There are a few things all Indians are resigned to.

Unruly traffic.Noise.Hawkers,Flooding.Crowds.

And most of all,the endless ,chaotic,mind numbing process of getting anything that requires you to involve a Government office done.6 trips to the passport office,8 to the bank,numerous others to get affidavits,stamps,notary stamps,and what have you,thousands of rupees,plus endless hours of standing in line for multiple days just so your passport can now include your husband’s name(misspelt) is,to an Indian,just how it is.Normal.Usual.Regular.How else could it be?

Well.THIS is how different,and so much more convenient it could be,if only,we stopped listening to our self styled Godmen insisting on us procreating more than we can really afford.(Long theory about too many people making efficiency impossible etc.)

Cut to this tiny,hot island of efficiency and convenience.

There was the small matter getting the Ministry of Manpower to endorse my visa…….

On my chosen day of appointment,me and the husband took one look outside the window,and decided there was no way we were risking our passports and emigration cards in the torrential rain,therefore,booking a cab would be the smartest thing we would do all day.We turned up exactly at 8.35 am for an appointment scheduled for 9.30.

So,okay,I thought to myself…..I am well prepared.I m no novice to the world of getting official documentation done.

Bottle of water,check,snacks to last till the end of the world and back,check,a healthy collection of 86 epubs on the tablet to keep me busy till kingdom come,check,phone loaded with music,check.

Afterall,it’s a government office.And while I DO have an appointment for 9.30,the earliest a bureaucrat is likely to make time for me would be just after lunchtime,right?WRONG.

The minute we approached the haloed doorway neatly lined with kiosks,a ministry official approached us.And SMILED at us.AND wished us good morning.Happily.How often does that happen???That alone nearly made my day.Then,he proceeded to divest me of my documentation,did some quick punching on the kiosk screen,handed me a token sheet,led me to a nice,comfy couch with a breathtaking view of the Singapore flyer,and left me there,clutching my passport,and with an assurance that I would be called soon.

Before alarm bells could go off,fearing a scam,since he had disappeared with all my other approval letters and cards,viola!a joyful looking girl haltingly pronounced my name!And it wasn’t even 837 yet!!!

I shot off my comfy seat and walked up,shoulders squared,expecting the battle to begin :your name is incorrect,your address proofs are wrong,how can you not have an adhar card?No,we cannot process this without a birth certificate.Your husbands signature on the affidavit is different from the one on his hall ticket.You know the drill…

Another surprise.”Hello ma’m,may i see your passport please?’ ‘please look straight at the camera,and smile.Ready?Are you happy with this picture?If not,i l take another one’………please place right thumb….by this time,I was positively alarmed.Something was very very wrong.Someone behind the desk of a govt office was actually being polite.Am i still in bed,dreaming?Did I switch my alarm off and continue to slumber?

Before I could pinch myself,just to be sure,she merrily informed me my card would be mailed to my sponsor company and I would receive it within 3 to 4 working days.Then, she wished me a good day.

At 8.46 am,precisely 11 minutes after we had entered the building,we were back out on the pavement,all processes completed,all documentation done.

I turned my shell shocked countenance to my very supportive husband( I mean that literally,since at this point,his firm grip on my arm was the only thing preventing me from sitting down,smack dab in the middle of the pavement and pinch myself,really hard).I had just one question : “Did she tell me to do something,or go to some other counter,that I missed,or did not understand because,you know,we have different speech patterns,different first language…..miscommunication?”

At 920 ,I was back in my own kitchen,unpacking my snacks.

Its been more than a month since that day.Every few days,I take out the card that arrived exactly 3 days later and stare at it,to assure myself it was not a bizarre dream,that it really happened.


Every culture has its own quirks and inexplicably senseless behavior patterns.One such Indian cultural quirk I m always amused by is people’s affinity for dropping in unannounced.In the rest of the world (mostly) this would be regarded as uncivilized or inconsiderate.We Indians have no such worries.

Maybe in the olden days,when typically,people’s source of entertainment stemmed from meeting one another this was acceptable.But today,when everyone has different agendas,different plans for the day,week,month,different work and personal schedules,this can be extremely bothersome.It’s unfortunately ‘normal’ to receive a call at 7pm,just as you leave work,from your husband’s aunt’s friend’s sister-in-law,informing you she is in your neighborhood and would love to ‘drop by’ for a while.Translated,feed me and 4 of my family members dinner tonight.Or,even worse.We are leaving from Bombay right now,we l be staying with you for the next five days………see you in two hours! :/.

