Posted in Humor, poetry

Ode to food

“The last malai peda, I swear,
Until morrow comes, I don’t dare”
When I close the box and turn away,
The sweet voice in it says “Stay”

Oh temptation, I see thee,
So a temporary distraction I seek,
I run to switch on the TV,
And gourmet cake stares at me.

Now now, I am not a Saint,
Maybe fresh air can bring restraint,
But before the foot walked the nose,
A colourful kiosk of chaat it chose.

As the spices bring tears to my eyes,
The last malai peda I consider.
A whistle tells me of dal and rice,
Just as I bite into the prize.

And in the comfort of a homely dinner,
Plans the next day a sinner.
For pancakes beckon at the break of dawn,
And emotions stir up, at the thought of maple syrup.

 

Posted in Book review, Opinion, Reviews

Book Review: The Anatomy Of Choice

Inconnu, Deracinate, Seelenverwandte, Werifesteria … Beautiful, unusual words – isn’t it? In Harshali Singh’s The Anatomy of Choice was the first time I encountered these words. And no, they are not passively referenced in paragraphs to amp-up the writing. Rather, they are used to summarize each chapter concisely in one word – a subtle prelude to the reader of what is going to happen in the next few pages.

The second book of the Haveli Series is a beautiful, feel-good story of Bhavya and her quirky family bound by unconditional love.¬† Have you ever heard yourself saying “Even the walls talk to me!” in the place that you have grown up? The ancient haveli that Bhavya’s family lives in, is a lot like a guardian to its inhabitants, carefully protecting and nurturing them with its aged, experienced walls that have stood the test of time.

Bhavya, a city-dweller and her partner exhibit varying shades of grey when and after they make a last ditch effort to recreate the spark in their relationship. Is Tenzin forcing his choices on Bhavya, holding her love to ransom in a not-so-obvious fashion… or is Bhavya being commitment-phobic? Who holds the reins of this relationship? Is Kabir a better choice for Bhavya, after all? Her beloved Haveli guides Bhavya through Noor and her journal, as she navigates the troubled waters of her life.

If you really enjoy historical romance of the Georgette Heyer variety, don’t hesitate to pick up this beautifully written book by Harshali Singh. Bhavya, and her modern family will leave you feeling wonderful with their quirkiness, love and acceptance of each other.

 

Posted in Book review, Opinion

About my bookshelf ’18

Summing up my favorite reads looked like a good way to end the year. So here are ten books which I enjoyed reading in 2018. Do let me know if any of them feature in your list too?!

Indian Authors

Elixir  Sinjini Sengupta 

Definitely one of the best books I have read this year. If not for Elixir, I do not think I would have been able to comprehend the seriousness and dark alleys that depression can take someone through. And just to think, that a coworker or a friend could actually be undergoing something like this, has permanently changed the way I look at people around me.

Dera Sacha Saudha  Anurag Tripathi

If you saw ‘Wild Wild Country’ on #Netflix with your jaw dropped open, then this book is for you. A great piece of journalistic writing that answered questions like ‘Who is Gurmeet Ram Rahim?’ and ‘What did he do?’. After reading this book, I can’t fathom how and why people got into large-scale vandalism when the godman courted arrest.

The Taliban Cricket Club  Timeri Murari

This one started really slow but ended up being a thrilling and entertaining journey, a lot like a Bollywood entertainer. A full 100 on the feel-good scale!

Poonachi  Perumal Murugan

A dark and honest perspective on how society looks at the female species, as depicted by the life of Poonachi, the goat. Heartbreaking and brilliant.

To hell and back  Anurag Anand

An urban thriller with very realistic characters, tapping on social issues, this one kept me hooked till the very end.

International Authors

Totto Chan : The girl by the window  Tetsuko Kuroyonagi

A true story – this one is a sweet and charming classic that offers a radically different perspective on education. They say a book finds its way to the reader, and I am glad this one did.

Erotic stories for Punjabi Widows  Balli Kaur Jaswal

A very hilarious, absolutely feminist, thought-provoking piece of literature that I enjoyed reading every page of.

All the light we cannot see  Anthony Deorr

I do not remember the last time I read a book and felt heavy with sorrow for weeks. A very poignant, beautifully written story about a blind French girl and a German soldier, set in WW2. There is a stillness around the prose that you get engulfed in. I am floored by the depth of this writing.

Bad blood  John Carreyrou

Another piece of investigative journalism that shook my belief on the sanctity of the start up environment in America. One question though: While Elizabeth Holmes has been taken to task, aren’t Zuckerberg and Elon Musk having a free hand?

