Tuesday, April 15, 2014

[My Experiments with the Kitchen]: Daal Kichidi

Daal kichidi is basically a Maharashtrian dish, which I first tasted in Pune. It was actually introduced to me by one of my friends when I had been to Pune to visit him. I liked it so much that I started having it atleast twice a week.

Ok. I also learnt how to prepare it. I actually learnt it from a very close friend who is an amazing cook. (By the way, she is in China now).
Now let me try to explain how I prepared Daal Kichidi.

Ingredients (To serve 2 people):
1 cup Rice (Either normal or basmati)
1 cup Toor Daal
2 Onions
2 Tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Ghee
Turmeric powder
Black pepper powder
Red chilli powder
Salt
Jeera
Mustard
Curry leaves

How to prepare:

First soak the rice and daal in water for about half an hour. In the mean while, cut the onions and tomatoes.
Now take a pressure cooker, add 1 tablespoon of ghee and heat it. Now add a small spoon of mustard and jeera. Once you hear the mustard crackling, add the curry leaves, onions and tomatoes. Saute them till they become golden brown in colour.

Now add a small pinch of turmeric powder, black pepper powder and red chilli powder (Quantity as per your requirement). Add little water and cook for about 3 minutes.

Now add the soaked rice and daal to it and mix properly. Add water now. Make sure that you add enough water so that the kichidi doesn't become dry and sticky. Now add salt to taste.
Mix it properly and close the pressure cooker with its lid. Cook well till you get about 7 whistles from the cooker.
Serve the hot daal kichidi with onions, curd and pickle.

Hope you enjoy the daal kichidi.
Thanks to my friend Sharanya for sharing the recipe.
Cheers.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Follow Every Colour in your Rainbow

I took up my current job in 2009 after rejecting an offer from a huge IT company. It took me about 4 years to reach the starting salary that the IT company offered.

It was indeed difficult for me to manage with the salary I used to draw. Many times, survival and sustenance itself became a huge question mark. It was a hand to mouth existence. But why did I go through all this pain and hardship? One word. "Passion". Yes. I took up this job to pursue my passion, which is Investment Analysis. In 2009, when the economy was in doldrums, it was really difficult to get a job in the finance industry. That too when you are a fresher and from a totally different industry, forget it. You'll be the first one to get rejected. But when I got this opportunity, I grabbed it with both my hands. The pay was just peanuts, but it didn't matter to me. I had the thirst to pursue my passion. And I knew it would payoff in the long run.

So, as I mentioned before, it took me four long years to even reach the starting salary which the IT company offered me. In September 2013, I got transferred to Mumbai, which is the financial capital of the country. Within four months, I got an interview call from a huge international private bank (a company which anyone would crave to work for). I had about 3-4 rounds of interviews. At the end, they didn't offer me the role I was originally interviewed for. They offered me a role which I was not interested in. But the remuneration they offered was awesome. Double my current salary. I had to reject the offer just because the job profile was not what I wanted.

I am gonna get married in about 4 months from now. This is the stage of life when I need money the most. But my heart didn't allow me to accept the offer. There is only one reason for that. Passion.

I just want to follow every colour in my rainbow and never compromise on pursuing my passion, how much ever big is the price I have to pay for it.

Cheers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I too have a Love Story

I was someone who always believed that arranged marriage is total bullshit. When my parents asked me whether I'll find a girl for myself or should they find one… I told them that I don't have time to search for a girl.

Little did I know that they'll start the girl-hunt immediately. It was October 2013 when they started it.

I think they paid for 3-month subscription for bharatmatrimony.com in November end. By December mid, they got a call from a girl's father. Her name was Aparna.

So, that's how it started... In a very casual way, my parents told me that they'll be meeting the girl in the last week of December. I was really surprised with the speed at which things were moving.

You know what I did? I asked my best friend to go along with my parents. Why? Because he knows me better than anyone else. His opinion meant a lot to me. I also wanted his wife to accompany them but she was held up with her exam. So, it was 22nd December when my parents, my brother, my uncle and my best friend went to see the girl and her family at Anna Nagar. I was sitting at my home in Mumbai eagerly waiting for their phone call.

At about 1.30 pm, I got a call from my friend saying that my engagement date is almost fixed. I was like, "What the hell? This is too fast". Then after about a couple of hours, he called me again to tell me in detail about the girl and her family.

He told me a lot of things. She was bold, independent, good looking and confident; and that her family was really sweet. I knew for sure that if my best friend says all this, it would definitely be true.

So, I decided to meet the girl. The date of the meeting was fixed as 27th Jan 2014. Luckily, we got the tickets too.

On 1st Jan, guess who called to wish me for New Year? It was Aparna's parents. They sounded really sweet.

