Saturday, January 31

A Beautiful Stranger

A Hindi kavita this time!! A first!! Cheerio...

आ गयी हूँ किस मोड़ पे मैं,
अजनबी एक है दिल के पास,
छिड़ जाते है दिल के तार,
सुन लूँ जो उसकी आवाज़.

बिन देखे किसी को,
कैसे हुआ एतबार,
पूछु मैं अपने आप से,
क्यों रहती हूँ बेकरार.

जो न देखू उसे,
अधुरा लगे हर लम्हा,
आने से उसके दिल मेरा,
हुआ है और खुश या तनहा?

लगता ही नही मिले थे हम,
युही पल भर पहले,
आगे जाने क्या होगा,
थोडी देर यहीं रह ले...

I hope you got that. If you have trouble reading the Devanagari script, or understanding the meaning, then worry not! The princess is here to relieve you of all your worries... Just leave me a comment, and I shall be at your service!

Thanks, Ajnabee...

Thank you, readers!

Love,
Princess

Friday, January 30

Arre Huzoor, Wah Anuja Kahiye!

Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together...

(No, not for
Aamir Khan this time, but for me! Yippeee...)

Why? Because I’m going to share with you the bestest tea recipe in the whole world.

(How do I know this is the best formula around the globe? Coz I’ve tasted quite a few teas myself, and this is my verdict. Period.)

Of course, I’m going to give you some gyaan later from
wiki about chai and chaipatti. But, first things first!! Read carefully, make diligently and let me know how you found the entire experience...

Here goes, got your pens and notepads ready??

Awrite then... Here’s the guidelines for one cuppa tea. (Multiply all measures by number of cups when making for many.)

The ingredients : water, sugar, salt (just kiddin!!), grated ginger, tulsi (holy basil) leaves, tea powder and milk. You’ll have to keep a vessel, strainer, cup and spoon ready. And you’re all set!!

Take the mug you intend to have chaa in, and fill it half with water (room temperature; normal tap-water will also do, you’re going to boil it anyway). Pour the amount in a vessel and let it boil. Grate the ginger while the fire does its deal. (I don’t know about grams and teaspoons, but a spoonful of grated ginger should be sufficient; more if you’d like it to burn your throat a little. Breaks my heart when I have to drink ginger-less tea. And repulses me when folks like their tea with elaichi = cardamom)

Now, add the ginger and sugar (I prefer my tea sweet, so I put in about 2-3 spoonfuls). When the water starts bubbling, tear the tulasi leaves in half and add them to the boiling water so that the flavor dissolves nicely. (Tulsi and ginger are good for you, didn’t your momma tell you that?!)

Now add one spoonful of tea powder to the concoction and let it simmer. When it threatens to boil over, add half a cup of milk. (Mum says kachcha doodh makes the tea tastier, but it’s ok even if it’s boiled in the past.) Now watch the delightful light brown brew till it bubbles.

(Decide if you wish to add more milk/sugar/tea powder if something feels amiss. Don’t harbor any doubts. Go with your gut feeling. That’s the way to live life, folks!!)

And now when the potion comes to the top, reduce the flame and let it boil awhile. Play “High Flame-Boil-Reduce Flame” twice, and then when it comes up again, the final time, turn off the gas. Shake the vessel in a round motion twice, hold the strainer in the cup, and pour.

Ah ah! You’re not done yet! Pour all the teapowder and residue into the strainer and squeeze it nice and proper with the spoon, till not a drop of tea remains in the dregs. NOW you’re done!

(I’m not done even now. Mum insists we throw the waste in the trash can, wash the vessel and strainer, and hang it up to dry before we enjoy our hard-earned tea.)

(Which is good for me in a way, as the first film of malai gets solidified enough to be lifted out with a spoon and washed off... A silver lining in every black cloud!)

And now, you sit down with your legs propped up (
as I’ve said before) and give in to the heavenly taste of the mast tulsi-adrak chai. Sip it and savor the taste, the fiery ginger tang, the aftertaste of the basil leaves, the sweetness of the sugar... Yumm... I can actually feel it in my mouth at the moment!! And the aroma as the flames rise up... Ooohhh!! Orgasmic!!

No cookies, no biscuits and no bread or toast. To have tea with anything else is to dilute the flavor and experience. You may switch on the TV as you sip the chai, but make sure your eyes are on the mug when you drink. It’s paradise in itself. And don’t gulp it down! Just like I mentioned in
meeting mantras... (Of course, if you’re at home, you can slurp all you want. Makes it even better!!) Let each drop get in touch with every corner of your mouth, let the tongue make contact with the essence and memorize the sensation for future reference... And that’s when you’ve earned your tea!!

(Hey, that’s like the tag-line of Cadbury Bournville. Have you tried it?)

Well well well... An entire post on making and drinking tea?!! I seem to have gone nuts! Not much time left for wikipedi-c banter, but here’s the link if you’re interested -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea

Please note : Do try this at home!! This ain’t no stunt, and you’re gona love it!!

Thoughts and reactions welcome!

Tea-besotted,
Lonely Princess

Thursday, January 29

Slumdog Millionaire ka Raaz

Spooky title, eh? Couldn't think of anything else that was simultaneously pertinent and outta the box...

Of course you've guessed that this is about the two movies that released last week - Slumdog Millionaire and Raaz. Watched them. Both. Same day. The verdict. Yoohoo!!

Saw two movies on the same day after ages... Even
Jumbo and Outsourced, I watched on consecutive days, so this was a first after ages!!

Let me begin at the beginning. I was readying myself for viewing Slumdog Millionaire/Crorepati, and this led me to flick through Vikas Swarup’s Q and A a day before the movie released. In 15 minutes flat, I refreshed my
reading enough so that I could link back the movie scenes to the original novel. (I was told the movie is very different from the book, but any which way, I wished to compare and contrast.)

The movie is 2 hours long, and let me tell you, it’s a masterpiece. More so, coz it’s made by a non-Indian. I’m not aware what the controversy about Amitabh Bacchan was (something about his criticizing the way India is portrayed in the movie), but I sure felt the film is neither untruthful nor unbecoming.

The icing on the cake is A. R. Rehman’s pulsating music that sets your feet and heart throbbing. One scene that’s etched on my mind is where young Jamal (not Dev Patel; I mean his younger version) claps hands with his brother as he runs to escape the police who drive him and his cricket buddies from their runway-playground. The music wizard lends his hand in further making the scene extraordinary. A perfect start to an almost perfect movie.

Why “almost”? Coz I got a little bored with the constant attention Salim and Latika were getting in the plot. Agreed they’re the protagonist’s sibling and lover, but the movie is about Jamal, not them... At least the book was...

Oops, I kinda assumed you’ve either read the novel or seen the film. Almost everyone has. But for those who’ve done neither, let me tell you, the book and movie are both about this fellow from the Mumbai slums, an illiterate vagabond who wins a fortune on the show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” by answering all questions correctly. He’s no genius, but he happened to know those and only those answers that were asked on the show. (Including a famous hero’s first movie, a fictional character, about revolvers and poets – these were similar to the book, but the other Qs were very different.)

The movie itself is quite unlike the book – Salim and Jamal are siblings instead of just friends in the movie, and the scenes with the Australian diplomat and famous yesteryear actress are completely deleted. The reasons for Jamal’s arrest are also dissimilar. However, the film is engaging and realistic, and baby Jamal takes your breath away; he’s super sweet!

I’m tempted to tell you a few anecdotes, but I shan’t. You ought to go and see it yourself. It’s a very unusual movie, by no means a waste of time and money. Excellent performances, terrific direction; all in all, a great watch. My rating – 8.5 on 10. (Minus some Salim-Latika, add another story, and I’ll increase the cumulative by one more point.)

