Category Archives: Why we have some awesome guest bloggers

Move Over, MaSi, NaMo and RaGa, Blogwati-G Is Here!

Is it possible to forge great friendships over the blogosphere? Despite all its cattiness, oneupmanship and suspect-talent? The answer is a resounding – Yes! And one need not go any further than to observe the kinship between Vinita Bahl and me. Yes, that’s the irrepressible Blogwati-G whose delightful blog goes by the apt description of – Zindagi Mil Hi Gayi Dobara! After all, isn’t that what happened with all of us when we started blogging – a rediscovery of our own 50-shades that had perhaps been buried under several layers of the ‘regular’, the mundane and the ennui?

Writing this piece for her was a pleasure especially because I was able to communicate the following points – that she and I will forever be 3 am friends to each other (even though it remains an untested phenomenon as of yet!), that she is a p-e-r-s-o-n-a-l-i-t-y in the truest sense, that she will make a splendid First PM from the Blogging Caste (which has strangely not been declared SC/ST/OBC yet), that Sunanda, her maid, deserves a raise, and that we must respect Bhutan as our nation’s best (and perhaps the only true) friend.

But mainly because she calls me ‘Chikni Soorat’ and I kind of like that! 

And now, without further ado, here is my outrageous piece on Blogwati-G’s blog. Do click the link below if you aren’t bored already!

 

Z zings Zindagi!

 

(Image : Courtesy Google)

(Image : Courtesy Google)

Bharat’s Day (My Guest Post For Rachna Srivastava Parmar)

When Rachna, the superhumanly talented blogger behind Rachna Says – a blog that sees phenomenal footfalls – asked me to write something for her several weeks ago, I was in a fix. You see, she is a ‘responsible’ blogger, someone who talks about practical and meaningful things without muddling them in convoluted prose or hyperbole. I, on the other hand, can only be described as a muddle. Someone who can’t tell a serious tale with a straight face. So what was I to do?

This post is the genesis of that dilemma. I won’t call it a short story – it is more of a slice-of-life observation of an urban Indian middle class household and how that juxtaposes with larger morality issues facing our country today. I’m afraid it is a rather long piece, so do continue to read on at Rachna’s blog after this snippet.

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Bharat’s Day : A Slice-of-Life Of The Urban Indian

“Daaaaaad!” yelled the eleven year old Dhruv from his duodenum as if he had just witnessed the end of the world.

It was 6.20 am. For the unversed, this was a typical initiation to the raucous Joshi household.

Dad, as in, Bharat, had been awake for twenty minutes but had continued to tumble inside his sheets trying to sop up the last pitiful ounces of rest before the long day ahead. His wife Neena had leaped out of bed at first beep, with enough kinetic force to smash his sound sleep to smithereens, but he was determined not to give in that easily. Sadly, despite all his obstinate tossing and turning, it was going to be a lost cause this morning.

“Dad! Wake up!” screeched Dhruv, this time only inches from his father’s ear.

“What is it, bachchey? What is wrong?” said the father, his mental pendulum halfway between sleepy and groggy.

Continue to read on at Rachna Says…

Choco- Raspberry Delite Anyone?

Part-time Market Researcher but full-time Observer and Thinker Achala Srivatsa is back with this absolutely hysterical essay that will have you rolling on the floor like a, well, a rolling pin. If you are a foodie (and by that I mean you don’t entirely mind popping something solid in your mouth occasionally) you have got to read this! 

 

(Stolen from The Healthy Voyager website given my own lack of artistic talent))

(Stolen from The Healthy Voyager website given my own lack of artistic talent))

Practically everyone I know claims to be a foodie these days (a broad term that could mean anything from “I eat like a pig and Darshini is my  second home” to “You must try my sous vide salmon with chanterelle duxelle and a hint of wild fennel pollen” or “my rajma recipe is a closely guarded family secret”). Our home-grown NRI friends who visit for 2 weeks also call themselves foodies, which essentially means they spend 2 weeks running around to every local restaurant and immersing their being in assorted deep-fried products dipped into condiments that are off the charts on heat and ferocity. Much of those two weeks are also, not surprisingly, spent reading War and Peace in a toilet. But I digress.