Don’t get me wrong,I love entertaining as much as the next person,but it would be very nice if advance notice was tendered!

The first 3 years of married life,we lived 2 hours driving distance away from my hometown,also the abode of my in laws.As a result,in the first three or four months,I spent endless days being at a loss,putting up my hands and taking visitors out to dinner or getting takeaway.As in the case of most newly married couples this obviously put a strain on our finances,and I realized I have to figure out a workable solution.

I ended up devising ways to ensure a full meal,replete with dessert could be ready in under an hour.Most of it is basically intelligent planning and a well stocked pantry.Also,your freezer will become your best friend…..But overall,this is my cheat sheet!

1) Make a generic ‘gravy’ (whatever is your traditional gravy.I m married to a North Indian,so mine’s the onion garlic ginger tomato version) and deep freeze it.If nothing else works,this will save you a great deal of time,guaranteed.This is my recipe.

2) Soak rajma/chhole/other pulses,drain the water,and deep freeze them.Add the aforementioned gravy,pressure cook for 8 to 10 whistles,done.

3) Get your maid/cook to cut two or three extra vegetables every week and deep freeze them.Use them within a couple of weeks.Pre cut veggies SERIOUSLY save time.

4) Always have a decent quantity of ice cream in the fridge.

5) Get your maid to (or yourself to) roll out extra rotis /parathas on a daily basis.Maybe 2 or 3 more than you need each day.Don’t roast them,separate the uncooked,rolled out rotis with butter paper,and place in the freezer in an air tight container.Take them out,thaw them in the microwave,and roast them when needed.

6) Palak paneer is always an acceptable dish,so make palak puree,freeze it.At the last minute,add the gravy,paneer cubes,and cook till the whole thing thaws.

7) Freeze an acceptable quantity of cooked arhar dal,plain.Fry it up with the spices you want at the last minute,so its ‘fresh’.Cuts out the unnecessary cooking time.

8) Learn a few quick time save desserts.Mine are cakes,walnut brownies,(both served with store bought ice cream or custard) or caramel custard out of a packet if I m really rushed.Keep a few cake ready mixes handy if you are unsure of your baking skills.

9) Make a few easy to freeze ‘appetizer’ items when you can spare the time.For example,frozen pre boiled pasta can be quickly drained and turned into a pasta salad or pasta aglio olio in minimum time.Or kothimbir wadi (savoury,steamed coriander cakes) can be quickly fried up.

10) If you or your guests eat meat or chicken,marinate a few pieces of meat and freeze them.Toss them in gravy,or bake them,as your dish demands when the time comes.

I will try to follow-up with ‘time save’ recipes soon…but in the meantime,feel free to share your tips on pulling out quick,no fuss meals with me!

Quick fix gravy!

Posted: March 10, 2015 in Cooking
Tags: , ,

This is my most loved recipe,for both,the flavor,and the sheer flexibility it offers.It’s slightly time-consuming to make(anything that takes longer than 8 minutes,is ‘time-consuming’,in my book.) but is the absolute quick fix for emergency meals.Be warned,this is by no means an ‘authentic’ gravy for the dishes I pull out with it,but when time constraint is the biggest issue,it works like a charm!

This gravy can be pre cooked and frozen for up to 4 months.You can add it to almost everything …..rajma,chhole,chicken,butter chicken,mutton,egg curry,palak paneer,paneer korma,makhanwala,even biryani when in a pinch…………the list is really endless.It’s perfect for days when you don’t really feel up to cooking,and don’t feel like getting a takeout,or when you have unannounced dinner guests and must pull out a meal in less than an hour.

The ingredient quantities and cooking times are approximate and subjective.Please adjust the recipe to suit your taste buds,quality of produce you are using,etc.

Makes about 8 servings.

What you will need :

6 tablespoons of ghee or clarified butter

4 bay leaves (tejpatta)

2 cinnamon sticks (dalchini)

1 tablespoon cumin seeds (jeera/zeera)

10 medium sized onions ground to a fine paste

6 to 8 cloves of garlic ground to a fine paste

About 3 to 4 inches of ginger,ground to a fine paste.

