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Hibernate in Style -Winter Or Weekends

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Agree or not, aren’t we all jealous of Grisly Bear? Not because it got lucky wrestling Leonardo (or that apart), it gets to hibernate during the winter. As much as, we would all love to follow the lead, humans are not blessed that way. But, we are blessed with other fun things like – binge watching television series. When we can at least hibernate during the weekends, why not do it in style, Right?

At home, we maintain our sanity because of Netflix (doesn’t the picture explains it all). When we need our “Me Time”, we just have to call Netflix for the rescue. But yeah, after all, it’s not that easy to pick a show when Netflix spoils us silly. There have been days when, I have spent hours just adding the prospective to the list or just admiring the exhaustive list. So, here are some of my top list which has kept my sanity intact over the numerous winters and weekends.

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There is no fun in binge watching any show when the continuity is lost, so I generally pick the ones where the show has been wrapped.

Gilmore Girls: My top list for the season has to be GG, not only because it has been long completed, but also because of the Season Revival. The best part is, all the 4 revival episodes are released at once, isn’t that exciting? By the time, you complete watching all the seasons, you have more in the form of revival.

GG is extremely funny, there is never a dull moment and the best I love about the show is the dialogues. It’s hilarious, witty and refreshing. I feel happy watching the show.

Love the Mother and daughter relationship in this one, apart from other awesome things that I love.

The Good Wife: After recently winding up the show, “The Good Wife” surely deserves to be in the list. Though, 5th Season was a bit tad, they made it up in the 6th and 7th season and ended the show beautifully. Those who watch “Suits” might find little similarities but, here it is female protagonist and they always look so awesome arguing a case in the court.

Alicia Florick’s clothes are just to die for.

Downtown Abbey: If you are bored of the same American Series, here is a change for you. Downtown Abbey is a British Drama set in 1912. It is beautifully crafted essaying the different classes of society during early 1900 and how everything eventually changes.

My favorite in the show is Maggie Smith’s witty “One liners”. She is a delight to watch.

Prison Break: Apart from being a very intriguing show, it is also coming back with new season and trust me, this one is a must watch. Coming from somebody who loves her female protagonist (you must have figured that out by now), this one definitely steals the show. If, there was an award for fastest one to have complete the series in a go, I would definitely be in the running.

Michael Scofield is enough a reason to watch the series. I just want to forget the fact that he is a gay. Well, nothing wrong with being one, just that my heart refuses to accept the fact that he is, like it would make any difference.

Lost: This show takes you through such high and suddenly plunges. Wonder what were the writers thinking when they decided to introduce being in “____”, let me not spoil the fun for those who haven’t watched the show. But, it still keeps you hooked to the show and makes you think of the show every time you take a flight.

90210: Oh yes! There is a show by that name and I am yet to figure out why did they name the show in digits. I surely don’t get the connection since it’s a teenage drama. Don’t judge me, I am sure secretly everybody likes to go back to college days and relive the moments, though we were nothing like the kids in the show or I just want to believe the world is still good for my daughter’s sake (please don’t pop the bubble).

Hey, who knows if you have kids, by watching the show you would know what to expect, may be? If you don’t, it is a light-hearted series, I definitely liked it, especially the last scene.

I definitely don’t have to mention this show at all(as it is everybody’s favorite) but my conscious doesn’t let me wrap this article without the mention of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. I must have watched it at least like 10 times and I still don’t get tired of it. I still laugh at the same jokes and I still get emotional during Phoebe’s wedding and I still act like Rachel, when it comes to talking about her daughter Emma. This one is like a comfort food, you can go to it anytime and you would never be disappointed. There was a point, when I used to watch at least one episode before bed. Phew! gone are the days.

There is my favorite list, share if you have yours. More the merrier (remember not the ones which is still running). Btw, did you know, you can now download the shows from Netflix and watch it offline???

HAPPY HIBERNATING OR HAPPY BINGE WATCHING!

