Sunday, December 5, 2010

He-He-He-He-mails

   I sit here yawning at the end of yet another weekend...This week did drag along, and I am glad that it’s over! But man, its December already! Has this year been flying or WHAT! :-| I don’t even remember living through all those months...If you ask me, I am kinda stuck somewhere between April and June. April , because a lot happened in that month this year...I hit 25, changed my job etc. Reminds of this bald astrologer who happened to look at the lines on my palm in a family gathering a decade back. He smiled, rubbed his chin and declared...” You have a government job waiting for you..You will get one at 25..Your second job”. I giggled as I pictured myself in the avatar of a loyal IAS officer, complete with a starched cotton sari etc...I giggle now, as I look at my present avatar, sitting cross legged on a chair and typing like a mad woman into the computer screen :D I give the astrologer half the brownie points though...at least he did foresee a job change at 25 ;) In his defence, I must say, his predictions were quite accurate...Especially the one where he said I was a budding genius, a prodigy, an enigma waiting to be cracked and a treasure of true talent waiting to be unearthed..LOL..Can we even question that NOW? ;)
    Astrologer aside, let’s talk about my job change. When I was switching companies in April, I intended to take a backup of all the blogs that I had written on my first company’s internal blog site. And since there is a lot of intellectual property blah blah, I just let it be and walked out of the campus without a backup of ANY kind. Not even my official mails. Can you imagine that? I can be quite a dumb blonde when I want to! I have no idea why I did that...I just forwarded few mails from my archives to my personal email id and left it at that. And to think I had created a zillion personal folders on outlook, carefully segregating mails into weird classifications! I don’t give a rat’s ass about ANY of those mails :D But, but, but, I swear at myself when I think what the hell was I doing when I missed taking a backup of the ‘FUNNY’ folder on my outlook. By ‘FUNNY’, I do not mean giggle-and-forget forwards..Nope..These were ‘actual’ official emails. ‘Real’ funny ones! Ones which were sent out or received during times of utter crisis, production go-lives etc. Ones which were not meant to be funny in ANY way, but turned out to be so, thanks to all the insanity induced by the nervous wrecks who were working on the god-damn ‘Priority-1’ issues.
   Without taking any names, I will treat you to some samples, some timeless gems that refuse to leave my mind even now.
   Sample this.
   The client worked with multiple vendors and my previous employer was one of them. Another software firm from India was also a vendor for the same client. We managed their sales software and the other firm managed the client’s database and servers.
   A P1 issue struck us on one fateful day and there was a long chain of back and forth emails being exchanged between us and the DBA from the other firm. And the whole world was copied in those mails, The ‘CC’ section looked like a novel :) It was ‘THAT’ big!
   We did some kinda fix at our end and wrote back to the DBA, asking for a server restart. The guy doesn’t respond for 20 minutes. Now, when you have people sitting on your neck, 20 minutes is a LOT of time! Finally, when my team mates and I were busy raining the choicest of cuss words on this guy, a mail pops up. He had written back. I quote him EXACTLY. This is what he wrote.
“Hi,
I am in the process of getting this done. This will take some time. Could you please bare with me for some time?
Thanks.
Mr.DBA”
    I have a keen eye for grammatical mistakes. Not that I don’t make any. But when there is one, I can sniff it from a mile. When I read this mail, I was guffawing like a mad cow, cackling like a hyena and thanks to all the jittery nerves, this mail seemed funnier that it actually was. The guy wanted us to “bare” with him while he got it done.
    Before we could even recover from this mail, another one came by. It was a jackass from the ‘CC’ list. He said one word. “Sure”. And that cracked us up too..The DBA and the CC guy “baring” was not a pretty picture! :D
    This mail chain went out for some more time and as long as it lasted, every reply that followed the DBA’s “bare with me” mail seemed funnier than the previous one in our gutter heads and helped in easing out the tension that was gripping us until then :)
    Ok, in the second sample, “I” am the jackass. I wrote this mail and sent it out to a senior client guy, whose experience in the industry was equal to my age. Thankfully for me, there was no one in ‘CC’ or ‘BCC’ and for all I know, if I don’t spill it out now, I can die with this secret..But, what’s the fun in NOT sharing a funny thing? We need to laugh at ourselves sometimes ;)
    Now the client guy was an old man, who was around when Mainframes were ‘THE’ thing and was around even when I started my first job. So you can imagine the kind of experience he comes with. This old man was no bossy fellow, but instead, was a very sweet guy. We hit it off really well and once we had that rapport between us, our mails were very casual, albeit official :)
    One evening, some user ran into some issue and immediately shot a mail asking for a quick resolution. Now that meant staying back and winding this up. I did that. Finally, at around 10-ish everything was back in place. All the while, there was a regular email chain happening between the old guy and me.Next morning, when I opened my mailbox, there is a chain mail happening between some colleagues, discussing how I owe them a treat for some reason and how I must keep aside 10K from my salary to treat these lazy bums to some awesome lunch. I giggle and was about to type a reply when the next mail arrives. From the old guy, the client. It said “Thanks for all the help. Everything works fine now. Can we have a call with the user at 11 AM your time?” I was relieved to see that everything was fine now and went back to my previous mail to type a reply to the chain mail.
    I sent a reply to the group of colleagues. And then started typing the reply to the client. ...
Wait. No. This is not happening. Dint I just reply to this mail? OMG. I then click on SENT ITEMS.
    I am done..totally! How do I recall this mail..frantic search for that option ensues. And before I could figure it out, I get a reply from the old guy.
“Oh! Is someone having a bad morning?”. I cringe.
    Guess what. Instead of replying to the chain mail, I had typed my reply on the client’s mail and sent it across to him! And it read “ In your dreams ! Not happening...No chance!”
    This certainly was meant for the “keeping aside 10K for the lunch treat” gig :-| And like my luck might have it, it sounded like a perfectly rude reply to the client’s email :P
    I dialled the client’s number frantically and spent the next five minutes explaining my situation, while he went ‘Ho Ho Ho Ho...Ha Ha Ha Ha” like Santa Claus at the other end of the line...Luckily for me, he was a jolly good fellow :D
    My “funny” folder in Outlook was home to some more of those “real” goofy emails, gathered during my three years at my first job :) Thankfully, I was the recipient of the rest of the emails and not the jackass who wrote it :P Out of the zillion mails, these deserved a place on my pendrive on the last day! I still wonder how I missed them out :)
    Dear Funny Folder, I miss you! In your loving memory , I am considering creating your sister folder on my present Outlook and hopefully I will never WRITE any email that will bring your sister to existence :P I just hope there are enough people out there who would be generous enough to contribute to make her a reality ;) :D
   


Sunday, November 28, 2010

To all those 'crushes'!

