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Showing posts from 2010

Vanakkam. You can now leave.

You find yourself scrubbing the floor extra hard in a bid to brush under the carpet any inkling of a stain. Grime that has found a cozy home in long forgotten crevices is roused from its deep slumber. Lofts throw themselves open, enveloping you in gusts of dust. Fancy, unused cutlery that would probably find favour in a garage sale are ordered out of their hiding place and given a temporary lease of life. All of this to appease the house guest, who is soon to grace your home.
Guests add an interesting dimension to our otherwise mundane lives. They wear many hats, come in various degrees of irritation and haul with them their own unique peccadilloes. First there is the agony aunt/uncle (not limited to blood relatives). Their very purpose is to bestow you with agony. When we were younger, they would enter the room while we were studying and regale us with stories of how their children studied so hard, how strict they were and how our study habits would never get us into IIT. As time pas…

Zen and the art of buffet maintenance

I found myself battling the bulge after being subject to back-to-back buffets on consecutive days. In the days of yore, there would be a total onslaught on the table and its offerings. But aflate, I have tried to sit back and savour at least some of the dishes on offer, instead of stuffing my face into the plate and then tottering to the nearest bed. There are many reasons for this. After a buffet, it would take me awhile to recount what I ate and had to rely, much to my embarrassment, on eye-witness accounts. Buffets were invented to satiate your deepest cravings for food, but more often than not, they end up confusing you. Firstly, buffets have gotten infinitely more creative these days. If one really wanted to, the meal could be complete just by gorging on the starters and the desserts. Some people even prepare assiduously before they head for a buffet. What constitutes preparing for a buffet? The usual suspects – skipping the previous meal, swimming an extra lap and indul…

How to have a gastronomic week (and inch closer to a heart attack)

Note: Something I wrote awhile back. But holds good for the numerous gastronomic weeks that I have so unabashedly participated in. 

You see, I suffer from multiple personality disorder when it comes to food. I forget what I have eaten a few minutes back, and gorge until I regain my senses. And go at it again. This particular week was a tad unusual in a sense that every other day, my circulatory system was subject to an array of food items that tested my condition (and digestive capabilities) severely.

So here is a gist of my gastronomic week:

Arrived in Chennai on Friday night and promptly headed to Murugan idli for breakfast the next day. The idlis are like cotton, served with 4 chutneys, namely coconut, pudina, tomato, methi and sambar to go with that. After gleefully wolfing down the idli vada, it was time for ghee roast. Equally sumptuous, it would be safe to say I followed the first precinct of healthy eating – eat breakfast like a king (or two). 

Come Sunday night, it was time for …

Passing the parcel should be our national game

After the manner in which our Commonwealth Games were organised, powers that be seem to think we have it in us to not only bid for the Olympic Games, but host them. Temporarily blinded by a successful opening ceremony, it is opined that all the disasters and financial irregularities that preceded it can be written off. But if our country is to bid for the Olympic Games, a few changes are sure to bring about some radical results.
Firstly, hockey should be dropped as our national game. The steady decline and mismanagement has caused it to be an object of mockery. There were a few war cries for cricket to be accorded national game status. But the game is far too commercialised. Let it remain the unofficial national game. An official sanction doesn’t add much value to the behemoth. But there is an innocuous game that plays itself tirelessly (and boringly) in parties. It involves a stupid ritual of passing a parcel and making sure that you aren’t caught with the parcel when the music stops…

Tiger Woods never signed up to teach moral science lessons

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know – Tiger Woods’ infidelities caused shareholders losses in the range of 5-12 billion. Now, picture this if you will- multi-trillionaire superstar is looking forward to an all night orgy. But instead of worrying about contacting herpes, impregnating willing women or being secretly taped, he has to worry how his sexcapades will affect the lives of shareholders. That’s cause enough to deflate all built up enthusiasm. Now, picture this. The president greets shareholders with the following message – ‘Ladies and Gentleman, I’m sorry to announce that our stock has crashed because Mr.X just couldn’t keep his pants on. Next year we’ll be a tad more careful and sign up a pigeon for our product.’
Finally, finally, after many painful months, a search result on Tiger Woods doesn’t reveal a litany of his purported infidelities, the porn star mistress, the friendly neighbourhood girl, and the places he managed to copulate in. Finally, we get to read about him doi…

More man, less god

Self-proclaimed sainthood and a nubile actress are strange bedfellows as a self anointed godman recently discovered. Faux pas like these give soothsayers cause to jump up and down in glee at the fall of another being who promises you nirvana, but gives you a grainy sex tape in return. In R.K Narayan’s seminal work ‘The Guide’, he tells of Raju, an ex-con who finds himself elevated to the ranks of a godman. As he unsuccessfully tries to wield himself from the role that has been thrust upon him, the deeper he sinks into it. Eventually, he is called upon to rescue a village from abject drought. The novel wisely leaves the ending unanswered but the film plays to the gallery and opens up the clouds, portraying Raju to be someone who had superior powers. But what is telling about Raju’s story is the ease with which the transformation from conman to godman occurs, while in the real world, it most often occurs the other way round.

