Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Decade of Aishwarya Rai

Aishwarya Rai in Kandukonden Kandukonden This month, January 2007, marks 10 years of Aishwarya Rai's career in the Indian film industry. Her debut movie, Iruvar, was released on January 14th, 1997. It was directed by one of the most popular Indian directors of modern times, Mani Ratnam. Interestingly, Guru, also a Mani Ratnam movie, was released on January 14th, 2007, exactly 10 years after her debut movie.

Artificiality of Aishwarya
By the time Aishwarya entered the world of Indian movies, she was already an internationally famous super model. By then, many people already had an overdose of Aishwarya and they had begun to dislike her 'plastic' or 'artificial' looks, smile, expressions, on-screen personality. Her critics have always maintained that she is not a good actress and that she is no better than a decorative lifeless plastic model in her movie roles. Her performances in 10 years' worth of movies have only served to increase the volume - both in numbers and decibels - of the allegations of "artificiality".

When a person is trained to be a model from the time she is little more than a girl, when her day job and evening job and all public appearances require her to flash false smiles, and when the whole world is familiar with little more than the false-smile public persona, it is inevitable that she would seem artificial in everything she does. This is especially true when she has the super model looks and gets crowned as the Miss World. I wonder how a person can keep a firm grip on her own true inner self after going through a career which requires them to maintain superficial looks and smiles during the most important formative years - teens and early adulthood. It would be so easy to lose the sense of who she truly is...

But hey, this post is not an analysis of Aishwarya's personality nor an apology for her on-screen performance. Aishwarya Rai might not be the best Indian actress there ever was, but looking at 10 years of her filmography (here and here - you have to check both links as neither one of them is complete in itself), I must say that she is the luckiest Indian actress to date.

Speciality of Aishwarya
She had a dream debut in the Tamil movie, Iruvar, directed by Mani Ratnam, starring opposite the great Mohan Lal. The movie was not a big commercial success, and is little known outside of Tamil circles. But, Mani Ratnam and Mohan Lal are considered great masters in their chosen fields, and her role - rather roles - in the movie was something special and different (more about this later). From the kind of debut that very few actresses can boast of, Aishwarya went on to act with almost every major director in contemporary India. She has also starred opposite most of the popular actors of her times. Interestingly, two of the best and most popular actors, Kamal Haasan and Aamir Khan, are conspicuously absent from her filmography (although she has a guest appearance in Aamir's Mela).

However, the speciality of Aishwarya's movie career is neither her directors nor her co-stars. It is the fact that she has had the widest variety of roles compared to any other actress in the history of Indian cinema! This is an industry which is notorious for type-casting, where even such great and popular actresses as Nargis, Madhubala, Smitha Patil, Madhuri Dixit and Kajol could not truly escape being type-cast into certain kinds of roles. Even actors such as Kamal Haasan and Aamir Khan have to work really hard not to end up in meaningless, type-cast roles, and they do not always succeed. So, it is no small matter that Aishwarya has had such varied roles.

Aishwarya's career is a true example of the old adage - luck is when preparation meets opportunity. She waited until she had completed the best years of her modelling career, before switching over to the movie industry. The switch happened at a time when the previous No. 1 actress of Hindi movies, Madhuri Dixit, had most definitely gone off the limelight. Kajol shone briefly after Madhuri, but then she ended an excellent acting career after she got married. After Kajol, the field was pretty much open for Aishwarya Rai to rule. Neither Rani Mukherjee nor Kareena Kapoor nor any other new actress could match the sheer popularity of Aishwarya. Fortunately for Aishwarya, this was also the time when movie makers in India were eager to fudge the mythical and mystical line between 'art movies' and 'commercial movies'. In addition to all this, Aishwarya was already very popular and established as a celebrity. Her modelling career had ensured that she did not lack for money or fame. So, she could afford to pick and choose the kind of roles she wanted, without being compelled into anything she did not truly want.

Roles of Aishwarya
The wide variety of roles Aishwarya has played have made her movie career the stuff that actresses across the world can only dream of. She has donned every role from single 'item' numbers to bimbo eye-candy in dumbo masala movies to strong central protagonist roles around whom the whole storyline revolves to substantial female-oriented roles. As a sampler, just look at the kind of movie roles she has lined up in 2007:
  • Guru - as the wife, main champion and supporter of Guru, the character based on the prominent industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani.
  • Rani Laxmibai - as the historical warrior queen, who played a pivotal role in the First War of Indian Independence.
  • Provoked - the role of a docile immigrant wife, who is a victim of domestic violence, falsely accused of murder and jailed, before she fights back for justice.
  • Jodhaa Akbar - the role of a Hindu princess who is forced to be part of a political marriage with the great Mughal Emperor Akbar.
  • The Last Legion - the role of a female warrior in a saga set in ancient Rome.

