Monday, July 9, 2007

unforgettable, and forgetful patildada!

mr anand p patil remains one of the most happy go lucky and amusing characters i have come across. and most of his amusement stemmed from his single quality or feature. 'patil dada' as he was affectionately known, was absent minded. my senior in IPCL, Baroda, by at least 15 years, no one could beat him when it came to forgetting things. and its not that he had a bad memory, he just was lost in himself all the time. ghulam ali's ghazal 'apni dhun mein rehta hoon....' was written for patil dada it seems.....though except for the first line, rest of the ghazal had nothing to do with patil dada.

even at work, if he was talking to you, and if someone else came up to him, most of the times, he would forget you midway thru the conversation, and carry on with this new person.....we have laughed and laughed at this one special style of his!

once he and his wife were going to baroda city, on 'unka bajaj', baroda being about 8 kms away from IPCL township. as they left the township maingate, he saw a friend, at the bus stop, waiting for the company bus. the friend waved, and patil dada stopped. his wife got down. both these guys exchanged a few pleasantaries, and patil dada said a good bye and zoomed on his bajaj, his wife left behind, red faced at the bus stop. by the time people realized, and began to shout, dada had zoomed into quite some distance. of course, when he came to the next speed breaker, he realized his wife was missing, as the scooter jumped more than usual. and he himself told this story to everyone next day, in the workshop.

and this was the not the only time his wife suffered. once this lovely couple had gone shopping in raopura area of baroda. a long straight stretch of road lined with shops on both sides. as they both walked along, mrs patil entered a shop to see some clothes, assuming, dada would follow her. dada was in his own world, and walked almost half a kilometre further. when he saw a garment shop, he turned to his wife to ask her whether they should check this shop, and realized of her absence. poor fellow then walked back, once more to find an angry wifey.

and i have been a witness to this incident, happened in our workshop, in IPCL. dada attended a job with a couple of technicians, and came back to the workshop, and lit his cigarette. he was then talking to someone, at the same time he opened his locker, to keep his note pad there. meanwhile there was a call for him. so he kept the cigarette, and the note pad inside the locker, closed it shut, and attended the call. it was some thing urgent, so he just left the workshop in a hurry. after a few minutes, a tiny whiff of smoke appeared from the small ventilators of the locker, and then someone rushed to him in the plant to get his keys and the locker was opened to extinguish the cigarette.

his 'bhoolne ki bimaari' was legendary! now patil dada has taken VRS, i am no more in touch with him, and i hope he remembers me whenever we meet....

so much intolerance?

is it correct what i feel? that we indians demonstrate, protest, comment, criticise,interfere, or express more than neccessary? or is it that there ample opportunities now, with the expansion of media in general, and the variety of platforms, and channels available for such expression.

for instance, if you dont like something, you can either send sms to a tv channel or an internet site, or maybe write on the dozens of blogsites available. one can even call the tv channels, send mass mails, or simply come out on the streets.

looking at the size of such demonstrations, i always feel that we have more time for such things, thats why we are so visible.
the other day we had surinder amarnath on a tv channel to discuss cricket! someone who was hardly known for his game, and was known more because he was mohinder's brother. but here too people were calling from long distance, and asking him silly questions, like why isnt sehwag being dropped from the team.
whenever i see demonstrations on the streets in any part of india, on any subject, i wonder about one thing that who are these people demonstrating?

frankly i have never been a part of a demonstration. and when i ask my friends or relatives, even they havent been in any. then who are these people who are willing to come out on the streets in dozens or hundreds, whatever be the issue. and the saddest part is a demonstration against richard gere or amitabh for acting in nishabd, draws out 10 times more people than a demonstration to implement harsher laws against rape! this is the irony. now people have started to blame amitabh for romancing a younger actress in 'cheeni kum' poor guy, he is getting richer with every movie, while his bashers are losing steam over nothing.

contrary to what happens in india, a demonstration for a national issue draws out mammoth crowds in japan, usa etc. here farmers have to brought in trucks in delhi, to show that a rally was a success.

we need to bring down our sugar levels, and be less hyper active. or else a day will come, when someone will burn a neighbour's effigy for playing the tv too loud, a couple of channels will cover this event live, and half the nation will be watching it, sending thousands of sms later, to take sides!!!

we drank the whole night!

my youngest uncle had a long stint at mumbai port trust. 3 yrs back, on ganesh visarjan day, as his younger daughter was preparing pav bhaji, he was watching, next to her, in the kitchen, and without any warning at all, just collapsed and died on the spot. massive heart failure.

my uncle was a great person, always used to have a bagful of incidents to regale us completely whenever we visited our ancestral home in kalyan. what i am narrating here is one such masterpiece, a true incident happened at his office. maybe un believable for a few, but i remember my uncle insisting this actually happened.

people celebrate new year, and his office colleagues were no exception. on 1st or 2nd jan, there was always a discussion in the office, as to how everyone celebrated the new year, people talking about their celebrations, parties etc.

there was a new recruit in his office, a very shy, docile, village bumpkin kind of creature, innocence personified!
when he came to office on 1st january, he also wished a new year to everyone, and then naturally , they all asked him how did he celebrate the advent of the new year.

not to be left behind, in describing his party, he said, with lots of pride on his face. " we were 4 friends, gathered at my place. we got 1 bottle of beer, and 2 crates of soda. aur saari raat pee rahe the.... maaza aa gaya"!!!

mumbaikars, and locals, both are great!!

i tend to laugh a lot everytime i hear this joke. and the first time i heard it, i was in splits literally. there was this simpleton guy, from a village near pune, who happened to visit mumbai for the first time. he had absolutely no idea what mumbai, and its fast life had to offer. once in mumbai he had to travel from andheri to matunga road, and decided to take the local train.

his very first ever experience. he got into a churchgate local alright, but it was a fast local. once inside, he enquired with fellow passengers, as the train skipped parle. they told him it was a fast train, and either he shud get down and change at bandra, to a slower train or there was one more option. some smart mumbaikars told him that the train always slows down at matunga road, and he cud get down from a running train, it was safe. or else if it doesnt slow down, he can always get down at dadar and return back, it was just the next station.

not sure what to do, he continued the journey. now as the local rolled into matunga it became quite slow. so the co- pasengers, asked him to jump down, and also cautioned him to run along with the train, that too in the direction which the train was travelling, and not stop suddenly or else he cud fall. this guy jumped from the train, when it was slow, and started to run parallel, and close to the train. the train caught speed, and he kept on running. the next compartment appeared besides him, and those passengers thought he was trying to catch this local at matunga, so 2 guys just leaned out and gently pulled him back into the train. hehehe, he was back inside!! within seconds!! now what do you call that?

ellapan krishna!

Ellappan krishna was a character. He is a character still, but now he lives in jayanagar in bangalore, and I havent met him since 1992, it has been really long. And yes - I feel as if it all happened just yesterday. Krishna was the first one to not only greet me, when I landed in Kuwait on 26th jan 1987, but also was the first one to befriend me in the flat where I was the only gujju, while all others were from tamilnadu. Our friendship developed for two reasons. First is, he was good at hindi, which the others sort of detested. And second, which I learnt later, because of his slightly whimsical behaviour, he was not very much welcome in their group.

With me he was very nice. Later on, as I got to know him slowly, I realized that he was basically a very helpful person, but misunderstood probably in his own group. Whatever, his appearance was short in height, dark, with twinkling eyes, short hair, and always a beaming smile on his face. He would always greet me in the mornings with a “hello mr anand how are you?” I later told him that he was older than me and should address me as plain anand, and drop the mister!

He claimed to cook every dish in 5 minutes, was known as a 5 minute guy. During my five years in Kuwait, theres not a single recipe that he made, was really really palatable. Half cooked vegetables, burnt eggs, bizarre sambar, I can go on and on with my list…. But everytime he used to put lots of efforts, and made us eat too. And we never had a choice to refuse. We used to go to a restaurant, the whole group of 9 guys, esp on new year eve. The agenda was fixed, dinner at ceasars restaurant, in fahaheel area, a place very close to the major oil refineries in Kuwait, that’s where I worked. On being asked to suggest a dish of his choice, to be ordered, Krishna was quick to say that he would prefer “chicken with boneless!!!” I was stunned, almost about to faint. But Krishna was nonchalant, he never bothered to learn the right way of saying things.

Once, a few days before leaving for India, Krishna was busy shopping, one night he came back with 10 blouse pieces. He called them “blouse bits” when I asked him why not buy sarees for his wife? Why these blouse bits? His reply stumped me. He said “all saarees in Kuwait are imported from India. Seondly if I give saarees to my wife she wont be able to find matching blouse bits there, and she will blame me for my choice of the saaree colors. In addition, half my vacation will be wasted in shopping for blouse bits. This is easier. Give her these bits, and then give her money, and she will gladly buy the matching saarees. Problem solved. See how practical I am mr anand?” I never had answers to his statements, they always bowled me over.

One such purchase surprised me, he came home with a pair of skates. “ I am sending skates for my daughter pallavi.” I said pallavi was just 18 months, its still time before she can use skates. His reply was a Yorker once again. “ see mr anand, my wife has a tough time when she goes out with pallavi, pallavi doesn’t like to walk and wants to be carried in arms by her mother all the time. So heres a solution, now she can wear the skates, and my wife can just pull her on wheels, makes easy for her too, and pallavi can enjoy too” we tried telling him that pallavi’s feet will fly in all directions once she puts on these skates, but Krishna was in no mood to listen.

