Two Amazing Delivery Apps That Are Ruining Us

A few weeks ago, we asked some friends to come over on a Friday evening for beer and kebabs – what was to be a short affair, became a full fledged dinner party and we found ourselves wondering what to feed our guests.

Swiggy zindabad, I yelled!
Try Dunzo, said one of our guests.
What’s that you said? A new delivery app? Let’s try it, quipped the husband.

Refusing to budge and deny my favourite delivery app another opportunity to serve us, I insisted on placing an order on Swiggy, while my husband placed the rest of the order on Dunzo. We placed bets on who would come first – Swiggy won (of course) but by a few minutes. We had barely accepted the food from the Swiggy delivery guy that the Dunzo fellow rang the bell!

What followed was weeks of what I can only describe as lazy indulgence. Already in the habit of swiggying my way out of many weekday dinners, I found myself turning to the husband (I have of course refused to install what I perceive as competition to Swiggy on my phone) to Dunzo our way out of all kinds of silly things. Why pick up chicken en route after class, when for a mere 30 rupees, it can get delivered to your doorstep?

It wasn’t just chicken…before long, we found ourselves asking for tonic water, filtered coffee, peanuts, chips and even a loaf of bread (which is available a few metres from our home) because it was so bloody convenient.

I woke up one day to the horrible realisation that I have let the delivery apps control my life to such an extent, that I’m no longer running an organised, planned household. It was okay to run out of stuff, because Dunzo would come to our rescue. Youpie!

We were also not going out anymore – I mean who wants to deal with that nasty traffic when food from your favourite restaurants can get delivered to your doorstep in less than the time it gets to reach the restaurant? How terribly convenient!

Convenient yes, but at what cost?

Convenience really is the new synonym for lazy decadence. How else could I justify that I was no longer taking the effort to walk down to the neighbourhood market/grocery store/supermarket to pick up fresh fruits, vegetables and other necessities, but simply commanding the anonymous Dunzo delivery boy to do my bidding? And how awfully feudal and pompous of me, to say that my time is too valuable to waste in running errands! Or that peanuts and chips to accompany that glass of beer are crucial to the success of my evening!

And let’s not forget what we are doing to the environment. In a city that’s losing its identity in the quagmire of nasty traffic jams, every time I send a Dunzo dude running to a store to pick up something completely random, I am adding one more vehicle to the insanity. One more vehicle that is weaving its way through the already choked streets, breaking traffic regulations to deliver in time – lest I turn to social media to vent my impotent anger at a delay in delivery and attack the brand. One more vehicle that leads to that much more pollution in the air, f***ing with our respiratory systems and blackening our souls.

Drama much?

Perhaps. But it’s true isn’t it? The price of convenience is the destruction of this beautiful city, once toasted as a city of gardens with the most clement weather in the country.

So have have we deleted the apps from our phones? No, despite everything we haven’t. But I am back to being an organised creature, planning my meals and making weekly visits to the market to buy stuff I need for the house and delegating some chores even to the husband. And oh, guess what? Tomorrow is date night after what seems like aeons! Dunzo and Swiggy could do with earning a wee bit lesser…if they are making any money at all to begin with, but that’s another story!

Organised At Home And Organised At Work Makes Me Healthy, Wealthy And Wise

Storage_jarsI’m a sucker for neat, organised spaces and spend my weekends labouring over my storage spaces. My mother, a perfectionist whose cupboards are always immaculately arranged, doesn’t need to do this as often as I do and I find myself constantly running to catch up with her. I think I’ve finally found the solution: storage boxes and containers. I recently invested in a whole bunch of storage trays to keep my spaces uncluttered.

The obsession for orderly spaces extends to my work space as well. I need a neat and tidy work space, so quite obviously I have spent a fare amount of my weekends arranging my documents in folders – the pretty plastic/paper ones and the virtual ones as well. Working as a teacher and a social media freelancer for various organisations, I have documents of all kinds and if I don’t keep them in systematic manner, I won’t ever find anything on time.

A few lessons I’ve learnt on this journey to the perfectly organised space:

  • FilesLabel stuff – develop a system that speaks to you. I prefer using color codes in the kitchen and elaborate names for documents and folders to track the content, author and versions. Here’s an example: B2_ExamenFinal_CO_Doc1_20102015
  • Categorise and store stuff in files and folders. The document I just cited as an example is in a folder named B2_ExamenFinal_2015. Don’t forget to hierarchise so that’s it’s easy to find stuff that’s more important / you use more often.
  • Use the cloud. Changing and updating computers has been a no-brainer ever since I started saving documents on Google drive and Dropbox.
  • Save important documents in multiple places – on your hard drive, in a USB drive and on the cloud. You never know what will misbehave when. I’ve had times when the Internet has failed at work and I’ve been unable to access an important document saved in my Dropbox folder.
  • Don’t feel shy to use applications to up your efficiency quotient at work:
    • Quip: to collaborate with colleagues on documents, spreadsheets and checklists.
    • Slack: for real-time messaging with your team members and keeping an archive of all communication and file exchanges.
    • Wunderlist: to create personal / professional to-do lists and discuss them with others. Feedback always helps!
    • Hootsuite: to plan and organise your social media posts in advance. Once you’ve scheduled the posts on Hootsuite, you can do other stuff and never have to stress about publishing on time!

