Posh Nosh- or just a scam?

You know when you visit some fancy restaurant and see the menu and read something like this:

Fluffed white rice with a side of hand- beaten creamy yellow lentils tempered with fragrant cumin and caramelized onions

This is nothing but dal- chaval, dear folks, just refined to make it sound pricey and special. ( Dal- chaval is plain rice and lentils, equivalent to something like baked beans on toast).

It’s not just expensive restaurants but mid- range restaurants and even small eateries that seem to be playing the same game. They just either Frenchify the name or give it some kind of new twist so we think we’re ordering something exotic. It’s ordinary food parading as haute cuisine.

I’m sure we’ve all been to those fancy restaurants – and fancy parties too- where you order something from the menu that sounds really exotic, but what you get is the same ole stuff what Mum makes at home, only Mum’s stuff is better. Like this description:

Vegan whole-wheat flatbread stuffed with a mashed potato filling flavoured with spices, cooked tenderly over a griddle until crisp, accompanied by an earthen pot of rich, creamy yoghurt and a tangy slice of mango pickle.

What is this lovely food with an exorbitant price-tag? Nothing more than aloo parantha with yoghurt and pickle, what the average Punjabi eats for breakfast on an almost daily basis.

Aloo parantha with yoghurt and pickle
Aloo parantha with its accompaniments

There’s more, much more. Have you ever had a waiter approaching you with a dish from which white smoke curls out? Quite dramatic, ain’t it? That’s nothing else but liquid nitrogen, the latest serving trend in fancy restaurants. I had some golguppas – pani puri to some of you- with swirls of smoke erupting from these bombs. I was urged to pop one into my mouth- smoke n all- and after the initial icy coldness, my mouth exploded with the tangy taste of the jaljeera. it reminded me of Enid Blyton’s “pop biscuits” in her Magic Faraway Tree series. Remember those biscuits, which grew bigger and bigger in your mouth until you almost burst, and then pop! Your mouth was filled with honey. Well, all I can say is, I prefer my golguppas the normal way, thank you very much, and don’t want to get a cold burn.

Pani puri or golguppas- typical streetfood

It’s not just Indian or Asian foods that are given all kinds of fancy terminology or strange ways of “refining” them, it’s also continental food. Have you had something freshly foraged? For heavens’ sake. that lamb or venison that you’re eating has probably come from a supermarket shelf. Nobody has gone hunting for deer or whatever in the nearby forests. The same holds for the expression “freshly picked”, as if there’s a kitchen garden at the back of the restaurant or hotel. These are merely posh-sounding terms to make you part with your precious paisa.

Another of my pet peeves is “hand-cut.” Like the other day, an upmarket restaurant advertised its hand-cut zucchini salad. C’mon, most things are cut by hand! Gimme hand-cut over machine-cut any time! But that in no way warrants the jaw-dropping prices.

I end my piece with something I truly love, but served to me in the most pretentious manner possible: Mango hedgehog. Can only be eaten with a knife and fork, or scooped out with a spoon. Here it is. Care for some?

Mango hedgehog, if you please!

Kitty parties or Catty Parties? The choice is yours…




Are you a member of a kitty? If you are, you’re lucky. If you aren’t, well, you don’t know what you’re missing.

For the uninitiated, kitty parties are peculiar to females, where the members contribute a certain sum of money to the “kitty” every month, (hence the name), and lots are drawn to see which lucky member gets the sum.

Kitties may range from a token amount, just a few hundreds, to perhaps a few thousands for those who have that kind of disposable income. Most women are in it for the fun, a chance to meet and let their hair down. The kitty money is just an added bonus, and also perhaps a way of ensuring members continue attending.   The meeting may be at a restaurant or it may be in someone’s home. Usually, the person who is getting the kitty hosts the party.

Now, kitty parties have unfairly gained a bad name and are considered frivolous and a time-waster, indulged in by women who have nothing better to do, no work to tie them down, no hobbies or pastimes; it is wrongly perceived as a gossip circle, a who-said-what-to-whom, with some backstabbing bitchiness thrown in for good measure. Not a kitty but a catty party.

I am a member of two kitties, and I can tell you, with my hand on my heart, that nothing can be further from the truth. At least, not if you don’t let it deteriorate into a no-holds-barred gossip session. And here are my reasons:

  • it’s a fun way to meet, for both working women and stay-at-homes. The kids are away in school, the husbands at work, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to get away from it all, be it housework or just plain work (if you can squeeze in a little extra time during your lunch break).
  • You learn what’s going on in town, whether it’s the latest must-see movie or a new restaurant, or even more intellectual subjects like your child’s college education or fiscal policies and politics. It’s certainly not a meeting of empty heads, talking about clothes and jewelry (altho’ those do figure in the conversation, but only sometimes).
  • Kitty money is a great bonus. Many laugh that it’s no great deal, that you’re just paying each month and not really making any money. Who cares? Usually, that lump sum you get is yours and yours alone, and you can do what you like with it – blow it up, splurge on frivolities, pay for some expensive dental treatment, or perhaps even add it to the family coffers if you so wish.
  • Some kitties include a game, and some of these games can be extremely innovative and imaginative. Research shows that games in adulthood stimulate our emotional and mental well-being.
  • And yes, a little bit of gossip never hurt anybody. We all have to admit, our ears do prick up when we hear something interesting or unsavoury. Only, it is up to us to never let this become vicious.
  • Finally, (and I say this loud and clear), we are all unabashedly carb-loving women, and kitty-lunches are usually a carboholic’s dream come true.

