2

10 awesome Valentine gifts for your single gal pal.

So, you have a date for V-day? Good for you. I am going to sit here announcing how it is such a rubbish consumerist/capitalist day while inside I am boiling with anger and screaming ‘WHY, GOD, WHY?!’ But hey, congrats again!

Now, you definitely don’t want your single gal pal to feel sad and left out, and most definitely don’t want a third wheel. So, go ahead and make her feel better or this will happen.

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I have written some solidly helpful posts in the past to raise awareness for single people on Valentine’s day, or Singles Awareness Day as I prefer to call it. This is a dumb stupid day, with the exception of being Mad-DD’s wedding anniversary.

Leaving you guys with some helpful gift ideas to help that single gal pal(obviously, me) get through this dumb day.

  1. Subscription to a dating app: Your gal pal needs to get out and start dating, if she isn’t already. I force myself to go on all these dates just because I fear that I am going to miss out. Major FOMO, and YOLO! Get her a premium account on Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble, Dil Mil, Aisle, etc. Maybe skip Tinder.
  2. New iPhone battery: For all those apps, you need a solid battery power. Without getting into the iPhone vs Samsung debate. let’s just get your gal pal(me!) a brand new battery for only $29. I forgive, but do not forget, dear Apple.
  3. Photoshoot: How about some nice display/profile pictures for her, eh? Get your DSLR out and shoot some nice candids for her so that she looks cooler and funnier and more vivacious than a drunk kitten.
  4. Uber/Lyft gift card: Sometimes, all she needs to get out and have a good time, is the option of not driving at all! Let her drink, but not drive.
  5. Urban Decay Naked palette: Just because it is my current obsession right now, but I cannot justify spending $54 on it. I feel nicely blended eyeshadow on my droopy hooded lids, will solve all my life issues. I will take a Sephora gift card, thank you very much. SP has fulfilled the clinique gel liner obsession already.
  6. Zip my dress: Look at the product for God’s sakes! The biggest disadvantage of being single is a mad struggle to zip your dress up. Let your gal pal have a moment of peace from crazy body contortions and get her one of these. A back lotion applicator wont hurt too, while you are at it.
  7. Mani-Pedi gift card: The nail bar lady says how will i find boyfriend if my nails dont have design on them. Maybe that will get us singles, doubled.
  8. Lip mask: Confidence is key for your gal pal, and she needs to be ready for all situations, as learned from The Bachelor where Mr. Pillowlips is a kissin’ bandit. Get her one of those Laneige sleeping lip mask or something, and let her become Miss Pillowlips. Never thought these words will flow out of me.
  9. Belgian chocolates from Costco: when nothing works, let your friend dissolve into divine sugar rush. The Belgian chocs are DIVINE! PB-certified. But just one box, okay? We don’t want that photoshoot look like it was done 5 years ago.
  10. Bottle of Pinot Noir or straight up Tequila: Just ignore all above and let her chill with Netflix, and some good red, or Margarita, or plain ol’ shots.

I accept cash/check/PayPal/Venmo and all courier packages.

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8

Perils of honesty

I have been a yelper since a couple of years now. My yelp reviews started because I was tired of lack of information on vegetarian items. After browsing through restaurant menus when I looked up for pictures or reviews of meatless stuff, I would usually draw a blank. That led me to spend a lot of money on underwhelming stuff and I decided to be Yelp-woman! Say it like Superwoman to get the effect that I am trying to go for.

I would happily rate a place 4 star if I liked it, or even 5 star if I loved it. In my books, 3 star is for an okay place and a 2 star is not good. I don’t really go for 1 star. I would write honestly, and sincerely, and even mentioned positive points in a not-so-positive review. Fair enough, right?

But no! My big mouth and big smartphone got me in trouble last week. I had to open my big mouth while out for lunch, and my boss figured I am on yelp. He decided to follow me since he likes eating out, and likes many places that I do too. Coincidentally, a couple of days back, I gave a BAD review to a Mexican restaurant near our office. I did mention that I really liked their burrito, but it was literally the only good thing. The day my boss followed me on Yelp, my manager and some coworkers went for lunch to the same place. They got back and my manager(adorable older guy) comes into my office(yep, I have an office!) and tells me that the server girl asked for me! She legit asked for me and said she wanted to talk and discuss the bad review! I was shaken up, to be honest. I have been contacted on Yelp by business owners, but not like this.

