Let Me Give You a Hug

Posted October 18th, 2007 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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I met an old colleague at a conference a few days back. No, this is not another one of my office sagas…so you can continue to read ahead. As I walked towards him, I raised my hand to say hello and I saw that he stretched his hand out too …only when we were within arms distance, did I realize, he wanted to give me a hug and I was in a shake-hand mode. It was a bit awkward… We sort of gave each other the one armed half-hug.

Social hugs still are still uncomfortable for me. Social hugs in a professional situation are much more awkward. My family was not big on physical demonstration of affection. As a school-girl in a girl’s only school in a lower-income neighborhood, there were few air-kisses and social hugs amongst the students. While in BE, I was slightly amused and whole lot puzzled when other girls would get off the train and hug their friends good morning every day on the railway platform.

I have improved over the past few years and can hug without obvious flinching. Somehow I find it is easier to hug comparative strangers than my old friends. And again, it is easier to hug men than women. And its always best to accept a hug than initiate one. Weird but true. But I am improving, who knows some day I might just tell my closest girl-friends “Hey let me give you a hug!”

Taste of Bethesda

Posted October 5th, 2007 by Deepa and filed in Food
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Bethesda and Washington area. Given constraints of time and money, the progress has been slow but delicious. So, when we heard about the Bethesda Annual Street Festival, held on the first Saturday in October, we knew we had to check it out.

4-5 streets were cordoned off in downtown Bethesda , each street ending in a make-shift stage where artists performed live. All the streets were lined with food-stalls from nearby Bethesda restaurants ranging from standard chains to the haute-cuisine establishments. About 45 different restaurants offered small servings representative of the cuisine that they make & sell. At the entrance to the street festival, we could buy “food tickets”- about 16 tickets for 20$. We could then exchange the tickets for the food items in each stall, one serving cost either 1, 2 or 3 tickets depending on the type of food and restaurant rating.

It was a wonderful way to sample cuisines from various restaurants without needing to commit to an entire entrée. I have always loved appetizers, so having an entire meal full of appetizers was great fun! And then again, it allows me a chance to decide which restaurant to pick if I wanted to sample the full menu. Of course you have no way to judge if you would like the ambience of the restaurant, but the atmosphere of the street-festival was similar to a carnival.

It reminded me of the Khau-gallis of Bombay ( and perhaps there is one in every city in India ) where eating food from the street carts was one of the few guilty pleasures we all indulged in. Generation of mothers must have warned their kids , from school to colleges, against eating food from the street cart, yet no restaurant pani-puri compares to the one made by the unkempt looking bhaiyya at the street corner. I was very excited to have the chance to eat food from the street stalls again—even if they displayed their “hygenity certificates” prominently.

We made our way through the crowd and religiously sampled the food by almost all restaurants. Some of the highlights for us included the smoked salmon on crispy toast from the Rio Grande Café and the rich crab-cake from Mcormick and Schmicks. The Shephard’s Pie, topped with the mashed potatoes (3 tickets) from the Ri-Ra Irish Pub was especially hearty and quite a surprise because I’d never order this off the menu in any restaurant. The onion tarts (3 tickets) from Brasserie Monte Carlo was another lovely treat, the pastry was perfectly flaky without being overly greasy and the onion was different from the usual sweet pastries that are generally available.

Some of the disappointments were the Argentinian chorizo from Divino Lounge and restaurant which we picked instead of the beautiful mussel paella which we should have tasted instead. We had the last few servings of filet mignon from the upscale Ruth’s Chris steak house, after standing in a long queue but the steak was cold and unappetizing & the bun was hard. The Crab-cakes from Tommy Joes were nice and cheaper (2 for 2 tickets) but was easily upstaged by the ones from Mcormick and Schmicks.

By the time we reached the end of the lane, the paella from Jaleo , offerings from Olazzo and Saphire Café had already been sampled and finished by the crowd before us. Chicken Satay was the staple food from all southeastern restaurants while the Indian staples were Butter chicken (3 tickets), samosas (2 tickets)and mango lassi(2 tickets). The only thing we didn’t sample were the ice-cream stores (Haagen Dazs, Ben & Jerry) and fast food chains(Chicken out Rotisserie , Papa Johns, Chipotle) and some staple restaurants (Tara Thai, Uno Chicago Grill).

The food was accompanied by your choice in music , the stage at each street end had singers and performers performing jazz, afro-Carribean music, latin American flamenco groups, some Asian (Thai or Malaysian dances) performers and a group of belly dancers performing to some upbeat middle eastern music. All in all , a great way to spend a nice October afternoon—with street music and street food.

Sreesanth

Posted October 1st, 2007 by Deepa and filed in Uncategorized
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Nowadays Sreesanth seems to top the list of “ Cricketers we love to hate ”. Infact I have recently read several articles online that call him rude, ill-behaved, arrogant or selfish. Now, I do not know the man personally but I felt compelled to share this story about him that portrays him in a completely different light.

Recently a Malayalam newspaper published a serialized biography of Sreesanth in about 7 or 8 parts. One part was exclusively devoted to Sreesanth’s early cricketing career and the path that he took to become part of the Indian national cricket team. In that he credits a Jayakrishnan for making him stick to the game when he was a teenager. JK was several years his senior, and knew him primarily as an enthusiastic youngster interested in cricket. He also was a friend of Sreesanth’s elder brother. For one entire chapter, Sreesanth specifies how JK intervened with the selectors of the Under 13 team in Kerala when he was suspended from the team, for a teenager’s outburst, despite getting plenty of wickets. He says JK encouraged him to go to Bangalore for a camp conducted by Brijesh Patel which proved to be the turning point in his career. He expresses in detail, his gratitude to JK and the affection with which he holds him. He also describes his emotional relationship with JK’s mother who is referred to as his second mother throughout the article.

JK is my cousin brother. He died in a car accident about 8 years ago, he was 29. My family has not come to terms with his untimely death—even now. He was a competent cricketer himself although he played only at the university level. His fame and exploits, cricketing or otherwise were legendary—but only within our immediate family.

There are very few people who give credit to the people who helped them on their way up—especially if they are not “somebodies”. But giving credit to a person who passed away 8 years ago, without any hope of getting credit or any thing in return is truly heartwarming. I very much appreciate Sreesanth’s gesture in doing that. He reassured my aunt, made her feel valued, made sure that her son is still being remembered and alone makes me respect the guy. Despite his busy schedule and “stardom”, he still makes time to visit my aunt or talk to her.

My family will always be very proud of Sreesanth, not for his cricketing skills but for his humanity and in acknowledging my brother’s contribution to his success. Sreesanth’s words keep his memory alive and make sure that my brother did make a difference not only to our lives but also to several others.