Archive for the ‘Past Life’ Category

What in the world is Travalo

Did you know what Travalo is? Something to do with travel? You are close, you are also not alone.

If you are not a perfume lover, you might want to tune off right about here – unless you are naturally nosy, then feel free to stay.

Travelo is a cool gadget. It is a refillable atomizer – with a difference. 

All the magazines are raving about it. Cosmopolitan has declared it to be the winner of 2010 beauty awards. And the idea behind it is so simple, like most things in life are. Only you did not think of it, somebody else did, somebody far more clever and – rich, I presume. 

Many perfume lovers have a dilemma of poor staying power of perfume on their skin.  For this, we like to carry small quantities of decanted perfume in little spray bottles, or atomizers in our handbags. You can click here to read my suite101 article on everything you wanted to know about decanting – and more. 

Travalo does the same. Only it avoids the mess of decanting perfume as there is no spillage. No getting precious juice on your hands, clothes or on your carpet, and that happens a LOT. 

Travalo refillable atomizer

You just take the spray head (squeezy thing) off from your big perfume bottle. Now attach the Travalo’s bottom on top of the nozzle peg and pump (press down repeatedly) to see the liquid fill it up – with much satisfaction and no spills, I love it. 

Check out the enthusiastic youtube reviews on their website. You don’t have to, but the process of actually seeing a Travalo getting filled up provides much clarity and endless enjoyment. Only a true perfumista would get that. 

No more tasting horrid perfume after you have done some decanting, and washed up some thirty seven odd times already – with maximum strength soap. Still the stubborn smell has refused to go away. Why it can’t show the same resilience and character on skin, I wonder. 

It comes in many interesting colours, and carries 4ml of perfume in compact lipstick tube style atomizer. The different colours are very handy for differentiating between perfumes. It costs around 10 British pounds and is available from a variety of online etailers. Fun. 

Travalo comes in cool colours too

Why am I going on and on about Travalo, cuz I love the idea so much. I am sure I am not the first person to say that, and not the last to hear about it. I bet there are more who would appreciate the info.

So tell your friends and spread the joy!


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Here’s a basic introduction to the dazzling world of Pakistani Cuisine – For those who are from elsewhere. It’s an elaboration on a previous post on thinking about having Pakistani food for dinner.

1. Pakistani – Not Indian

Pakistani food is not the same as Indian food. They might feel similar, as similar as Japanese, Chinese or Singaporean cuisine might be. Are they? 

2. Traditional Breakfast

Our breakfast consists of eggs, half fried or mashed up in an omelette. We have bread either shallow fried in little oil, or toasted up. We also serve parathas – flat bread which is kneaded, made into soft dough and then fried. These also come as ready-made varieties – thank God for that. For a heavier, more festive brekky, we have puris – very thin pancake style only deep-fried in buckets of oil. We have that with potato curry, chickpeas curry and sweet halwa. 

Puri for Pakistani breakfast

3. Take a Piece of Bread, Dip in the Curry. Eat

We also eat with our hands – akin to Chinese eating with chopsticks. Children learn this with practice. They complain more often as they grow up rather than accepting this gracefully, which the adults do. I am telling the truth. 

Shallow fried bread known as Paratha

4. What is a Starter?

At homes, we only serve one main course meals, unless you live in a fancy hotel or like to think of your local restaurant as your own kitchen. Desserts are usually served after Dinner. Not at my house they are not, hubby eats them every chance he gets.

5. Ramadan Feast

Most people gain weight in Ramadan – the month where Muslims fast from sunrise till sunset. A whole book can be written on the specialities of food offered at Iftari- when everybody breaks their fast- Samosay, Pakoray, Chaat, Patties, Rolls, Fruit Salad. And this is just for the entree. Main meal is yet to come.

Pakoray - savoury potato veg fritters

6. Watch Out for Oil Stains on Your Evening Dress

There is another kind of food variety – the food that is especially reserved for serving at Shadis or in other words, weddings. Heavily spiced curries with tons of oil loaded on top, grilled kebabs, chewy breads, mouth-watering Biryani (rice dish with meats and few vegetables – a complete meal in itself) and a wide selection of dips and salads. Don’t ignore the desserts or you will be sorry.