Fifteen days passed by. It was a Wednesday. 15th Jan. I got a call from Ram (my best friend I told you about). He told me that Aparna had sent him a friend request on Facebook. I incidentally opened my Facebook. I was surprised to see that she had sent a friend request to me too. I accepted it instantly and started chatting (she was online, obviously). Within about half an hour or so, we exchanged our mobile numbers and started chatting on Whatsapp. Ok. That was really quick. I know. We chatted till the evening... About our likes, dislikes, friends, and all those general stuff you wanna know about each other. She asked me why didn't I try getting her number or sending her a friend request on FB. I told her that it really didn't strike me and that I'm not a frequent user of FB. She told me that I'm a "Manga". She meant that I'm good for nothing. Lol.

Btw, her parents knew that we started chatting. But my parents didn't know (for obvious reasons).

So, we chatted till the night. She told me that she was home alone. I asked her if I could call her. She said yes. And... It began. We started talking. We were up till about 3 pm that night talking about each other. After I started talking with her, I realised that whatever Ram described about her... Sweet, bold, independent & confident... It was all true. We continued talking daily. She used to call me in the mornings on her way to work. And sometimes in the evenings too. My parents had no clue that we started chatting.

We were eagerly waiting for the 27th of Jan. At last, the day came. My parents, Ram, his wife and I reached her house at about 4.30 pm. I was really hungry that evening. Luckily, they served hot idlis, sambar, vada qnd carrot halwa. Guess who made the carrot halwa. It was Aparna. As we sipped our coffee, her parents asked us if they could ask the girl to come. We said yes, and she flashed in a beautiful purple saree. Oh dear god...!! She was really pretty, man. I actually couldn't take my eyes off her. I don't believe in love at first sight. But that was the moment I felt a wave in my heart. The wave was beyond words. It was an amazing feeling. They asked us to go to a room and speak things out. So, she took me to her room. We spoke for about 20 mins. We liked each other, and we decided to say Yes.

So when we came out of the room, I said openly in the forum that I like the girl. When her parents asked her in front of everyone, she nodded her head with a smile on her face. I could see her blushing (She would deny blushing. But I saw her do it). So, we left with a positive note that evening. After meeting my friends, I left for Mumbai the next morning. That day, we had a very long chat over the phone. As I told you, I don't believe in love at first sight. But, I don't know how or why. I just proposed to her saying "I love you". And guess what she replied. She just said "Ok". I couldn't find out if that was a Yes or No. But I realised that she needed more time to feel the love towards me. I decided I'll give her all the time she wanted.

Within a couple of days, our engagement date was fixed as 3rd March 2014. I reached Chennai on 2nd March night. I asked Aparna if we could meet up that evening. She said yes. So, I was waiting for her at the station. Guess who showed up? Aparna, her parents and her aunt. I was surprised. After a quick chat with her family, Aparna and I left for a coffee at Cafe Coffee Day, Anna Nagar. We then exchanged engagement gifts. She gifted me a cute keychain, a sand clock and a beautiful candle. And I gifted her a Titan Raga watch. Minutes later, Ram dropped by. He brought his Activa. He asked me if I would like to drop her off at her house. I was really excited. But, Aparna rode the bike. I sat in the back seat. As she rode the bike, I smelt her hair. It was nothing but absolute bliss.

Next day was the big day. It was our engagement. But wait. We met up again that morning. She took her to the school where she works. She introduced me to all her colleagues.

So, that evening at about 7 pm, Aparna and I were engaged. It was a beautiful evening with he hall decorated beautifully. And the food was awesome, man.

I left for Mumbai the next morning. We continued talking to each other on a daily basis. I was still waiting for the moment when would feel her love towards me.

About a couple of days ago, she told me, "I love you Venkat". And that was the moment I was waiting for. We haven't known each other for a long time. We have met hardly thrice. We had very few things in common. We had about 5 years age difference. We had both likes and dislikes about each other. But none of these mattered to us when we fell in love with each other and decided to spend the rest of our lives together.

I will be going to Chennai this weekend to spend some real quality time with my sweetheart.
I just can't wait anymore.

In love. Deeply, madly, truly and crazily on her.

Cheers

Sunday, January 12, 2014

[My Experiments with the Kitchen]: Masala Oats

One advantage of staying in a bachelor accommodation is that you would learn to cook.something which at least you are able to eat.

I always had this curiosity to experiment with various dishes in the kitchen, especially when my mum is not in town.

One such experiment is this Masala Oats.


Required Ingredients (To serve 2 people):

2 Onions, 2 Tomatoes, Oil, Jeera, Mustard, Salt, Pepper, Turmeric Powder & Red-chilly powder

Here is how I did it...!!

a) Heat the oil and add a teaspoon of jeera and mustard.
b) After a minute or so, add the grated onions and tomatoes. Saute them till the colour of the onion changes to golden-brown.
c) Add a pinch of turmeric powder, red-chilly powder, pepper and salt to taste.
d) Cook for about five minutes.
e) Add a little water and make it like a gravy.
f) When the gravy starts to boil, add a cup of uncooked oats and mix it well with the gravy.
g) Add about 2 cups of water and let it cook for about 3 to 4 minutes till you see the oats boil.
f) Masala oats is ready.