A brilliant contender is Mohit Suri’s Raaz. I won’t compare the two movies (you shouldn’t either), coz they’re poles apart. Both belong to entirely diverse genres and both have distinct characters and actors. And as I learnt at
inlingua, you cannot compare things that are not comparable – which means that two phenomena need to belong to the same class/category to be compared with each other. (You cannot say Amitabh is taller than Jaya, coz Jaya is NOT tall by a long shot. Simple and useful English tip for everyone!)

But one thing I’ll say, I had more than my dose of
abuses for the day. (Not personally, on the screen, I mean. Hey that rhymed again!) Be it gaalis of the mother or sister, both movies have them in profusion.

Before I tell you the secret of Raaz, let me tell you a few things. One, the theatre did not appear to be houseful (though I’ve heard the movie has done very well). There are three (four, if you count the ghost) main characters in the film. The first is Adhyayan Suman (Shekhar “Mover and Shaker” Suman’s son) who plays Yash, a reality TV show host. He looks like a ready mix of 3 people I know – namely, a friend Shreyas Bangad, the actor Aftab Shivdasani, and someone else I can’t remember now. Emraan looks scary with his crazy hair and wide open eyes, but the paintings he draws (whoever the real artist is) are marvelous. As for Kangana Ranaut, I can’t think of any other actress who could have done justice to the role. She looks naive yet creepy just as the scene demands.

So basically, this 150 minute movie is about a deshbhakt who sacrifices his life for the benefit of his countrymen. What transforms him into a ghoul is the fact that his death is a waste coz the criminals (one is a short baldy like the one in the Addam’s family wearing dark clothes) are still out at large. So, Mr. Jackie “Phantom” Shroff comes back from the dead to seek revenge and expose the truth.

Doesn’t sound too terrifying, na? Its not, in retrospective. There are a few bloodcurdling scenes (my fav is when Kang gets hung mid-air) but what considerably marred my fear factor was that mum had shut her eyes and insisted I do non-stop commentary so that she isn’t scared yet knows what’s going on. (*^#%&^&#^%)

Well, I did my daughterly duty, and enjoyed the unfolding of the plot (as much as I could possibly). How Jackie troubles Kangna coz her one innocent statement provokes her boyfriend to support the offenders, how Emran can see and paint Kang’s misery before she experiences it, how Kang roams the countryside in search of the answer to her bhootiyagiri...

Two dialogues that stayed with me long after the movie : Emran says, “Tum itne keemti tohfe ki kadar nahi karte, aur ek hum hai ki unki tassveer pe dhool tak nahi chaddhne dete”... WOW! And the other is when Kang tries to explain she didn’t cut her vein – “Tum jaante ho main apne appa se kitna pyar karti hoon, main aise kaise karungi?!!” Hehe...

My rating – 9 on 10. (This doesn’t mean R is actually better than SM. As I said, you cannot compare them with each other.) It’s just that I enjoyed getting frightened, and the songs were pretty good, too. Especially Toshi’s “Maahi” which I hated at first.

(Sorry guys, for bringing this to you so late. Sunday’s review on Thursday isn’t a grand thing. However, you should give it to me – I manage to write to you everyday despite work and other stuff. Just didn’t get by to writing this entire story at one go the last few days.)

So go along with family, friends and lovers, and enjoy yourself!

(Just make sure you don’t need to describe the scenes to your partner during the movie.)

Adios!
Anuja

Wednesday, January 28

Sajna Hai Tujhe Sajni Ke Liye...


Hola handsome hunks and dashing dames!

Guess the title and greeting gives away my topic for the day – beauty treatments.

Correction. Beauty treatments AND Indians, with special emphasis on males. (I’ve always been partial to you guys, right?!!)

A female cousin once told me she uses Dove (a brand of soap) on the face, and another cheaper soap on the body. Why? Because Dove is expensive! (I don’t use Dove; makes my skin dry, despite models in the ad claiming it’s better than any alkaline soap.)

For those who find my cousin’s conduct weird and hard to believe, let me tell you, most Indians preserve and use their possessions sparingly. They believe in saving for a rainy day and being prepared for tough times. A classic example : squeezing the toothpaste tube until the last ounce is out. (There are those that squeeze far beyond this point – the said category includes my mum and bro).

Well, I know what my cousin does (or used to, she’s now married to a well-to-do guy so I don’t think she’d rue over expenses much) is a tad extreme, but true nevertheless! Remember I told you about this
condom ad on a music channel where the Indian habit of covering everything is aptly employed? Well, the message there was different, but the point is the same. Hail Hindustani!

Back to beauty therapies.The market is flooded with a range of cosmetics, and classifications are based on body part (skin, face, hair, etc), its type (dry, oily, dark), and also gender (male and female, no other option). I initially thought guys are least concerned about their daily looks as femme fatales spend ages in the bathroom and in front of the mirror. However, I soon learnt that the masculine gender is better addressed as metrosexuals these days. Men gladly reach out for their scrubs and packs, lotions and gels. I mean whoever thought “Fair and Handsome” would sell?!

(For that matter even Shehnaz Hussain products selling is a surprise to me; but then, the world is made up of all kindsa people.)

Beauty parlors were a woman’s domain, and now you need to check whether a given salon is for men, women or unisex. (Remember how Saif is spruced up in Kal Ho Na Ho with the womenfolk mollycoddling him?) Hell, even perfumes and apparels are common for the sexes.
(I actually think women wearing male shirts and kurtas at home is cute. Sshhh! Our little secret!)
Be it facials or waxing, bleach or manicure, men have forsaken their rugged, crude exteriors and happily adopted a beauty conscious outlook. Immaculately groomed, nice-smelling, formally-attired men need to do little to be passed off as dapper gentlemen. (You bet we women are elated about that!! Who wants ugly, dirty and shabby companions?! Not me, for sure.)

(I’m not sure where this post is heading, but I wish to express all my opinions and observations on the said topic. Please bear with me.)

I have often heard adolescent boys say that they’d do anything for facial and body hair. Watched Rockford? How the guys shave their smooth cheeks so they’d start getting beards? It’s not far from the truth, and all you men know that. (I believe Anil “Bhaaluu” Kapoor could be their teen idol.)

And then there are the adults who consider it a pain to shave even alternate days. Ask us women! What a tremendous hassle it is to wax, thread and shave our entire bodies right from the eyebrows to the legs. (I remember Sarikadi told me about this medical condition where one loses all body hair. And she also slipped in a word about how lucky people are, when this state affects under the neck!! WOW!)

I know a Mr. X (name withheld to protect identity) who’s obsessed with his appearance. Don’t ask me how I know, but the first thing he does when he gets out of bed in the morning is look at the mirror and comb his (thinning) hair, which is also the last thing he does before he gets into bed. He religiously colors his hair almost every week, and applies all sorts of creams and lotions that he can set eyes on - even sunscreen at night!

But well, nothing to be ashamed of! If you don’t care how you look, nobody will bother to look at you. Antara Mali gets one in Main Madhuri Dikshit Banna Chahti Hoon (IMHO, what she desperately needs to transform is the thing she carries on her shoulders, as well as her voice and style. Ugh... repulsive!)

(IMHO is in my honest opinion; didn't know that eh, silly billy?!!)

Of course there could be other reasons like Shahrukh in
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, and Shilpa Shetty (watta gorgeous and charming dame!) in Main Khiladi Tu Anadi. (Psst! I read in the Mirror that she cut her pretty tresses for some movie, which was denied permission to shoot in China.)

Hey, how can you forget yours truly?!! I got a makeover, too, when I did my stint in modeling. This was way back in junior college, when tired of hearing about my good height and features, I decided to listen to Nike (“Just Do It”). I joined Bunty-Prashant’s modeling workshop, religiously attended lessons and got a portfolio made. A then upcoming-now famous local boutique provided the apparel and accessories, and whoosh! A diva emerged.