One more memory of his, when he wanted to make home made wine. He got a bottle of sparkling grape juice, added a spoon of yeast, put the cork back, and kept the bottle in one corner. At around 2 a.m while we were fast asleep, and probably dreaming too, there was a huge popping sound. We all jumped in our beds, I shared a room with Krishna, we cudnt understand what had happened. Switched on the lights to find the cork had gone off due to heavy pressure build up cos of the yeast, and all the juice foamed out of the bottle. That was Krishna. Didn’t accept defeat. “tomorrow I will try again, with a different method”

He was there at the airport in sept 1992, when I said a final goodbye to Kuwait. As I gave him a hug , I could see his moist eyes. Later on he did 5 more years before settling down in blore. So far I haven’t been able to keep in touch with him. Hopefully, someday I will be in jayanagar, to try one of his 5 minute dish!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

unfair stings!

every other day we have sting operations, exposing politicians, corrupt men, catching indulging actors, and so on. latest in the line are the selectors. such sting operations are popular with the masses, provide lots of "breaking" news to media channels, but in the long run, does society benefit from all sting operations? is the media aware that a line needs to be drawn somewhere? is it fair and just to peep into someone's house, if that someone is a public figure in someway, and then catch whatever u can, on camera, and beam it across the nation for people to see? is there an objective behind every sting operation?

lets say a senior media guy is married, and having an affair, will it be right for some one to bring his love making out in the open? this scenario is not impossible if lines are not drawn now. do all the top media bosses approve of such sting operations? do such kind of covert operations fall into the news category? catching someone unawares, is that supposed to be news? maybe the shakti kapoor, and bangaru laxman stings were right in a way, as they exposed the evil prevailing in society, and cud have prevented a few more shakti kapoors and bangarus from happening. but the latest one where conversations between selectors was brought out in the open...... was that fair too? wont it create further divisions in the indian cricket, plunging it to another low? isnt their something like honoring someone's privacy? or are we now going to say that all is fair in love, war, and stings? any view points from my blogger friends?

Saturday, May 5, 2007

adult kids!

this has happened real. my sister-in-law's son is in class 6. recently, a boy from his class told another girl from the same class " tumhare pet me mera bachha hai ". not realising the impact of the statement, yet smelling something terribly wrong, the girl started to cry.
the teacher came to know, and was stunned, to say the least. she reported this to the principal, and next day, parents of both the kids were summoned. and they were explained the effects of allowing un restricted viewing of teleserials and movies to kids, without thinking of the after effects. a very small incident, but teaches us a lot.

we as a society are going down the drain very fast as far eroding of moral values is concerned. since both the parents work in most of the cases, and grandparents are not welcome in more and more homes, kids are left to themselves.

and thanks to ekta kapoor, and the likes, we have an ample dose of all nonsense in the daily soaps. add to it, our films that are bent on teaching the society, new lows in morality. and we have a huge problem on our hand. our younger generation is getting astray, in thoughts and in deeds.

here is an example, a lady in baroda started a sanskar camp during vacations. here she would teach prayers, scriptures, ramayana and mahabharata to kids. adding some value in her own way...... i was not surprised when only 3 participants registered. and a local tv channel carried out auditions for acting/dancing last week in baroda, and winners were promised modelling assignments in mumbai. and hundreds of kids gatecrashed, and it was chaos everywhere, and the programe had to be canceled on that day. in both cases, the age group was 6 to 10. the message is clear, we all know what the parents want their kids to do!!!

a greedy materialistic attitude, unscrupolous politicians, irresponsible parents, a publicity crazy media, and the general social fabric of the country, all are pointing towards a disaster in waiting. i just hope something positive happens!

wishing luck to the younger generation of this country!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

russian rhapsody!

as the cab approached the pasternak avenue, i wondered how natassia wud look, the last time we had met was when we both were just out of college, on our first blind date. now after a full 15 years, a natassia in her early thirties.... mmmm i was getting some naughty ideas slowly.

her cottage was at the end of pasternak avenue, just before the tram junction of irkutsk, a suburb in st petersburg. this was my first visit to this lovely russian city, it had a lot of history to offer. communist history.

the bell chimed a german melody .... i guess it was lorelei... i didnt hv to wait for long. natassia opened the door, and had me breathless. 5 feet 8 inches tall, a chiselled body that would make michael angelo do away with his tools, shoulder length hair, thad had a light crimson sheen, and the frangrance of wild orchid shampoo made its presence felt on this early december evening. her face gleamed as she kissed me lightly on my cheeks, and welcomed me inside, led me rather.
she was wearing a satin black full length gown, and had tightened the belt just enough to show off her divine figure, with her icy blue eyes adding a bit of intrigue to the small bonfire that lit the room. her sensuous body gracefully moving in all the right directions, my heart beats accelerated just a bit as she was back with 2 goblets and a bottle of chateau noveau 1959, a wine she knew i liked.
we talked a lot late into the evening as the wine started to show on her face, full lips that would put angelina jolie to shame, and high cheek bones that enshrined russian regal lineage. yes, she always claimed to have royal ancestors, and i never debated that.

yes. . . as she sat next to me, very close. . . close enuff for me to smell her body, she didnt forget to let her black satin gown to slide off, revealing a sheer sculpted body, and shifting my heartbeats into the next gear.
i didnt even realise when i bent down to kiss her ankle, lick her creamy skin, and move up her calves, gently kissing and licking at the same time. as i moved up slowly, i cudnt help but biting into her soft thighs, letting out a few gasps from her, breaking the silence, and setting the fire to crackle more.
i realised for the first time that passion had an effect on inanimate objects too, the fire in the corner of the room was sizzling with fury now, as if competing with our passion, and providing us with the impetus, for a long drawn out night.
by now i was at her soft belly, and was all over her, a slow frenzy starting to have a steady but sure grip on us both.

as she started to bite my neck, i held her thin waist and slowly....gently rubbed my face against her breasts, feeling a milky .....sweet smell......adding a few more beats to my already thumping heart.
natassia had full breasts, well cupped, her nipples taut, inviting me for more.....and more i had......kissing and sucking her breasts, her gasps were turning more frequent now, our bodies slowly getting entwined like 2 long lost creepers....mmmmm!!

i then moved further up to kiss her hard on the lips, a bout of agressive frenzy letting out a stifled cry from her. as i began to explore her mouth, i realised she was over me... and we indulged in a slow and warm french kiss, i wanted this to last loooong....real long... as my tongue took up the most cherished job....of exploring her mouth, moving my tongue slowly over her teeth, feeling them, playing with her tongue, slowly the sucking frequency increasing, and so were the heart beats, they raced away to a rapid dhak dhak

the blood pressure was increasing, yes it really was,..... as our hands explored each others' bodies, the tongues refused to cool down.
we must have been kissing for an hour............that was pretty long........still being able to sustain the tempo, both of us, and enjoying it thoroughly.............finally the saliva started to drop out, and she indicated she wanted to say something, but i refused and pressed on hard, natassia tried to push me away and i realised she was eager to speak to me, as i reluctantly took my mouth away.....and asked her with gasped breath what it was.........and she said..................saare jahaan se achha..........oh my god.......the loud alarm of my nokia playing saare jahaan se achha........woke me up, breaking off the dream of the century. . . .. . . . and making me realise that i had an early morning flight to catch to important meeting was 4 30 am.

finally as our plane took off at 6 30 am from mumbai, with great efforts i let natassia slip of my mind, concentrating on other important activities lined up for the day........

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

babubhai kabootar and the BJP hawks!!!

babubhai katara recently brought shame to dahod, gujarat, and the BJP, and not neccessarily in that order. a member of parliament, a person who forms the part of government of india. someone who was elected by the people of dahod to represent them in the loksabha. yes, he too took a pledge to abide by, and respect the constitution of india. but he changed his mind, and decided to enter into a racket to ferry people to greener pastures like canada, UK, new zealand. and ferry people on his wife and his son's passport. it is now revealed that he made 12 such trips. assuming he made rs 8 lacs per person he must have made a lot of money. babubhai katara doesnt have any moral values, and i am sure he is brought up the wrong way, and i also wish that he, and his likes not only go to hell, but rot in hell too.

what was more disturbing was not a single bjp leader openly condemned his actions, or came out on the media against babubhai. the party did suspend him but that was the least they could have done. had it been something to do with sonia gandhi's italian origin, advani, uma bharti, rajnath singh, sushma swaraj, venkaiah naidu, arun jaitly, would have scrambled to hog space on various TV channels, and news papers, and would have endlessly ranted against sonia, and how she was a threat to the security of this country.

what was further disturbing that the people of dahod who elected katara were also silent, none of them felt cheated enough to come out on the streets. these same people dont think for a second before coming out on the streets against richard gere and shilpa shetty. at times i fail to understand whats happening to the indian mindset. there should have been enormous protests against all those involved in human traficking, so that others get a lesson.

our pride is hurt only if mandira bedi wears a saaree depicting an indian flag. a babubhai bringing much more shame to the same indian flag doesnt bother us at all.

Monday, April 16, 2007

old age?? no please....

Haridas was at it for the past 45 mins, sorting out spinach leaves from a huge pile of spinach. He would spend another 45 mins or so, washing and chopping the spinach fine. Haridas took so long to carry out this job daily as we has a patient of parkinson’s syndrome. His right hand shook and trembled a lot. He was unable to walk properly, while other body movements had become stiff too, and this dreaded disease had impaired his speech to such an extent, that his grand children were unable to understand his narration of panchtantra anymore. A weak eyesight, and diabetes further compounded his misery. At 76, he was anticipating and gladly willing to embrace death, which had so far eluded him. Unfortunately for him, his wife taradevi wasn’t any more fortunate than him.

She too had to spend 2 hrs daily morning, first to sweep the entire flat, and then to mop the floor. And the flat was a 2400 sq feet penthouse in the posh upmarket area of the city. It belonged to their son manish, who was a project manager with a reputed software firm. Taradevi had eyesight and hearing problems, and a cataract operation in both her eyes had further impaired her vision. Like a true “pativrata” she tried to help haridas everyday to cut vegetables, after finishing her cleaning job.

However she was prevented from doing so by radhika, manish’s wife. Radhika as a happy-go-lucky person. Enjoying life. And also enjoyed harassing her in laws. Yes, she made her in laws toil in the house from early morning till late evening. Haridas and taradevi were made to carry out most of the domestic work in the house, and in the night, were made to sleep in the passage. Their twilight years were actually nothing bus misery, anguish, and pain! Hubby manish provided tacit support to his wife by ignoring things in the garb of 12 hours of hard work. The kids were busy with their studies, friends, video games, and TV, and had less time for their grandparents.

This is one example of how the elder generation is abused in India. And this abuse is prevalent in every caste, community, and religion, irrespective of the financial status of the individual or the family. It includes mental abuse by way of sarcastic or tormenting remarks during the day, hankering for property etc, and physical abuse like making the seniors toil hard to finish the household chores, and even manhandling or beating the aged members of the house.

