Saturday, November 14, 2009

I want to go get a motorcycle license.

I just woke up from two really amazing dreams! First, I landed in India. I think I go with my parents to my hometown, Akola. Then we depart for Seoni, my mom's hometown.

We interrupt this blog post for the following message:

My nanaji and the entire family lives there in a tall multi-storey building in the middle of the market. There is an electronics shop on the ground floor and residence up above. I have spent many summer days playing board games, video games,watching tv etc. with my cousins inside that house. Heck, we even played cricket in there. As I grew up, we also watched porn, I got caught naked doing um... But I still associate it with my childhood. Thus, I think it was very fitting that I dream about going to seoni on the night of Children's day. In India, the birth of Jawahar Lal Nehru, 14th Nov is celebrated as children's day because he liked children a lot! So, happy children's day everybody.

Back to our scheduled programming...

So, I meet and greet all the family members who are only too excited to see me after such a long time. They would much rather I stay at home and not lift a finger but I end up going shopping with them for groceries. Seoni is a small town. The last time I was there, they still didn't have anything like a superstore. The सबजी बजार or food market was just hawkers lined up along the sides of a street selling their wares. There was hardly ever any room to walk comfortably through there.

And instead of all that, I find myself in this superstore browsing through all the fruits and vegetables! It is an absolutely unbelievable sight to see. I am calmly walking with most of my family. I wonder why someone didn't stay back home. But I talk to them of how amazing this is. The prices, the variety, the quality! When I tell them I don't get some of these vegetables there, they are only too proud. But I tell them that there are certain vegetables they have there that we don't.

Anyways, I am sure they made all that awesome food for me and fed me and i probably put on some meat on my bones but I don't remember dreaming that part. There was a sudden jump or blank out and then this.

I wake up disoriented in the middle of somewhere rocky, and dusty. Everything is ochre like dried rock and sand under the hot sun. I realize I am in/on a contraption that is a motor vehicle but I have a hard time understanding how to operate it. After some effort, I barely get it rolling, but it is not under my control yet. I try changing the gears. Press the lever on the left and tap the foot pedal... but it won't budge... I put a little more strength into it and with a little struggle, it works! Suddenly I see someone else coming towards me on what I clearly recognize as a motorcycle. I guess that's when I realize that I am riding a motorcycle too. I now have control over this beast of a motorcycle and can comfortably maneuver it.

That last one really reminded me of the Royal enfield 500 cc bullet machismo that I used to ride around. However, this was just a bit more surreal. And also, this has given me inspiration to go and get a motorcycle license. I will go to the savannah department of motor vehicles and get my driver's license.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Moo Business Cards/Mini cards Sample

Originally uploaded by यश
I recently ordered a free sample of Moo business cards from my images. And as good as most of them turned out, I had issues with two of my images. Like serious beef! For now, I will be talking about this image here.

As you can notice, the image has some subtle detail in the darker areas, and the shadow of the back of my head is distinguishable from the darkness of the wall. However, the images that Moo printed were too dark. (In both cases—the other photo was of me in front of a white background.)

Looking at those images made me go "wow! are my images really that dark?" Even in lightroom, I can see that there is considerable detail in those grey areas. But the prints are just flat black. I am no professional, and so have no idea where the error lies. But for a simple consumer, this may be quite a turn off.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The best Okra you will ever eat: Here’s how to cook it

Originally uploaded by यश
Growing up, the only vegetable I would eat was okra. A very common perennial plant growing in the tropics, there was never any shortage of okra in the market. Okra pods resemble hot chilli peppers in shape. They are elongated, starting broad on the stem side, and tapering at the end. They have a soft textured skin and are slimy inside. The slime, also called mucilage, deters most people from even trying to cook okra let alone eat it. But all the credit for me loving okra so much, goes to my mom’s recipe.

Many have even tried, and failed at cooking okra like my mom does. They cannot be blamed though, because such a complicated preparation cannot be perfected in one try. Luckily for me, years of observing her cook okra at least 5 times a week has made me an expert in the field. The process of cooking okra involves selecting the right produce, choosing the right spices, and using the correct technique.

When purchasing this vegetable, depending on the region, okra may be called by a different name. In Hindi, my native language, okra goes by ‘bhindi’. Other languages in southern Asia, use a variant of ‘bhindi’. In English speaking countries outside USA or North America, it is known as ‘lady’s finger’. In parts of US it is also known as ‘Gumbo’; a corruption of the word quingombo. The name okra originated from West Africa. It was during the slave trafficking days that okra first reached the new world.