Check the Pune Times editions in the year 2003-2005, and you’ll come across my picture almost every month. It was super exciting! (Not for my parents unfortunately, coz their friends and acquaintances stirred their Marwari roots.) Still remember my very first snap, hogging an impressive 3/4th of the front page of PT... Permed hair, cool glares, sexy outfit, attitude in every inch... Everywhere I went, people were murmuring – “Is she the PT cover girl? Is she really Anuja??” Yes, buddies. It was. It is. It shall always be. The
ugly duckling has become the elegant swan...

The swan needs to go back... The pond’s calling...

How time has flown! Speaking to you guys takes away my stress. I just forget there’s other things to do!

You stay beautiful, as much within as outside. (Just a
smile, if nothing else!)

Love,
Lonely Princess

Tuesday, January 27

Grumbles of an irate Graahak

Peter Drucker, the world's most influential business guru has said - The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.

I’ve also read somewhere - customer is god / customer is king.

Really?

I mean, REALLY?!!!

No more!!

The customer is treated as filth these days. Those employed in customer service vocations behave like they are doing us a favor by being of assistance. Sales persons at shops and malls, bus conductors and drivers, hotel staff and
auto drivers – they are the lords, and we the indigent.

This is not “breaking news”. I spoke
3 months ago about this... About how Pune trails behind in the customer service department. How Chitale Bandhu (of the terrific Bhakarwadi fame) are one among the many who consider the consumer as a nuisance.

We have all experienced similar fates at different locations and destinations. Why then am I speaking of it today? Coz I’m sick of it. I cannot take it anymore. All levels crossed. Period.

My outrage comes as a consequence of multiple events in a span as short as 3 weeks. The offenders are Preeti Travels and Hotel Shraavan on FC road, SGS mall (the parking lot, to be precise), Desi Tadka in Mukund Nagar, and
Mocha (Law College outlet).

What exactly fired me? Let me share the events with you. And though they may not seem too great in themselves, they certainly are the straws that have been pinching and poking me till they broke my back.

Strike 1 : Preeti travels runs tourist buses, and they cancelled their Volvo at the last moment giving the helpless passengers the option of either taking a refund sometime next week (as the fellow-in-charge had no cash), or board an uncomfortable-looking mini-bus, with an equally grubby driver. Flabbergasted at the guy's unapologetic attitude, when the pax demanded to talk to the owner, what they got to hear on the telephone was that the travelers had unpleasant family lives, hence the drama! What could scale this height of impudence?!! Preeti is certainly not going to get a dime from me hereafter, and the Lodha bugger who owns it will sure regret his behavior and pathetic morals.

Strike 2 : Hotel Shravan serves good vegetarian food, and has been a family favorite for quite some time. However, I have vowed never to go back again, coz the waiters think no end of themselves. They actually yelled at me and my mum in front of all the seated guests. Why? Coz we sent back stale and insipid papads. The owner was a civil man, but he fell weak when faced by the "head"-less rascal. Unions were formed to protect the weak, and now, they are nothing but a gang of third-grade goons.

Strike 3 : I usually park at the SGS mall when I visit Camp on weekends. I needn’t tell you that these parking lot attendants are illiterate, mannerless thugs who think they rule the world. They maneuver bikes as they please to get them in a line, often wrecking the vehicle (I had a brawl with one, around 2 months ago for the same reason). My ire at the moment is for another’s indignation. The attendant barks orders about where to park the bike, and if you digress by as much as a metre, he mutters like his house is on fire. A young fellow (equally obnoxious, if I may say so) parked in another aisle than the one designated, and I stood watching as the attendant abused and yelled at him in a revolting manner... Bloody goondas!

How long are we going to act as beggars in need in front of these losers? They exist to serve the customer, and if they are not giving us a worthwhile experience, they have no right to be in the profession. The power of the consumer community is such, that if we take it to heart, we can bring these establishments on the roads alongwith their owners.

In all restaurants, it's the same story – be it Desi Tadka or Blue Nile or even Green Park. Cracked and grimy dishes. Food filled with artificial color. Air conditioning not in order. Dirty linen. And to top it all, disinterested waiters! To expect them to be polite and amiable is asking for too much!

Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong. - Donald Porter... Anyone taking note?!! We're not expecting the moon; just tell us you can get it if that would please us... And we'll be happy babies.

Mainland China is one of the best (or maybe the only place in Pune) that offers respectable service. They may have a limited menu, and they may be expensive. But, it beckons me again and again just to savor their reverence of the patron. You lift an eyebrow, and the host will be by your table to see if you have need for anything. Now that’s service! The manager at Mocha KP gives us dirty looks maybe coz we bypass his authority to get the best of everything thanks to Shailesh (urf Gilly!) What happened to good ol’ dedication, man?!! The Mocha at Law is by every standard a waste. Avoid.

Bus conductors and bus drivers are rude and crude. I’ve already spoken enough about
auto drivers but my fury is still intact. They purposely carry no change, they are dimwits with no sense of how to talk to women and seniors, and they're more arrogant than the US President!

The same goes for salesmen and women at malls who prefer chatting in the corner rather than attending to customers. I am surprised employees can take such liberties when their jobs could be axed by one somber complaint.

And I don't think I need to tell you about the policemen in India. All they can do is harass the public who pays taxes (so what if their salary comes from the very same source?!) Law protectors are the ones who are raping the law, torturing the innocent, and egging on law-breakers by supporting them.

Public servants - whether in government or private firms - cannot get off by doing a halfhearted and substandard job. I can’t think of much to do at the moment other than blog about this, but I promise all you flawed fellas, the consumer cannot be taken for granted.

To quote Robert Half - When the customer comes first, the customer will last.

And if the customer does not figure in the top of your list, then buddy, it’s YOU who ain’t gona last long...

Joel Ross got it right when he said - Never underestimate the power of the irate customer.

Mind it.

-Princess

Friday, January 23

Download PDF (Patriotism, Dreams and Fun)

Hi!

Friday’s here, sweethearts. And this is a long weekend in India, courtesy our Republic Day. (Indians rejoice not coz of the significance of the day, but coz it’s a public holiday.)

I have written about patriotism twice I think (it was the review of
Aamir one of those two times, and a general rant the other time.) I don’t know if I have shared this with you before, but I feel proud and amazing when I see everyone standing up for the national anthem before a movie starts in the cinema hall. Something tingles inside to see the community respecting the national symbol as one!

I dreamt about animals last night. (Don’t get startled; I’ve had dreams wilder and more bizarre than this!) What kicked off the dream were two mighty elephants, grey-white, with long legs and massive ears. They were slipping backwards over a slight incline, and a rider on one was sliding down as well. (Slowly, fortunately for him.) But the situation wasn’t fatal; they all seemed in control of themselves.

I saw this as I was riding pillion with an old dame in a saree. (I don’t know who she was and what business of mine it was to sit behind her!) As we hit a dirt track, a lion started its hot pursuit of us. As the creature chased us at breakneck speed, I screeched to the grandma to go fast fast fast! And fast, she went. (Don’t know how she did it at her age!)

As I looked back, I saw a man wildly signaling to us to slow down and stop, but we thought he was out of his mind to give sucha foolish suggestion. When the lion was almost at our tail, I realized we had no scope of outrunning the beast, and so we might as well do the man’s bidding. Grandma hit the brakes, and wonder of wonders! The lion dashed past us. Seems like he just wanted a good race!!

(Hehe. Tells us we should think outside the box, and if we cannot, then we ought to give others’ ideas a chance.)

My dreams are as unusual as they are amusing. I once dreamt that I was sitting with Sunny Deol watching television, and I also dreamt that my school was inundated with snow!

