Thursday, June 23, 2011


There are times when everything enrages me.

It's a slow, bubbling rage. For I'm usually not the type to blow my top, to let out a stream of invectives till hell freezes over.

On second thoughts, the latter is inaccurate. But I never blow my top.

Scream, throw stuff, say things I don't mean.


When I'm angry, I let the fury build within me. I do not respond, I silently mouth curses, yet I do not destroy the peace and well being of people around me. I let the hot, indignant rage build in me, while I cry or listen to metal or simply do nothing, simmering with rage all the while.

Some people say that I sulk during those times.


And I shall continue to sulk till I can't contain my anger anymore. And then, I shall burst out, the accumulated fury of years, months, days. A time I'd lose control over my senses, say things I don't mean, be a person I normally am not.

But till then, if that ever should happen, I'll plough on, trying to forgive, trying to forget. My anger is latent, perhaps it shall never rise as long as I live. But my anger is something I'm not proud of. Maybe with time, I'd shed it a bit by bit and learn to, as they say, love no matter what.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What you should eat before you turn 65 - I

Food has been my passion since a very young age. Blessed with a patient nature and a generally understanding appetite, I daresay I've ventured out quite a bit, as far as my vegetarian taste buds would take me. While I'm not a fabulous cook or anything - I can whip up a really good pasta or a paneer manchurian, but that's about it - this love for food has survived through the onslaught of mess food, the horrors of Basera 'food' and everything else life at IIT has in store for me.
But then, there are certain dishes which make me go weak in the knees that I'd eat them even if served in a black mug and an orange for accompaniment. So this is my food guide, cutting through kitchens throughout India, my own Top 10 guide on what you should eat before you turn 65. Not that I have anything against 65 year olds, but some things should never be put off till age catches us and wrecks us apart.

10.Pazham Pori/ Ethakka Appam

The first time I tasted this Kerala delicacy was at Saarang Village, 2011. Not that I had much of an option, the only delectable vegetarian options on the menu was this, and an utterly forgettable tea. I remember wondering then why the obligatory chutney or tomato sauce was missing till I took a bite…and discovered that it was sweet! Yet, the Nendranka bajji quite grows on you and I should know, I must have polished off atleast six plates that Saarang. The slightly fermented taste of the banana flirts with the taste buds and the very crispy coat disintegrates at the touch, making it a very satisfying culinary experience. It is hard to believe that something as amazing as this could come out of a land which also brought out Avial.

9. Akki Roti with Chutney

Oh Akki Roti, the stuff of my dreams, the breakfast fit for kings! Thou might look very unassuming to the benighted eye, who’d merely laugh at thee and move on to the more seductive benne masala dosa, only to end up with an unshackled bowel! Oh, Akki Roti, forgive me for not having discovered thy wonders earlier!
I stayed with my mother’s friend the last time I visited Bangalore. A wonderful, discerning woman, she was also the best possible cook I could discover in Bangalore. Every morning, I’d wake up to different Karnataka style rotis, one day ragi, another day, jowar, and maybe even bajra. And they were all super crisp, super addictive and super healthy.
The star of the show, however was the humble Akki Roti, the staple breakfast option for many Kannadigas. This dish made of rice and a very deft hand, topped with coconut or tomato chutney is super nutritious and very very tasty. Give me my akki roti over Raghavendra masala dosa anytime!

8. Onion Sambhar with Rice

Onion Sambhar is a staple luxury at every TamBrahm household – you’d know it’ll make its appearance every three weeks when the mother has run out of things to make, yet, its visits are sporadic enough to be alluring to the senses. I’m a Rasam person and sambhars don’t really excite me, neither do vathakozhambu, kozhambu and that miserable liquid called morkozhambu. But onion sambhar makes me sit up everytime it makes its rounds, and with rice and liberal doses of ghee, this Sunday lunch would leave you burping of tamarind and very very satisfied.

7. Khandvi and Dhokla

There are two things you ought to do if you do happen to go to Gujarat – shop and eat, and if you miss out on any one, you ought to be shaken up and packed off in the next train to the Kathiawar Peninsula. While all the Gujarati food sends me in rapturous delights and every time I make a trip to Ahmedabad, I return three kgs fatter and three times happier, there are some which are my especial favourite. The pretty Khandvi, made of gram flour and curd tops the list, followed by Dhokla, also made of gram, I think. It’s hard not to fall in love with these two, especially if they’re backed up with Green chutney, or my favourite, Imli chutney.
It’s been a long time since I had Khandvi anyway. When I was a eight or nine years old, there was a wonderful Gujarati restaurant called Bhavai in Chennai, which made the best Khandvis I could ever imagine. I used to be a very fussy eater as a child and all I’d have at that restaurant was their super soft khandvi decked with mustard which you could count off the tip of your tongue, and chaas. I think that restaurant’s closed now, I’m not sure and perhaps I need to wait it out till Ahmedabad calls me again.