Lamb/Goat Curry Recipe – South Indian Style

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Let me first admit that I don’t enjoy cooking, I cook only for survival. But when I do, I have been appreciated and I would like to believe that, I can cook well. So, after the required ego boost, taking this bold step in writing my first article on South Indian Style Mutton Curry recipe (next time when I don’t get any compliments, then I would know the truth).

It’s been a tradition since childhood, that every Sunday is a non-veg day (I am sure lot of people can connect with me on this but I used to wonder why couldn’t it be every day, it took a while to understand its mainly because of health reasons). I would always be on time for lunch and eat my dinner too, all thanks to “Mutton/Chicken Curry”. Oh well, did I tell you, I am a fussy eater? No, no, not a bad eater (unfortunately I can’t fool you, weight says it all), I just don’t enjoy eating vegetarian food. So, don’t be surprised if I don’t come up with vegetarian recipe. Hence, I wanted this to be my first recipe.

Learning to cook was never a necessity, even after marriage (been fortunate that way). But then, Canada happened! Without mom and Mother-in-law, my next best option was my hubby. But, I soon realized cooking was much easier than cleaning the house or taking care of a toddler, that’s when I started showing interest in cooking without letting the hidden intentions known (well, now he will) and realized it’s not that bad. Those who are still thinking cooking is not an easy job, try this recipe out, you will surely change your mind.

Now let’s start our mutton curry adventure. Firstly, meat should be washed nicely, I follow wash-soak-rinse method (yes, I just made that up, not the process just the name).  Wash the meat with hot running water, soak it with vinegar and fresh water for about 5 min and rinse it again with cold water.

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Once the meat is washed, marinate it with salt, red chili powder and turmeric powder for about 30 min. In the meantime, prepare ginger, garlic and onion(GGO) paste for sauté. I prefer making it all fresh, the picture gives you an idea about the quantity you need to use for about 750 grams of meat. If you are good at math, multiple or divide according to the quantity of the meat. (On a side thought, don’t you think we could have just done with learning addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, wonder why were we tortured so much in the math class???? Too late, lets focus)

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Half Onion, 7 cloves of garlic, 1inch long ginger

Now, heat the cooker with little oil and add the GGO paste, fry it for about a minute, add the marinated meat and fry till it becomes dry. I prefer adding the salt in the beginning, left to you, if you want to add it now or at the end.

While the meat is getting cooked in the GGO paste, prepare your next mixture. Go easy on the chilies, we like it spicy. Make a fine paste and add the mixture to the meat in the cooker and pressure cook it till you get about 2 to 3 whistles. Voila, mutton curry is ready!

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Pic 1: Mint leaves, Cloves, Fennel, Pepper, Cardamom pods, Cinnamon, Coriander leaves and Green chilies.    Pic 2: Half Onion and half tomato. Pic 3: One table-spoon    poppy seeds Pic 4: 1 table-spoon Coriander Powder

 

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If you are wondering why aren’t you getting the whistles, remember you need to switch on the stove as well. Jokes apart, let me know if any of you get to try the recipe.

HAPPY COOKING!

Prairies to Canadian Rockies – A Road Trip

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It had to be Canadian Rockies for me to get back to writing and also, to make a debut in travel articles. Canada has so much to offer for the travel enthusiast and so far, Alberta has been my favorite of all. For those, who want to pick just one place to travel in Canada, then I would say, it definitely should be “Canadian Rockies”.

Vacation for me is not visiting a place to relax, its more to explore and carry the memories back to cherish…. only, until my next vacation, but Rockies has stayed with me for the longest time now.

I like to plan and be well prepared before exploring any new place, so here is a quick look at our itinerary:

Total Days: 9 days spread over 2 nights in Calgary, 3 nights in Banff and 3 Nights in Jasper.