In addition to these, she is also acting in a few masala movies. Which Indian (or foreign actress) could boast of such a wide variety of roles in one year, in both national and international productions?

I have watched very few of Aishwarya Rai's movies. I have not even heard of the titles of many of her movies. But from the few movies I have watched, I can say that the allegations of lifelessness in her on-screen personality is not entirely true. She is certainly better than the majority of actresses to appear on the Indian screen, including such popular people as Hema Malini and Rakhi, who were not much more than bad hams.

The following are noteworthy roles played by Aishwarya Rai in movies I have watched. Be warned that all of what follows contains spoilers for the respective movies.

  • Iruvar - This is her debut movie. She plays dual roles in this movie, as a demure housewife in a village and as a fiesty actress who has an affair with the chief minister of the state. Both the characters are doomed in the storyline. It is in this movie that I first got a glimpse of the sexy dark mole on her upper arm. The mole is usually hidden in most of her movies and modelling assignments.

  • Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam - This role of Aishwarya is my most favorite. Through the course of the movie, she transforms from a lively, innocent girl to a girl caught in the thrills of first love to a person who loses the love and is driven to attempt suicide to an unhappily married woman who desperately tries to find her lover to a woman who has a change of heart and embraces her status as a married woman. I think she did a great job in every aspect of the role. After watching this movie, the title song was stuck in my head for almost two whole years!

  • Kandukonden Kandukonden - Another movie in which Aishwarya plays the role of the fiesty, independent, opinionated girl. I like her in such roles. The movie is an excellent adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility. Among all her movies that I have watched, this is the one in which she looks her best.

  • Choker Bali - The movie is based on Rabindranath Tagore's novel 'Binodini', and Aishwarya has the title role. She plays the role of a widow in early 1900s India, being tormented by her personal needs and desires, and her attraction to a married man. Although the screenplay of the movie lacked and did not do full justice to the novel, the title role was pretty challenging and important. It is a role that any actress would be flattered to be chosen for.

  • Khakee - This is a very entertaining movie, and Aishwarya plays the role of a stylish and trickster vamp. It was an interesting move on her part to accept the role of a villain in a movie.

  • Rain Coat - A touching movie based on an O Henry story. Aishwarya plays the role of a poor housewife who has to keep up an appearance of being rich and comfortable in front of her old flame. Another movie in which she has given an commendable performance.

  • Aishwarya Rai in Bunty Aur BabliBunty Aur Babli - Ooh, she sizzles in this movie! She has nothing more than an 'item number' in the movie - the Kajra Re song (that's a link to the video!). 'Item number' in the context of Indian movies refers to a song sequence, which has little or nothing to do with the actual story line of the movie, is often sleazy and put in the movie for the sole purpose of drawing in the crowds. Aishwarya plays a bar singer/dancer in the song, and she looks really hot. It was over a decade before this movie, when she was just a new model, that I had noticed that she was hot. However, the more popular she became, the less hot she seemed to me. This movie made me sit up and notice her hotness factor all over again! And, it did so for the rest of the world too. No bar-dancer or prostitute or kothewali looked so hot in the history of Indian cinema!

No. 1 Position of Aishwarya
Now, the much-asked (and answered!) question is: does Aishwarya do proper justice to all these great roles? There are some people who are convinced - and are quite vocal about it - that she does not. They think that her acting skills are not worthy of all the popularity and success she enjoys. Then there are a few who think that she is a good actress. But the vast majority simply don't care as long as they can see her beautiful form onscreen. After all, if not Aishwarya, who can take on all these roles? Perhaps, different people might suit the different roles. But as things stand today, I cannot think of a single celebrity actress who can handle all these roles. So perhaps, it is only right and proper that Aishwarya should be enjoying so much success and be the undoubted No. 1 Indian actress at this point of time.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Do you Paypal?

Does small cash pass back and forth often or occasionally between your friends and you? Is this cash in any of these currencies? Do you live in any one of these countries and operate a bank account there? If you answered yes to all these questions, you should immediately sign up for Go ahead and just do it. Seriously. And, get your friends to sign up also.