     You have to just take my word for it when I say that I have truly missed my blog! I have been somewhat busy and superlatively lazy these past few months and never got myself to post something on this space. Today being Sunday, the guilt pangs were getting a little too strong and I was itching to write...More than ever...So here I am! :) I hope to be more regular from now on and have even drawn up plans to give a makeover to my blog. All that’s in the future, so we’ll see how that goes! But for now, let me take a moment to thank all those good friends, regular readers and people who lurked on my blog anonymously when I was gone. I was touched, to say the least, when I received your emails and wall posts asking why I dint write since August :) You kind of gave me a push that I badly needed ;)
      Ok, before that first paragraph begins to sound like an Oscar speech, let’s move on...to better things ;) When was the last time someone walked into the room, stood in a corner, did nothing more than smile and nod and shake hands with a stranger, and yet managed to light up the entire room with their smile ? Or, that guy on stage at the concert, strumming his guitar, rocking his head back and forth, blaring into the mike and making your heart thump against your chest? Or that young lecturer at college, always dressed in his formals, walking down the corridor, while you sat at the window seat in your classroom, staring out into the corridor, completely taken over by the mad mad attention that his presence demanded, craning your neck out, watching him walk away into the staff room...those moments of mad euphoria, those thousand giggles shared with your girlfriends, those minutes of complete craziness when your heart was not yours and those short-lived but equally intense emotions that seem to overpower your sense of good judgement and those zillion superfast heartbeats that seemed to pound your heart into pulp...Remember those moments? There is a reason why we call them a ‘crush’  ;) Because, that is what they do! Crush your world into a heart shaped fantasy! :)
       There is so much talk about the ‘right person’, the ‘soul mate’, the ‘better half’ etc. Not all of us get married to our soulmates, nor is the other half always the better one, and the ‘right person’ tag is such a cliché...There is no ‘right’ person, really! It’s just about finding someone whose wrongs you can put up with :P LOL..I am the eternal cynic, people! So all you lovelorn puppies, stop giving me that look :D So, while realms and realms have been written about the perfect lover and hours have been spent discussing them, why is it that the crushes in our lives, the ones who actually made our heart go flutter flutter with no effort at all, why is it that we hardly ever mention them? Is it because we are scared to admit that the ‘crush’ lasted for just 17 seconds or that the ‘crush’ gave you sleepless nights for a week and then the next week you dint even remember his second name? Or, the fact that you still remember him/her, after all these years, but somehow, even now, though you never really have a thing for him/her anymore, you still feel awkward to admit you did ? ;) Why is it that we are so obsessed with ‘happily ever after” and “ made for each other” , that we rarely ever stop to think of those people who never made it to “ happily ever after” with you, but as long as they lasted, gave you the best feeling ever? Even though they were never really aware of the flutter that they caused? Doesn’t it feel good to recall and live through those minutes of giddy attraction? :)
      It’s possible that a crush from the past turned out to be a super jerk later in time, but for those few moments that you thought he/she was perfect, your world did go in circles, you did think you heard your heart in your ears and you did feel that this instant attraction was super cool! So for all the wrong judgements you made, you did get a few minutes of happiness in return :) So you see, no crush is a bad crush ! ;)
      On that note, I dedicate this post to the underrated, neglected and completely secret group of crushes who cross our lives, lighting it up for a moment , before we get tired of all the glare and run away from it :P And also to those eternal crushes ( Johnny Depp, where are you? ) who will always be stuck in our hearts no matter what ! ;) And also to that negligible group of jerks who made it to our crush list ( Thank God they dint get any further than a crush! :D ) And also to all those people who had a crush on us (Ha ha, you think we dint know? ) ;)
      If you are one of those who had a ‘crush’ turn into a ‘happily ever after’, God bless you ! :) If you are one of the many whose crush dint quite make it very far, cheer up, you are not alone ! But if you are one of those who has never had a crush, get a medical checkup done :D Either that, or you are one shameless liar :P
      Until I write here next, count your crushes, just like you count your blessings! Will you be done counting by the time I return? Well, that depends on when I will return..Hoping it’s sometime soon ! :) Ciao !

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I love the Monsoons!

       Waking up in the mornings these days is tougher than it has ever been! When my alarm goes off and I realize its morning already, I see the glass window misty with all the dew and listen to sound of the rain drops from the night’s rain dripping down into a puddle from the trees in the empty site next to my bedroom window and the mental war begins. Curled up under my green wonder blanket, life seems perfect the way it is on early weekday mornings and I am tempted to keep it that way, without having to wake up and rush into the day against my will! But ho-hum, we all know how it is :( Bread and butter people! I better get my lazy ass off the bed and into the office bus. It’s not easy...not easy at all!
        And the bus ride to office in my cosy office bus takes this mental battle to the next level. We take a route that does not touch any of the main city roads. We take the highway! Not much traffic, very few traffic signals and a driver who seems to be a Schumacher incarnate, it can’t get any better. Bangalore is just stirring into action at that time of the morning, the school kids are waiting for their yellow bus to arrive, the smell of fresh jasmine flowers wafts in through the open windows at the traffic signal where the flower vendors try to sell a fresh garland of stringed jasmine flowers for decorating the Ganesha idol that sits demurely on the dashboard of our bus...The roadside dosa-cart is in full action already and the labourers are digging into their breakfast, a steaming hot dosa, before they rush off to the construction site on the other side of the road.
                                               
       A few kilometres on the highway, watching the city wake up to life and we reach the place where we take a right turn into heaven. Heaven it is! Every morning, we pass through the woods that are a part of the Bangalore University, lush green in all their glory and freshly washed from the night’s rain, sparkling in the early sunlight. It’s oooh-so-amazing! I try not to doze off on the 45-minute bus ride to office. I just do not want to miss this stretch of road that passes through the woods :) Once we reach office, the morning breakfast session on the 6th floor cafeteria, with an amazing view of the faraway hills around Bangalore is another part of my day that I would hate to miss! The rest of the morning passes away in work, conference calls and a million other chores at work. During the lunch break, we venture out to the food court outside our campus and usually find a seat at the edge of the building which looks out into an endless stretch of empty land, bare, except for the green bed of grass. Our lunch break is filled with lots of girly talk, giggling and laughing and discussing matters of “utmost importance” ;). And nowadays, at least for the past week, it has been raining during the lunch breaks and we totally love it! Rains during lunch breaks calls for something that is hot, spicy and tasty. What better than a plate of juicy chicken? ;) A stray black dog that lives on the campus wanders to the edge of the food court in the afternoons and we give him a treat of leftover bones, which he happily bites into, wagging his tail :)
                                  
        All through this weekend, it has either been cloudy, drizzling or pouring. And I am totally loving it ! Nothing is more blissful than a lazy weekend at home, sitting by the window with a coffee, reading a novel and breathing in the damp air, heavy with the moisture from the rains..Aaah, Heaven! :D I morph into a total couch potato during the Indian monsoons...But yeah, I have to admit, the monsoons here are not all about happiness..There are people who have to put up with leaking roofs, flooded streets, overflowing drains and what not! You would definitely want to curse the rains, if you were stuck outside in the streets, with the waters swirling around your knees. But when you are sitting cross legged on your favourite chair at home, typing away to glory, you have the licence to romanticise the Indian rains and wax eloquence about its beauty ;) The more I write about how much I enjoy the monsoons, the guiltier I feel about not going off on a vacation :( I would so love to trudge through the dense jungles of Karnataka right now. It is at times like these that I wish I had what it takes to be a vagabond....Truck loads of money and nothing better to do ;) :D But then, we all know how it is! What is this life if, full of care! Remember this poem from school? :)

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Of Vacations and Hippies!