I often see my school and schoolmates in my dreams. (Had anyone else said the same to me, I’d have expressed that there could be some
psychological or unresolved issues during the said period. But, that ain’t true for me as far as I know.) I have seen Radhika and Neha a million times, as I have Kunal and a few others. It’s true I was very attached to all these people, but by no means do I have anything to share with them that I haven’t already.

I just wish my schooldays had been more cheerful and memorable. Didn’t enjoy being teased about my skin color and specs... Now, of course, when they look at me, I see the appreciation and admiration in their eyes about the person I‘ve become. The perfect story of the ugly duckling becomes pretty swan. (I said pretty,
NOT beautiful!)

Well, that’s that about dreams. In real life, I’m currently struggling with “Organizational Restructuring”. Some client request. Hope it doesn’t turn out like the Performance Appraisal Review Meeting, where all my mammoth research and effort appears to have gone waste as the client absconded after hearing the commercials.

Come to think of it, Indians want the best stuff at paltry prices. Alchemy is by no means low-priced, and neither was inlingua, one of the most expensive language institutes in the city, where I worked as a language trainer for 2 years. Independent of the fact that I have been a loyal employee who enjoys her work, the truth is both deliver quality. And quality comes at a cost.

(Not like a few other language coaching schools I know that charge half as much and teach the beginner and advanced levels simultaneously! I mean what da #^$% ??!!! How can you learn the vowels and perfect tenses at the same time?!!)

I keep getting the news from inlingua that a lot of instructors keep coming and going. (Tough to last when one surrounded by politics.) But what’s in the news, the papers I mean, is the adverts of some training firms that have adopted inlingua’s yellow-black scheme – like Seed Infotech, and another one, I think it was Yellowbox. I still tend to think of my last workplace as my own... The ironies of life!!

Apart from work, what’s happening in my life at the moment, is dealing with the electronics in my home. Gifted my parents a Philips juicer-mixer-grinder (
as I’d told you) for their anniversary, and bro gifted them cell-phones. Dad bought a new bread toaster recently, and we’ve been planning to get a plasma TV for ages.

Hey, have you been watching Roadies? The one episode I’ve seen since they started their journey was where Rannvijay (whatta dude, man!) poses Hindi mindbenders, and the ladies have to answer, failing which the guys get whacked on their
balls. Uh uh. “Immunity” in the game at what cost?!! Oh, and the money task was to collect shit from all across the desert. The Roadies managed to gather cartloads of excreta – animal, and even human. With their bare hands. Ughhh...

I must say I’m disappointed with the lot. None of the contendors seems to have the “zing” factor that makes a Roadie a Roadie – Polomi, Varisha, Palak, Devarshi, Suzzana, Pradeep, Kiri, and other punters whose names I don’t even recall... All duds. No winning streak unlike
Prabhjyot and others in the previous seasons.

Talking about TV shows, did you know about this cartoon character called “Hagemaru”? He looks Japanese, and I’m so sure they did not consider the Hindi translation of the name... (For the uninitiated, it means something on the lines of “shit and hit”. Gross, I know. I remember chatting with my friends when Skoda Laura was launched. How Indians wouldn’t buy that car coz it sounds like the male organ in Hindi...)

Enough chat for the day... Time to sign out! Have a great weekend! See ya Tuesday!

Bharat Mata Ki... Jai!
Princess

Thursday, January 22

Yaari Hai Imaan Mera, Yaar Meri Zindagi

Ye Dosti Hum Nahi Todenge...
Todenge Dum Agar... Tera Saath Na Chhodenge...


Awrite awrite.. I know Friendship Day’s a long time away. And before you charge me with plagiarism and
copycat-ism, let me tell you the above’s the maha-popular song from Sholay (The original, not the maha-bhayanak Aag by RGV)

By the way, quoting one is plagiarism, quoting many is research!! (Don’t remember who said that, but read it somewhere recently while searching for quotes on presentation skills.)

Here’s the innovative dough now... By yours truly!

Your smile’s like the sunshine,
That streams in through the cold, winter morning;
It warms my heart and soul, and feels like new desires dawning.

Your care’s like the river serene,
That gurgles enthusiastically
And fills me with pleasures umpteen.

Your voice is the elixir
That brings me back to life,
It multiplies my joys and guides me through times of strife.

Your touch is the fragrant breeze,
That flows over flowers bright and fine;
Every move of yours makes me feel you’re mine.

When we’re together, time flies,
Hand in hand we walk,
Our chats nutty and wise.

Nature’s every bounty reminds me of you,
You’re my companion,
So loving and true.

Ages may come and ages may go,
Wherever we might be,
Our memories will only grow.

When I see down the years,
Once you and I are old,
A single look back in time, and the pages of nostalgia unfold...

Camaraderie ki Jai!

Buh-bye buddies...
Princess

Wednesday, January 21

Ha-Ha Time

Heylo!
Just a joke today. Got stuff to wind up. So, here's a funny forward I received last week. Enjoy!!!

It was Professor Smith's first day at St. Johns medical college as a faculty.

Known for his teaching excellence, he made his entry into a classroom of 1st year medical students.

He said, "Well students, before we start off with today's lecture, let me ask you a simple question on human anatomy."

He gazed across the classroom, spotted a female student Suzie, and said, "Tell me Suzie, which part of the human body grows 10 times its original size when excited?"

Hearing this question, Suzie's face grew pale in embarrassment. She replied, "You should be ashamed to ask such a question to a female. I am sorry, but I can't answer this."

The professor looked around to see if there was anyone else who could satisfy his query. This time he located a male student Henry, who had already raised his hand in affirmation to answer the question.

"Yes?"

Henry answered, "The pupil of a human eye".

The professor applauded for the boy for his accurate answer, and turned back to Suzie. He said...
"Look, Suzie. I am sorry, but I must tell you a couple of things:

(1) You lack knowledge
(2) You have a dirty mind... and...
(3) Your expectations are too high !!! (10 times .. .. Huh .. .. MY GOD !!! )

Cheers!
Princess

Tuesday, January 20

Dard Mein Bhi Ye Labb Muskura Jaate Hai...

Hi.

Didn’t feel like writing today.

Am I sad? No. Not really. Just the general, persistent melancholy feeling that you all know is an integral part of me...

Life’s NOT happening. I’m working, and I’m not enjoying it. I’m staying with family, and I’m not liking it. Friends and events are not exciting enough either. Or maybe, the “missing” bit is in my brain / attitude.

Anyways, I’m gona talk about another’s gloom today. Of Bheeshma, the Kuru patriarch. (What did you think? Just coz I wrote
yesterday that I’ve been talking too much about Mahabharata does not mean I won’t talk about it!!)

I’m currently reading the Bheeshma Parva in the
Mahabharata. Poor man, Bheeshma. One of the 8 vasus cursed to be born on earth as mortals coz they stole a muni’s cow, Bheeshma lived a life of misery, almost as bad as Karna’s. (Maybe worse, coz Bheeshma could select when and how he wanted to die, and yet he chose to endure so much pain before he embraced death. Admire his tenacity!)

One thing I don’t admire in him, (please correct me if I’m wrong) is the fact that he did not interrupt or cut short the
game of dice that finally led to the great Mahabharata war. He had the authority to express his disapproval of the episode, but he didn’t. He didn’t even support Dro when she was dragged into the sabha wearing nothing but a single cloth, and affronted publicly. Why??!!! I don’t know... And I didn’t like it...

Anyway, his life has not been an easy one. First, he had to live without a father, and then without his mother. An excellent warrior, he had to forsake conjugal bliss coz his dad lusted for a fisherwoman whose pa wanted his daughter’s son to be placed on the throne after the king. When no promise satisfied the to-be-pa-in-law, Bheeshma swore to remain celibate all his life (and from this time, “Devavrata” became “Bheeshma”).

