Category Archives: personal

IF I HAD A FOOD BLOG….

Have you any idea of how bad a food (or travel) blogger I would have been? People would have called my posts ‘flogging‘, akin to vlogging that people do to realise the cost of the webcam they bought (originally to do the dirty things the internet supposedly encouraged but they never found courage for). Do taste the flavor of my flogging, once you repeat after me, “Long Post Alert!”

I have been known to enjoy my holidays, and have blogged about them before, and a not-too-past trip to South Africa was outstanding in every way.

 So, you could say I was spoiled there with good food like braised lamb shanks.

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I even loved the exotic steak meats like the crocodile and the ostrich.

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The fearless gourmet in me even dared to sample the kind of foods even those bred on eating meats would baulk at—sample the typical jerky-style dried beef, ostrich, deer, antelope, and bigger game. 

DSC01485(These jerkies would go well with beer and a game of football, the Africans would have you believe.)

At Cape Town’s famous restaurantDSC01499 Mama Africa, I chickened out of 

DSC01629the invertebrates in the menu!DSC01502

And all the exotic food and drink were enjoyed in backdrops that are the stuff of dreams and hallucinations.

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Don’t miss the author’s celebrated feet as he savors his cheap and excellent South African wine in the midst of the Kruger while watching elephants mate (or whatever it is that they do when not taking gigantic craps).

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So (hello, readers, are you still there?) with this African experience not having entirely receded from my mind, I ventured off recently to Thailand with minimal expectations.

I had been to that country several times before, and what would be different this time? Leela was very kind when giving me a list of places to eat, and I thought I would somehow endure the few days of holidaying in Bangkok and Phuket.

As my cynical mind suspected, I was spot on.

In Phuket, the weather was gloomy, as we saw from the hotel.

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 The room had only two verandahs with ocean views, and only one of them was air-conditioned! Gasp, I thought, what has this world come to!

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In addition, there were little animals in the room, which kind of competed for space in the tiny suite provided.

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The nearby events in Samao and Indonesia were reminders of how perilously perched our world often is.

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The Thai Engrees made things more fun.

DSC02788(helloo! Can you hear me?)

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(come in side, but chill out side, geddit? Hopefully, the verb meant a form of leg movement!)

In Phuket’s Jung Ceylon mall, there is an excellent food court, with Wine Connection (a restaurant that serves the most incredible chocolate moose mousse and caramel custard,  unfortunately un-captured in photographs as they had incredibly short table lives) standing out for class. The KFC in there (and in other places) has a Thai curry-style fried chicken that is an experience! Such a spicy and delectable chicken dish is really unusual! My son had it every day (I kid you not), not heeding my stern warnings about trans fats and atherosclerosis.

In Bangkok, as Leela had recommended, I decided to have dinner at Cabbages and Condoms. However, I had not reckoned with the awesome traffic.

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In fact, bikes and scooters were riding gaily on the pavements, a la India. 

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 At the restaurant, the starters were exceptional, specially the prawn with peppers, the tom yum goong, and the catfish salad (it has spiced raw mangoes in it).

The restaurant, in spite of its name and its social purpose (they serve condoms in place of mints), is tastefully designed.

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I was wondering what the heck the fried thing in the salad was, though the name said it was catfish. It was as if egg fritters were fried in hot oil. Delicious and unique. The chicken tom kha soup I had was good, but slightly sweet. Not bad at all, but I love a more creamy tom kha.

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The entreé of deep fried pork in garlic pepper was disappointing (they burned the garlic, I think), but the chicken in lemongrass was excellent. In the pic, you can see the pork and the jasmine rice (including a unique red variety) in the background, and the chicken in front.

I must say I had planned to eat Tab Tim Krob, the delicious water chestnut sweet, after Leela’s post on it. I was not disappointed. This was in one of the Be Siam (or some such) restaurants.

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Bei Otto:

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Another evening, it was time to try Bei Otto, a German restaurant (possibly the only good one in Bangkok)  located in Sukhumvit. 

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A simple grill platter of German bratwurst, pork chops and veal cutlets, served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes, was enough to sate three of us, though I had, gastronomically speaking, a relative off day. Dessert was mangoes served with cream and ice cream and a light filo pastry. Amazing. Definitely worth a visit every time!

Restaurants apart, even the food courts in the many malls of Bangkok offer uncountable treats for the foodie. I had sushi like I have never had before. Cream pastries. Cakes. Miso soups. Pad thai. Oh, I am already tired, with so many foods I have yet to list!

The street food is eclectic. You can find incredible junk, and you can find delicious local specialties like grilled bananas. I believe they sell frog legs but I never got to eat or see that!