Getting okra or ‘lady’s finger’ in frozen packs should be avoided. The plant grows easily in difficult conditions and resists most pests and diseases. So, a backyard vegetable garden serves as the perfect source for okra. Alternatively buy it fresh, preferably from a lot where it is possible to select the okra pods individually. Look for slim and long okra, not the short and fat ones. An easy way to judge fresh okra from the lot: try to snap the thin end between the index finger and the thumb. It should snap and break off; not feel mushy and bend. I was the only one in the house who could eat okra 5 times a week, so my mom never had to worry about the quantity. But because okra shrinks when fried, I would advise to buy a little more than the estimated quantity.
Besides the purchasing process, the spice selection carries much importance. However, with eating out and microwave food becoming the norm, one would be lucky to find even salt in the kitchen. My mom has a round stainless steel container which is like a treasure chest of spices; but here, only 5 spices are needed. The recipe calls for cumin and mustard seeds, chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt. Cumin, natively from the Middle East to East India, can be used powdered or as whole seeds. Cumin seeds have some essential oil content which gives them a warm earthy smell. Cumin seeds are brown in color and oblong in shape. Kind of like fennel or caraway seeds. Mustard seeds, the black or brown kind, do not have any aroma but have a distinct flavor.

Chilli powder is a hot red powder made from cayenne pepper or other kinds of dried hot peppers. Depending on the kind of pepper used to make it, chilli powder varies in hotness. Like all hot peppers, chilli powder also contains a strong irritant called capsaicin. Capsaicin causes burning and irritation when it comes in contact with skin. So better use a spoon to add the chilli powder. Coriander powder: another spice that comes from a plant’s seeds. The powder gives the food a pleasant aroma and texture. The turmeric powder as the name suggests comes from the root of the turmeric plant—a close relative of ginger. Turmeric powder adds a slightly bitter and hot flavor to the food.

Once the okra and the other ingredients have been selected, the preparation may begin. The okra needs to be cut in thin long slices; not in round cross sections that look like flowers. Either of the following two techniques could be used. Hold the okra in one hand and with a paring knife, slit the okra in half, then quarters and so on until you get slices which are only about a half centimeter thick. Slices should be about two inches long. This method works best for people comfortable with cutting the vegetables in their hands. Those scared of holding their thumb against the knife blade can use this other method that involves a chopping board and a santoku knife. I prefer santoku over a chef’s knife because the straight blade of the santoku does not require much wrist motion when chopping vegetables. With a slicing motion, split the okra in long halves on a chopping board. Then with a chopping motion, cut the halves into thin long slices. Rinse and repeat. Both these methods do take quite a while so be patient; It will be worth it.

Just like the one night, I insisted that mom cook okra for me and my cousin. Being exhausted, she refused; yelling at us about how long it takes just to cut the okra! Young, stupid and persistent as I was, I decided me and my cousin were going to cut the okra for her. After we were done, she took over to cook that okra.

So, let us get on with the cooking. For frying the okra, an Asian style round bottom ‘wok’ works best. In a pinch, a pot will also work. Oil splatters much too easily from a shallow pan. Pour generous quantity of peanut oil, or vegetable oil in the wok. Then add the cumin and mustard seeds. The other spices however, are held off until the end. Turn the flame on high. Once the seeds start splattering, gently slide the okra slices in to the wok. The water of the okra will make the oil splatter like fireworks. Keep hands away to avoid the hot oil. Once the crackling subsides, check the oil level. Add more if it seems inadequate. Do not put in any spices yet or they will just burn in the heat and leave a bad taste. Keep stirring the okra. Fry them till they turn dark and crisp. The closer they get to being done, the more vigorously they should be stirred. Be attentive, because it does not take the thin okra slices very long to go from crisp to burnt.

Once crisp, take the wok off the heat. Scoop the okra out of the oil with a perforated spatula, and put them in a bowl where all the spices will be mixed. Toss the okra so the spices coat the okra evenly, and serve while they are still hot. Preparing this okra dish early and reheating it in the microwave takes away from the experience. The okra will be the most crisp when hot. Many people who had never tried this preparation before, say it tastes like chips. Maybe so, but to me, this, served with hot mom-made rotis topped with butter makes a hearty, satisfying meal.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Using this for a day made me realize how much I love my Nokia E60

I constantly run out of charge on my old nokia E60 phone. In the winter, I used to think maybe it has something to do with the cold weather. But now that we are in warmer days of mid may, I realized it might not be that. So anyways, I decided to put my sim card in Doni's phone and use it for a day while I leave my phone charging at home.

And what an experience it was. The speaker in the nokia N80 is really small, so the voice from the other side is hard to hear in noisy environments. I had to rely on the loudspeaker mode at the go train station.

Also, the keypad on the phone is much more crammed than on my nokia E60. So typing/dialing is not as easy as it could have been. I also dislike the 5 way joypad vs the joystick on my E60. And the N80 battery too didn't perform considerably better than the one on my trusty nokia E class phone.

