Wednesday, April 26, 2006

And Just In The Spirit Of Things

Because, I can't sleep today.

Because, this seemed just so right at this moment.

Because, I just finished loading Blonde on Blonde, The Basement Tapes AND Infidels on iTunes just 2 minutes ago.

Because, I have the uncomfortable feeling that pretty soon I'm going to run out of excuses and I'm afraid of that day.

Achilles is in your alleyway,
He don't want me here,
He does brag.
He's pointing to the sky
And he's hungry, like a man in drag.
How come you get someone like him to be your guard?
You know I want your lovin',
Honey, but you're so hard.

Sorry Bob Dylan

Someone Anonymous commented that he/ she didn't feel that Bob Dylan didn't mean some of his lyrics. Well, Anonymous, congratulations for getting to No. 43 on my list of 100 things. It was hard for even me to get there. Still, these are few of the lyrics which I feel Bob Dylan could not really have meant. Now, please note that most of these songs are my favourites.

1. Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands

With your childhood flames on your midnight rug,
And your Spanish manners and your mother's drugs,
And your cowboy mouth and your curfew plugs,
Who among them do you think could resist you?

2. 4th Time Around

She screamed till her face got so red
Then she fell on the floor,
And I covered her up and then
Thought I'd go look through her drawer.

I love these songs, but these are just so, so sad. The above is just an example. I said this in context of Chronicles I, mostly because BD didn't really seem so bitter and so sad or so vicious. Chronicles made me think of BD as a family man and a happy one at that, so I can't really tie the lyrics to the book.

The "Rakhi Sister"

Once again, Sagnik's post has inspired me to write about my nemesis in each and every failed relationship* I have had, my Judas Escariot, the snake-in-the-grass, the "other" woman, the wolf in sheep's clothing. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to the "Rakhi Sister" (RS).

The "Rakhi Sister" is a female that is not really the sister of the bloke but is almost like his sister. Hence, she is a paragon of virtue, she is charming, beautiful, a true lady and her only purpose in life seems to be aborting every relationship the bloke might want to have on pretext of, "Oh but Rahul**, she isn't good enough for you!!"

When a bloke has a RS, rest assured the bloke will either die a bachelor or marry the RS or her younger sister. The RS will be given the best since the "relationship" the bloke and RS share is so precious, so meaningful and so "connected"! The RS and the bloke celebrate birthdays, anniversaries (the day we realised we were actually brother and sister), rakshabandhan, bhai dooj (never mind that 80% of the time RS and bloke end up marrying each other) and every other festival in true bollywood sister-brother style consisting of soppy CDs, stuffed annimals and if the bloke is loaded, "decent" jewellery.

The RS and bloke will often be seen in one remote, private corner of the earth enjoying the sunset and discussing every little tidbit the two can share. If bloke suddenly sprouts interest in some other babe, a long, meaningful discussion often ensues in which RS will piously observe, "Rahul**, doesn't your GF have a slight squint when she stares in the sun. Toone kabhi poocha nahi ye kaise hua?" or "Rahul**, teri GF to poore samay bas mugti rehti hai, she's such a muggu, nahi?"

Sagnik claims to have never met female versions of what he calls Protectors or Shields, but ladies, you know a Rakhi Sister when you see one. Be afraid ladies, be very afraid of the Rakhi Sister.

* Relationship in which I was remotely interested in the bloke and not the other way round
** Or Sagnik, or Amit or Vicky

You're A Big Girl Now

So it took all my strength to not start bawling my lungs out at the airport at first to get Mamma home and then when it was time for her to leave.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Problem With Indian Food

That you get in restaurants outside India and also with most generic North Indian restaurants in India is that in all probabilty the chefs (if one can call them that) are prize jackasses. Most Indian restaurants abroad would have this standard menu - gobhi aloo, chana masala (or chole masala), naan, baingan bharta, palak paneer, chicken tandoori, mutton seekh kebab, biryanis, bhindi masala and raita.