Half a cup hot water

Puree from 10 medium sized tomatoes,or one and a half can of concentrated tomato paste

4 to 6 tablespoons coriander seeds powder (dhania powder)

2 tablespoons cumin powder (jeera powder)

2 to 3 tablespoons or as per taste garam masala (spice mix) powder. {Will try to follow up with my own spice mix recipe soon}

1 tablespoon turmeric powder (optional)

2 to 3,tablespoons or as per taste red chilli powder

3 tablespoons dried mango powder (optional)

Salt to taste

Method :

Heat the ghee in a wok/kadhai and add the bay leaves and cinnamon.Stir a little.Add cumin seeds when the bay leaves start turning brown.

Once the cumin seeds crackle,add onion paste and begin frying on a low flame.When the mixture starts turning golden add the garlic and ginger pastes.Keep frying till everything turns dark brown and the paste starts oozing the ghee back out.Fry for an extra minute once the ghee separates.Add hot water,a little at a time and keep stirring till everything mixes well.The hot water helps to lift off the flavors sticking to the wok and reintroduces them into the gravy.

Add the tomato paste/puree and stir everything together really well.Keep the flame low,and stir intermittently,

At this point, I like to cover the wok with a perforated lid,so while the dehydration of the paste takes place,there is minimal spattering onto my counter,stove top and walls.NOT a fan of a messy kitchen…….. :/

Once the mixture thickens and reduces by about 2/3rd ,add the powders and salt to taste.Stir till the gravy smells cooked.

Take it off heat and let it cool to room temperature,or use right away!

Once it cools to room temperature,transfer it to an airtight container and freeze it away for further use!( I prefer to use steel containers with tight lids,as plastic may crack in the freezer).You can also take it out when its half frozen and cut it up into one time use sized cubes and freeze it again.

This is how you can use it :

1) Egg curry /Chicken curry/Mutton curry/fish curry : Add the frozen gravy,cook it with a little water till it liquidizes,add a little kasuri methi/fresh cream/sesame cashew paste /strained yogurt if you like,then add boiled eggs/pre marinated chicken/mutton/fish and cook as usual.

2) Add to pre soaked beans,pulses,legumes,like rajma or chhole and pressure cook as usual

3) Add some yogurt/fresh cream/cashew paste to the gravy,add palak puree,drop in paneer cubes,and voila,palak paneer is served!

4) Reduce the gravy further and add yogurt/cashew paste/fresh cream,reduce it more,add apricot paste if you like.Now toss in semi fried veggies,or pieces of marinated,semi fried meat,and there,you have your base for biryani!

5) Thaw the gravy in the microwave.Add diced potatoes,and frozen peas,wait for the potatoes to cook,thats aloo mutter,right there.No fuss.One pot.5 minutes.

6)Add paneer cubes and fresh cream apricot paste or raisin paste if you want,call it paneer makhanwala.

I could go on for a few pages about this multifunctional gravy that has saved my neck a great many times………but for now,I l stop here! 🙂

If you come up with ways to use this that I haven’t mentioned yet,do let me know and I l add them!

I love my costume jewelry,and my junk earrings are the one thing that have been a constant in my life since that first trip to Colaba causeway at 13 years of age.Nothing,in my opinion,lifts the style quotient of a plain black t shirt like a pair of big dangling hoops.

When we moved this time around,I left all our furniture and appliances back in India and have resolved to live light.Simply cannot be bothered to put in the time and energy involved in packing up and moving anymore!I do,however miss my custom made furniture and wardrobes.All that customized space to hang stuff up………….

Singapore has a concept of very compact housing,especially when it comes to condos in the city center.As with any other metropolis,the homes typically become bigger the further away from the city you go.As do the closets.The advantages of living in a city center condo far outnumber the disadvantages for us.But it has brought on it’s own set of challenges,which I am in the process of overcoming,one week at a time.Several weekend DIY projects coming up!

First up,obviously, was an earring and costume jewelry organizer.Who said chopsticks were only for eating? 😀

After going through an agonizing game of ‘find the other earring’ for 4 months,this is my solution :

earring diy

And this is what it looks like up close  :

earring DIY 2

It’s a little shabbily made,I had one eye on the ongoing India Vs Pak war that particular glorious Sunday!  😀 (for the uninitiated : I am referring to the ongoing cricket world cup,NOT a real war.)

Its easy,its quick,it is inexpensive and ultra efficient.And can be dumped when we move,no regrets.In case you decide to replicate this,you will need :

Chopsticks / wooden slats (chopsticks are easily available,you could use the sticks used for ice candies,if you can be bothered to find them.If you want to invest,you can even use those nice decorated chopsticks,generally 1$ a pair or thereabouts)

Industrial strength adhesive (In India,use Fevicol)


The rest is pretty simple! Just make a ladder,and string it up!Add niches and angles at strategic locations …..customize the spacing to suit your needs!The twine supporting it can be used to hold earrings which have screws,not hooks,or clip ons.

