………Top Chef…..09-09-09….

Some of my favourite programmes on television come on AXN. The kiddo and I discovered Top Chef when he moved into my city for his first job. When we finally set up our home, Top Chef season 2 was on air (of course, the then current version on international TV was season 4 or 5). Kiddo has always had this latent talent to find out unique shows on different channels from his childhood days and if not for him, I would have never chanced upon this programme.
Top Chef was different because it was a reality show on cooking and cooking happens to be one of our common hobbies. Therefore, both of us were glued to the television on weekdays at 8pm most often with our plates loaded with dinner or with writing pads n pens to jot down interesting recipes. Gradually, say a week or two into the show, we were speaking the Top Chef judges’ jargon. You know, ‘……the omelette is a little over fired, dry and rubbery and not the right shade of yellow…….’ or it would be that ‘………the flavours are a little too mild….. or ……didn’t blend well….. or ……the sauce has an excellent texture………’ It got us into picking up random ingredients at the supermarket, experimenting with new sauces, spices n cuisines, scripting our own recipes, efforts in presentation, and cooking with a lot of passion. May be it is our genes, my DJ makes excellent salads and my MJ makes every meal a pleasure to look forward to. And I can go on n on about my grand-mothers n great-grandmothers, aunts n uncles, and may be even our neighbours…..the whole genealogy and their ways in the kitchen and their unpublished cook books.
During our younger days our speciality was any dish to do with the egg. It was interesting how an egg, a tomato, an onion, some salt, coriander, and chillies were enough to create N number of dishes in different forms and shapes……..I still remember how the kiddo and I used to race to the kitchen when DJ and MJ were out and surprise them with our signature dishes when they returned. Of course, there would be a mild scolding for using the gas and the knives. Once the checking for injuries and cuts were done with, they relished our meal, lick their fingers n cutlery and ask for more…and we would be on the Top of the World!!

….These days: Top Chef on AXN @ 12 pm and 6 pm on weekdays…
Pic Courtesy: BBC Good Food
…I just found her A Wednesday Chef yesterday…

….and today is the ninth of september in the year two thousand and nine… 09-09-09


…Teaching Methods…

All of us must have watched Aamir Khan’s maiden directorial debut Taare Zameen Par (2007). A beautifully conceived film. The credit should go to the nearly seven years of background work done by Amol Gupte, the movie’s creative head; the same guy who played Boppe (goon turned politician), our Sweety’s brother in Kaminey (2009). The concept was also well executed on screen by our perfectionist director Khan. Do watch this movie if you haven’t until now.
I just caught it again on television this morning; was moved by the Meri Ma song and was furious seeing the teachers’ attitude towards weak students.
Give a thought to the portrayal of the teachers in the movie. Stereotypical? Like how all the South Indian women wear bright-coloured gold-bordered nine-yard saris and drink only filter coffee from steel tumblers 🙂
We have all been to school and most of our teachers are wonderful human beings, the epitome of patience and understanding, willing to help any time; especially those teaching in the kindergarten and primary school have an excess of these qualities in them. Then???
We were in STD XII, yes, the year of the second board exams. Our first mid-terminals were over; the Chemistry paper was extremely tough; we hoped we could at least manage a 20 on 50 (the pass mark)! Saar came in with a bundle of papers and a cane. “All of you take out a chit of paper write down the marks you expect. If the expectations do not match your marks, I’ll use the cane for sure. If you get higher marks than you expect, you get extra canings.”
                                        …..heads I win and tails you lose situation….
In no particular order, the papers were distributed; the marks were compared to those on the chit; the cane did its job, each time when difference was a huge one.
The question paper was a tough one, but our practice and hard work never went wasted. We all scored well above 35; Organic Chemistry is like Mathematics and Grammar, you either get it right or totally wrong; there aren’t any half or quarter correct answers there.
The cane missed our palms by inches whenever it was used because it was always aimed at the writing desk! Thank you Saar! Happy Teacher’s Day
An exercise in confidence building….

Pic Courtesy: Solutions to Teacher Problems @ Extelligence…. Interesting Article, read on….

Strategy Vs Merit

Everything is summed up in the word called STRATEGY. Isn’t it?
Aishwarya Rai Bachan (yayaa) is the most beautiful woman in the world. Is she the only one? Didn’t Priyanka Chopra win the same crown some six years after her? Isn’ the Universe much bigger than the world, then why Sushmita Sen isn’t accorded the sobriquet every time her name is mentioned.
Is it the Bachan power post KBC?
Marketing Strategy, I say! Or what is it any way, anyone?