Warning: This is an unabashed and unpaid advertisement for

Paypal is such an incredibly convenient free service, I don't know why more people don't use it. Suppose you go out for lunch with a friend and s/he pays the bill at the restaurant. Your share of the tab is $7.17 and you need to give this money to your friend. Now imagine that you have a personal secretary who will go out to the bank, withdraw the exact $7.17 from your checking account and pays it to your friend, without you writing a cheque or handling cash or dealing with the hassles of finding the exact change, without even your leaving the seat! In a similar vein, suppose your friend pays you a certain amount of cash and you want to deposit the money in your bank account. Imagine having a secretary who will get this money from your friend, then go out and deposit it into your bank account, without your having to fill out a deposit slip or leave the comfort of your home or office. To add more more fun to these imaginary scenarios, suppose that your friend is in another state or country, and you need to send money to her or get money from him. Imagine that this secretary's services include giving money to or getting it from this distant friend of yours, instantly, without any money orders or mailing of cheques or waiting periods involved. And best of all, imagine that the services of this secretary are absolutely free! Sounds too good to be true, eh? Yet, this is exactly what Paypal does for you.

Paypal is an online service to which anybody with an email address (and lives in these countries and does transactions in these currencies) can sign up. Then, you register your bank account information with Paypal. Soon after your bank account is registered and confirmed, you are in business. All you have to do is logon to to initiate withdrawals and deposits into your bank account, to and from anybody else who uses the Paypal service. And as long as the transactions are all personal (meaning, no buying and selling from or to the other party of the transaction) and the total amount of your transactions is within a certain limit, it's all free.

So, if I have to pay $7.17 to that friend who paid for my lunch, all I have to do is log on to and initiate a 'Send Money' transaction to my friend. The amount will be withdrawn from my bank account and sent to my friend's Paypal account. My friend can then have the money transferred from her Paypal account to her bank. Everything done online. Nobody handles cash or cheques, nor deals with trips to the bank or ATMs. It is as simple as that. Now you can even use the sms service of your cell phone to do Paypal transactions.

A sole bank-only transaction on Paypal takes about 2-3 business days, which is the same as depositing a cheque and waiting for it to cash. If the bank account registered with Paypal has a backup funding source such as my debit card, the transfer of funds is instant. As soon as I hit the send money button on, the money is transfered to my friend's Paypal account that very instant.

I have a bunch of friends with whom there is always some monetary transactions going on: somebody picked up the tab during a group lunch, somebody bought movie tickets to the whole group, somebody bought a group gift for someone's birthday. We need to pay money to all these different people. When there are anywhere from 5 to 20 people in the group, all those transactions can become a hassle when dealing with cash and small change. Getting so many cheques and depositing them is also a chore in itself. This is where Paypal is such a big convenience.

Whether you do small cash exchanges frequently or occasionally, give Paypal a try. You will definitely thank me for it.

Note: When I recommended Paypal to friends in the past, some of them expressed concerns about Paypal's security. All I can tell such people is that I have been using Paypal regularly for almost five years now, and I have never had any problems with their services or security. I have read about some phishing emails which were sent to Paypal customers. These emails looked like official emails sent from Paypal, but they were actually sent by some scammers who invited gullible people to click on a link and enter their Paypal login and password. The scammers were going to use this information to steal money from people's Paypal account. But then such emails have been targetted at Citibank, Wells Fargo (I personally received such a phishing email targetting Wells Fargo customers) and other banks' customers. The bottomline is that, signing up for Paypal's service does not make you any more vulnerable than doing online banking transactions with your traditional banks. As long as you are careful about what you do online, using Paypal is as safe as using your bank's website for online transactions. Probably, safer!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Driving in America

This post is inspired by Priyamvada's recent post The Highway. Priya's post has metaphors and analogies galore. But I am going to set those aside and talk just about driving in the US.

Like her, I too have reflected on how much of driving is based on trust - trust of the people who put up the signs, trust of the other people with whom we share the road. This is one of the things about the US that I am amazed about: regardless of how remote a location is, if there is a road, there are proper, well-maintained signs. It seems like every last aspect of the road and driving conditions are considered and taken care of, including posting the most optimum speed limits for the changing curves and gradients, designation of passing lanes and stretches, etc. I can't remember a single instance of missing or bad signs on American roads. Of course, there are some residential localities where I have heard the residents wish they had speed humps or additional stop signs. But the busier highways and roads never let us down.

