Category Archives: Why we have some awesome guest bloggers

Why Raj Kapoor Must Have Hated Zeenat Aman….or Satyam Shivam Sundaram

So, what happens when friend, guest blogger and fellow Bollywood aficionado Achala Srivatsa traipses into her living room, pours herself some red wine, kicks off her high heels and settles herself down on her comfy couch that’s pointed towards the telly? Well, read on to find out her story…

Film poster stolen from some website or the other

Film poster stolen from some website or the other

While surfing channels on a lazy Saturday afternoon, I suddenly happened upon SSS which, as anyone born before 1980 knows, was Raj Kapoor’s Magnum Soft Pornus – where an excruciatingly coy Zeenat Aman manages to produce one of her most hilarious roles yet.

In the interest of providing life improving information to my readers (mainly friends, relatives and acquaintances who feel duty-bound to read my stuff) I decided to watch this absolute gem of a movie, or rather skim through it in 10 minutes. Here are a few highlights that prove my point – If I have missed out any important detail, feel free to correct me.

First off, here is a woman whose face has been horribly disfigured (HD) by a fire or some such and has, therefore, taken a cunning vow to conceal half her face BUT reveal all her body so that everyone’s attention is drawn to the two bits of loin cloth and the laughably itsy bitsy blouse cut to her navel. By the way, her name is Rupa (Get it? Get it?) As an aside, let me say – ZA, the jasmine in the hair… what were you thinking?

Anyway, while flitting lightly along the road, she sees our Fair Hero (FH) and promptly jumps into a waterfall with him – ostensibly to scrub his back…no, really… to scrub his back. They quickly get entangled in the bushes as Lata Mangeshkar sings some of the worst songs of her career (all the while closely covering her face with her ghunghat –important point that).

Needless to say no one realizes that ZA is HD until fairly late into the movie. By everyone, of course, we refer to Shashi Kapoor, whose brain has evidently been so addled by her fashion statement that he cannot read between the lines of deeply inscrutable statements like “If I were horribly disfigured would you still love me?” Who’d guess she was dropping a hint as heavy as a brick? Evidently everyone except our FH.

Interwoven are his and her fantasies where ZA changes her regulation loin cloth for a pearl embedded one and then tries out a Bharat Natyam style dance which will go down in Bollywood history as one of the most awkward dances ever seen on screen. The song will be remembered, or forgotten as the case may be, as one of Mukesh’s worst ever – the poor man’s loyalty to RK being the only reason he took this up no doubt. I have seldom watched anyone embarrass themselves so thoroughly and elaborately –although the endless scenes where ZA weeps copiously wrapped around an embarrassed Shiv Ling come close.

Meanwhile the wedding takes place and the groom discovers the grand deception. Clearly hoary sayings about beauty being skin deep / beauty is as beauty does etc. were not drilled into his head at his mother’s knee, and he goes into an apoplectic rant – “What? Her? But … she’s horribly disfigured!! But she’s got this thing on her face!” She responds with ”Please don’t send me back, my Baba will die!” Evidently, Baba’s house rules on dressing are pretty relaxed (nothing over half a meter) but married beti cannot return to her father’s house.

But wait, there’s more – Our FH thinks there’s been a switch! That the lady with the scar is a stand-in for the real beauteous ZA. Now once ZA figures out that the love of her life has the IQ of a pebble, her plan falls into place. She meets him secretly as the Rupa of his fevered imagination – with a coy ghunghat drawn across half her face, while she holds it in place with her teeth. You’d think FH would demand to see her face, but nooo. Long story short – pregnancy, disbelief, drama, reconciliation.

Now if these highlights don’t make you want to DVR this movie and watch it every week, I don’t know what will. But to get back to my original point – why did Raj Kapoor hate Zeenat Aman?

 

 

So You Want To Be A MasterChef : Part Deux

Some time ago, Superfoodie Achala Srivatsa had shared some mouthwatering tips for ordinary morsels mortals like you and me craving to make it big in the world of Reality TV Cooking Shows. That post had stood out on this boring blog because of its delicious wit and wholesome advice, much the same way a three-tiered cake stands out at a bland wedding. So, it was quite expected that her pointers were going to attract attention, stir the pot, so to speak. It did. The most important consequence being this companion piece, written by Achala’s and my dear friend Adam Murphy, that garnishes the original post (which can be found here) with some new ingredients just as essential for success in the chef-eat-chef world of competitive cooking.

Kindly don’t forget to thank Adam for this recipe in the Comments section below. He already says ‘You’re Welcome!’

Over to Adam. Bon Apetit! 

 

The winner of MasterChef Namibia. She described her winning recipe as a delectable melange of Champignon Bordelaise and Pea Soup.

The winner of MasterChef Namibia. She described her winning recipe as a delectable melange of Champignon Bordelaise and Pea Soup.

Inspired by Achala’s wonderful piece about MasterChef, I humbly offer up a complementary “Glossary for Success” for those who may now be contemplating lining up for the next MasterChef auditions.

These are the secret “safety words” of the culinary fraternity that can slide even the most amateur of home cooks past the judges, time and time and again. Sprinkled lightly, these words are your express pass deep into the final rounds of televised competition.