Day 1: Heritage park and Calgary downtown

Day 2: Dinosaur Provincial Park

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Day 3: Banff Gondola to Sulphur mountain, Banff Cave and Basin, Bow Falls and Banff Downtown

Day 4: Lake Louise, Lake Moraine, Yoho National Park

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Lake Moraine, My favorite lake!

 

Day 5: Johnston Canyon, Sunshine Village, Vermillion Lake, Minnewanka Lake, 2 Jack Lake

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Johnston Canyon, after an exhausting trek!

 

Day 6: Bow lake, Waterfowl Lake, Mistaya Canyon, Crawford Glacier, Columbian Ice fields, Sunwapta Falls.

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Ice field Glacier, oh yeah! I can jump on the glacier too!

 

Day 7: Jasper National Park, Jasper to Dunster by Train, Jasper Downtown, Pyramid Lake

Day 8: Maligne Lake Cruise to Spirit Island, Maligne canyon, Talbot Lake, Lake Annette and lake Edith

Day 9: Athabasca Falls and a long amazing drive back to Calgary

Oh yes! We did all that and much more, that’s the beauty of the Rockies, it doesn’t let you to miss out on anything with its enticing beauty.

Best time to visit: June to early September

Where to Stay:

  1. Calgary: We stayed in Marriott, all thanks to Hubby’s points status but I would suggest in and around Downtown area.
  2. Banff: Camping has a lot of options and it needs to be booked way well in advance but if you are not for it, then I would be partial to Banff Downtown area, also because I personally like to stay in the center, which is accessible to restaurant’s and is more lively. Budget wise, Canmore is next best option but don’t go as far as Kananaskis, unless you are looking for total isolation.
  3. Jasper: We stayed in Hinton but I would suggest staying in Jasper National park. There are plenty of resorts like Pyramid Lake Resort, Bear Hill Lodge or look for Airbnb’s.

Quick Tips and Advice:

  1. Book your car well in advance and make sure to pick it up from the airport.
  2. If you have kids, carry your own car seats or ask if the car seats are included in the rental.
  3. If you have kids travelling along, then Heritage park is a must do, it’s very educational and fun at the same time.
  4. Dinosaur park is about 3 hours’ drive from Calgary but trust me, it’s well worth the drive. The drive and the scenery is completely different from what you would experience in the Rockies. This is where you get the taste of Canadian Prairies. Icing on the cake – park is UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, if ticking off the heritage site is on your check list.
  5. We did a Fossil Safari at 2pm, we thought it was perfect since you don’t have to rush if Calgary is your base location and you have enough time to explore the park on your own. My personal favorite was the Badlands.
  6. Bookings to the safari has to be done in advance, it gets filled up very soon. If you are getting that far, who would want to miss the opportunity of looking for a real Dinosaur fossil. Oh yes! You will be surprised to find a lot of them, including the nails.
  7. Dinosaur park has a lot of vicious mosquitos trying to spoil your fun, so make sure to wear loose fitted clothes covering your legs and hands. Also, don’t forget to carry your bugs repellent or leave it in the hotel, like I did!
  8. Buy the Ultimate Explorer Pass in advance, which includes Gondola ride in Banff, Ice field Parkway Glacier Adventure and Sky walk and Maligne Lake Cruise or Banff Lake Cruise. Buying the pass would definitely saves a lot of money and time of standing in queue to buy individually tickets.

