Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sending flowers and gifts to India

Here are some suggestions for sending flowers/gifts to India. These suggestions came from a few of my friends who have used these sites:
6. for Mumbai area

I have always tried Rediff shopping in the past and I always had trouble with them but never looked into other options. But rediff got on my nerves this Mothers day when they delivered flowers the next day and the flowers were not fresh at all. No more Rediff shopping for me and I advise against them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Organic vs. Inorganic

I have been reading so many articles lately regarding the choice of Organic vs. Inorganic food but they are all so non-conclusive discussions.

Organic foods are foods that are grown without synthetic chemical pesticides or fertilizers: consumers who buy organic are looking to avoid dietary ingestion of such chemicals.

The Environmental Working Group recommends a list of items that SHOULD be purchased organic. The group is a non-profit that has set its sights on trying to protect individual and global health. Here is the list:

Apples, Celery, Strawberries, Peaches, Spinach, Nectarines (imported), grapes (imported), sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries (domestic), lettuce and kale/collard greens: These had a higher pesticide load.

Onions, sweet corn, pineapple, avocados, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit and mushrooms: Those fruits and vegetables had the lowest pesticide load.

The disadvantage of Organic food is that it is expensive and doesnt survive much longer since it is free of chemicals.

The argument still remains open for me - what is better? Organic or Inorganic.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Effective Home-made remedies

Here are some "mom-prescribed" remedies that have helped us during our India visit recently. These might be useful for Indian families since we can easily get most of the ingredients from Indian stores:

1. Stomach problems: Take a spoon of Asafoetida powder (Hing,, spoon of Carrom Seeds powder (Ajwain,, spoon of Garlic powder and 2 pinches black salt (Kaala namak). Mix them and have the mixture with minimum water. The mixture would be quite dry to eat but very effective.

2. Sore throat with cough: Mix ginger juice (1 spoon) with honey (1 spoons) and black pepper powder (as you like). Warm it for 10-15 seconds and have it, once or two times a day for quick results in 2-3 days.

3. Bruise (especially when it is dry): Heat Mustard oil (Sarson oil) in a pan. Add Turmeric powder (haldi) to it and clove of Garlic. Apply the warm oil (not hot, but lukewarm) on the bruise. Indeed effective.

These remedies seem to be a trouble to prepare but they are so effective that I would definitely prefer them over medication.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

All about Wines

Here are some good-to-know facts about wines which I came across during my research on wines, driven by curiosity and lack of knowledge. Being in one of the largest wine districts of the world - California, I sure need to be educated on wines!

Basic types: "White wines" and "Red wines".
All wines are manufactured from grapes, however, different flavors are created by combining basic wine with fruits, or other additives, and by the actual manufacturing and aging process. Main difference between red and white wine is that the juice used to make red wine includes the skins, stems and seeds of red or black grapes while white wines can be made from any color grape, but only clear juice of grapes is used. Red wines tend to be heavier while white wines are usually sweeter. When wine is prepared in a way that produces carbon dioxide, it is termed as "Sparkling wine". The sparkling wine that specifically comes from the Champagne region of France, is known as "Champagne". These wines can be further categorized as Sweet or Dry, which is usually scaled between 0 (very dry) to 6 (very sweet).

Factors to consider while buying wine
1. Tannin Content: Tannins are a vital ingredient in wines, especially red wines, and form the basis of wine reviews. Tanin comes from the stalks, skins and pips of grapes. Tannins in a young wine produce a bitter, taste on the palate, while the aged wines are more subtle in flavor. Also, the "length" of a wine, which means the amount of time the sensations of taste and aroma persist after swallowing, is a good measure to consider.

2. Acidity: Various types of acids are present in wine, and are essential to the wine's longevity and taste. A higher acidity makes the wine more tart and sour tasting while a low acidity results in flat tasting wine that has a higher chance of going bad. The tangy, sharp, refreshing, bracing, bright, crisp or zingy flavors in wine is basically due to its acidity.

3. Alcohol Content: Full-bodied wines is a direct measure of its alcohol content.
* 7.5% - 10.5% indicates light body
* 10.5% - 12.5% indicates medium body
* 12.5% and over indicates full body (very high alcohol)

4. Wine Grades: The higher the rating, the better the wine. It is recommended not to go below 80 points for a quality wine.