You can even try other shapes….make a base and then a cube around it,so it sits on a surface instead of being suspended from a hook,or a frame and then string twine through it,kinda like a portrait frame earring organizer………whatever meets your needs best!

I live about a km and half away from the Indian district,Little India,so generally I walk to the provision stores and vegetable market (also called a ‘wet market’) there.By now,I have figured out a nice,circular route ,making pit stops,that lets me ensure dry goods like rice and flour are at the bottom of the cavernous shopping trolley,while bananas and tomatoes  sit on top.Now,the way ‘to’ is populated,and crowded,running parallel to a main road but the way back is through deserted,lonely,inner roads.

Yesterday,I walked into the provision store where I have become a regular,and proceeded to fill up my basket with items off the list.Flour,check,rice check….Kerala cardamom…….ummmmmmm…..

While I perused the racks and aisles looking for the elusive spice,a happy young boy approached me and asked if I needed help.(I say boy.I mean a 20 something year old.To someone of my advanced years,’boy’.) Immediately,I offloaded my list on him,and he beamed at me ” Store owner from Kerala!I find cardamom for you!We have best cardamom!” Okay,then.

Cardamom safely in my basket,I bestowed a sunny smile on him,thanked him warmly and walked away to the cash counter.Nice boy,I thought,so helpful and happy.The lady in front of me in the queue paid up and the cashier beckoned me forward.All the time,carrying on a conversation with the helpful boy in Malayalam.Now,I don’t speak Malayalam,so while I heard the conversation,obviously,I did not understand it..Oh well,none of my business.Or so I assumed.

The boy gave me another happy smile as I prepared to walk out and said :” Okay ?” “Okay” I say,thinking,oh he wants to make sure I m fine,what a sweet boy.

Next up,fruits and veggies.Now,I am picky about my fruits and veggies.I take the time to pick out 1/2 kg okra,each of the same size and diameter.To pick out  tomatoes in varying stages of ripeness,etc.So I started off the long line of green grocers ,picking my way through the 25 or so stalls,buying a bunch of carefully chosen spinach here,identical sized okra there…..all the time,I was aware of the boy from the store lurking behind me.

Every stall I went to,he was there.Just behind me.Like he was waiting for me to finish.

First,I ignored him,maybe he has business at these places too.Then I grew concerned.Did the store owner put him up to this?Is this some absurd form of marketing espionage?Find out where else your patrons shop and why?

By the 6th stall,I was alarmed.Why is this man following me???Like,literally stalking me. Okay,I am no PYT,but who knows how a pervert’s mind works?!

Images of him and me in a dark alley sprang to mind….contents of my cart scattered….me punching him and kicking him,and then running away,the husband getting freaked out and insisting he will accompany me always,from now on….

That last thought scared me the most,I think.I mean,imagine trying to give 4 tomatoes your undivided attention while your man stands patiently around,making googly eyes at you,expecting lavish praise and a martyrdom medal in his future for letting you!!!No,thank you,I am going to figure out a way to deal with this!!

At the 10th stall,I looked around to stare at him,to give him a nasty look that very pointedly said,I know what you are doing.Go away!

No result.By the 12th stall,I was wondering.The walk back home is through lonely streets,should I simply hail a cab?Go into my regular restaurant just down the road and beseech the management to help me?Or simply order a coffee and sit patiently while he gets bored and leaves me alone??

Or make a scene right here,where it is crowded ,so he learns a lesson?

As I pondered my options while checking off my list,I stole another look at him.Now he was looking positively bored.

‘Oh!I am sorry to keep you from  attempted rape,number 34, jackass!!’  I thought sarcastically.

And he had the nerve to look right AT me!!!!I mean seriously!At least pretend you are not stalking me!

Fine,I am going to simply call a cab when I m done,hmf.Can’t follow me then!na na na na na!*mentally sticks tongue out*

Thinking thus,I walked into the last stall of the lane.As I paid up,I sensed he had gotten much closer.Then,I felt a tap on my shoulder as I walked out.

I turned around,prepared to launch into a loud offensive about following women.

Boy : (Bored and scared now)  Madam,where is your car?

Me : (Absolutely baffled.) What car???