The big boss then starts laughing and says that he did see that I did not review them well. Then he asked me, if I knew how bad it was for business. In the next 5 minutes, he sowed guilt deep into my heart by telling how he knew the family who runs the place, since his family home was in the same area, and how nice they are, and that he has seen businesses being shut down, and how he only gives 5 star to help people out or 1 star if it is really bad, or never under the average stars. He went on to say that taste is subjective. Well, I agree with that, but that is the reason why there is AVERAGE in the first place! And I am reviewing what I ate per my vegetarian taste buds and what my friends said about what they got!

But anyways, the seed of guilt was in. So I told my manager that I was going to stop by after work to talk to them. My manager got super concerned that I was upset because he knows I am sensitive and basically a nice person(if I may say so!) He asked me to text him back by 5 so he knows I am safe. Ha! But when I went, the girl who had asked for me was gone. I did not go back there for my Friday lunch, because I am scared out of my wits, and in-the-food spits! My fellow Yelper and friend also shares the same fears and suggests definitely not going back. Although, my manager said they were very nice, and the girl sincerely wanted to ask what was wrong. This story has spread in our tiny office, and the Shopfloor Manager tells me everytime they go to the place for lunch and I sense sarcasm. Admittedly, this area is very secluded and not too many options.

So what is the takeaway from this?
  1. It sucks to be honest as also explained here: Honesty is not always the best policy
  2. My office location is quite secluded and very few eateries around, and I must go out every Friday atleast. I should have thought this through.
  3. I also updated the review to mention that it is a good thing that they wanted to discuss, etc. and bumped up 2 stars. This guilt is less than the previous guilt.
  4. It is stressful being me.
10

Oh, snap!

Have you noticed a lull on my blog since a few months? No? you clearly lie. Because I have and the lull is so loud, its almost obnoxious. I keep thinking of going back and writing, but I feel like my fingers weigh a 100 pounds each and typing is way too much. How I wish we can get to the point soon that I talk, and the keyboard gets it and writes. I know the smartphones have that technology, but I dont have the accent that it requires! First world problems.

I wish I could just say, “You guys! there is so much to tell! But I am just being lazy!” Nope. Honestly, I have no material to talk about. There was a big change with respect to job and home, but that’s done and dusted. I wrote about it. How much more can I talk about a city and work environment change without sounding like a crazy confused person? It happened, it has been a mix of emotions, and that’s that. Should I write about my parents being here? But everyone knows how it is to be with parents for extended times. There is nothing much to talk about there as well! They were here for 5 months, and we had a good time. I tried very hard, and my behavior was marginally better than last time, which I kept on insisting and they nodded in agreement(or to stop making me shout anymore). Also, I was glad they were here, for the apartment change. I have WAY TOO MUCH stuff. But I am also sort of happy that all of us have our lives back now. They are at home, doing what they please, and same goes for me.

Do you want to hear about my life as a social butterfly? What do I even say about my friends and going out, and the fun nights to not sound like a ditzy chick? I had a good Halloween party, couple of dinners and brewery turns with friends, cozy evenings at home with family(parents + Abhi-Nish), a weekend trip with Shawn and Alicia, an anxiety attack at a party that I handled like a pro, and relaxing weekends by myself in this short time here so far. I am going camping over the coming weekend for our annual Malibu disco beach camping! Then there is thanksgiving dinner coming up in Orange County. My friends are also coming over for a Friendsgiving/Stock the bar party in December. I am atleast getting out of my home more than before and I deserve a pat on the back for that! But y’all know how that is. Everyone will be busy with the holiday season coming up so nothing to show off.

Is there any boy in sight? What a ‘haha’ joke. Don’t worry, I run away at the first sight of anyone interested. So nothing to write about here also.

So, if you have made it till here, nice! Here it is. my post about nothing. *Insert Seinfeld joke*

15

30 on 30.