Last Girl  Nadia Murad

An unbelievable account of life under the ISIS and a young girl’s persistence and perseverance to escape. It is unimaginable that something like this is actually happening in some part of the world right now. Nadia Murad is a superhero.

 

Posted in Humor, recipe

How to make the perfect Dhokla

I wonder what is the cooking equivalent of the phrase ‘Two Left Feet’. I assume it is ‘Two Left Palms’, but I refuse to disrespect myself with a name that may not be in existence yet. So I give myself the benefit of doubt.

I lack the ability to cook well. Possibly the best outcome of this self-awareness is that it leaves me with enough time to ogle at dishes that people serve on the internet with panache. God! Have you seen how something as basic as Jeera rice is garnished by some folks? The pain and effort that it would have taken is the sum total of everything I undergo to boil a pot of rice properly, and that is most definitely an understatement.

So as a mark of encouragement for poor cooks like me, I present to you, the perfect way(s) to make Dhokla. All you need is a pack of Dhokla mix, some oil, water and a pressure cooker to start with. You thought I would start at besan flour, didn’t you? ūüėČ

One way to utilise this packet effectively is to divide it into two. That way, you can efficiently try two variants in a single packet.

Variant 1

Read the instructions, carefully measure half a packet of Dhokla and proportionately decrease the recommended quantity of water and oil.

Mix it all up, pour it in the Dhokla plate and let it steam in the cooker. It would be good to know that a gust of steam escapes from the cooker when you take the lid off. So just wait a bit for things to cool down.

Surprise! Surprise! A tray of dhokla which can be eaten with a spoon, like your favourite custard!

Season it (I prefer to outsource this step) with the hope of making it more spongy. Your mom will tell you how you have added way too much water and how condensation has helped you with this unique achievement. Pat yourself, push the dhokla down your throat and proceed undaunted.

Variant 2

Take a break for a day or two and then pull out the remaining half of the packet.

Having learnt your lesson, you will now be wiser to further decrease the quantity of water and oil.

Steadily mix and repeat the pressure cooker performance, remembering to remove the cooker’s lid as soon as you turn the stove off.

Season it and treat yourself to some yellow coloured high protein idli. It is highly likely that these idli dhoklas can double up as mini-hammers.

I must say, graduating from custard to besan idli does lend a sense of confidence.

Variant 3

A few days later, you can snip open another packet and pour half of it in a bowl.

At this level of expertise, you can now juggle individual ingredients. So keeping the quantity of water same as before, reduce the oil alone.

Mix well and load the cooker. Maybe wait for a couple of minutes more than earlier, to get that spongy effect?

Around 17 minutes later, turn the stove off.

The intensely inviting smell of gram flour, burning in heat, allures onlookers to the kitchen.

Quickly open the cooker, take out the dhokla and wash it under the sink. Scrub well and clean your soul. Do not look at your mother during this process.

Now that half a packet still remains, arrange for a demo by your mother. Handover the packet and watch silently, as she seems to be doing the same things but the cooker turns out a magically spongy dhokla at the end.

Outsource subsequent dhokla-making activities for the perfectly spongy dhokla experience.

 

Posted in Opinion

Scathing reviews, lost charm and magic

Are we being responsible in our quest to review the work of somebody on social media?

Have you noticed how common this behaviour has become – Categorically declaring that a composer’s music is no longer as charming as it used to be ? How often do we catch ourselves saying a movie lacks the magic that is so becoming of a director?

Unfortunately, it is such bad news that spreads like wildfire. This mostly ill-informed opinion gets cheered on social media. It has nothing to do with the artist at all, but the friends of the person writing the post. You like a post because your friend has written it, but someone else sees it as an endorsement.

Is ‘writing a bad review’ a fashion statement ? ” Hey, my taste is exclusive and this is below my standards!”¬† Or is it an attention seeking move ?¬† “The more I rip apart somebody’s work, the more intellectual I will sound”

So what do you do when you find a sub par review ?

  • Agree with the opinion because the writer is your friend?
  • Feign indifference?
  • Do our own analysis ? And post it? Counter your friend?
  • Analyse the analysis and waste double the time?

I wonder if the person writing the review ever thinks he or she could be the problem.

Maybe you are taking something apart in a quest to analyse it and then describe it in complicated sentences that are framed to appeal to your inflated ego and make up for all the marks you lost in English tests at school? (Phew! That was long!).

Maybe the review you are writing is not a review at all, but an opportunity to smack the crap out of your coworker who landed you in a bad situation at work that day.

Maybe you are writing something about a topic you are not familiar with.

May be we should stop analyzing and criticizing things for the sake of doing so. What is art, if not appreciated for in its entirety?

