Saturday, December 27, 2008

Old is Really Gold! :p

I installed the latest Yahoo Messenger (9.something Beta) 3-4 days ago. It looked cool... jazzy new skins (even in pink!)... great new interface showing images of my friends right before their ids... & also this superb "Friends updates" feature, which automatically showed my Blog updates when I brought the mouse over my own id in my friend list! (Yes, I have added myself in my yahoo friend list!) I don't really know from where it linked my blog to my yahoo id, but, anyways...

And then the nightmare began!

I logged into my yahoo messenger early in the morning, as I always do... turned myself invisible, minimized the messenger into the system tray & started studying! Sometime later, I went for a bath. When I came back, my yahoo had logged me off on its own & was waiting for me to click on "Sign In" again!

I thought to myself maybe something went wrong with the internet connection (a time-out or something you know). So I logged out of my BSNL Broadband and then logged back into it again. Tried to sign into my yahoo -- it said "Login Failure - Try Again". I tried several more times -- same thing!

So I thought to myself maybe some temporary messenger problem. I tried signing in with my old id (miss_teerious) -- that worked fine without any glitches! Hmmmm. I said "No problem! For a change I will use the yahoo messenger from my Yahoo mail. (In case you don't already know this, yahoo mail also provides an integrated chat interface, like the gchat of gmail.)

I tried logging into my yahoo mail account, but, guess what! It gave me an "Invalid Username/Password" error! I tried again... and again... and again! No good! Now how was it possible that I changed my password when I was in the shower? Yes, people have been known to be at multiple places at the same time (Bilocation as they call it), but, surely I haven't reached that stage of evolution, have I? Even though I do confess that I am an alien!

[wiping sweat off my brow] Phewwwwwww!

Looked like someone had hacked into my account... while I was busy studying and then having a shower... and had changed my password! Terrible thing to have happened to me!

Anyways, I tried to have the system reset my password for me, but I simply couldn't recall what "Password Hint Question" I had chosen at the time of creating this id! Let's face it guys... 7 years is a long time to remember something so trivial, when at the time I created this profile, I didn't even intend to use it ever as my primary yahoo id! I only created it to host the "Frames version" of my geocities website, while the "No-frames version" remained on my original id!

Ok, so after much haggling and bargaining and negotiating with the yahoo software, I gave up! I instead found a direct help form, which I could fill & send to their helpdesk, and requested them to reset my password manually. I doubted they'd do it though, just on the basis of my birth details! I mean I hadn't even filled a secondary email id at the time I created this id, so that they could validate my request against that!

Anyways, I left it at that and went back to my studies. Sometime during the evening that same day, I tried to login into that id again through messenger -- and it worked!!! YES! It worked with my old password itself! Haahhhh! Now what would you say to that!

I checked my email, and that worked fine too! So I quickly went & checked into my account settings to see if I could find the security question. Unfortunately, yahoo's system doesn't let you see these security related details later. But I was at least able to add my gmail id to the account, the one that I had filled in the help form. And the next day, I received an email from them on that very id, resetting my password for the yahoo account! Problem solved!

All was well for 2 days, after which I started facing the same problem again today! I was able to login into my old yahoo id but not the one I use now! This time, I decided to see what google had to say about this issue. Oh I noticed that it also gave me an error number, with the help of which I was finally able to get to the root of this problem!

Seems that it's a problem with the 9 beta version. So the net advised me to uninstall this version & get an older version on my system instead. Fair enough... even though it meant that I would lose the cool new interface!

I searched for old yahoo messenger downloads and found this fantastic site "OldVersion.com" which hosts the full downloads of the old versions of most of the popularly used free softwares! And guess what! I found yahoo messenger 7.0 in there!

My sister & I used to be big fans of this version because of the Games tab it provides at the bottom. We used to play "Collapse", "Text Twist", "Bounce Out" & "PopNDrop" through it, and it used to display our highest scores in the messenger, & also displayed our "friends'" highest scores if they were at a higher rank than us! Oh but that rarely happened you see! It was always either my sister or me at number ONE! I remember how irritated Ritesh (one of my old school friends) used to get... 'coz he could never beat our scores! :-D

But then the new version was released and we realized that the "Single User" section of the Games tab had been completely changed! In fact, we couldn't even access our 4 favorite games from the messenger anymore! And obviously, it stopped displaying our highest scores too... in *our* messenger window as well as *our friends'*! No way to show off anymore! We hated the new version! But eventually we had to accept whatever we got!

