the wonderful world of veena.

31 January 2013

30 thursdays: #30daysinbombay.

For the month of January*, I created a hashtag on Instagram [@vrangaswami] called #30daysinbombay and have been posting one picture every day of some aspect of my Bombay life, sort of a "Day in the Life" dealio. As you can see from the pictures below, I spend a lot of time on the train, and I spend most of the rest of my time eating. And that's pretty much my Bombay lifestyle in a nutshell.


[Western Railway. oh, how I love it]

[there's a pigeon hideout on my way to the railway station]

[selling their wares at the Bandra station]

[best unintentionally funny sign I've seen in Bombay]

[this is what the traffic looks like at 11pm on a Saturday night]

[I like to make Maggi noodles for everyone at 5am]

[empty trains on a Monday morning are such a blessing]

[we get to watch the sun set over the sea from the hall in our house]

[setting up shop on the footpath]

[that Sneha made me take her to Starbucks when she came to visit]

[evening market at the Lower Parel railway station. anyone need potatoes? because we've got plenty]

[the construction site just next to our building. I took this picture on 12 January, and they've already made crazy progress since then. at this rate they'll finish even before I leave]

[mummy came to visit!]

[mummy stayed in a fancy hotel]

[I enjoy making friends with fruit and veg vendors]

[ships at sea in the Bombay harbour]

[I still say the best way to see the city - and to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time - is to travel by train]

[cousin found Coke Zero and I found Dr Pepper right around the corner from our house! we are pretty much set for life now]

[it's a roommate thing. you had to have been there]

[Saranya pretends to do work on a Sunday evening]

[taking my mommy out for lunch]

[love the old buildings, especially in town]

[slowly getting our house set up]

[I like to have vada pav for breakfast at the station]

[the 26th was a dry day, but we were well prepared]

[fancy gulab jamun for dessert]

[imagine my surprise when I opened up my menu at Culture Curry to find Rajnikant greeting me]

[CST. the craziest, loudest, most exciting place in all of Bombay]

[the sunset as seen from our house]

[night view from our house]

And there you have 30 days of my life in Bombay. Can't wait to see what the next 30 days bring. [and the next and the next, because apparently I'm never leaving...]

*Note: I know there are 31 days in January and only 30 pictures here. Firstly, the series is called 30thursdays, but also, I had to go to Tamil Nadu and was not in town for 1 day. So in the end it actually worked out.

29 January 2013

restaurant review: britannia & co.

Welcome to my first restaurant review! Today we will be discussing a very pleasant lunch my mum and I recently had at the Britannia & Co restaurant in south Bombay.

Britannia is one of the few remaining Parsi restaurants in the city, and when I was trying to decide where to take mum for lunch, a few friends recommended that we try it out.

It's located in an unassuming old building in the Fort area in south Bombay, and the interior is, I imagine, much like it was 50 years ago. I wish I had thought to get a picture of the interior, but at the time I was not planning on starting this series, so you'll have to go and see the place for yourself. I did, however, get a picture of the menu:

Their signature dishes are the berry pulaos, the bombay duck [actually a fish, not a duck, fyi], and the sali boti, which is what we decided to order. The sweetest old man in the world took our order and explained to us what the dishes were, and he recommended the boti for us so we could have an authentic Parsi experience.

Boti is mutton, and the "sali" part of it involves sprinkling really thin slices of crispy potatoes on top of the super tender mutton [see picture below]. At the request of our sweet old man [I'm pretty sure he's the owner, but I don't have confirmation on that], we paired it with thin Parsi chapattis, and both were excellent. The serving size was great as well, with one order of the boti and 1.5 chapattis each being just the perfect amount for the both of us.

And! It's extremely reasonably priced. In a city like Bombay, you get used to spending a minimum of rs 400 per person for any meal, so when two people can eat for about rs 500 total [I had a ThumsUp and mum had a fresh lime soda], it's a real treat.

If you ever find yourself wandering the streets of Bombay wondering where to eat, you should definitely check out Britannia. You might even find me there, trying the berry pulao or the bombay duck.

Important Info:
Location: Ballard Estate, Fort, South Bombay [if you're traveling by train, you'll have to get off at Churchgate and travel the remaining distance by cab]
Average price for main dishes: rs 250-350
Portion sizes: enough for 2 people
Method[s] of payment: Cash only
Meal[s] served: Lunch only

Happy eating!

27 January 2013

the joy project: week one.

My friend Jackie recently began a new project on her blog called the joy project, and I found it so intriguing that I am going to attempt it myself. Essentially, each week she documents small joys from the week before to emphasize the little things each day that bring her some joy, and I thought it was a great way to take a moment each day to reflect on the small, everyday things that make life just a little bit better and brighter.