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    Don’t you want to ride this bad guy?
  9. Take the Bow Valley Parkway scenic route to go to Lake Louise, it’s one of the most scenic route and probability of spotting wild life is much higher.
  10. During summer time, if Lake Louise and Lake Moraine exceeds its capacity of visitors, the park closes off the gate for the day. Also, if you want to get some good shots without anybody photo bombing, then make that extra effort to get there as early as 8 or 9am. Trust me, when I say crowd, its worse than the amount of people you see in the mall during “Black Friday” sale.
  11. Yoho National park is just around Lake Louise/Lake Moraine and its worth all your time. We stopped at every location in the park, some highlights of the park were the Spiral Tunnels, Emerald Lake, Takakkaw Falls, Wapta Falls and Lake O hara.
  12. Don’t miss the sun set in Vermillion Lake,Banff.
  13. If you want to see the Milky Way Galaxy or the Northern Lights, then head to Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park. During the summer time, daylight is up to 10pm so the best time to get there is around 8pm to experience the best of sun and stars.
  14. Book your tour to Iceland Parkway Glacier explorer tour around 2pm, if you are heading there from Banff, so that you have enough time to pull over at all the beautiful spots on the way.
  15. Canadian Rockies trip is mostly talked for its train tour, so just to feel how is it like to explore the Rockies in Train, we took the train ride from Jasper to Dunster, BC. It’s a full day activity, train leaves from Jasper Downtown in the noon and we return back to Jasper via van. I would definitely prefer road trip to Train tour, any day. Road trip is more economical and you get to explore much more places.
  16. Would I suggest the train tour to Dunster? Well, depends on time and interest.
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Vermillion Lake!

 

Where to Book:

  1. Fossil Safari, Dinosaur Provincial Park: http://www.albertaparks.ca/dinosaur/activities-events/interpretive-tour-programs/events/fossil-safari.aspx
  2. Ultimate Explorer Pass: https://www.brewster.ca/canadian-rockies-experts/, you will have to book the individual tour in advance, but in-person. So, once you are in Banff, the first thing to do is to go to the nearest Brewster office or there is one in Banff Downtown.
  3. Dunster Train Tour: https://www.getyourguide.com/jasper-l290/half-day-train-tour-from-jasper-to-dunster-t12607/
  4. Car Booking: We booked ours with www.Rentalcars.com

How early should you make all the bookings? At least 3months in advance. Remember, the park entrance in 2017 will be FREE!!!! That also means “MORE TOURIST”.

What you shouldn’t miss if you have less time or want to have more relaxed vacation

  1. Dinosaur Provincial Park
  2. Banff Gondola
  3. Lake Louise and Lake Moraine
  4. Iceland Parkway Glacier Adventure and Skywalk
  5. Maligne Lake Cruise to Spirit Island
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Maligne Lake Cruise

 

Recommended Hikes with Kids

  1. Johnston Canyon: Easy if you are just going to the first look out point and moderate if you decide to go further.
  2. Sunshine Village:
  3. Bow Falls: Hike around Bow Falls is easy
  4. Maligne Canyon: Moderate but gorgeous
  5. Athabasca Canyon: Easy
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This is how we trek!

 

What we missed that we regret?

Booking the bus ride (like, one year in advance) to Lake O’Hara, this is highly recommended for Hiking and camping but watch out for BEARS!

ROCK THE ROCKIES ROAD TRIP!

To Ask Or Not To Ask

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Don’t be misled by the title, it’s not an article on office dating. I am keeping my articles strictly professional, for now.

The catch 22 situation in any interview for a candidate is to know when to discuss about pay scale.  Let me lay down situations when, this question can be asked or how to understand the scenario about the pay offered.

Fresh Job Seekers

Although most hiring managers say, it’s ok to ask about the pay scale, there are some conventional managers who think otherwise. So why take chances, do some research yourself.

  • If you are attending an interview in a company where your seniors are already working, ask them instead of the recruiter.
  • Ask questions when the company comes for pre placement talks, if they don’t mention about the pay scale in their presentation, instead of asking them during an interview.
  • If the company is a top pay master, then they assume that you have already done your research. So, don’t disappoint them.
  • Remember, making it to the corporate world should be your main priority, unless you have multiple job offers and your decision depends on the pay scale (I would say, that’s a bad way to choose between companies).

Experienced Professionals

In case of experienced professionals, it’s very obvious that most of them are scouting for new jobs mainly because of pay (horrible bosses being next in the list), so, you have an edge when it comes to discussing the pay scale. But again, don’t jump the gun, gauge the situation.