His privation had just begun. For after this, he saw all those he had nurtured to become the Kuru kings, meet their sad and sudden demise. Ever loyal to the Kuru kingdom, Bheeshma sided with the Kauravas inspite of knowing they were evil and would die at the hands of the Pandavas in the great war that would end the contemporary yuga. What more, he even told Duryodhana that he would command the army only on two conditions – one, he wouldn’t kill the sons of Pandu, and two, he would not fight in the same army as Karna. (Apparently, it's not Bhishma who refused to fight alongwith Karna, but the latter - says
Wiki)

What is truly remarkable is that he himself tells the Pandavas how to kill him. Could anything be more valiant? Lying on a bed of arrows, he counts the ones Arjuna shot at him (including one to rest his head on) and the one most fatal, the deepest was Shikhandi’s - Shikhandi, who in the previous birth was Amba of Kasi, kidnapped by Bheeshma from her swayamvara, who swore to murder her captor coz she had to face disgrace thanks to his act...

But well, enough about that. Here’s the update on Aamche Pune. I’ve heard the city’s on high alert coz a bunch of 26 terrorists have arrived from somewhere. (Despite advance information, I don’t understand how our folks can’t capture them...)

The other update is on ME – I can NOT laugh artificially. My cheeks and jaw ache when I do that. Mum’s good at that sort of thing, given that she, unlike me, has no choice but to entertain all and sundry. And ya, I am also very impatient with slow people, who just DON’T seem to get the simplest of things. Grrrr...

Gotta go. Good day!
Lonely Princess


P.S : The title?? Oh... Love that song, and couldn't think of any other :-) Dard mein bhi ye labb muskura jate hai, beete lamhe hume jab bhi yaad aata hai... Listen to it. It's amazing! Keep singing!!

Monday, January 19

The Letter Series : Activa-ting Memories

I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time now.

Remember I wrote a
case study series on relationships in the budding times of this blog? (Ya ya, apart from the love, failed relationships, and other poetry on loneliness, sorrow and the like)

My recent posts are mostly about the
Mahabharata or philosophies about life. With the desire to do something new and different, I cooked up this idea of writing letters. (How original, eh?!!)

Letters to who? Anyone or anything! Living and non-living, entities close or distant, emotions own or observed... Happy reading!

A Letter to my Activa

Hi!
How are you, dear?

Yeah, I heard that. That sigh of relief that I’m not riding you anymore... That crazy perpetrator who made you taste the dust and kiss the rocky roads a hundred times. I know. I’m sorry. You see, you were bright and new, and so was my riding. Besides, you are aware that my weight during those times was not quite enough to balance you or hold you up. As my brother often said, me on you looked like “a macchar on a bike” (I have NO clue whatsoever where and when he saw this sight of a mosquito riding, but bhavnao ko samjho!)

I still remember the day we welcomed you into the family. Apparently, you were bought for me coz I had to go to college and a million other places, and the bus and auto fares were depleting my meager resources. (Petrol wasn’t so expensive then, but I hear it’s gona get cheaper. Cheerio!) But, what finally happened was that dad and I shared you; a decision that really incensed me, coz I hated you being handled by two individuals with opposite driving styles. (More on that later...)

So, well, I treasured you and loved you no end. All those jazzy keychains and regular servicing. (Bet you miss the pampering since I handed you over to Daddy dearest!) And ya, I agree I also hit you more than a few times, banging you on people and vehicles alike as I could not manage your load and power.

It was fun racing you at the speed of 60 (your sautan Scooty barely copes with 40, but she’s more handy, you see. Haven’t hit her once. Touch wood!) I used to go back and forth from Camp and KP to home sweet home, and not once did you let me down. And now when I see you not starting up to take Dad someplace, or when I hear you broke down somewhere, I really feel bad. You were so loyal to me! Thanks baby!

Ya, I know. He makes sure you discover the depths of each and every pothole, and he doesn’t give you your complete fill of fuel, but that’s his way sweetheart! Learn to cope with it! Not everybody is like me!

(I know humility is the finest thing on earth. And I have no qualms in accepting that I trail behind in that department. You see, I can either be honest or modest; not both together!)

You took me from my house to Scream in a record 6 minutes almost daily, and Natasha (you remember her, don’t you?) used to say my bestest, wittiest and quirkiest one-liners came when I was riding you like Lady Schumacher (later learnt that Rossi is the two-wheeler pro, so Schumacher could rest in peace.) A few of which are : “Kya uncle, dance kar rahe ho kya?!” and “Oye Saaaikalll” (cycle)... It was superb!

And the time I banged you near Sangam bridge, man... The worst accident of my life. Mum said each time I went to see someone off, I ended up with a dash. Be it a friend or a relative. She forbade me from dropping anyone, coz I couldn’t control the spate of tears thereafter...

Now when I see you, I feel a weird sense of nostalgia. Yet, you seem very distant and impersonal. Even when I ride you, once in a blue moon, due to unavoidable circumstances, I get the feeling that you and I don’t belong. Not only have you lost your sheen and glamour, but you’ve also aged. Horn chhodke sab bajta hai aur break chhodke sab lagta hai... Hehe... Kiddin! You aren’t that bad yet, but ya, you’re certainly not what you were in your youth. Who is?!!

You’re 6, aren’t you? Scooty’s turned 2 this December. Though she’s pretty useful and petite, I still miss you. You be nice, and don’t give Papa much trouble. OK?

Love you, take care!
Anuja

Saturday, January 17

Gaana Bajaana...

I need to sit down and make a blog directory sometime. There are over 140 posts here, not archived in a very user-friendly fashion.

Of course, the titles of my rants in the current month get displayed (on the left, between my affiliations and useless knowledge widget). But after that you’re on your own. There’s just the month of the present year and number of posts, and then the number of posts in the last year. Poof. The tags and labels are also not all-inclusive and exhaustive. Not a great way to entice readers with different interests, eh?!!

Soon. Soon.

Right now, I’m in the mood for some poetry. Are you?

My eyes fill up with impulsive tears,
My mind grapples with mysterious fears,
As I pass each day aimlessly,
My peace stands far afield and jeers.

Those that were balms someday,
For whom I with every breath pray,
They’re making my life an uphill task,
Even as in my heart they stay.

My spirit abounds with dreams galore,
Something tells me the best’s yet in store,
Why then does everything feel so bleak?
Why then does disquiet shroud my core?

Since contentment bade farewell, smiles have departed,
My soul like a board, has all bitterness recorded,
Anger, dread and frustration tinge all I do or say,
And yet I remain the person most wounded.

If I had a magic wand, I’d flick it once and sing,
Let this to all and sundry, hope and joy bring,
Let destiny bless them who live on earth today,
Man or woman, beggar and king.

The last paragraph doesn’t feel too right to me... It’s just like those typical Bollywood movies that HAVE to end happily irrespective of the plot and drama...

Well... couldn’t think of any other way to conclude... Best pass on optimism when you not sure, dude!!

(Ok, that was crap... But, it rhymed!)

Have a good day and a great weekend!
Lonely Princess

Friday, January 16

Kabhi Copy Kabhi Fun...


I spent last Saturday at home, and my channel surfing brought me to this amusing show on Star One called “Hello Kaun? Pehchan Kaun!” The program is a platform for all those brilliant comedians who perform spoofs on celebrities.

I was amazed to see Indians from the simplest of places and professions pulling off the reproductions of India’s most talented lot with amazing ease. A petrol pump attendant impersonating Sunny Deol and a trader acting as Kader Khan; both better than the original!

(Guess I should say, AS good AS the original, else the purpose is completely defeated, right?!)