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 So, in summary, I hope I have convinced you that Thailand is one country I am definitely not planning to visit in a long time, till next year, anyways. Especially considering that I gained ten pounds in eight days.

The only reason that I can think of is it might, just might, get me a guest post in some celeb blog like  http://www.shesimmers.com. Or maybe not. Once bitten, twice Thai, I mean, shy!

WHEN BLOGGING IS SHOT DEAD….

Why do famous bloggers stop blogging?

1. Is it because they forget their username/password and get locked out of their blog?

2. Is it because they start new websites and write for the development of that site?

3. Do they lose their speech because some greedy female fan bit off their tongue (a species of Ardentophilus linguophagicus)? Aside– do ‘they’ have a tongue or several tongues?

4. Do they get elected President?

5. Do they rub shoulders in fashion events with scantily clad nymphs who look like Asian Paints representatives? 

6. Do they lose their sense of humor and start writing columns for other websites?

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DSC00131In case you guessed it, here is a holiday for two to Alaska from me– here is a priceless depiction of the erstwhile blogger Rambodoc (now occasionally seen, like a horse in pajamas, in social media like Twitter or Facebook) on the ramp. The pictures of sundry Asian Paints representatives rubbing their ample assets on his strong arms have been deleted by the Indian Government. 

Oh, and about the Alaska trip? Just buy the tickets. I will buy you a bear beer.

BLOG VACATIONS AND JETLAG

The Sixpack Doc explains why this blog has been unattended for so long, and what changes have elapsed in the interim. Check out his post on ‘Random Thoughts on an Unfit America‘. More later!

THE MAY CHALLENGE!

My brudder, the Six Pack Doc, has issued a May Challenge that calls for a 10 lb fat loss in one month while getting stronger.
Is that even possible? I think you can either lose fat or gain muscle, but not do both at the same time.
Check it out yourself then!

HOW TO STAY FIT IN RECESSION

Over at my new blog, I posted on the above topic, something I put in for DR of Health Habits.
I was among an elite group of health and fitness bloggers (from whom I learn on a daily basis) contributing to Fitness Guru DR at his blog Health Habits.
This is my contribution, and check out those of others by clicking this link:

The intro:
“Indians are always geared to recession, though you may not understand that from the media reports of a resurgent and shining India. Indians are generally conscious of not wasting money, especially while giving it off to people (ask me, I have to take my fees out from my patients through their body orifices!). But, in these difficult times, being careful with your money is a policy that resonates easily with everyone here. We are all finally in one recession-hit global village today!
I have some suggestions:”
Go there if you want to read it.

WHY NANDAN CANNOT FIND INDIA ON A MAP

I have not had any urge to write all these days, and I can’t say I am in the best of mindsets to do a good job. However, here is a small essay written, with my active help, by my son. I hope you tolerate me for this. You cannot find a drier piece than this, I am sure.

I live in the city of Kolkata, surrounded by dusty buildings, most of them made of bricks, and some of them of a mix of thatch, wood, mud and plastic. The latter type of building makes for the shanties that freely thrive in my neighborhood.
In one such shanty lives Nandan. I have been seeing him for the last two years. Nandan does not study in my school. He works in a garage next door, by the side of the street.
At those times when the ball flies out of the building walls and lands in the garage (whenever we play cricket in our compound), Nandan is found ready with it, handing it over to us reluctantly. I have sometimes heard him being rebuked by his master for wasting time looking for the ball beneath some damaged car or the other.
Nandan looks like a grease monkey. Really. He works on his back, lying on the rough muddy ground and hands over tools to the car mechanic who is his teacher and mentor. As the day goes by, the muddied lubricants from the spare parts of the cars find their way from his hands to his face and neck. The only thing the black paint cannot hide is his brilliant smile. But that is something I have seldom seen.
Nandan does not play with us, as he is busy at work. When we are at school, he is at the workshop, and when we are playing, he is right there. We got talking sometimes, but not much.
While me and my friends are getting plumper watching TV and playing on the computer, he is thin as a rail. He cannot even find his country on a map, I found! He told me one day that he wanted to learn English and maths, and asked about how my school looked. I don’t know whether he believed me when I told him how grand and old my school was.
At home, Nandan gets to eat with his brothers (while I have none), but his mother is too busy with household work to talk to him or put him to sleep. Or else she is too busy fighting with other ladies in the shanties over whose turn it was at the toilet or the water pump. I have seen this many times from my verandah, high up in my building.
I am sure he must be getting bitten all over at night by bugs, while I sleep in comfort a few storeys above him. I sometimes wonder whether I deserve being better off than him, but then, this is not the age when I need to handle tough questions!

EFFING!

