Sunday, 24 March 2013

In Memoriam

When I decided to quit my corporate job to return to student life, one of the promises I made to myself was to impose austerity measures on my lifestyle. This I decided, would not only be in keeping with the times, it would also reflect the (temporary, I hope) end of a steady stream of pounds sterling that was making its way into my bank account every month. In line with this resolution, I surrendered my work blackberry and adopted a dinosaur of a phone for my communication needs. 

My phone cost me embarrassingly little. Because it was so cheap, I could leave it lying around in public places without a care in the world, and always return to find it in exactly the spot that I left it. Thieves these days happen to be rather picky. Within my circle of friends, my phone stood out  in an elite gathering of iPhones and Samsung Galaxies, for its bulkiness and utter lack of style and elegance. On at least a couple of occasions, it was spotted on a chair or desk where I had absentmindedly abandoned it, immediately recognized as unmistakably mine, and duly returned to me.

What it lacked in beauty, it made up in utility. It gave me access to unlimited texts and calls to all US numbers, and I could even access Gmail on it. There was no data plan to worry about, no apps to fret over. Life was simple. This is not to say that I was fully content. I have a remarkably poor sense of direction, which revealed itself to me far too often as I went about making Cambridge my home. My phone was simply not smart enough to guide me as I wandered through the streets of Cambridge trying to make my way to some lost destination or other in vain. Often, I would stop passers by to seek directions, mostly without success. We are so reliant on our smartphones these days that few of us feel the need to commit directions to memory anymore. Ironically, all too often, we enslave ourselves to technology even though the relationship is meant to work the other way round.

Last week marked the passing of an era. My phone died. More accurately, it drowned. The murderer was a bottle of water which silently leaked into my bag as I ambled along to the T station with a friend. By the time realisation hit, a small river had formed in my bag, submerging my phone and other contents. The phone was the last thing on my mind, as I frantically tried to rescue my wallet and other, more precious belongings from this little flood. I had managed to dunk my phone into water a few times in the past. Each time, it survived with no complaints. I had no reason to believe that things would be different this time. Finally, as an afterthought, when I picked up my phone, I discovered that it was well and truly dead. I made a few valiant final attempts to bring it back from the land of the dead, even drying it with my hairdryer as a last resort. Nothing worked.

In the end, I made peace with the passing of my phone and replaced it with an iphone, which has so far silently ignored my attempts at friendship. I am still figuring out the mysteries of the App Store and the touchscreen keypad. It feels like I have abandoned a loyal and devoted (if somewhat bulky) spouse for a sultry mistress. 

RIP, my dinosaur.

Oven Roasted Chicken, Indian Style (serves 2 people or 1 very hungry and greedy person)   

5 chicken thighs, skinned
oil for greasing and to brush the chicken with (no more than 1 tbsp)

Marinade ingredients

1.5 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1/3 cup yoghurt
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
juice of half a lemon (optional)
1 tsp salt 

Make slashes in the chicken thighs. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a medium sized bowl with enough space to contain all the chicken pieces. Mix well. Add the chicken pieces and mix so that each of the pieces is well coated with the marinade. Leave to marinate for at least an hour, preferably longer (overnight is best!) in a covered bowl in the fridge. 

When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 450 degree F. Once hot, change the oven setting to "broil". Carefully place the chicken pieces on a greased oven rack in the second rack of the oven (avoid the middle rack and the topmost rack), brushing each piece with a few drops of oil.

Cook in the oven for roughly 10-15 minutes, checking often to prevent the chicken from burning. Once the chicken is crispy brown on one side, remove the rack from the oven, and turn the chicken pieces, once again brushing each piece with a few drops of oil. Cook for roughly another 10 minutes. The chicken pieces should now be brown and crispy on both sides. Serve with green salad or with slices of red onion and a generous wedge of lemon. 


  1. How nice to meet you and your wonderful blog- enjoyed reading your post and it so struck a chord! after years of fancy phones, I endured a dinosaur for 3 whole years until I finally caved in and bought an I-phone. I love it, but think my exercise in austerity was good for me- it builds character :)

  2. Mustard and pepper - interesting. Try with all of your ingredients but with coriander leaves and green chillies in a paste. 

    hugs from London