Thursday, October 4, 2012

10 things about Stockholm

Was in Stockholm on work for 2 days. But in just these 2 days in the city I formed such a positive image of this beautiful place.

Ten things that stuck in my mind.

1) Swedes are obviously very proud of their culture and heritage. You realise this as soon as you arrive at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, you will find pictures of famous Swedes like tennis relic Bjorn Borg hanging in the corridors of the arrival hall produly welcoming us to their beautiful country.

2) Wondering about transportation? You want to get to the center of Stockholm from the airport then hop on to the Arlanda Express and you have a high speed train that takes you to the city center in a matter of 20 minutes

3) In case somebody back at work is crying to have an updated version of a powerpoint and you need to send it out, don't worry there is free high speed wifi access on the trains. Wow this was so cool!! Even Deutsche Bahn offers their Internet connection for free only for first class passengers...hmmm..I also used the wifi to update my Facebook status declaring my arrival in the city...big big plus :-)

4) It is clean everywhere in Stockholm - normally big cities are not really clean - Though I observed this immediately I only learnt later that Stockholm has long had the reputation of being one of the cleanest capitals in the world! The city was granted the 2010 European Green Capital Award by the EU Commission, becoming Europe’s first "green capital".

5) I found the Swedish peoople to be super friendly and they all speak excellent English too. Everytime I tried to eavesdrop into a Swedish conversation on the next table I did not understand anything and I was again thankful that everybody spoke English

6) Hotel rooms are small and very expensive - only realised that when I checked out on day 2 and was happy that I did not have to foot the bill ;-)

7) The famous Pippi Langstrumpf or Pippi Longstocking the fictional character from the children's book series by Astrid Lindgren is from Sweden. Now reading out her stories to the kids will have a special meaning for sure.

8) Beautiful, beautiful buildings surround the city. If you only have very less time to check out the city make sure that you atleast visit Gamla Stan the old town of Stockholm dating back to the 13th century. Here you will find alleys which are less than a meter wide and also restaurants, cafes, bars and places to shop. Don't forget to visit the Nobel museum devoted to circulate information on the Nobel prize and I learnt that the Nobel Prize awarded each year since 1901 happens in Stockholm.

9) Want to have a food Nirvana in Stockholm then you are in the right place. If you have time visit the Östermalms Saluhall which is the world's 7th best food hall. Unfortunately the place was already closed by the time I reached there after work :-( And if you like to drink coffee, Swedish coffee seems to be good in just about any place.

10) Last but not least I did not have the need to convert my Euros to Swedish Kronor. Every little place accepted credit cards. Even the tiniest shop in Gamla Stan from where I got home couple of my refrigerator magnets accepted credit cards.

So have I inspired you enough to visit Stockholm? Trust me, you will not be dissapointed :-)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Normally don't blog about politics...

Normally don't blog about politics, but sometimes I am jolted into harsh reality about the craziness that exist in the world. I was deeply horrified when I heard that Todd Akin, suggested that 'legitimate rape' rarely resulted in pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,”. 'Shut that whole thing down????' for heaven's sake... I refrain to call the guy Senate candidate Rep. How can such an uneducated guy qualify to be Senate Candidate representative? I am assuming that he did not attend any biology classes in school where the fundamental learning is - if you put sperm near an egg - women can get pregnant! Now if the guy does not believe in abortion then he should just say that instead of making such atrocious statements.

As a counter statement to what Todd Akin said, President Obama made the following statement
‎"We shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women." I am glad that he made this statement, but on the other hand I can't still believe that these statements are being made in this century that we live in!! And it's not like these statements are being made in any of the developing countries but in one of the supposedly most advanced nations in the world! What a shame!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Masking reality

A compliment or a comment from a sweet friend yesterday prompted me to start thinking about this. On social media sites like Facebook it is so easy to wear a mask and hide the real you. I regularly use Facebook to share happy moments from my life with a network of friends and family. Some of these friends I know for many years, went to school with together but some are also friends whom I occasionaly meet when there is a social gathering for example. Some are also colleagues from work and of course relatives and family scattered in different parts of the globe.