Pic Courtesy: Rantawi.com

No Exams!!

And all of a sudden there isn’t a board exam to write or prepare for. Continuous Assessment continues into class X. All our lives long in school we are assessed throughout the year. Those exams we give the unit tests, mid-terms and terms together decide whether we are worth a berth in the next class next year. Then why not for STD X too… why just one exam of say 3 hours determines our fate…
When the HRD Ministry came up with this suggestion, I was a little worried. Because Matriculation was the all important milestone generations have worked towards since their entry into school. Now what will those grandparents or parents or elders warn and chide children for when they play in the fields or in the park or are hooked to their play stations. We have our days too elders!!
STD IX no more becomes the last year of enjoyment and celebration for the medical and engineering aspirants. There is one more year to vile away until they can get serious about their careers
So does this mean one has to study unto class XII to get a certificate? What happens to all those jobs where Class X certificate is a criteria a job, even a qualification for girls you see to get married, so they get to study for 2 more years, wow!
Does it mean no farewell parties for class x…
What will happen to all those tuition centres who survive on training these class x kids
No exams! Can you beat that! Wow! Double Wow! Why weren’t the ministers too keen on scrapping the tenth standard boards when I was in school? I’m soooo soooo jealous of these kids of today. I dreamt of this day ever since I was in say STD V…. no exams! Wow and how lucky these kids are today. Play all day long until STD XII boards come by. Wow!
Anyway as years go by the Class X certificate is dusted out of the file when asked for a proof of our date of birth. If only I knew that when I was writing that exam back then….all that tension, peer pressure and anxiety seems a big waste now! Doesn’t it?
Pic Courtesy: Cydonia_of_mars

Food Review : My Haleem Days | Hyderabad

Ramzan has been part of my life
for the past so many years, all these years in Hyderabad. It is inevitable not
to notice the sudden springing up of the make-shift shops on the road side
during the month. Their banners say ‘Haleem.’  
We were at the Uni and Haleem was
a totally new concept for most of us. It was a delicacy we hadn’t tasted or
heard of before (Unlike the Hyderabadi Biriyani,
Haleem is not widely advertised outside the state).
To top it the semester exams
were starting the next day and the Ramzaan season was ending in a week’s time. The
three of us decided to just go and taste it. We were new to the place at that
time and those roads which have become so familiar over the years, were totally
strange back then… we walked to the gate, boarded a bus and got down at the
first set of Haleem shops we could find; went to counter and ordered a plate of
Haleem each. I still remember we had Chicken Haleem; and parcelled for those
studious ones burning the midnight oil in the hostel. My first Haleem…
Traditionally, Haleem is mutton,
but that day we didn’t just feel like experimenting with the red meat, though
the dish made with any kind of meat or vegetable has the same colour but a
different taste. It tasted bland at first. Wasted effort! Riding a bus at 8pm
to the nearby town as we call it, to
catch our last chance of tasting the delicacy of the season, before giving
our exams and packing off for home for a month-long holidays!!! But when mixed well
with the lemon, the ghee and the coriander it is served with, it tasted lovely.
I craved for some bread to munch it down as a sandwich.
We have to acquire a taste for this
dish. Because, it is unlike anything we have tasted before. Many wouldn’t like
it at the first go…. the idea is to taste it over and over again and you will
love it. We didn’t have the best of Haleems that day, but over time we have found
out the best outlets in the city which serves its best Haleems during the
season. If you are in Hyderabad during the next 20 days or so, taste it…. it
is worth a shot
Ramzaan for me is having Haleem
at least once during the month. The more tastier (wrong English, I know…but
for the emphasis) if it from the Pista House. Ramzaan is when Bano’s alarm rings early in the morning for a whole month. It is
when we stop gate-crashing into her room for lunch for she will be offering her prayers.
It is that time of the year when we all wait for Bano to break her fast for the
day to go down to have a cup of hot tea and some nice pakodas at the Dias.
Ramzan has been part of my life
for the past so many years, all these years in Hyderabad not only because of Haleem!!
 For more on Haleem get it at this space
Image Courtesy: The Hindu

Waiting For Our Portly and Potbellied King, Mahabali…

………………….This time minus the pookalam (the flower carpet) and the sadhya (the elaborate lunch meal)……He has never failed to visit me until now, however, I have moved further away from the state premises. I was just 20 hours from the state last year, this time the train-running-time has increased to 36 to 40 hours. Sigh!!!!!!!!!!!!

