Friday, November 13

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak - Book Review

You are going to die.
When you are on look for your next read and hear about a book with Nazi and German's, a girl and so least interests you. But when you are told that the narrator of the Story is "DEATH", you surely want to grab hold of the book.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I was astound and vehement when I heard about who was the narrator and at the same time excited to get that book. Thanks to a friend, I got it at once.

The protagonist of the story is a 9 year old girl Liesel Meminger, the book thief. After her brother's death, she arrives in German in a distraught state at the home of her new foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann.

A childhood around war, Nazi Party, Hitler, Jews, Germany and a self-discovery as a book thief is well written by the author. It has a simple story, but the way it is narrated had a huge impact.

Liesel understands her situation, she is very considerate and a respectful girl. When you see the story through her eyes, it looks so innocent even though the war times are very brutal. Hans Hubermann is a talented accordionist, however a painter by profession. Not so talented when it comes to excelling in crowd, he always finds himself a step back. Hans is a loving and affectionate person and becomes a main source of strength and support to Liesel. He teaches her how to read and write.

Rosa Hubermann is strict and likes to be in control of everything all the time. Rosa appears to be a complete opposite of what Hans is, however within, she at times is mild and compassionate. In spite angry nature of Rosa, Liesel likes her and she respects her.

Rudy is Liesel's neighbor and friend. They study in the same class and play football. They too share a great story throughout in the book.

Another interesting character in the book is Max. He is a Jew and he takes shelter at Hans's during difficult times. And the Hubermann's accept his stay inspite of the huge risk of Nazi. There is an interesting turn of events within the family due to Max's arrival. He, hiding in their basement, Liesel keeping his secret, reading to him, explaining him the weather outside and the bonding between the family and Hubermann is very well put by the author.

With all the people surrounding Liesel and all the awful events happening around her, she has this passion for reading. She wants to get hold of the books at her disposal and sometimes stealing is an option. She however, is not greedy. A book at a time, she is the Book thief.

About the book
1) If you are a hardcore fiction lover and want a lot of drama, this book is not for you.
2) The book is very simple, straight, very nice narration and makes the reader very emotional.
3) The book keeps you wondering all the time. The events are not that predictable however, they are not either wonderful. So don't expect a happy ending.
4) The narrator is "Death", so accept the book with a pinch of salt.

Thursday, November 5

Egg-in-a-Hole Recipe, with a twist

I was browsing YouTube when I stumbled upon this video where the chef showed the hole in one's recipe. I wasn't sure if that is what it is called, I googled and the best name of the dish turned out to be "Egg-in-a-Hole". Being a very simple dish with minimum ingredients, and a super healthy breakfast, I had to try it, of course with a twist.

Below are the pictures of how it turned out. The twist however was, I added cheese and a pinch of coriander.

Egg in a Hole
The recipe is quite simple. Have a brown bread slice ready and use a cup with sharp edges to cut through the center of the bread. Apply some butter to it and then toast it on the non stick pan for some time. Keep an egg ready and break it in the hole of the bread. Cover the Pan for some time. I like the yolk punctured, so I used a fork to scramble it a little. After some time, when you feel the egg has started to cook, turn your bread slice and let it cook again for some time. Meanwhile, add a slice of cheese to the bread and cover the pan. Add a pinch of Coriander for taste. (I wanted to have a color when I would photograph, so added coriander to it.)

Egg in a hole - Cheese and Coriander

Sunday, October 25

Book Review - The Dead Tracks - Tim weaver

It was time to unwind and read a fiction. I had picked up a book and was about to leave when "The Dead tracks" caught my eye. I did not spare time on reading the summary, just took it. The 500 odd pages at first seemed exaggerated for a fiction but I must say, after finishing the book within 2 weeks, it was worth every word.

I could call it a psychological thriller, the book is based on David Raker who is a Missing persons Investigator by profession. Yes, not a detective, but focusing manly on finding people. David is very emotional and knows what it's like to grieve. He understands the shadowy, unhappy world of the lost. When Megan's parents approach David to take up their case for finding their daughter, who by the way is very unlikely a runaway, David understands their sorrow and agrees to investigate. Little did David know that what looked simple at first turns out to have a deep secrets hidden, people close to Megan are dead, others are terrified to speak.

David with his witty skills unearths a lot of truth about the case, about Megan and also about a very dark historical event that can be related to the present happenings. There is a dead track in forest with a horrifying history at the edge of the city which David discovers during the investigation. Every event turns out to be surprising for David. He himself gets caught in the events, he may loose his loved one's, in fact he may loose his own life, but he does not give up, because he has a job to do, a person to find.

Tim weaver's writing are straightforward and I enjoyed, how the events turned out in the book. Writing a thriller is an art and I must say I loved every sequence of the book. A 500 page book at first seems overwhelming, now I realize that the page count is not important, it is how you write and how you tell a story is what counts. Nowhere is the book was I bored or confused. It is indeed a masterpiece.

Saturday, October 24

Visit to X-Thrill - Lavasa

I had heard a lot about lavasa, but never got a chance to visit. They say, the drive to lavasa is good not the place itself. However we were visiting an Adventurous sports academy called as X-Thrill situated somewhere in lavasa. I was very excited. It was a team outing and being relatively new I had to be part of it.

We started at around 8.00AM and were expected to reach by 9.30AM, however due to unavoidable circumstances we reached by 11.30AM. Breakfast was arranged and it was very delicious. The owner there said, they cook food which tastes like home. I loved the boiled egg with the Chutney combination. Normally I would eat maximum 2 boiled eggs, but I was so hungry I grabbed 5 boiled eggs. Shameless, I know.

We were about 80 odd team members and had signed up for the treasure hunt activity. There were various other adventurous sports activities but since this was a Team outing and the purpose was to have team building activities, treasure hunt was the most suitable.

