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Tasting Bollywood: Films that Inspired What I Ate In India

30 Jan

Do you ever find yourself wanting to be like a character you’ve seen in a film? Of course you do! You know you want to shake it like Pinky. But do you ever find yourself wanting to eat like them? I sure do!

I love food. I also love films. What do you get when you combine the two? My constant desire to eat the foods I’ve seen on screen. You must know the feeling – if you’ve seen the movie Chef, specifically the grilled cheese scene in the movie Chef, then you’ll understand what I’m talking about! I tend to make mental notes of the treats featured in films only to later enjoy the real deal. I’m not kidding; immediately after watching The Avengers I ran around the city looking for shwarma. When it comes to Bollywood, my film-food obsession is just as strong. This summer, as I took my first trip to India to attend a friend’s wedding I received  (and googled) a lot of advice on what I should see, do and most importantly, eat. While I got some great insider tips, my gastronomic experience was most heavily influenced by my incessant movie watching and the delicious foods of Bollywood. Below is a list of the films (and their foods) that shaped my culinary journey.

#1. The Inspiration: Band Baajaa Baaraat. The Food: Bread Pakora

Being a huge Ranveer Singh fan I have seen his debut film quite a few times. Maybe I watched it when I was particular hungry but the scene in which Bittoo and Shruti discuss her business venture over bread pakoras was stuck in my head after first viewing. To be honest with you, I didn’t even know what a bread pakora was but I knew it involved two things that I loved: bread and fried things! I don’t eat too may treats like this anymore but like we all know, it’s all about balance! So a bread pakora here and there is ok. Lucky for me, these items were on the menu at my friend Shivani’s sangeet. I had one – or two – and now I can’t watch this scene without feeling major hunger pangs. See for yourself:

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High Brow vs. Low Brow: How Deepika Padukone’s Eyebrows Made Her a Star

30 Dec

Deepika Padukone is one of, if not THE most in demand Bollywood heroine of recent times. She debuted in 2007’s Om Shanti Om (one of my personal favorites!) opposite none other  than megastar Shah Rukh Khan. She had steady work in the years that followed but many – including Deepika – would agree that her breakthrough role came in 2012’s Cocktail. Playing the role of the beautiful and super effed up Veronica, she was edgy, sexy and really showed off her acting chops. Fast forward to 2014 and Deepika has taken over – she’s everywhere! A slew of endorsements, international appearances, the SLAM tour (which I totally regret not attending) and the box office breaking Happy New Year where she was paired with King Khan once again. So what is it about Deepika that makes her such a draw? She’s beautiful,talented, humble – all the makings of the perfect Bollywood superstar. But even with all that appeal, I would argue that what has made Deepika Padukone a true star are her eyebrows.

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Get those awards, girl!

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It Happened to Me: I’m Fat, Love to Dance and it Blows Peoples’ Minds!

19 Feb

I love to dance. I also love to eat. What happens when you combine these two things? A fat dancing queen. Which is exactly what I am. I love to bust a move when given the chance whether it means I’m doing a not-so-subtle two step down the cereal isle at the grocery store or workin’ it like it’s my job at Zumba. Some of the best times I can remember have involved me listening to the jams of my choice and breaking it down with friends (including ones I arrived at the scene with or new ones I made on the dance floor). So why am I telling you this? Well, for starters I was moved by some reaction pieces to an article recently posted on XOJane entitled ‘It Happened to Me: There Are No Black People In My Yoga Classes and I’m Suddenly Feeling Uncomfortable With It” In the article, the writer (a thin, white woman) explains her reaction to, for the first time, having a curvacious black woman in her class. I don’t go into details about what she says because, quite honestly, it gives me a headache. What I do want to go into, however, is a reaction piece I read. In “I’m a Big Black Girl Around Small White People and I’m Suddenly Feeling Uncomfortable With It: My Response to xoJane,” writer CeCe Olisa discuses her experience in a mostly white yoga class. What jumped out at me in the article was the expectation that, because she was larger, she wouldn’t be able to do the poses and that when she did she was greeted with praise because she defied the expectation. Being a larger lady myself, I can relate to CeCe’s experience quite a bit.

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Tips for Online Dating: Be Patient!

4 Feb

I know in this fast paced world people want and expect answers now now NOW! But when it comes to dating, you have to be a little patient. Why? Well because you can’t have everything you want when you want it, Varuca Salt! Also because when you’re trying to cultivate a relationship with another person you have to understand that everyone is on a different time table and may not be able to answer you right away. This is something I, myself find very difficult. If it takes too long for someone to answer my text I freak out internally thinking they have realized they don’t want to date me anymore and obviously hate me. I am constantly talking myself down from the cliff of insanity by reminding myself that people are busy and that, I too,  sometimes take a while to respond. Understanding this is important in order to convey to your potential partner that you can be accommodating and that you respect their time. These are great qualities in a mate – and none of the men I have been speaking to have it.

