Thursday, March 29, 2012


The magnificent SUPERSTAR VIRGO
(Don't miss the cable car crossing over the cruise ship)
I am reposting this blog after almost 3 years just because we managed to get all our original photographs scanned. 

During the Diwali holidays in November 1999, we went on a trip to Singapore. There was my husband Venkat, myself, our kids, Vinitha (14 years) and Vignesh (10 years) who went on the trip. And there were Suresh and his wife Madhu, friends of ours. This was my first trip abroad and I was really excited.

That's Venkat & me on the moving ramp that took us directly into the cruise ship

My husband had booked us on the luxury cruise on SuperStar Virgo for four days. At first, I was not too keen as I was more interested in sightseeing. Little did I know the kind of experience we were about to embark on.

That's me relaxing in the lobby of SUPERSTAR VIRGO with the welcome drink

My kids were totally excited and my son had studied the ship’s map thoroughly even before we left Mumbai. After spending three days in Singapore, we boarded the ship. It was just AMAZING! There is no other word to say. The entrance was like that of a five-star hotel and the décor was quite magnificent. The ceiling of the hall was four stories high and we were just thrilled to step on to the plush carpet and accept the welcome drinks. I just sank into one of the luxurious sofas there and stared around in awe.

That's Vinitha on the staircase leading off the lobby to the decks above.
The lobby was four floors high and simply gorgeous

There were three elevators with glass walls that looked over the reception area. In a few minutes we were whisked into one of them and taken to the tenth floor – the one that has rooms with balconies. This is where we spent the nights of the next few days.

That's Vini & Viggy posing in their bathrobes at the balcony off our cabin
on the 10th floor of SUPERSTAR VIRGO

The cabin could be best described as minuscule but with all the facilities possible. There was a double-bed, another sofa-cum-bed that could be opened up during the night for my children. The wash area was divided in three. You enter the main section with a washbasin with a huge mirror and towel racks, hair-dryer and anything that one would require in a washroom. On the left was the toilet and on the right, the shower cubicle. Gorgeous liquid soap and shampoo were available to use in the shower that could be set at perfect temperatures to suit the most difficult person.

I could not resist clicking a picture of the cute attached bathroom

We ensured that we got our luggage all in before taking a round of the ship.

The ship, the size of a small town, had thirteen floors in all, with three of them submerged inside the sea. There were eight restaurants, including a branch of the Taj Group. Then there was the Mediterranean Restaurant that served food and beverages round the clock.

Luckily for me, there was a lot of vegetarian food available even as the delicacy most on demand was the octopus. They ran out-of-stock pretty soon into the trip. And the coffee was oh-so-deh-licious! It took me ten days to get used to the filter coffee back home after tasting the coffee there over just four days.

That's Venkat, me and our friends Suresh and Madhu Shetty at the Taj Restaurant on SUPERSTAR VIRGO

There was an auditorium that could seat about 500 people and we watched a wonderful floor show there. There was a discotheque where I danced to my heart’s content along with my kids before the late night crowd arrived. One night we went to the Karaoke Lounge and another was spent at the casino.

The ship had a gorgeous library with a stylish selection of books and stuffed chairs to relax with books. There was this shopping arcade that sold everything from electronics to clothes and jewellery to accessories and make-up. There was a card room, a gym, a sauna, a few Jacuzzis, a huge swimming pool and another small one for kids. We all had a great time at the pool while I did not have the guts to let go of the railing as I don’t have much confidence with my swimming skills although I had learnt the skill from a professional coach. :)

Vinitha on the top deck (13th floor) of SUPERSTAR VIRGO

There was a live band to entertain the swimmers while we sipped on exotic drinks and munched on yummy snacks.

The breakfasts, lunches and dinners were wonderful with mouth-watering desserts that I liked best of all.

We got off the ship twice, one-day trips to Phuket, Thailand and Langkawi, Malaysia. But I realise that the smartest thing would have been to stay back on board and explore the SuperStar Virgo as we could not manage to see the whole ship during our trip as it was so huge.

That's Vignesh on the water slide at the water park for kids on the cruise ship

The best part was when I sat on the easy chair on our balcony late into the night, watching the dark blue sea and a sky full of stars, all by myself. I could not get myself to sleep as I felt that it was a waste of time as there was so much to see. I just relaxed on the balcony, enjoying the sea breeze and the tangy salt of the wide open ocean that surrounded us from all sides.

I am so glad that my husband was very insistent about going on this cruise that was an experience of a lifetime.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


In a mood to have soup one night, I just put together the ingredients I had at home and created this soup. Believe me, it was absolutely yummy!