My long-suffering readers know that I am not famous for using intemperate language in this and other blogs.
The taken-aback, perineally loyal Rambophile may wonder, “Pagla gaya kya?”, which is a Hebrew expression meaning, “I love him, V Day to D Day!”. Speaking of which, incidentally, I posted on Facebook that I was wondering if, at my tender age, I should be celebrating this:
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Tender, incidentally, is not a politically correct word, in this age and context.

Do check out my short piece called ‘Microvalentine’s Day’ (old post).

Before I wade into another mile of this nonsensical ramble, I should set the record straight:
I don’t mean Effing in your kind of effing sense.
This is a radical, new verb. My invention. It intends to describe an activity that “uses E-sources for Food and Fitness.”
Brilliant, wouldn’t you say?
So, let us carry on about Effing.
This post, following on from the earth-shaking previous one titled ‘The Fat Loss Plateau and Beyond’, is focused more on the same, by popular demand.
I promise you I will talk sense, and will not bore you with statistics and evidence. I will, instead, use my anecdotal example.
I started working out in the gym an year ago. I found I was getting stronger, but I knew I had a long way to go before I could be considered fit. I also found that I had lost only so much fat in spite of a lot of effort. This is the very common conundrum that is called the fat loss plateau.
I used certain tricks that are threatening to make me the next Adonis with a six-pack neck (anywhere else, it is all so passé, so upwardly upper class!).
I got a free account in FitDay. This made me focus on exactly what I was eating on a daily basis. The results astounded me. Take a look.
This is a typical day’s intake when I was working hard and yet seeing no fat loss worth the name:

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You can see that a huge truck-load of calories was coming from carbohydrates in the flour and other grain sources, apart from sugars. Luchis are fried breads, aloo dum is fried potatoes in gravy, and samosa is a savory- fried flour pastry stuffed with spicy potatoes and a few minor vegetables.
I decided to cut that out. On the day when I fast and then break it, eating gustily in the four-hour window (read previous post on the subject linked to above), see what happens:
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I still ate rice and pancakes (the Indian equivalent) but I logged less than a hundred grams of carbs (and far too low of the proteins I need), and only half the calories I could have eaten. But that was because my mother cooked for a family get together, and who can miss out on mothers’ cooking, right? Incidentally, you can see how badly balanced a South Indian vegetarian diet is (the last four items were ‘aloo curry’, ‘sevai’, ‘kirai’ and ‘appam‘) from the chart. The names ‘ON’, and ‘ON’ powder refer to the whey protein supplement made by Optimum Nutrition. Casein is ‘channa‘- milk protein.

So, I cut out grains from my diet. I checked again, another day:
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I was still eating some rice, and worse, I was getting a lot of calories from the occasional ‘treat yourself’ sweets and the modest alcohol I drank on a given day (a get-together of family or friends). This was revealing: in spite of a conscious effort, I was still letting things slip, thereby blunting the results. I became more vigilant. Look at the typical IF day chart now:

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Violá! I was hitting the sweet spot: I was actually consuming more proteins and fats, and getting closer to the 50 grams daily dose of carbs I was looking for. I think a carb intake of up to 100 grams daily should be good enough for fat loss, especially if you eat clean and keep within your total caloric requirements. Think Primal Living.

So Intermittent Fasting works well to reduce total calorie intake, but you have to be very careful and diligent if you want to reduce your carb intake. Too often, even geniuses can eff up with their resolve, allowing the calories to slip in.
If there is one thing for the reader to take home now, it is the fact that so much of your intake is what you would forget when asked: “I don’t eat at all, but I still gain weight!” The blame is shifted to last year’s hysterectomy, gall bladder surgery, thyroid problems, baby, genetics, and even the weather!

Eating clean will bring in results, especially if you are active physically, and not merely doing what my son said (when asked about his exercise of the day), “I worked out my fingers really hard, playing FIFA World Cup on my Playstation!”

Keeping an online journal lets you be objective in analysing your results:
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So, I know how much tighter I should control my food, or when to be a little easier on myself, without losing track of the larger goals.
I also keep a mini-diary in the site, like this:
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So you think you burn a thousand calories in the treadmill, so you can hog that dinner tonight? Look at this:
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I believe I burn more than 3500 calories a day, but that does not make an effing difference to the computer! So, sadly, we have to believe the records. Moral of the story:
Keep your food journal diligently, and learn from your mistakes. It takes 5-10 minutes a day. It gives you more rewards than Twitter/Facebook/blogging, and other things for which we try to carve out some time.
Happy eating, this Valentine’s Day! Incidentally, if you think of gifting me a bottle of Ballantine’s for next year’s V Day, think of a fifty year old single malt instead. It’s twice my age!