        It has been quite some time since I took off on an impromptu vacation. Last evening, when a friend mentioned it, I told him I was totally in the mood for a vacation, the only condition being that the crowd must consist of people who don’t get into ‘picnic’ mode. I don’t know how it works for you guys, but for me, it really does not work if the crowd travelling with me on the trip consists of people who get into “picnic” mode and start getting all hyper-excited about it. You know what I mean? There is always one guy in the group, who draws up a “strict” plan and crams the itinerary with a list of a dozen “must-visit” places. So basically, when the trip finally happens, it’s going to be a string of “go,see,click pics-run to the next spot” events. That’s so damn boring! And then there is the “hoarding of snacks” ritual. One person runs to the food market, packs up heaps and heaps of chips, cola, chocolates and other blah stuff. A little food is always good. But these guys go overboard and start piling the cart as if they are never ever going to see food ever again in their lives. And more than half the travelling time is spent in digging into the pile of snacks, pulling out a pack of chips and munching on it like noisy racoons :-|
         Another major turn off for me are these mindless, juvenile games that people come up with. The occasional fun game is ok. But if you have plans of spending the entire time on the road, playing “truth or dare”, “ antakshari” and similar kiddo stuff, no thanks, I would rather sleep through the entire journey than get myself into singing loud, throat-wrenching, blaring bollywood songs , which by the way, people never seem to run out of, thanks to the consistency with which our movie industry churns out the noisy crap. I mean seriously, who would want to croak and induce headaches, when you can actually spend the time sitting by the window, watching the little towns and villages pass by and enjoy being on the road? Call me boring if you will, but half the joy of going on a trip lies in the journey itself, and the other half is in the destination. And I like my journey to be a time meant for myself, to indulge and do things that I enjoy doing…An interesting conversation with a fellow traveler, a good book , lilting melodies from a flute and even doing absolutely nothing suits me just as fine. Anything…except noisy bollywood naach-gaana!
         The fondest memory I have of a vacation is of this trip to a beachfront, where we spent an entire night on the beach, in the pitch dark night, sitting around a campfire, the sea roaring away in a distance, the sound of the waves amplified by the stillness of the noise, half the people around the campfire were strangers who were hanging out at the nearby shack, eating their dinner and got lured to the warmth of the campfire :) It was an amazing night...full of stories from people we barely knew and people we would never even see again. Anonymity is such an aphrodisiac. Stories that would never be told in familiar company came out that night, with wicked details! It is just this kind of break that I yearn for. Where every conversation is a new discovery and every stranger is an acquaintance waiting to happen! Where you remember their faces only with the glow of the fire on it and where the night grows into dawn and yet there are stories waiting to be told.Where at five in the morning, everyone just get up and walk back into their shacks, feeling lighter in the heart and richer in experience!
         It is such breaks, free from the drone of the incessantly ringing mobile, the boring hours spent in conference calls at work and free from the lure of the social networking sites, that we need once in a while to recharge the life forces running through us..
        While I write about the amazing night, the image of the American hippie, who sat at a distance from the campfire, crosses my mind. The lady and her male companion were both drunk and high on weed and totally out of their senses. They hardly ever spoke, but sat through the entire night, staring at the group around the campfire through their glazed eyes. Once in a while, she got up and wandered around aimlessly for a minute or two and then went back to sit with her friend who was now lying down on the sand like the Vitruvian man. In the morning, when we were all walking back to the cottage, an Indian roadside Romeo, waiting for the crowd to leave, approached her and asked her name. “Nancy Drew” she said. I am not sure if that was her real name, but it cracked it me big time :D Sunday evening, when we were packing up to leave, Nancy Drew and the Vitruvian man were sitting in the front porch of their cottage, looking as normal as ever in all their hippie glory (tie dyed clothes and all)! We saw the Roadside Romeo talking to them in his broken English, grinning from ear to ear, while his group of friends, whom we fondly named The Hardy Boys, stood ogling at Nancy Drew. There is something incredibly alluring about hippies :D
       Bangalore has it’s share of hippie tourists and whenever I see one, I am reminded of Nancy Drew :D Thanks to her, all my childhood images of Nancy Drew, conjured in my mind while I read about her, are now heavily altered..LOL..Not that I mind it one bit ;) Nancy Drew just became cooler :D
       Talking about hippies, here’s a link to watch my favourite hippie songstress :D Enjoy!
                                             Phoebe you rock!!
God...From vacations to hippies...Am I on a roll or what!!
Here's to happy times people!! Cheers! :)





Thursday, July 15, 2010

A tribute to my Thatha - the best man in my life

      The past weeks have easily been the most painful weeks of my 25 years of existence. The loss of my beloved grandpa or ‘Thatha’ as I used to call him, has left behind a void that can never be filled.On July 2nd this year, the worst fear of my life, one that I have dreaded every day of my life, came true when my otherwise robust and healthy grandpa slipped into a coma induced by a fever that lasted for less than 2 days. He breathed his last in peace, unaware of the pain that was eating away his life. For a life so nobly lived, any other form of death would have been blasphemous.
       I was 2 years old, too young to realize the finality of death, when I lost my father. In spite of having lost a parent at that young age, I never really did experience his absence, thanks to my grandpa who effortlessly slipped into the role of a father, doing all that he could to keep his daughter and his grandchildren safe under his expert care. My summer holidays every year, were blissfully spent at my grandpa’s palatial home in his native village, which has stood witness to many a happy times that our huge family has spent in its vast expanse. People from the streets, children who had lost their parents, students who could not afford their fees, old people who were on their death-beds and many such people, not related to our family in anyway, became a part of our family when my grandpa took it upon himself to feed,clothe,nurture and educate them. He was selflessness personified. People who lived through his youth were lucky enough to witness his deeds, but for us, every little story we hear about our grandpa, makes our hearts swell out with pride.
     During my childhood days, I have stood witness to his extreme generosity and love. His love was understated. He never really hugged and kissed us. But when we saw him sitting in the front yard, listening to our stories intently, the gleam in his eyes spoke about his love for us. Whenever he visited us at our home in Bangalore, he came home carrying a load of luggage, packing up goodies made by grandma, fresh produce from my grandma’s garden, grains from his fields, chocolates from the neighbourhood bakery and his favourite snack, dumroti, specially cut into little triangles for us to share. Not once did he walk in empty handed. We used to sit around him, eagerly waiting for him to unpack all that he had brought for us. Right up to the last time he visited us in the month of May this year, my grandpa treated us like little kids who loved surprises, always walking in with something for us, tucked safely away into his deep pockets.
      I still remember that summer day in 1994, when he saw me writing a story, sitting by the water tank behind our home. He immediately insisted that I post the story to Champak, my favourite fortnightly magazine during those days. Half an hour later, I was posting my handwritten story into an envelope, while my grandpa proudly told the village postmaster that his granddaughter was a budding writer. If not for him, I, a fourth grader at that time, would never have had the courage to pursue my hobby seriously. Five years later, when my first article got published in THE HINDU, I proudly showed it to my grandpa. Half the village knew about it when I reached there for my 9th grade summer vacations! The summer nights were spent in our front yard, lying next to him, watching the sky, full of stars and listening to his stories, full of knowledge and wisdom. My grandfather was a farmer. A man who tilled his land to fill his stomach. But the knowledge he had of the outside world and the keen interest he expressed in learning more, was rarely surpassed by any other gentleman his age. His collection of books was amazing and he spent all his free hours reading and re-reading his favourite books. For someone who held the responsibility of running such a huge family, pursuing hobbies would be a distant dream. But my grandpa made time for his books and remained a student right up to his last days, learning all that he could from them.
      At my grandfather’s funeral, many a stranger’s eyes wept as he was laid down to rest. Later, standing there, alone, and lost in the crowd, I overheard stories of how he had helped the poor labourers in the village conduct the weddings at their home, by buying the mangalsutra( The Indian equivalent of a wedding ring, it’s a chain worn by the married Indian women) for their daughters. My grandfather was no rich man himself, but he always had enough to spare for a needy soul. If anyone of us can live up to a fraction of what my grandpa has done, we will earn ourselves a happy place in heaven. That is how selfless this man was.
     Every important milestone in my life was achieved in his presence and he always made it a point to discuss my plans each time I met him. He enquired after my working hours, my team, where I would have my lunch, was it safe to stay out late? Considering the fact that I worked in the software industry, one would believe that my job would be alien to him. But my grandpa floored me completely when he spoke about the board of directors of the company I worked at, how much profit we had made that year etc. He had his own quiet way of knowing things. Understated, sophisticated and perfect.
     He was 84 this year. And even at this age, he refused to give up tilling his land and attended to his fields with utmost love and devotion. He was the King in our lives, the Supreme Court of our family, our very own Majesty. His dignified presence added a strange kind of divinity to any family gathering. Not one person in the house had the courage to raise his voice is my grandpa’s presence. Not out of fear, for my grandpa never raised his voice himself, but out of the respect that my grandpa so naturally deserved. Our home in the village now echoes with silence and each time someone laughs in the courtyard, a little part of me hopes it’s my grandpa.
     He has left behind my lovely grandmother, who has been the pillar of strength is my grandpa’s life. It breaks my heart to watch her weep in sorrow at her loss. My pain is incomparable to hers. Theirs was a strong, happy, married life of close to 60 years that lasted the test of time. They have been through the happiness, the sorrow, the pain and the laughter together, sharing everyday of their lives in each other’s presence. Theirs was a special kind of relation that needed no exchange of words for a message to be conveyed. One glance, one look at each other and they would have spoken a million words between themselves. In their own special way, my grandparents were deeply in love with each other and that true love reflected in everything that they did. My strong belief in the institution of marriage stems from the divine union of my grandparents that has unfolded the true sanctity of a marriage right before our eyes. It hurts me deeply to watch one half of this strong bond now gone. But it’s a transitory phase in this world. True bonds of love carry on to attain eternity in the other world and I am sure my grandparents love will continue to live forever.
     With him gone, a huge part of my emotional strength has been drained. Not a day goes by without fervently wishing for him to come back. Death’s finality is finally seeping into my head. But the fact that my grandpa has gone to a better place, rightly deserved by him for all the good deeds that he did during his lifetime, gives me solace. And the fact that I was lucky to have Him as my Grandfather and spend 25 years of my life under his guidance and care makes me feel proud. I thank God for giving me the best grandpa in the world and pray that I get him back as my child someday, so that I can do unto him, all that he has done for me.
     During his lifetime, my grandpa was a living God. Now, he is God himself and I find myself going to bed every night, directing my prayers and wishes to him. He never left any of my wishes unfulfilled and now I rest in peace with the belief that He will answer my prayers and continue to keep us under his able care.
     When you were around, I never really thanked you and I know you never expected it either. But Thatha, thanks for being a part of my life. I cannot put into words how much I miss you right now. Someday, we will be united. Until then, continue to be with me and give me the strength to face life without you. Love you with all my heart.....