The food NEVER tastes like home-cooked food and that is just the beginning of my rant. Why do Indian restaurants suck so much? When every state in India has a distinct cuisine why is it that Indian restaurants abroad only seem to have this one generic Punjabi-north Indian menu, and that too of the Dhaba kinds? In India, I find things gradually changing. In Calcutta we now have bengali restaurants becoming popular. You can now get south Indian food that is not just Idli-sambar-dosa. I knew this one place in Calcutta that did pretty accurate Goan food. So why do Indians opening restaurants abroad only stick to dhaba menus?

I also could never understand why Indian chefs get so obssessed with our obsolete royalty. Why is every dal a maharani? Why is every generic mixed vegetable a vegetable korma or subz bahar or a navratani qorma? Why can't Indian restaurants serve food that tastes even close to home-cooked Indian food? Why can we not learn to serve more authentic Indian food in our restaurants? Why? I always find Indian home-cooked meals much, much more appealing than anything in retaurants. So why can't our chefs figure this one out?

What Does Freedom Mean To You?

I asked la familia this question by texting them few weeks ago.

Mother: Why do you want to know?

Sister: Deep Silence..... When I asked her why she didn't answer, she pretended she never got the message.

Brother: Are you okay?

Madder: Freedom to speak my mind and to fuck monolithic IT co and have the last laugh. No, but seriously, freedom is the ultimate blah, blah, blah.....

I ask this because I feel free and I have in the recent past met people who are not. I mean they are apparently free but not free to speak their minds, without fear of any repercussion and I really want to know what my peer group feels about freedom. (By peer group I mean anyone who visits my blog)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Blue Puma Bag

My swanky Blue Puma bag got stolen/ misplaced in Seoul airport. It had my prescription glasses (they were Hugo Boss frames - I know, I know, I'm a sitting duck for my optometrist or optician, I get conned always), 2 books (1 Peter Mayle and 1 Sue Townsend - The Queen and I), my toilet case with a lot of my nice lipsticks and cosmetics, my perfumes, 5 ceramic bowls (Of Korean make - 3 Blue, 1 pale green and 2 tannish), my medicines, my contact lens case and solution and 1 red Ritu Kumar scarf. I also had some photographs and my diary of my annual schedule in it and the last is irreplacable. So, if anyone finds it, please, please let me know.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

100 Things... About Food

I'm sure no one would attempt a 100 Things about food. I'm pretty opinionated about most everything, especially food. So, I wanted to see if I could have 100 Things to say about my hugest passion till date. Apparently, I do.