Boy : I put these in your car! Where is car?Too long,I have to get back to shop now!You put this in car and then shop please! (this statement was accompanied with head gestures towards the many shopping bags in his hands)

Now  I am seriously confused.Has this little boy been shop lifting for me?Did I collect all my parcels myself?Or did he,hoping for a tip at the end of the trip?wha?huh?!

Me : I don’t have a car….and those are not mine…I think….

Boy : Not yours!!!!are you sure??

Me : Yes,I am sure!Whats in that?See,loads of tetra paks,bottles of soda…….definitely not mine!!!

Boy : Oh my God!! Not yours??No car???

In that one moment while the two of us looked at each other in total bafflement,comprehension quickly dawned on both our faces.The bags belonged to the lady in front of me in the queue.Which is what the conversation was all about.Who,at that very moment,was probably calling the store to locate her bags,and the boy……………

I love to cook.I abhor following recipes to the T.More often than not,recipes for me or even from me are simply guidelines,that are worth sticking to only for the most basic preparations,like,the flour : butter ratio,or the  rice : water ratio ……anything more,and you l always find,it does not taste and look like the original cook’s version did.

My inability to follow recipes has forever amused my family,especially as I am genetically related to someone who secretly keeps a ruler in the kitchen drawer to measure ‘ 1 inch cinnamon’.I ve asked,many times,does the recipe also tell you the breadth of the 1 inch stick??! :p

I happen to be one of those people who never measure anything,and whose olfactory nerves are good enough to tell if something needs more salt,or is too salty.My guidelines when I cook,are my senses.Touch,smell,taste,see,hear.

Beginners to cooking,or people without an aptitude for it often struggle with recipes not yielding the ‘right’ results.So,here is a post which I hope will help you achieve the final dish you were after……..

There are soooo many factors to consider,if  you started thinking about them consciously,nothing would ever get done.But,if you know they exist on a subconscious level,cooking becomes so much easier…

  1. The quality of produce.All produce.Spices,tomatoes,onions,sugar,flour………Don’t use ‘1 inch ginger’ because the recipe tells you to. Ginger grown in one region will have a different concentration of flavor from ginger grown in another,depending on several things,the minerals in the soil,water,etc.So while 1 inch ginger in the author’s home town is enough to get the desired taste,you may need to use 2 inches,or half an inch.Improvise,till you get the flavor you are after.Apply this to ALL produce and raw ingredients.
  2. Type of heat.When you cook on a stove,the type of heat plays a huge role in the time taken,as well as how the final dish turns out.Heat from an LPG cylinder fueled burner will be different in intensity to heat from a piped gas fueled burner.Oven heat is a separate matter again.Different countries use different voltage,wattage,amperes….. So remember to follow the instruction that says ‘fry the onions till translucent’ and ignore the one that says ‘fry for 2 minutes’.The 2 minutes are relative,not absolute.
  3. Climate.Adjust the amount of heat,and temperatures to the temperature outside.
  4. Altitude and atmospheric pressure : This may seem a little ‘out there’ but really,food tastes different at different altitudes.The lower you go,the lesser salt and flavoring will be required.The higher your altitude,stronger the flavors will have to be
  5. Water. And I cannot stress this point enough.Ever wondered why the same brand of tea you grew up drinking tastes different the minute you move away from home?Water.The minerals in the water ,(and the chemicals used to treat it) contribute greatly to the final taste of everything.
  6. The age of spices.Some spices taste stronger when stored properly over a period of time.Some lose their flavor concentration.
  7. Personal taste.Now this is really important.Some of us prefer our food tangy,some like it sweet,some like it spicy.Some are transported to heaven when a dish smells overpoweringly of cinnamon,some to hell.Adjust.If the recipe calls for an ingredient ,and you are not a fan of that particular texture/smell/taste,either omit it altogether,or if it is a key ingredient,use it in a quantity you are comfortable with.Or use substitutes.

Also,use this post as a guideline for any recipes I post and you decide to try! 😀

The ‘what if’ question has forever intrigued me,amused me,amazed me,saddened and tickled me.
What if Newton had never sat under that apple tree?What if he had chosen to sit under a tin roof instead?Would we still have no concept of gravity?What are the far reaching effects of that simple tea in the garden,of sitting under a tree?Would we have spaceships and moon landings?
What if MK Gandhi had chosen to do what an ordinary person does?Would India still be a colony?Would there have been fewer deaths during the freedom struggle?Or more?Would ahimsa still be a word the entire world is aware of?
What if human beings had only one color receptive cone?Would we still divide ourselves,and discriminate against one another based upon our skin color?Or some other naturally occurring characteristic?