Biryani - extremely popular Pakistani rice dish

7. Introducing Pakistani French

Pakistanis are champions at embracing food from different cultures. Desi referring to local, we have desi Chinese, desi Italian, desi Continental, desi Thai … All these flavours are redone – to perfection – to suit local palette. 

Pakistani style bbq -ed meat Tandoori Pizza

8. Food Street

The street food is something to swear by. If you have a heart of a lion and the will to try, check out street vendors selling Gol Gappe, Chaat, Shawarma, paan and much more. All these terms will be explained in subsequent posts. One day.

Gol Gappe


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Food Memoirs have been the craze for a while now. But surely you knew that, unless you have been living under a rock – such as myself.  Run a search for food memoirs on Amazon, and you will find more results than you cared to know about. Who knew, apparently write about food, and you can’t go wrong. 

So I picked up ‘A Homemade life – Stories and recipes from my kitchen table’ by Molly Wizenberg. The cover is totally gorgeous and does precisely what the publisher intended it to do – makes you take a second look. Then I found out that she got her book deal after her food blog Orangette proved to be a world wide sensation. Food blogs are not my thing, however, I love stories of wonderful things happening to ordinary people. I was sold. 

The blurbs on the dust jacket alone want you to purchase the book straightway. The praise makes it sound so irresistible, yes the whole package is a publisher’s dream. This precisely why I was a bit hesistant picking it up, although it had been sitting on my bedside table for sometime. I always find it hard to start reading a book that looks so beautiful on the outside. The inside almost always never holds up. This particular one, sadly, was not an exception either.

Everything about the book is cute. The blog is cute, the book is cute, the writer is so damn cute. Except nothing really happens in the book. The book is filled with short essay type, lackluster stories. I would be more interested to read these stories in magazines rather than have them take the form of a book. There is no coherence. The writing is good, the stories are not. The book is too long.

A young girl grows up loving cooking because everybody cooks in her family. She leaves her academic pursuits for cooking and writing. Her elderly father passes away and she goes to Paris. There she starts a blog and meets her husband. That’s all that happens in the book. Seriously. 

The book does pick up a bit half way through with her love angle taking shape, however the stories still remain mildly amusing. I skipped all the recipes as well. At times, I found her food writing to be quite annoying – I know she is a ‘foodie’ but does she have to talk like a food critic on Iron Chef? Over the top and unnecessary.

In stark contrast is the classic ‘Home Cooking – A Writer in the kitchen’ by Laurie Colwin. Her book is concise, and a perfect treat, waiting to be devoured. She makes you fall in love with her life, her writing, and her cooking – even if you are not into cooking. She surprises you with the simplest, most unpretentious prose and gentle humour, often catching you by surprise. I could relate to almost everything in the book and could not get enough of it. I read every single thing she had to say. At the end, I sighed with total satisfaction, albeit little sadly, to finish the book. Just like you do after finishing an awesome meal. You wish for more, but not really. You know it was perfect. 

Read Laurie (right) if you are after a fantastic read that just happens to be about food. Read Molly (above) if your primary love is food/cooking. Very much a matter of individual preference and yet makes a world of a difference as to what you are getting. As for me, I am quite fussy about what’s on my plate.

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Dislike! facebook

Somebody commented on a photo of you.

How I abhor this line. Has to be the most hateful message I see in my inbox –ad neuseum. It gives rise to such intense feelings, the ones I did not even think existed in me. Why? Because I have no idea who this somebody is, and that they are not even commenting about me. All this because I made a mistake of tagging myself in a photo.

You like this

I have about 30 odd friends on facebook. Not 300, 30. Needless to say I am not a big user. I was the last one to join, and don’t use any applications. If I wanted to hear what everybody is saying about a photo which I made a mistake of liking /tagging once, I would definitely have many more ‘friends’ added to my list. My facebook would be brimming with people including the ones I knew in grade 5, or even kindergarten. I would have my neighbours in there, and my friends who have now become strangers. I would go around meeting people for the absolute pleasure of adding them to my facebook. Just so I can find out what they are saying about some random thing I liked. So that they can tag me in more photos. Thanks, but I pass.