Saturday, June 26, 2010

Man Vs Food Vs Me

        I woke up from a short nap this afternoon, to heavy rains lashing against the windows. I had half the mind to go back to sleep, but a hot coffee sounded like a better idea. It WAS a better idea! After an hour or so of doing nothing but sitting by the window and watching the rain, I decided to catch up on some TV. That was about an hour ago. I am now in front of my PC, craving for something to bite into.You know, a giant burger, a sinfully roasted chicken leg or a plateful of onion pakodas. Arrggh..It’s the rain and then the shows on Travel and Living! I mean seriously, these guys have to be sued. Almost all their shows are about food, more food and then some more food. Anthony Bourdain walks around like James Bond, making the whole deal of digging into delicious food look like some major spy game. Then there is this Bobby Chinn ( Oh btw, I love that guy ;)) who actually flirts with food, making his episodes look like some weird dating show. Then there is Anthony Zimmern, whose binge episodes keep playing in a loop all day ! And each time I watch any of these shows, I start craving for good, glorious food ! Even Samantha Brown walks into eating joints on her “Passport to Great Weekends”. Not helping !
        Then there is Man Vs Food. The portly Mr.Adam Richman plops himself around the United States, eating his way into a food coma and jumping into food challenges. I have seen him down a giant steak, a pizza that looked as big as a football stadium and a burger that looked like a 100 pillows piled up together. I find him capable of eating up a human being. And the noises he makes ( Tee hee hee ). I mean, the food on the table looks delicious alright , and yeah, I would happily take his job without thinking twice, but frankly, the way this guy pushes food down his throat, I wonder how painful his mornings are, if you know what I mean :P Wherever he goes, he has people nudging him on to finish his food challenges right upto the last morsel. He finishes the chicken to the bone,even when it’s coated with the hottest chilli in the world, the only thing left from his giant burgers are onion rings that fell off while he ate and sometimes he even licks his fingers off, just to make sure he has finished EVERYTHING on the table. Wonder what his digestive tract is lined with, to be able to resist such abuse! The mayo and mustard stream dripping down from his mouth apart, this guy is good fun, though I wish he would go easy on the expressions :P Makes him look like he is having a bad case of constipation( which is a possibility, considering the fact that our man is an eating machine :D) Check out his expressions! 


        Now thanks to all this food on TV, I am always craving for good food. Not good ! Not good at all!! And oh, I was hoping to continue this post to write about Nigella Lawson as well, but then, that woman is good enough to deserve a separate post. Plus, my coffee is getting cold. And the aroma from the steaming hot plate of pakodas is driving me crazy. Freshly delivered at my desk by Mommy the Great. Eat your way into happiness people! :) Happy Weekend!



