Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Have you guys heard of Buzz Bakery? Well, until recently, neither had I. A couple of our Hindi classmates brought breakfast goodies and cupcakes from Buzz and yeah, they are all pretty darn good. That’s why I’m bothering telling you so. They may just be better than Georgetown Cupcake and we know how I feel about them. And yes, I did just say that. If you don’t believe me, go try Buzz and let me know your thoughts.

Anyway, I was considering making Buzz my dirty little secret but we wouldn’t want me to be the only obscenely happy and fat person now would we, so had to share the joy.

Like Georgetown Cupcake, Buzz cupcakes are not cheap but they are sinfully delicious. Their frosting is smooth and rich and the cake moist and tasty. In the picture below you see (from top left) Chocolate Vanilla, Chocolate Mocha, Red Velvet, Gingerbread, Cookie and White Vanilla. Yum, yum, yum!


But Buzz is more than just cupcakes. They have coffee, scones, muffins, croissants, waffles, sandwiches, cakes and other baked goodies. They have two locations – the original one in Alexandria and a new one in Ballston – walking distance from the metro and conveniently, just a hop, skip and jump from FSI.

So, if you happen to be in the DC/Northern Virginia area and in desperate need of a little pick-me-up, Buzz might just be the place for you.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

South Asian Wedding Celebration

As promised, here is a long overdue Hindi related update. So Paul and I are at least knee deep in Hindi at this point and are fighting our way through the grammar as best as we can. It’s not easy but language learning is a humbling experience. You have to be OK with sounding like an idiot for quite a while. We have become really good at that.

The good news is that we had our our progress tests (evaluations) this week and were told that we are both on track to get to the 2/2 score Paul needs for his consular position in New Delhi. In case you are wondering what that score means, the first number is a speaking score and the second – a reading one. We started at 0/0 in early September and are supposed to get to 2/2 by the end of March. The top of the scale is 5/5, which is native speaker fluency. Right now we are at 1/1, which was a relief because the evaluation is not really calibrated to our current level. The format and the difficulty of the material are the same as those we’ll have at our final exam at the end of March. The only difference is that at our progress evaluations we get one less long newspaper article than we will at our final exam.

What that means is that getting through the progress evaluation was really hard, painful at times even. We know how to read but our vocabulary is very basic and newspaper articles are way out of our league right now. We can also hold basic conversations but load us up with high level vocabulary and we are lost, which is kinda what happened during the evaluation. The evaluation takes two hours – one hour for speaking and the second for reading. The speaking part has three subsections: conversation, presentation and interview. The reading part has two subsections: reading 6 small articles in 5 minutes and then discussing their gist in English and reading one longer article in 7 minutes and presenting the gist of it in English.

So, amazingly enough, we got our 1/1, which we are told is where we are supposed to be at this point, so we are thrilled. But enough about that.

More importantly, a few weeks ago we had an awesome South Asian Wedding celebration at school (The Foreign Service Institute). It was supposed to be for Dashain, Diwali and Eid (major holidays in South Asia). Three days before the party/luncheon, the management of the South Asia Language Department learned that one of our classmates, Ben, was getting married and decided to make it a wedding celebration instead. Each language group secretly prepared a little number in the language they are learning and performed it for the groom at the party. Ben had no clue what was going on and was majorly and pleasantly surprised. The teachers also performed wedding rituals from their respective countries for Ben. Of course, there was a lot of yummy South Asian food as well.

The Hindi group performed an old wedding song. Our teachers had to help us with it, of course, making sure we understood the lyrics and helping us come up with the right rad moves for the song.  It was a little strange at first - we felt silly singing in Hindi and dancing around but we quickly got into the spirit and had a great time. Our teachers felt that we had to perform the song in Indian clothes but since almost none of us had any, they let us borrow clothes from them. The boys all wore kurtas (long shirts) and the girls sarees and churidar kameez ( tunic and skinny leg pants). This was my very first time wearing a saree and I absolutely loved it.

The saree I wore was made of pink and blue silk and I thought it was gorgeous. Putting it on was a little bit of a challenge but after watching a few youtube videos, I got the basics. I put it on myself on the day of the party but many of our teachers took the opportunity to fix it, which was a good thing because putting on/wearing a saree is really more of an art. Going to the bathroom in a saree is also tricky, especially if you’ve never done it before and the saree you are wearing is amazing and very much borrowed. I am happy to report that the saree did not get soiled in the process – whew. But I digress…

Without further ado here are some pictures of the festivities:


And here is a video of the song we, Hindi students, performed for the groom:

Aaj Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai (Today Is My Friend’s Wedding)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Very Late Thanksgiving Recap

This year we spent Thanksgiving in Deep Creek, western MD. It was just us, the kids and my Mom. We stayed at the cottage of one of Paul’s brothers. We had a nice, quiet and relaxing long weekend. Since we weren’t in our home, we decided not to do much cooking, so we got a cooked turkey breast and a small ham with a bunch of sides instead. I rather liked that because we were able to spend a lot of time taking walks, naps and relaxing, which was just what the doctor ordered.

We did see a bunch of wild turkeys and deer. No bears this time but we did see a bear trap not too far from where we were staying. We also did some hiking at a state park with a bunch of beautiful waterfalls. It was a nice break from our “all Hindi all the time” routine but now we are back at it.

Speaking of Hindi – there’s a lot going on there but we are also so busy at school that I haven’t had a chance to gather my thoughts and write about it all. I will though, very soon, I promise.


Locations of visitors to this page