Once I tagged myself in a photo for a recipe. I am still receiving email messages of who has tried it out, who loved it, who couldn’t stand it. Who tweaked it a bit to create a masterpiece of their own and who took a photo better than the original one. Who fed it to a party of 30 guests and received accolades for it. Pleeeeease, somebody make it stop!

without asking first

The worse thing is, when somebody else – out of the goodness of their hearts – tags me in a photo. The notifications never stop. They over-crowd my inbox and drive me insane. I hit delete like a maniac. Take this! I scream. People, stop tagging others without asking them first. You don’t do this kind of thing to your friends. Does anybody care about their friends on facebook? Some people do, those same people have a page called ‘Please don’t tag me’, guess where – on facebook. These ingenious souls are selling shirts of the same message. 

The purpose of hitting me with this barrage of emails – as to who else on the planet happens to like the the same post – escapes me. Seriously, have I missed something? Is there anything that I can do to stop receiving messages as to who is doing cartwheels simply because I liked something? I am sure not the only one either. Facebook, please give us a dislike button. If the facebook doesn’t shut this notification thing off, I would go back and dislike it, just as a form of a little protest. Now that would definitely come in  handy.

Now this is what I need

UPDATE:  This post was totally meant to be not taken seriously. Just clarifying (and so not being defensive) ..

I do know how to un- tag myself. I don’t want to. I just want don’t the notifications in my email inbox.

Most important bit of info that I forgot to add, I was talking about being tagged in a public group and certainly not on a friend’s photo. I wouldn’t say such rude things if that was the case.

I don’t care about the dislike button.

I am not upset about this at all. Seriously!

Still not being defensive, but  you can see that right?

NOTE TO SELF. Do not post on a crappy Eid Day, especially after having a fight with hubby.


OOPS. My apologies to facebook, all it needed was a quick uncheck of few buttons to put a stop to it all. Took all of 3 secs to do it. That proves my previous point. Also proves how incompetent I can be. Good riddance.

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My Three Year Old …

Thinks my kitchen pantry is a mini shopping mart. 

TV is a shopping network. I want that car, I want that truck, I want that ice cream … 

Open Sesame

All glass doors open themselves, all you need to do is you step in front. 

iphone is the greatest invention, ever. Its fun to go to app store or you tube and laugh hysterically when his dad gets upset. 

Teaches my dad how to use iphone via Skype. 

Teaches his dad how to use his iphone. 

Thinks all phones have touch screens. 

Generation - iphone

Turns on Wii console and plays games – something I don’t know how to do as yet.

Decides what he wants taken from his older brother to amuse himself. 

Its loads of fun to mess with big brother while he is at the computer.

He is Spider man, or Super man or his current favourite, Iron man. 

Wants a red Ferrari. 

Wants an ipad 

Has fallen asleep once after doing a big poo, on the toilet. 

The world is his oyester.

He is the boss of our house.

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Going shopping for a fragrance can be very tricky, especially if you go to a big department store. You might be chased around by people holding perfume bottles in their hands, pointed at you, ready to spray. As you dodge & dart, you find yourself passing all latest releases. You could end up stopping at every display, and use all your spraying points, and confuse your nose even before you reach the perfume section. This is all too common with me.

As soon as I enter the cosmetics area in general, I forget instantly what I came to do. For this reason, I usually write down the scents before I start my expedition. I think I would remember, but I never do. Sales Assistants are tough people. They usually ask you what sort of scents you like, and then proceed to spray you with all other sorts of perfumes trying to persuade you to buy one, any one.

Come along Dorothy...

However, my biggest gripe is that one cannot choose a fragrance simply by testing out a few in the store. Not even by walking around the shopping center, and coming back later, as suggested by always helpful SA’s. You would look extremely suspicious, if you get caught having your nose constantly buried in various parts of your arm as you carry on. You also run the risk of injury. I have done this, and it doesn’t look good, believe me.

When I do make a purchase, 99% of the time, I have a case of what was I thinking the moment I reach home. Scents grow and change on your skin. When you first spray one, you get the top notes disappearing fairly quickly, the middle notes emerge and if you like these, you then make up your mind to put a dent in your pocket. But what about the base notes? They take a while – usually few hours to emerge and stay the longest. Buying a scent from a shop means that you never give a scent a proper chance to develop on you. You might like or even love a fragrance initially but discover – to your dismay and after being significantly poorer – that you are definitely not keen on the direction the scent takes in an hour or so. 