If anything, the bustling godman market has gotten even more cr…

We are the battle class

When Shashi Tharoor tweeted, he was the man of the hour. For if there is an art mastered by our elected representatives, it is the foot in the mouth syndrome. It has been a year since Mr. Tharoor tweeted his infamous cattle class tweet and got everybody's blood pressure soaring. But there is another class that we are all inadvertently a part of. Travelling on Indian roads, fighting the system and making sense of our country has caused us to become warriors’ of a different kind. We are the battle class. And our story deserves to be told.

In my opinion, the home ministry has seriously underestimated an emerging threat to citizens in certain cities – the auto mafia. They, who charge by their imagination and not by the meter. Who will take you where they want to go and when they want to go. If your destination doesn’t coincide with theirs, the fault lies within. Choose a better direction.

I strive daily to achieve the common sense IQ of our municipal corporation. Using cheap tar for our…

The strange life of a bibliophile

Anton Chekov’s classic short story ‘The Bet’, speaks of a man who found life’s answers in books. An enterprising youth, he places a bet with a millionaire. The bet being the capability of one to survive solitary confinement for 15 years, with only books and music to keep him company. As the 15 years dwindle down, the millionaire who offered the money has fallen on bad times and is finding it hard to scrape the money. Finally, the man forsakes the 2 million dollars he was supposed to receive by escaping before the stipulated time. In a letter, he writes that he has experienced all he wanted to through the numerous books he has read.

It is a strange world that bibliophiles inhabit. They buy more books than they can read. You know why? Because they are afraid they will finish them all. So every book read follows a mini buying spree to make up for the book read. If environmentalists have their way and there is a stay on publishing books, where do we run for cover? Through books, you can li…

Finding salvation in a day job

Lotteries were invented as a hopeful means of escape from everyday drudgery. The downside being the chances of winning it is as plausible as world peace. For research has shown that people who won the lottery were no happier than others after awhile. The reason was simple – they tried to make for all the lost time in a short time. Remember that red shiny car Dad never got m? Let’s buy ten of them. Remember all the lost holidays? Let’s take all of them. And so on and so forth. In a short while, they make up for their humdrum existence with a slew of debts and few bad habits to boot. Of course, they’ll be an unhappy lot at the end of it all. Importantly, most of them give up their jobs and attempt to settle into a life of leisure that they haven’t truly earned.

More than anything, the day job has become the nemesis of the white collared worker. Like a necessary burden we all have to trudge through. Everybody is seeking an escape from them. It is the most common refrain at water coolers …

Will the real Mr. Suresh Kalmadi please stand up?

When it became public knowledge that the budget of the Commonwealth Games had doubled, a few were taken aback. For the bigger surprise was yet to come – in the shape of a helium balloon. A blimp, truth be told that would be used for a grand total of some 3 hours for the opening and closing ceremonies. Then opinions ran amok. Usain Bolt would emerge from the blimp it was said and then proceed to run for his life. No, it wasn’t a ploy to get him to compete (or so they say). Maybe the sports minister or better, the organising committee chairman would tumble out to imaginary rapturous applause. No, said another voice interested in adding their two pence, the blimp was the new mascot. But what could possibly justify the 40 crore budget for this gas filled extravaganza? A meek voice whispered from the sidelines– “even the gas for the balloon is being imported from Russia.”

Approximately, some 30,000 crore is being spent for the games. With news channels going agog over a certain Mr. Suresh K…

Dear Mr.Warren Anderson

Dear Mr. Warren Anderson,

I hope this letter finds you (as no one else seems to be able to) and finds you well. Give my regards to your family. How fortunate for them to have a man of integrity, honour and stature as their patriarch. There is so much I need to tell you Mr. Anderson, I don’t know where to begin. 

Since you left in a tearing hurry (again, not in accordance with Indian customs may I add, we value our guests), a lot has changed. India has grown leaps and bounds. You should come and see it Mr. Anderson, you wouldn’t recognise it. And while we are at it, here are some other things you won’t recognise. Little Sonu. His eyes have gone into his face. His legs are crippled. His sister has been given a better deal. All her limbs are intact. But she does not have the sight to appreciate them. You must see them Mr. Anderson. They could do with an arm around their shoulder. We can take a leisurely stroll down and peep into Sita Bhabi’s house. She was ostracized because she couldn’t …

Why festivals don't taste the same anymore

Legendary writer R.K Narayan is said to have insisted on indulging in a sweet after his meal even when in his nineties. Modern day food habits seem to have forsaken taste in favour of longevity. Sugar free, fat free, cholesterol free and every other item that makes food worthwhile doesn’t seem to be the order of the day. Succinctly, one asks, what is the purpose of healthy food, if it is meant to help us live longer, and eat some more bland, healthy food?
Being born in a diverse country such as ours, there is one depravation we never have to worry about being subject to – festivals and the spread that accompanies them. These spreads are not subject to the vestiges of the health movement and being born in Tam Brahm household, a slew of festivals ensure that our taste buds are never idle for too long. All the dishes were assiduously prepared by the matriarch of the house, my grandmother.
The year begins with ‘pongal’, the harvest festival. Steaming bowls of pongal and delicious vadas to g…