I don't bother posting pics of myself when I am ill, tired from a hard long day at work, feel completely drained or when I reprimand the kids when they sometimes morph themselves into little devils. But then, why would I?  I don't think anybody wants to be bored about these real aspects of somebody's life right. After all social media sites give you a chance to go into a world where you can have some fun, look at vacation pics of your friends, find out who partied with whom and of course 'like' status updates like 'Just finished flossing my teeth and they feel squeaky clean'.

I personally think it provides a medium for comic relief from daily life and also helps me enjoy my daily morning cup of tea so much more, browsing through recent updates from friends. Also I think I need to be on top of all of this now cos soon I think my children will be using these channels as well to collaborate with their friends. I want them to accept my friend request and make sure that I am their best friend also in the virtual world :-) Ah, ha hidden agenda too..

So three cheers to virtual collaboration, lets embrace it, enjoy it and also thank God that we don't need to worry about bad hair days anymore :-))

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bangalore beckoning

Work took me to Bangalore some weeks back. I am always excited when I get the chance to go to Bangalore, the city I was born and brought up in. But more interesting was the flight to Bangalore. I happened to sit next to another colleague who also worked for the same company that I work for. He also had moved to Germany and made it his home for the last 13 years. Very similar in that sense to me as well, but he moved from a small county in South Africa. It was extremely interesting to understand how he had gotten used to life in Germany and how we could come to some of the same conclusions about different facets in the last decade or so. We also got to comparing the traffic conditions in India and Germany. One of his remarks was very interesting – He said that despite the fact that there are no real traffic rules followed by anyone in the Bangalore roads, somehow everything works out fine because the people take care of each other. It is not the rules of the law that guide them but it is the basic human feeling of taking care of another human being that makes it work. Whereas in Germany traffic is so well regulated mainly because everybody is following the rules diligently. I was thinking aloud if the reason they follow the rules is also because of the human care that people have for each other. Interesting observation and conversation.

It was lovely to hear the officer in the immigration counter at the Bangalore international airport smile and ask me in Kannada the local language, if I am back in town. But he was kinda disappointed to note that I would be leaving back in few days. Told him that kiddies and hubby was back home and I need to get back soon, he nodded knowingly. He told me that next time we should all come together for vacation and stay longer. I told him we were here in 2010 and we really had a nice time together. Could not possibly have this conversation with somebody sitting in an immigration counter back home in Germany  but I still imagined how that would play out.

The hotel was nice, the breakfast buffet was brilliant and the best part it was bang opposite the Bangalore office. It could not get better than this, no Bangalore traffic madness for the next days. The only small glitch was that most of the time was spent trying to cross that busy road in the morning. I realized that my dare devil run across the road skills had slightly diminished, but I was gonna work on that. On the last day I managed to crush the fear within my head and glide through the road, knowing very well that all the Gods were on my side.

The thing that always hits you when you walk into the offices in Bangalore is how energetic and young the crowd around you is. The negative though is that I can no longer be content thinking that given 99% chances I am the youngest one sitting in the meeting room. You can be damn sure that everyone in that room is probably half your age, what a bummer. But you also realise that everybody has so many options in Bangalore, and I wondered if they all share the same sense of commitment that I felt when I started off in my corporate journey 14 years back. Something to ponder about I guess.

The highlight of the trip was definitely the chance to meet with family and loved ones. On this front nothing had changed, thank God for that. Lots of yummy food, unconditional love, warm hugs and enquiries galore about hubby dear and kiddies back home in Germany.

Everybody sighing and awing about hubby dear and how he manages everything singlehandedly when I was away. Yeah, hubby dear is indeed my secret weapon that actually makes all this possible for me. My strength and solid foundation for everything in life, I could’nt wait to get back and see the delight in the kiddies eyes and the sense of relief in hubby’s eye.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

No matter what

Saw this movie last Friday evening called 'Trust'. The movie was a good one, all about how kids in their teenage years can very easily get lost in the cyberworld. Lost in such a way, that they start trusting strangers whom they have never met in person more than anybody else including their own parents! Trusting them so deeply and also falling in love with these strangers completely.

The movie left hubby and me quite concerned. Well, anybody with two little girls would be. Especially with kids these days being exposed to a lot more technology in the form of ipads, iphones etc than we were when we were kids.