Recently I have been back on OKCupid because I a) secretly hate myself and because b) my fantasy of meeting someone without putting any effort in whatsoever is seeming less promising as of late. I started talking to this one guy who was a Bruce Springsteen fan (Yes!) He used our mutual affection for the boss as an ice breaker – smart move. I was excited to chat with someone who I might have something in common with until he revealed his lack of patience. I answered his first question only to check my inbox and see 8 more messages sent in a row – each another question. I get it, you’re inquisitive, you want to know more about me but give me a chance to answer! When I joked about his online interrogation (obviously I didn’t use that word) he said, simply, that I was taking too long to answer. Oh, I’m sorry! I’m sorry that I have a JOB and can’t sit on OKCupid all day long to answer your questions the SECOND they pop into my inbox. Also if I am taking a long time to answer why are you sending me MORE questions? Wouldn’t that mean that, logically, I would take even LONGER to answer because your messages are clogging up my inbox creating a never ending stream of messages that I must answer one by one? Maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal but I admit to having some anger issues so long story short, I was annoyed.

Now take for instance this lovely gentleman. This man thought I was the bees knees and was very open about telling me about it. Call me crazy but if a dude goes out of his way to tell you you’re pretty (even if he’s lying) I think that’s pretty sweet. What’s not sweet is them getting angry at you when you refuse to call them RIGHT THAT SECOND or respond to their questions right that second. This guy got a little mad.

Why do I feel like he's yelling at me?!

Why do I feel like he’s yelling at me?!

Now call me crazy but this doesn’t seem like the best approach now does it? I get it, you want instant gratification but if you do want to get to know me (which I genuinely suspect you do not) then wouldn’t you want to.. I don’t know… take it down a few notches? We’re all a little crazy in our own ways. We want things when and how we want them but the only way we ever hope to avoid living alone with 40 cats is to be aware that our needs cannot be met instantaneously. So gentlemen (and ladies) if you’re fishing for a new boo you’ve got to give it time. And give them time. Otherwise you look nuts. And a little mean.

Danny Castellano From The Mindy Project is My Ideal Man. Here’s Why.

23 Jan

After being pressured by what seemed like everyone I’ve ever known, I started watching The Mindy Project. I wasn’t actively avoiding the show but my newfound obsession with Netflix has left me a little out of sorts when it comes to real-time episodic TV. I always forget when shows are on, or what channel so I just give up and binge watch other shows that have already been on for 5 seasons AND I HAVE TO CATCH UP LIKE NOW, OK?! I’d seen the pilot episode of The Mindy Project but soon after fell into a deep obsession with Breaking Bad and basically removed myself from my own life so I could finish it. Luckily for me, my BFF Valeria is always looking out for me so when she gently nudged me watch it again, I obliged.

Before we go on I should mention that, for about 10 years, I have had a crush on Chris Messina. Ever since he played Ted on Six Feet Under (which now looking back I was probably too young to watch) I have been swooning over him. He’s one of those actors that seems to be in EVERYTHING but isn’t famous enough to be plastered all over Us Weekly – which I love. For me, Chris Messina and Mindy’s adorable nature (and killer wardrobe) were big draws so I started watching online. Now that I have several episodes under my belt, naturally, I’m into the whole Mindy/Danny “are they or aren’t they?” story line. Why? Because the studly New Yorker with a bad attitude, otherwise known as Danny Castellano, is my perfect man. He has all the elements that make for my ultimate ideal life partner. They are listed below:

He loves Bruce Springsteen.
Why is this important? Well… if you’re even questioning why this is important I already know that you have the emotional depth of a potted plant so feel free to see yourself out! If you’re familiar with Springsteen’s music you know how poetic and emotional it truly is. A lot of folks (and I’m talking to the young folks here) seem to have this image of a tight- jean-wearing Springsteen dancing with Courtney Cox seared into their memory and base their opinions of him and his music solely on that. I’ll admit those jeans and those dance moves maybe weren’t the best of times in the Springsteen universe but have you ever actually listened to the lyrics of ‘Dancing in the Dark’? That song is about pain, it’s about introspection, it’s about being fed up with what life has handed to you. That is what Springsteen is about. A man who loves music that is that poetically angst-y has to have the emotional intelligence to understand all of the feelings being expressed in those songs; they have to understand what it’s like to struggle, to question themselves, to care and to feel pain so deeply that they want to “take a knife and rip this pain from [their] heart” (see: Promised Land from Darkness on the Edge of Town). And we know that Danny understands pain – he was abandoned by his father and practically raised his little brother. Which leads me to reason #2.