In the mad rush to make or mint money, and to enjoy the luxuries that present day life has to offer, even the so-called educated class has forgotten the basic responsibility that we all have towards our parents and seniors. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, there are many people who take excellent care of the elderly, respect them, even worship them, but such population is dwindling, sadly.

What most of us tend to overlook, or forget, is, that life will soon come to a full circle, very soon we too will walk into the sunset of our lives, our kids will have to cope up and adjust with us. The earlier we realize, learn, and improve, the better for all of us, and society in general.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


dove on left: hi, i am dovey!
dove on right : hi, i am lovey!
dovey: woww thats a sweet name, where are you from?
lovey: thanks, i am from mumbai, i was released along with dozens of brothers and sisters, during the inaugural function at the recent mumbai marathon
dovey: you are lucky i must say, i somehow managed to escape. a few of us were being taken to one baba bhoot nath, beyond the hills of pavagadh. baba bhootnath is known to kill us and sprinkle our blood during some strange rituals, to promise kids to childless parents.
lovey: o my god, thats bizarre! but then human beings are strange. the way they cheat their own kin....i sincerely hope that such humans are not reborn as doves, they dont deserve it. thanks to almighty i am a dove. and that too a peaceful dove!
dovey: what is a peaceful dove?
lovey: our colour......white means peace, some of our brothers are grey in color too
dovey: yes, but they are a part of us, you must have seen near the kabutarkhana outside dadar station in mumbai. we all flock together to peck at grains. not like humans who categorise their own kin into OBC, SC, ST etc......
lovey: yes....imagine reservation at kabutarkhana....shame on these humans!!
dovey: so how come you landed in pavagadh?
lovey: i was in a group migrating northwards, when i saw the hills of pavagadh, and the lush greenery, i felt like taking a look, so swooped down. i want to be independent, want to break free.... from the dove meets dove scene...:)
dovey: ha ha ha, and you met me here
lovey: yes, and nice meeting you
dovey: can i ask you something?
lovey: go ahead please......( i know what you are going to ask, u flirt!!!)
dovey: can i ask you out on a date? theres a huge banyan tree half way up the hill, you have cool westerly winds flowing thru, in the late afternoon, we can select a nice branch, would dove to know you better...oops....i mean would love to know you better
lovey: mmmm sounds ok with me.....later on maybe you can show me around the hill.

dovey: wowww that sounds cool

lovey: done! i got to leave now, getting late for lunch...

dovey: me too....see you tommorrow....!!

lovey: peace!!!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

no! no! no means no!!...i wont say cheese!!!

last month we had been pavagadh, a famous hill temple near halol, about 50 kms from baroda. the kalika mata temple at the top of the hill draws large crowds through out the year. the tourism deptt has made decent facilities for pilgrims and tourists. there is a hotel at the base, where you can put up the previous evening. also available is a ropeway, that reminds me of where eagles dare, it takes 6 mins to reach the top. there are also well laid out steps for the more adventurous. i took 2 and half hrs to reach the top, so a healthy person will take less for sure. its an enjoyable climb, esp if done early morning. the entire path is dotted with tiny joints selling assorted tit bits like salted amla, lassi, chaas, pepper mint, chips, toddy, tamarind, and of course gota-n-bhajiya. on your way up one comes across animals, like the langur mom n kid pair. for once the ever hyper active baby remained stable for a few seconds to give me a nice pose...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mrs Dubey, and the terrifying upma!!

first of all I do not know how true this story is. A very close friend of my father mr ranade, has narrated this several times. I always used to tell ranade uncle that this cud never happen, but he always insists and says it did actually happen. A very jovial character, its always fun when he is around. We see less of him now, as he isn’t keeping very good health. God bless him!

The incident dates back to somewhere between 1961 and 1964, that’s the time my father, and ranade uncle, and several others in their group, spent at IOCL’s Guwahati Oil Refinery, in Assam. Out of a group of 10 odd friends, a few were married. One such friend was mr dubey, who was newly married, and his wife, who hailed from garhwal, had just very recently, arrived from garhwal.
On a Sunday morning a couple of friends happened to visit dubeyjee’s place. And it was decided to have upma for breakfast.

A coy mrs dubey, hailed from the mountains of garhwal, and hadn’t the faintest of ideas of how upma is prepared. So, the two bachelor friends, and mr dubey, explained the entire upma recipe to mrs dubey, and then they spent their time chatting in the drawing room, while the lady went in the kitchen to complete the job. For the first time, she was trying her hand at preparing upma.

She made a strange mistake. Instead of taking ‘rawa’, she took another ingredient having similar physical appearance and characteristics, light off-white color, and similar granular feel. It was a local make detergent powder. I do not know what this detergent powder was doing in the kitchen but that’s how this story goes. So in went some ‘rawa’ into a kadhaai, and for a few minutes, madam dubey religiously roasted it. Later on, once she felt the ‘rawa’ was well roasted, as per instructions, she took boiling water, already kept ready on the other burner, and poured it on the rawa. The moment she did this, there was a huge ball of foam that formed over the kadhaai. This site of so much foam was so scary for mrs dubey, that she dropped the ladle in her hand and ran outside into the drawing room, screaming. I can only imagine how she must have felt, her upma going up in foam!!!

Unable to understand, the three men rushed into the kitchen, and for a few seconds were shocked to see so much foam. When mrs dubey pointed out the tin from where she had taken the rawa, things became clear, and the trio burst out laughing, an initially embarrassed mrs dubey also joining later on.

Actually mrs dubey had just arrived the previous afternoon, was joining her hubby for the first time in guwahati, and wasn’t familiar about where exactly the provisions were stacked in the kitchen store, and hence, this crazy mix-up! I have heard some amazing culinary flops or even disasters, but I guess this, if true, takes the cake.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Meera and Maya

Maya and Meera were two chirpy 9 yr olds. They were neighbours in one of the cities in India. Like millions of Indians they lived in a concrete jungle. Unlike, millions of Indians, they were blessed in a way. As their fathers had plush jobs at one of the most prestigious public sector undertakings, located in baroda. Those were not the days of Barbie dolls, burgers, malls n multiplexes, and SRK n ASH!

Those were the early seventies, the days of dev anand, waheeda, vividh bharati, and tons of masti in vacations. The life in the township was fun filled and full of amenities.

Maya and Meera were together right from the moment they left for school till it was time to say goodnite. Completely inseparable. Very similar in their likes and dislikes, yet strikingly different in their nature. Maya was gutsy, with a sort of never-say-die attitude, very generous and protective of her near and dear ones. Meera was softspoken, sweet, and extremely charming. They were probably the closest of friends that I have ever seen. During vacations it was impossible to separate them, even during the nights, which wud be spent at each other’s place alternatively. To the delight of their parents, they excelled at studies too, with the top 2 ranks sort of reserved for them all the time, exam after exam.

One afternoon they were walking back home, from school. The school was centrally located in a way so that almost everyone from the township walked down. Those days the school bags were much lighter, maybe the brains were more full. I am saying this as a few days back I had been invited at my son’s school to assess/judge some projects done by class VII, a science project, and a computers project. In the computers project, the students had prepared websites, with lots of info about themselves. I was shocked to see that almost 100% students had mentioned SRK, hrithik, abhishek, rani, preity, kajol as their idols, and their heroes, while everyone seemed to like pizzas n burgers. Anyways I always feel sad when I see the new generation totally focused on movies, malls, video games etc. it bothers me a lot.

Coming to our story, as meera and maya reached near their home, just about 50 feet from their home, a stray dog, probably rabies infected, which was passing by, suddenly lunged at Meera. Meera let out a terrifying scream. His fangs baring, the dog was about to bite her, when suddenly Maya pulled Meera, with all her strength, and flunged her to one side, and jumped in front to face the dog, trying to scare it away. The dog, not to be scared away, jumped on her and clutched her thigh. All this happened in a couple of seconds. A few vegetable vendors who were resting under a mango tree nearby, rushed to help, shouting at the same time, to scare the dog away. Meera’s mother who was outside near the verandah, also rushed out, and so did a few more neighbors, listening to the commotion.

Fortunately for maya, the dog sensed danger, and let go of her thigh, running away, but not before inflicting a deep wound on maya’s thigh. Maya was rushed to the hospital, was treated there, and subsequently had to take 14 painful injections. Eventually she got well, back in shape. We lived 3 blocks away from maya’s house, that evening we had gone to her place to find out how she was doing. My mother asked maya if she wasn’t scared to face the dog, and mentioned that she was a very brave girl to save her friend meera from a certain dog bite. Maya confidently replied to my mother, that the previous night her granny narrated to her, a story about rani laxmibai, and how courageous she was. Grandma also told her in the end, that in case of danger to one’s family and friends, one should always show the courage to face the danger, and shield and protect the family and friends at all costs. In less than 24 hours, maya had put her granny’s teachings into practice. As maya sat in her grandma’s lap, a proud grandma had tears in her eyes.

Today, dr Meera Mehta teaches laser physics at the university of Wilmington, Delaware, in the US, while dr Maya Ghosh heads SEWA, an NGO from ahmedabad. She was awarded a few years back for the exemplary work that her organization carried out in the wake of the Gujarat earthquake. And today I also take pride in telling people that this brave lady, and a wonderful person, also happens to be my ex-classmate.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

time to 'provoke' our law makers

Did you see 'provoked'? Aishwarya rai is brilliant for a change, yes…she has actually lived the role of kiranjit ahluwalia. I would love to meet kiranjit someday. After watching the film I began to wonder…
There are dozens of kiranjits probably in every village, town, and city in India. Many of them can be provoked. However, will even a single of them get justice in the end?

Kiranjit is free today, primarily because of progressive laws in the united kingdom.

When will we have progressive laws in this country? When will we have plain simple law in this country? When will law abiding citizens feel proud at doing so, in this country? When will law makers stop turning into law breakers?

Just 2 decisions by the courts in the last 10 days, one by the supreme court about staying the govt order on reservation for OBC in the elite educational institutes, and second by the UP high court about muslims not being minorities in the UP, these 2 decisions brought such huge protest by the govt, in delhi, and the one in UP, that the judiciary must be wondering now whether it makes any sense to pass judgement any more.

