I recently visited Niagara Falls. Whether you visit from the Canadian side or the American side, you can’t deny the mystique of these falls.
Although it was my third time seeing the falls, it seems all the more majestic. One is certainly left in awe at its grandness.
Don’t miss the misty boat ride if you are there.
Over the years, I have visited “Little India” communities across various U.S. cities and other countries and just reflecting upon it made me realize that these neighborhoods are not so sought after as they used to be. Ever since Indian population in various cities have expanded, now the restaurant and fashion boutiques or grocery stores are spread out throughout the cities . In earlier days, if you wanted a spicy bite, all you had was the “Little India” communities. Even then, I make it a point to visit the “Little India” neighborhoods, as I travel to get a historic glimpse.
Recently I visited Jackson Heights (Little India of New York) and I have to say I wasn’t quite impressed. It is probably the largest of all “Little India” communities that I have seen but it seemed old and congested. We ate in Dosa Delight and the food was really good and so was the service. But if you can find Indian restaurants everywhere, would you make the effort to go to Jackson Heights? may be not.
Anyhow, of all the “Little India” neighborhoods I have visited, the ones I liked the most were Los Angeles Artesia district, South Hall in London and Mahatma Gandhi district in Houston. You may want to check these outs on your travel!
Recently, we were in Boston and while doing a tour of the Harvard University, I came across this cool pastry shop called Mike’s pastry.
Lots of cool pastries to choose from and they looked delicious as well as decorative.
I chose the rum cake, it was a good size pastry and reasonably priced!
If you are in Boston, you may want to check this place out.
I had the privilege of visiting New York city recently and food was one of the highlights. As they say – you have to eat pizza, bagels and cheesecake when you are in Big Apple and I did all that and more. Food in general was very tasty in NY but there are some restaurants that deserve special mention for their exquisite taste.
Baba Ghanouge tops my list for its authentic and oh-so-delicious falafel. I was so engrossed in eating that I forgot to take a picture. But I know I am going back on my next trip for sure!
Eataly was an amazing place to visit for Italian food. It had so much variety, I didn’t know where to start. A NY traveler must visit Eataly for its heavenly Italian food, desserts and coffee.
I had read some great reviews on Ess-a-bagel and it didn’t disappoint me. Standing in line was worth it for a bite of bagel at this place. The texture of bagel was unique and better than any I have had so far and they had an amazing variety of cream cheese spreads.
A YouTuber had mentioned Kati Roll and it sure was worth for an Indian spicy taste (spicy aloo, chole masala & paneer), not to mention the awesome masala chai.
What didn’t work for me was Magnolia Bakery. The cheesecake was not that exquisite and was expensive too! May be I should have tried their cupcakes. Oh, well, next time.
Hope this post helps travelers looking for good places to eat in New York City. A note of caution for travelers in New York City – always look for grade A sanitary inspection code before you decide to try it out.
Yesterday, I went to watch ABCD 2, directed by Remo D’Souza, a choreographer who also directed ABCD (Any Body Can Dance). ABCD series is India’s best dance film series. This film was shot in India and Las Vegas and starred Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, and Prabhu Deva in lead roles. Others who were part of the dance team, The Mumbai Stunners turned Indian Stunners, were dancers from a popular dance show in India titled Dance India Dance. This show auditions random, everyday people and turns them into big stars, and Remo was a judge on this show.
The Main Cast
Varun Dhawan as Suresh aka Suru, a dancer who wants the best for his team.
Shraddha Kapoor as Vinnie, the only girl in the group.
Prabhu Deva as Vishnu Sir, the group’s guru.
The story’s plot was pretty simple and believable. First, they assemble a dance team in which every member is aspiring to go to the competition. Then they go and compete with a ton of dancing, love, and drama. The plot didn’t have anything special, except for the ending. However, the dancing on the other hand, was definitely exceptional and innovative.
The acting seemed very believable, even from the other characters that were not part of the main cast, despite the fact that they have only done one other movie.
Now, this movie’s dancing had better been good as it is a DANCE film. The dancing was outstanding! Very rarely in India do you get to see a movie that is based largely on dance, so the performances were very out of the box and pleasing to the eye.
This movie had a ton of songs, since it is a dance movie. The songs were great. One of the songs, Bezubaan Phir Se, was revamped from the last movie. Sun Saathiya is a very pretty and melodious song, not to mention how great the dancing is in the video. The songs are fun and all very different from each other.