5. Vintage: Older wine does not necessarily mean better wine, especially if the older bottles were from a bad vintage. The amount of rain that falls close to harvest time typically determines the amount of sugar in the grapes and thus, will affect the taste

6. Temperature: To get maximum flavor from the bottle, rich white wines, including most chardonnays, should be served cool, not chilled (limit them to about an hour in the fridge). Only lighter whites, including most sauvignon blancs, should be well chilled (about two hours in the fridge—longer and they might become too cold). Lighter reds, such as pinot noirs, should be served cool. Only "big" reds—such as most cabernets and zinfandels—are best served at about 65 to 70 degrees F.

Some popular Red Wines:
1. Barbera :
From: Mostly Italy and also in California
Characteristics: A silky texture, deep color, low tannins, and excellent acidity
Flavors: Juicy black cherry, raspberries and plum fruit
Food pairings: Versatile - match many dishes, including tomato sauces

2. Cabernet Sauvignon (Ka-ber-nay So-vee-nyon):
From: France’s Bordeaux region, Italy, California’s Napa valley, Australia’s Coonawarra region, Chile’s Maipo valley
Characteristics:Full, rich red wine - the world’s best varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon grape is a low yielding variety, with small berries and thick skins, which impart high color, flavor and tannins. It is full-bodied, but firm and gripping when young. Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s
Flavors: Berries
Food pairings: Red meat. Not with spicy food

3. Cabernet Franc:
From: France’s Bordeaux region, Italy, Hungary
Characteristics: Lighter and lesser in tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon, but with same level of intensity and richness. Due to lesser tannins, it produces a smoother mouthfeel
Flavors: More pronounced perfume with notes of raspberries, black currants, violets and graphite

4. Malbec
From: French Bordeaux region, Argentina
Characteristics: French Malbec is softer in tannins and lower in acidity while Malbec from Cahors region is more tannic and dark colored. Malbec is often blended with other varieties such as cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot to make Bordeaux style wines
Flavors: Plums, Berries and spice. Aromas of tobacco, garlic, raisin
Food pairings: Meat-based meals. Argentine Malbec suits Mexican, Cajun, and Indian dishes

5. Merlot:
From: France, Italy, US West Coast, Australia
Characteristics: Easy to drink – one of the lighter reds. Its softness has made it an "introducing" wine for new red-wine drinkers
Flavors: Typical taste is black-cherry and herbal
Food pairings: Anything will do

6. Pinot Noir:
From: France's Burgundy region, Austria, Argentina, Italy, California, Oregon, Canada, New Zealand
Characteristics: One of the noblest red wine grapes, it is softer/lighter than Cabernets, with similar characteristics. Very unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, the tannins are very soft.
Flavors: The aromatics are very fruity (cherry, strawberry, plum), often with notes of tea-leaf or damp earth
Food pairings: Excellent with grilled salmon, chicken, lamb and Japanese dishes
Food pairings: Red meat. Not with spicy food

7. Sangiovese :
From: Italy’s Tuscany region, California, Australia
Characteristics: The primary style is medium-bodied, high acidity. Not as popular as Merlot but with similar attributes
Flavors: Fresh berry and plum
Food pairings: A good choice for Italian and other Mediterranean-style cuisines

8. Shiraz/Syrah:
From: Australia
Characteristics: One of the biggest reds. While shiraz is used to produce many average wines it can produce some of the world’s finest, deepest, and darkest reds with intense flavors and excellent longevity
Flavors: Wild black-fruit (such as blackcurrant), with overtones of black pepper spice and roasting meat
Food pairings: Red meat
9. Zinfandel:
From: Found mostly in California, Also in Italy
Characteristics: Strong red – Too red and alcoholic. The world’s most versatile wine grape, making everything from blush wine (White Zinfandel), to rich, heavy reds
Flavors: Often a zesty flavor with berry and pepper
Food pairings: Depends on freshness/heaviness of the wine; Pasta, pizza, and meats

Some popular White Wines:
1. Chardonnay:
From: Burgandy, France; England, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, California, New York, Washington, Canada
Characteristics: Elegant white with buttery taste. Chardonnay was the most popular white grape through the 1990’s. Often wider-bodied (and more velvety) than other types of dry whites
Flavors: Rich citrus (lemon, grapefruit). Fermenting in new oak barrels adds a buttery tone (vanilla, toast, coconut, toffee)
Food pairings: Versatile. Good choice for fish and chicken dishes