Sunday, June 13, 2010

The One-Upper Syndrome

     The moon rotates around the Earth and the Earth rotates around the Sun. That is the natural course of the Universe. If you have paid attention in your 6th grade geography class, the name Copernicus will ring a bell. This guy suggested a model of the Universe that was centred around the Sun. I kind of bought his story, until recently.
     Yeah. Nature has thrown me away from the natural course and put me in an orbit that runs around a certain person who is so full of herself, that 5 minutes with her and you will find yourself forcefully drawn into her world, which again, is full of herself. If you have had the good fortune ( use a pinch of sarcasm here) of bumping into someone who thinks the world about themselves and expects you to think so too, you will understand my plight by the time I end this post.
     Let us call her The Queen. Not because she is one, but because, if she ever stumbles across this mean blog, she will at least give me credit for giving her a fancy name :P Now Miss Queen is someone I HAVE to stumble into everyday. A typical conversation with her, as expected, begins with her and ends (if it ever does) with her.
    Even when we are stuck in a large group, she has what it takes to divert the conversation towards her. Sample this
Person 1: “ Bush kept talking about Osama bin Laden. And now all of a sudden, the guy is forgotten. No one talks about him anymore.Wonder what happened to that guy.”
     Before Person 2 can respond, Miss Queen almost gets hysterical trying to figure out what she can say to talk next without giving the other people a chance.There she goes!
Miss Queen : “ Oh Bin Laden. “I” hate that guy. “I” think he must have shaved his beard by now and wandered into the US again. Btw, you know what, “I” hate men with beards. Does’nt it itch ? Wonder how girls can stand them. “I” would dump a guy if he ever grew a beard.”
      And just like that Bin Laden vanishes into thin air and the conversation is lost in an overdose of HER opinion. Not that I would care. Because I generally turn a deaf ear to all that she says.But it does get to me sometimes. Especially when she gets into “one-upper” mode. If “one-upper” sounds new to you, here is how the urban dictionary describes it.
One-upper : An annoying person who responds to hearing someone else’s experience or problem by immediately telling a similar story about themselves with a much more fantastic (or terrible) outcome.
Picture this :
Girl 1 ( talking about her weekend getaway) : My husband and I drove down to County Resorts for the weekend. It’s such an amazing place. We had a great time there.
Miss Queen :  Oh County Resorts? My grand dad has a membership there. We get a free vacation there every 6 months. But we choose not to go. Such a cheap place.
      How mean is that? I have half the mind to punch her nasty nose and break it into two. If only I could get away with it!
     One week with that woman and I knew there was no stopping her. I did try to be politely tolerant of her antics. When that dint work, I resorted to plainly ignoring her. That’s the worst way to treat a person. Ignoring them. But such people just ask for it. And I give them what they ask for.
     Miss Queen is only a recent example. There are many such glowing examples of interesting one-upper personalities from the past who are freakshows of the first order ! The worst kind of one-uppers are the negative one-uppers. The ones who want to stand first. Even if it means standing first on the loser scale :p I mean seriously, what do you do with such people?
      If you tell them you got a cavity filled, they will jump and say that they got a root canal operation done. If you say your neighbour got a nose job, their neighbour would have got a nose job AND a boob job . If your friend downed 3 tequila shots at the party, their friend would have downed 6. And if you broke your ankle on your biking trip, they would have broken their ankle, their hip and their neck :-| There is simply no end to their bragging!
       How do you handle such jerks? Some of my friends try reverse-snobbing, which is aimed at making the one-upper feel guilty. If she brags about an expensive dinner, you talk about the hunger in Uganda. So basically you just burst her bubble right into her face. But again, that would mean stooping down to her level. And I am not too keen on doing that.
       But I must admit, it is quite challenging to just sit there and tolerate such freakshows. So on the most recent onset of her bragging session, I put a brake to her enthusiastic onslaught and told her I was having a bad headache. “Uh-ho” she said and stopped for a few seconds. I thought my trick had worked. Only until she blurted out “ I had a bad headache in the bus today. I felt like I would faint if it continued”. Inspite of it’s inappropriateness , I could not hide my grin. I simply picked my coffee up and walked away as I guffawed like a crazy cow. She is just beyond repair! So now instead of banging my head into the wall each time she does that, I simply try and find humour in her situation. I can choose to either get peeved or I can simply choose to chuckle over her mental illness. I choose to do the latter. And I see that I can stand her better now :P
       I am sure you would have come across one-uppers too. Trying to mend them or trying to beat them in their own game is an absolute waste of precious energy. It’s like rolling in the mud with a pig. Not only will you get dirty, the pig will actually enjoy doing it. Why give them the pleasure ;)
      Here’s a chuckle for you. And I take leave with that :)
There were three women sitting around the table, talking and bragging.
The first beautiful, dressed lady said "My husband bought me a new mink coat and a trip to Europe. "
“Oh !Thats nice!”.The second lady replied.
Trying to out do her and one up her , the third lady said "my husband bought me a 5 carat diamond AND that mansion up on the hill, Oh, and a Rolls".
" Oh !Thats nice!”. The second lady said again.
Noticing that the second lady was so quiet, the other two prodded her.
Finally she said, " My husband sent me to etiquette school" .
“Oh really? “ The other two women said. "What did they teach you there?"
"Well, instead of saying “f--- you”, they taught me to say “ Oh! That’s nice"
 The other two shut up :-D
Have a great week ahead ! :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dear Shampoo Girl

Dear Shampoo Girl,
       You are an enigma! In the true sense of the word. Ever since I was old enough to understand what you were doing on TV, I have been trying my best to understand what the hell is the secret of your happiness. For years now, I have seen you grinning from ear to ear, happily rubbing the lather into your scalp and I have begin to believe that you have just cracked the mystery of everlasting joy. You have the key to heaven’s door. And I think you are not human. You are definitely an angel with supernatural powers. How else can you explain keeping your eyes open while shampooing your hair? You don’t even squint ! And your face...Its perfect ! The lips are shiny alright and the makeup is intact. In fact your face is barely wet. How do you manage it? I swear, for us normal mortals, there is a lot of lather-flowing-down-your-face, eyes-burining-like-hell,face-wound-up-in-an-ugly-grimace when we shampoo. Yes, inspired by you, I did grin into the bathroom mirror. And yes, I did look very happy. But that was only until a stream of lather found it’s way into my open mouth. And it did not taste good at all. Not that I thought shampoo tastes good, but you know, with all the strawberry and grapefruit extract....I thought...err....never mind.
       Your boyfriend wore sunglasses to ward off the glare from your shining hair. And as you walked down the street, your hair swung from end to end, like a garden swing. And when the wind blew right into your face, you flashed your million dollar smile again and pushed a strand of your luxurious hair away from your face (without squinting). Why is it that when I walk down the street and the wind blows into my face, my hair blows out in all directions and I end up looking like I just got out of bed? Is it because I don’t smile enough in the shower? I surely do think so.
      
Thank you for enlightening me about the “extra bounce”,“deep moisturizing”,“intense conditioning”,“damage repair”,“hairfall control”, “anti-dandruff” variety of shampoos. I tried all of them one bottle after the other. The extra bounce shampoo bounced away from the bathroom shelf and ended up in the loo. The deep moisturizing shampoo leaked from the bottom and moisturized the bathroom towel. The damage repair shampoo damaged my hair and sent it out for repair. My neighbour used the hairfall control shampoo and his hair does not fall anymore (Let us forget the fact that he is bald now). He is now using the anti-dandruff shampoo to rub his pate into shining perfection. He has nothing to lose you see. Your shampoos sure do live up to their names ! And yes we are all happy people now. Thanks to the extended usage of your various varieties of shampoo, we have now learnt one of life’s most important lessons. That not matter what name you call a shampoo by, at the end of the day, all it does is to wash your hair! As good as a soap solution. Period.
        Being your loyal fan, I do wish that you continue to smile as you always do and may God bless you with many such happy moments under the shower. May your life be filled with sachets, tubes and bottles of the wondrous liquid. And may your boyfriend continue to wear his sunglasses.
        So yeah, the shampoo did not quite work out for me like it did for the Shampoo Girl.Sad and sullen by the anti-climax, I had almost given up, when I saw the detergent lady on TV,grinning ear to ear as she emptied a heaped spoon of detergent into her washing machine. Time for me to do the laundry! Maybe that is where I will find my nirvana. Amen.
       Detergent girl, here I come! Let’s wash away baby! :-|



