“If you’re not trying to make something better
Then as far as I can tell
You are just in the way.”
— Ani DiFranco
Many people tell me they love the “Related Recommendations” part of my blog posts, where I list books, films, music and more connected to the main post. For a change, I’m bypassing the post itself and jumping straight into some of my current favourites.
1. Something fun
Books from my childhood have resurfaced with force. The BBC are doing Christmas two-part specials based on Agatha Christie mysteries. Christie is also getting big screen love with a new Murder on the Orient Express out last month.
While Christie’s stories have a timeless appeal, I was more surprised to see Enid Blyton’s Famous Five on display at every bookshop in London. On closer inspection – because the illustration and language/tone has been kept the same – I saw that these spoof ones had titles such as Five go Gluten Free, Five Give up the Booze and Five on Brexit Island. Ha ha! It’s comforting to realise that with imagination and a little repurposing, everything old can be made new again.
2. Something diverting
I used to think this new-ish trend of “colouring books for adults” was faintly preposterous – until I picked up a box of Johanna Basford’s postcards, inspired by her popular books. It requires some attention but no skill, so it’s an unexpectedly soothing way to spend (or, indeed, create) a bit of downtime.
3. Something inspiring
I heard Shonda Rhimes being interviewed on Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast, where she discussed her year-long experiment to say yes to all that scared her. This led me to read her memoir, Year of Yes, which made me both laugh out loud and cry (as in: I had to wipe away real tears for both).
There are books out there titled What Would Audrey Do? which, I believe, offer ways of conducting oneself as Audrey Hepburn may have done. As elegant and charming as Ms Hepburn was, I found the idea ridiculous. Now, however, I find myself asking: what would Shonda do? And no, not just because she is a fellow Ivy League graduate woman of colour working in film and television, but because she’s extraordinarily brave, clever, funny, real and kind. Now that’s inspiring.
4. Something gripping
This two-part episode (#102 and #103, titled Long Distance) of the Reply All podcast is crazy engaging. It starts when one of the hosts gets a call from someone claiming to be an Apple technician who tells him his computer has been hacked. Where it goes from there made me stay up late to hear the whole journey. It helps that the host blunders his way through this real-life story, his naïve fearlessness encouraged by his lack of expertise.
5. Something tasty
I eat a lot of eggs and thought I knew all the ways of preparing one – hard boil, soft boil, fried, scrambled, omelette, poached. So I was amazed to discover a new way of having them: cloud eggs. They are an ancient French recipe but made newly popular on social media. So for everyone on Instagram (i.e. the world except me) this is probably old news.
Here’s how it’s made:
- Separate the white and the yolk (if making multiples, you can whisk all the whites together, but keep the yolks separate). I use an empty plastic bottle to lift and transfer the yolk (as above).
- Whisk the egg white in a large bowl (large bowl is important to let as much air get in as possible) until you get stiff peaks. I used a balloon whisk and a light hand; it took a few minutes.
- Add a pinch of salt and anything else you like, such as grated cheese. Fold in and mix.
- Arrange on a greased oven tray, keeping it fluffy with a cavity in the middle.
- Bake on 180C (350F) for about 3 minutes or until the tops go a bit golden.
- Take out of the oven and place the yolk in its centre.
- Put back into the oven and bake for another 3 minutes.
- Remove and taa-daa! You have your cloud with the sun in the middle. Serve with chives or anything else you like.
Confession: it took me a few attempts to get the hang of it. I didn’t whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks the first time – disaster. The next time I didn’t arrange it artfully on the baking tray – sigh. Still, it was a random fun experiment to conquer, and even the less picturesque ones were delicious.
6. Something cool
Kaalakaandi will be releasing in theatres on 12 January 2018. It’s a film hugely close to my heart, and not just because I worked on it for more than a year. It’s the directorial debut of Akshat Verma (who had written the cult and commercial hit Delhi Belly) and stars Saif Ali Khan, Vijay Raaz, Deepak Dobriyal, Sobhita Dhulipala, Kunaal Roy Kapur, and more. Here’s the trailer:
“You’ll never get anywhere if you go about what-iffing like that.” — from Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
Join the joy ride!