It would be too much to ask of him to visit me here. Already, the journey from the UNDERGROUNDS (is he in Lucifer’s Hell?? Or a more refined fireless, pandemonium- less location than that?) to the SURFACE WORLD is a tedious one (Never saw him using a vehicle like Santa Clause or a wizard’s magic wand or does he have access to the Flu Network….. me thinks he only has his two legs to carry him around the state and to all the Malayalees worldwide).

If I were in his shoes, I would have stunned all those subjects who have left Kerala and settled elsewhere… They just have no consideration at all for their King, me and my two legs needs to cover a wide area in a matter of say four days…but me being the good king I am/was give in to their wishes…afterall Onam is celebrated in my honour for 10 long days!!

….I don’t know whether he visits a certain Malayalee up there running a Tea-Shop on the Moon….Our American Armstrong was elated to gulp down hot tea the moment he landed there one day in July forty years ago (pssst….the Malayalee was the first man on the moon……)

Miss being in Kerala now…

More so miss the preparations leading to Onam….the festivities, the shopping, the sadhya, the pookalam, the competitions, the holidays, programmes on the channels, the singing and the music, dance, the boat race…. the general mood of the biggest event for a Malayalee in Kerala ….

Should dial the King for details of Malayalees up here….

Until then…. Onashamsakal….. Happy Onam folks…..

Pic Courtesy: Onam Festival

For the legends and stories about Onam, visit this space.

TGIF….First Day…Last Show….

Absolutely loved Kaminey….

FFFFFF….Flavour of the S[F]eas[f]on: [F]hahid Kapoor haf worked really hard for the role of Charliethe twin who lifpf (mein F ko F boltha hoon one) and the dialoguef that come out are abfolutely funny… a possible cause of irritation for not liking the film for some people….so we know, one reason! …beefed up the Aamir-, Sharukh- Khan way for Charlie, you know ‘I change my appearance according to the requirements of the role’ kind of an actor like Kangana Ranaut and the size zero sensation, one Miss Bebo Kapoor.

…him running along with those white stallions with blinkers on (in the movie, the trailer has him without them) is an awesome shot/idea… well conceived and executed….Vishal Bharadwaj at his best

…. the 4-5 languages spoken could also add to the discomfort of an average viewer…some kaminas only speak in Bengali, some in English, two in an African dialect and there are Marathi words sprinkled here and there…. to add to this confusion we have the s/f replacement to deal with….so take a speaker of each language around for a live translation

We get hit by googlies from the word go …there isn’t a warm up or a trainer to introduce us to Charlie’s way of speaking, neither are there subtitles which indicate the time or place nor is there a space for us to become comfortable to the whole new world the film showcases. It is a roller coaster ride and we hang on tight blindly following the director… you’ll enjoy it…

Warning: the movie hall should have a good sound system…otherwise Dhantatanana would fall flat on its face

….2. practice the s/f language before hitting the theatres! Once the few initial hiccups are over and done with we learn the ‘F’ language and may continue to converse in it for a day or two until the Kaminey hangover is over.

….3. the pace is excellent and the colours are just right for the theme. The flash back in black and white (not a novel one)… the thing is we hardly realise the change in colours because the magic realism is so well done… the editor has done his job well.

The best thing about Kaminey was it took me by surprise… we all go with a baggage, a certain expectation of a storyline gathered from the promos…. but the film was a revelation. The story is about a pair of identical twins ( the similarity and familiarity stops there) with different speech defects in the backdrop of the Mumbai Underworld….

…About a day in the life of these twins, the people surrounding them and their tryst with a guitar…..

…I loved the way a whole day was stretched to make a whole movie (like A Wednesday) and how days and months together got encapsulated into a beautiful song of say 3-4 minutes…

What we see in the film is what we don’t expect…. The film begins and ends with a song (like most of the films that get realised these days), however, the songs are very much a part of the storyline and ensures a continuation. Simply not put there for some entertainment. The last song fills in the gaps of the storyline.
















Nostalgic Creeps n Peeps (NCP): We used to speak in a S and P language back in school to the point that it would irritate a parent or a teacher who was not used to it. In hindsight, our determination or whatever it was, was awesome to consistently speak in that form of English deliberately replacing the all the initial letters for S or P until we got bored of speaking such a tongue.