So, dear reader, if you are still not tempted to join a kitty after reading this blog, then all I have to say is, man, you’re missing out on something!

Until next time…


Image: courtesy economictimes.indiatimes.com



To cut a story short…

Is the short story the answer to our shorter attention-spans?

I recently attended a very interesting talk at the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature on the topic of Short Stories. Cleverly titled The Gravity of Brevity, the three speakers had a lively discussion about how the short story was making a comeback.


Here are some golden nuggets from that discussion:

*a short story leaves a punch

*short stories are for introspection

* a short story has its own physics, its own trajectory

* a short story has to be true to the reality the writer has created, and (my favorite)

*In the social media age, the short story is the golden medium.

For writers, a short story takes just as much out of a writer as writing a full-length novel. Within that limited space, every single word, every sentence, every comma and colon is important.

Having said all this, I wonder then why it is so hard to get publishers interested in short story collections?

Readers, writers, I’d love to hear your view of the short story.

Until next time….


Minnie’s Page(s) -one lonesome woman’s attempt to create that magnum opus. A site by a struggling writer for readers and writers, struggling or otherwise.

Alloo! Allo! And all that stuff – plus a bit of a rant on loneliness (as it pertains to my novel)

Hello friends!

Let me cut to the chase!

The “experts” tell me I have to blog rrrreggggularly. By that they mean, every day, every week or every other week.

Now, my question is:

  1. If I send you missives and epistles every day, every week or every other week, won’t you get bored?
  2. Do I have enough interesting material to post every week/other week?
  3. Won’t it be a bit tedious for both of us to write or receive material so predictably? I mean, the fun’s in the suddenness, ain’t it?

So, for the above reasons, don’t expect any regular-like-clockwork blogs from my side. It may be in a day, a week, a month or even longer. And phoooeyy to the experts.


The days are heating up. Unless, of course, you live in the southern hemisphere. But I still manage to go for an evening walk, and believe me it’s like walking in a sauna. I see a few brave souls also venturing out, although the population of this city has somewhat thinned, as it usually does during these summer months when everyone disappears in search of greener and cooler pastures.

Boy, I'd like to be doing this right now!
Boy, I’d like to be doing this right now!

But every evening, on my walk, I come across this sight.

Mums meet every evening

These lovely ladies are the mums of those living in the nearby apartments. They meet every evening, laugh and joke and have a good time together. And it seems each of them take it in turn to bring food for everyone. They are so friendly that when I said a hello to them, they insisted on me sharing their yummy snacks. And I never refuse a good offer.

These ladies have found a way to overcome their loneliness. Living in a foreign country, far away from everything you are familiar with, can be mind-numbingly lonely. Granted, you may be living with your son or daughter or daughter-in-law, and your grandkids. But everyone is so busy with school and work. It’s hard for the older generation to find time to enjoy themselves, but these lovely ladies have found a way out. Kudos to them

Talking of loneliness, that can happen to anyone. You may live in the most crowded of cities, you may have a million FB friends, you may not be old but younger and living with your husband/wife and kids, but it’s still possible to feel impossibly lonely. Imagine a young wife not appreciated or acknowledged by her husband or family. She may have everything- all the material comforts- but unless she is appreciated, she can feel just like a piece of furniture. And that’s just what my protagonist feels- an immense sense of loneliness and unhappiness, which drives her into doing something that is frowned upon by society.

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach
The young too feel lonely

What is that something? Well, you have to wait for my novel to find out. (Whenever it does come out!)

Now, changing the topic somewhat, there’s something else I saw on this walk which really lifted my spirits.img_7985

A community library.

We all have books we read and enjoy, but there’s just so much space to keep them. (Not everyone likes to read on kindle). So all you have to do is to place your book on this community shelf, and if you want to, take another book from it.

Nothing beats loneliness like a good book!

So, until next time…..Minnie

(Images: google pics plus blogger’s own)


Minnie’s Page(s): one lonesome woman’s attempts to write that magnum opus…. Dubai, oh Dubai!- all about setting.

Dubai oh Dubai!

A continuation of the travails and tribulations and the struggles I’m going through in my writing. These are just little hints I’m throwing along the way in an attempt to lure you into getting more interested in my novel (whenever it comes out).


Why a novelist chooses where a novelist chooses to set her or his novels

Or (to put it briefly)

Why I chose Dubai as a setting for my novel

You’ve read all that stuff about how time and place maketh a man. I mean, someone born and brought up in New York or New Delhi will be very different from someone brought up say in The People’s Republic of China. Maybe not the essence of the person, but still, the place does influence a person’s character and outlook.

Now, for my magnum opus, (and I’m keeping the name of my novel a closely guarded secret and referring to it as my M.O) I’ve chosen Dubai as the setting. Why Dubai?