1. I designed my kitchen adapted to the way I cook, so it takes me about 30 minutes max to turn out a 3 course meal.
2. I love my kitchen gadgets, especially my citrus squeezer, that I have named Jules.
3. I don't mind vegetarians.
4. I do mind fussy eaters.
5. My first brush with Sushi was very pleasant.
6. I bonded with one of my best friends over my first plate of sushi.
7. I am in love with Anthony Bourdain.
8. Which is why I hate Nondon Bagchi because he gets to meet AB being a faux food critic (the man known NOTHING about food in my opinion) and I don't. Why, God why?
9. The first thing I ever learnt to cook was rajma. I was 13, my mother had soaked a batch of rajma and woken up with a high temperature and my entire family had been suffering with flu and I was the only one who wasn't ill. So, my mother would sit and yell instructions and at one point, I brought the pan to show her if the onions had browned enough or not.
10. My grandmother used to make the loveliest chapattis. She tried in vain to teach me how to roll out perfectly round ones, but I've perfected the technique, just about a year back. She was also the most patient teacher I have ever known.
11. I occasionally go to Bangkok to eat thai.
12. My favourite restaurants in Bombay are Trishna (the baby shark and crab are to die for), Wasabi (Amazing food and the celebrity watching is fun. I've also wondered why Prahlad Kakkar wears dirty pajamas at swanky restaurants at wasabi more than twice. The braised eel should not be missed) and Indigo (Amazing wine list, truly lovely food, though sitting in the non-smoking section is not recommended).
13. My favourite restaurants in Delhi are Moshe's Oliva, Bukhara and KLS (only for sentimental reasons, I can never forget the anda parathas).
14. My favourite restaurants in Calcutta are Cinnamon, Kewpie's, West View (ITC) and Pan Asian (ITC).
15. My next favourite restaurants in Calcutta are Peshawari (ITC), Fire & Ice, Baan Thai and Oh Calcutta.
16. I think Amber is grossly over-rated.
17. I don't like rolls for some reason I have never been able to figure out. I just can't eat them.
18. I love pani puri/ puchkas. However, I still think you get the best golguppas in Lucknow.
19. I eat only mutton in Lucknow. Its the best mutton on the face of this earth.
20. Given a choice between a French meal and a Thai one, I would probably choose the French one.
21. I can eat any amount of Foie Gras. I went to a food festival at La Terrasse (Oberoi Grand) and had a 3 course meal each with foie gras in it. I couldn't move for 3 hours after that but it was bliss.
22. I love mushrooms. My favourites are chanterelles and enoki mushrooms.
23. I love my vegetables. I eat all vegetables but am not a fan of cabbage.
24. I think I cook the best arhar dal in this city. I'm not exaggerating. I have known people making an entire meal of the dal only. I learnt to cook the perfect arhar dal from my mother. The key is not to overcook or undercook the dal.
25. Till date I have planned 5 menus for major events and about 16 for smaller dinner parties and lunches. Yes, I keep track. All went off well menuwise.
26. My favourite breakfasts in Calcutta have been at Flurys.
27. The best coffee I have ever had was in Atlanta.
28. I'll never forget the meals I had in NYC.
29. I like hotdogs after a long brisk walk in winters.
30. I can't bake right now because I don't have an oven.
31. I like all melons. I used to hate melons when I was a child.
32. I don't like to cook my fruits. I feel it destroys the flavour and the bite.
33. I love mangoes. I think its the most perfect fruit on earth.
34. I don't eat fast food. Well, sometimes I am tempted by the fries, but that's like once a year when I'm awfully PMSy.
35. 3 Home delivery places in Calcutta I don't need to give my address to - Bhojohari Manna, Azad Hind Dhaba and Taaja.
36. The only thing I order from Taaja is the paella with a double helping of the garlic sauce. I have an uncomfortable feeling my order is a standing joke in Taaja's. Taaja used to have the best crepe suzette chef in town but the idiots lost him. I have celebrated 2 breakups with paella and crepes suzettes at Taaja's. (Yes, celebrated.)
37. I don't buy into diets. I think Atkins has no scientific basis.
38. My favourite restaurants in Bangalore are Dahlia and Sunny's.
39. My favourite restaurants in Singapore are Les Amis, Sun's and No Signboard Seafood restaurant. Also that chinese dimsum place in the CHIJMES complex.
40. I can't drink Whisky/ Scotch.
41. Rajma Chawal, Dal bhaat and tehri are comfort foods for me.
42. I am a coffee and tea snob. I don't drink Assam.
43. I don't like milk in coffee and tea.
44. I think men who like to cook are v. sexy. Think AB, think Andy Varma, mmmm...