So here is my attempt at documenting life's daily joys.

Sunday: just a nice, relaxing Sunday where I didn't once think of work or school or really any responsibilities. that's how Sundays should be.

Monday: spent the day wandering Bombay with my mother. had a nice, simple lunch at Britannia [full review coming soon] and remembered how nice it is to spend quality time with my mother.

Tuesday: spent the evening cleaning house and setting up the hall. our house is slowly turning into a home!

Wednesday: non-stressful experiences both coming and going at the Dadar railway station. only someone who has experienced that station will truly understand how miraculous that really is.

Thursday: vada pav from the railway station for breakfast. best way to start your morning.

Friday: got to catch up with cousins and family members I've not seen since June. my cousin's 15-year-old son has facial hair now! and lunch on a banana leaf. there's something about it that just makes it taste better.

Saturday: my aunt made prawns for me before my flight back to Bombay. and then I got to spend the evening drinking Chattanooga Whiskey and catching up with my Alex-boy and my Haygood, both of whom are on holiday in India.

And there you have my first week. Now to see what this next week will bring [and how long I will keep up with this project :)].

23 January 2013

30 thursdays: 30 things I'm looking forward to this year.

2013 has gotten off to a pretty good start, and from the looks and sounds of it, it is only going to get better as the months pass us by. From visitors from abroad to various festivals and weddings and graduations and babies, this year is going to have a little bit of everything. Below you will find the things that are confirmed that I am looking forward to, but I'm sure this list is only going to expand as we get further into the year.

30 things I'm looking forward to this year:
  1. turning 30. it sounds weird, but I'm looking forward to wrapping up my 20s and seeing what the next decade will bring me.
  2. a visit from the mother.
  3. a visit from Alex-boy.
  4. a visit from Haygood.
  5. sulafest in Nashik. wine tasting + music = a good weekend in Veena's book.
  6. Mahindra Blues Festival. Soulmate, Dana Fuchs Band, and Robert Randolph and the Family Band all in one place? I'm there.
  7. Pranay and Vikki's wedding in Goa.
  8. completing a long-overdue US road trip.
  9. completing my Capstone with the Sujaya Foundation.
  10. completing my MPS and graduating.
  11. [hopefully] finding a job in India. perhaps even one that will pay me enough to support myself. just imagine.
  12. celebrating 70 years of my mother.
  13. Cait and Wes' wedding in October.
  14. the arrival of Peanut 2.0.
  15. Taste of Mumbai food festival.
  16. a visit from Tyler.
  17. completing my first-ever forays into online classes.
  18. traveling somewhere new.
  19. seeing a show on Broadway.
  20. taking part in the various tours that reality tours offers around Bombay.
  21. family reunion in the Rock, April 2013.
  22. Sarah Kennedy's wedding in June.
  23. season 3 of Sherlock. seriously addicting.
  24. maybe publishing some of my writing.
  25. meeting Devin in time for his first birthday.
  26. developing this blog further and making it more of a reflection of myself.
  27. being more spontaneous. I know that sounds more like a "resolution" than something to necessarily "look forward to", but I'm keeping it in there.
  28. developing my photography skills [aka learning how to use my camera and how to edit my photographs].
  29. expanding my reading habits.
  30. whatever other random adventures come my way.
Here's hoping your year is a beautiful one.

restaurant reviews / eating my way through bombay.

Steph and I have decided that we should try at least one new restaurant each week for the remainder of my time in Bombay. [I'm pretty confident she and Pete will continue this tradition once I leave, but I'm going to take my credit for getting it started]

After we made this decision, it occurred to me that I eat out quite a lot [especially right now when we have no fridge or gas connection at home], and there might actually be some people out there in the world who find my opinions on food useful.

So, moving forward, I am going to attempt to document my eating escapades, both on here as well as on Instagram [@vrangaswami / #eatingmywaythroughbombay], for anyone out there who likes food as much as I do and wants to find some new places to eat.

Moving ahead I will be taking pictures as and when I remember, but occasionally I'll do back-posts that won't include pictures, of places here in Bombay as well as in Bangalore, Memphis [mmm, Memphis], and Little Rock. In lieu of pictures I will do my best to be as descriptive as humanly possible in order to make you feel as though you were there with me.

First post will be coming up over the weekend, hopefully. They'll be a bit intermittent for the next few weeks, as full-on chaos is about to descend, but I will do my best to get a few up each month, at least.

Until then, happy eating!

10 January 2013

30 thursdays: 30 books you should read.