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He’s a family man
Though Mr. Castellano’s sharp judgments and even sharper tongue might have you peg him as a loner, but there is a warm heart that beats underneath that icy shell of a man as proven by his role as loving and accepting older brother. As I mentioned in the Danny Castellano Canon of The Mindy Project, his father ditched when he was a kid, leaving his mother to work multiple jobs and Danny to raise his younger brother, Richie. Soon after meeting him, we find out that Richie is gay, and perhaps because Danny seems, at times, a little overly “macho” the other characters believe that a) he doesn’t know and that b) he would be shocked and/or disappointed by the revelation – and that’s where they’d be wrong. Danny is macho but he’s secure enough in his macho-ness to love and support his brother for who he is. Which, in a word, is awesome.

He can dance.
I cannot express how much I LOVE that this dude can dance. I don’t consider myself a good dance but nevertheless I love to break it down from time to time and when I do, I am constantly shocked and saddened by the lack of men on the dance floor. Yes, you’re men and yes, you’re allowed to dance! This is why I love Bollywood – I love watching men dance! American men do not break it down nearly enough for my personal liking but lucky for us, Danny Castellano is not afraid to show off his moves after studying an Aaliyah video on YouTube for what I can only assume were countless hours. He quite literally gave someone the gift of dance! Bravo, Danny! Show ‘em how it’s done.

He’s a Doctor.
I just put this one down for my mom. Because if I can’t marry a Jewish doctor, any doctor will do – even if it’s a doctor for lady parts. I was going to make a joke here but I’ll just quit while I’m ahead. Use your imagination.

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He wears baseball shirts.
Ok this one is kind of stupid, but I have a thing for baseball shirts. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of some olden time in America when girls were girls and men were men… wait, that’s the theme song to All in the Family… but you get what I’m saying.  Baseball shirts are a solid throwback piece that don’t feel hipster-y or try-hard. And they’re playful; they gives off a kind of boyish charm – even when you’re wearing one at 38.  And when fitted well you can see some nice chest action. But perhaps the most important reason I love baseball shirt is that they remind me of Benny “The Jet” Rodriquez from the Sandlot  who, if you remember clearly, was a total babe. Basically this is all to say: carry on, Danny! I like your style.

He’s a man, not a bro.
What exactly do I mean by this? Well from what I’ve gathered, he is a man who is firmly planted in his masculinity. He seems like the kind of guy who protects his lady (a la the whole “stay in the car!” scenario from last week’s episode) but isn’t possessive of his lady – you feel me? He wouldn’t be texting you every five minutes asking “where are you?” because he’s not an insecure little boy pretending to be a man. He is a man who knows that his lady (in this scenario, me!) is only ever at 1 of 4 places: work, Sephora, CVS and my house! Plus Danny’s judgmental nature makes me wonder if he thinks texting is stupid. He probably does. Oh, and another thing, he appreciates women for being women! Ok so you have a little back fat and your boobs aren’t exactly symmetrical- he’s cool with it! In the words of Dr. Castellano “you’re a woman, look like a woman.”

Underneath that scowl, he’s a good guy.
He’s not a bad dude – he’s just from New York! We’re all a bit prickly. You would be too if you ever had to try and get on an express train from Times Square during rush hour.  But Danny, just like the perfect New York bagel, is tough on the outside but all warm and fluffy inside. Sure, he might have threatened to punch someone in the face more than a few times but he’s also not afraid to tell you when he needs emotional support – or a ride because he got lost in the desert. He’s snarky but he’s also sincere, and when the time is right he’ll make his feelings known. PLUS HE LOOKS JUST LIKE CHRIS MESSINA.

So there you have it, Danny Castellano is my perfect man. Now if I could just find someone like him that isn’t a fictional character I would be golden!

The “I Still Live at Home Because Lipsticks” Challenge: Days 3-7

16 Jan

I am doing it! I am really doing it. But posting every day seems a little silly so from now on I will post once week and discuss my (hopefully) successful week in lipstick wearing.

These past few days I went for more subtle colors. On Saturday, I wore Kat Von D’s Painted Love Lipstick in Love Craft. This is a go-to for me after I went to Sephora and asked my friend to find me a color that looked like “my lips at this exact moment.” You know how, sometimes, your lips just miraculously look great without any color on them? For me it happens like once a year so I wanted to capture the moment and find what the makeup ladies call the “My Lips But Better” lipstick. My buddy found this one for me and I love it. It’s described as a berry beige but on me it’s more of a muted pink.

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I buy Kat Von D products because it makes me feel like a badass.

It’s matte, looks natural and adds a little color to my face so I don’t look like the washed out zombie that I am when I first wake up. Score!