45. Normally, I drink a cup of warm milk before I go to bed.
46. I think it is grossly unfair that I put on weight even looking at food.
47. I have stopped eating rice for lunch.
48. I was introduced to Shree Hari's lengcha today. I ate 3. I'm feeling sick now. (This was written 1 week back.)
49. The one thing I have never been able to bring myself to eat is something called "Dal ka Dulha" in UP. It is basically dough plunged into boiling arhar dal. Why someone would want to ruin perfectly good dal is beyond my comprehension, but my mother loves the awful concoction.
50. I make delicious chicken qorma. Seriously.
51. I know the entire family history of a jhal muri wallah in gariahat. I haved stopped patronising him because he never lets me pay for the muri because I once saved him from being evicted.
52. I love eggs in every form.
53. I like my steak done medium rare.
54. I don't like raisins.
55. I like smelly cheese, the smellier the better.
56. I'm not really a paneer person.
57. I have these periodic cravings for chocolate for mysterious reasons. I'm not a chocolate snob.
58. I like to go and buy fruits and vegetables. I often go and just stare at the stacks of produce and feel happy.
59. I don't like cinnamon sprinkled over my cappucino.
60. I really prefer lattes.
61. I mostly cook in olive oil.
62. I have started making my own stock and since then have thrown all my stock cubes in the garbage. Fresh homemade stock just cannot be substituted.
63. I like to eat ice.
64. I love rocket in my salad.
65. I can eat pretty much everything, but I draw the line at scorpions and seahorses.
66. I don't like trance playing in restaurants.
67. I am a very neat eater, my plate i.e. I am the girl who can spill anything and everything.
68. I don't like tuna.
69. I love crabs, crayfish, prawns, lobsters, actually any crustacean.
70. I am not passionate about desserts but I like to end my meals with something sweet.
71. I mostly skip breakfast.
72. Whenever I travel, I make it a point to order in a club sandwich. Its almost a ritual now.
73. I find many foods incredibly sensual - shellfish, strawberries, grapes.
74. I am a good tipper, even when the service is bad.
75. I am a recent popiah convert.
76. I can eat copious amounts of hot food and chillies. My stomach seems to have an ever accomodating scoville scale.
77. I have eaten durian. I don't want to repeat the experience. Ugh!
78. When I cook, I don't like any interference, unless of course I get help for chopping.
79. My hands and fingers have burn and cuts because I'm very absent-minded also.
80. I don't eat any other apples, but Granny smiths because I don't like red apples.
81. I don't measure and weigh too much, I normally let my instincts take over because I get too flustered by too much recipe control.
82. I can cook perfect rice anyhow - in a rice cooker, in a pressure cooker, on a pan.
83. I love the smell of frying fish, especially fish marinated in turmeric and salt, bengali style. My mother will do a dounble flip if she ever reads this.
84. I have had the same fish monger for 4 years now. I've never gone wrong with his advice.
85. I would love to learn how to cook professionally.
86. The smell of asafoetida reminds me of my paternal grandmother.
87. My mother says I don't have the patience to make mathris and gujiyas. I think she is right.
88. I dislike over-cooked noodles and pasta.
89. The most expensive meal I have ever had was in Sweden at a place called Paul & Norbert. The meal was very, very good, but one of the most expensive ones I have had till date. Maybe it was the wine and the desserts I had to drown my sorrows after a really, really disastrous business meeting? However, the meal was truly memorable.
90. I sometimes pretend I like risottos, but sometimes I don't.
91. I can eat popcorn anytime.
92. The most fun I had during a meal was in Japan at a teppenyaki bar. I had cried because I was tired of eating alone but I shall never forget that meal, simply because the chef made me forget I was alone and I had great fun conversing with him in sign language.
93. The only time I really missed Indian food was when I fell ill in Switzerland. I made up for the absence of any decent Indian food by eating Thai instead.
94. I have begun prefering eating with chopsticks. Its really like eating with your fingers without getting them dirty.
95. I love soup.
96. I don't like ketchup except with masala omelettes.
97. The best jhal muri is the one you get on short distance trains between Howrah and Jamshedpur.
98. I can't forget the smell of guavas.
99. I like watching some people eat - my mother, my sister and one of aunts.
100. I occasionally eat drinking chocolate powder.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