Copycats are probably the funniest of people, and the most popular as well. I have loved it when Suvarna mimicked our peers and professors during Masters, as also Sibi’s side-splitting duplication of Nana Patekar and Shahrukh Khan.

Come to think of it, why do some people get emulated while others don’t?

Bingo. It’s coz these individuals have something that sets them apart from the rest. A peculiar and unique quality that distinguishes them from those that do not possess that feature. Something like USP – Unique Selling Proposition. (And no, there can NEVER be
more than ONE USP... Why else would it be a UNIQUE selling proposition?!!)

The USP of some folks remains their voice and inflection... Like Dharmendra for his “kutte, kameene” and “mausiji” intonations, Amitabh for his “Haiiinn”, Shatru for “khamoshh” and so many more. USP could also be actions or style... Like the way Salman and Sanju walk, or Rajnikant’s crazy antics with guns and glares!

Unforgettable characters make performers immortal. Remember Paresh Rawal’s Babu-bhaiya in the Hera Pheri series, and baddies like Shaakal, Mogambo, Gabbar Singh? Rajkumar, Dev Anand, Keshto Mukherjee remain perpetual favorites of the copy-cat clan, and even Laloo Prasad Yadav, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Baba Ramdev are not spared.

Why just the men? Sugandha Mishra in Star One’s Laughter Challenge was uproarious when she sang and spoke like Lata Mageshkar, Sharmila Tagore, Meena Kumari, Hema Malini, and Aishwarya Rai. (I don’t like the other woman, Bharti, who keeps cracking jokes about her plumpness all the time. Where’s the variety, yaar?!!)

However, my personal favorites on the Laughter show remain the very first winners – Sunil Pal (above all as the drunkard), Raju Srivastava (evergreen!), Navin Prabhakar (as the prostitute that gave the current show its title – Pehchan Kaun!) I also like Rancho and his master - the ventriloquist, and the entertaining chubby-lean "tthaka-tthak" Pakistani duo.

(Say, what’s your USP? What do you think people would imitate you as? With me, I think it’s the way I speak - the word stress and hand movements.)

Heard on
Radio One the other day that Asha Bhosale has been in the industry for over 65 years!! Her first song was in the year 1943, and she still remains as sensational and youthful as ever. Gosh... A more versatile and alluring voice I’ve never heard. And whatta sparkling smile! Makes you feel all warm and happy inside :-)

By da way, her son and daughter-in-law are called Anand-Anuja... And of course you know my bro’s Anand Rathi. So, when my mum met her about a decade ago at some WIMA function, they shared a hearty laugh. (Ammi was the chairperson then of this Women Entrepreneurs group; she’s met even Indira Gandhi! Sahi na?!)

Another woman I know who is perpetually smiling and enthusiastic at a youthful 60+ is Dr. Jyoti Bapaye. The woman who brought a marvel to the world. (Me, who else?!) Shall talk more about her some day. The perfect story of how fate can destroy and how strength and determination can prevail...

Read in Pune Times that the English language will have a million words by end of August this year. And they have rightly stated that daily usage includes barely 14,000 terms, though experts may be aware of around 70,000. (So, what I told you about
not fretting over vocabulary is validated!)

Well, guess I should pull the hand-brake! Aap logo ko aur bhi kai kaam honge...

Slip me a comment as feedback so I know you’re there! You know I love to hear from you!!

Adios!
Princess

Thursday, January 15

Story Time

Hiya!

I’m
eating walnuts again... Need to brush up on the latent smartness.

Read in the
Pune Mirror yesterday that a 41-year old pregnant woman died, but was kept artificially alive so that her her baby could be saved. Jeez! Some technology...

Hows the congestion scene where you stay? Pune is the abode of all roadblocks.
Traffic jams near KP (Koregaon Park) and KNP (Kamala Nehru Park) are no big deal. But guess WHERE I encountered a gridlock today.

At Symbiosis (SIBM and the Arts/Commerce college) on S. B. Road.
(Yes, that's where. No, I'm not kidding you.)
An old man stopped in the middle of the highway straddling his rickety Kinetic. Why? Coz he felt it convenient to pause centre-street at peak time traffic to make an enquiry with two pretty girls.

Old men I tell you... And to top that, he gave dirty looks to those that
honked at his stupid act! Definitely more irritating than another aged fellow I saw last week trying to chat up two young lasses at an ICICI ATM. At least he wasn’t holding up the thoroughfare!
Men shall always be men... (I’m not claiming all old women are sweet and adorable like my adopted ICICI grandma). But... whatever.
So, the news is that I finished the first volume of Menon’s Mahabharata. The Virata Parva had some brilliant stories about the life of the Pandavas and Panchali in King Virata’s kingdom.
A glimpse? They took up new names and professions so that they would not be discovered – Yudi as Kanka the gambler (no baba, he won’t lose again! He learnt the tricks of the game, so he now is an expert at it), Bheema as Ballava the cook (he is fond of both eating and cooking, so suits him fine), Arjuna as Brihanalla the eunuch and dance-teacher
(cursed by Urvashi, remember?), and Nakul-Sahadeva as caretakers of horses and cattle, and Draupadi as Malini, a sairindhiri (queen’s assistant).

The end of this section is especially enchanting. I read spellbound as Arjuna fought instead of Uttara Kumara (Virata’s baby boy) against the Kuru army when the latter steal Virata’s cattle (a ploy to reveal the Pandavas in order to send them back to the wilderness). The noble Arjuna greets his elders before he starts the attack by sending arrows at their feet, and leaves in the same fashion without hurting anyone, only after he has regained his host king’s possessions.

I got goose bumps as I read the next chapter... Enraged that Kanka praised the eunuch and not the rajkumar, Virata threw his ivory dice at Yudi. This action drew blood and Yudi made sure none fell on the floor. As Malini helped him clean up, she told Virata that for every drop of his blood that fell on the earth, there would be no rain for a year! Besides, there was someone (Arjuna) who had sworn that he would kill the person who made Yudi bleed. Wowww....

The section ends with Abhimanyu’s wedding to Uttara, Arjuna’s disciple and Virata’s princess. I’m now on the next section in the second volume – the Udyog Parva. The best story till now in this has been the scene at Krishna’s palace, when Duryodhana and Arjuna arrive (in that order) to ask Krishna for his support in the impending war.

As kshatriya dharma goes, the one who asks first gets his wish. Though Dury reached before Arjy, Krishna feigned sleep and opened his eyes only when Arjy was directly in front of him. And to settle matters, he gave them a choice – He on one side without a weapon, and his entire army on the other. Obviously, Arjy chose the Dark One, and Dury was also pleased at this, since an unarmed Krishna was no alarm to him.

Know what Balarama said at this? “Poor Duryodhana! The only choice Krishna gave him was his death...”

Not
abusing would certainly be part of the dharmic teachings today, as would doing your duties conscientiously and sincerely. And first and foremost, being the best person you could ever be; at work, at home, outside and everywhere else. (I have a feeling this awareness would considerably be eased if you read common misconceptions and contemporary lessons)

(I'm a mighty one to talk about all this
psychological banter, given that I myself yesterday confessed about my covert procrastinating streak.)

Ahem...
See ya tomorrow!
Princess

Wednesday, January 14

Guilty, Your Honour!

I need to make a confession.

I’m been acting like a coward for quite some time now, and I’ve been seeking reasons to hide this verity.

I plead guilty.

Stumbled upon this bitter truth when I was chatting with Abba who was angry coz I was wasting my days and drifting around aimless, not challenging my potential and capabilities. In his words, I am “aiming too low”.

As human tendencies go, I immediately tried to shield myself saying that I worked hard for M.A., but did not get applauded. However, the truth is I did not try as hard as I claim. And I know it. (That my efforts weren’t rewarded is true enough, but this does not alter the fact that I was actually qualified to do much better.)