Sunday, June 6, 2010

Shantaram - My Review

      Being an obsessive, compulsive reader, I have spent a sizeable chunk of my life and a good part of my income buying books, reading and re-reading them. I hate buying books off second hand stores and I hate buying pirated versions. It has been my principle to buy original books. A book is more than just a product to be sold in the market. A lot of toil and soul goes into writing a book and I find it almost inhuman to even entertain the thought of depriving the writer a monetary gain that he/she so rightly deserves.
       I never pick my book based on popular opinion. I prefer taking my chance. If the book turns out to be boring, ah well, big deal. But on the other hand, if a book turns out to be a delightful read, it’s worth the investment of money and time. Right now, I have quite an impressive collection of books. I intend to hand them down as an heirloom :) In an age where even weddings happen online, I am not sure how much the future generation would appreciate a truckload of yellowed books, but I sure do intend to give it a try.
      I have been reading up English Classics of late and I am loving it. Today, having just read a very impressive page from one of the English Classics, I felt that the book actually struck a chord somewhere. Feeling weirdly emotional, I went back in time to dig out the last time when I felt so absolutely taken over by a book. And just then, a line crossed my mind.
               “Luck is what happens to you when fate gets tired of waiting.”
       That line, that simple yet profound line has stayed with me, even years after I read it in one of the books that has influenced my life in such a big way, that I cannot even begin to explain. I cannot point out a trait and say “ Look, this is what I learnt from that book”. But, many a decision and many a bitter moment in my life have been passed through just from the sheer strength that I derived from reading this masterpiece. This line is but one of the many treasures that lay hidden in one of best written books of the century, “Shantaram”.
       Shantaram is almost an epic. If you are the kind who looks for popcorn entertainment, twists and turns and happy endings and sugary romance, Shantaram is not for you. Shantaram is a journey, a timeless travel into life, full of learning , pain, love and a myriad other emotions. After having completed reading the book, I remember clutching it to my heart and kissing it. That is how much I love that book. I cannot assure that you will go through the same emotions after having read it. Experiences vary from person to person. But what I can assure you is that the book will not disappoint you. At any level !
      The title may lead you into thinking that the book is about an Indian man. Yes, the novel is set in India. But the main protagonist of the story is an Australian prisoner who escapes from his 19 years of sentence in an Australian prison and ends up in India on a fake passport. Destiny brings him to Bombay ( Mumbai) and he meets Prabhakar, his humble Indian taxi driver friend who gives him shelter in a filthy slum in Bombay, away from the eyes of the law. Lindsay the Australian, goes on to be Linbaba in the slum and later in life, he becomes “Shantaram” when Prabhakar’s mother calls him that during his stay at the tiny village tuck away in rural Maharashtra. “ Shantaram” transalates to mean “ The Peaceful man”. But the entire book revolves around pain, crime, disease, death, drugs and a very poignant, profound and alluring definition of love.
      I do not intend to dissect and explain the story. But just believe me when I say it, time will just flow by while you read the book. It makes you wonder, it makes you cry, it makes you smile with tears flowing down your cheeks, it makes you want to go hold Lindsay’s hand and live his wretched life in the slum, it makes you say prayers for him and it makes you want to take the next flight to Bombay. Inspite of being written quite some time back, the book is relevant to this day and each night I went to sleep after having read a part of Shantaram, in a very strange way, I felt as if the events in the book were happening during my lifetime, right now in Bombay. That is how livid and tangible the events are. You know a book is good when you begin to be a part of it.
       Lin is a struggler, trying to make through life by peddling drugs and getting involved in counterfeit and crime. And yet, you will love him. He is no hero. He is a normal human who succumbs to pressure, cries out in pain, yearns to be loved and has his own failures to deal with. He is an anti-hero. In spite of his unromantic, drab, glamour-deprived life, as he ploughs through his days in Bombay, finding himself involving with thugs and murderers, you will push aside all the negativity and turn the pages to move with him. Twined into the narration, is a wealth of wisdom, surreptitiously intertwined with the story that just hits you the first time you read it. There have been many moments in the book when I turned the pages backward and re-read sections that I absolutely loved.
      Linbaba, Prabhakar, Didier,Karla,Abdullah,Abdel Khader Khan and the other characters of the book will take you through a sojourn that is almost spiritually enlightening. And yet there is nothing religious or spiritual about the story. There are no Godmen who will tell you about life, but there are marvellous moments in the story that will simply explain life to you in terms that you will immediately grasp. And terms that will stay with you for a lifetime.
      Being an Indian, I know my country well. So when Linbaba stays at Prabhakar’s village, or when he talks about the slums in Bombay, the construction sites, the poverty, the foreigners who give up their lives in their own countries and settle down in Bombay, peddling drugs and becoming a part of the local crime gang, I can totally relate to what he says. Being used to viewing my country through my own eyes, when Shantaram, a foreigner describes it for me, the picture of my country in general and Bombay in particular comes out as clear as a painting. The streets and gullies of Bombay, The Haji Ali Mosque, the beaches of Bombay and the Leopold Cafe are all real life landmarks in the wonderful city. And as Shantaram brings them into his story, the Bombay I have known, was shown to me in newer light. There is a certain romantic inclination for ths city and its filth. Such is the essential involvement of Bombay in Shantaram that even after all these years, I still remember Bombay as the place where Lindsay the Australian became Shantaram.
       Through his epic book, Gregory David Roberts brings to life, many moments from his own life. After having googled him out and read about him, Shantaram almost sounded like Roberts’ own autobiography. Read about his life and you will know what I mean. I could not help but draw parallels between Roberts’ life and his alter-ego Shantaram’s. For one, Roberts’ was a prisoner in an Australian jail before he began writing Shantaram :)
       If you are in the mood for aching hands and sleepless nights, Shantaram is just the thing for you! The book runs into 900 + pages and all the ”flipping back to re-read” moments will further add to the time that you will take to finish it :) Nevertleless, it is worth every hour of sleep that you will lose over it. I highly recommend this book as a must read. Take my word. You will love it !
       I will leave you with some of my favourite lines from the book. This should do enough to get you into buying an original copy of the book. :) Read on...

“Men reveal what they think when they look away, and what they feel when they hesitate. With women, it’s the other way around.”
“Every virtuous act has some dark secret in its heart; every risk we take contains a mystery that can’t be solved.”

“At first, when we truly love someone, our greatest fear is that the loved one will stop loving us. What we should fear and dread instead is that we won’t stop loving them, even after they are dead and gone.”

“A dream is a place where a wish and a fear meet. When the wish and fear are exactly the same, we call the dream a nightmare.”

“The past reflects eternally between two mirrors -the bright mirror of words and deeds, and the dark one, full of things we didn't do or say.”

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to be in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.”

“The tendency towards complexity has carried the universe from almost perfect simplicity to the kind of complexity that we see around us, everywhere we look. The universe is always doing this. It is always moving from the simple to the complex. “

“I dont know what frightens me more, the power that crushes us, or our endless ability to endure it”.

“Truth is a bully that we all pretend to like”.

If this review translates into 2 more Shantarams getting sold, my job is done :) Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I dream, therefore I am...

      There is never a day that goes by without me thinking about how it would be to do absolutely nothing in life, but just sit back and watch each day go by, sipping on a tender coconut, reading a forgotten novel and whiling away the afternoons under a cool banyan tree. I am a dreamer. And I have a mad life.”Mad” in a nice way sometimes and “mad” in a not-so-nice-way sometimes. But all it takes for me to escape this madness is to just shut my eyes, sit back and dream. I have read like a billion quotes till now that keep reiterating the importance of building dreams. But never did it’s importance really occur to me until I actually grew up and tasted life!
     As a kid, I did make my dreams. But life has been kind enough to refuse to fulfil them but in turn gifted me with a reality that is far more pleasant than any dream I could ever come up with. There were confusing phases when nothing made sense, when everything seemed to go the wrong way and I thought I simply had to give up and stop being a dreamer. But eventually, I have come to realize that though not many dreams translated into reality, my ability to dream has more than made up for any loss that reality might have made me feel :)
     I have passed through a phase in life when “dreaming big” was the mantra. Somehow, for me, this “dream big” mantra has a very materialistic ring to it. At least, honestly, when I was a true believer of dreaming big, it was always about a super-successful career, a rich life, full of fun-filled moments, extended overseas holidays, a Jacuzzi in the backyard and a personal indoor spa . I may have been naive in believing that “ big dreams” had to be only about success,name and fame in life, but for me, that’s the connotation of “big dreams” I had as a growing teenager.
      Later in life(that is now), when the life-map has begin to make sense and when all the materialistic dreams are not very far away from being fulfilled( a decade is not very far, I believe :) ), I am at crossroads. With a little planning and smart execution of plans, I can get all I want. But no, just when I have everything at hand’s reach, I want to go back and grab all those times when I wished I would be what I am today. As a kid, I could not wait to grow up! And now, as a grown up, I want to go back and be the kid that I was! Why would I want to do that? One reason of course, is the clichéd attraction for childhood memories. Life has it’s way of making the past look more cheerful than it actually was. So yes, maybe that is why I would want to go back. But no, there is more to it than just that. It is the rare gift that only children possess. The gift to dream endlessly. The gift to dream fearlessly.
       For a child, everything is possible. Right from morphing into Batman to sprouting wings when you wake up in the morning, every fantasy is a possibility. Even the wildest of dreams of a child, have a ring of reality and a hope of possibility attached to it. But for an adult, the innocence is gone. Having seen life and it’s various turns, every dream is plagued by the unavoidable evaluation of pros and cons. The urge to be realistically fantasized is really strong. You are aware of the hurdles, the hardships, the turmoil, the testing times and the absolute surrender to the fact that “maybe” this dream will never come true.The “fearless” quality of dreams is gone! And the urge to be real rules over everything else..
      I want to go back to those times when I checked the scrapped pencil shavings inside my book to see if they had morphed into a peacock feather, when I used to put coins into a piggy bank and wished that I could buy the neighbourhood park with that money, days when I prayed to God to give me the ability to read the time from a clock that had no numbers on it (yes I was petrified of clocks that had no numbers on them ) and days when I swallowed a hailstone that had fallen into our frontyard because I truly believed that it made humans immortal :) There is something strangely alluring about the innocence of those times. When they said “Ignorance is bliss” , I baulked. But now I understand that in one sense, ignorance truly is bliss.
      Having come to a turn in life where “dreaming big” is not the mantra anymore, I am now a follower of small dreams. I do not yearn for a Jacuzzi anymore, nor do I want a personal spa. The life that I look forward to in my older days now, is simple,uncomplicated and highly unmaterialistic. Now, when I sit by the open window, watching the rain, I dream of the place where I want to be in very soon.
      It is a small cottage, with a well in the backyard, a banyan tree in the frontyard, a small garden swing, a wooden bench by the wall, picket fence on all four sides, a jasmine creeper by the front door, an armchair, an old grandfather clock inside the house, a well stocked kitchen ( the foodie in me ) and one room full of bookshelves along the wall, filled from the ceiling to the floor, with all the books that I have managed to collect in my life. :)
      Now, the biggest “small” dream of my life, is to get to a point in time when I can afford to spend my days in that humble cottage, sitting on the garden swing, reading a book, watching the bullock carts go by, listening to the crows caw aloud in the afternoons, feeding the stray dog , building up a bonfire in the garden on cold evenings and spending long nights in my library, writing my book :) And just like that, I want to be able to live each day away and pray for a long life to live through more such days of blissful existence!
      And until that day actually comes by, I will continue to sit by my window, close my eyes and dream...And I will do all that it takes to get there :) Even if it means finding my way through my “mad” life right now ! :) And no, that is not my retirement plan...I would very much love to be there right now! :)
                         
         Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today.”




Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Eat Street Bangalore !

     Being the foodie that I am, I have covered pretty much all the well known restaurants in Bangalore. Indian, Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Continental, Italian, Afghani, you name it! While some places were nothing less than paradise, there are quite a few restaurants that did not quite tingle my tastebuds. I have been meaning to write a review about some of my favourite eateries for some time now. But reviewing food is no easy task. I am someone who literally worships food. My plate is always clean after a meal, I don’t waste a single grain of food. I always say no to materialistic gift items and always insist that anyone who wants to give me a gift could treat me to a nice dinner instead. While I do not promote gluttony, I do indulge in it once in a while ;)
     When was the last time you felt so hungry that you thought you could eat a horse? What exactly did you do then? Did you indulge in gluttony or did you just console yourself with a snack? It was on one such “dying out of hunger” occasions that two of my friends and I decided to hit the best street in Bangalore. The EAT Street. We were coming back home in the office bus when we our stomachs started grumbling aloud. Two minutes later, stuck in a mighty traffic jam, we decided enough was enough and got out of the bus. A half a mile walk and two auto rides later, we were at VV Puram, which is one of the oldest areas in Bangalore and also house to the “world famous in Bangalore” Eat Street :)
Bangalore’s Eat Street is nothing like the fancy Eat Street in Hyderabad. Our Eat Street is basically a line of humble shacks that churn out some of the best street food that I have EVER eaten. At the fag end of the street is VB Bakery, one of Bangalore’s oldest and best bakeries. It is the oldest landmark in that area and any old Bangalorean worth his salt will easily locate the quaint little bakery where the items get sold out in a matter of an hour! The place makes steady business and remains crowded until late hours in the evening. You can choose to begin your culinary journey at Eat Street either from the VB Bakery end or from the other end of the street where the line of shacks begin!
       We chose to begin from the other end . Our first stop was at the Idly stall. Served on a leaf with a splatter of coconut chutney and sambar, the idlies here just melt in your mouth ! The guy who makes them pulls the tray straight from the steaming vessel, scoops out the fluffy idlis into a leaf and hands it over. Being a South Indian, I know my Idly well ! And I am quite a critique when it comes to rating idlis. But trust me, the idlis at this place simply blew me away ! Being the gluttons that we are, my friends and I decided that instead of ordering 3 plates of idlis, we could just order one plate and share it. That way we could savour ALL the items on Eat Street :P. The idlies vanished in less than a minute. Half my mind wanted to order another plate while the other half wanted to scoot to the next stall and gulp down the Onion dosa!
    To say that the onion dosa was divine would be an understatement! The dosa was actually a piece of art! Half the fun at Eat Street lies in standing by the stall and watching the men cook your food right in front of you. After skilfully spreading out the dosa batter on the hot plate, the guy punched a hole in a packet of Nandini ghee and simply poured a torrent of ghee all over the dosa. Pure, unadulterated ghee! After topping the dosa with chopped onions and cooking it over the flame for a minute, our onion dosa, dripping with ghee, smelling like heaven ended up on our single plate. Without even waiting to chew the dosa in the mouth, we dug into the next piece like hungry dogs. Ashamed of being so ravenous, I looked around to make sure no one was watching us. My fears met with a happy end. EVERY single person around that stall was eating as if he/she hadn’t seen food for months together! Gluttony is all the more sweet when you have a large group indulging in it. But seriously, the dosa was so good that we just couldn’t stop with one. Two more dosas later, we moved on to the next stall.
      The next stall was a Sino-Indian venture, if you know what I mean. Yeah, a gobi Manchurian and fried rice counter. NOPE. I had seen enough of this Chinese-Indian combo and decided to give it a skip. Just then the guy passing by us from the other side of the road burped so loud, that we HAD to find out where he was coming from ! :P The packet in his hand gave away the secret. The hot jalebi and rabri counter!
      This shop was so crowded, that we had to literally push and pull to make it to the counter and place our order. Some ten minutes later, we were happily digging into hot Jalebis dipped into a tiny pot of Radbi. For the uninitiated, rabri is like a sweet yogurt kind of thing, made out of milk and God knows what ! Whatever it was, it was delicious! It was so good that I ordered a quarter kilo of jalebis to carry home. It is almost cruel to eat good food alone ;) And those hot jalebis definitely deserved to be carried home for the family :)
       By the time our jalebis could find their way down our throats, we were digging into a huge masala papad. A simple combination of a roasted papad, topped with tomatoes, onions ,salt chilli powder, green chillies and chaat masala, the masala papad was a light and tasty break from all the high calorie food. Following our healthy trend, we ended up at the “Congress” stall. “Congress” is essentially a a mixture of healthy carrot scraps and a variety of lentils , crisp and crunchy like a salad. The “Congress” makes for a very good snack when you want your tummy to take some time to settle down and take a break :P
      After lingering over the Congress bowl for about twenty minutes, we have made enough space in our tummies for a generous bowl of dessert. Our next obvious stop had to definitely be at the Gulkhand store. The Gulkhand is a sweet, sticky dessert made out of rose petals drowned in sugar syrup with a variety of additions to enhance the flavour. You can choose to top the Gulkhand with either a dollop of vanilla ice cream or with a generous helping of home-made, unsalted butter. Both the combinations are great. However, we chose to top it with a mixture of chopped dry fruits and it tasted marvellous with a capital M ! :-D
   It was 8 PM when we started our gastromonical extravaganza. By the time we reached the end of the street, we were in front of VB Bakery and the time was 10:15 PM. We did not have the courage to venture into the bakery to eat something. So we quickly ran in, packed some spiced biscuits, some chow-chow mixture and ran out in less than 15 minutes, just in time to catch the ONLY auto waiting on the street. We paid the driver thrice more than what we normally would and reached home weighing atleast a couple of kilos more than what we were before.
      As I trudged into the gate, waddling like a duck, I was trying my best to stop burping out aloud. I held up the packet of jalebis with a placid expression on my face to explain my condition. When I finally settled down into the couch, I let out a groan and I swear I sounded like a content pig :P After I had regained enough strength to get out of the lethargy induced by the binge, I sang praises about Eat Street for about half an hour and then slipped into a food coma for the rest of the night and half of the next morning :D
       It next morning being Saturday, the conditions were extremely favourable for my food induced coma to continue. With a blissful recollection of the gastronomical extravaganza, I highly recommend Eat Street or Thindi Beedi as it is otherwise known. It is a MUST-VISIT. If you are a total foodie, you will definitely come back content ! If you are a poor eater, it is sure gonna prove to be one of those sunny days when even you cannot stop eating ;)
      For my Blog Frog friends : Do drop in a comment if you are curious to know more about the alien food names..I will be glad to share the details with you : )