Not anymore though! :-D

I got the old 7.0 back! Although in my new id, it's showing my sister's name for the highest scores in all 4 games! That's because I used my old id when we played those games long back! I suppose if I sign in as "miss_teerious", it will display my high scores too! Will need to check that out... but later! Got to get ready for bed now... it's almost 11...



Update on 28th December, 2008: 9:20 am
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Duhhh! Old is now So Dead! Those game links in the messenger are now "Dead Links"! They don't lead to no games! I'm uninstalling it again & switching over to version 8.something now! Huhhhh! :-(

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Defect in Our Education System

I remember back in school, we had this subject called "Moral Studies"... where we were taught stuff like :

- Honesty is the best policy
- Practice what you preach
- Do unto others as you would like done unto you

... and other similar noble values related to stealing, jealousy, procrastination, and blah blah blah!

I will be 31 in a few days time... and at this stage of life, I'm wondering if there is any practical use of those teachings!

Everywhere I look around myself, I see deceit, liars and hypocrites! I see a complete lack of transparency and integrity! I see a world full of selfish and self-centered people!

First it was the so-called "non-living" resources of the Earth (water, land) that we started exploiting for our own selfish interests. Then we moved on to destroying the plant and animal life. We destroyed the atmosphere too, and now we are hell bent on destroying each other! And clambering over each other's limp bodies to get........ I don't know where!

Is that why God made humans... to destroy all His Creation!

I wish now that when we were having those "moral studies" lessons all those years ago, my school teachers had taught us "IMmoral studies" instead! Would have at least prepared me to handle the real world around me today!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Singhania's traditional "Aloo Jhol"

Once upon a time, when my dad's family all stayed together, in a joint-family kind of structure, and had a couple of full-time cooks at home, this particular dish was a mandatory part of the menu for dinner, E-V-E-R-Y D-A-Y!

In my almost 31 years of life on this planet, as myself, I have not seen this dish cooked at anyone else's place -- my maternal relatives, my friends, my office colleagues, NO-where! Neither has any of the other members of dad's family seen or heard of it being prepared in the household of any of their vast network of friends, family & acquaintances! As such, we all refer to it as the "Singhania's traditional 'Aloo Jhol'!"

After the family broke up into nuclear units, we stopped making this dish EVERY day, although my Grandma (dad's mom) still prefers to have it as a part of her daily routine! She has to compromise a lot obviously, but she never fails to share with us her golden reminiscences, of days when dinner would include "aloo jhol", "hari chatni", "paapad", "bhindi" & of course, "parathas"! :)

Here's the recipe, if any of my readers wanna try it out... it looks very similar to "kadhi" btw! And yeah, it tastes absolutely delicious with crunched "paapad"! The quantity in the picture below serves only 2 people -- my dad & me! Yeah... that's how crazy we are about this dish! :-p




The recipe:-

1 cup thick curd (slightly sour if possible, definitely NOT sweet!)
2 cups water
250 gm boiled potatoes (approx)
1 tsp finely chopped green chillies
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 tbsp refined cooking oil
salt, haldi powder (turmeric), red chillie powder, coriander powder, jeera (cumin seeds), powdered heeng (asofetida)

Preparation:
1. Pass the curd through a strainer so it acquires a smooth flowing consistency. Add the water to it & mix them well to maintain the consistency. (You may want to decrease/increase the amount of water in case it seems to get too watery or too viscous.)
2. Crumble the boiled potatoes into small pieces and add them to the curd-water mixture.
3. Add 1/2 tsp haldi powder and 1 tsp coriander powder to the above. No need to stir the mixture after adding these spices.

Cooking:
1. Heat the oil in a deep fry pan.
2. Add 1/2 tsp jeera to the heated oil.
3. Add a pinch of heeng and the chopped green chillies.
4. Add 1/2 tsp red chillie powder and immediately pour the contents prepared above to the oil. (You don't want the red chillie powder to become black! So timing is crucial here!)
5. KEEP STIRRING THE MIXTURE CONTINUOUSLY UNTIL IT STARTS TO BOIL, OR ELSE IT WILL CURDLE.
6. Add salt to taste (AFTER IT STARTS BOILING).
7. Let it simmer on medium-to-low flame for another 5 minutes. Keep stirring occasionally.
8. Remove from flame. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with "parathas" and crunched "paapad"!

Here's more in Recipes!