I suppose the data-driven world is creating analysis paralysis everywhere and it is quite depressing to read these epitomes of over analysis with free access to the internet.

I wish we stop hairsplitting and instead admire the beauty of someone’s creation. Of course, an occasional, hilarious review on a bad piece of work is definitely necessary – but are we being fair in our approach and choices?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Opinion, Reviews

An ode to the sparrow

“A¬†thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep A bower quiet for us, and a sleep Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.”
And it took another poet to make me realize what John Keats actually meant.

Of everything I have thought about writing, I never thought I would make an entire post about a single song. And yet, here I am, dumbstruck and dazed by the beauty of #MazhaiKuruvi.

Like all of ARR’s compositions, I found little to admire or enjoy when it hit the ears the first time, but after that, every repeat mode has been a joy ride of discovery.

Should I say ARR has reserved his most romantic numbers for Simbu? Or is it the magical combination of ARR and Vairamuthu?

The poet’s words just flow effortlessly, never losing themselves in meaningless banter, never spilling out egregiously from the path paved by the Mozart’s tunes. And you end up dreamily smiling at the adorable yearning that they describe of the hero, as he pours his heart out. I can’t imagine anyone else in Simbu’s place, looking absolutely stunning in every frame, as he plays the loverboy affectionately addressing¬† ‘Chittu kuruvi’.

And in the middle of it all, you realize this is what being Mani Ratnam is all about. For when the veteran chef dons his hat, he goes all out to stir your soul and give a treat to the senses. This cute mazhai kuruvi from the bright red sky has delivered an ambrosia of words, music, and happiness, and is guaranteed to send the spirit soaring with its romantic sweetness.

Did I tell you how I involuntarily joined ARR as the notes slowly hit a crescendo at “Oru naal kanavo, Idhu peratra peruravo, Yaar varavo” ? I am going back to doing just that.

 

 

 

Posted in Humor

Mocktail Rhymes

Should Humpty Dumpty always have a great fall?  What if, instead, he meets Little Miss Muffet and they have a conversation? This mocktail rhyme is what happened when I imagined something like that Рthree nursery rhymes shaken together for a new flavour!

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Eating popcorn and cheese ball
Said, “Twinkle twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are?”
Replied Little Miss Muffet, 
sitting on a tuffet,
“Up above the world so high,
along came a spider and scared her away,
Twinkly twinkly had a great fall,
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,
Put the star together again,
Like a diamond in the sky”

Posted in Humor, Opinion

Vicious circle of mansplaining Part 2

Capture

 

Continuing from where I left yesterday, maybe I should just start explaining what it is before …oh no, here they are with

Chapter 2 Exercises in sentence completion

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But there are more pressing issues that need to be fixed. Like my bindi. We are now at

Chapter 3 or It does not matter if we met just two days ago 
The boundaries of privilege and entitlement stretch themselves and reach a female coworker’s forehead, you decide what is supposed to be there.
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Hang in there, people. I am now confused. I can either be a feminist or a whore. If ‘character’ is key, I got to be a feminist. In which case, I am supposed to hate men. But then, I am not supposed to hate men. Am I speaking like Radhika Apte?

Maybe we are at

Chapter 4 or When you have to decide between feminism and whorism 
Because, hey! we believe in no middle ground for the girls and 50 shades of grey for the boys

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By the way, one simply does not directly answer questions put by females, therefore a simple solution is available in

 Chapter 5 or Wifesplaining , where all female queries will be answered in the voice of the wife. 

No automatic alt text available.

 

All illustrations made on Stripgenerator.com

Posted in Humor, Opinion

The vicious circle of mansplaining 1

When I first heard about Female Suffrage, I thought it meant suffering of a woman. I then learnt that female Suffrage was a successful movement that resulted in women having a right to vote. This means, a woman has a right to an opinion on how the nation is being governed and power to steer political discourse.

Why am I ranting about suffrage now? Because, while we have earned the right to vote,  people still assume we are incapable of forming opinions or rather, we should not be having an opinion at all.

I do not know about you, but I have witnessed so many jaw-dropping moments of being ‘told’ and ‘explained to’ by members of the opposite sex. Apparently, there is a name to this phenomenon – Mansplaining. I didn’t know I will find myself writing borderline psychotic stuff on this topic.

So here I am, trying to define this term …

First, somebody is nice enough to offer you an opportunity to speak. Then they take the liberty to interrupt you mid-sentence. You are then told what opinion you should be having, by interpreting what you are trying to say in a way that is convenient to them. They are also chivalrous enough to communicate it to others.