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Food I cooked in May

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Khao Suey Yesterday we fried Vadas - fritters made out of rice and urad dal batter, mixed with chopped onions, chillies and coriander leaves. It was so yummy. Apart from some minor oil splashes in the mini wok, due to accidental presence of water in the ladle, there was no incident. And I fried a lot more vadas later in the night, soaked them in water, to make Dahi Vadas . Yum! I love this summer food. Reminds me of multiple summer vacations at home. Today morning I spluttered some mustard seeds and cumin with a dry red chilli and mixed it with dahi, chopped coriander leaves, and ground roasted cumin powder. The dahi vadas were mouth watering. And the sambar the day before - sour and spicy - loved it! Dahi Vada Just Vada Today I made Thai Green Curry . Of course procuring the Thai herbs was a challenge, so we decided to substitute with a ready-made ‘Thai Green Curry’ paste. Fried that in oil, put water and simmered, then in went the veggies - mushroom, tofu, carrots, capsicum, lots of

Lifting the Veil -Selected Writings by Ismat Chughtai

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Ismat Chughtai is a very renowned name in Urdu literature. Since the last few years I have come across reviews and recommendations of her works, especially her short stories revolving around female characters from different spheres of life and societal status. I am grateful for the different translated versions available, that I am able to read her works. Translated literature is just so important to delve into the essence of a culture, the ethos of its people and learn more about the world that it encapsulates. This particular collection is selected and translated by M.Asaduddin. As the 14-pages introduction to the collection goes, Ismat Chughtai is ‘ Urdu’s most courageous and controversial writer ’. Her pieces expressed female desires like no other during her times, they thwarted patriarchy, took real life socio-political observations and made a commentary out of it through stories and fictional characters, which showed the society a mirror. Doesn’t that intrigue you enough to read

3 Mystery Thrillers I Read Recently

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I have been reading a lot recently - fiction of course- novels of mystery and suspense. For when the real world is in chaos and devoid of good news and we are cocooned inside the safety of our houses, what else can one turn to but fiction. Fiction soothes, gives solace to the mind agitated with the current times and news and social media updates.  Mystery is my go-to genre in novels. I am always hunting for awesome thrillers, that build up the suspense and revelation towards the end is just mind-blowing. But when you read a lot in one genre, books tend to disappoint most of the times. So now-a-days I rely on the bookstagram community - I save the posts as 'to-read' for future reference. And following are the three of them that I read recently. 1. Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson I cannot swallow anything too dark, even murder mysteries. Crime fiction do not suit me, unless it is just about solving them - the investigator's point of view instead of the killer's. I

Letters

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Letters make me nostalgic. I used to pen letters a lot, on paper in school, switched to my diary pages after that- journaling always felt like letter writing- adding bits of everyday things into the succinct or elaborate prose. Few years later in college my blog was the space I posted my letters and thoughts into, accompanied by occasional email if the subjects were of private nature.  Reading my old diary entries make me nostalgic, yearning for the days gone by, but I love reading the lists of everything I jot down almost every year. Novels, movies, food, placed traveled - endless lists. And I continue to make them. 'Those Delicious Letters' filled me with want for all those lip smacking dishes and 'saudade' - the presence of an absence - for the lost love of letter writing. I wish to reread a physical copy of this book - slowly and steadily - and try out all the recipes listed out in it. My version of Julia & Julia - all dishes Indian, Bengali to be precise. There

The Liberation of Sita

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'The Liberation of Sita' by Volga is translated from Telugu by T. Vijaya Kumar and C. Vijayasree. It is a collection of five short stories and an author interview. This short read of 125 pages comes under the foray of 're-visionist myth-making'  - the act of looking back into an old text with a new critical eye, here it is through a women's perspective forging bonds of sisterhood between Sita and the sidelined almost-mute women characters in Ramayana.  "Through their retellings, women not only break the hold of tradition but free tradition from its fixity and take it to a free zone where multiple mutations and trans-mutations become possible." The women here - Urmila, Renuka, Surpanakha and Ahalya, have their own voice, re-present their story from alternative points of view, and convey their life's experiences to Sita providing her the strength to break free from the mortal relationships, and find true liberation.  "You belong to this whole world,

Ruminating on dreams and the purpose of life

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  I first read about Aanchal Malhotra in the newspaper or in an online magazine, on how she had dedicated half of her twenties to her project of documenting oral histories from the partition. Now it is almost a decade, she is still deeply absorbed and as dedicated to this project of collecting individual accounts and stories. She deals with the memories of the surviving few from the times of the partition of the subcontinent, in her book Remnants of a Separation. Her next book is already announced for 2021, Reading her is a joy. She is collecting next generation accounts of the times of partition, the ones that have been passed down orally to the sons and daughters of the migrants, the inherited memories and experiences. Partition has been experienced over the generations, through all these years, and still it is in our living memory – alive, not just a thing of the past. I wonder, how does one dedicate a decade of one’s life and still continue doing so, for a cause the importance of

On Reading Newsletters, The Queen's Gambit, Blog Analytics and StoryGraph

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The StoryGraph I am floored by the analytics and insights they have worked to provide. It is clear they have used AI and ML techniques for annotating the various moods associated with the books, from audiences around the world – like a manual crowd annotation of sorts. This is great since it is manual effort yet, labelling of the dataset, but the people on the platform are many, and I can only see the platform grow. Goodreads is really old, 2000s. In 2020s we need StoryGraph . I want to do certain recommendation system, like this website does with respect to emotional moods, but a bit different. Catering to Reading Challenges prompts. Like, you get book suggestions for prompts like ‘a lady of the cover’, ‘deals with Jewish traditions’ or ‘won JCB Price in last 10 years’. So, that is the idea. May be I’ll make it, hopefully I can, and leave a website for you to try. The Enneagram Type The Enneagram Personality Type – this is the recently trending personality system, a pointer o

Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

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  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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