The Masked Pandemic Alarm!!

My father had a bout of Swine Flu (SF) last night. I had mine, the night before. While he had symptoms of a runny nose, mine was a case of loose bowels. Both of our systems had us running throughout the night between the bed and the loo and the kitchen at times; the morning saw us sleeping dog-tired under the blankets after our nocturnal discomfort. Our spouses teased us about the swab test, to be followed by quarantine in a ward in the government hospital and a dose of Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) for 5 days (Proud to be a Swine Flu Literate). Thankfully, our swine flu flew away in a day’s time (say from daughter to father to neighbour) maybe to tire and panic somebody else this time, elsewhere, in the adjacent panchayat, town, city or state.
We are bombarded with information about the new Flu on the block!
Switch on the television or open the newspaper, the Breaking or the Just In News or the Latest Developments have to be the lists of SF positive or dead citizens compulsorily (Rude!); reports about indefinite holidays for school children (AB+ yearns for his school days, that there are so many holidays now, to run around and play all day long); or closure of Malls (when they have announced Sales!) and Multiplexes (Bollywood was releasing two to three movies every week….The Release of Kaminey is postponed in Mumbai and Pune!) We had just begun to go easy on our purses since the Late 2000’s Recession started about nineteen months ago; the Rush Hour now included Happy Hours
A month ago SF was just another virus causing deaths in faraway lands (why should we take WHO seriously, Pandemic it seems!)
A month or two ago my [N]eighbour’s [F]ather, NF, landed in the state from a far away land called the Americas with a little cold and some fever. The panic stricken airport authorities (informed on something called SF through a rushed PPT) admitted NF in the government hospital. The next day newspapers reported about the first suspected Swine Flu patient in Page 1 with a photograph in the state. We received updates about NF’s health status (the various tests conducted on his blood, fluids and stool, now we know it is swabs from one’s throat) from the newspaper and news channels. The DMO was called for. Officials from the State Health Ministry came down; samples and a new series of tests later, somebody from Delhi arrived to ratify that NF’s was a case of recurrent viral infection due to change in weather (or country, in his case).
A month ago, my [F]ather’s [F]riend, FF, was travelling to the faraway land of the Americas (again) via Dubai (the not so faraway land) on purposes of business. After a Bon Voyage party, FF headed straight for the airport – the last we saw and heard of/from him for the next three days. FF was never allowed to embark on his flight to the Americas from the Dubai airport. He was under observation (in an isolation ward where he was allowed no contacts with his people (other than doctors or nurses) in person, through phone or the internet) for two days for the cold, cough, fever and sprained/broken back, at the Dubai airport for SF. He came clean, therefore was put on the next flight back home on the third day!!
As India grew more aware of SF, I was even scared to sneeze at the airport lounge or inside the aircraft a few weeks ago. Who knows! I sneeze and the next thing would be rushing me off to a hospital to take my swabs for tests and quarantine me, with nobody of my own for company; alone in those wards, with other masked ones. Scary!!
Are we Over Reacting? Misinformed? Alarmed? Irritated? Confused?
PS: Visit The English Blog for an explanation on the cartoon up there.
Image courtesy: The English Blog Now playing: Sleeping child via FoxyTunes

…Love Aaj Aur Love Kal………Movies Aaj Aur Movies Kal…

Imtiaz Ali is no Karan Johar. Although K3G was a long film, it brought together the Industry’s Greats on a single platform—the Bachans, the Roshans, the Kapoors, the Mukherjees and Badshah Khan himself (inevitable in a KJo flick), in one plot. There were loads of ronna-dhonna, but the film did well in India and more so Overseas, a big grosser (though KJO complained and cribbed a little because Dil Chata Hai was the bigger hit of the year) ; who can forget Sooraj Hua…Chand Dalne Laga, Kareena’s red dress hot look n twists,
and Hrithik Roshan, and Kajol!! One good thing about going for LAK (Love Aaj Kal) was that it reminded me of all those older movies which have gone past, still remembered and recollected while watching scenes from the newer ones.