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Friday, December 12, 2008

Order in Disorder

Beds unmade, clothes strewn all over the house, kids screaming & fighting with each other, someone talking nineteen-to-a-dozen on the phone, the rest chatting with each other at the top of their voices (and believe me... members of the Singhania family have been blessed with a very loud voice!), extra cooking, extra laundry, extra all-the-usual-house-chores... and on top of it all, you end up with a severe viral infection!


Not the prefect environment to prepare for an exam, right!

From very early childhood days, even though there was never any pressure from the family, I set myself some exceptionally high standards regarding studies and exams. For me, anything below 85 is as good as fail! And the time to celebrate is only if I get over 95%!

As such, preparing for today's exam involved more of "getting-myself-mentally-ready-to-accept-a-FAIL" than just going through the course material!

Until 2 days ago, I was 100% sure that I was going to fail in this paper and that I would have to give it again a couple of months later. (For me, that's more tragic than a bad "break-off"!) But then suddenly, with a lot of Reiki from those who love me, my fever disappeared and my mind cleared enough to be able to read clearly, without the words starting a "Tango" among themselves!

By yesterday night, I started to feel that I might even be able to just make it through! The required passing percentage was 50 -- way too less than my own pass standards of 85, I agree -- but I kept repeating to myself that I must be realistic, and that I should be flexible enough to adapt myself according to the situation.

With that thought in mind, I decided to simply go and give the exam... and then leave the rest to God! In fact, all my focus had only been on getting well enough to be able to get to the exam center! Luckily, the infection didn't spread to my lungs, or else I would have been almost completely bed-ridden for at least a week, on a strong course of antibiotics! (Thanks to all that Reiki!)

I scored 76% eventually... and despite all that mental talk of being realistic and flexible etc, I am not happy. My Dad understands completely how I'm feeling today. He reminded me that I did my best in the given circumstances, and that is what matters in the end. So I shouldn't be so harsh on myself! He also reminded me that I still had 14 other exams of this course to clear, 14 other "mountains to conquer"!

Hmmmm! I wonder if I'll ever be able to make such a sensible parent!

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy 2nd Birthday!

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear "miss_teerious",
Happy birthday to you!

Happy second birthday to you... "miss_teerious"!
May you have a long and eventful life!
:-D


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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Busy Days...

Have given the first exam on the 1st of this month -- scored 96%. (Not bad eh!) I was also supposed to give an online assignment, similar to the real exam, for the same subject. The marks of the online assignment are also included in the final results, even though it is an "open book test" which can be given from home -- it's basic purpose being to serve as a practice test for the real exam. However, I have been unable to give the assignment so far due to some website issues.

After repeated emails & phone calls and threats to file complaints against the institute in the Consumer Forum (the usual "fighting for survival"), they finally managed to trace the problem as a "server overload" issue! Apparently the data for my batch & the previous batch are stored on the same server... and the previous batch students (whose program validity actually expired in July 2008) have been given one last chance to complete their pending assignments till the 31st of December! No wonder the servers are busy! I finally decided I'll give the assignments in peace starting next month only now!

Apart from this, I have been busy haggling with BSNL (read: "fighting for survival again") to get some wrong billings sorted out... amounting to approximately Rs 2900! The mammoth task stands still incomplete as I type this post! By next week... hopefully... (sigggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!)

Oh and my niece Siddhi (the one who stays in the US) is finally here... for her very first trip to India! I have been busy scouting the toy shops for something suitable for her which doesn't add bulk to their luggage either. I have also been busy shopping for my cousins Rishu & Radhika, who are coming from Guwahati (along with their parents obviously) on the 7th. They'll all be staying at my place! Will be fun!

And now for the "dessert at the end"! Today is my sweetheart's birthday! Today, my sweetheart turns TWO! He is the reason for my renewed faith in humanity... and in myself! It is only because of him that I did not give up on myself completely... only because of him that I was able to see the beauty in life again... and was able to live again! But I'm sure he will never get to know how much he means to me! Yes, there is a party tonight! :-D

Oh and tomorrow brings another birthday... tomorrow "miss_teerious" also turns TWO! I started this blog on the 4th of December 2006... never really believed I'd stick to it for so long... (I have a tendency to get bored with things very easily!) but here I am... and here it is... and we're both "still together... still going strong" (in the words of Shania Twain)!

Gotta go now... still lots of work pending (including studies)! Next paper is on 12th... best of luck Kaddu!

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