  1. Chocolate is my best friend and my worst enemy.
  2. Financial investments and a saving plan may not seem cool, but are extremely important.
  3. I definitely love to be surprised.
  4. I crave, need, thrive on attention.
  5. I am way cleaner than I used to be when I hit 20.
  6. It is difficult to live with parents.
  7. It is difficult to live away from parents.
  8. My indecisiveness is going to kill me.
  9. I like ambitious people better.
  10. Independence is extremely important to me, be it financial or emotional.
  11. I have learnt that it is ridiculous to pick a side and stick to it through thick and thin. There needs to be openness to ideas.
  12. Politics is complicated and no one is clean.
  13. Flexibility is the key to happiness.
  14. I have accepted that ‘never say never’ should be my life motto.
  15. I am a social bird who loves to actually cozy up in her nest on Fridays.
  16. I am quite hypocritical and most people are anyways.
  17. I am a people pleaser a la Monica Geller. I am also materialistic a la Rachel Greene.
  18. Health must be a top priority and fitness and regular checkups should not be ignored. 
  19. Technology gives me a headache.
  20. I am not into the whole iPhone vs Samsung debate, and I am firmly in the ‘Its just a phone!!’ category. But my last 2 phones have been Apples.
  21. I am a hoarder and have way too much stuff for a single person.
  22. I am definitely not cool.
  23. I am generally cold.
  24. If I could have puppies instead of babies, I would pick that option.
  25. I am toeing certain lines and I really want to cross them, but I am too much of a chicken.
  26. I definitely need to work on being a good host.
  27. Coffee makes my tummy happy. 😉
  28. Steps are not the right way to get into a pool.
  29. Respect and courtesy go a long way.
  30. Life is not a joke, but also shouldn’t be very serious.

Just something that I thought of worth jotting down when I hit 30. Yep, bring on the ‘over the hill’ jokes. Well, my knees actually do hurt, but I am so glad to be alive! Let’s see what the ‘dirty 30s’ have in store for me. Cheers, you guys! Have a shot(alcohol, pani puri or pink lemonade) for me!

10

The next phase…

Gee, you guys!

I feel like so much has changed with a tiny step. A few months back, I was fed up of my professional life and I sat in bed at 10 pm applying to new jobs on Indeed. The next morning, I had a call for an interview! That process led to my move back to San Diego, with a U-Haul and my parents in tow. I cannot thank my folks enough because they were such troopers, staying in Orange County for a week and packing while I joined work, commuting from Abhi-Nish’s home. It took me 2 hours of driving everyday from their place to work to and fro and I was ready to drop dead. I had Kunal Nayyar’s audiobook for company and that may have saved me.

My parents had actually done most of the packing for me. I just had to wrap some loose ends, which were way more than some to be honest. Shawn arrived bright and early the next morning with the rental truck and we got to business. I could have tried, but would have failed to choose a worse day for the move. We were on the last and strongest day of the heatwave, and I had sweat pouring out of pores that I did not know existed. Shawn would shake his shiny head and sweat would fall off like rain from his head. He looked like a shaggy dog, except that his head is shaved. Also, I am amazed that I have so much stuff for a single person living in an apartment. The previous place had lots of storage, so of course, I expanded. The new place does have good storage, but nowhere like my apartment earlier. Every evening I find myself at my wit’s end trying to push a box somewhere in a corner. Yet, I have atleast 3 pieces of furniture that I need to buy. Even through all this, Shawn kept saying that I didn’t have too much and wouldn’t let me hire movers. What would I do without him? Big bro is the best!

We are mostly settled in now, but I still need to dot some i’s and cross some t’s. I don’t feel fully satisfied right now. All this is above and beyond the separation anxiety that keeps cropping up every now and then. OC was my home for 5 years. 2 years more than San Diego. It was my first job, and I credit many of my achievements, patents, owning a home to that job. However upset I got, my relationships over there did not sour. During my first week here at the new job, partly fueled by exhaustion(all that commute), I was close to tears, wondering what the heck had I done! This company is poles apart form my previous one. It is much smaller, is not highly organized owing to the fact that they are family owned, but they are ready to expand exponentially. They have never had someone with my job title before(no pressure there, girlie!) but they did not bail out after I negotiated and accepted my counter-offer right away. I guess there is no way of knowing if a decision is right or wrong, if you don’t live it, but you can always hope for the best and put in all your efforts. My last week at ACD was full of goodbyes. Every single person, from shopfloor and office, came in to say bye to me and we were a huge group for my farewell lunch. My friends and I celebrated my last weekend in OC with sushi and the big Mayweather-McGregor fight. It was the best.