I’m waiting for things to change, though I know it is WE, as individuals and groups, who have to bring about the transformation. I’m going around in circles expecting that time will bring about what has to occur, and that will lead me to my destiny. I realize I have been frittering away my time, saying that once marriage is out of the way, I’ll start doing what I’m meant to do. Jesus... How could I be so blind and defensive? Even to myself?!!

I mean, think about it. (You might want to read
this and this.) I chose Arts coz I did not want to do Commerce or Science - not a very proactive way to plan your degree. I chose Psychology over English coz I did not see practical value in learning the texts and literature. (Also, there were limited seats in Psychology, whereas anyone could opt for English.) Another decision through negation.

Decided to avoid CAT as it takes too much exertion and dedication, but slogged for SNAP (Symbi) and got through both the institutes I’d applied for – SIBM and SIMC. Having attended the GD and PI for SIBM, I decided not to go for SIMC as I thought a Masters in Psychology would be more suitable. (Later I came to know that my Fergi Psych-mates had applied there, too, so it considerably eased my anxiety.) Passed 4 terms with little or no interest, and here I am... Spending my days blogging and working (in that order).

Learning? Yes. Learning and giving all I got so that I can have a better future? No.

I saw most of my
peers applying abroad to universities for engineering, management and other specializations. I tried a bit, too, and found a host of universities ready to take me, as I completed all the documentation and attended interviews sincerely. But each time, what weighed me down were the mammoth fees and colossal living costs. Too sissy to take the risk of a loan, I gave up my dream of a phoren degree. A childhood with my father was enough to drill the precariousness of finances into my mind...

Scholarships that I applied for and did not win, my mother’s declarations of how lonely she’d be without me, and a sackful of other points came to my mind. The verdict? That I’d stay put, work a bit, migrate when I got married and then do an MBA wherever I was located. Abroad, probably.

As my Godfather (Abba, who else) confronted my arguments, he articulated that the burden I was carrying on my shoulders was not a real one; it was my attempt to make me scale up to my perceptions about myself. My worst fears laid bare... And my eyes filled up with tears... Tears that I fought hard to control... And succeeded...

I guess I’m just nervous about leaving the comfort and familiarity of things in my life at the present time. I appreciate Abba, who went abroad more than 30 years ago, at a time when none of his acquaintances had even set foot outside the rural areas of Vidarbha (Maharashtra). Not only did he complete his education there, but also returned to start his own business when majority of the community went the “government job” way. Really admire him. Some guts he’s got!

And it’s not just him. All around me I see ambitious persons treading novel paths to reach the pinnacle they were born to attain. A batchmate Soujanya who is consistently doing something new and different, currently on her second scholarship abroad... A rustic villager who came to the city and has done his family proud... A waiter who is counted among the best actors today... And a million more; some famous, some not so much. But all winners for sure...

As Abba rightly said, a person who fears failure can never accomplish. Because he does not try, or he gives up too soon! And my fear of failure borders on the edge of insanity. I’ve never said this before. When I learnt about McClelland’s theory of achievement motivation, I wanted to believe I fell in the near-perfect category that comprises individuals who try very hard and achieve the best. I was so far from the truth... I only take up challenges where I know I shall be the victor. And that is not how life is to be lived...

No...

Frustrated as I am with the current scenario, I don't know how and I don't know when my motivation will drive me towards my destiny. But I know one thing for sure... He's with me. And for every single pebble I brush aside, He will lift the mountains out of my path.

Destiny, here I come!

Inshallah... Allah Ka Fazal Ho...

Sincerely,
Anuja

P.S : Indians celebrate Makar Sankranti today, the festival when evil is destroyed. Please ensure you do not wish "Happy Sankranti" as you greet others. Drives me nuts when I hear that... There's nothing "happy" about disaster. You could say "Best wishes (=Shubhecha) for Sankranti" instead. Cheers!!

Tuesday, January 13

World Cuisines - II

I’m back!

I dreamt about a stampede of wild animals last night - elephants, lionesses, ostriches, bisons and others... Filled with a sense of foreboding thanks to an SMS I received last week... It told about the sequence of terror attacks in the nation - you must have got it, too... How Jaipur blasts occurred on May 13, then nothing in June. Ahmedabad bombed on July 26, peace in August. 13 Sept somewhere and zilch in October. Nov 26 in Mumbai, quiet in December... And it's Jan 13 today... I pray all's well and normal. That just like
rumors of blasts in Pune on New Year's eve, this too, shall not materialize. Amen.

Back to what
I promised yesterday... An elaborate note upon dishes I find palatable... To tease your taste-buds and set you drooling... Read about some of my favorite foods below!

(Remember I wrote about my favorite things (
Part I and Part II) in November? Not surprisingly, most of it was related to the victuals! For example – marshmallows, juices, ice-creams, chocolates, etc.) Here's the list!!

Punjabi – Tandoori Chicken leads hands down. Yummmmm!!! Though I
find eating chicken with my hands a challenge (especially when the bone is still there), I can never resist Punjabi chicken dishes. I’d go as far as to say, that no one can make chicken better than the Balle Balle folk! Salute to the Butter chicken and hats off to the Rajma!

South Indian – Now that’s easy. Idli, wada, dosa, uttappa, appam, rice and sambhar. (Don’t like their curries or non-veg preparations.) This cuisine is by far the best
choice when you’re eating out at unknown destinations and also great on the stomach when you’re not too hungry. FC Road abounds in these udupi restaurants – THE Vaishali, it’s sister and neighbor Roopali, Wadeshwar down the line, with Savera on the opposite end. (memories of Fergi come alive!) I think the South Indian dishes taste better in Pune than down south, though they are certainly much cheaper there.

Maharashtrian – Love their allu wadi and aamti, misal and wada-pav, masale bhat and surali wadi, crunchy koshimbir and pohe. I dislike puranpoli (mum’s is a little bearable, otherwise count me out for the meal) and the meat dishes, but find their chapatis delicious!! Try Durvankur off Tilak Road!

Marwari – As I’m one myself, you may say I’m biased. But (almost) everybody is crazy about dal-bati and gatte ki sabzi. (At least everyone I know). Besides, I love ghee
and my mum’s an amazing cook. Eat her khichda once, and you’ll worship her for ages. (We think twice before inviting folks for lunch coz they invariably can’t deal with mum’s manwaar/manuhar, and end up on our sofas unconscious with overloaded tummies.) One dish I’m not fond of is laapsi and also meetha chawal, but the bajra rotis and rabdi (not dear Mr. Laloo’s wife; this is the dessert) will silence all grumbles.
Chinese – Hardly any variety here, but scrumptious nevertheless. Rice, noodles, curries and soups. Leave the black bean sauce out and you have a winner, especially when you need to eat fast and you need to eat late into the evening. Authentic Chinese is not as yummy as the Indian one, coz it’s too bland and not too well cooked. But Mainland China and China Gate never fail to set my belly aflutter!

Italian – Pizzas and pastas all the way. Apparently, sizzlers
are also Italian. (I ain’t sure, please correct me if you know.) My favorite joints are Yana for a great experience overall, Smokin Joes for their Special chicken pizza and Pizza Hut for the ambience, Mushroom sauce Fuselli and Ebony-Ivory dessert. Supreme on JM road has a fine Indian version as does Radhika on FC Road. (I love home-made pastas, but no one else in my family does, so I end up deprived. Miss the potlucks at inlingua!)

Thai – I think this is pretty much similar to Chinese. My picks include the
clear soup and Nasi Goreng. There are a host of restaurants in Koregaon Park that cater to people wishing to eat this cuisine. Read Arthur’s Theme, Malakka Spice, Silk Route and the like. I am personally fond of Kiva near Rangehills. (Sighhh... what a magnificent place!)