Final Wrap it Up
Overall, this movie was very pleasing to the eye and left you with a smile on your face. Take away the dancing, and it would just be a normal average movie. However, the dancing made up for it.
3.5/ 5 stars
Riya Chopra, Movie Enthusiast
I read a book on mindfulness today which was quite fun to read and insightful as well. While reading, I realized that being an analytical person, I do think and analyze quite a bit. Sometimes all this analysis can lead to unnecessary tension and worries. After reading this book, I pledged to make one change in my thinking process which is to take things one day at a time!
In particular, when I happen to go into a thinking loop, I’m going to ask myself this question – “Do I have anything to worry about today?” If not, there is really nothing to think about.
Hopefully this will bring some mindfulness in my life.
Anil Kapoor as Kamal Mehra, the overpowering head of the family.
Shefali Shah as Neelam Mehra, a woman, who doesn’t share her opinions with anyone.
Priyanka Chopra as Ayesha Mehra, a headstrong girl, who is stuck in an awkward marriage.
Ranveer Singh as Kabir Mehra, a man who falls in love with Farah Ali and has a dream of becoming a pilot.
The Supporting Cast:
Farhan Akhtar as Sunny Gill, the son of Kamal’s manager who is still in love with Ayesha.
Anushka Sharma as Farah Ali, a dancer on the cruise, who falls in love with Kabir.
Rahul Bose as Manav Sangha, a pushy man, who is Ayesha’s husband.
Dil Dhadakne Do is a story of a dysfunctional Punjabi family who is on a cruise ship for celebrating an anniversary.
First off, Ranveer Singh most definitely was the star of the movie. The way he portrayed his character was very quirky and laughable. Even if he didn’t have any lines in the scene, he would maintain a strong presence. Additionally, you can never go wrong with having Priyanka Chopra as an actress in your movie, as she will never make it worse, only better. Priyanka’s acting was very believable and she looked gorgeous in all of her outfits, however, this might be my biased opinion as I have always liked Priyanka Chopra.
Anil Kapoor played his role in a way that I have never seen him do. He had an extremely effective role and greatly impacted the movie’s plot. And of course, what could be wrong the THE Anil Kapoor;) Shefali Shah, although I have never seen her in a movie, acted amazingly! You could really feel the pain that she was feeling from the distance in her and her husband’s relationship. She also looked beautiful in all her shots.
Anushka Sharma, I felt, could have done more with her role. Her acting had nothing special in it; I just saw her as a woman that Kabir liked. Farhan Akhtar, on the other hand, made a lot out of the little screen time he had. Farhan Akhtar is, of course, a superior actor, and that fact came across in this movie as well. Rahul Bose’s character was interesting. His character seemed pretty static until the end, when he misbehaves and the pent up anger is seen in him.
The depiction of the script on screen was done very well. I thought this film was appealing to all ages, as there was nothing bad that kids cannot see, or nothing too kid-ish. It was just right. There were a lot of comedic scenes but family drama was also a prominent part of the storyline. The one thing I would change about this movie is the pace. It was a little slow in the first half, but sped up towards the middle and end.
Dil Dhadakne Do: Title track which is catchy and upbeat
Gallan Goodiyan: Makes you want to dance and have a party!
Pehli Baar: Simple song but innovative video concept
Girls Like to Swing– Has a lot of beats and is similar to the 60s
So, as you can see, there aren’t that many songs. However, when the songs do appear in the movie, they make sense and go along with the storyline. The number of songs and variety of the songs is just right.
Overall, I would encourage families to go watch this movie together as it is a great family movie. The theme really speaks to all. Hopefully Dil Dhadakne Do does well in the theaters!
Rating: 4 of 5
Riya Chopra, Movie Enthusiast
Blaze pizza recently opened a branch in Frisco, TX and we happened to join their opening day party with live music, drawings and free lemonade while we waited for our turn. They were generous enough to give out free pizzas for liking them on social media.
I enjoyed the freedom to create my own pizza, choosing my favorite sauce and toppings.
The fast-fired pizza was delicious and I am definitely going back!
I had a left-over zucchini from my grocery list this week and some khoya sitting in my freezer and so I decided to make zucchini halwa. It’s a quick and tasty dessert.
All you need to do is peel and grate zucchini, grate some khoya. Cook grated zucchini in milk for few minutes on a low flame such that zucchini is well cooked. Add nuts, cardamon powder, sugar and grated khoya and cook for some more time, sitrring frequently until you get a thick consistency. Enjoy!