We were made to stand forming a circle. Everyone stood next to a person whom they knew very well. Fun begins. The Colonel (not sure if this was his rank, pardon me if I am wrong) then told us to count a number in series from 1 to 6.  It started from one person, and each individual had to count the subsequent number. Loudly. What followed next, I thought was a very good idea. Each number was then told to group. So people who were "One" were told to group, people who said "Two" had to group, so on and so forth. This was fun, I must have experienced it earlier in my childhood, but at the time, I thought this was really cool and of course an awesome starter for a team building activity. Each group was assigned 2 commanders. We introduced ourselves.

The Colonel, then asked us to vote our team leader within our group. We were then told to name our group and have a slogan.

To get a taste of the treasure hunt competition, each team was told to shout out their slogans. As loud as possible. As a team. One single voice. The colonel then choose a winner among us, and I guess were awarded some points. More about points later.

Treasure hunt begins!!!
Our commander had some clues written on a piece of paper, which he handed to the team leader. We had to collectively think, look for that area, thing etc and earn our points*. Sounds simple right? Nope. See the asterisk. Yes, we had terms and conditions applied.

One of the Clue : Agarbatti

Work as a team, think as a team. Given a clue, if you had to hunt for something and you did not move in a team, you would lose points. Yes, the most basic rule was to stay together. No matter what. I had notices, the commanders would take a very good look at this point. They had warned us several times about it. We took for granted.

You found your clue, good, to go to the next clue, you had to pass an obstacle. There was a team activity. And I must say, every activity actually involved team work. Unless and until entire team worked together as a team, it was impossible to pass that activity. I learned the meaning of the phrase "team building" during such activity.

My Experience.
Not only did I enjoy, but I got to learn a lot about how to act in a team activity. There was a clue, which I was quite sure I knew the answer to, but I had hard time convincing my team members, for various reasons whatsoever. Apart from that, I thought as a team I could do better cheering my team members. It was a hot hot day, everyone was literally running places to get to the clue and so were tired. As a team we had only ourselves to cheer up and stay motivated.

How to put your point across? As mentioned in above paragraph, I had difficulty in this area. I have to improve.

Discuss the failures? There were instances where we were completely lost and even though the clue was very much around, we kept running. We also broke the rule of not staying together as a team several times. In the activities, since we were to perform as a team, not everyone was upto the mark, but who is perfect??

View point
As a team at work, we usually discuss what went wrong, the sole purpose being that we could learn from our mistakes. However, this is one area, that we need to be very very careful with our words. The use of "I". "You" v/s "We", so on. Because if you don't say it right, you are left. (Left out of the group, barked out of the herd.) Pun intended.

Anyways, sometimes ignoring the blames is the best thing.

Keep calm and do your job.

Well let's not get drifted to the job world from the fun world.

To conclude, I had a lot of fun. I took selfies. Yes me. Ok, it was the scenery in the background and just me in the selfie. Boring, I know. But I took selfies. :P

I wanted to write more in detail about the entire trip but I feel tired already and am out of words. Uploading pictures now. Adios..!!!

Photography - To look at it now, I think I should have also captured the stem. 

Photography - much better. Looks awesome
P.S All the pictures are taken from my Samsung Galaxy A5 smartphone. I have done no editing to any of the pic.

Friday, October 23

My Version of Caeser Salad - The Recipe

I had been to a restaurant some time back for lunch. Somehow I forgot to get the name nor was I able to understand the cuisine it was offering. However it did have few Salad's as their main offerings. A friend suggested to try the Caeser saaad with Chicken. I went with it. It cost us around 350INR with taxes. I loved the way it was decorated and served. I was able to quickly note down the Ingredients. It had boiled chicken, I think they were fried after boiling, it really looked crisp, red and it was very soft. A lot of mayonnaise. Avacado, Olives, Bread toast, some cherry tomatoes and pepper and some other seasonings for taste.

Caesar Salad at the restaurant

Caesar salad at the restaurant

I loved the dish and so as one of my rituals, I had to try it at home. Of course, with a twist. So below is the recipe.

1) Boiled chicken.
2) Lettuce Iceberg or Avocado
3) Tomato
4) Mayonnaise
5) Curd
6) Brown bread toast

Chop lettuce into medium pieces. They taste good when you have a mouthful. Slice tomatoes, have thin pieces. Make Bread toasts, I made them on a Pan and overlooked one bread which burned. I was very excited.

Boil your chicken and then fry them on a Pan. Just add a little, very few drops of Oil for taste. Pan them until the chicken is brown.

Take a big bowl and add lettuce and tomato. Mix them. Then add Mayonnaise, 1 table spoon is more than sufficient. You don't want to add unnecessary fat to your salad. We are adding Mayonnaise for taste.

Now add a lot of curd, try to drain out the excess water from curd. Have it thick. Mix everything well. Add the Chicken to it and stir. Sprinkle pepper. I also added some red chilly sauce and soya sauce for taste. To add more flavors, I then added a Pizza Mix that I had purchased long time back. Stir everything well.

Put the mixture nicely on a plate. Decorate the dish with the pieces of Toast. I had it refrigerated for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy your treat..!!!

My version of Caesar Salad

My version of Caesar Salad
I'd love to read your comments.

P.S : I Posted the pic of my version of Caeser salad on whatsapp to friend and family. They loved it. One of my friend asked me what exactly the name meant. I then googled for it, was surprised and at the same time shocked that my recipe was no where close to the actual caeser salad recipe. I was angry that the Caser salad that I had consumed was a total fake. (It was not Caeser salad, but it was a good appetizer). However I would recommend that you try my recipe first because I guarantee you would love it. You can read more about Caeser salad here.