Carrots – 2 cups (peeled and chopped to one inch pieces)
Moong Dal – ¼ cup
Turmeric Powder – 1 pinch
Salt – to taste
Black pepper powder – ½ tsp
Corn flour – 1 tsp
Cheese – 2 cubes (grated)
Coconut – 1 cup (grated)
Clove – 1
Garlic – 2 cloves


1. Take a pressure cooker and cook the carrots, moong dal, turmeric powder and salt along with water for two whistles.
2. Allow the mixture to cool before running it in the mixer-blender to make a smooth puree.
3. Take a thick-bottomed vessel or a saucepan, pour the carrot puree and keep it on a slow gas.
4. Add the coconut, clove and garlic to the blender along with water and grind smoothly. Strain this mixture through a fine mesh to get thick coconut milk. Add some more water to the coconut and run in blender once again. Strain this milk also and add to the first one. Once the milk is strained, the leftover coconut pulp has to be thrown away. Do not use it in the soup.
5. Add the corn flour and grated cheese to the coconut milk. Mix well before slowly adding it to the carrot puree while stirring continuously.
6. Allow the mixture to boil for 8-10 minutes. Add water if necessary to reach the right consistency of a thick soup. Check for salt before switching the gas off.
7. Serve in a soup bowl and sprinkle some black pepper over it.

Delicious and aromatic carrot soup is ready to drink. It’s oh so yum!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Film Review: AGENT VINOD

The Desi James Bond is most definitely worth a watch

Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Ravi Kissen, Kareena Kapoor, Ram Kapoor, Prem Chopra, Gulshan Grover, Adil Hussain
Director: Sriram Raghavan

Venkat was very keen to watch this film on the day of its release. After a long time, all four of us could go for this one together. As usual, I have to thank Cinemax Sion for organizing the tickets at short notice.


A nuclear bomb that could destroy everything within a 10 km radius has been created in Russia. It is up for auction and criminals are desperate to get their hands on it. Agent Vinod (Saif Ali Khan) works for RAW, India’s intelligence agency. He is sent on a mission to save the world.

Vinod takes off across Afghanistan, St. Petersburg, Morocco, New Delhi and a few other places, chasing criminals. Into the fray jumps Ruby Mendes (Kareena Kapoor). But is she friend or foe? Watch the film to find out what’s happening.


Well, as you can see, I have mentioned very little of the story as it is barely 24 hours since the film’s release.

First of all, Congratulations to Saif Ali Khan on producing this excellent film! His acting has got to yet another level and Saif has done a great job of the desi James Bond. I would say that it’s not very fair to compare this film with James Bond, but everyone is automatically doing just that. Even considering that, Agent Vinod is a very good film.

Kareena Kapoor has a good role and she has executed that perfectly. Kudos!

Ram Kapoor has done an excellent job of his very short role as a mafia don based in Russia. Prem Chopra was very good as the criminal based in Morocco.

While Ravi Kissen, Rajat Kapoor and Gulshan Grover had minuscule roles, the characters fitted in very well with the flow of the film.

The music does not distract you from the film in any way and blends well. In fact, the drum beat that was used throughout formed a perfect background score. Simply loved it!

Adil Hussain as the Colonel was a class apart. I had seen this actor playing Vidya Balan’s husband in Ishqiya. He makes a cool villain.

The film has it all – a clear-cut plot, slick action, a savvy hero, a stylish heroine, villains galore, song, dance, foreign locations and more. The cinematography was excellent.

More importantly, the film runs for 2 hours and 40 minutes but still manages to keep the audience hooked. And that is something! The film moves quite fast and the director deserves a special Kudos for that one. Keep up the good work, Sriram Raghavan!

VERDICT: What are you waiting for? Catch the next show

RATING: **** Snazzy

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


This film will probably suit a youtube watch :( 

I know it’s been a while since the release of London Paris New York. But I got to see it only a couple of days ago.


The film begins with the release of Director Nikhil Chopra’s (Ali Zafar) first movie at New York. He gives an interview to the press and leaves soon to meet someone. Nikhil is the spoilt son of extremely rich parents.

The film goes in flashback to London 2005. Nikhil meets Lalitha Krishnan (Aditi Rao Hydari) at London airport. Lalitha is the only child of Brahmin parents and is a walking encyclopedia. She likes to read serious books. Lalitha is rather lost in London as she has missed her forward flight to New York and has no place to stay. Nikhil offers to go with her around London. The two of them are as different as chalk and cheese but get friendly over the next 24 hours.

While there is no contact between the two of them for two years, thanks to Lalitha’s insistence, Nikhil finds her in Paris in 2007. They go around town and land up in bed together. Lalitha leaves Nikhil in a huff citing the excuse that she had found him sleeping with someone else when she had decided to surprise him at his London apartment. A confused Nikhil is unable to persuade her to get together with him.