Gourmand Geets: Tea Time

I grew up on a staple diet of Enid Blyton stories set in the English countryside. It’s hardly a surprise then that tea time has always felt incomplete to me at home. Not a great fan of chai and pakodas, I shifted to coffee very early because it was so much easier to reconcile myself to a coffee and biscuits break!

Tea time remained a dream to chase in England where I would be served cute little cucumber sandwiches, slices of home-made cake and cookies…and scones with cream and strawberry jam!

But then I went for a Christmas party and met Sriram (also known for his association with My Sunny Balcony) and discovered The Bakeaway, an initiative to bring back to our tables traditional cakes and English goodies (like scones!).

High-tea by The Bakeaway is a delightful spread with everything from my childhood fantasies of English tea: lovely little cucumber sandwiches, home made biscuits or cookies, some tea-time cake and scones!!! Delighted with our first experience, we placed an order again, this time as a treat for some friends. Needless to say, our high tea party was a great success (I must admit though that it was high tea with coffee) and our guests left licking their fingers not wanting to waste a single crumb of the fantastic Victoria Sponge Cake.

If you’re planning tea party or even a picnic, The Bakeaway’s tea package is ideal! Placing an order is pretty simple and they are very punctual with delivery. I can’t wait to try out some of their other goodies!

Downloads2

P.S My fascination for English tea made me read Cobwebs and Cream Teas, a book which I highly recommend for all like-minded tea aficionados!
P.P.S I’m also a big fan of home-made brunch parties – I’m sure that The Bakeaway could help the lazy hosts drum up a delightful brunch! In the meanwhile, here are some ideas for a brunch party chez vous!

I Clean. So I am.

I love cleaning, putting things away and organizing. It’s been a bit of an obsession since childhood and though it’s now difficult to obsess about it constantly, I still need an organised space to be able to work, think, eat, sleep and even be in peace.

PensStationary stores are just as tempting for me as a shoe store (or one that sells bags, or silvery jewelry or clothes or…) and it’s tough for me to walk out of one without buying something. Most people buy notebooks. But what temps me the most are not the pretty notebooks. It is the files for my various documents, the multicolored pins, the cute little post-its, the markers, the highlighters, the pens…anything that helps me be more organised.

Back home, I can spend a good 30 minutes putting away the purchases or putting them to use immediately!  Nothing distresses me more than a few hours spent organizing my papers, highlighting and marking important content and putting things away in appropriate files & boxes. My need to tidy up doesn’t stop with my papers. Papers take a while to get messed up. The cupboard though needs much more regular attention, for I need my clothes to be organised in a particular order, depending on their type, color and size! And then there are my many jewelry boxes… A couple of hours lost in the depths of my cupboard and I emerge feeling like I could conquer the world.

FlowersMy mania doesn’t just stop there. It spills over to the more intensive and manual type of cleaning as well. It’s not at all strange for me to spend Sunday morning surrounded by cleaning equipment, scrubbing the kitchen cupboards and lining shelves with old newspapers. Such a joy it is to bring down the curtains for a wash and put up a different set or to hang out the freshly washed linen perfumed lightly with the fabric conditioner. (Yes, yes there are quite a few people who use those things you see in the supermarket.)

Why do people complain about household chores? What other activity allows you to work out the anger in your system (scrub out that annoying man’s face from your thoughts, iron out the creases of worry on your forehead, let the vase of flowers bring back your inspiration) and work those unused muscles with the almost hedonistic pleasure and sense of accomplishment at seeing the house neat and tidy at the end of those few hours?

On that note, I really must change the bed-sheets tomorrow morning, wash the towels and buy some flowers to brighten up the living room! 😉

Nesting in Bangalore

“Petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid.”

(The bird makes its nest, step by step. In other words, Rome wasn’t built in a day.)

I love this French proverb for its poetry and for being so much more “real” than it’s English counterpart. I couldn’t care less about Rome, but I know that building a home is a process that happens over a period of time, step by step. In my case each step came after several months. When I first moved into my current apartment, all I had in guise of furniture were some chairs, a coffee table, a bunch of cushions and mattresses.

Coffee Table and Chairs

A lamp and some pretty cushion covers were purchased after a couple of months to add warmth and colour to my living room.

Corner table and lamp

Corner tables and a TV console were added a few months later, doing away with the cartons I was using till then. A small dining table for two was added at Diwali and some “modhas” (traditional cane stools with woven jute rope seats) were added just before Christmas.

Table decked up for Christmas

The new year saw me curling up on comfortable armchairs and sleeping on a bed after nearly two years. My cup runneth over and I thought my nest was ready.