  • Mostly recruiters will ask for your expected salary, if they have a strict budget, so they know if they can afford you.
  • Avoid asking the pay scale if the recruiter has already asked you for your current salary package, it’s obvious that you are expecting more than the current salary.
  • If the above situations don’t arise, it’s ok to ask the recruiter during your telephonic discussion. However, check if it was not mentioned in the Job description or the Job positing.
  • If the role is more appealing and there has been no discussion about the pay scale, then popping the salary question during the second round of an interview is a good option.

Gentle way of asking about the pay scale:

  • “Do you have a budget for this role?”
  • What is the pay range for this position?
  • Are you planning on paying me at all???? Just kidding, don’t try this stunt. Think of different ways to put it across.

Everybody works for money; you earn it if you are worth it.

 

Ice Breaker Question

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Tell me about yourself – The well-known ice breaker question in an interview. Over the years, recruiters have tweaked the way they put it across but, the answer remains the same. Since many friends and acquaintances have asked me for the right answer, here is what I think.

Like they say, there is never a right or wrong answer in an interview; it’s just how convincing you are. I generally use this as a warm-up question before switching to a marathon with the candidate. All I intend to know is how well candidates present themselves and are they prepared for this “So very obvious” question in the interview.

So, here is what I expect from a candidate to this warm-up question:

For new job seekers-

  • Start with your educational background (Yes, not your name). This tells the interviewer, you have the required qualification for the job you have applied. Also, mention about relevant certificates you have acquired.
  • Then, take them through your curriculum related projects/internships. Give more information about your latest or most relevant project/internship matching the job description for which you are being interviewed.
  • Tell the interviewer, why you think you are a good fit for the job and what really interests you about the job profile. This tells the interviewer, you have done your homework. If you are wondering if you should talk about your personal life, then my answer would be a big “NO”. Some curious HR’s (that I was once) might ask personal questions, which is strangely considered absolutely normal in India. Good luck with that!

Eg: I am a computer science engineer from so and so college. As part of my curriculum, I did a project in or did my internship with so and so company. Talk a little more about the project/internship. Conclude by telling them, why you would be a good fit for the job.

For experienced job seekers-

  • Start with giving the interviewer an overview of your experience, followed by your educational background.
  • Then, talk about your recent job more in detail and conclude with why you would be a good fit for the job and what values you could add if you are hired.

Eg: I have over 5+ years of experience as a Dot net developer. After graduating as an engineer, I started my career with ‘n’ company and worked there for ‘m’ no of years etc.

This might seem like a very easy question, but remember, you are being judged and the rest of the interview will depend on this one simple question. So be prepared, write down and practice it. Also, remember to keep it short and informative but not too short. You can limit your answer for about 2min or so.

Of course, things have changed and so is the interviewing style. This might not even be too relevant these days. But, I would love to know if it’s still practiced, if it is, here are some tips for you.

Resume: Foundation To a Successful Career

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Resume is a tool that best expresses you and helps build the foundation to a successful career. Stronger the expression of you, greater is your chances to get selected for an interview. Always remember, it represents the brand “YOU” so, ensure it has all the right elements.

Template: Template is the visual structure of a resume; choose a template which does not need constant formatting. My Personal favourite is below; there are quite a few on google. Avoid using tables in your resume, it looks chaotic. Also, when you upload a resume with tables on job portals, it completely changes the formatting. Instead, use columns.For Blog

Font Style: Font style is an important resume aesthetic, choose a legible and professional style. My preferred font styles are Times New Roman (11), Calibri (11) and Arial (10).

Resume Format: Creativity is the key for making sure your resume stands out. However, if creativity is not one of your assets then stick to the conventional resume formats.

