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Archive for the ‘Awesome List’ Category

I vividly remember the day I ate my first coffee cake. It was on my birthday and my colleagues had ordered a coffee crunch cake. I did not think much of coffee cakes before that. This one was a good one as it got me hooked onto coffee cakes! The cake, a fresh cream coffee crunch cake, was from Ideal Bakery (not Ideal Bakers from DHA) located in Sindh Muslim Cooperative Housing Society in Karachi. Later on, it became a regular for other birthdays in the office. The cake, and especially the icing, was really soft and buttery, and the toffee crunch made a perfect combo.

The other coffee cake that I am fond of is from Bombay Bakery in Hyderabad. Having team members who were from Hyderabad and knew my love for coffee cakes was a blessing. One of my team members once surprised me with a coffee cake from Bombay Bakery on my birthday. Those who know how difficult it is to get a cake (esp a coffee cake) from the famous bakery can appreciate the gesture and thought put into this birthday surprise. For the people who do not know the story of Bombay Bakery and its cakes, here is a good article about it. The icing of this cake is not as soft as that on Ideal Bakery’s coffee cake but it is fresh and goes well with the cake. The cake remains fresh for quite some time, which is amazing knowing it is from another city!

Mocha Java Cake

The third type of coffee cake that is unbelievably good is the Mocha Java Cake that one can buy from EBCO at Forum (Clifton). The cake is soft and yummy. Thought it is expensive, it has a good blend of chocolate and coffee flavors.

What is so great about coffee cakes? To me, coffee cakes are linked with friends and colleagues from my previous jobs. They also remind me of the fun and tough times we faced as a team. Coffee cakes go well with tea and coffee. Coffee cakes also help you forget about everything else and let you live in the moment.

Coffee cakes – perfect desserts!

Coffee Cakes – simply AWESOME!

 

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(c) devildoll @ deviantart.com

It’s that time of the year when my country gets the monsoon rains. Rains are not too common in Karachi, except in the monsoon season. That is why from the start of the season, I’ve been waiting for the annual quota of rains.

I have always loved rains. Living in a sunny, hot and humid city most part of the year has made me fascinated with rains. The build up to rain, with the gathering of grey clouds, is exciting. As mentioned in my earlier post, the pleasant smell of petrichor announces the start of the much-awaited rain. That is what happened last night. It was past midnight and I was preparing to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part I) on my laptop. Suddenly, the power went out. KESC and their bad timing, I thought. After 10 minutes or so, power supply was restored. So, I went to the TV lounge to get my laptop and resume the movie. That’s when I smelled the petrichor. It’s raining, I shouted! Finally. We’ve been waiting for rains for over 2 months now. Every evening the skies get cloudy raising my hopes for rains. Last night, the wait was finally over. It didn’t rain too much though. It was drizzling, and it drizzled this morning as well. The air became light and fresh, the leaves on the trees were washed and looked vibrant, the dust and other air pollutants were gone, and the pleasant fragrance of a rainy day was all around. Oh what pleasure!

Have you noticed that on a cloudy day, time kind of stops. With no sun visible, it’s difficult to figure out what time of day it is. It’s like perpetual morning or evening. No hot and sunny afternoons.

I love this weather. It reminds me of the school days back in the 80’s. All the kids in our building would go crazy in rains, singing rain songs and dancing and playing in the rain for hours. There was construction material dumped on the roof of our building (including huge mounds of soil). We would dig tunnels from two sides until the two tunnels met and formed a bridge overhead. It was so much fun. We would also shut the gates of our building and skid and slide in the water flowing on the long path leading to the car parking. ‘Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’ we would go as we slipped from one end to the other in the heavy rain. The usual games became much more interesting when played in rains.

I am also reminded of the day, back in 1989, when I was sitting all alone in a dingy classroom while it rained cats and dogs. Later on, a class fellow came in and we sat and enjoyed the rain, expecting not many students to show up. Such days, different from the routine class days, were always a good change. Rains also meant flooded school grounds (called ‘fields’). We had two of them in our school where the morning assemblies and physical training (PT) sessions were held. Flooded fields meant no assemblies, no post-assembly PT sessions and, most importantly, no classes since all paths to our classes passed through the fields. One or two or, at times, three days of holidays – a sure blessing or, as we call it, naimat-e-ghair mutaraqqiba for the kids!

I especially remember the day when we had to go to the shooting range for our Women Guards‘ training. It was a cloudy day and it rained when I came back home. I sat in the balcony, enjoying an omelet and paratha while watching the rain.

Omelet & Paratha - yummies!

Crazy rains during our bus trip to Skardu in 1994. Our university tour group faced a landslide and had to spend the night in the bus parked at roadside. Precious time spent with friends.

Rain in London back in 2003. There was a power breakdown (very unexpected in London), and the underground tubes were shut down. It was chaos all over and I was stranded in the streets of London – hungry, lost, and without an umbrella. To make matters worse, I did not know anything about London bus system. That’s when I met a girl who became my guardian angel. Thanks to her and her boyfriend, after a long wait at the bus stop and a bus ride through London, I made it to the Kingsbury tube station safe and sound. I don’t even know their names but they will remain in my memory forever. Thank you angels, whoever you are and wherever you are!

Rain in Washington DC, in March 2011, which ruined my sightseeing plans for the day. Cold weather and an insane day which ended well at the Union Station. A hot cup of chai (plain old brewed English tea, made in Pakistani style) and an hour of people-watching inside the Union Station, all the while listening to my favorite music. Priceless!