Coming from India, this amazes me no end. In India, driving is not about trust. It is about blind faith in our own life-line. We can never trust any signs, signals, directions or other people who share the road with us. We can never lean back and truly enjoy driving because anything could happen at any time! I mean, literally anything! There is no telling what we might encounter all of a sudden, with absolutely no warning or signs - an animal or a person lying right in the middle of the road, another vehicle travelling in the wrong direction or against the signal, a dip or a hump or a big open ditch. Anything is possible! Other Indians would know what I am talking about. No wonder that 2006's accident statistics of just one Bangalore city shows an average of three deaths and seventeen injuries per day due to accidents! I am so thankful to whatever agencies maintain the American roads and signs. It is not only a job truly well-done; more importantly, it is the result of a healthy respect for life and property. Something that's sorely lacking in India.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Guru - Movie Review (Paisa Waste!)

Guru Poster In art, more than in anything else, if something can't be done well, it's not worth doing it at all. This includes the art of movies. In all other aspects of life, a mediocre product might be tolerable. But to witness bad art is demoralizing, dispiriting, disappointing.

Mani Ratnam's latest movie Guru is such a disappointment. It is hard to believe that the dull and mediocre Guru, is made by the same director who made the tour de force masterpiece, Nayagan. Where are the clear storyline, tight script, crisp dialogs, which are the key elements of a good Mani Ratnam movie?

Guru is supposed to have been inspired by the rags-to-spectacular-riches story of the late Dhirubhai Ambani, who founded and headed what was/is probably the richest, most powerful and influential corporate house in India, Reliance Industries Limited. There is certainly a great story to be told about his life. Unfortunately, Guru fails to tell that story effectively.

The movie's narrative just limps along, without touching our heads or our hearts. We don't see the main character Guru do anything extraordinarily smart or ingenious or innovative... In fact, forget extraordinary, we don't see him doing anything even ordinarily smart or ingenious or innovative. Yet, we are supposed to believe that he built this big business empire just like that. Since when did Mani Ratnam's movies get dumbed down so much?

Nor do we emotionally care about what happens to Guru in the movie. He suffers a stroke, he is harassed by a judicial inquiry. Do we care too much about that? Do we feel sorry for him? Do we root and cheer him onto recovery and success? Not really. Not being touched emotionally is a very big failure in a Mani Ratnam movie. I am used to his movies having us empathize with the main characters and their struggles, almost effortlessly. Guru fails miserably in that.

The story lacks head or heart. The script meanders loosely. All the dialogs sound phoney and lack soul. We could expect at least the dialogs to be crisp and hard-hitting in Mani Ratnam's Tamil movies (mostly written by Mani Ratnam himself or his wife, Suhasini). This movie lacks even that.

This is probably Abhishek Bacchan's best performance in a movie. Unfortunately, his best performance is not much to write home about. Aishwarya Rai's performance lends ample fuel to all her critics - especially the ones who have been claiming for a decade that she is no more than a plastic doll in movies. Yes, Aishwarya Rai has been acting in movies for 10 years now. Her first movie was also directed by Mani Ratnam, and it is called Iruvar, release on Jan 14th, 1997. Exactly, 10 years later, we see her another Mani Ratnam movie, and it is unfortunate that this movie and her performance in it is such a dud. There are a couple of scenes in which she is alright - sobbing in the train, her face in the foreground and Abhishek's in the background, after being abandoned by the guy she intended to run away with; and, one or two scenes as a domestic housewife. Otherwise, it's a dud. Madhavan and Vidya Balan have given good performances in supporting roles. Mithun in the role of an old newspaper owner is also good.

A R Rahman's music does not sound like Rahman's music at all. It is jarring. Gulzar's lyrics did not seem to have anything special in them either.

There are some very successful writers. When they reach a certain stage of extreme commercial success, they stop doing all the hardwork. They have teams of disciples who do the work for them, all the research and the writing, and these successful writers lend their names to the covers of such books. Watching Guru made me wonder if this whole movie was made by such mediocre disciples of Mani Ratnam and A R Rahman, while putting up the more popular names in the credits.

You may safely give this movie a miss. It's paisa waste!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Linens 'n Things ( order processing SUCKS!

Linens 'n Things' online order processing SUCKS! Their online process via, is a case study in how not to do online order processing. There is nothing wrong with their website's add-to-cart, go-to-checkout, pay, close process itself. It is pretty much the standard checkout process we see in most online stores. But there are underlying issues with how the whole system works, which makes for a bad customer service experience.