I seem to have couple of challenges with my personality. One being my hyper-active mind. Its restless and wants to be occupied every waking hour. I am my best when my mind is busy doing something. But you can’t always find ways to keep it occupied. The other challenge I face is when I see an unkindly or unwarranted behavior from others. I seem to go into a loop of why this person behaved the way they did. But of lately I am realizing, it is not for me to worry about other people’s behavior. All I need to worry about is my own actions and be content with them. Easier said than done, though!
A week ago, my friend suggested that I try meditation. She had experienced calm through it and she motivated me to try it as well. Following her advice, I did get an audio CD and tried it today. I have to admit the calming music and gentle voice on the meditation CD does have a soothing effect. I am hoping I can keep the routine at least once a week and hopefully it will help me with my challenges.
Every now and then I crave to cook something different from my regular Indian meals. Yesterday was one of those days when I tried couple of different dishes for dinner. A healthy meal consisting of Mango-avocado-salad and Zucchini-semolina dosa! Yum!
Enjoy some of the quotes from my book…
- “For pure investment purposes, the number one rule to consider is that you always want to be cash flow positive.”
- “When you are in the market hunting for an investment property that you are going to be renting out, you need to get in the mind of a renter.”
- “Bottom-line, you make money in real estate primarily if you acquire the property at a good price.”
- “You are the most critical member of your real estate team.”
- “Basic advice for purchasing an international real estate property is to make personal visits to these places.”
3 intriguing women, 3 imperfect men, 3 fascinating stories!
Mr. Imperfect series is a collection of three contemporary stories that are unique and delve into modern NRI relationships.
Maya, Nikki and Sonali are three friends living in Dallas, Texas and this book reveals their distinct personalities and their varying choices in not-so-perfect men.
A week ago, my daughter and I explored a new ice cream place called Old Town Creamery and our taste buds exploded with joy! This place has some amazingly exclusive ice cream flavors. We had a fun time tasting them all and my favorite was paan flavour. My daughter liked the mango flavour and we bought a bunch of it home to cherish.
I can’t wait to try their cakes!
I am happy to host Author Stephanie Samson on my blog today. Lets talk to her about her latest book.
- Welcome Stephanie! Can you tell us briefly about your book and what inspired you to write it?
This book is filled with recipes for people who follow the Shred and Super Shred Diet. My inspiration comes from a few places.
I’ve always been a complete health freak and have always tried every diet that’s been brought to the market.
I soon realized I was good at making recipes for any given diet, because of my ability to cook and in depth knowledge. I also realized that I was spending a lot of money on each new diet book that came out, and there weren’t really many recipes being provided, so I had to come up with my own. I didn’t think this was fair for the average person who just wants to follow a diet and be given plenty of recipes so they can trust they are following the diet properly. So I started writing all of my recipes out and put them into categories depending on which diet they were for. I publish my books at a much cheaper price so people could follow the diets they wanted to without breaking the bank on books when they need the money for ingredients.
- That’s wonderful. I always say write with passion and purpose and your story is exactly that! What is one thing you want readers to take away from your book?
Enough recipes to follow the Shred and Super Shred diet for a month!
- How much research do you do for your books?
I wouldn’t call it research, but I do a lot of preparation. As I mentioned, I’m a complete health freak and I try every new diet that comes out. My preparation is mainly to see if the diet works and to see if I like it and would recommend it to anyone.
- That’s great and I’m sure your readers will appreciate your recommendations. What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?
The messages I’ve had from people telling me how much my recipes have helped them to stick with their diet and achieve their goals.
- Excellent! Do you have any book-marketing tip you want to share with your fellow authors?
Network with other authors. I personally learn most when I talk with other like-minded people, and I’ve learnt so much about publishing and writing by joining groups and talking with people.
That’s a great advice, I too am a fan of networking. You learn so much from others. Good luck with your books!
Stephanie’s Book Link: Amazon.com
Social Media Links:
As authors, we have a lot of work to do before we start writing a story. From thinking of a concept to research to plotting and not to mention the most important task of characterization!
Authors have different techniques of developing their characters. When I started writing fiction, I used to develop my characters in a word document and it worked fine. However, over the years, I have moved on to excel sheets for filling in details of all my characters in my stories. I’m not sure why but I find that excel sheets work better, perhaps because I can see all characters side by side. This makes me not only focus on a particular character but also do a comparative analysis while I am filling in details.
