The Chicken Stew 

The stew, a meat/fish/vegetables cooked in coconut milk, is a traditional Syrian Christian breakfast accompaniment with bread/appam especially on Easter and Christmas in Kerala. The one in the picture is a chicken stew which was had with Appam. Appam is again a Kerala Christian breakfast item on the menu, the second course during any major celebration. Made from rice powder, coconut milk and sugar fermented with yeast or the local toddy. 

When someone is ultra special …

We decided not to wish her on her birthday. By the second year everyone knew the routine for the midnight birthday ‘surprise’. She also did. She also expected we would do something to ‘surprise’ her. So it was more important to plan, a plan put into action a week or so before her birthday. During the middle of a walk or between a meal, or between a random conversation or a dribble on the court, a few us likely to initiate her birthday celebrations would rant to her about an imminent presentation, the long hours of prep, a sooper difficult upcoming internal, or a seminar scheduled around the 24th of august. We introduced the idea into her head that we were neck deep in work. She did look a little upset, had a lost look on her face! When the birthday finally arrived at 12 am, I was sitting beside her in the library trying to finish off an assignment. In fact, we were all in and around the library that night trying to ‘finish off’ some unknown made up assignment, (the we were 25-30). She and I went down for coffee and a bread omelette from the canteen guy in one of the nearest boys hostels. Some of the rest of us were at the canteen too like that you know. 12 am was a time most of us got up for a break  😂. She started receiving calls as we ordered … We played our ‘oh shit man! it is your birthday today, is today the 24th surprise part’ really well, ordered a layered omelette makeshift cake and asked her to cut it while we sang happy birthday. Some of us even gave her little gifts, she knew we were all there on purpose. We went back into the library and resumed our work. By supper time that night, she too was immersed in her work so much so that she did not realize the flurry of activity taking place outside her room. As is practice she went to my room for some chocolates before we headed out for our nightly walk. She opened the door, switched on the lights to find a lot of more people, a lot more food waiting for her inside, screaming happy birthday. Her surprise dinner party for the year had just begun. 😂😂


June 20 ..

She decided to host a dinner party on her birthday. About 20 of us, plus a few more in the extended circle.. She thought biriyani! We thought cheese cake, and a costume party.. As she typed in a WhatsApp invite, and hit send, we added names into a secret group…

The fun we had behind her back planning her birthday. She thought pyjamas, dinner and back to work, we voted for props, and a mass bunk from our labs 😂😎.. The flyers were up, the costumes were set, the props were ready 😂😂😂, the real invites were sent… She didn’t know until morning there was a poster on her door!

What a night we had, all sportively and comfortably dressed.. Little umbrellas in their hands and flower garlands around their necks, our in-house camera man had loads to click. She was in splits 😀

So, last year she said, let’s go to Marine Drive, just the 4 of us.. and nobody else! 😊😊😊😊 and guess what, everyone seemed to be there enjoying the wind at 12 😘😍.

Happy birthday our dear Gemini Girl… It is June 20 all over again 😘

The (Best) Mango Cheese Cake


A random question to you? How do you order food at a restaurant?

There is always the menu card to choose from, but often I find myself becoming attracted to other tables and the food plates that come out of those swinging kitchen doors 😀 I have often asked a fellow eater from an adjacent table what their dish is whenever it has excited me and ordered the very same.. And they have obliged 😉 (that is very important) I’ve found people bond over food very quickly, conversations become easier … and genuine joy and the fondest of memories comes out during such.

The mango cheese cake was on the festival menu, like an appendix to a thesis.. It was served with a dash of mango pulp and freshly cut mangoes. And I would say, a scoop of the cheese cake, a bit of the freshly cut mango smeared with the pulp was an all time high food orgasm 😉

Linking to Best for Thursday Photos @Spunwithtears #mango cheese cake #mango festival

Vishu again..

This post, “Thoughts around Vishu .. ” – I wrote two years ago is getting a lot of attention in this past week.


Let me see what more I can write about Vishu.. Everybody in Kerala knows about the legends and the stories..let me begin with the yellow flower konnapoo or cassia fistula without which vishu cannot happen. Here is the story behind the flowers

A Whatsapp share
(A close up) google images

Nowadays, konnapoo blooms well before vishu..and stops blooming around vishu. The enterprising malayalee makes plastic immitaions of the flower for the purpose 🙂 what to do..!!