Before I continue, I would like to point out that one positive thing about being a makeup hoarder is that every now and then, you get something for free! MAC has the “Back to MAC” program where you can redeem 6 empty MAC products for a free lipstick. Now of course in actuality you paid for this “free” item 6 times over (hence the 3 empty containers) but it’s still exciting to get a treat just for trading in your trash (or an empty mac container you found on the street – true story). I would also like to add that it took me about 4 years to get 6 empty containers so I savored the moment. With some advice from my fashionable friend, Briana, I bought Mehr. Unfortunately Mehr happens to be part of the “Middle Eastern Collection” which, to me, just SCREAMS cultural appropriation. I am not about that life but I didn’t know that it was part of the line at the time so don’t hold it against me. This one is a “dirty blue pink” – whatever the hell that means. It’s a matte one, and y’all know I love my mattes! I like the look but more importantly I like FEELING. I like knowing that I have lipstick on so I don’t chew on my lips which is something I tend to do absentmindedly. The smoother lipsticks don’t last very long on me because apparently I like to eat my own face.

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What exactly makes this “dirty”?

Minus the slight cultural insensitivity, this one is a winner! Just in case you were wondering, the other colors in this line have names like “Tabla” and “Yash” which are actually Indian words/names. Indian, you know, as in NOT the Middle East. Ok well maybe they can get away with “Tabla” because it comes from the Arabic word “tabl” and… ok why am I defending this? The line is a bad idea! Oh, MAC.

Are you guys bored yet? Me too. But let’s press on, shall we? Ok so Monday I wore Syrup by Mac. This one does not have an offensive name which is great but didn’t last very long, which is not so great.  This one is SUPER smooth and makes me forget I have lipstick on. For a normal person that’s a good thing but for me it means I can rub my hands all over my face and chew on my lips and make it disappear. Oh well. It was nice while it lasted. This one is a sheer pink with a purple tone. I like purple. I don’t know why. If I can figure out a way to stop ingesting it, I think I’ll use it more often

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This one is called syrup… maybe that’s why I kept eating it.

Tuesday was the wild card! Technically this wasn’t a lipstick but since it was a lip color I figured it still counted as part of the experiment. Plus, I only recently bought it so in order to not feel like the biggest money waster that ever wasted money, I used it. My bff and co-blogger Valeria has been singing the praises of Lush for years but I ignored her. Partially because I thought Lush was for hippies and partially because I had this sneaking suspicion that if I ever purchased any of their products I would be hooked. Well, I was right. Total hippie store with hippie products and totally addictive! Once I upgraded my skincare (which was 100% necessary) I bought the ‘It Started With a Kiss’ lip tint… because it kind of reminds me of the Killers’ song Mr. Brightside. Whatever! I wanted it, ok?! And I like it. It’s easy to use, gives a natural flush and it stains the lips as opposed to just sitting on top so even when I’m drinking my morning (afternoon… and late afternoon) coffees, it doesn’t come off. Yay Lush! You money swallowing bastards.

I feel like that the title of this lip stain is teasing me about being single. RUDE.

I feel like that the title of this lip stain is teasing me about being single. RUDE.

Wednesday.. well Wednesday I just wore syrup again. Thinking about how you think is hard work, guys! And I don’t think it’s work I’m cut out for. I mean, have you ever seen my hair? I’ll give myself a break, though, because lipsticks are meant to be used more than once, right? Plus doing this whole thing has allowed me to rediscover some colors I didn’t even know I had – kind of like shopping in your own closet and finding that awesome New Kids on the Block shirt you didn’t know you had. Oh wait, am I the only one that has a New Kids on the Block shirt? And it’s not awesome? Oh…

Powering through! Week 2 here I come!

The “I Still Live At Home Because Lipticks” Challenge: Day 2

11 Jan

Day 2 and going strong! I decided to use one of my stranger lipsticks – RiRi Hearts MAC in the color Heaux. Now what makes this lipstick so weird is that a) I don’t even like Rihanna and b) the name is pronounced “hoe” as in… well you know. I cant help but think of the Ludacris song when I put it on. But, nevertheless, I went for it. I knew I had a concert in the evening (Jake Bugg! Woo hoo!) and thought it would be right for the occasion.

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I realized my lipstick matched the wine and wasn’t sure how I felt about it.

“Heaux” is described as a “matte berry” – it is definitely matte (which I love) but I would say it comes out as more of a fuchsia berry on me. This one lasted for a while though I took it for in the afternoon so I could obsessively kiss my baby nephews little head. It doesn’t feel too dry for a matte color which is nice because some matte lipsticks can feel you ate a box of chalk. It also leaves a nice stain on your lips even after you take it off. RiRi, you did good.