But the key question really is, is it only about the technology? That really is only one part of the whole puzzle, is'nt it? There are so many aspects out there that could influence your children and their decisions as they grow up. A strong loving nest @ home is very important and hopefully the effect of this surrounds them like a protective sheath when they are out there in the world on their own. But as a parent I think the most important aspect from my point of view is to be there for your children, no matter what and that's the key 'No matter what'.

I am excited thinking about the years ahead with the girls, there will be a lot of joy, there will be dissapointments, there will be anger sometimes, there will be a lot of successes, there will also be failures, maybe there are some heartbreaks :-), crushes etc etc...but no matter what we will be there for matter what :-))

Monday, January 23, 2012

10 things to avoid in 2012!

When everybody else around me seems to be working hard on their new year resolutions and what they would like to focus on in 2012, I thought it would be good to be sure about the ten things that I don't want to be doing in 2012. And they would be:

1) Procrastinate

2) Survive on less than 4 hours of sleep

3) Yell @ my girls

4) Speeding

5) Avoid going to the dentist and doing Kegels

6) Too much PDA

7) Buying potted plants and murdering them

8) Complain

9) Forget names

10) Break any of the above

So what is on your 'avoid' list in 2012??

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Breaking the rules with an Orange Almond cake

I keep telling little bunny never to follow any recipe point to point. I don't know if she completely understands what I mean, but everytime she is observing me cook she asks me 'Mama are you following the recipe?'. And almost always I have to tell her the truth which is 'Not exactly my dear'. I hate following recipes to be honest so it is strange that here I am posting another cake recipe! I believe in adding a personal touch to almost everything I do, I guess it gives me the pleasure of having broken the rules.And then I wonder from where little rabbit has that streak in her that calls for breaking every rule that I set for her :-)

Talking about cakes and recipes I met S last night for dinner who according to me is a master or mistress of baking. I think she makes some of the most amazing cakes in the world and is one of the best cooks I know. She slipped a small packet into my hands when I went to pick her up and told me to try it and let her know how it tasted. It was a kind of streusel kuchen and she had added cranberries and Czech apricots which was grown in her friend's garden back in the small town of Most and bottled for her to use :-)  Bottled apricots reminded me of the salted pickled whole mangoes back in India. S had her own personal touch as I am sure that the original recipe could not have called for Cranberries. As always it was delicious, I think she is to blame for having converted me into a true cake lover. More about S and her cakes in another post, an amazing woman, one who truly inspires me.

So guys here is a lovely recipe of an orange almond cake or rather tart I would say. I love the fact that you use the entire orange in the cake, peel and all. I also like this cake particularly because there is no flour used at all. Yeah, a very unique cake and also very healthy - well minus the sugar. But again I personally like to use dark brown densely packed sugar rather than the chemically bleached white variety that I sometimes happily consume with large pots of coffee during a working day :-( So here you go. Make sure you have the following ingredients ready, and this time it is only 5 things you need!!!

1) 2 large oranges

2) 1.5 cups of brown sugar

3) 5 eggs - yeah makes it really yumm!!!

4) 2.5 cups of almond meal

5) 1 tsp of baking powder

- cook the oranges in boiling water and then drain and cool. Put it into a blender and puree until smooth, the whole fruit including the peel

- beat the eggs with the sugar until nice and creamy, add the pureed oranges, almond meal and baking powder. Mix carefully, not too much. For those of you living in Germany you get ready to use almond meal at the Rewe supermaket, it is called Mandelpulver.

- pour into a greased baking pan and bake for almost an hour at 200 deg c in a preheated oven.

- once done keep it on a rack to cool

Your cake is technically ready but if you want to turn this into a kick a* orange almond cake then continue to read for a personal twist. Take half a cup of brown sugar, the rind of one orange and also the juice from the same orange. Boil and caremelize the mixture and pour this icing over the cooled cake. Now wait for the magic to happen, by letting it settle overnight. Next day you are ready to savor some deliciously moist orange almond cake. So go ahead break the rules my friends, add your own twist but try out this simple recipe and let me know what you think. Have fun!!!