2. Gewurztraimer (Gah-vurtz-tra-meener):
From: Alsace, Germany; US west coast and NY
Characteristics: Ideal for sipping. A very aromatic variety but not as refreshing as other dry whites
Flavors: Fruity flavors with aromas of rose petals, peaches, lychees, and allspice, honey, cinnamon
Food pairings: Asian food, pork, grilled sausages

3. Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio:
From: Extensively in Venezia and Alto Adige regions of Italy. Also in US western coastal regions
Characteristics: Pinot gris can produce crisp, dry wines with good acid "bite". Alsace Pinot Gris shows aromatic, fruity flavors that improve with a couple of years in the bottle. Popular wine
Flavors: Aromatic, fruity flavors
Food pairings: Versatile

4. Riesling:
From: The classic German grape of the Rhine and Mosel, riesling grows in all wine districts
Characteristics: Germany’s great Rieslings are usually made slightly sweet, with steely acidity for balance. Riesling wines are much lighter than Chardonnay wines. Often consumed when young. Dry Riesling served at 52 deg F while sweeter Rieslings are served warmer
Flavors: Fresh apples. Aroma is flowery, tropical fruits
Food pairings: Spicy Thai, Chinese cuisine

5.Sauvignon Blanc (So-vee-nyon Blah)
From: France’s Loire valley and Bordeaux regions, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, In California as Fume Blanc by Robert Mondavi
Characteristics: Crisp wine. Generally lighter than Chardonnay
Flavor: Normally shows a herbal character suggesting bell pepper or freshly mown grass. The dominating flavors range from sour green fruits of apple, pear and gooseberry through to tropical fruits of melon, mango and blackcurrant
Food pairings: A versatile food wine for seafood, poultry, and salads

6. Semillon:
From: France’s Bordeaux region, Chile, Argentina, Australia, California
Characteristics: Often blended with Sauvignon blanc to delimit its strong berry-like flavor
Food Pairings: Fish, mussels, clams, pasta salad

Remember to swish your glass of wine around to release the different flavors in it, and take a smell of it, before you take your first sip!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

American and British spelling

It sure is confusing but here are some commonly used words with different spellings in American versus British english:

American spelling - British spelling

color - colour
favorite - favourite
honor- honour
mold - mould

analyze - analyse
criticize - criticise
memorize - memorise

enrollment - enrolment
fulfill - fulfil
skillful - skilful

center - centre
meter - metre
theater - theatre
kilometer - kilometre
liter - litre
fiber - fibre

analog - analogue
catalog - catalogue
dialog - dialogue

check - cheque
aging - ageing
argument - arguement
judgment - judgement
jewelry - jewellery
pajamas - pyjamas
plow - plough
tire - tyre

counseling - counselling
equaling - equalling
modeling - modelling
quarreling - quarrelling
signaling - signalling
traveling - travelling

dreamed - dreamt
learned - learnt

fit - fitted
wed - wedded
forecast - forecasted

aluminum - aluminium
airplane - aeroplane

gray - grey
skeptic - sceptic

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A trip to see the "Oracle of Omaha"

Link to pictures: A trip to Omaha

It still feels like a dream with me sitting in the front seat of a cream-colored Cadillac, with none other than Mr. Warren Buffett driving the car! I still have a hard time believing that this actually happened - I got this wonderful opportunity on the 11th of March, 2011. Every year, Mr. Buffett invites various top MBA schools from the US to visit him, generally 20 students per school. This year, I got selected from my school to visit Mr. Buffett. The "Oracle of Omaha" is one of the most humble people I have ever met - very humorous and energetic.

Thursday, March 10, 2011 - Arriving the day before the big day, we stayed at Hilton Garden Inn in downtown, Omaha. Omaha as such is not a very big city. There was hardly anything to see except the beautiful Qwest Center - not even people or vehicles were easily visible;-) The localities were quite excited as Lady Gaga, Janet Jackson and some other singers were to perform in the Qwest Center that month. I found the food in Omaha very delicious and differently prepared - It just tasted better. Unlike Californians, people were driving very cautiously and with discipline.

In the afternoon, we went to "Girls Inc.", a voluntary organization run by Warren's daughter.We played with the girls there and kept them engaged with our planned activities - Marshmallow Challenge and basketball/soccer/jumping rope. We got to see a whole together different perspective of life playing with these low-income families' kids. Most of these kindergarten and first grade girls were very smart. Hope they get the opportunity to do something in life! Some of them did not want to work in a team and some of them were quite bossy. Some of them started crying because they did not win the game and some were crying because they were unable to perform well in the game.