They wrote a book about my great, great grandfather. Biography or something like it. They traced out our family tree. They wrote my great grandfather died childless. Great grandfather had five daughters, which was almost the same as being childless according to them. It didn't stop with great grandfather. His brother had a son who had a daughter. My grand uncle too died childless according to them.

Mamma cried buckets tonight.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

100 Things

Just because I wanted to make a list.

1. I'm going to be 30 this year and am not liking it one bit. I was supposed to drop dead at 24.
2. I belong to a dynasty of drama queens. Grandmother, mother, sister, me. I don't know about my great-grandmother, but I'm absolutely sure, she also must have been.
3. I have stopped doing anything that I am not good at - painting, singing, swimming.
4. Blogging is the only thing I can't stop.
5. I think I'm addicted to it.
6. I am able to give up my addictions, like smoking, like the ex, like food, like chick lit.
7. Well, ok, I can't give up food or chick lit.
8. I love shoes. I have about 60.
9. I got me a new funky haircut today and I look 3 years younger.
10. Which is not such a brilliant idea because again I look different from my Visa photos and which may cause people to not take me seriously professionally again.
11. I have worked my butt off the last 5 years to be taken seriously because most people are way older than I am.
12. I have been advised to slow down because I started getting blood clots on my feet.
13. A while back, quite a while back actually I posted pictures of my blood clotted feet on this blog and someone called my feet ugly.
14. I stopped the shoe pictures because at that time, I didn't know why the marks were forming and I was very hurt.
15. I'm on medication, loosening up and am trying not to be so competitive.
16. I haven't told my parents because I'm mad with them my mother right now.
17. Are we all in agreement about the drama queen bit?
18. I hate admitting to my weaknesses, so I'll probably delete this post soon.
19. I do everything in extremes.
20. Either I really like people a lot or I couldn't give a damn whether they are dead or alive.
21. My attitude shocks my parents and siblings sometimes.
22. I love art but I'm a lousy painter. I always wanted to be a designer or an artist, but I opted for was cooerced into pure sciences.
23. I am fascinated by the wheres and the wherefores.
24. I try and find the scientific reason for everything.
25. This annoys my mother and sister because they don't like me being clinical.
26. I love knowing what makes things work.
27. I'm fascinated by technology, especially defence technology, heavy engineering equipment, automobiles and aircrafts.
28. I'm scared of driving in Calcutta and I can't drive beyond 80.
29. So, I am always surprised why I love roller-coasters.
30. I used to be scared of heights.
31. Then I started loving roller-coasters.
32. I keep trying to lose weight.
33. I love to work out and run, but I'm very lazy. I've never figured out this anomaly.
34. I have travelled a lot but I still feel it will never be enough.
35. I love sashimi.
36. My sister and I polished 6 platters of sashimi last month.
37. That was the day my nephew jumped into the waterpool at ITC Sonar Bangla, got soaking wet, dripped the water into the restaurant causing 2 waiters to slip and had to be dried under the hand shower. We shall never ever get over that embarrassment.
38. I name my cars, my gadgets and also some of clothes.
39. I love clothes but I have finally stopped buying what I used to think were funky clothes but actually looked terrible on me.
40. I am almost always dressed semi-formally.
41. Which is why I got this new funky hairdo.
42. I like Jazz, blues, folk, punk and classic rock music. I also like western and classical indian music. Of late, I have been drawn to spiritual music of the sufi kind. I've also begun enjoying what is called "world music" now, though in the past I sniggered when people told me they liked it. I'm collectively and publicly admitting to everyone who got those reactions from me, "I'm sorry."
43. Despite being in love with Bob Dylan, I sometimes get the feeling that he didn't really mean most of his lyrics. I got this feeling after reading Chronicles Vol I. But, what lyricism! He still sometimes blows my mind away.
44. I love French, Meditteranean, Italian, Thai and Japanese cuisines. I am a gourmet and I try to do my bit for the slow food movement by never eating fast food. I haven't had burgers, fries or ordered pizza for about 2 years now.
45. I am very critical when it comes to gourmet food.
46. I have had one of the best meals ever at the restaurant at the Hotel Lord Byron in Rome.
47. I have eaten at almost all the best restaurants in Singapore but I haven't been able to make it to the Sin Huat eating house. I plan to achieve eating there this year.
48. I can only dance with a total of 5 people I have known. I think a true test of knowing if I really am in love is by seeing if I can dance with the person concerned. I have danced the night away with 4 of my best friends. I had a bitter misunderstanding with 2 of them for about 3 years. We've kissed and made up and I'm very glad I could manage to put the past behind me. I miss all 4 of them a lot. This year one of them became a Momma!