Dubai Frame- Dubai’s latest surreal landmark (courtesy google images)

  1. I live here
  2. It’s peopled with many colourful characters (like all cities I hear you mutter)
  3. It’s very glittery (if you’re a first-time tourist, you’ll immediately notice the big bright lights, especially during festivals), and
  4. It’s got a vibe to it, a soul. (OK, this may be a bit of a cliché- every city has a soul I guess. But I added this bit to pump up the word count.)

Well, these are just some of the reasons I can think of. Now my M.O. has quite a few colourful characters. My protagonist is airy-headed and a bit confused but still very lovable (at least I like to think so). But her society friends are caricatures of the most stuck-up and pretentious people you can ever meet! Their only job seems to be attending parties, day and night. And after every party, they discuss everything about it- the food, the arrangements, the hostess’s clothes, the décor – just everything – threadbare. My protagonist faces them squarely, but can’t help feeling a little intimidated by them, as well as in a way emulating them. She’s in a way a poor little rich girl!

Here are some of the pretentious things about Dubai’s pretentious people;

party animals
The beautiful party animals of Dubai

…and some more

  1. A party has at least three different cuisines
  2. Dinner is served at 1 a.m.
  3. The success by which a party is measured is how late it ends
  4. The décor is sometimes ott (over the top), but the event management companies have a field day
  5. The toilet decoration is something out of a high-end glossy. (Yes, it’s lovely visiting the rest room if you’re lucky enough to be invited to one of the abodes of the rich and famous, and notice the little pansies and daisies etched on the super-soft toilet paper, all custom-made. And I think in the kids’ loo, it’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse or one of those new cartoon characters that I’m not still familiar with! Imagine what you’re using for your ..ummm- derriere!))

Well, I hope I’ve left you wondering what my M.O. is about, and panting to read it!

Do leave me with your thoughts. I’m sure some of you will disagree with what I’ve said. I’d love to hear your views.

Until next time!


Minnie’s Page(s) – one lonesome woman’s attempts at writing that magnum opus


Hello! This is Minnie Karsan, a pseudonym I am using to hide my real identity. I want to be known by my pseudonym as I – ahem- am writing a novel . And that novel is about the great, glittery city, Dubai, and the folks who live here. And it’s full of laffs. So you see why I want to use a pen name, just in case someone decides to sue me. Not that my book is about any particular individual. Still – I have to be careful!


I’m going to share with you my experiences as a writer, all the trials and tribulations we of the writing fraternity go through. So here I go….

                                                                     Editors or Creditors?!!

'Can you redo this manuscript, John, and make it less stupid?'
‘Can you redo this manuscript, John, and make it less stupid?’

Editors! They are a breed apart, and they can make you or break you. It’s so important to choose the right editor for your book, before you send it off to agents and publishers. And herein lies the rub!

Now, let me confess- my book has gone to three editors. The first time, it was a totally wrong person. She did not stick to her commitment and returned it to me after four months-  after, of course, I’d paid her money upfront. And there were just a few paras telling me in nice words how awful my novel was. At least, that’s the feeling I got.

Anyway, I worked on the it and made changes as she had suggested, and sent it along to another editor, this time from a well-known agency based in the UK. The feedback was better, but obviously my book was still not up to the mark.

I then sat down at my desk once more, despairing at my ever-expanding bottom, and got down to it for the nth time. I decided to change everything about my book, write it in the first person and make it funny. My protagonist would not be sad and serious but airy-headed and fun. I used some of the same details as in my original attempt, but literally infused it with humour. I’ve finally got it- or at least I think I have! I’ve now sent it off to yet another editor, and am waiting for her response. And this time, I was careful about who I chose.


How to choose an editor? Now there are editors, and there are editors. The main mistake I’d made (the first time) was not sending it to an editor who liked my genre (women’s fiction.) The second time, I didn’t have a choice as the agency chose the editor for me- and she was someone who wrote erotic fiction!

Now, my advice to you is don’t rush it when finding an editor. Ask a few hard questions. See what books she or he has helped an author publish. (Editors usually boast about this on their page.) If the books have been accepted by a traditional publisher, that’s a big check mark. But if all the books are self-published, I’d cast my net again.

I’ve been told to send my book to those editors who’ve been editing my favorite author’s books, books similar to mine. But that’s easier said than done. Very few authors give out the names of their editors, although you just might be lucky if you skin the acknowledgements page.

And one last word. Some editors just do not get back to you. This I experienced on more than one occasion. And I automatically thought my book was so poorly written that it did not even merit a response! Well, all I can say is, have faith in yourself and your writing. You are paying big bucks, the little nest that you’ve saved up to spend on yourself, and if an editor does not respond, it just reflects badly on his or her professionalism.

Let me get back my edited novel, and I’ll share the comments with you- warts n all! Maybe I have another big rewrite? Maybe I should abandon this work altogether and start something afresh? Dear writers, like it or not, I’m dragging you along on this journey!

I’d love to hear your comments about your editorial woes (or commendations).

Until next time…..


(Cartoons and images from Cartoonstock)