Friday, March 11, 2011 - It was a cold, sunny morning. We woke up with the sad news of earthquake/Tsunami in Japan. We had breakfast at hotel and went to our first stop - the Nebraska Furniture Market, owned by Warren Buffett. It was a huge market which had a huge furniture selection and a gigantic electronic store. Warren wasn’t there himself but the store manager told us the history of the store, that it was opened by his grandmother. The furniture market had at least 160 sample recliners on floor - I know this because all the 160+ people present there found a recliner to sit on when the manager was talking about the store.

Our next stop was Berkshire Hathaway. We (the Sacramento Working Professionals group) drove there on our rental car. We were seated in the chairs, waiting excitedly for Mr. Buffett to arrive. He arrived at the scheduled time of 10:30am. It was a wonderful moment for everyone, seeing him from a few feet distance. Mr. Buffett acted as the moderator for the Q&A session. Each school got a chance to ask 2-3 questions. Some of the briefings can be found at: UCD Blog by Richard Chen, a student from UC Davis who was with us on the trip.

- Leverage: Dangerous. Berkshire doesn't have to depend on others for financing.
- Question about what to do with your career: Answer: Do what you would do if you were retired. Buffett says that he loves what he does and he makes money at it.
- He told the story about what a person, who has yet to be born, on how they would shape the world. But the catch is that the person doesn't know what they will be born as: gender, what country, healthy or retarded. How would you shape the world's resources and society? How can you shape it to be fair for all?
- Joke: Buffett walked to the back row to hear a soft-spoken student ask a question. With this, Buffett tells a joke. Buffett is concerned that his friend, Charlie Munger, who he has never had a disagreement with, is losing his hearing. A doctor advises that he asks Munger a question from across the room in a normal voice and see if he responds. The next day, Buffett is in a room with Charlie Munger and from across the room, asks: "Charlie, I think we should buy Microsoft at $26, what do you think?" Munger doesn't respond. Buffett goes halfway across the room and asks the question again. Munger doesn't respond. Finally, Buffett goes up close to Munger's desk and asks him the same question. Munger replies, "For the THIRD TIME, I said YES." (Joke explanation: Buffett is the one who has a hearing problem)
- On Charity: Buffett says that normal people who give to charity are more generous than billionaires who give billions to charity. Why? Because when billionaires give money, they are not giving up anything. By giving away a billion dollars, is the billionaire going to sacrifice seeing a movie, expensive dinner, vacation, or anything else in their daily lives? Not really. But for a normal person, giving $100 to a charity, might affect if they go on vacation this year or affect their choice of meals later.
- Buffett on small town development. Basically, it's up to the person growing up in the town to give back to the town and develop it. But in most cases, really smart people tend to leave their small towns behind.
- Buffett drank one regular red can of Coke - He said he has a big share in Coke. So, basically he gets profit for every can we drink. He said he loves when people have coke!
- More on charity: Buffett remarks that he has paper stock of Berkshire Hathaway in a vault 2 miles from the building. He says that those pieces of paper can get him a huge pyramid tomb that will put the Egyptian pyramids to shame. I say that he should do that. That would be awesome.

At the end of the Q&A session, he said 4 people would ride with him in his car: 1 girl each from UC Davis and UC Berkeley and 1 boy each from Montana State and Maryland University. Thanks to my school for selecting me for this life time opportunity. It was a great moment sitting in the front seat with Mr. Buffett driving. In the car, he asked each of us about where we see ourselves in 10-years from now. On the way, he showed us the insurance company that he owns and told us that it is now $80 million or something.

Then I asked him a personal question, " What is the secret of your healthy living?" He said, "Happiness. I never take stress in life. I am always surrounded with happy people. I can never get irritated and have never in my life yelled at anyone. I have a really bad diet and I do not exercise but I keep myself surrounded by happiness all the time." It was a short 10-minute ride. Mr. Buffett (now 80 years) had good driving skills (or maybe I never noticed his driving mistakes as I was too engrossed listening to him and admiring him).

We reached his favorite restaurant: Piccolo’s Steakhouse where he treated all the students to lunch. It was good lunch, even though I could not enjoy it as it was the time when I was getting hit with flu. I had a terrible flu after my trip which took me almost 3 weeks to recover. We then had a photo session with Mr. Buffett in the restaurant. He was very energetic while taking pictures. Each one of us had an individual picture taken with him along with a group picture. We gifted him a Giants jersey with his name printed on it (since he is a huge baseball fan and we wanted to gift him something to signify California). Our photo session was the last time we saw Mr. Buffett in real.