Now about moving back to San Diego, I am living in a super central spot. It is close to practically everything and everyone and I am very excited! It is still far from office(from 3 miles in OC, to 22 miles in SD, gulp!) but it takes me exactly 25 min owing to the freeway and being in opposite direction to the flow of the traffic. I get to see SDSU everyday on my way! When I am driving around, or walking around in the malls, I feel this sense of familiarity from my grad school days shenanigans. I recall moments spent at those exact same spots with my buddies, and with the boy that time. Things do get bitter-sweet but mostly they stay sweet.

I hope this new phase brings a whole lot of positivity for me. Please wish me luck! Also update me with what is going on with y’all, since it has been forever!

15

Lessons from a tomato…

Some of my friends may know that since last year, I got involved with house plants and growing some vegetables after I started renting my own apartment with a nice patio.. I started off with tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and jalapeno. I went through a bunch of cilantro, pole beans, spinach and carom seeds(ajwain) too during fall and spring and have some more tomato, bell pepper, basil in inclusion with last year’s stock. Most of this enthusiasm was from reading gardening articles, friends and this episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix about a Buddhist Monk growing all her produce and creating beautiful dining experiences combined with spirituality. She let her plants grow and did nothing about pests considering them to be natural forces of nature.

The cucumber’s gone though. It got powdery mildew right after the first fruit. It still braved on and gave me atleast 10 cucumbers before I decided to let it die. I tried milk, neem, and a bunch of DIY and store bought medicines, but nothing really seemed to help. The mint is trimmed off every now and then, but the leaves are getting smaller and more hole-ridden despite constant neem oil or insecticide sprayings. The tomatoes last year were good, but many had to be discarded because of pesky greenworms boring through fruits or spots because of temperature and moisture changes. Jalapeno is going strong. It keeps looking like it will die and then it springs back with 8-10 flowers and fruits suddenly. Same goes for the bell pepper, and that has hole ridden leaves too. The insects are everywhere and there is no escaping. I have still tried to stay on the organic path with all my insecticides being natural and not harmful to the bees. The temperatures are not helping either with fluctuations between 70F to 100F in a matter of few hours.

Yesterday, I noticed that one of my tomatoes had ripened nicely with a bright red color and I decided to pluck it off. When I harvested it, I noticed that it wasn’t as nice as it looked.


I had a new perspective dawn upon me. The humble farmers have to face way more issues than being given credit for. Because I went through the actual ratio of fruit eaten to fruit harvested, and the lifecycle of my plants, I understand a miniscule part of the horrors faced by them. The plants and the crops are their livelihood. Each fruit is important. They have to fight the forces of nature which include heat, cold, rain and shine. Just a change in couple of degrees turns a ripening round tomato into an oddly lobe-shaped fruit. A small difference in moisture content of the soil will introduce the unsightly black spot on the fruit which will lead to discards. Too much rain or too little rain can wreck havoc in the life of a farmer. Same goes for too little or too much crop. A bountiful crop will drive the prices low with a nullifying effect on the profit. Back to square one.

We complain so much about pesticides and the higher costs of organic fruits which use natural herbicides and fertilizers. But I saw the other side where they have to resort to heavy sprayings to prevent pests from literally eating up their money. There is practically no winning.

It is a thankless task to work on farms. They have to fight against nature, flora and fauna to bring food to your table, all the while toiling for almost nothing.

So what am I doing with my tomato? I am cutting that quarter off and gobbling down the rest if there is no sign of a pest inside. I have worked hard(sort of!) to grow it and I am not wasting it. The quarter goes back in the pot to decompose and fertilize. I have done the same for my mint leaves. If there is no sign of pest remnants like eggs or droppings except holes in the leaves, they just get washed nicely and I make my chutney/sauces. The next time you go eww about a couple of black spots on bananas or a soft spot on a tomato, before discarding it, think of that one person who bent his/her back under the afternoon sun to tend to it. Maybe now you have a new perspective on the words ‘Farm to Table’.