  1. “Deconstructed” (adj.): use liberally to cover up the fact that you either: a) didn’t have time; or, b) didn’t collect the right ingredients; or, c) burnt a critical component required, to put the dish together properly.
  2. “-inspired” (suffix): code word for “I didn’t care much for your actual challenge, so I made what I wanted to from the start, but included one ingredient of the thing you actually wanted me to make”. Example: “Please enjoy my key-lime-pie-inspired crab cakes.”
  3. “Riff” (noun): charming colloquial term used to pass off the thing that you thought you were asked to make, until you saw what everyone else was doing and realised that you had no idea from the start. Example: “This is my ‘riff’ on Croque Madame, replacing the ham with crocodile meat, and serving it as more of a salad than a toasted sandwich. I call it ‘Croc Madame’. Enjoy.”
  4. “Elevated” (verb, p.t.): pretentiously elaborate way to say you added something that has no place ever being in that dish. Best used when specifying the unnecessarily-exotic origin of said ingredient. Example: “I elevated my chicken risotto by shaving a few slivers of pickled Bolivian cucumber on top. Please enjoy.”
  5. “Re-fire” (verb): a far less embarrassing – and decidedly more “chefy” way to say, “I #%&@ed up and am starting over”. Example: “I’m re-firing that plain white toast right now, Chef.”
  6. “Ensalata de…” (prefix): use with straight face instead of just admitting that the best thing you could think of was another bloody boring salad. Example: “This is my Ensalata de Salmon. Enjoy.”
  7. “Classic” (adj.): use to cover up the fact that you haven’t a drop of creative talent in your body, so just made the recipe exactly as expected. See also, “traditional”.
  8. “Rustic” (adj.): sloppily put together or unprofessional looking – perhaps still served in the cooking vessel because you ran out of time for plating. See also, “down-to-earth”.
  9. “Accompanied by…” (adj.): subtle note to the judges that your actual dish is pretty gosh-darn horrible so they should focus on the thing you put beside it. Best used if the accompanying item is an alcoholic beverage of some type. The worse your main dish tastes, the boozier the cocktail should be.

With this new vocabulary and Achala’s power tips, you’re well on your way to being the next MasterChef. Culinary talent optional.

Shopping Misadventures or “What was I thinking?”

shopaholic1Less often than a blue moon, my compulsive globe-trotter (and now, entrepreneur, too) friend Achala Srivatsa decides to kick off her shoes, snuggle comfortably in her large First Class seat, and pull out her featherlite Apple Mac Air to write a post for me on a Singapore – Bangalore flight, thus preventing my blog from tumbling into total insignificance. And THIS is what she comes up with.  

 

 

Every now and then, I will read these articles on “How to Simplify your Life”, “The Bare Essentials”, “10 classics every woman over 20/30/40 should have” and have an epiphany. Yes, I say, if I throw out all the non-essentials in my wardrobe, I shall achieve a Zen-like sensibility, that elegant, minimalist classic Audrey Hepburn look that will make other women shrivel up with envy and men gape in awe. I shall have only classics in my wardrobe. Tomorrow is a new day, Operation Wardrobe shall start tomorrow.

This is usually a very, very bad idea because as I sift through my clothes, I am confronted by the Ghosts of Sartorial Misadventures past and present, which instantly drives me into a self-loathing spin. Some of the horrors I uncover display a level of wishful thinking, which borders on the delusional.

  • Delusions of Glamour – That Ao Dai bought in Ho Chi Minh is a prime example. After two days of Vietnam, I was seized with a need to shop. Every woman around me had on these flowing Ao Dais that were stunningly elegant and instantly this voice in my brain went “Buy this and look slender and stunning. People will gasp as you pass them… go now…” I rush into one of those charming little stores with bales of lovely silks that are designed to turn your mind into bubble gum. Yes, yes this brilliant green is so me… maybe this subtle shade of blood clot red… I remember forking over the doubloons and rushing out clutching my Ao Dai. It was only after I returned to Jakarta and I stood staring at a long flowing garment in bilious green, that I wondered what had possessed me to buy something that only a colour blind Vietnamese woman with a 14 inch waist and a 20 inch chest should be wearing.
  • The Slimness Delusion – I will also invariably find one tiny little black pencil skirt, one pair of stylish cropped pants that are 2 sizes too small both bought on an entirely unfounded conviction that I can drop 2 dress sizes over the next 2 months. In my defence, there was a time 20 years and 20 pounds ago when I used to live in these things but well, here we are. These will inevitably be reluctantly handed over to slimmer friends 4 disillusioned years later.
  • The Trend Train Wreck– Every now and then I will also find one truly bizarre item and, after racking my brains will identify it. Ah, a reminder of the scrunchy phenomenon of 1990, or the acid wash jeans of the ‘90s (horrors!)
  • The Cuteness Craze – –which happens when women in precious pale pinks and corals and baby blues surround me. Instantly my mind flashes the message “Go Pink and look adorable”. Shortly after, one putrid pink top bites the dust – or in my case cleans the dust off my bookshelves.
  • Delusions of Tradition – Half a dozen ridiculously heavy kanjeevaram silks (bought during my pious swadeshi phase) that I now almost never wear. Full Disclosure – just did this 2 months ago, but seriously how could I pass up a black and white kanjeevaram – umm that I most likely will probably never wear.
  • A corollary to this is the true Swadeshi phase of the early ‘90s when my friends and I went on a Fab India/Gurjari kick. Shapeless kurtas that blanched at the sight of water and mirror work that blinded everyone.
  • The Crisp White Pretension – Every now and then I will buy a super expensive white shirt in the fond hope that it will confer upon me a cool sophistication – a feeling that dissipates like dew in the sunlight as I stare at the 3 turmeric stains on it. Damn you Rasam!!