L’l Memories.. 18L

I have these l’l memories.. Do you? Marvel’s The Avengers is playing on TV now.. The film takes me back to the afternoon when a  friend and I went to watch it in a theatre near our campus. It was some time in April 2012 if I remember right.. The two of us had bumped into each other during a break from our classes around 11 for some snacks. The summer heat, intolerable humid weather and a boring lecture later.. we decided to bunk our afternoon lectures and go watch Avengers.

The other day, Amitabh Bachchan won the national award for the best actor for the Hindi film Piku in 2015. Which prompted me to ping a few of my friends with whom I had gone to watch the film in the same nearby theatre 🙂 I was going out of town for work for a month and this was the last night we could be catching up as a group in a long time. We were getting ourselves supper around 9 when we decided to check the availability of tickets. Piku had just released that day. We were talking of the Friday late night 23:00 show. By some grace, there were tix available all of us. After dinner, we booked two uber cabs, and went around picking the rest of us for the show from their hostels and homes. Piku from the word go was a laugh riot. Thinking of all the potty jokes, all over the place, we spent the night after the film in our in-campus late night coffee shop waiting for it to be time for me to head to the airport… All those potty jokes reminded me of yet another friend of mine from a previous university .. Interconnected l’l memories..

Little memories .. 18 L. What are yours .. 🙂

©pins n ashes 2016

Christmas’15 Sights & Sounds

The city streets, the restaurants, offices and homes have been decked up for Christmas. Almost everyone has a Christmas tree up, a few even have a crib… the carol singing is delightful, the acoustics of the old churches is simply mind blowing.. the different kinds of baubles that hang from the ceiling, the little line of stockings and santa heads that adorn the walls and chairs

Some of the few sights n sounds I came across and captured over the last week at different places, in the company of different people..

Hungry tummies to Christmas lunch now 🙂 It is the season to be jolly …

Happy Holidays everyone



Photo Post – Fun Post

Introducing my friend, the little koala bear, she sits in one of the boxes on the table.. But since morning she is a little glum! She is sitting with her back to me.. When I ask, she says she is waiting for gifts from a Mr. Claus.

I was telling her the gifts may not be ready yet in the Santa Factory! Rudolf, the reindeer is still grazing somewhere in the hills.. but she still stays glum! So, to turn her mood over.. I play her one of my favourite songs of the season.. the many versions..


And look who has turned around and seems to be back to chirpy and cheerful 🙂

Deck the Halls has that ring to it.. it is festive, it is lively.. easy to pick  up lyrics to sing along.. if not the lyrics, the falalalalal part makes it easier to join in the chorus.. It can be sung in different speeds.. to increase the momentum and reach a peak, repeated many times over….. and what not can be done with this one song.. brings in the Christmas season right through the front door..

Below, are three versions of the same carol I picked up from youtube.. one is a flash mob.. the second is from Julie Andrews.. and the last one is from Nat King Cole.. Enjoy everyone..

Decking up the halls …and spreading cheer … and listening to christmas songs and practicing our carols .. humming it all along..

12th december today.. 12 more days to Christmas..

? a lot on the plate.

I got off the bus, and there was nobody there. I still got off, and sat down at the  bus stop bench, thinking of what to do next. When there is a lot on the plate literally like the assorted food arranged on a buffet set up for a meal, i feel overwhelmed, many times. Making a food choice is also a decision and the buffet table does not help either because it (as in the table) and the chef who has set it up, ideally wants us to taste most of them.

TASTE.. That’s the word.. a buffet is for tasting everything and not of eating everything because none of us can eat all of it at a given time. Therefore to choose something from this inventory of food  to eat is to make a decision like when is a lot on the plate, figuratively.

I dont like to merely taste, I usually want to eat, often especially when hungry. But at an icecream shop, I may just set myself out to taste all the flavours. BTW,   Haagen daaz has a yummy mango sorbet.. the pulp icecreamed in addition to a mango ice cream!! Yummmangopulicious is the term 🙂

That’s when he walked into the bus stop. May be i just left the need to talk, I looked at him and told him I need to go to this place. He understood. He called me towards him and helped me read the map behind him, stuck to the busstop wall.

I had made my decision by then. I knew where to go and what to do after taking the bus.. I decided on 2 places instead of walking out to all 15. That decision just required that 10 minutes to concentrate and think thru. He gave me that 10 minutes when he faced the map explaining to me the roads.

So, regarding the breakfast menu, I always go for sausages, an omlette, a muffin or two and wash it all down with a cup of coffee. Whatever changes the sausages remain.

Feature pic: one of my fav kind of breakfast

To have a lot on the Plate: busy, a lot to cope with

A lot on the plate 🙂