The only law that prevails in this country now is the law that helps to catch votes, by crook or crook, and by crook only.

This was evident in another shocking sting operation carried out 2 days back by IBN-cobra post. Shocking is an understatement, for the first time I felt sad at being an Indian.
Sometimes I wonder….dont our PM, and President watch these sting operations. Are they so helpless that forget about taking action, they refuse to say a word in public against such politicians.

I am sure many women, who identify with kiranjit, will go and watch ‘provoked’, and they might get provoked too, but they should not have any false feeling that they too will get justice in India. For that, we need to sufficiently provoke the law makers, to bring in path breaking laws in our country.

Friday, April 6, 2007

there is a bit more to just "work is worship"!

I am responding to the post below, written by my friend rambabu. Instead of putting a comment I thought of expressing my opinion by way of a small post. There are many many people that I have come across in life, both men, and women, who steadfastly believe in this age old saying “work is worship”. To some extent I also regard my work as worship.

However I have seen that some people are too rigid in following this principle of work is worship, that they don’t see anything beyond their work. And since they feel that their work is the ultimate worship, they slowly turn into atheists.
After carrying out some practical observations, I have seen a few men in the family as well as amongst people known to me. Till retirement age, work is worship for them. And one fine morning, work stops. Their only anchor in life, which was their work, is no more. They had never visited a temple, participated in a satsang, or bowed their head before a saint. These people are severely affected as soon as their work stops, and they are on a shaky ground. The first thing that grips them is the fear of death. And once this fear begins to live with them, their health is affected rapidly, the confidence levels going down pretty quick. At this juncture it is meaningless to advice such people to turn towards meditation, or prayers, or any other form of worship, as they have never known any other form of worship for all their lives.

Contrary to this, there is another category of people – the women folk!! Most women don’t stop working at the age of 58 or 60. so you will always find them more stable even at the age of 65 or 70 than their male counterparts. The reason is simple. For their entire lives they have carried out the daily pooja in their homes, as well as taken care of their responsibilities towards their homes. and secondly, since they dont really "retire", they dont have to relate to a condition of what to do for the whole day.

I do not know if the readers will agree with this, there are exceptions of course, but look around in and around your homes, friends, relatives, and you might agree to the same. To conclude, I would ask all men to engage in some form of spiritual worship in addition to their work, which of course is worship!! stability of mind is most needed at a later age i guess...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

a squeaky date!

i go to a nearby garden called sardarbagh every evening, for a 40 mins brisk walk. as usual, after finishing yesterday's walk, i spent 5 mins on the bench, before leaving for home.i noticed that 2 squirrels were running around the bench in circles. i began observing them.i assume one was a male and was chasing a female. unless they are different than us humans!

this rapid and random chase went on at a fast speed, and suddenly they froze, facing each other! then something funny happened, they came close and kissed each other, just a brief momentary touching of mouths, and then again the female started to run, while the male followed. both of them happily making squeaking noise too. every few seconds they wud stop, a few brief kisses wud take place, and start running once again. they were completely oblivious to a few people sitting on the benches, and a few more who walked along the track.

these squeaky characters were not worried about the time or the location, and merrily went about enjoying their date. and then i saw a couple enter the park, very concious, looking around for a good place to sit. and the bench sitters, as well as the walkers, started to give them some uncomfortable stares, trying to assess them. both seemed to be just 15-16 years old, maybe that was the reason they got unwanted attention from the older generation in the park. as i got up to leave, i saw my squeaky friends continue their kiss-and-run routine. and i thought to myself.... we human beings were just independent, while the animals were free, in every sense of the word!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

life changes fast........

till the first week jan this year, i was happily working in mumbai, not-so-happily living alone, happily travelling all over the country, not-so-happy with certain issues at work place. and then i decided to quit.

on 11th jan, i landed in baroda.
after reaching home i came across ibibo advt, and started to write, the blogging fever caught up soon!! by 15th feb, i came 26th and pocketed a cool 40,000/-. more than this cash award, i got to know some very good friends here on ibibo. then things took a surprise turn for me. two of my blogger friends teamed up and approached me with a story. they wanted me to write a screenplay and dialogs for this story!!! they were seriously planning an english film. woww i cudnt believe this was happening to me. i have a new passion since last week or so, i am completely engrossed in writing the screenplay. sometimes life changes faster than you anticipate. you never know, if all goes well, the movie could release early next year!

Friday, March 30, 2007

she came, she ate, and she never returned again!!!

Just a few days after we got married, my wife expressed the desire to bake a cake. I was both happy, and surprised! Happy because I have always felt that baking a good or a perfect cake is a sign of an accomplished chef. Cakes are never easy to bake, and have tormented and tested even the best of cooks. And I was surprised because I didn’t know she could prepare a cake too. Mine is an arranged marriage, and the whole process of meeting the girl, getting engaged and then the actual tying of the knot, all happened very fast, and like we both were still in the process of getting to know each other.

I gladly told her that I would extend all possible support to her in this process. We selected a Sunday afternoon, and I had brought all the ingredients as per the list that she had made. And within no time we had the dining table full of the assorted paraphernalia needed to bake a cake. Right from the different sized tiny spoons used to measure baking powder, essence etc, to the spatula, egg beater, a couple of sieves, a weighing scale, and all the ingredients were ready. My job was very specific, to have the egg whites separated from the yolks, and then to whip the whites into perfection. I was also given the job of cracking open a few walnuts. I always liked walnuts in cakes. With every bite, you should have a small piece of walnut crunch under your teeth.

Once the process of preparing the entire mixture of flour, eggs, butter, sugar, nuts, essence, and the orange rind etc was over, she decided to use an oven which we had just received a few days back as a wedding gift. I tried to suggest she should use a baking vessel we had, which we used to keep on the gas burner, but newly wed wives being newly wed wives, she refused. So in went the whole mixture in a cake mould, and into the oven. The oven was gleaming, maybe the inaugural cake made it beam with happiness!! Probably raju shrivastav could have imitated the oven too!!!

We all waited for the stipulated time, our next door lady joining a proud mother in law, and both ladies discussed all the cakes that they had earlier had baked till now. I myself quietly remembered all the cakes I had till now, from bakeries outside of course!

None of us were very confident of the oven temperature settings, but we collectively decided to have a combination of temperature settings, and the minutes on the timer. Meanwhile the aroma had begun to travel, attracting a couple of more neighbours. And then slowly this aroma changed from pleasant to something that seemed to burn. In a haste, the oven was switched off and out came the cake, it had taken a dark brown or almost blackish tint. And when we cut it open, after allowing it to cool down, the insides were fairly moist. Something terribly went wrong with the measures of the essence, and the baking soda too, as both the flavors were very strong . my wife was extremely upset and dejected, I tried to console her, and the neighbours, started to disappear fast, in order to reduce her embarrassment.

Finally after trying out a few tiny pieces, it was decided to feed the burnt baking marvel to the cow, who used to take a round in our locality every evening. To close the chapter quickly, I fed the entire cake to the cow, that evening.
She finished the cake in a jiffy, but rapidly moved her head sideways as she ate. I tried in vain to figure out what the humble animal was trying to say. After finishing the cake the cow left our area in a hurry, I had a feeling she wanted to convey something.

From that day in November 1992, till today, the cow never returned to our home again! I do see her sometimes in our locality, but she starts to run the moment I try to call her. My son, who is now 13, and knows the story, teases his mother sometimes. My wife has since then, baked excellent cakes on quite a few occasions. But that fateful day still lingers on in our memory, when a baker’s initial delight, turned into her plight , and later on became an animal’s fright!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

is there a way out?

I have led a very happy childhood. Its an understatement actually, I have led a dream childhood. When we came to baroda, I was just an 18 month old baby! My father worked in Indian oil corporation, and we came to stay in the refinery township, about 10 kms from baroda city. It was a very peaceful life, typical of any township belonging to a public sector company, with all the amenities, and facilities, for recreation, entertainment, as well as for the basic necessities of life. Ac occasional visit to baroda city was always very exciting, whether to watch a once-in-a-bluemoon movie, to shop and just roam around, or to visit some acquaintances.

School was fun, even walking the three quarters of a kilometer to school, and coming back in the noon, was fun. The houses were spacious and comfortable, and so was the entire layout of the township, with an ample overdose of flora and fauna. Whatever birds, and plants we used to read about, in the books, we had an opportunity to see them in and around our homes.

The other day when my son wanted to know what a babbler bird was, I took my bike, and took him, and we actually searched for a few babbler birds, as I wanted him to see what I had seen all my life, while we lived in the township.

Sadly, life has changed now. We have our own home in baroda city, located in a peaceful residential area, a comfortable home, with all facilities and amenities nearby. However, it bothers me, that life for my son, or kids in general isn’t the same anymore. Starting the day with a huge schoolbag, containing a load of books, and ending with shahrukh khan’s KBC trash, or some such meaningless program on the TV. It is not just the TV. It is everything put together. Its sickening to see kids being drawn into this whirlpool of marketing, money-making mania, and materialistic madness in general.

Every few days, we are shopping with our son, selecting a suitable return gift as he has to attend some birthday party. Kids today prefer lays, and kurkure, and cheese balls, not always because they like this stuff, but because it contains tiny kiddy gizmos. After school there is at least one coaching class to attend, reducing the time available to play. The other day I saw tiny tots doing ramp walking. A local tv channel had organized a beauty pageant!!

Fast food and ready to eat stuff has already taken over our lives. Movie stars, their affairs, and silly news about their weddings has further worsened it. Where are we exactly heading for. Doesn’t anyone feel like leaving the kids alone? I know some of you might not agree with my views here, fair enough! But those who agree with me, do you see a way out?

Monday, March 26, 2007


It has been exactly one year since the Indian team made a not-so-quiet exit from the world cup. As you are probably aware, the BCCI sacked the entire team last year and banned them for 5 years. Of course later on, the opposition walked out of the parliament as usual, some of them threatened the loksabha speaker with stumps, and finally the govt relented to their demands, and sacked the BCCI too. One eventful year has passed, and a new look Indian team is slowly winning matches in India as well as outside. So we decided to find out what happened to those banned band of boys. And this is what we found

Rahul dravid: at the request of the Chinese government, he works as a consultant to advise them on how to prevent cracks from developing in the great ‘wall’ of china. The Chinese have fondly given him a new nickname, they call him rahul ‘cement’ dravid! Every morning he is seen searching for cracks in the wall!