India is now neck deep in cook books of an astonishing range and variety, not to mention cookery shows of every description. Do you want to make a refreshing drink to be enjoyed by the pool? Chances are someone on some channel is muddling together mint and sugar as we speak.

I discovered this the other day as I browsed at my local book store. It was truly educational and here for your benefit is a summation of the fruits of my labour.

  1. At one extreme is the new bride’s go-to guide for all things South Indian. Written by a  “Maami Rajammal” with the picture of a formidable looking woman (usually with a slight moustache) to lend authenticity. This book will tell you how to make “curds” from scratch, the recipes for 20 types of chutneys using the peel of a ridge gourd and 15 different rasams. Recipes will sternly instruct you to “ take a good amount of tamarind…” Precisely what that means is, literally, anyone’s guess.
  2. The next category I uncovered was a slew of slim paperbacks on snacks, for every occasion (Tea Time Snacks/ Pre bedtime snacks and so on). These appear to be aimed at young mothers with recipes focusing on fried thingies of various descriptions. A half-hearted attempt at amping up the health factor can be seen – “Add a cup of sprouts”. Clearly written quite hurriedly, I was charmed by one recipe that started off calling for a cup of chopped onions, later forgetting about the onions completely.
  3. Then you have a series of books that claim to offer specialized cuisines – Rajasthan, Punjab etc. Some of these seem authentic, others not so much. Call me a cynic but I look askance at “authentic” recipes that call for a cup of tomato ketchup.
  4. Cookbooks on the Woman’s Era lines – easily recognizable by the way they fiercely hang on in a limpet-like fashion to  recipes from the ‘70s – “Blancmange”, “Raspberry Delite”, “Chocolate-Pista Surprise” and so on. Bellbottoms and beehive hairdos! By the way, if you know what a blancmange is – consider yourself officially old.
  5. The ethnographic school of cookery – Where Jamie does Tuscany and works up a froth over fresh zucchini flowers, baby artichokes, dusty purple grapes exploding with sweetness blah. Do NOT read these books. Let me tell you what happens – First you identify a recipe you get all excited about – let’s say enchiladas with a chipotle sauce . Then you walk into your local supermarket and hmm, chipotle seems to be a problem. But hey, you are a creative cook, so a little improv is in order. So you shift gear – from chipotle to badgis from Central Karnataka, from fingerling potatoes to whatever’s available, from Vidalia onions to your local pyaaz and for some reason the end product tastes strangely like a dosa. Mexican food’s over-rated anyway.

 

Frustrated at every turn, stuffed to the gills with stuffed karelas drowning in sweet ketchup, I turned to our local Food Channel for inspiration. Here’s what I found.

  • Sanjeev Kapoor’s wooden, sickly smile every hour on the hour –  either fusing cuisines  feverishly – here cooking biryani with truffle shavings, there grating paneer on to pasta or cooking “healthy” sweets with ghee and sugar substitutes.  Is it just me or have others realized that  ever since he’s shaven that moustache off, he has this – “I could give you this recipe but then I’d have to kill you – or myself” look on his face. A bit tough for a TV chef that.
  • Wanna be Sanjeev Kapoors – with the same puppet like movements and and stilted manner of speaking always ending with “ab aapki mint coriander hing mojito lassi tayar hai
  • Indian women with strangely accented English teaching (presumably) a befuddled western audience how to make “potatoes spiced with a hint of cumin” and such like.
  • Two men checking out every dive, dhaba and Udipi hotel in search of…mediocre food? Almost every time I watch this, the two have a conversation somewhat like this…“This idli is…round and white” or “the fried dal tastes pretty much like dal that’s been fried”. My point is – so why is a 30 minute program based on a restaurant that seems to be a non-event?

 

So anyway, I have decided to have another crack at those enchiladas. I hear my local supermarket’s just started stocking chipotles.

 

A Guest Post For A Super Blogger!

Strangely one morning, as she was probably nursing a particularly bad hangover, Purba Ray of A-Musing fame, figured that my writing was worthy of her blog. Her blog – which is among the funniest and most insightful ones out there! So when she asked me to do a guest post for her, I didn’t even stop to ask if she was feeling ok – I just said YES!