49. I felt cheated. It was supposed to happen to me first. I've sort of reconciled myself to the fact that I'm not as perfect as I used to think I was and I've stopped competing with my best friends.
50. This year I have finally managed to start doing professinally what I wanted to do for a long, long time - write and edit. It's a very niche publication but every time it is published, I feel very, very proud.
51. I love diet coke.
52. I have a love-hate relationship with my blackberry.
53. I have started collecting art, on a very small scale personally.
54. I love Spanish and Italian red wines and French and German whites. I am almost addicted in love with champagne. I always have a bottle of Moet & Chandon stashed away.
55. I will not share my portions of oysters, crabs, scallops and snails.
56. I love bread. I spent a very tiny part of my childhood in Germany and I still think you get the best bread in Germany. I have seen one of my German tutors almost come to blows with one of my part French tutors debating where the bread and white wine was better. The insults flew long and fast.
57. I have been taught by some of the most brilliant Mathematicians and Engineers in this world. I worship the ground they walk on. No really! I'll never be able to think so logically.
58. I have made some very good friends professionally. I never thought I could do this. I'm meeting them again in May. Yay!
59. I often get bored of conversations when I am not the subject and it appears as if I have ADD.
60. I think I do have ADD.
61. I can't watch movies in theatres.
62. I can't sit on window seats. I feel claustrophobic.
63. I have begun hating airline meals, even the business class ones. They all feel like rubber in my mouth. I have begun eating at airport restaurants before flying. I started this tradition by tucking into chilli crab at Singapore airport before flying to Calcutta once and have since made up my mind never to eat airline meals again.
64. I have sworn never to love anyone completely (romantically). My "intensity" is apparently too much to put up with and my standards too high to live up to. So, I have sworn not to repeat my mistakes.
65. That said, I shall not lower my standards.
66. I thought I could never lose in love. I was wrong. I've lost twice. I don't regret anything.
67. Not even aborting all my arranged marriage plans, even though my mother sometimes (very occasionally) tries to put me on a guilt trip.
68. Over the years, my respect for my father has steadily increased. I used to resent him cooercing me to do the right thing, but he's always lived up to his promises. I am amazed at his achievements, his energy and his devotion. I am so very proud of him as a scientist, as a human being, as an administrator and as a father.
69. My mother is a fun person, but very, very touchy. I love her a lot but she is less forgiving and loving than my father.
70. From my mother I learnt to be graceful and a lady, but from my father I learnt to stand my guns, to never run away, to be courageous and ethical.
71. I've learnt to live on a principle from my father and I am thankful he taught me well.
72. From my sister I have learnt to be loving and to accept flaws.
73. I make amazing Sangria.
74. When I get the urge to cook, nothing can stop me.
75. I love to cook and feed people. I'm a pretty decent cook. I've learnt from watching cookery shows obssessively.
76. One day I plan to have a huge kitchen. I have my dream kitchen planned in my brain.
77. I don't understand people who don't appreciate good food.
78. I have a brilliant idea every week.
79. I love my job because I feel it will never let my brain ossify.
80. Life has given me a lot. I am thankful for it all. If I believed there was a God, I would thank him/ her.
81. I love flowers. If I had more time, I would grow them at home.
82. I wish I could see my family more often. I miss them a LOT, even my brother who can be pretty annoying.
83. I feel Indian laws and rules regarding marriage, property, money and ownership are pretty much stacked against women.
84. I feel Calcutta is home now. Its taken me 6 years to feel this way.
85. I have achieved everything I wanted by 30, excepting my ideal body weight.
86. I have finally made peace with myself.
87. I didn't do 86 alone. I'm thankful for that as well.
88. I have been lucky to have the most amazing teachers and mentors. I hope I live up to their expectations.
89. I can't return books and DVDs in time to libraries.
90. My social skills are pretty much sucky, though I'm working on them.
91. I don't mind being geeky. Most of my really good friends are very geeky but really, really cool.
92. There were 2 occasions when I thought the world would stop. It didn't. Life does go on.
93. I hate it when I make the people I love cry. However, I have the uncanny ability to do it often. I'm not proud of hurting people who love me.
94. I'm very ethical but not at all moral. Morality is just a guilt trip and I refuse to sail on that boat anymore.
95. I have been told a million times that I'm stubborn as a mule. So what?
96. I can look at people and know in an instant if I will be good friends with them or not.
97. I wish I had Japanese straight hair.
98. I wish I was thinner. Thin people have an easier time.
99. I'm mostly very confident. I truly believe I would be more confident if I was thinner.
100. I hate waxing, if I could get away with being Earth mother, I would never get myself waxed.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Alls Well That Ends Well

I'm happy. Really happy.