Robin uthappa: he was so frustrated at the BCCI for ending his budding career, that he shifted to tennis and now is set to represent India in the davis cup. A double fisted back hand drive being his favourite shot.

Virender sehwag: poor guy, for a few months he was the brand ambassador for the famous ‘kesh sawaar’ hair oil, but the company lost their business very fast, and our viru bhaiyya lost his hair too. On the najafgarh bypass, he has a small joint selling aloo parathe . He proudly has named his joint ‘princy de parathe’!

Saurav ganguly: india’s pride has now become neighbour’s envy. Dada is now the coach of Bangladesh team. He was last seen perfecting the technique of run-outs! Bangladesh being a conservative nation, dada has been instructed to wear 2 shirts all the time. Even if he sees even street cricket being played, he has a habit of removing his shirt and waving it wildly.

Sachin tendulkar: his restaurant closed down. Clients complained, the order in which food was served, kept on changing daily. Desserts were given upfront , soups came in the end , and so on. But he recently wrote a book called “1001 ways of getting out”, and it’s a huge success!!

Yuvraj singh: he, along with his girl friend, acted in a movie recently ‘lassi ke side effects’. Though the movie barely ran in india for a couple of days, it was selected for the Caribbean film festival. He is in Barbados, to promote his film.

Mahindersingh dhoni: after modeling for practically all the major shampoo brands during last one year, his female fans have somehow prevented him from having a hair cut . Now, with knee length hair, he was last week offered a lead role by mira nair, for her latest production ‘hair today, gone tommorrow’!

Ajit agarkar: he has bought sachin’s restaurant, and is confident or reviving it back to its old glory. The Nepalese cricket board recently rejected him as their bowling coach, as agarkar wanted to sign a long term 30 year contract.

Anil kumble: he produces cricket related software in Bangalore. Frequently resists offers from politicians, who want to learn from him how to throw googlies.

Harbhajan singh: he produces music videos, albums under the banner of “ball-le ball-le entertainment”. His old friend muralitharan recently inaugurated his latest album aptly named ‘teesra’.

Zaheer khan, munaf patel, irfan pathan – they started a modeling institute called ‘baroda ke bande’. There is a long waiting list to join their institute.

Sreesanth: he runs a dance academy in ernakulam, called “ the unsteady samba”. also supplies cheer leader teams on contract for cricket matches, all over the world!

Dinesh karthick: his recent book ‘behind the wicket, it was not cricket’ turned out to be a best seller. He is thinking of writing his autobiography now. Too early for him in life, to write an autobiography.

The drama begins....

The drama now begins within the next few weeks. As my friend sammy fears, there will be jerky reactions. Once the team is back from the Caribbean, the BCCI will get down to announcing some tough measures to please the fans, senior cricketers, and public opinion in general. It will be very interesting to see who makes it to the Bangladesh tour coming up in may.
In all probability greg chappell will be given a farewell. As such majority of public opinion is already against him, including some ex-cricketers.

There will be a huge debate over whether the next coach should be of foreign or Indian origin. The cricket crazy nation forgets that a good coach is a good coach, irrespective of what nationality he belongs too. World over foreign coaches have done well, but now the Indians will be in no mood to relent. BCCI will be in a hurry to show that they have taken some concrete action.

A few senior players will have to say goodbye to one-day cricket. 2 names that immediately come to my mind are kumble and harbhajan. Kumble is over the hill, lets admit, and bhajji hasn’t done anything remarkable in the recent past.

Agarkar probably might be dropped too. From the batting side, I have a feeling that sachin might announce his retirement from the limited version of the game. Sehwag might be dropped once again, this time he might be considered only after some consistent performance at the national level games. Captaincy could go back to either ganguly or yuvraj. There are some who want sachin to take over the captaincy. Sachin has been a great player but not an aggressive captain at all.

There are chances that some old faces will come back. Kaif, raina, dinesh mongia, and maybe even vvs laxman could be seen in the team soon. Pawar could return to the team too. It would be interesting to note now what would be the steps taken by the board, once the team returns. Selectors might face the sack too.

My suggestion is to scrap the zonal selection pattern, and have a 3 man selection committee consisting of any 3 former players with maximum experience at the international level. One such combination could be gavaskar, venkatraghavan, and vishwanath. Let them have a free hand bring in their team and use the Bangladesh tour as a sort of experiment. There are a billion cricket crazy fans out there, and I guess there will an equal number of aspirations and dreams.

All said and done, coming few days could change the face of Indian cricket with some major and surprising changes. I only with the BCCI members are accountable in someway too.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

should we legalize prostitution?

Yes! That’s my single word answer to this question that has been endlessly discussed in the print and electronic media, at various platforms, by hundreds of people before me, that includes both, men as well as women.

I will narrate a routine observation that I happened to make last year. I spent a week in Singapore last feb, and was put up in a hotel, located in an area known as ‘little india’. My evening routine was pretty simple, after taking a walk in the markets, and shopping malls, I used to frequent one of the open roadside beer joints, to have a couple of tiger beers, and then have a lavish dinner at a nearby south Indian restaurants, and then it was bedtime, back at my hotel. And every evening I used to visit a new place to have beer, and a new restaurant as well.

One such evening, as I finished my beer and was strolling around to search for a restaurant, I walked into a red light area. And once I knew this was the flesh market, I thought of at least having a look around. There were about 6 parallel lanes, with small row houses on both sides. Each lane was around 50 metres long. Al these houses or brothels that they really were, were open, with a pink colored tubelight in the porch. This pink light was an indication that one could buy sex here. As I walked slowly along all 6 lanes, one by one, I saw girls and women of different age, shapes, and sizes, sitting inside, or standing by the doorway, enticing clients. From their features, I could see that these girls were from different nationalities as well. In one of the lanes there were a few policemen, who had parked their bikes and were chatting amongst themselves, maybe on a regular patrol duty. A few people were operating small box like stalls selling all the sleaze stuff, CDs, magazines, posters, post cards, and various other gadgets sold in a sex shop! On the whole it was very routine, all the prostitutes carried a license, as prostitution is legalized in that country. No brokers visible anywhere, no one came after you, and I didn’t notice any shady happenings either. This surprised me, here too Singapore was ahead of us:)

Let us accept one thing. However strongly one wishes, flesh trade is never going to end completely. So why not legalize it in our country, and provide some amount of system, sensibility, and respect to this trade? These girls are humans too. There are many factors that forces them to enter this trade. But it doesn’t mean they should be subjected to constant fear, and inhuman treatment from the brothel owners, the police and the middlemen.
Legalizing prostitution will considerably reduce trafficking of girls, probably make the brothel owners and “dalals” redundant, and the lives of these women will become less painful. Their living conditions will improve to a large extent.

This is strange, but when I sit down to do some serious writing, I see a solution to every problem. And when I look around, in real life, the problems remain as they are. As a civilized society, does it reflect our unwillingness to solve these issues or our incapability? Or is it just that, collectively, we simply don’t care?

This is not just cricket

It will be a sad and gloomy weekend in india. We are out of the world cup. Some die hard cricket fans are still hoping Bermuda to beat Bangladesh. We hired a foreign coach almost 2 years back. He has made a mess of Indian cricket by constantly changing players with his stupid rotation policy. So why should we hope for a tiny nation like Bermuda to defeat Bangladesh? And why should Bangladesh get beaten? They wont. They have national pride. This is a huge problem with us Indians in general. We always hope and depend on others to do things for us. It amply displays our lack of confidence and makes a huge hole in our ability. Look at the tv channels, they are all discussing a remote possibility of Bermuda beating Bangladesh.

While teams like Australia, windies, new Zealand, and south Africa are blazing their way ahead with emphatic wins, all that we are left with is bitter feelings, introspection, hatred against the coach and a few non performers.

Yes, introspection is a word that will be in demand now. Politicians use it in India every five years, its time for the board, and the selection committee to instrospect. First of all was it really necessary to have a foreign coach? Greg chappell with all his unconventional techniques and trials, could make us beat only Bermuda. Look at it this way, for beating Bermuda, the Indian team doesn’t even need any coach.

So what has gone into these 2 years? Just rotation of players on a regular basis. Sadly, rahul dravid always supported this rotation policy. Too many players have come and gone, the confidence level of existing players looks down. Its time for a few seniors to seriously think of retiring. Yes, I am hinting at sachin tendulkar. And look at someone like harbhajan. I have always felt this bowler is highly over rated, he has rarely performed in a oneday match, very recently. Does anyone remember when he last took 3 wickets in a one day match?

After the initial euphoria, dhoni’s chinks in the armour are out in the open. After being touted as the ‘find’, sreesanth wasn’t tried at all. Why was a just recovered pathan taken in the team if he was to be kept out of all the league matches? Did ignoring kumble in the match against the lankans proved to be a costly mistake? Should karthik have been tried yesterday instead of uthappa? Dissection is easy, and putting this post on my blogsite is easiest.

But one thing is certain, our players are not extra ordinary performers, we love them yes, but we have to realize, that on the world scene, they are ordinary stars. A few behave like shining comets once in a while, sparkling for a brief period, and taking the country to temporary glory, but they still remain average players. They are all 2 match wonders, and unfortunately, our cricket crazy nation, the media, and some silly sponsors have created demi gods out of them.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


The title of this post might sound very harsh, acidic, repulsive, and violent too. But then I thought, if I am writing on the horrific acts perpetrated in our society, let the title be as horrifying, as the act itself.
This happened just yesterday, a lady in ahmedabad, fed up by the incessant demands for dowry from her in laws, and her husband, and the inhuman, and constant torcher by them, went to a local park with her 6 year old daughter, doused herself and her daughter with kerosene, and within the next few minutes, the small crowd of people were witness to a shocking scene of watching a screaming praveena, and her 6 yr old daughter dhwani, as they both burned to death.