One small issue can break the whole chain of of the buying process with Linens 'n Things, and nobody seems to be able to fix it from there on. That is the symptom of a very badly designed system. In a robust well-designed system, a problem would be contained within a small boundary, without impacting the whole process. Moreover, it would allow for a fast resolution and smooth continuation of business. Clearly, Linens 'n Things does not have such a system/process. Talking to their customer service people, I get the impression that Linens 'n Things is not aware of the seriousness of these issues and how much they inconvenience the customers. Here's a sequential list of their issues:

1. Store inventory status not accurate on the website
The whole problem starts if you want to order something on the website, and then pick it up from a store location of your choice. People might want to do this to avoid shipping charges and/or to take advantage of a discount or special pricing which is available through the website. Now, the LnT website does not have accurate status of the store's inventory. So, it might show that the item is available in the store, allowing you to complete the order, even though the store might actually not have the item in stock! In the age of real-time inventory updates, it is an unpardonable sin to tell the customer that you have something in stock and take the order, when you actually don't have it. Promising and not delivering results in greater customer disappointment, than if the customer was told upfront that the item is not in stock.

2. Summarily cancelling an in-store pickup order
If the store from which you want to pickup your online order does not have your item, they will immediately cancel your order. They will not attempt to get the item from their warehouse or from another location. They will not give you the option of waiting a few more days for the item to come back in stock. They will not ask you if you want to pick it up from another location in the city. They will not even offer you the option of converting your order into a shipped order, instead of an in-store pickup. They will simply and summarily cancel your order. Worse, the cancellation of the order results in a stock, automated email which does not tell you the exact reason why the order was cancelled. It simply tells you that your order was cancelled and the item you ordered is not available for pickup at the store!

3. Not being able to change cancelled orders
Once an order has been cancelled, you (the customer) have to go through the ordering process from A-to-Z, if you want to pick up the item from another store or have it shipped to your home. The customer service representatives on the phone or the clerk at the store cannot route your order to another store or convert it into a shipped order. They simply cannot do anything with the cancelled order. The result is that, if there was any special pricing or discount at the time you placed the order, you could lose it by the time your original order is cancelled and you are able to order again. Even worse is what happens to your gift card, if you placed the original order using a gift card.

4. Charging gift cards for cancelled orders
If you use a Linens 'n Things gift card to place an order, and your order gets cancelled, your gift card will still show that it was charged the amount of your order. It takes Linens 'n Things five to TEN days to restore your gift card balance. That SUCKS BIG TIME! So, if your gift card purchase item is not available in one store and your order is cancelled, but the item is available in another store, you cannot just go and buy your stuff from the other store if you want to use the gift card. You have to wait five to TEN days before the gift card can be used. Making the customer wait for no fault of theirs, in the age of the Internet and instant gratification, is the BIGGEST SIN of all online business practices!

I went through this whole sequence of issues not once but twice in the last two months. About $150 worth of money is tied-up in currently unusable Linens 'n Things gift cards. All I did was to order an item and choose to pick it up at a store, which had it in stock as per their website. After my order was cancelled, the website was updated to show that the store in question did not have my item. The last time I had a very similar problem, the website continued to show that the store had the item in stock, even after the store cancelled my order for not having the items.

There is nothing that anyone from LnT has been able to do to resolve problems 1., 2., 3. or 4. The only thing I have been able to get out of them is a weak promise of restoring my gift card balance in a "couple of days or so", and that does not include the weekend! So, including the weekend, I may still have to wait about 5 more days! I am fuming right now, and hence this rant! I hope someone at Linens 'n Things sees this and cleans up their online order processing system, which SUCKS right now.

Updated on Jan 14th, 2014 HRS:

1. I had attempted to place my first order on Thursday, Jan 4th. This order was cancelled and my gift card was charged.

2. After posting this on my blog, on Saturday, Jan 6th, I sent an email to Linens 'n Things online customer service. They replied back with the same old b.s. Worse, they told me that it would take 2 more weeks for my gift card balance to be restored. Clearly, they had not read in my blog that one of their support supervisors had promised me on the phone that my gift card balance would be restored in a "couple of days".

3. On the evening of Tuesday, Jan 9th, my gift card balance was still not restored. I called their phone customer service and reminded them of the supervisor's promise to restore the balance in a couple of days. The phone support person told me that they showed no record of their supervisor promising or requesting for my balance to be restored in two days. She said all the supervisors had gone home for the day and I should call the next morning.