The Footwear Foolishness merits a whole new page:

  • My Sturdy Shoe Phase – Black and brown Batas and Scholls of hideousness unparalleled, the salesmen swore these would be the most comfortable shoes I’d ever wear. In my case, I’d ever buy and not wear.
  • My Delicate Shoe Phase – As a size 7, really what was I thinking? The things broke before I could leave the shop.
  • The Sling Back Syndrome – 4 pairs of black sling backs and 5 pairs in assorted colours including – I am not making this up – lime green.
  • The Mystery Shoe – Every now and then I will come across a pair that looks perfectly lovely and go “Oh I wonder why I’ve never worn these lovely peep toes? Let me wear them today!!” 2 hours later, I stare at my bleeding foot which the upper part of the shoe has viciously cut into, thinking – “Yup, that’s why I don’t wear them.”
  • The Bling Bungling or the Metallic Craze – Three pairs of blinding metallic slippers and sandals all blinged up and nowhere to go.

I could go on but you get the picture. I blame most of my hasty decisions partly on all those size zero sales personnel who stand outside the fitting room giggling and going “ Maybe an XXL?” In sheer mortification, I walk out with as much dignity as I can and say, “No thanks I’ll take the Medium,” and walk out wondering whom I can gift the top to.

Meanwhile, let me get on with my wardrobe cleanse. I still need to figure out what I’m going to do with all my low cut sequined tops (The Diva Delusion of AD 2000).

 

Deride Without Prejudice

In the past year, I have come across but just a handful of blogs that are aimed at readers with discerning taste. Among the best of those is Subho’s Jejune Diet (SJD, for short), managed by the extremely well-versed Subhorup Dasgupta. His choice of topic is always compelling, his writing style articulate, and his narration captivating. So imagine my delight (and surprise) when he asked me to do a guest post for him, despite the potty mouth that I am!

I hope that with this piece, I have done justice to what his cultivated audience expects to read at SJD. I must say, I had a blast writing this post. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. Thanks, Subho, for the opportunity!

 

janeaustentea

Hundreds of years ago, a plain Jane English writer called Jane Austin wrote an epochal novel called ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Quite miraculous that she would achieve that, for, the woman had heard nothing of Blogging in her day. Despite that, how she procured the clarity of thought, the grasp of storytelling technique, and dry wit and humour, attributes that all Indian Bloggers are naturally blessed with the first time they hold aloft a pen, we shall never know.

Anyway, my research has shown that Miss Austin may not have found it that facile to produce her seminal work, as proven by the multiple versions of Chapter 47 that she wrote longhand, one of which I have reproduced here. Moreover, I found it quite interesting that this particular trashed piece alludes to a certain beverage that Subhorup has great affinity to – making this a remarkably serendipitous find! Read on to find out more.

I wish Miss Austin had retained this passage in the book instead of the inferior one that she ultimately went with. Had her writing been of the Blogosphere born, that lapse of judgment would have never occurred.

Ah, well.

 

Read the rest at Subho’s blog using the link below. And don’t miss the glorious introduction he has given me at the top. Frankly, no kinder words have ever been expressed! I shall cherish them for a lifetime.

 

http://subhorup.blogspot.in/2013/04/rickie-khosla-jane-austen-blend-of-tea.html

 

 

A Fond Farewell

Over the past year, I have made several friends in the blogging community. One of the nicest and friendliest persons I have come across is Akanksha Dureja. Several weeks ago, she asked me to write a guest post for her blog – the charming Direct Dil Se. I had been mulling over the right topic to choose for her, which was a trifle difficult task given the eclectic choice of subjects that she chooses to write on.

And then, I heard the happy-sad news – Akanksha was moving to the UK for work for a year, most likely longer. The news made me, as I am sure all her other friends too, happy because it is always nice to see your friends flourish in their careers. But sad, too, because it is never easy to part with them. My guest post for her is my way to say Au Revoir, Akanksha – until we meet again.

I know what most of you are doing now – planning your next holiday in the UK, right? After all, no more worries of booking expensive hotel accommodation or paying through your nose for pricey meals! (Oh, did I mention that Akanksha is a great cook?)

 

Do read my post on Direct Dil Se. My first attempt at writing a modern day fairy tale. With the hope that the reality for Akanksha will be even more joyous and eventful than the one I have described!

Akanksha Dureja : The London Diaries

 

See you later, Alligator!

See you later, Alligator!