Present day at New York, Nikhil goes to find Lalitha. She joins him as they go sightseeing in New York. Much later, she springs the biggest shock of his life. Will the on-off romance work out between the two of them? Well, you can find out on the small screen very soon.


Well, to mention the good points – firstly, the film is just about 90 minutes in the running. Thank God for small mercies!

Aditi Rao Hydari had a role of a reporter in Rockstar and she was good. She is excellent as the first-shy and then-confident Lalitha. Her eyes are extremely expressive.

Ali Zafar sails through his role as Nikhil. I am sure it was a cakewalk for him.

The songs were good and well sung by Ali Zafar. They were fairly catchy if not earth-shattering.

While the film? I am amazed at the guts of the producer and director to make a film with absolutely no meat in the script. A meets B, keeps meeting on and off and finally get together. The film is about the conversation between them with a few songs thrown in. How did they believe that people will pay through their noses at multiplexes to watch this one?

They should have just uploaded it on youtube and competed with the ‘Kolaveri’ song for hits.

I saw that the movie had Ali Zafar and went to see it blindly without checking out any of the reviews. Ali had excelled himself not just in acting but choosing the right scripts with Tere Bin Laden and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan. Why would he want to take the role of Nikhil? There are no layers to the character. If sporting a goatee is considered one, I don’t have an argument to offer.

VERDICT: If you really have time to waste, watch this film on TV where the film should be screened in the very near future.

RATING: ** Shaky

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Recipe: THENGAAI BOLI (தேங்காய் போளி)

Dough with oil in the centre
This is one of my favourite sweet dishes. I learnt this from my grandmother. Pattu Paati was quite an expert at making this and this rare treat was made maybe once or twice every year as there is a lot of work involved. This was especially so as our family was quite big and we used to have guests too on a daily basis.

I made this recently a couple of days after Ganesh Chaturthi and we all enjoyed this delicious treat.


Sweet filling (Poornam)
Grated Coconut (திருவிய தேங்காய்) – 1 cup
Jaggery (வெல்லம்) – ¾ cup
Channa Dal (கடலை பருப்பு) – ½ cup
Cardamom (ஏலக்காய்) – 8
Maida (மைதா) – 1 cup
Oil (எண்ணெய்) – 6 tbsp
Salt (உப்பு) – 1 pinch
Turmeric Powder (மஞ்சப்பொடி) – 1 pinch
Water (தண்ணீர்) – as required
Ghee (நெய்)– 2 tsp

Plastic sheet coated with ghee

1. Add water, salt and turmeric powder to the maida and mix well to make dough to the consistency of making rotis. Knead well for 10 minutes to make it soft. Make a hole in the centre of the dough and pour the oil in it. Cover with a plate and keep aside for 3-4 hours. This will make sure that the bolis turn out very well.
2. Boil the Channa Dal in a pressure cooker for 5 whistles, drain the water and keep aside.
3. Break the jaggery into small pieces, add a few spoons of water to it and boil it on slow fire. Once melted, filter the melted jaggery for impurities.
Poornam balls 
4. Take a saucepan and heat on slow fire. Add the melted jaggery, channa dal and grated coconut and cook for 5-6 minutes.
5. Cool the mixture, add the cardamom and run it in the mixture to make a smooth paste. In case the mixture is not firm, cook it in the saucepan until it becomes so. This forms the filling for the boli and it has to be firm to ensure that the bolis turn out properly.
6. Make small balls of the sweet mixture (poornam பூர்ணம்), the size of a big lemon.
7. Take a square of plastic and spread it on the stone that is used for rolling out rotis. You can use a milk pouch or the bread pouch that I did. The plastic needs to be thick. Touch your fingers to the ghee and apply thinly on the sheet.
Preparing the boli
8. Heat an iron griddle or a non-stick one on a slow fire. The latter is better as you don’t need to use oil or ghee at all. Can make the bolis dry.
9. Mix the oil and dough well. It must be quite loose by now. Take a piece of dough the size of a small lemon and spread it in a small circle with your hand on the plastic sheet.
10. Place the ball of sweet mixture at the centre of the dough. Lift the edges of the dough around the poornam. Ensure that the dough covers the poornam completely.
11. Now flatten this gently with your hand as much as you can. Make sure that the poornam does not flow out of the dough.
Lift the edges of the dough 
12. Lift the plastic and gently move the boli to the non-stick griddle.
13. Cook well on both sides till they turn a golden brown.
14. Remove and store in a container.
15. Serve with melted ghee.

The melt-in-the-mouth Thengaai Boli tastes simply delicious. It tastes best hot. The bolis can be stored for maximum 24 hours.

The boli is spread, transferred to tawa and cooked till golden brown