Dhwani was deaf and mute, and praveena was blamed by her husband, 4 sisters-in-law, and the in-laws, for giving birth to a disabled child! i was both, angry and sad at the same time, at my helpness and inability to do anything to prevent such inhuman acts, that seem to be increasing by the day.

And we call ourselves belonging to a country that has an over 5000 years of rich culture and heritage, the land of rama and sita, a legacy of pandavas and draupadi, the rich values left behind by the likes of satyavaan, savitri, dhruv, eklavya, harishchandra, and dozens of saints, kings, warriors, leaders, philosophers and idealogues. Shame on us!

I still believe an average Indian child is brought up, listening to stories of panchtantra, isapneeti, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and so on. It is only the advent of a very stark materialistic attitude, sometime later, in his or her life, that brings in this mad craze for more, more, and more money. Its perfectly fine to earn more money, but to display so much greed for money that you go to the extent of burning the bride of the house? The same bride who was brought home with so much love and pride? The same bride who is also referred to the lakshmi of the house? Aren’t we defeating and demeaning the sanctity of an institution called marriage? Aren’t we worse than even the wild animals, who have their own code of conduct, and strictly remain within its framework?

Sadly, in almost all the cases of bride burning, the husband, the inlaws, and other family members are involved. This evil in our society shows no sign of decreasing. This barbaric and inhuman behaviour is, unfortunately , on the rise.

Basic education and awareness is badly the need of the hour. Subjects like moral science should be given much more prominence during the primary education, or the formative years.

Media can play a big role in creating awareness against such incidents. Much harsher anti dowry laws have to come into force. It’s a mammoth task but has to be achieved. It is only when our country is free from rapes, bride burning, and female foeticide, can we sincerely and proudly say “ Mera Bharat Mahaan”

Monday, March 19, 2007

english is a phunny intended!!!

Why only english, all languages are funny at times. It is like this, if people are not fluent in a certain language, they can unknowingly create laughter, whenever they communicate in that particular language. And when people are fluent in a certain language, they too can create laughter sometimes, with a slip or two. A friend of mine always used to narrate this. Their PT teacher once was heard saying this to all the students, who were loitering on the ground rather aimlessly. He said to them “students, please don’t just rotate here and there. If you have nothing to do, then go and understand the tree” its amazing really, too what levels one can stretch a language.

I had a room mate in Kuwait, and we often used to discuss politics, which was his favourite subject. Many a times, while we were engrossed in a sort of heated discussion, he would say this to me , getting very excited. “you will see anand, one day history will repeat himself”. I tried telling him in a very subtle manner so as to not offend him that history would normally repeat “itself” and not “himself”. But he always loved to personify history.

This guy was a strong right wing person, and for some reasons, didn’t like rajiv Gandhi at all. Once he told me “ I am really surprised why indira Gandhi wants her son rajiv to join politics. Rajiv is a pilot, and as far as politics is concerned, he has a complete lack of ignorance on the subject!!!” it took me a few seconds to figure out what he meant.

Or take this story, I am sure this is made up. A teacher in our school, once had a visitor, who was standing just outside his office. This teacher then said to him from his chair, loudly, “ please income, why are you outstanding?” I was into splits when I first heard this. Or this one about a girl who wanted to attend her friends’ “welding” (read wedding). Such distortions in the English language, or just plain lack of English have helped a lot in creating jokes too, the most famous one being……upon hearing this announcement on bandra railway station “ the fast local to churchgate is about to arrive on platform no 1”, a guy standing on the platform, at once jumped on the rail tracks. He thought the train was coming on the platform!!

at times, just one spelling mistake can make things hilarious. once my wife got a recipe for kachoris from somewhere. this is how the recipe went........" once the stuffing mixture is ready, start feeling the kachoris!!!

someone in our hometown once remarked that he didnt like to watch english movies, as they didnt have any interviews!!!

The great Big B did create a laugh or two with his famous dialogue “english is a phunny language….” in the movie namak halaal!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

manual auto!!!

I know hardly anyone is going to believe this. But this incident actually happened. Now why such amusing incidents keep on happening only in my life, is a topic that needs a discussion some other day. But one thing is certain, I have a few very unusual anecdotes to narrate, and I will be using this platform to share them with you all.

Someday when I am in my sixties, and my grand children are after me for a bedtime story, I know where I have to look for. No need to stretch my memory then! My only worry is, with the kind of lifestyle we have now, what would happen after say 20 years. Would bedtime stories still exist? And would the siblings fight for a place next to their granny, to listen to a story?

This one goes back to sometime in the early 2001, I was on a routine sales visit to ahmedabad. I had to visit the Lawrence and mayo office near parimal gardens. From baroda I traveled by a bus, got off at geeta mandir bus depot, and from there, hired a three wheeler, an ‘auto’ as it is popularly known in Gujarat, to go to parimal gardens. Just as we were crossing ellisbridge, one of the 7 bridges that ahmedabad city has, to traverse the sabarmati river, the auto driver suddenly took his vehicle to the left and halted. The clutch wire was broken he said. I was a bit upset, as I would lose time. But the auto driver was a lively character. He said he didn’t carry a spare wire, but he did have a trick up his sleeve, and said he would manage.

So he pulled the clutch wire, and tied one end to one of the bars, which are there in front of the passenger to hold, while sitting in a 3 wheeler. We were on road within 5 minutes, it was a funny site, with the driver holding the handle with his right hand, to control the accelerator, and with the left handle he was holding the clutch wire, pressing it, when he wanted to operate the clutch. I smiled to myself, admiring his resourcefulness, and his knack. As we continued our journey, some thing unimaginable happened, just after we had crossed the NID building. The accelerator wire broke too!! I started to laugh!! The auto driver too, though a bit embarrassed, couldn’t hold a smile back. I then asked him, if he ties the accelerator wire too on the other side of the bar, and then holds both the wires with both his hands, then who will hold the steering handle??? This was hilarious, and we both had a good laugh. But then the driver was a smart guy, he told me, he still had a solution, and he will see to it that in the same auto he will reach me to my destination.

Then he pulled, and tied the accelerator wire to some support down below, so that he could press this wire with his right foot. I asked him what about the rear brake? And he asked me not to worry, he would go slow, and use the front brake.
And of we went once again, this guy pressing the clutch and accelerator with a left hand-right foot combination, but we did safely reach the L&M office. I then asked him to wait for a few mins, called my friend devang vyas outside, who worked with L&M, as I wanted him to see the whole set up. He couldn’t believe what he saw! The three of us then had a ‘chai’ at the nearby tea stall, and I thanked the auto driver, who departed with a smile on his face. I thought to myself, this amazing guy was one step ahead of what amitabh bachchan did in ‘roti kapda aur makaan’ !

Thursday, March 15, 2007

shirish, shakira..... and the hips wont lie!!

The moment I opened the door, my brother shirish zoomed inside like a cruise missile, which has gone out of control due to wrong programming, and started to randomly and recklessly run inside the house, all the time shouting at the top of his voice SHAKIRA…SHAKIRA….SHAKIRA!!!

he bumped into our 80 yr old grandma who could neither see or hear shirish properly, but must have felt the impact of all of his 100 pounds, evenly distributed along his 5’10” frame, because she let out a muffled cry for help. Shirish then held her hands and did a small jig with her, leaving her in a half spin !

Shirish was my younger brother, and I called him a braying mantis! Yes that’s the only way one could have described his singing abilities combined with his skeletal frame. Cos once he was trying to imitate eminem, and was embarrassed to find a herd of donkeys passing along the road just outside our house, broke into a synchronized HEEE – HAWWW chorus.
After the samba with granny, his next destination was the dining table. He jumped on the table, moved his arms rapidly in Brownian motion, and at the same time wiggled his so called hips a la shakira, threw back his neck to face the ceiling, and attempted to croon the legendary ….ooooh I’m on tonite… hips don’t lie!!!

Before I cud get my nikon in place, to capture our very own “fakira”, shirish had descended from the dining table, and then cooled down a bit, but still, his hips continued to be in the shakira mood, as they jerked about slowly, to a rhythm.

When my mom asked shirish the reasons for his elated, yet erratic entry, shirish thrust his hands in his pocket, and out came 5 tickets, and he gave us the broadest of smiles. He held those 5 tkts close to his chest, just as a migrant Indian worker clutches to his passport, when he is on his first ever flight to dubai.And now, even I could’nt believe my eyes, shirish had got tickets to the 29th march “shakira live” concert in Mumbai, to be held at the bandra kurla complex..

Wowww! Me, and mom were excited now! The sensuous, sexy, sizzling, and seductive shakira…..would soon shake her surreal hips, and set the stage on fire in our "amchi mumbai", and we could watch her sensational samba from a distance of few metres. unbelievable ! Our entire family was a huge fan of this latin american singing diva. My sister sheetal, and dad would be excited too, to know that shirish had managed 5 priceless tickets for this “mother of all shows”!!

that evening the atmosphere in our house was full of hip wriggling shakira, sheetal came home from college, and straightaway started to play the “hips don’t lie” CD for the nth time. For the first time in many days, dad patted shirish on his back, for managing this impossible feat. and in her excitement, that evening, mom laid out a lavish menu of chicken biriyani, cucumber raita, and in the end we all had some delicious caramel custard. 29th march was just 14 days away. While at the dinner table, the only topic was what we all were going to wear on the big day. Finally our grandma had to intervene to ask us as to whether we were going to perform on stage or it was this “shameless” lady as granny wud address all present generation singers. To her, Britney spears, beyonce, and shakira were one and the same!!

As night drew close, and lights went out, at our home, for a brief few seconds, I stood on the bed, and tried to wiggle my hips, dreaming of me, and shakira, on some remote island in the Bahamas…….