4. On Wednesday, Jan 10th, I called LnT phone support again. The person who answered the phone this time told me that they did show a record of my having spoken to their supervisor the week before, and that they had over 50,000 cases they were trying to work due to the holiday gift season, that they were working round the clock, and that my balance would be restored soon, and I should just wait. He also told me that he will flag my request again and hopefully my balance will be restored in 24 to 48 hours.

5. On Thursday, Jan 11th, my gift card balance was restored in early afternoon. This is almost exactly one week after the original order, which got cancelled. I placed the order again on Thursday afternoon using the gift cards and about 3 hours later, my order was filled and ready for pickup!

Curious about what I was so keen on buying? This:
Linens 'n Things  Stainless Steel Cookware Set It's a Linens 'n Things Professional Stainless Steel 17-piece Cookware set. Although their website calls it "Everything Kitchen" brand, the label on the box and on the vessels says 'Linens 'n Things' brand. It is a beautiful heavy gauge 18/10 (whatever that means!) stainless steel set with encapsulated aluminium and copper disk bonded to the base, with riveted solid stainless steel handles. The set costs $199 plus taxes. I was able to get a 20% discount with an online discount code. The set includes:
  • 10" Covered Skillet with Assist Handle
  • 12" Open skillet
  • 1.5 qt. Covered Saucepan
  • 2.5 qt. Covered Saucepan with a double-boiler
  • 3.5 qt. Covered Saucepan with a steamer insert
  • 5 qt. Covered Dutch Oven with a steamer basket
  • a whopping 12 qt. Covered Stockpot!
  • Pasta Insert for the stockpot

Housewarming Party

...or how to feed over 30 people with 3 vessels and 1 rice cooker?

I finally had my housewarming dinner party on Christmas Eve, for the house into which I moved in June! It was originally scheduled for New Year's Eve, but many people said they would not be in town that weekend. So, I changed it to Christmas Eve. I thought (rather foolishly!) that more people would be free to make it to the party on Christmas Eve, since they celebrate Christmas Day with their families at home, and so would be in town. As it turned out, more people could not make it on Christmas Eve. I did not want to move the dates around too much. So, I just went with Christmas Eve.

I decided to make all the party food at home - except for the chips and dips. The challenge was to prepare food for over 30 people with just three cooking utensils and one rice cooker. For a single person's lifestyle, these are more than enough. But would these be enough to feed over 30 of my guests? With the menu I designed, it turned out to be just enough:

  • Appetizers
    The chips and dips went into a couple bowls. Crackers went on a big platter. I made fruit chaat in a big aluminium disposable tray. The fruit chaat was a hit - it was made with apples, pears, bananas, papayas, pineapple, green grapes, oranges, lemon juice, pineapple juice, a few mint leaves, sugar, salt and chaat masala.

  • Main Course
    Vegetable Pulao - Fried onions, bay leaves, cardamom in ghee, in one medium vessel. Masala paste was made by grinding coconut, cilantro, mint leaves, tomatoes, green chillies and ginger-garlic paste in a blender. (My blender died after all that hard work!). I mixed the fried stuff, the masala paste, uncooked rice, vegetables, salt and biriyani masala powder in the rice cooker, and cooked them all together. Four batches of this pulao were transferred from the rice cooker to the aluminium disposable trays, mixed with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and served with raitha mixed in a plastic bowl.

  • Curd Rice - Two batches of rice cooked in the rice cooker were transferred to the aluminium trays, mixed with curds, salt, green grapes, pomegranate seeds, green chillies, cilantro and seasoning made of fried mustard and curry leaves. Used one big vessel to make a gallon of curds in. This was served with mixed-vegetable pickle from the store.

  • Dessert
    Seven-layer dessert, assembled in a couple of aluminium trays. Used one small vessel to mix the custard in.

Needless to say, drinks and cocktails flowed liberally. I had a whole drinks menu consisting of:
  • Masala Soda
  • Orange Juice, Apple Juice
  • Coca Cola, Sprite, Ginger Ale, Club Soda

  • Heineken
  • Vodka, Tequila, Jagermeister

  • Hot Heini
  • Long Island Iced Tea
  • Margarita
  • Tequila Sunrise

After shopping trips spread over 3-days to 6 different stores, the cooking started at 10:30 AM on the day of the party and went on until 7 PM, with a lunch break in-between! I had invaluable help from a friend-colleague, without which I might not have gotten everything done in time. I am very grateful to her for all the help.

Everyone had a lot of fun at the party. Almost everybody who could drink, got drunk. And, there was much dancing all around! I am glad the party was a success, if I say so myself!