  • I certainly remembered Dil Chahta Hai (my all time fav in terms of songs, storyline, cast and acting) when Meera and Jai met in the garden behind the venue during her wedding (you know when Aakash, Aamir Khan’s character proposed to Preity Zinta’s Shalini in front of 3000 odd people, that scene). DCH was way better, Thanks Akhtar.
  • Farida Jalal! Kudos to you and YashRaj’s DDLJ. Nobody can take your place as Simran’s mother in that movie and you know what, Mr Ali repeated a scene and you were missed. Harleen Kaur’s mother will not come light years close to you in acting that role. You were just perfect.
  • Priyanka Chopra does that step so well (especially the expression) in the song Pheli Baar Mohabat Ki Hain, on her wedding day in the yet to be released Kaminey. As a matter of fact, she would have done more justice to Meera’s role, feels the Husband. Deepika Padukone is tall, lanky and has curves in the wrong places (I feel) because her curves are in the front and the back rather than the sides (Now, did I miss something in fashion after the Size Zero Revolution!)
  • The picturisation of the song Twist is very similar to a song in TaRaRumPum. It could be the Saif factor, the setting, his hairstyle,and clothes and of course the beat too…

Anyways, I have some happy memories of watching LAK because my friends and I got loads of time to talk; three hours or a littel less (I think it was a short movie, therefore it dragged) straight with little interruption from any other human being in person or through that irritating technology in the form of the mobile phone. We talked, ate popcorn, drank cola and munched into our hot spicy samosas occasionally wondering why the scenes were taking so long to end. The movie dragged so much that I lost interest to even sit, listen and enjoy the Ahun Ahun song at the very end.

Imitiaz Ali is no Karan Johar (as of now) who can give back to back hits; maybe LAK is a hit in the production and distribution books as it released in over 1800 theatres and attracted a good number of people on the first weekend. The inital euphoria will not last because you will never feel like going back to it again or even recommend it.

Jab We Met was such a pleasure to watch and re-watch many times, the dialogues were so fresh and innocent.

It’s almost impossible to miss his last film Jab We Met on television these days. The Shahid KapoorKareena Kapoor flick has become a cult movie of sorts and continues to draw repeat audiences on DVD and satellite.Buzz 18

True, as Kareena said in an interview, that the director and she had exhausted all their ideas for the character Geet in his earlier venture. Hope Mr Ali comes back with fresh ideas in his next movie and notches up the pace a few degrees.

Now playing: www.Songs.PK – Aahun Aahun – www.Songs.PK
via FoxyTunes

Let’s shake hands Buddy!!

I remember reading this short story somewhere (Femina!) about two friends…best friends…. they did the same course (let’s say a degree in Business Administration) and applied for the same job (Recession Time…therefore, no Campus Recruitment, u see!) When the interview call arrived by post (Pre-Internet Day short story) for both of them, the one in the hostel who collected the letters, hid her friend’s in some scattered never-to-be-used study material. She never thought of the Great Indian Sacrifice or the Great Indian Survival Fight ‘face to face’. It was just the Indian Cowardice that saw the interview letter stashed away into some unwanted mess to be recovered years later to become the plot for a short story (a juicy question for Sach ka Samna, I say). I do not remember the rest of the events in any chronological order or the in-between details to answer the questions of whats/whys/wheres/hows of their friendship and life post the letter-hiding incident. The story is written using the flashback technique. All I can remember is that there is a Confession, some Repentance and a Reconciliation towards the end.

Friends are precious! School life gives us our bestest friends ever. Once those 14 years pass (a little Pessimism creeps in from here) the Rat Race begins. We switch gears to become the Utilitarians; we use and throw each other after our work is done forging a Workable Relation. We share our home-space with strangers to divide the high rent of the Metros. We befriend someone who has a car or can drive to chauffeur us around town on a weekend. Such is the case and will be; but a Ray of Optimism, there is a Whole Set of People who love to be those Bestest Friends like from those good old days; otherwise, we wouldn’t be celebrating the first Sunday of August yearly as Friendship’s Day!

Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would do
Those were the days my friend
We’d thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance
Forever and a day
We’d live the life we’d choose
We’d fight and never lose
Fore we were young
And sure to have our way
Then the busy years went rushing by us
We lost our stary notions along the way
If by chance I’d see you in the tavern
We’d smile at one another and we’d say
Those were the days my friend….
Just tonight I stood before the tavern
Nothing seemed the way it used to be
In the glass I saw a strange reflection
Was that lonely person really me
Those were the days my friend…
Through the door there came familiar laughter
I saw your face I heard you call my name
Oh my friends were older but no wiser
Fore in our hearts the dreams are all the same

Lyrics: Sons Of Maxwell – Those Were The Days
Pic: Super Cool Pets