6. Gobi Manchurian

My eighth standard was a decisive year, for I fell in love with both Abhishek Bachchan and Gobi Manchurian. It’s been five years since then and the love’s still there, but the priorities have changed. There’s Ranbir Kapoor now, Abhay Deol, the very alluring Imran Khan and so many more. And similarly I discovered Doodhi Halwa, Cheesecake, Paneer tikka and many more, thus relegating The Gobi Manchurian to a docile 6th spot.
Gobi Manchurian is a very tricky dish and can be scarring, if badly made. I have braved through many Gobi Manchurians, the salty Bangalore version, the undercooked, nauseating Tifany’s version, the tomato-sauce-can-salvage-me-after-all Adyar Anand Bhavan version…so much so, the original Gobi Manchurian, if it exists seems to have disappeared into the recesses of good cooking. Yet this Indo Chinese dish is a particular favourite of mine, and like narthanga, drier, the better.

And these are the five food items I'd want to eat, if marooned in an island with Johnny Depp for company etc etc. What did you eat today? :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

How To Write A (Marvelously Mind-blowing And Astonishingly Authentic) Kafka Story: 10 Easy Steps

Something I wrote for an course on German literature I took last semester.

"Now you've started telling me off. Well I suppose I deserve it as I shouldn't have let you in here in the first place, and it turns out there wasn't even any point." - The Trial.

Let’s face it. Everyone goes through this phase of obsessing over Kafka, his life, his times, his dog and the works. And everyone at some point in time wishes that they could write as marvelously as this 20th century German writer. There is something deliciously addictive about the feeling of despair and being trapped in this cruel cruel world, because deep down you know, everyone hates you. And who knew that better than Franz Kafka? So this is one among the many How-Tos, How To Write a Kafka Story (in English) And Convince People That You Actually Did Unearth It From Somewhere. And yes even though all his works are in German, most have been translated into English so if you do not know a word of German, do not despair. This guide is for you, if Kafka is your hero unto death, or if you just need a good story to narrate at the next dinner party:

1.The Father: How CAN one possibly conceive of a Kafka story, without some subtle referencing to The Father? The Father played a Very Important role in Kafka’s life and features in almost all of his stories (one, directly, many indirectly and some as unearthed by Kafka Researchers). If you must write a Kafka Story, you must criticize The Father Figure. Describe in great detail how he oppressed you, how he is insensitive to your feelings, how you feel trapped when he is around, but yet how, you must accept his presence, for after all, he is The Father. These details are of crucial importance. Be deliberate, be subtle, but remember, everyone looks for The Father Figure in a Kafka Story. Do not disappoint them.

2.Kafka stories are pleasantly peppered with incongruities. Do not fix your mind so on Rationality, Order and Method. Be irreverent in your thinking process. Preferably, start out with a random out-of-the-blue opening line. Like this :
One morning, Harrod Hamsa woke up from beautiful dreams, to find that he had been turned into a dishwasher. He finally had proof that his wife was just using him.

3.If you want to write a Kafka story, you must slip into the psyche of Kafka. You must realize that the world now hates you. No one would want to let you write, there is simply no peace of mind that you can find and nothing can possibly go right in your life. Know it. Live with it. If possible, cultivate a low self esteem. Write about how constricted you feel and something must always go wrong with you all the time. Trust me, that is terribly attractive.

4.If you happen to contract that awful awful disease called the Writer’s Block while writing your Kafka story, do not panic. Write as much as you can and leave it. Most of Kafka’s works are in fragments anyway. You could convince a few researchers that the remaining story was burnt, during, of course, a bout of insecurity.

5.Be sufficiently mysterious. If you can’t make any sense of your story, it’s fine. There are many eager researchers waiting to find myriad interpretations of your work – religious, political, social and gastrical. You could even try out the Early Morning Writing Method: As soon as you wake up, grab a piece of paper and a pencil and let your thought flow. Edit it later on for grammatical errors. You will be amazed to find how profound you could get.

6.Be prosaic. Short, crisp sentences are a strict no-no. Rambling sentences describing a woman’s attire, a house and other things of consequence are appreciated. Keep your story short, but your sentences long. Do not pause anywhere in your stream of thought, write write and write some more. Do not even take a moment off to worry about your tortuous sentences. A large cup of coffee would probably help here. Preferably black.

7.Begin in a casual, conversational style. In a tone you would use, to borrow a clich̩, to describe the weather. Act like it is no big deal. The suspense should ideally lie at the end of the first sentence. For example РOne morning, Alfred K had two omelettes for breakfast when he happened to glance at the morning newspaper and discovered that he was a spy. Be dramatic, but pretend like you do not understand the first word about drama.

8.Remember, that if you must pull off a Kafka story, eager readers would look for many popular trivia associated with Kafka. Do not disappoint them. One of them would be naming your protagonist after Kafka. Or just the initial K or any German name beginning with the letter K. This will establish the fact that your writing is perfectly genuine and that what you write is indeed a mirror of yourself.

9.Your description of objects and people must be voluptuous. From the painting on your wall to the woman who hates you to the construction of a monument, focus on the visual imagery. Be as imaginative as possible and write in great detail about the setting. Ignore huge gaps in logic, but pay special attention to trivialities such as your breakfast, you taking a bath and so on.

10.If you are the protagonist in a Kafka story, you must remember that your work is of utmost importance. In fact, The Three Things Which Are On Your Mind All The Time Are: Your Father, Your Sense Of Being Trapped and Your Work. The world may end, but you must reach your workplace on time.