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

is it a lesson for most of us?

i belong to baroda, and ever since i remember, have been getting my clothes stitched with a local tailor . the readymade stuff doesnt fit me well. my tailor, his wife, and two sons, both are hearing and speech impaired, right since birth. we are now used to communicate with him, using very basic sign language. he operates from his residence, and as far as i am concerned, he is an absolutely top class tailor.he has a habit. whenever i give him shirt or trouser length of cloth, he wud return me the balance piece of cloth, once the clothes are stitched. and he insists that we take those small odd shaped pieces of cloth back with us.

curious, at why he does this, once i decided to ask him. as usual he refused to explain, but i insisted, and wrote on a piece of paper, that i must know the reason for his returning the balance pieces of cloth back to us.he then took a piece of paper, and wrote down his explanation. what he wrote that day, shocked me, and shook me out of my senses.

this is what he meant " during our past births, its certain that me and my family must have committed some grave sins. thats the reason we have been punished now, and are unable to speak or hear. in the present birth, i do not want to perform even the slightest wrong - even if it means keeping these leftover pieces of cloth that do not belong to us. cos, in the next birth, i would like to experience the joy of speech and wud love to hear every sound with my ears. i would like to laugh and cry and chat like everybody else. so i always insist that all my customers take back those left over cloth pieces "

i leart the lesson of my life that day. a tailor without any degrees, or qualification to his credit, one who is speech and hearing impaired, had understood the essence of life. and millions of qualified and educated wise men and women, like the rest of us, we spend years reading, attending lectures, following swamis and saints, performing satsangs, going on pilgrimages, indulging in charities and so on, and yet fail to understand what it is to live like a good human being.

this man had learnt the theory of karma without maybe opening a single page of bhagwad gita. hats off to him

we can create our horoscopes in the next birth

an astrologer friend and his wife had come over to our place last week. after a while, naturally the conversation veered off in the direction of astrology and the planets and so forth. incidentally that was also the day when saturn was nearest to the earth, and this event got plenty of media coverage. i asked my friend to have a look at my horoscope, and he promised to study it in detail and provide me with some sort of career guidance, which is much needed at this stage.

while we were discussing the effects of shani (saturn), he made an unusual statement. he said " anand, we can very much decide our horoscope for the next birth." my first reaction was to casually laugh it off, then i gave it a serious thought, and given below are my conclusions in brief:

1) as per the law of karma or the theory of karma, all our actions in this life will be paid back equally in this + the next birth. assuming this -

2) lets say a person commits sin after sin after sin in this birth, then in the next life he takes birth in a family where he will have to face absolute misery, and immense problems, be it health or finance related. a stage might come in his life where, out of frustration, he curses the surroundings, the govt, the country, the circumstances etc etc. but the fact remains that by getting a miserable life in this birth, he is in fact paying for all his sins in the previous birth

3) exactly opposite of this, a man/woman of 100% virtues, cud take birth in a noble family where he or she never falls short of luxuries, a moral upbringing, and the best amenities and opportunities at his disposal. in short it would be extremely fortunate, and a privilege for a child to take birth is such a family. here again, all his good deeds in the previous birth have paid off one can say.the more i think on this the more convinced i am that it is in our hands to decide our horoscope in the next birth.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

are we humans, the most selfish race? OFCOURSE!!

first of all, let me admit, confess, and accept that i am a selfish person like every other human being on the face of this earth. from time to time, and depending on the situation, the selfishness varies.

sometime back, i was watching one of those wild life documentaries on the national geographic. i just love those movies, they are so well made. a lioness, single handed, chased, and brought down a zebra. and then, within a few minutes, an entire family of about 20 odd cats joined in the feast. the entire lunch went of peacefully, except a few skirmishes, considering the fact that these were lions, one of the wildest and strongest animals of the forest.this concept of sharing is so unique, and yet, to a large extent, missing in most of us.

it brought back to memory, a very minor incident in my life, i was in 8th class then, i am tallking of 1975 here, it was summer, and on a lazy sunday afternoon, a couple of friends, and me decided to go on the outskirts of our township, into the open area, to find, and "attack" a mango tree, so that we cud together collect some raw mangoes. just one out of the three of us (wont give his name here) was a good tree climber. he went up, and slowly started picking off mangoes, we both stood below, and collected them in a large cotton sack that we were carrying with us. after about an hour or so, we had collected a bagfull of mangoes, must be 100 odd. then we asked this guy to come down as we all had enuff. he came down, and to my surprise, divided those mangoes into 3 parts. me and my friend, who was down with me, got 5 mangoes each, and he kept the rest....almost the entire sackfull. and he coolly said that since he went up the tree and did all the hard work of climbing up the tree, he would keep most of the mangoes. hahaha.....we being kids, that was the last day of our "pakki dosti".

so coming back to the main topic now, our hindu mythology has a concept of trinity - meaning brahma , vishnu, and mahesh. now let us see the facts or rather lets face the reality, brahma is the creator. he created this 'srushti', and this 'sansaar'. and look at what we have done, we have conveniently forgotten the creator. there are hardly any brahma temples that exist in india. the explanation that i give is...who cares about brahma anymore, we are already born isnt it? now whether we thank brahma or worship him in temples, how does it matter. we cant be "unborn" anymore. so, forget brahma, and lets look further.
vishnu comes next, he is supposed to maintain this cosmos. here, we arent too bad, there are a few vishnu temples in the country, there are vaishnavites, but less in comparison. we havent completely forgotten lord vishnu, as we have forgotten brahma.
and the last is shiva or mahesh. now he is reponsible for destroying the universe. oh my god ! so my death, or the manner in which i will die, is in his hands. hmmmm, i must worship him daily then.......look at the reality here. every nook and corner in every city, town, and village, you will find a shiva temple. the entire race is after lord shiva, we all want immortality, we all want to live a loooooooooong life, and even in the end we all aspire for a natural death. as is said in the mahamrutyunjaya mantra "URVARUKA MEEVA BANDHANAAT...MRUTYORMUKSHI YAMAMRUTAAM" O LORD.....JUST LIKE A RIPE WATERMELON GENTLY , AND SOFTLY BREAKS AWAY FROM THE CREEPER, WHEN WE PLUCK IT, IN THE SAME WAY......TAKE AWAY MY LIFE GENTLY AND SOFTLY.

i dont know how many of you will agree, but the above thoughts of mine, are i guess enough to impress upon your minds that we humans have conveniently forgotten the creator, pay some attention to the one who maintains us, and run after the one who is going to end it all. ample proof that we are the most selfish race amongst all living beings on this earth.dear friends, just thought of sharing whatever i feel some usual, am eager to read your feedback !!

appearances are deceptive!!!

many years ago, we had been on a trip to rajasthan. also happened to visit the nathdwara temple, and a small incident just outside the temple is etched in my mind. as we came out of the temple premises, a sadhu dressed in a loin cloth, with ash smeared on his forehead, and a few rudraksh malaas strung from his neck, sat on a small parapet, cutting an apple with a small knife, and distributing pieces to devotees as prasad.

we accepted the apple pieces. just behind us was a group of college students, all young boys, eager to display their "collegian" status at the very first available opprtunity. they not only refused the prasad, but one of them rudely remarked in english, "what a crazy guy, giving out apple pieces.... why doesnt he sit and pray instead, to get rid of this poverty he is in...."and to their shock, the sadhu gave them a very polite yet stern rebuke in excellent english! all present were stunned.

the essence of what he told them was two things. 1) never judge a person unless you know him completely, and you will never know a human being completely, so never EVER judge anyone. 2) if you cant spread positive vibes, remain as you are, at least do a big favor to this world by NOT spreading negative the students left, embarassed and ashamed, this sadhu smiled at us. he later told us that the younger generation in this country at times does behave irresonsibly, and sometimes need to be corrected a bit.we all do tend to judge people all the time, dont we?

Monday, March 12, 2007


we humans are very funny! hilariously funny!! yes, i coined this new word just now HILARIOUSLY, cos i am not worried about my english teacher anymore, now she wont say - " anand, ur grammar is simply atrocious, u better work hard on ur english haan-- i am telling u, dont use ur own words........"

now i am 44, and peacefully free from the emmas and the prides and the prejudices, and she must be nearing 70 i guess, and god bless her always!!coming to the point, we are very funny...yes we are, dont you think so? look at this, for instance. two adults are attracted to each other, and naturally come together. and this attraction is not new, M/s adam-n-eve pvt ltd started it, eons ago.....tho' as a child i always felt brooke shields and chris atkins were resonsible.....LOL........... so..... apple ka to sirf bahaana thaa..............

now as a matter of fact, these two adults are roughly 55 to 60 kgs of pure biology. yet, we say -- wow, there is such nice chemistry between them na? without a single chemical reaction, we effortlessly join chemistry with biology. not to be left behind, very soon physics comes into the picture. physics plays an important and passionate role in the lives of these 2 adults, and then after 9 months, its mathematics time when there is an addition to the family. our country, such additions are happening at an uneconomical rate, thereby changing the entire statistics of the country every few years.

so much load on statistics..........millions of couples every year show lots of love to maths(everybody's fav subject) , and in the process, change the geography of india. hmmm and then we say........kya karein, historically india has always been over populated. come to think of all started with 2 different biologies.................

6 a.m, 2nd august 1990, kuwait !

It was like any other normal Thursday, I had planned nothing specific, with 48 degrees temperature, one cant even go to the beach, as you get exhausted pretty quick. Though it was an off day for us, I got up as usual at 6 am, the sun was up, and I just lazed around in the bed, looking out at the calm sea, from the the large window of my 3rd floor apartment, located in Mangaf area, quite close to Fahaheel, a small southern suburb of Kuwait.

As my thoughts slowly shifted to the lavish breakfast that my room mate Mr Natarajan would prepare today, that would basically be a good start to an off day , a huge explosion occurred, shocking me like hell! I jumped out of the bed, shouting at the same time to my other flat mates, opened the window to look out, and that was when I spotted a fighter aircraft flying southwards. Just as I wondered whether this aircraft had anything to do with the explosion, I saw a gleaming silver colored object being released by the plane, and this object flew past our apartment building very rapidly. Within seconds there was another ear shattering explosion. All this happened very fast, in a matter of few seconds, and the aircraft was gone, suddenly everything was calm and quite. But all my other flat mates were up, and as we gathered in the hall, we all were anxious, worried, and damn scared. We picked up our phone to call a friend and the phone was dead. It is then that we sensed some thing was terribly wrong. In my 3 and half years stay in Kuwait till then, the phones never went out of order even once. We switched on the TV, and it was dead too, no channel appeared at all. I looked out of the window to find activities in almost all the apartments in the nearby surrounding buildings, some people were out on the streets, everyone looked nervous.