**pics from the internet

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Banish BEN 10 !

      Last evening has been quite eventful. It’s that time of the year when the summer vacations come to a close and schools reopen again. My 4 year old nephew, Yash’s school begins this coming Monday. With our minds all set to make our kid the coolest kid in town, my sister, mom and I set out on shopping for his school stuff. Our first stop was at the school bag shop. Now, seriously, take my advice. If you have a kid at home, who watches Cartoon Network and Pogo all day, you definitely do not want to take her/ him along for shopping. This shop is like HEAVEN for all the kiddos. At the entrance of the shop was a red bag, with Spiderman sprawling all over it and his feet dangling at the bottom ! If I were a kid, and if I were made to carry that bag to school, I would rather stay illiterate and be at home than be seen in public with that bag! Yash’s eyes lit up and he exclaimed “ Look, look, Spiderman!!”. That was the first warning. I almost knew what was in store for us!
     It took just two minutes for me to spot ALL the cartoon characters on the school bags in that shop. A cute little Mickey Mouse bag caught my attention. When I looked around to show the bag to Yash, he was nowhere close. I saw him at the far end of the shop, clutching on to a hideous- looking florescent green bag. It did not take me more than a second to guess why my otherwise tasteful nephew would even hold a florescent green bag! It had to be BEN 10. I ran to where Yash stood and told him “ Listen, not this one please. It looks yuck. And look, the zip is gone.” I tried snatching that bag away from him. “This is what I want. Look, it has BEN 10 on it” he squealed happily, pointing at the nightmarish image of an angry BEN 10 squirting coin-like-things out of his watch.
“What about this one?” I enquired, holding up the cute little Mickey Mouse bag.
“ That is for pre-schoolers Mam”. This time it was the smartass shopkeeper :-|
         My sister joined in and tried to convince her son why this green Ben 10 bag was a bad idea. My mother was all for letting the kid choose what he wants. But I had made up my mind to use all my power to avoid carrying that bag home. Eager to find something that would take his attention off the Ben 10 bag, I went back to the place where I found the Mickey Mouse bag. Sitting in a corner, was a cute little pink school bag, with a picture of the adorable Dora The Explorer. The girl in me fell in love with that bag. I know it is cruel to inflict a pink school bag on a 4 year old boy, but not wanting to take any chances I turned towards Yash.
“ You liked this? It has Dora on it”
“ Dora is a girl. And that bag is for the girls, not for boys!”. I could sense the anger.
“ What about this then? “ This time it was a decent looking Pokemon bag.
        I heard no answer this time. I only got a very focussed look from him that seemed to say “Will you please shut up?!”
       After nearly twenty minutes of trying to convince him to let go off the BEN 10 bag and settle for the Pokemon one, we had nearly given up. Yash was now bawling aloud, refusing to buy anything other than the hideous green one. That’s when my sister came up with a deal that only mothers of young kids can come up with.
“ Ok, you can keep this bag. But you will not be allowed to buy a new pencil case and lunchbag. If you choose the Pokemon bag, you can choose your lunch bag and your pencil case. You decide” she announced.
The child is a thorough businessman. He sensed the pros and cons immediately and declared.
“ Alright, i will take the Pokemon bag. But you know what, you are not shopping for my school bag next year”. And he burst into a fresh stream of crocodile tears.
        I immediately sensed the opportunity to get into his good books again, and frisked him away from the shop and took him out with a promise to help him choose the best pencil case and lunch box. I turned back to see BEN 10 scowl at me from the shelf, while Pokemon made his way into our carry bag:-D
        By the time my mom and sister arrived at the shop where Yash and I were shopping for the pencil case and lunch bag, the shop owner was already pulling out ALL the Ben 10 pencil cases he had in his shop.
“ Uncle, show me the one that has buttons” Yash had told him, trying to narrow down his requirements for the perfect BEN 10 pencil case.
“What buttons?” I asked, eager to find out which pencil case was making the news these days.
“ Buttons for opening the boxes in which we can keep erasers and sharpeners” Yash informed.
“Oooh..ok!” I exclaimed. I got carried away to my own humble pencil case in school which had two double decker doors and plain insides. I just used to dump my pencils and pens on one side and erasers and sharpeners on the other side. Now there were buttons to open the cases!
“This one?” The shopkeeper held out a GREEN pencil case, and BEN 10 scowled at me again.
      On one corner of the box was a button and the shopkeeper deftly demonsatrted the sleek opening and closing of the case. Forget pencils, I could store nuclear ammunition in that box. It had sooo many compartments, people would go mad figuring out what holds what!
“ YES!! That’s the one” . Finally, we had a happy kid. After having denied him the pleasure of owning the glorious green bag, it would have been cruel to not let him have the pencil case either. “Pack this one please” . I gave one last look at the Winnie the Pooh pencil case I was hoping he would choose. How cute was that! :(

“ Uncle, BEN 10 water cans?”
Not AGAIN! With my super convincing skills, I managed to keep the child engaged with his new pencil case and its innumerous buttons, while his mother chose the water can and lunch bag. When the things were all packed and the bill handed over to us, I realized that the tech-savvy pencil box was actually the BMW of the pencil case department. I think all my pencil cases put together would not have cost so much. :P
     Once back home, I told Yash
“Your pencil case is so good that if I were you, I would keep it safe till I finish 10th grade”.
Sensing that the statement was actually a way of saying “You are not getting new pencil cases next year”, the kid put up a puppy face and refused to speak to me.
     Later that night, trying to win him back, I said
“ BEN 10, BEN 10, where are you? Come here and give me a kiss”.
“BEN 10 does not kiss” He growled .
“What does he do then?” I wanted to know.
“He fights bad people with his watch”.
     That brought back images of the BEN 10 watch that now lay broken in some corner of the house. The monstrous watch had disc-like bullets within it that could be released with a lever. Unsuspecting victims like me have been attacked by the flying BEN 10 discs! I had had enough of BEN 10 for a lifetime! I mentally made a note to sue the guys who created him. Not that I will, but what the heck. I can make mental notes whenever I want :P
      I also made a mental note to go pick the Dora the explorer school bag, the Barbie water can and the Winnie the Pooh pencil case. I want to join school , just so that I could show them off :D Any Kindergarten teacher who will take me as their student? Please let me know!
If you hate BEN 10 as much as I do, join the Anti-BEN 10 brigade! Let’s drive that kid out of our TV sets and bring in more of Dora instead ! Being a girl is so much fun :D









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