Rains usually mean load-shedding and no electricity. People leave from work early to rush back home. Why don’t they understand that everybody else is also doing the same thing causing really bad traffic jams? People stranded in the flooded streets, people helping each other by pushing the cars that have stopped working or by sparking the car plugs to make them work. Frustration, name-calling, honking, helping, collaborating voluntarily to clear out the traffic. For few hours the whole city is connected through the phenomenon called, and caused by, rains.

People come out in the streets and in the balconies to enjoy rains, especially when there is no electricity. The whole community becomes one, which is rare and not as evident in the daily life. We become human again. We become a group of human beings, connected by our human experiences together. Isn’t it rare and precious?

The feel of rain and the light breeze on one’s face and hands is amazing. It cleanses your body, mind and soul. It purifies you. After getting soaked in the rain comes the time to change into warm, dry clothes and enjoy a cup of hot chai with the season’s special treats – pakora, bhajiya, halwa, etc. Nothing beats that.

(c) LinAt @ deviantart.com

No wonder I find rains AWESOME!

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Clean, fresh clothes

Have you ever been in a situation where you did not have clean clothes to change into, especially after taking a shower? Having to wear dirty clothes again ruins the clean feel one gets after a shower.

I live in Karachi where, thanks to KESC, power outages are long and frequent. Combined with humidity and air pollution, the summers are sticky to say the least. In such weather, one feels cleansed and freshened up after taking a shower. Can you imagine having to wear the sweaty clothes after that? I can’t!

I love the feel of freshly laundered clothes, especially when they’re dried out in the open air. Taking a well-deserved shower on a hot summer day after getting through with the household chores is a blessing in itself. After that, when you change into clean clothes, all of a sudden things aren’t that bad. The weather is not unbearable anymore and you feel light and fresh.

Fabric SoftenersAdd the fragrance of fabric softener (such as Softlan’s Spring Fresh or Comfort’s Touch of Love with Lilac Fresh) and you feel spring fresh yourself. Simply AWESOME.

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I have always loved rains.. but not more than the fresh scent that accompanies the very first drizzle. I LOVE that scent to the point of being crazy about it.

First Rain Drops and Petrichor

First Rain Drops and Petrichor

While searching the internet for details about this phenomenon, I found out that this scent has a name – petrichor (greek) or Geosmin (scientific term). I also found the explanation about what causes this heavenly fragrance. Even though it’s interesting to know the scientific reason behind this phenomenon, the more interesting thing for me is to be indoors desperately waiting for rains and finally smelling this fragrance. It fills me with happiness, nay joy, and I immediately run outside because the petrichor is a sign of long-awaited rains. I live in a port city where we don’t get too much rain, except for the monsoon season between July and August, hence my fascination with rains.

Wheat Flour Halwa

Wheat Flour Halwa

The petrichor triggers a mental map.. a sequence of memories that is connected into my past. It brings to mind the smell of wheat flour halwa (a local sweet) and the scrumptious pakoras (a type of local fast food) i.e. the traditional food for a rainy day.

Pakora

Pakora with mint and curd condiment

Grey skies meant an off day from school, a day spent with family and friends, playing in the rain to my heart’s desire, eating home-made pakoras / wheat flour halwa, watching everybody leave the mundane routine and be connected by the same thread (i.e. the rain and the fun and nuisance it brings). The whole community comes together to become one and this phenomenon is so palpable you can actually touch it and feel it.

Strange thing – About 2 or 2.5 weeks ago, I was up late at night. Suddenly, I smelled a fragrance but couldn’t figure out what it was. I was working at my laptop at that time. Later on, I went out to the balcony to get the clothes from the clothesline only to find out that it had drizzled earlier. That’s when it hit me – it was the pleasant smell of the long-awaited rain on the dry soil. How could I not know what it was? That’s just impossible given my love for petrichor! I must have been extremely distracted with my work on laptop 🙂

I wonder if, someday, someone will create an air freshener that smells like petrichor. I’ll be the first and the most loyal buyer of this product.. and probably the first petrichor addict 🙂

I like what Sonali Bhawsar writes while describing the petrochar phenomenon:

“The most important thing is that these bacteria are found in all types of soils and all over the world and petrichor is universal. So this great odor is available for every homo sapiens to smell. Moreover, Actino and Streptomyces (the bacteria) are not discriminating!”  So true.

Petrichor/Geosmin – nature’s gift to me, to all of us.. and simply AWESOME.

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South Asian Food

I must admit I am a sucker for local spicy food. That is why I don’t really like the non-spicy food or with food that isn’t to my taste. I have traveled a few times in my life. In the past decade, I have especially traveled to the western countries where I have had difficulty finding South Asian food. The food at conferences is especially bad. Not sure why coz the conference registration fee is usually quite high! Anyway, after traveling for a few weeks, when I return home and eat home-cooked South Asian meals, it’s heaven for me! And if the food happens to be a rice dish, it’s magic! Returning home, after weeks of travel abroad, to mom’s home-cooked meals – AWESOME.

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As a person who has spent over 16 years of life as a full-time professional, I truly cherish weekends and off days. As much as I love my work, I love my off days more. I don’t particularly like waking up early in the morning. That’s why I LOVE it whenever I wake up early in the morning, wishing I didn’t have to, and remember that it’s an off day. Simply awesome!

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So, I have known about the “1000 awesome things” website for quite some time now. I have also thought about starting my own list. Sometimes, I find something ‘awesome’ and immediately think about the list. So, here I am – finally. This is the start of my very own list of awesome things in life. I also cannot help but wonder if I should also maintain a list of ‘not-so-awesome’ things. Well, I’ll start off with the first list and decide about the other one later.

I will mark my list of awesome things with an ‘awesome list’ tag for easy access. Good luck to me!

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