1 ml vial equals 6-8 sprays

The easiest way to solve this dilemma – and a huge one for perfume lovers is – to have decants available in the perfume section. Some places do this in the US. The store makes available 1 ml glass vials and people squirt a few sprays into their vials to take home and make up their minds at leisure. Some checks would be necessary I guess, but I don’t think everybody would ask. While stores are not doing this, online small businesses are making huge chunks – well not huge maybe but large enough- of money, selling perfume decants. They understand fully well that if you are serious enough to buy a fragrance costing upwards of $150 for mainstream, or $250 for a niche brand, you would want to be fully confident. 

People often buy decants of a decent 10ml size ,and buy a few fragrances at the same time, instead of getting stuck with one big bottle. However, I adore perfume bottles as much as the juice itself so unfortunately for me, 50ml ones are the way to go. Perfume manufacturing companies are all too aware; hence the 50ml bottles are usually the most expensive if you look at price per ml ratio.

Any chance the discount shops and chemists would allow decants to be made from their testers? A big fat No! Not when they guard their testers with life, some even lock them behind glass, and only give away testing strips after giving you a thorough up n down.  Better stick with the big stores I guess.

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I really admire those people who put up gorgeous food pictures online. The food looks absolutely delish and you just sit there gazing wistfully at your screen, wishing for technology that can make instant access possible. And I admire those people even more who happen to be working mothers – all mothers are working mothers – but the ones with little kids to look after. Still amazing food pics. Totally beyond me.

Tuna & potato kebabs. To finish leftover potatoes

Mango-macademia-chashew-coconut milk-lime creme. :)

Lately, I have been wanting to share recipes of the foods that I have cooked in recent times. That’s a good thing right? Not so much especially when I too am the victim of  “Let’s compare food pics” syndrome. Ever heard of the “Feeing inadequate due to airbrused, digitally skinny, having spent two hours in makeup women” syndrome? (Think magazines.) Well, it’s a little bit like that, except you are judging yourself on your cooking and not your looks. In both cases it ends up stirring feelings of being a complete loser.

Why don’t we realize that these people/chefs do this professionally. (And that’s why I said earlier that I am in awe of mothers who do this as a hobby). This is like – their job. They are trained to cook and present beautifully. Why would even we try to compete with that.

A fine tasting cheesecake

When a dish turns out to be something really good, I should grab my camera and take a few shots, right? Wrong!  When I am about to serve these dishes, its highly likely that my kids are crying out of hunger, and husband out of impatience. There is literally no time to serve it up all pretty and take some nice photos. If I do snap a few quick ones, they look like if a 5 year old has taken them. Or worse, the food has been cooked and plated up by one. The one who will not even go past the first round of Junior Masterchef. So yes, I am never happy with my food pictures and none of  my food pics make it online. 

I am forever waiting for that perfect moment. Like so many other things, that I think I will do, as soon as.. as soon as everything in my life goes according to plan. Stop laughing. How many times have I accepted that I will never have those five minutes? It’s a number that rhymes with hero. 

It’s ludicurous to expect to have 5 more minutes before dinner time when my family can’t even wait for 5 seconds. It’s exactly like there are tons of pics of kids in everyday clothes however hardly any when all of you get dressed to go out. You never seem to have those extra 5 minutes at the end. No extra time to clean up the kitchen if you want to take some photos there, or serve it up in your best plate. No time to actually pretty up the dish itself, I often skip the garnishing when serving food at home. If you are like me, forever needing to feed a starving army of people, you worry about serving food that is edible, not that is presented beautifully.

So I am posting pictures of few things that were an absolute hit with my family. There was gone as soon as I served them and people were screaming for more. Never mind they have bits n pieces which take away from the (?) perfection. I’d rather have the drool factor from my family, they were too busy gobbling it all up to notice anything else. Enjoy. 

Stuffed potato parathas. Bits of it needed less frying.

My kids pasta. When all else fails..

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