Armchair


And then I went to Nice Package, an exhibition of furniture and home accessories, organised by a student. I was going only out of solidarity, or so I thought. Barely five minutes after I stepped into Gallery Time and Space, where the exhibition was held,  I was dreaming. Dreaming and picturing where several beautiful pieces of furniture could be placed in my tiny apartment. Dreaming and wishing I had a bigger apartment and more importantly, a bigger salary !

I loved the marble-topped table and “lollypop” chairs in bright pink and could picture myself sitting at the table sharing a cup of tea or staring out into nothingness.

Pink Chairs and Marble Topped Table

I drooled over the green dinner cabinet that made me start planning my ideal dining room.

Green Dinner Cabinet

I had to hold myself from buying one each of the gorgeous bedspreads with Kantha work and the beautiful mulmul dohar blankets. I did, however, indulge a bit and walked away with some beautiful cushion covers to add that much needed dash of colour (and drama) to my black armchairs and the prettiest bag I’ve owned – pink with motifs of flowers and birds, it’s just perfect for Spring and Summer in the garden city.

Bright Cushion CoversPretty Pink Bag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am now waiting for the Nice Package store to open so I can go back, indulge some more and continue building the nest, one step at a time… 🙂

Book Orgy

A few months ago I wrote about the second hand bookstores of Bangalore, Blossom and Bookworm, regular haunts and the source of some of the most interesting books in my collection. I don’t remember a single occasion when I have walked out of either of these stores empty-handed. What truly delights me about both these stores is not just the act of acquiring books, it’s the ritual of browsing through the crowded aisles with shelves of  dust covered books and stumbling on a book that was just waiting to be found by me.

Books by the kilo !
The loot !

I have always enjoyed browsing bookstores and buying books, but Bangalore has added to the pleasure with Blossom, Bookworm and the bi-annual Strand Bookstall sales. It touched new heights this weekend with the “Buy Books by the kilo” sale. I first heard about it from a colleague and dismissed it. But then I saw the advertisement in the newspaper and decided to go take a look since it was so close to my house. I was sure I wouldn’t find anything worth buying, but was I wrong. I picked up 5 kilos of books within 15 minutes of entering the hall and by the time my friend and I had sorted out, discarded some books and reached the billing counters, we were dragging two baskets with 19 kilos of books – coffee table books, novels, illustrated recipe books, children’s books and even some French books! 🙂

Some of the best buys :
1. La Guide de la Trentaine ( a delightful bande dessinée i.e. comic in French.)
2. Jane Austen ( a coffee table book that gives an interesting glimpse into the author’s life through excerpts from letters and personal diaries.)
3. Remarkable Feasts –  adventures on the food trail from Baton Rouge to Old Peking ( a beautifully illustrated edition)
4. A Table in Provence – classic recipes from the South of France ( another beautifully illustrated copy)
5. The Lady Elizabeth ( the story of Elizabeth I before she became the queen.)
6….and the pièce de résistance (for me) : Monet’s Cookery Notebooks – Claude Monet’s life at Giverny and personal recipe collection🙂

The loot !
The best of the loot ! 😉

Monet's Cookery Notebooks

Sipping Tea At The Cha Bar

I was first introduced to the delights of tea and infusions by my father who often picked up various Darjeeling and Ceylonese teas for his friends in colleagues before one of his Europe tours. From hesitant sips, to countless rainy evenings in Bombay staring out at our drenched plants with a cup of steaming orange-cinnamon or apple-raisin in my hands…I owe any interest in tea I have today, to my father.

When Oxford Bookstore and the Cha Bar opened in Bombay, I was delighted for multiple reasons. Oxford Bookstore was the first bookstore which offered the ambiance of an international chain bookstore with a reasonably good collection of books AND an attached café, or rather the Cha Bar. I have several fond memories of wonderful evenings spent at the Cha Bar with my family after a day of shopping and satisfying meals in South Bombay. I hadn’t been to the Cha Bar since 2005, so when the opportunity came up last weekend, I actually skipped a cultural event for a couple of hours surrounded by books, conversations and tea.

The Cha Bar in Bangalore is housed in the over the top Leela Palace, an old world five star hotel with large pretentious porticos designed to scare away the common man, gigantic chandeliers and long winding corridors leading to the shopping pavilion. Tucked away next to Anokhi, the Cha Bar is in stark contrast to the intimidating ambience of the hotel. Smaller than the Cha Bar I frequented in Bombay, it did however bring back a rush of memories as I settled down in a corner to wait for my friend’s meeting to get over. I sat and stared for the first fifteen minutes just letting the memories take over. I finally opened the menu after a while and settled down to a cup of hot peppermint infusion with a blueberry muffin, all set to draft out a new article for La Salle des Profs (a blog to which I contribute).

The smooth notes of peppermint washed over my exhausted body and I felt the cricks in my neck relax and the stress of the week fade away and before I knew it I was smiling softly to myself, holding the steaming cup in my hands and staring out into the labyrinth of bookshelves in front of me…