Well, well, well... I’m surpassing myself!

Time to wind up before I get branded as a bhukkad (=glutton) with food on my mind 24 X 7!!

Eating well, guys??!!

Cheers!
Anuja

Monday, January 12

World Cuisines - I

Heya foodies!

This is for all of you who love their chow. (The rest may please excuse; this post may not reflect too well on your weighing scale and peace of mind!)

We spoke about
colorful cocktails last time. And considering one can’t go on on liquids alone, here’s the solid stuff!

But hey, before I start telling you about the types and ranks of various cuisines, leme make sure the meaning and pronunciation are in place. (Sorry, can’t let go of my
English training fixation.)

Wiki tells me that “cuisine” is a French term (earlier derived from the Latin coquere = "to cook") is a “specific set of cooking traditions and practices, often associated with a specific culture”. Dictionary.com defines it as “cooking; a characteristic manner or style of preparing food”. (Interested in translations? It’s cocina in Spanish, and die Kochkunst in German.)

I cringe when I hear people trying to use the word to create an impression, but fall flat on their faces because they pronounce it incorrectly. It’s “kwi-zeen” (with the emphasis on the second syllable). Bear in mind. Please.

The internet has a mass of information on world cuisines in general and individual cuisines in particular.
This page on wiki gives an exhaustive list of fare around the globe, and I am not going to waste energy in duplicating the entire effort. (I was always a “smart” worker, hard-work is so passé.)
You may want to check
this page by Dave Emery where he rates the different gastronomical delights and also has attractive snaps put up for you to drool over. His top 10 are French, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Mexican, Japanese, Spanish, Greek, and Lebanese. Another person who calls himself “travel authority” Mr. Howard Hillman has given his list that is more or less similar, with Chinese at number one, Japanese and Spanish superior to Thai, and Moroccan, Turkish and Indonesian instead of Mexican, Greek and Lebanese.

Australia and America don’t figure in Hillman’s list of tastiest food-makers. Yet, junk food (=American fare) is a big hit in India. Be it burgers or fries at McDonalds or their lovely pies and salads.

Talking about salads, my boss is on a diet. She was sharing with me how her doc has suggested she eat no chapati (=roti, also called Indian bread - hate calling it that!) and rice, in addition to following a strict regimen of egg whites-salads-vegetables. (
I shudder at the thought! Not only do I love rice, but a life without sweets and confectionaries is for me a life gone waste... Poor diabetics! I feel sorry for you... Oh, for you too, boss.)
So, what are your favorite kwizeens? Mine is... (uh uh... guess I should say ARE... I love food!) The list incorporates Indian (that’s Punjabi, South Indian, Maharashtrian, Marwari... and of course, the Indian Chinese), Italian and Thai. I’m not too fond of Mexican or Greek, but they’re OK for a change. I’m not too sure what French, Spanish, German cookery constitute, but I’m willing to try them all. As I always say, “you should try everything in life once – except drugs”.
(To tell you the truth, Japanese dishes scare me, but I’ve heard their sushi is worth dying for!)
Will share my favorite foodstuffs tomorrow! Hold your breaths, and tighten your belts!!

And while I’m still on the topic, let me tell you that the breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As the saying goes, you should “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, sup like a pauper”. This means that to promote good health, one should begin the day with a large breakfast and consume progressively smaller amounts with each successive meal.
(Unfortunately, I do not have breakfast at all coz I can’t spare effort and time to eat in the morning. But you guys must listen! It’s for your own good!)
And keep away those junkies. Feast on greens, fruits and proteins. I don’t know much about the Atkins and other diet plans, but I sure know that exercise and regular meals help!

(Muh mein raam, bagal mein chhuri – I myself sit and punch at the computer all day without exercising one penny, and I gorge on sweets and snacks. And it IS taking a toll on my abdomen; miss my modeling days when I could eat all I want and still carry off a flat stomach that was complimented as Salma Hayek abs!!)

Life...

Happy munching, anyway!
Princess

Saturday, January 10

Shaadi NAHI Barbaadi

Namaskaram!

How are you lovely people doing? All well I hope...

Do you guys remember my Shaadi Ka Ladoo post that appeared in a matrimonial website? And do you also remember the sequel Mad(e) For Each Other?

Good. Now with the context and reference firmly in place, I can embark upon my topic for the day.

Ta-daaaa!

(Sound effects)

I told you one of my M.A. pals tied the knot in December. That I couldn’t attend it coz of work is another issue, but the fact is that she is looking rosier than ever! Her radiance has multiplied ten-fold after her wedding, and she looked adorable wearing green bangles and sindoor when I met her at the convocation. She couldn’t stop gushing about her superb spouse and fantastic family, and we watched as she spoke with bated breath about how her caring hubby conducted the rituals of gruh-pravesh at their Pune residence, and how he started crying coz wifey-dear was sobbing at her bidaai! Now ain’t that adorable...

A similar sparkle I behold everyday on the innernet when a schoolmate uploads snaps of herself and her husband exploring new and exotic places or simply celebrating the joy of togetherness. It’s amazing to see these couples madly in love with each other, and enjoying being with each other. It’s as if they were born for this and nothing else! Touch wood...

And the bliss doesn’t end there. They continue to share many more thrills together, especially when they give bring to the world another very special human being. I’ve spoken about family and relationships several times before. And though I do feel a little awkward when I realize that my peers are becoming parents, I still fail to contain my excitement when I see a college-buddy doing crazy antics as she displays her cuddly son to the community!

So, you see, marriage isn’t that bad. Of course, people love proclaiming how they were duped and coerced into matrimony, and how life was so much better as a bachelor. But that does not stop others from following the beaten track, and that itself speaks volumes about how wonderful this act is... Provided you find the right partner... And by "right", I don’t mean half a million parameters. Just two are enough – tolerance and understanding. (Or are they just one in totality? Food for thought.)

Arranged or love, marriages are beautiful. (I don’t mean live-ins aren’t, but there’s a certain sanctity and approval that supports the ceremonies.) Most folks from our previous generations went the tried and tested way that included the family’s sanction in selecting a mate. It’s remarkable how these couples have lasted, and nurtured charming families. Adjustment is the name of the miracle, and not giving up in difficult times is the mantra that sustained them thus far. Really admirable, fellas! Give yourself a pat!

Then, there was a spate of weddings that were either based entirely on love, or tagged love-cum-arranged. (Remember I told ya students go abroad for completing their education? I know at least 10 individuals who found their life-mate this way. A free gift with their degrees! Smirk smirk...)

It’s good that families and community now accept such relations and feelings, rather than imposing the boundaries of caste and class. As they say, jab miya biwi raazi toh kya karega kaazi ;-)

While some relations withstood the challenges of married life, others collapsed for varied reasons. And now, the trend seems to be changing again. Youngsters enjoy their teenage and college days with friends and partners, but when asked about their wedding plans, they delegate this task to their parents. (Obviously, there’s little risk in marrying a person approved by the elders, and moreover, even if things go wrong, one can always blame the family.)
Maybe young people do not completely believe in their own choices and decisions anymore, or maybe they themselves aren’t fully convinced about their relationships and companions. It could also be that two people willing to fight the world to be together realize down the line that they cannot live together in peace and harmony all their lives. Whatever the reason, marriages can only survive if the partners grow with each other, not at the cost of each other... Coz sacrifices sound good, but do not last in the long run.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, couples need to work on stress management and communication if they are to live happily together. However, one can only manage if things are below the threshold. Opposite poles attract in physics, but in real life, you cannot attempt to bind two personalities that are poles apart.

Well, our chat could go on for ever, but leme bring you back to where we started – Marriage is doing a lot of good to people I know, and I pray your life follows a similar destiny!

Keep the faith!
Princess