In july, It's going to be exactly 3 years since I bought the E60. I don't know what I will upgrade to. And that scares me because even though I might wish to use my old faithful for ever, we all know it's inching closer to it's death each day as I drop it, throw it, spin it, twirl it and put it through the world's most difficult stress test.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Closest thing to bhel I've made in a long time

May 5th 2009:
I had a pack of sev left from when I last went shopping in the no-frills in missisauga. It absolutely sucks that the no-frills close to my house in Etobicoke doesn't stock a lot of things.

Since I was hungry in the afternoon at a time that was beyond lunch time and not yet dinner time.. I decided to make some chatpata snack. And I realized I had onions that I hadn't used, some green and imli (tamarind)chutney that I got from the US. "Wow this would be fun!" I thought to myself.

Doni happened to be in the kitchen and took the pack of haldirams bujia sev and tasted some. "What is this?" he goes. And then eats some more of it. "What are you making?" *Chomp!*

Surprising how much he likes random indian food and snacks. Papad, he loves to eat. Khakhra-he pretty much finished my last pack all by himself. And now this. After I was done mixing all these ingredients, he loved it even more. Still he says, "it's more like 'aww what is this? it's so bad! Oh gimme more.. OM NOM NOM NOM eww so bad.. OM NOM NOM"

haha. Now I want to make proper bhel with sprouts and everything. I can't wait to go to an indian grocery store again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why the Dell Adamo Rocks!

dell adamo 1
Originally uploaded by Creative Labs Studio
I’ve been having this seemingly unending debate with a good friend of mine, Aayush, about the dell Adamo. He roots for the Macbook Air, (which is a good product in it’s own category) compares it to the Dell Adamo. I personally, LOVE the Dell Adamo and am on this futile mission to try and get Aayush to see how the Dell Adamo is superior to the Macbook Air in build quality, design, aesthetics and appeal.

Well, so far so good. But now the adjectives and expletives are going to be flying left and right. Let’s begin by purchasing both the machines. For Dell adamo, you go to the beautifully designed and you are greeted with Fashion models posing with the beautifully slim (not seemingly slim, ACTUALLY SLIM!) Adamo. The site exudes Haute couture on every pixel. And that’s exactly the kind of market Adamo is aiming for. Not the lowly geeks and professionals like myself. However, I do dream of one day owning these fashion labels, and the very chic Dell Adamo.

Now lets head over to where they have their big ad for the ipod shuffle and a bar along the bottom with stuff from their entire product line like the cheap(by price) Mac mini.. bla bla.. Head over to and you are greeted with a busy page with tons of stuff from apple and third party, ads/offers for financing, refurbished and clearance macs, previous generation iMac models etc. You could also go over to and see just how ‘consumer’ this whole experience is. You’ll feel like what I would describe as “being on Mumbai’s fashion street with people trying to hawk their wares to you” Over at air things start to look a little more polished. they have some beautifully shot pictures of the machine which is partly, just thin aluminum.(I am referring to the tapering design. You can go look for yourself at the top picture on this iFixit page) And wait, it also offers you to take a look at the television ad. I can’t ever remember seeing a television ad from fendi or ferrari.

Let’s go through the base models, trying to match them as closely as we can.
So, for $1,999 dell gives you in the Adamo:
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo SU9300 (3MB cache/1.2GHz/800Mhz FSB), Onyx
Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium Service Pack 1 64 Bit
13.4 inch 720p (HD) WLED Display (1366x768) with 1.3 MP web cam
McAfee 9.0 30 day Anti-Virus protection
2GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 800MHz
128GB Solid State Drive
Intel® GS45 Integrated Graphics with 256MB Memory
40 WHr Lithium Polymer Battery
Battery life upto 4 hours 53 minutes
High Definition Audio 2.0
Integrated Gigabit (10/100/1000) Network Card

And oh yeah, the option of Onyx or Pearl Finish with matching accessories.

If we were to try to match that config from apple. We had to add the pricey SSD and also the ethernet port add-on.
for $2,328.00 we get
1066MHz frontside bus 6MB shared L2 cache
2GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256MB of shared DDR3 SDRAM
13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display 1280 by 800
37-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
Up-to 4.5 hours
128GB Solid State Drive
Apple USB Ethernet Adapter

For people who want to run windows on it, they’d have to pay additional 239 for the windows vista home premium edition. Ringing up the total to $2,567 So Aayush’s argument of it being cheaper than the Adamo looses ground. But hey, you can cut back and get a regular 4300rpm hard drive, no ethernet adapter and then it becomes a cheaper consumer end machine. And it’s not wrong to cater to the consumer market, it’s just below what the Adamo stands for.

