On Recipes Here

The food category contains recipes, and restaurant information in various cities.


Recipes listed here are mainly comfort food - things you want to eat to remind you of your childhood, that involved growing up in Bombay and Ahmedabad.

Many people complain of recipes not being reproducible - well, all the recipes here are also not capable of being reproducible - it all depends on the cook! So, these are mainly approximations, to be taken as guidelines.

What makes something comfort food? If eaten every day, would it loose that classification?

Instead of storing these on my computer, easier to store on the web, so I can search for it when I need it.

Nowadays, I can enjoy a turkey-sub with mayo, go nuts over smoked-meat in Montreal, crave good quality steak cooked medium-rare with a side of creamed spinach, and try to keep the argument between thin-crust NY pizza vs thick-crust Chicago pizza going on and on - but one does need variety, so that is when the comfort food need kicks in, and that usually involves one of the recipes listed here.

blog vs story in drupal

Why have a blog in Drupal? After all, the story node is generic enough, and for single-user sites, good enough to use story for all postings.

Still, I added the blog module to my site.

The blog is useful for dated articles - some postings only apply for a limited duration, and may not be valid after a few days or months.
Those kind of articles are better posted in a blog.

So, will be using the "story" node - article is probably a better description - for tools, travel tips, recipes, etc - things that may still be valid for months or even an year or more.
Will use the blog to post items that may be relevant only for a short while.

letter-spacing and devanagari

My Drupal theme, based on friendselectric, was messing up all the Devanagari text in headlines, and on the left-sidebar, while the postings themselves worked fine.

Turned out - the css letter-spacing changes mess up all Devanagari fonts.

Best way to handle this would be to use the :lang pseudo-class, and let the English words have modified letter-spacing, but leave Devanagari alone. But this does not yet work on all browsers - works on Mozilla (yea!), not on Microsoft Internet Explorer.

So, the fix for now, is to disable all letter-spacing changes in the theme, deleted all those lines from the friendselectric theme.

Copy video for given duration

Needed a simple script to copy video data for a fixed amount of time.

A shell script is available on ivtv driver page at Example script to schedule recordings, but wanted to do something without sending kill signals, so here's a script using the alarm signal.

Here's a perl script: timed-copy that uses an alarm signal instead of kill.

To use this, save the contents of the timed-copy link as text file, make it executable, and fix the perl path in line 1 if needed, and it is then ready to run.

I use this for capturing PVR-150 MPEG2 encoded video, by running something like this:
  timed-copy -v -m 30 < /dev/video0 > `date +%b%d-%H%M`.mpg
and scheduling this with the at command, for example:
  at -v 1:30AM Sep 14

which will end up creating a file named Sep14-0130.mpg.

Simple! Beats installing large, complex packages to do simple recordings.

Run as timed-copy -h to get help on all arguments, use -v to get verbose messages, and -v -v to get debug messages also.
Version 1.2 added a --clock option to use elapsed wall clock instead of alarm(), if needed.
Version 1.3 fixed the problem with alarm() - Time::HiRes has issues with alarm times, if the conversion to microseconds is greater than 2^32. Fix is to eliminate use of Time::HiRes, since the higher time resolution is not needed for this script, and a resolution in seconds is fine. Script now uses the default alarm() which works fine. So, the --clock option should no longer be needed.

Tested on a Fedora FC5 Linux system.

Network Monitoring - Nagios

Given the need to keep tabs on atleast three web sites, my simple scripts for handling a single site were no longer sufficient, so installed Nagios on my Linux box.

Fedora FC5 was the system, and getting the Nagios bits was pretty easy - use yum to install the following packages:
nagios.i386 2.5-2.fc5
nagios-plugins.i386 1.4.3-18.fc5
nagios-plugins-all.i386 1.4.3-18.fc5

Nagios is a pretty complex package to install, at least based on all the writeups on the web, so I made a short detour to try to install and use Zabbix. That is certainly easier to get up and running, but I am not too comfortable with UI management screens, and got stuck for too long on the configuring part - add to this the incorrect use of MBytes instead of GBytes in the disk space rows, I went back to trying to get Nagios configured.

Nagios is not too bad - in fact, for anyone comfortable with editing text config files, it is downright easy.

Within a few hours, I had all config files set right, and email notifications working.

Mainly followed the documentation that came with Nagios, and on Fedora, using the pre-packaged yum kits, here are the additional things I had to do:

Contributed Utilities

This section contains pointers to tools and utilities developed by others for use with BlockHosts.

For any questions or comments on these utilities, please contact the original author of each of these tools.


On the lookout for a good taqueria, I ate a lot of food that I would not have ordered had I known what the spanish word really meant :-)

My simple criteria for a good taqueria is that it should look clean and no open racks of unappetizing raw meats, and it should have a good selection of stuff on the side - fresh salsa, guacamole, red or green sauces, and more is always better. Surprisingly, not all places had these - for example, El Charco de las Ranas, a nice looking place, mid-range costs, did not have salsa or guacamole - I got just a tortilla with chorizo and lime - so that counts as a mediocre taqueria.