Here is the piece. Do read, comment, share – you know, the usual stuff that friends do!

 

The National Treasure

Beware : Angry Lady Ahead!

Beware : Angry Lady Ahead!

“This is a disaster!” yells Sonia Gandhi as she facepalms her forehead uncharacteristically. “How could we even let this happen?”

The emergency (yet hidden from the media’s prying eyes) political meeting is taking place at the lawns of Sheila Dixit’s official residence in Delhi. The bright winter sun is warm but doing little to dispel the frosty ambience of the congregation. The news that had been received by the PMO just that morning has pulled the rug from under the political establishment’s feet. “It can’t be true!”, “The media must not find out about this!” and “What will Maya and Mulayam do now?” are the universal exclamations in the corridors of power. (As is “How come Urvashi won Bigg Boss?” but that is off-topic for this post.) Mamata Banerji and Narendra Modi have already rushed to Delhi as they are prone to do under such circumstances. So have most other leaders. All except Jayalalitha, who decides to stay put in Chennai under the perceived threat of a snub.
As the perfectly attired waiters with starched pagdees discreetly serve cream of mushroom soup and assorted nibblers, the political class furiously debates ways to help abate the latest crisis – the imminent loss of a national treasure to an adversarial nation.

 

Continue reading at A-Musing

 

Things That Happened When I Wasn’t Looking

Part time Historian and Thinker Achala Srivasta’s new blog post where she is ruminating (well, ruing, mainly) on the good old days. Feel free to breastbeat about the changing times in the Comments section below.  

 

good-old-daysEver since I moved back to Bangalore, I’ve been noticing that things are not quite the way they were.

So I decided to do a list of things that apparently have vanished or changed when I was looking the other way.

  1. First things first. What happened to my old Five Star bar??    You know, that fatly unctuous, gooey, caramelly, nougat thing that took at least 30 minutes to eat? You had strings of caramel sticking to your hair by the time you finished eating it – and then you had to skip lunch – for 2 days.  It was my treat, my reward for getting an A, my consolation for getting a C. It was  the one thing that made up for random people pinching my cheek when I was 10 years old  and asking  “Do you know who I am? ” I bought a Five Star for old times sake the other day and was horrified. I felt like the Godfather pointing to Sonny and saying “See what they have done to my chocolate bar” Flat, rock hard and gritty and with as much chocolate flavour as a potato. Great ads, lousy chocolate -not a great combo.
  2. And speaking of missing chocolate – where is my Parry’s Caramel with the green and gold crinkly wrapper? Alpen Liebe is a poor substitute for that rock hard toffee of brown, buttery sweetness.  And the decisions one had to make – let it melt quietly at the back of your mouth, crunch into it and risk losing your fillings??? What to do, what to do?
  3. Also missing in action is the phrase –“I look forward to… seeing you, dining with you, working with you, bitching about x with you etc.”The new phrase seems to be a chirpy and to my mind somewhat puzzling “Look forward” – a tantalizingly incomplete phrase that, to my mind, raises two points:
  • Who exactly is looking forward to doing what with whom if you get my convoluted point? Am I being asked to look forward? Are they looking forward to… what? Cortez -like – gazing on the horizon?
  • And not to be a party pooper – but of course you’d look forward -why on earth would you be chirpy about looking backward?

And finally, just when did the foot path/pavement/sidewalk disappear? I occasionally walk down to my local mini-market and have to do a tightrope act on this narrow strip by the side of the road, clutching the occasional tree or electric pole that suddenly looms in my path, screaming when a gigantic bus screeches by with about an inch to spare. On the rare occasions that there is a clear strip and I walk admiring the cerulean blue sky and the way the jacaranda looks framed against aforementioned sky – BAM I’ve tripped on the most uneven footpath ever and fallen face first into a cow pat.    I do hear cow dung has very good antiseptic properties though. Which I am sure will serve me well as I leap nimbly over sleeping dogs (nice one there eh?) and tightly wound coils of rusty metallic wire and risk dog bites and tetanus to buy a couple of carrots.

So clearly, I’ve been living under a rock but all I say is – bring back my old Five Star.