Both the machines have bluetooth, & wireless N but dell Adamo also has the option of mobile broadband built in which the macbook air doesn’t.
I’m being very unfair here, to both the systems, as they both have their unique advantages. eSata port on the Dell Adamo, the multitouch trackpad on the Macbook air,
the higher resolution screen and higher resolution(1.3mp) camera on the Dell Adamo, faster processor and Nvidia Graphics on the macbook air.

But there are certain comparisons that can’t be done by the numbers. Let’s see:
The Packaging
The Adamo box is oozing ‘luxury’! it comes encased in a transparent plastic stand as if it’s being displayed in a fancy boutique. And this time, you actually get to open and touch it!
Macbook air just comes in a regular cardboard box. Nothing to talk about here.

The keyboard
I read on PCWorld and iFixit that the adamo’s keyboard has 30% more surface area than the macbook air chicklet style keyboard. The scalloped keys on the dell adamo have little dips for your fingers to rest in.
Macbook Air’s keyboard, well.. is ‘unique’ in it’s own little way. But I don’t like the flat keys with so much gap between them. I still love my previous generation Macbook Pro keyboard that has little dips too. So much more comfortable than the flat key style.

The big issue today that sparked the adamo discussion again was microsoft’s requirement of a sticker on every computer that sells with it’s operating system. Microsoft’s papers say that the serial number sticker should be accessible without any tools. And the Adamo designers tackled this very well by concealing this sticker under a latch that attaches magnetically. I bet Microsoft is looking pretty stupid now. Oh god I love the design people on Adamo’s team.

And I along with most other people in the arts and design field love the Adamo. It’s an expensive Luxury product, but not a ferrari. It’s not meant to be raced around the corners. It’s a bentley or a Rolls Royce that you park in your garage to let people know how much wealth you have. One day, when I’m that rich, I will own one of these Adamos, a Fendi suit, a bentley, Vertu phone, etc. And still have a mac pro for my graphics work, nike sneakers for the gym, levis jeans, smartphone, etc.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


My skin condition
Originally uploaded by यश
I have a bunch of things going wrong with my hands. One of them is this 'ailment' or condition that I've had ever since I can remember. A particular time of the year, the skin on the inside of my hands, the palm and fingers; starts getting really dry. It will peel off completely, and I will get a new layer of skin. This can be compared to moulting in snakes.

So, I was sitting around people I don't know.. probably on a public transit system. And it didn't seem very crowded, so it couldn't have been India. I really can't say for sure, the dream was very hazy. So, my hands, which are being weird as always, start glowing.

I notice this and hold my hands up. I don't know if I am in pain, because I am just too fascinated and mesmerized by this. The hands now have started giving out beams of light from little openings. It's so bright that the surroundings look like they are totally dark. People around me are also fascinated by this.

Suddenly, someone holds my right hand. Starts stroking it, caressing it ever so gently with her soft hands.. And suddenly, I realize it's Sujata.

Very pleasant dream to wake up to. I just don't know what the glowing hands are supposed to signify.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Death of Yash Gupta

The third post in the series of posts I wrote on 5th March

I just finished handing in my portfolio on the 3rd March, tuesday two days ago. But it seems like it's been such a long time. 
Hernando looking at my portfolio

The time I was working on my portfolio was the only time I wasn’t thinking about dying. Because I really wanted to finish it, or just because I didn’t have enough time to think about anything else at all?

Incident #1
I handed in my portfolio on Tuesday. I was sleeping most of the day through Wednesday morning. Didn’t have anything to eat since 5 am on Tuesday morning to about 11 or 12 am Wednesday morning. I was in bed when the fire alarm in the building went off. I didn’t know if it was a drill or a real fire. I was on the 5th floor. Evacuating would have taken a fair bit of time. However, even though I was wide awake, nothing prompted me to get up and check it out. I didn’t even give it a second thought and turned a deaf ear to it. The fact that I am still alive means it was just a fire alarm test.

I was walking to the Skills Training Center down the street where I have my Wednesday night English class. I was going to give a test tonight. And I was walking confidently and fearlessly. I wasn’t afraid of the traffic. Even though I didn’t jump any stop signal, I had a close call when a car was swiftly turning into the driveway of McDonalds, but I wasn’t startled for a second even. I continued at my regular pace. Reckless woman driver, I thought. Continued walking when suddenly, I realized what I had just done.

But during the portfolio, I was very careful on the road and also very scared. I didn’t want to die without having finished the portfolio. I had an agenda. I was the man with a plan; albeit a very short term plan. 
Me the day I handed in my portfolio

I was so happy before I handed it in. Now, I don’t know what, where or when I am doing. I feel like I’ve already written my will and I am about ready to decease.

Disclaimer: All names, places and events (and disclaimers) mentioned in this post are false. Any resemblance to anyone anywhere is purely coincidental. This is a work of fiction.

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