What if ,there is a life form on Mars that human beings cannot perceive because of their limited physiology?What if that life form has the ability to teach us many valuable lessons that we could greatly benefit from,if only we could perceive them??

What if everyone just simply decided to get along,and stopped discriminating?Would the world be a better place for those discriminated against?Would it be a worse place for those doing the discriminating?

We kicked off Oscars week last night by opening with ‘The Imitation game’, a movie based on the life and works of an extraordinary man called Alan Turing.One of the many people I have to thank.Its their collective hard work,ideas and inventions after all,that is allowing me to wax eloquent about my views and opinions.
Apart from Cumberbatch’s amazing acting,and execution,what stuck with me was,yep,the big what if.

What if,no one had ever found out he was a homosexual.What if medicine,and civilization had been advanced enough to understand  it was not a matter of choice,and there was no right or wrong about him being gay?
What if society had left him alone,and let him do what he really wanted to?Would all of us be living in a completely different world today?Would computers still exist?Would he have thought of something WAY better,making computers or the need for them obsolete?Would artificial intelligence have spiraled out of control and led to human extinction?

What if what if what if………

But none of my questions will ever be answered.Because,the powers that be decided being gay was indecent,unnatural,and many more things.

What if,we as humans,decided to stop focusing on a human being’s sexual orientation,skin color,race,and all the other myriad characteristics we tend to?What if,we instead paid more attention to a human being’s ability to change the world,in whatever big or small way?What if we declared unkindness,manipulation,greed,envy,etc as crimes instead?Would we be then living in a happier,more convenient,ecologically balanced world?

To me,a persons homosexuality,or heterosexuality is not a deciding factor in my emotions towards him/her.What decides me is how nice the person is,how intelligent he/she is,how much better do they actively make the world around them.I know as many straight people who are downright mean,as i know homosexuals who are extremely kind.At the end of the day,they are humans.Some nice,some bad,some paragons of virtue,and some devil spawn.

Some of us proudly say,we love our gay friends in-spite of what they are or choose to be.I say I love them FOR everything they are.And no,I am not doing them a favor,I am doing myself,and the whole world a favor.

Otherwise,I will never know how they could have revolutionized the world.There will be several what ifs,which will forever remain unanswered………………..

Yoga at home

Posted: January 26, 2015 in yoga and fitness
Tags: , ,

A lot of us are moderately serious about fitness,be it mental,emotional,or physical.I turned to yoga because I have come to believe it’s a one stop shop.Also,done right,it’s a whole lot of fun!

For those of us choosing to/being stuck with practicing at home,via youtube videos and such like,here are my tips to maximize benefits from the session :

  1. Ensure the area you intend to practice in is spotlessly clean.
  2. Get a good mat,a 15 mm mat will cushion your knees way better than an 8 mm one,making some asans more comfortable
  3. Either ensure the room is well ventilated (fresh air is best) or switch on the AC.Deep breathing becomes easier in less polluted environs.
  4. Keep a towel,a water bottle,and any other aids you might need,like a belt,or other props within easy reach.
  5. Minimize distractions.Switch off the doorbell,or simply practice at a time when you are sure no one is likely to disturb you.
  6. Wear clothes that are well fitted and allow easy ,unrestricted movement.Avoid flared pants.
  7. Make sure nothing is likely to interrupt your session.Switch off your phone,make sure all your emails are answered,whatever you have to do.
  8. If you are going to let a video guide you,try and watch the video a couple of times before.Use the time during your breaks at work,or during lunch,travelling,cooking….whenever.If you have seen the video a couple of times,you know what comes next,so when you are in a position which does not let you hear/see too well,you will still automatically know.
  9. Use a system with good speakers.Use a video where the accent of the teacher is not too difficult for you to follow.
  10. If you can,place mirrors in a way that you can always see yourself.It is very easy to injure yourself if you get even toe position wrong.

That said,personally,I would not advise anyone,especially absolute beginners to attempt a session without a teacher,unless you must.It really is difficult to get your body to align correctly on your own,and you cannot always see yourself.Something as small as your neck facing the wrong way can cause a severe sprain,and if you attempt anything advanced,the injuries could be serious.

But,if you have no other way of getting an hour or two of yoga in,do it comfortably!