It can be served with a cup of curd.

Please feel free to share your views.
Cheers.

Friday, January 3, 2014

First Blog Post of 2014

It is the third day of 2014 and our new year resolutions would have vanished and forgotten by now.

At the end of each year, people always say that we should look back and review. On the 31st of December 2013, I was lying on my bed and tried to recollect our journey through 2013.

We started off 2013 with the unsubsided shock and shame caused by the Nirbhaya incidend. It was the year which saw many legends retire - Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul Scholes, David Beckam, Sachin Tendulkar, and the latest one King Kallis.

Scams... Yes they indeed increased at an exponential rate compared to 2012. Coal-gate, Choppers, IPL, the latest Joy Ride on tax payers' money, what not??

The markets... Yes they went for a roller coaster ride - both equity and debt. In fact, there was a time in the year when we felt that debt (which is deemed safe by many investors) was more risky than any other asset class.

Inflation... Oh please don't ask about that. Onion prices rocketed upto Rs.120 per kg.

On the other side, we did witness a few happy moments in 2013. Manchester United winning the 20th title, Arvind Kejrival making a fabulous debut in the Delhi elections. Ok. Let me admit. I am hardly able to recollect more happy moments in 2013.

So, the new year has begun and let us now wish for Peace, Health & Prosperity in the years to come. Let us pray for and work towards making 2014 a much better year.

With this note, let me conclude my first blog post of 2014.
Have a great year, folks.

Cheers,
Venkat
 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

[Mutual Funds]: Direct Plans are like the Wholesale Markets

With the direct plans coming into the mutual funds industry, many distributors have winessed a sudden drop in their Assets Under Management (AUM) as many institutional investors switched their funds to direct plans.

Why?
The expenses in Direct Plans are far lesser than those in Regular Plans because there is no distributor involved. So, no brokerage is paid out from the fund's NAV. This leads to superior performance of Direct Plans compared to Regular Plans.

Ok. Is it really worth?
How many of us go to the wholesale markets to buy our regular supplies? And if we do, how how often do we go? I am sure none of us would be going to a wholesale market every month to buy our supplies. Why don't we? Because...
a) It is time-consuming.
b) Most wholesale shops are concentrated in a single area of the city/town and might be very far from where you stay.
c) Transportation might be a challenge.
d) We will have to buy mostly in bulk to save more cost.

So, we stick to the supermarket or departmental store which is close by to buy our supplies. And, we know that the retailer earns a margin by selling for more than the wholesale price.

Direct Plans in mutual funds are also something similar to the wholesale markets. Since there is no distributor involved in it, the investor would have to select the scheme by himself. He will have to
a) Decide by himself on what buy & when to buy.
b) Procure the application form either through internet or by contacting the AMC directly.
c) Submit the filled application form by himself.
d) Request and get the account statements by himself as and when required.

And the lack of standardisation in the mutual funds industry makes it extremely challenging for an investor to do all these by himself.

Though the returns in direct plans would be superior to those of regular plans, I feel that it is worth to pay a distributor than going through all these hassles.

Happy Investing...!!
Cheers.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

[Match Review] Abysmal Performance by Manchester United

I am a die-hard Manchester United fan and it was an eagerly awaited derby. Last season at Etihad, we won 3-2 by an amazing free-kick by RvP at the 92nd minute. Today, my first disappointment was that Robin van Persie was side-lined due to a so-called injury.

The match started off with City taking complete control over the possession. It was a must-win for both the sides. Aguero scored first at the 16th minute. They didn't stop with that. It rained goals. Yaya Toure scored at 46th minute, Aguero again at 47th minute and finally, Nasri at 50th minute. City locked their 3 points by then.

We had no hopes of coming back into the game. The defense was really bad, the mid-field was worse and our striking was below average. Our shots on target were really poor. They didn't a play to win.

On the hindsight, here are a few things Moyes could have done.
a) Nani should have started instead of Ashley Young (he has a poor attitude). He should have been brought in at least in HT. 
b) Johny Evans should have started instead of Chris Smalling, who is definitely not in form at all. We definitely miss Rafael da Silva. Please get well soon and come back asap.
c) Hernandez should have started instead of Welbeck. He is definitely a better striker than Welbeck. He should have been brought in at least during the second half.

Wayne Rooney is in a fantastic form right from the start of this season, after all the saga. But, he got a poor support from the mid-field today. He managed to score a beautiful goal through a free-kick at 87th minute. Some consolation at last.

We stand at the 8th place on the league table now with just 7 points in 5 games.
All eyes on David Moyes now.

Whatever happens, however we play, the colour of our blood is always RED.
The spirits will be high for the remaining 33 games this season.
Glory Glory Man United.

Cheers.