I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. When I was young and my mother would read to me at night, sometimes she would think I was asleep and would skip ahead a few pages to finish, and I would get upset and make her start over from the beginning. When I was in grade school, I would shut myself in my closet with some pillows and blankets and stay up the whole night reading without anyone finding out. When I was in high school, I often spent more time reading my own books than the ones I was assigned in school. And now, as an adult, I try to make it a point to read something, either a book or a grown-up magazine, for at least 20 minutes a day. So as you can imagine, I've read my fair share of books. As much as I would love to re-read a number of them, I can't help but think of all the other books that are out there that I need to read for the first time. I can never pick just one favourite book [or movie or song, for that matter], but below are 30 books that I have loved at some point in my life and would love to read again, if time allowed and if I didn't already have a never-ending list of books yet-to-be-read.

30 books you should read:
  1. Shantaram
  2. The Namesake
  3. The Shadow of the Wind
  4. Beach Music
  5. Tuesdays With Morrie
  6. Harry Potter series
  7. The Handmaid's Tale
  8. The Wheel of Time series
  9. The Glass Castle
  10. I Know This Much is True
  11. Sophie's Choice
  12. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  13. A Thousand Splendid Suns
  14. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
  15. The Help
  16. Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found
  17. The Commitments
  18. My Sister's Keeper
  19. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  20. Me Talk Pretty One Day
  21. Moth Smoke
  22. Water for Elephants
  23. Love is a Mix Tape
  24. What is the What
  25. A Long Way Gone
  26. The Razor's Edge
  27. The Thirteenth Tale
  28. Too Late the Phalarope
  29. Bossypants
  30. Song of the Cuckoo Bird
There are so many more I could add to this list, but I must contain myself. I am always ripe for suggestions, so if you have any books you think I absolutely must read, please pass them my way.

Happy reading!

03 January 2013

30 thursdays: 30 [or more] favourite pictures from 2012.

It's no secret that I love taking pictures. Whether it's a quick Instagram picture on my phone, fun candids at a party, or attempts at taking nice pictures with my fancy camera, I'm always on the lookout to take pictures at any available opportunity. For my final 2012 wrap-up post, I wanted to share with you my favourite pictures from this past year. I tried my level best to trim the list down to 30 pictures [I really did, honest], but I just couldn't. We all know I'm indecisive, especially when it comes to pictures, so I am allowing myself a small exception today. Bear with me, and enjoy.

30 [or more] favourite pictures from 2012:

[South Beach]

[one of the entrances to South Beach]

[super special birthday outing with Caro]

[some of the UACS Marathon Weekend participants]

[me and my Moo]

[Ashley and I finished the 10k!]

[Paris in springtime]

[Eiffel Tower, all lit up and shimmery]

[celebrating another year of Dylan - and Dustin - Perry]

[me and my boys]

[Ang and I put on a performance. Charles is not impressed]

[best friend Mindy came to the Rock]

[Banjo appreciates the finer sides of life]

[this is how Stevo plays cornhole]

[hanging out by the pool with Kap]

[birthday girl Hil]

[the Vee-Bees. we're awesome]

[UACS Beer Olympics participants and spectators]

[with Dubz and Bee]

[family picture]

[saying farewell to Chipper]

[San Francisco]

[me and the Milligan]

[Rhodes Class of '04 ladies at Walker's wedding]

[me and brother bear in Bangalore]

[my Sne-dizzle]

[Boss' birthday pub crawl through Bangalore]

[Sne, Amai, me, Shon, and Surya]

[me and my third-born]

[always love me some fresh sugarcane juice]

[only she can look this cute while eating oranges]

[third-born turned one year older and one year "weiser" at the end of July]

[bungee jumping in Nepal]

[me and the Jackalope. we survived!]

[colourful boats in the Phewa lake in Pokhara]

[watching the sun rise over the Himalayas in Pokhara]

["watering cans" in Lodi Restaurant, Delhi]

[Rob overlooks the Agrasen ki Baoli in Delhi]

[fiance reunion after a year and a half!]

[little Peanut with her beautiful curls]
[me and my Peanut]

[with Nit at NH7 Weekender]

[on our way to the last day of the festival]

[finale of Manganyar Seduction. amazing stuff]

[front and center for Bombay Bicycle Club]

[our home-away-from-home in Pune]

[we went to Morjim. this was the view from our shack]

[Rajat and Manish go for a walk]

[Morjim sunset]

[Peanut has no hair!]

[playing tourist in Bombay with Nit]

[enjoying the view of the sea]

[it's always nice when my old boys remember me]

[NYE with two of my favourite ladies]

[third-born and I both wore dresses. it was an occasion that needed to be documented]

[enjoying the first sunrise of 2013 with my Little Prince]
As you can see, 2012 was a pretty fun year. Here's hoping for many more adventures in 2013.