Hope this helps, happy writing!
We are celebrating Chinese New year today which marks the beginning of Year of the Sheep for 2015.
For the longest time, the only astrology I believed in was Western astrology. As teenagers, we were all smitten by Linda Goodman’s book of sun signs. I was however enlightened by some of my Chinese colleagues when they introduced me to their astrology. Chinese astrology works by year and not by the month that you are born in. They kept telling me how my daughter is so lucky to be born in the Dragon year.
This whole conversation intrigued me quite a bit and then I looked up and read Suzanne White’s book on Chinese astrology. Suzanne has done quite a wonderful job of describing Chinese astrological signs. After reading it, some of my questions were answered such as why would two Scorpions behave differently even though they are both born under the same astrological signs.
For someone interested in astrology, it would be worth exploring Chinese astrological signs and understanding them.
I made the Betty Crocker pineapple upside-down cake today after a long time. I used to make it quite a bit and then for some reason forgot about it. Its probably the easiest cake to make and quite delicious too.
A couple of years ago, I had pretty much given up on making Pav bhaji, since it never turned out good. I kept following all recipes but I would never got the desired taste. My frustration grew because if you think about it, its not such a difficult dish to make!
Recently while conversing with a friend, I figured what I was doing wrong – I used too much potato! Potato soaks up water and made the dish very dry. The trick with Pav bhaji is to make it not too dry and not with too much curry, just the right consistency.
Yesterday was the eureka moment for me when my Pav bhaji turned out not only good but quite delicious! I used the Badshah Pav Bhaji masala and for veggies I used – potatoes, peas, zucchini, green bell pepper, beans and cauliflower.
Serve this dish with warm burger buns and optionally grated radish, which enhances the taste.
I can’t wait for Spring to arrive. I love the spring weather and something about it tells me to eat & drink healthy. I love freshly squeezed orange juice with just about any meal. It’s quick and easy and if you add a pinch of black salt to it, it makes the taste even more delicious!
I ran into an easy recipe for potato casserole that I tried yesterday. It is a good side dish to make with pasta or pizza. All you need is thinly sliced potatoes, some diced onions, cheese, vegetable stock, garlic salt and pinch of mustard. Microwave it for 20 minutes and it’s all ready to be consumed.
I generally use a lot of aromatherapy products and love all of them. The pillow mist that I bought from Bath&Body Works is amazing! It helps soothe an overactive mind and helps it relax and sleep well.
I have recently joined pilates fitness class. To be honest, it was hard at first. I had muscle pain in places that I could never imagine and it would even hurt to laugh out loud. But someone told me to stay with it and it will get better. Now, after having attended five sessions, I am getting the hang of it and my muscles are no longer sore. It is a very good exercise routine to strengthen your core muscles and a good supplement to aerobic and strength training.
Self-editing is a must for all writers. After finishing my first draft and even while writing my draft, I run through many revisions. A great book for self-editing is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. This book and other resources will give you plenty of pointers on what to look for while revising your manuscript.
I also believe that each author has her own quirks while writing first draft and things that she may forget to take care of. These quirks will not be spelled out in any book. These are things for us to remember for ourselves. What I really find useful is keeping a revision checklist that I keep updating as and when I come across any quirk of mine. This running checklist is a great resource for me to feel confident that I have taken care of things.
There is nothing more satisfying than a home-made pasta on a hot summer day! My favorite sauces to cook pasta in are alfredo and pesto sauce. I mix them equally and toss in a few vegetables. A slice of garlic bread and sweet ice tea completes the meal!
I am always looking for new recipes to cook since I easily get bored of the same old. Recently, I tried a new way to cook Tindora and it turned out really delicious. Here are the details if you want to give it a try.
Tindora, cut horizontally into small pieces.
1 tbsp besan
Ground peanuts (coarse)
Use Cumin seeds, mustard seeds & Kari patta for seasoning
Pour some oil in a wok and season with cumin seeds, mustard seeds and Kari patta. Stir it and add ground peanuts, followed by besan. You may need to add more oil such that besan doesn’t become too dry. Flavor it with haldi, dhania, mirch & garam masala. After stirring for a couple of minutes, add cut Tindora and onions. Add salt to taste.
Cover the wok and cook until Tindora turns tender. You will need to stir it occasionally and may need to add a little bit more oil. Serve it with your choice of bread and enjoy!