  • Start with the most important information: your name, address and contact details. Centre align the information and ensure to bold and capitalize your name or you can use the format shown above.
  • Objective or work summary: For fresh graduates, state your career objective and ensure it complies with the job you are applying for (not more than 3 lines and keep it simple). For experienced professionals, objective is just a waste of space; instead give a brief about your experience.
  • Skill sets: For fresh graduates, list the keywords and specific skillsets that pertain to the job you are applying (only the ones that you have). For experienced professionals, list the skill sets that pertain to your job and the industry
  • Job Experience:
    • Start with listing the Title/position, name of the employers and date of employment (left aligned);
    • For fresh graduates, list the latest academic required projects you worked on or internships. For experienced professionals, start with your current job or the most recent one;
    • Try to list all the accomplishments of your work/projects than, just listing the responsibilities;
    • Use bullet points while listing your accomplishments/responsibilities, it makes more impact in the way it looks.
  • Education: Start with the most recent qualification, with all the dates and location.
  • Achievements: You can either list all the relevant awards you have received or relevant certifications.

Things to Remember:

  • Resume is not your autobiography, so keep it short (not more than a page for fresh graduates and for experienced professionals, limit it to 2 or 3 pages);
  • Maintain a uniform font style;
  • Your favourite colour could be red, pink or blue but, your resume should always be in black;
  • Bold the headings and increase the font size to 14(e.g.; Name, skills, professional experience);
  • Check spellings and grammar more than a few times;
  • Pay attention to the look and lingo of your resume;
  • Description of your current job should always be in “present tense” and past jobs in “past tense”;
  • Use justify text option in the resume for paragraphs, it gives a clean look along the left and right side of the page;

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  • Do not copy and paste it from others, even if you do so, know exactly what you have written;
  • Avoid using text highlighters; rather than catching the recruiter’s attention it will make your resume look too sloppy. Instead, italicize the text or underline it;
  • Most importantly, highlight past jobs that are most relevant to the current job profile you are applying for;
  • Finally, while printing your resume select white, A4 size, well-weighted paper with the right texture. Resume paper is a very important aspect of presentation.

Appearance Matters in a Job Interview

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Like it or not, a lot of importance is given to a candidate’s appearance in an interview. Yes, even if the interview is not for a modelling assignment or for the fashion industry. So, dress right!

Be prepared and know the Company: It’s very important to understand the culture of the company before you decide WHAT TO WEAR? So, do your research and understand the dynamics of the company. Yes, it’s ok to ask an HR representative if the interview process is going to be very structured and formal or more on the casual discussion.

Choice of Color: Play it safe and stick to pastel shades. For men, if you decide to wear just trousers and shirt, then stick to light coloured shirts and dark trousers. If you decide on wearing a suit, then choose the right shirt to compliment the color of the suit.

For entry level and non-managerial roles, I would say just trousers and shirt with or without a tie will do the trick. For managerial and senior roles, just go with the suit (stick to black, blue and grey) and don’t even think of any other options.

For women, don’t get carried away with the many choices you have. Pastel shades rule the choice of colour in the interview, whether you decide on wearing a dress, a pencil skirt or trousers (Cotton saree or salwar suit in India). Having said that, a black or dark coloured (not bright) formal dress could be an exception.

Hair Style: Men, you are so lucky! You don’t have to bother too much here, unless you have long hair.

For Women, don’t pick hair styles that would bother you during your interview, where you have to constantly keep putting that one strand of hair behind your ear or move it away from your eyes.

Pick the Right Shoes: Don’t think too much and keep it simple, black formal polished and clean shoes are a saviour!

Makeup: Men, feel free to skip this part. Women, keep it light and not too bright.

Accessories: Avoid anything that jingles and distracts the interviewer’s attention. Frankly, avoid accessorizing too much.

Fragrance: Smell good but do not overdo it and drench yourself in perfume. Also, make sure if the company is a scent free zone, GOOD or BAD.

Dragon breath is a BIG NO!