7

A tail of sensory delights…

It would have been Moony’s 17th birthday. It has been 2 years since he has passed on and has been gamboling at the rainbow bridge in a pile of chicken, boiled eggs and sukhi bhel(an Indian snack that he would relish with mom every evening). But the chasm that Moony has left behind  will not be filled easily. I would like a furry sister or brother to come into our lives, but as of now we aren’t ready. A gazillion amazing things have been spoken about how amazing dogs are and how they enrich our lives and every bit is 110% true. But while driving, and reminiscing about my days with Moony, I thought of how he regaled every sense of mine. I thought of how dogs excite, amuse, confuse and delight every human sense. Every pet owner will be able to relate to this, I am sure!
1. Sight : If you haven’t felt a warm gush in your heart at the sight of a dog’s big brown eyes and sloppy, drooly smile, you, my friend, are made of stone. They bring such happiness by just existing in front of your eyes. Have you noticed how warm a dog’s big beautiful eyes are when they are looking at you with all the love their little bodies could hold and quivering from head to tip of the tail for a hug? Have you seen how naughty those same eyes look when your dog has spotted a squirrel and sensed a slack in the leash? I feel giddy just remembering how happy the sight of my dog’s fan-like wagging tail would make me after a long day. The blackberry eyes, the giant smile, that big tummy!
2. Touch : Trust me when I say that no fabric in the world is softer than a new puppy’s pink tummy. No velvet is smoother than running your fingers over a dog’s floppy ears. I used to love patting my dogs legs, right between his thigh and his tummy and even keep my palm there to take in all his warmth. Absolutely nothing beats pulling your dog close to your body like a giant teddy bear at night and just nuzzling into his fur, not even a better half! I miss running my fingers over his temples, on his cheeks, tummy, just about everywhere. His big doggy hug would end every stress and worry right there and soothe me. The softness and the warmth was unbeatable.
3. Smell : Dear dog owners, please tell me that I am not the only weirdo who totally loves the odd smell of a dog’s paws! Moony’s feet used to have this funny smell of corn chips mixed with old cooked rice, I have no idea why! He would invariably push his paws on my face when deep in sleep. I would still hold him close and take in that part atrocious, part mesmerizing scent. Aah, how can I forget the stink of his ears when we would clean them. Even his mouth smelled like a fishbowl for some odd reason. Such a jumble of weird smells they are, but so lovable!
4. Taste : If you are living with a dog, and haven’t casually ingested enough of it’s hair to have a hairball in your stomach by now, you are doing it wrong. The hair finds its way into your stomach however hard you try. After picking it off everything, I learnt to just roll with it. It was on my clothes, in my bags, every rug, sweater, hairbrush, and floating around in the kitchen. And, also, kisses are a big source. 😀
5. Hearing : The cutest part of bringing home a puppy are the adorable sounds it makes. Those little grunts, snores, burps, squeaks, toots become such an indispensable part of your life. Agreed there were times when I have thrown a pillow at Moony to shut his barks at the invisible monster, but then he would throw in a squeaky whimper and all would be forgotten. And then he would start barking again. Trust me, dogs talk to you, and you only have to respond back anyhow you like, and watch them go at it.
I miss every bit of Moony and what he would do to my heart. I miss all the love he held for me and his various moods and his king-size personality. I miss the effects his sight, touch, smell, taste and voice had on me and how soothing that all was. All of you who have a furry friend to go back to, go give your dog a biiiiiggggg hug and tell them PB loves them.
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14

What to do when you spot your crush…

… A La Princess Butter.

  1. Stare at him from crowds, hiding behind people, or between the machines at the gym.
  2. Consider talking to him, and keep considering that till the allotted 30 days time period for ‘over-thinking’ is over.
  3. Forget how he looks like, and mistake someone else for him and get yelled at by your buddy for being a ‘floozy’.
  4. Try not to stare like the said shameless ‘floozy’ at his lean, tan, physique…………
  5. Try not looking like you and your buddy are a thing, specially when you both enjoy silly antics in public.
  6. Make your buddy catch signs, like engagement/wedding rings, the slogan on his university tshirt, the year on his school jersey, etc.
  7. Finally make a decision to smile at him.
  8. Attempt to smile, and then stop midway, and look like you are trying to cough up something nasty and watch him return an undecided half-smile.
  9. Cringe in embarrassment for being a chickensh*t and continue staring at TV at the oddest angle from your machine while doing chin-dips.
  10. Go crazy on the internet looking for the guy and get other friends involved in your utter stupidity.
  11. Disregard any advice about the sane method of ‘smiling , saying hi and a normal introduction’.
  12. Continue being a weirdo and make #foreveralone your motto.