Very soon, we tried our last and the only option left to us, switched on the transistor radio, and tuned to the BBC. And it was already in the news. Exactly at 12 midnight, Iraq had invaded Kuwait. A million strong army, amassed at the border, had started to pour into Kuwait from the northern border town of Rumailah. BBC reported pitched battles being fought at the border, in fact the 7 am news said that Iraqi armored vehicles were on the outskirts of Kuwait city, and in an early morning missile attack, the TV, and telecom towers were hit. Very soon our friend Mr Jacob arrived, and he had brought us some first hand news, he said the tall telecom building, next to the telecom tower, on our way to Shuaiba refinery, had a huge gaping hole in it, that must have been the explosion we heard. Jacob also confirmed that the Gulf Bank, and the Al-Ahali bank ATMs were dead. No money! We were constantly listening to BBC updates, by afternoon, it reported heavy fighting outside the royal palace in Kuwait city, by late afternoon the Iraqi troops, tanks, and armored vehicles were spotted in a large number in Kuwait city. By evening, we got the first glimpse of Iraqi military, as a jeep carrying 4 soldiers, passed by our building. It was then that we realized the gravity of the situation.

We were in a foreign country, which was just invaded by a large neighbouring nation. Our only means of communication with the outside world was dead, and except for the cash that we carried, we had no way of getting any fresh cash from the banks. It gave me an eerie feeling, about how our families back in India must have reacted. That night I slept late, bracing myself for the next 27 fateful days of my life , that would take me thru the most extra ordinary experience in life, till the day I would eventually land at Mumbai airport in the early hours of 29th august, 1990.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

fish curry........ as never before!

When I announced on a Sunday morning that I was going to prepare pomfret curry, (my first ever attempt), my son rohan, who was just 6 yrs old then, was very excited. More than having home made fish curry for the first time, he was more excited at the prospect of going to the fish market, and selecting and buying the fish, and at the idea of me being in the kitchen. He is always happy when I am in the kitchen as I allow him to do certain things, like collecting and throwing the onion peels in the trash bin, fetching the knife for me, washing the tomatoes and so on. With such rich culinary experience by his side, he has now grown into an experienced cook, at the age of thirteen. He can prepare excellent maggi, and that too in two minutes ! ! !

So off we went, father-son duo, to the jetalpur road fish market, also my first visit ever to a fish market. Here, readers will note that I can prepare excellent mutton curry, have done it dozens of times, and that’s my only experience with non-veg cooking. Had never tried fish till this day. As we entered the fish market, I noticed there was so much noise and commotion, generated out of the customers who were haggling for prices, and for select cuts in some cases, and the fish vendors trying to shout, and market their stock at the top of their voices. It was then I realized why our gujarati teacher always entered our class room, stood at the entrance, and waited for us to become silent, and then remarked “ oh I am so sorry, I am looking for my class room, and I seem to have entered a fish market.”

The first thing we did was, we took a round of the entire area, that gave me a bit of confidence, and I tried to make myself look like an experienced buyer, lest the lady selling fish charges high price from me. And yes, why are the fish sellers always ladies? I have always wondered….cant men handle ‘fishy’ business?

Finally after taking one more round of the market, my son began to ask me as to why we weren’t actually buying !! my next step was to check a few pomfrets for their freshness. I had read somewhere, that one is supposed to check under the fins, and you would see bright red color if the fish is fresh. I went near a big pomfret, and tried to lift its fin, rohan partly hid behind me, and looked from there with inquisitive curiosity, and a bit of anxious fear too. He must have had a feeling that with their gaping mouths, and listless, yet wide open eyes, the fish would jump at him anytime. My clumsy attempt at lifting the fin was noticed by the lady at once, and she realized I was a first time buyer. She then pushed two of her thick black fingers under the fin and lifted and thrust the whole fish towards me, “dekho saab, ekdum taaja maal hai”. I said “ haan theek hai….isko saaf karke dena”.

A few customers, mostly Bengalis and keralites, gave me a queer look, making me feel worried whether I was getting a fresh pomfret after all. The lady then expertly cut it up into a few pieces, cleaned, and gave it to us, wrapped in a plastic bag. And we then returned home with our ‘catch’. Once home, we cleaned the fish once again with lots of salt, and then washed, and tap dried , and kept on one side.

The first step over, I got down to get the other ingredients ready. Curry leaves, lots of garlic, coconut milk (which I had asked my wife to keep ready), chopped onions and tomatoes, a few cloves, red chilli powder, a spoonful of ‘fish masala’, tamarind paste, and turmeric.
I then took the pressure pan, my favourite cooking utensil. Once the oil was hot and ready, I added the mustard seeds, curry leaves, oinions-n-garlic, cloves-n-turmeric powder, fried for a while, and then added chopped tomatoes. Another few minutes of frying, and in went the fish masala, tamarind paste, and finally the coconut milk. Then I let it simmer for a few minutes, and then added the fish pieces.

And now came the big blunder of the decade. Since I had never bothered to see a fish curry recipe, nor listen to sanjeev kapoor, I hadn’t the faintest idea in the world that fish takes just a few minutes to cook.

relying purely on my mutton curry experience, and since I had always used the same pressure pan to cook meat, I just fixed the lid of the pressure pan, and adjusted the whistle. I then asked rohan to monitor the situation, and remind me when 5 whistles were up. Rohan promptly did so. And everytime the pressure released, the kitchen was full of that exotic fish curry aroma.

Finally the big moment came… was time to take the lid off the pan, and have a first look at the feat we had achieved. Rohan was there besides me, doubly excited. Once I opened the pan, the first whiff of steam came all over my face, I closed my eyes, and absorbed the aroma, and then opened my eyes to have a look inside. What I saw inside gave me a rude jolt. The fish pieces were not there!! Nothing AT ALL. Me and rohan looked at each other. For a second I couldn’t believe my eyes. I hopelessly thrust a spoon inside and tried to rummage thru the curry, searching for the fish, and then I realized my mistake. The fish pieces had all simply dissolved under so much of pressure. That day we had an unusual lunch. “ Steaming basmati rice with disintegrated and dissolved fish curry”

Friday, March 9, 2007

the hospitable "sri" family

He: hello saar
Me: hello sir
He: I am srinivas rao
Me: I am anand patankar
He: going to rajkot or ahmedabad?
Me: baroda
He: u r working?
Me: yes, I work for a hyderbad based company, had come for the annual sales meet, now going back. What about u? taking a vacation?
He: no saar what vacation… my wife’s brother is getting married, in rajkot, so we all r going there.
Me: that’s nice. What do u do for a living?
He: yes yes! We are living in Andhra, tadepalligudam
Me: no… I mean do u work or have ur own business
He: oh yes! I have government job, senior laboratory assistant in pesticide testing lab in tadepalligudam.
Me: nice….u belong to t.p.gudam?
He: no….my wife is from there, I am from west godavari district. Heyy srikumar….dont disturb uncle, and sit nicely!! He is my eldest son …srikumar. Srikumar….say hello to uncle.
( a 5 yr old srikumar gives me a sweet smile with twinkling eyes…but doesn’t say a word, he has a whistle in his mouth, and he had been intermittently blowing thru it at different air velocities, at times, sucking the air in, andin the process, creating weird noises, for the past 20 mins or so, ever since we left secunderabad stn )
me: hello srikumar how are you?
The response is a sharp and short whistle this time
He: hahaha, srikumar is always playing with whistle, he sees the traffic policeman everyday from our balcony, wants to become like him one day. And these are my twin children srikala, and sriresh. They both are 10 yrs old.
(The well behaved twins say a polite hello to me. They both are sitting at one of the window seats, chatting in hushed tones, giggling softly and looking out of the window. Very well behaved I thought……….most cpls have one child, and while trying for the second, sometimes get twins. Here it was reverse. Oops….why shud I bother? Different couples….diff equations….diff theories…..:)
me: you have nice names, all starting with SRI…..
he: (laughing loudly) yes…and my wife is sripriya.
Me: oh .. is it?
He: Mr anand, after the kids are born, I cannot call SRI loudly, otherwise everyone answers my call….(saying this , he lets out a rocking laughter)
( a demure, and docile looking mrs rao, is partly shy and partly embarrassed at the joke her hubby just cracked…. She just gives me a fleeting smile, and looks the other way )
he: how many kids do you have mr anand?
Me: just one son…rohan, he is 9 yrs old.
He: only one child but you should have one more child, and by god’s grace, it will be a girl, your son needs company
( oh god….not again, I say to myself…..but like the others, mr rao too was genuinely concerned )
me: yes I know….but then right from the beginning, we sort of decided to follow the Chinese system.
He: then you must be liking Chinese food very much!!…. Ha ha ha ha
(another booming laugh…….one more embarrassing smile cum look from madam SRI)
he: mr anand, what about your dinner?
Me: I will order curd rice, I love curd rice!
He: no no….dont order please, you have foodd with us. This railway foodd is not good. We have brought enough. But I don’t know whether you will like Andhra food.
Me: I have lived in Hyderabad for 3 months, in 1983, for a company training, and my sincere opinion is nothing can beat Andhra food, for sheer taste, flavour, and variety!!
(this genuine statement of mine, brought beaming smiles on the faces of rao couple, and lot of pride too. Our light banter cantered along, keeping pace with the train, and soon it was dinnertime. Now mrs rao took charge of things, out came a huge shopping basket from under the berth. And I had a wonderfully delicious Andhra dinner, homemade of course. We had pooris, kurma, curd rice, tamarind rice, and my favourite gongura pickle. Mr rao went on to explain at length how each recipe was prepared, while mrs rao’s satisfied face supported him with a sweet smile every now and then. This was the only time when srikumar removed the whistle from his mouth. After a lovely dinner, me and mr rao stood in the doorway, and chatted some more, as he wanted to smoke. Finally I said a goodnight to a very jovial and hospitable mr rao, and his family, and went to occupy my upper berth. During my numerous journeys, I have often come across some very warm and nice people, and I will always remember these few hours spent with this cheerful family from Andhra Pradesh.
As the secunderabad – rajkot express entered solapur station, srikumar said a goodnight to everyone in his own style, blowing a long and final whistle