Our last stop was Borsheim's Mall which he owns. It had a huge jewelry section which was realllyyyy expensive. Even though there was a special discount for us for purchasing anything, but it was still far from our reach! We left for the airport after this. Ahh, not to forget, on the way we thought why not check out Mr. Buffett's house! We found his address on internet. Omaha, being a small city, places weren’t too far away. We drove past his house and clicked some pictures. His house was in a beautiful, affluent-looking area in Omaha.

Mr. Buffett invited us to attend his annual Shareholder meeting in Qwest Center in April, 2011. Not that I am going but getting to attend his shareholder meeting is a privilege as buying his Berkshire Hathaway stock is far, far from my reach.

Link to pictures: A trip to Omaha

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our "Salute" to the Legend

Isn't it amazing that we can read about what was going on in the mind of someone more than 70years ago? Someone who might be an inspiration for many of us, someone who fought for his country and sacrificed his life for his fellow people, someone to whom we Indians owe our lives - Yes, I am talking about Shaheed Bhagat Singh here. Bhagat Singh (September 27, 1907 – March 23, 1931) was one of the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement. He is often referred to as Shaheed Bhagat Singh (the word shaheed means "martyr").

Bhagat Singh was a revolutionary ahead of his times. By "Revolution", he meant that the present order of things, which is based on manifest injustice, must change. Bhagat Singh studied the European revolutionary movement and was greatly attracted towards socialism. He realized that the overthrow of British rule should be accompanied by the socialist reconstruction of Indian society and for this political power must be seized by the workers.

His translated and some original writings can be read at:

Bhagat Singh was hanged when he was only 24 years old, along with two other great revolutionaries, Sukhdev and Rajguru on March 23, 1931.
Bhagat Singh will always be respected and will always live in our hearts for what he did for us at such a young age. Our salute to him!

Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna Ab Hamare Dil Mein
Dekhna Hai Zor Kitna Baazue Qaatil Mein Hai
[The desire for sacrifice is now in our hearts
We shall now see what strength there is in the boughs of the enemy.]

Monday, August 17, 2009

The hidden poet

Here are some poems by Shavi (from his bachelor days).

Guess he needs to bring out the "married poet" inside him :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is it laziness or just getting old?

This is the first long weekend that I do not want to go anywhere - just want to sit at home and relax.
Maybe life has become so hectic because of the school that I am yearning to sleep till late some day. I always thought that working hard and sleeping less would make you stronger but perhaps it was wrong. You do not realize that until you have all sorts of shoulder, back and head aches which do not go away easily. Not to forget the ulcers in intestine which I developed due to stress as per the dear Doctors! Well, you cannot make the days longer than 24 hours, you can just cut short your sleep - I thought the same way but it does not work for long! Just learned a lesson that it is really important to sleep for at least 7 hours. Heard on TV last night - sleeping for less than 6 hours is equivalent to having 0.5 percent blood alcohol level!!
Remember, sleep is important if you love your life!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The 3rd 19th of March together!

It sure has been a long while before I last blogged. Thanks to my last MBA quarter at school - I took 3 courses instead of the recommended 2. It was tough but I enjoyed it. With Shavi's help and his efforts, I could make it well. Not to mention, I again take 3 courses this quarter. I dont like working much in kitchen these-days and love it when Shavi does all that for me. You guessed it - that's my reason behind taking 3 courses again ;-), inspite that it gets really hectic for me; and we (Shavi and I) are left with hardly any time together!
Yesterday was fun - it was my last exam, Anu came over from DC for our anniversary which is today. Got the most wonderful gift from Anu - she painted a big card for us which is so worth getting framed and bought a self made delicious cake all the way from DC. She herself came over - it was the best gift from her. Been 3 years now and I dont even remember how it was like being alone and neither does Anu. Isnt it Anu? Thanks to Shavi for all the love he has given us. Well, dont want to make it more cheesy, but that is what it is:)

Looking forward to our trip to one of my favorite places - Monterey/17 mile drive tomorrow to celebrate our anniversary. It was Mendocino on our 1st anniversary, Vegas on our 2nd one and this is the 3rd one - Monterey.