners from the agent fees as well.

Of course this doesn't stop the house agents from putting advertisement for the apartments they have for rental or sale. Here are two sites recommended by one of my colleagues who himself is on the lookout for rental house for himself. do check them out and incase you know of some better websites please do recommend the same.

The websites offer few good services:
One can post your ad for free here regarding one's requirement for house/rooms.

In some cases you can even contact the owner directly so that you can even avoid paying agent fees or you can post your ad with your phone no/email address stating your requirement and many people will contact you.

Hope this helps many of us to find houses/rooms.

Happy house hunting.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Zee Sa Re Ga Ma

I am a religious follower for Zee Sa re Ga Ma which has over the years been getting very good talents to the Indian music industry.

I have my favorites in this program & every time I see the show I think the person is closer to clinching the title for himself. I recollect the episode broadcasted in Asiapacific on last Saturday, which had “Mauli” one of the most favorite singers of Bappi Lahiri. The episode had come to a stage where there were 7 contestants and this episode was going to be a decider for one of the participants since there was going to be an elimination to be left with final 6 participants.

Almost at the end of the show, it was time for the decision, when Sumedha & Mauli were the last two contestants called onto stage. Finally Aaditya Narayan announced that Sumdeha is through and Mauli has been eliminated. Hearing this Bappi Lahiri got very angry & walked to the stage and announced and I quote “ public is not voted correct & I donot agree to this decision and that if Mauli does not stay in the competition the TRP rating of the program will not be the same as it was in her presence.” Finally he concluded by saying if Mauli is not there he himself will also not be there & I quote what he said at last : “I am Quit”

This drama was the worst of what I have seen on Zee Sa Re Ga Ma. I could understand the emotions of Bappi Lahiri upto the point where he being a great fan of Mauli and so he hadn’t expected her to be out by the time final 6 were announced. But I felt it was a joke for a person of this experience to start muttering things about Zee or about the TRP rating. Secondly, as Himesh and Ismail Darbar always point out is that public makes or breaks the artist & it is upto them to give a decision. In this case, it was clear that public had chosen the other over Mauli for obvious reasons. There have been occasions when Bollywood stars and TV artists have come to this program and have cleared mentioned that the male singers are superior to the female singers this time round. I think this drama was unnecessary for him to do & if Zee has tried to again achieve a better TRP by doing this stunt. I think it is really poor thing to do. I guess, the good things in the program need to be thought of and projected in the best way to get people to watch the program rather than dramatize things beyond limit.

Another thing that needs to be kept in mind as the episode heads towards having the winner, there is ought to be elimination of singers & although someone might be good at earlier episodes but what will matter now is how good the person can hold his nerves as the competition heats up. So the person who can perform at his best and get all the qualities as a singer & performer based on inputs he has got from the mentors will be the ultimate winner. I hope the finish will be as good & thrilling as it has been till date.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Rat who can Cook!!!

Ratatouille - is the name of the movie released recently by Pixar. It was an exciting time for me and my wife to take our 2 year old son for this movie.

My son is a fan of Pixar's movie "Cars" and so when the movie trailers of "Ratatouille " were out, we were on the lookout for taking him for this movie. We got a chance to take him for this movie on 2nd Sept. at Eng Wah Cinemas at Suntec city. There is this company called Berri Works Pte Ltd. who has been organising movies for families with kids as small as 1-2 years old. There are a few games organised for the kids before this show & goodie bags are provided for the families booking the tickets.

My son is still new to the animal Rat so he was not sure what is the sound a Rat makes so he tends to say "who who" pointing at the rat on the poster. He has a gleam in his eyes when he is doing this and I love to watch him like this. This movie starts with a space ship trying to pick this boy when he is asleep in an isolated house far from all the towns. This part was something which was not linked with the movie & apparently sound was too loud to scare a few kids come to see the show.

The movie starts with this Rat, Rémy who is different from all the rats in this small village near Paris, who likes to eat good food & watch TV. But he is most impressed by Gosteau - A famous chef who has a TV show where he presents his speciailities every show. The Remy developes a liking for good food & his passion for cooking also takes over all other things that Rats tend to do. Due to certain reasons, the rats end up in the water drainage system and by chance Remy ends up at the Restaurant of Gosteau, who has just recently died. He is thrilled to see this place & wants to see more & so lets himself into the Kitchen where he sees chef's busy cooking.

The story progresses with a new recruit Linguini, Alfredo Linguini who arrives with a letter of introduction from his recently deceased mother, and is hired on to do duties. Linguini spills a pot of soup and attempts to cover up his mistake by adding random ingredients. Upset, Rémy falls into the kitchen and attempts to fix the ruined soup rather than trying to escape. Linguini catches Rémy in the act, just as Skinner(the head Chef) catches Linguini. In the confusion some of the soup has been served. To everyone's surprise, the soup is a success.

Linguini, discovers that Remy is the one who can cook very well and so does the restaurant starts getting orders for recipes being prepared by Linguini. To achieve this feat of cooking without knowing cooking is worked out by Remy and Linguini, where Remy hides in Linguini's Chef hat & pulls his hair when he needs Linguini to do the cooking, so that Linguini's body moves in a way, Remy wants & it appears that Linguini is doing the things right.

Skinner plies Linguini with vintage Chateau latour in an unsuccessful attempt to discover the secret of his unexpected talents. The next morning,hung over and disheveled, Linguini nearly confides his secret to Colette. Desperately trying to stop Linguini, Rémy pulls his hair, making him fall on Colette, leading the two to kiss. They begin dating, leaving Rémy feeling abandoned. Meanwhile, Skinner learns after some sleuthing that, unknown to everyone, Linguini is in fact Gusteau's son and stands to inherit the restaurant. This would thwart Skinner's ambition to exploit Gusteau's image to market prepared frozen foods.

One night Rémy and his colony are reunited. While looking for food Rémy discovers Gusteau's will which, after a chase by Skinner, he presents to Linguini. Linguini now owns the restaurant, fires Skinner, and becomes a rising star in the culinary world. After a falling out, Linguini decides he no longer needs Rémy, and Rémy retaliates by leading a kitchen raid for his rat colony. Linguini attempts to apologize to Rémy, only to discover and kick out his whole colony. Rémy feels guilty about hurting his friend, and refuses to join them in resuming the raid.
Things come to a head the night of a planned review by well known food critic Anton Ego. Linguini, unable to cook without the rat's guidance, admits his ruse to the staff when Rémy shows up, leading them all to walk out. Colette returns after thinking through Gusteau's motto, "Anyone can cook!" Django, inspired by his son's courage, returns with the entire rat colony to cook under Rémy's direction, while Linguini, discovering his true talent, waits tables on roller skates. Colette helps Rémy prepare Ratatouille (is a traditional French Provencal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. The full name of the dish is ratatouille niçoise); Rémy's new recipe produces a dish so good that, in the climax of the film, a bite of it leads Ego to relive childhood memories of his mother. Ego asks to meet the chef but Colette insists he must wait until the rest of the diners have left. At the end of the service, Rémy and the rats are revealed. A changed man, Ego writes a glowing review, declaring that the chef at Gusteau's is the greatest chef in all of France. And rest is history.

There are quite a few occassions in the movie, when there are comic scenes and make kids laugh, but more so the movie is about friendship and in this case, talks about friends who need not be both humans. I guess we all have seen friendship between a Dog and man or a horse and a man. But this I guess is one of the first attempts to depict a relationship between a Rat and a human being. The movie is worth watching & applauding for its sweet story line. Looking forward for the next Pixar release.