Stumbled across a fantastic place - Taqueria Los Parados, at a street corner, Baja California 110, a ten minute walk from Centro Médico metro, opens late, probably 11AM or noon. Definitely off the tourist track! This place has been running since 1965.

Taqueria Los Parados Taqueria Los Parados: Food Rating: 4 stars/4 Value Rating: 4 stars/4
It is standing-room only dining, there is a cook over a large grill, and another one next to the al pastor column of meat.

The alambre is a good choice - grilled meat, onions, pepper, and optionally a thin layer of cheese on top. They heat the cheese in small earthern pots on the grill!

This place was amazingly crowded - not sure where all the people came from in this locality! People also ordered straight to the cook, walking from one end to another, and then when full, went to cashier to pay - how can anyone keep track of what they ate???! This is normal in Mexico - some people will say you should keep track of the paper the taco is served in to add it all up at the end! No one I saw did that. So I guess it is all on the honor system here, you go around order what you need, and then tell the cashier what you ate.

Airport, Metro, and Money

The Mexico City metro is by far the most efficient metro of any city I've visited - better than ones in New York and London.
I was quite surprised to see the trains go by nearly every minute at the downtown metro stations, and even in the rush hour, I did not find it too crowded for a non-local to navigate. There is major crowd control, and one-way sections on the platform, as well as reserved carriages for women and children, which can sometimes get confusing because the signs are not always clear, but there will be a policeman to set you straight :-)

The metro is marked with the logo that looks like "m". From the Airport, if you want to take the Metro, walk to the other end of the long terminal, towards Hall A. Get out to the street, and keep walking the same direction, and you will soon come to a Metro sign, the station is Terminal Aerea. Note that there is another station called Aeropuerto, don't alight there when coming back! It will take around 15--20 minutes to walk from Hall F (international arrivals) to the metro station.

The tickets are extremely cheap - N$2 per ride. Buy a bunch, I usually budget 3 per day of stay.
Most people stay at the Zona Rosa or Zocalo, to go there, take the line 5 towards Pantitlan, and then Line 1, which goes to the Zona Rosa. You have to change to Line 2 from Line 1 to get to the Zocalo. There is a lot of information on the metro on the web.

Note that during rush hour, it will be impossible to take any luggage on the metro. Even off rush hours, it is best to use the metro only if you have small or carry-on baggage only.

Mexico City

When visiting Mexico City, bring a good pair of walking shoes. Very easy to spend hours each day exploring the streets in Mexico City.

It was ten years between my two trips here, and even now, this city continues to keep its reputation as a somewhat unsafe place for the tourist - all guidebooks warn about taxis and robbery.
My impression is that if you keep alert, take good precautions against pickpockets, nothing too extra-ordinary, everything will be just fine. The small amount of carefulness is not a high price to pay for all the things this city offers the tourist.

Food - ordinary, everyday food, including street food, is what I find most fun to explore in this city. But consult any guidebook, and there is no shortage of world-class sight-seeing activities - parks, museums, monuments.

In this section, I'll add my list of tips for the tourist in Mexico City - things that I found were not mentioned either in the tourist guide books or the web sites for Mexico City.

Zocalo I prefer the Zócalo area - Centro Histórico - to stay in Mexico City, but Zona Rosa is considered the main tourist area.
Zocalo is a great big public square, with a huge Mexican flag in the center, and number of historical buildings all around. It is easy to spend hours just exploring, one by one, each street in the area. Some are nice, clean streets, like 5 de Mayo, others are crowded, and grungy, but everything is worth seeing. It would take multiple days to cover every street just in this part of Mexico City.

Solar Energy for Lighting in India

Regions in India receive an abundance of sunlight - over 300 days on average in a year.

Solar Energy can be harnessed to provide lighting for millions of homes, and in the villages, using solar energy achieves two goals: it provides good quality, longer lasting light for the homeowner, and it helps reduce the burning of fossil fuels such as kerosene resulting in decreased green-house gas generation.

burning kerosene using solar energy

Grameen Surya Bijlee Foundation has initiated the
Dignity through Electricity Program, and has taken the lead in installing 200 systems in a village. GSBF is now looking for partners - NGOs or Individual Donors - to help spread solar energy lighting to many villages that today cannot afford to use anything other than kerosene for lighting.

Grameen Surya Bijlee Foundation (GSBF) is a non-profit Trust set-up to provide lighting and other amenities to the villages in India, using renewable energy sources.

For more information, including names and addresses of the trust management, please visit: suryabijlee.com.

Related articles:
From online edition of Indian Express Nov 27, 2005, Sunlit nights by Rituparna Bhuyan, Digital solar lamps designed by two IIT graduates have brought light to Bhairavnath Vasti in Maharashtra.