Monday, December 26, 2005

Meme and myself

Vinod passed this meme(sounds a very egoistic word) to me a long long time ago. Finally got down to filling it out only now.

  1. You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451! Which book do you want to be?

    Wodehouse’s Blandings castle series. I know this isn’t a book but the Blandings castle collection with hare brained Lord Emsworth, irrepressible Galahad, forbidding aunts, Efficient Baxter, servile Beach and of course The Empress , provides an amazing milieu for Wodehouse to weave his magic in a typical English county castle.

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?


3. The last book you bought is:

’No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency ‘ by Alexander McCall Smith… good buy it turned out to be.

4. The last book you read:

Fahrenheit 451. Very nice book.

5. What are you currently reading?

Following the Equator by Mark Twain , a travelogue. Pretty funny. He’s left Australia and nearing India right now

6. Five books you would take to a deserted island:
Wodehouse’s Best ---- Cause Wodehouse is Wodehouse.

The Collected Works of Rudyard Kipling ----- Captains Courageous is a superbly written story (of Boy V/s the elements and triumphing against the odds), Stalky and Co. is a brilliant book written in boarding school ‘ The Sun never sets in the British Empire’ England (without the saccharine sweetness of Enid Blyton), The tales of the Raj transports one to a different timezone altogether, Kim and Mowgli, well enough have been written without me having to eulogise further.

Captain Blood --- Rafael Sabatini’s swash buckling tale set in the buccaneering age with the wronged Peter Blood outwitting the Spanish, among others, brilliantly described with a panache and well tied plot that seem to be his hallmarks.

Hindu Sunday Magazine Crosswords --- Dunno who sets these crosswords but Sundays don’t seem like Sundays without spending an hour or two on trying to solve atleast half the crossword

And the final one --- throw of the dice between Tintin and Asterix). Probably will be Tintin cause already have the collection.

7 Who are you going to pass this stick to and why?

Nobody because its been ages and anyone who reads anything more than the paper in which sundal is sold in has probably been tagged ages ago.

Monday, December 19, 2005

My Experiments with cooking

Deep-fried, cooked golden brown and crackling and crunchy when popped into the mouth, the taste of the cauliflower perfectly blending into the outer shell of the flour that enveloped it… I could wax eloquent all day about well-cooked Gobi Manchurian. As an avid reader of food reviews, I have learnt that food in most places is really amazingly cooked and the photograph alongside the article convinces the reader on the long hours that must have gone into the presentation (These reviewers must be the luckiest people on earth ---having their cake and not paying for it too) Read on if you want to know how food is not to be cooked and how all people aren’t born with a thumb itching to check the salt and temperature of each dish.

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon when my mother had finally procured the requisite ingredients to make Gobi Manchurian, namely - a big gobi( for all those still in the dark- gobi means cauliflower). Problems started when I started cutting it. Not being the most skilful of people with the knife, I was getting along all fine in my own way cutting in various crisscross lines when I saw my first worm. Light green, it stood out starkly against the brown cutting board and watching it move inside the food that was soon to be consumed was a slightly disorienting experience. Its whole body convulsed while moving millimeter by millimeter with the tail moving first then the middle then the head (or atleast what I imagined was the tail, middle and head). After sending it to the extreme corner of the table, I finished my already eccentric cutting in a even more haphazard fashion, rather afraid to find any more creepy crawlies. Then I heated the diced pieces to evilly do to death other light green worms that may be lurking in my gobi.

Then the fun began. One thing that I’ve learnt after many amateurish attempts at cooking dosas and idlis is that flour and I don’t go together. Ours is a soured love affair and somehow the flour tends to win the battle hands down. It starts off by dripping all over my dress, then the coats the stove in a thick layer of white, and finishes off by leaving a pattern all over the kitchen, even prompting allusions that I was celebrating an early janmashtami. Today was no different other than the fact that the red flour paste led to the wall resembling a typical railway station festooned with betel juice. My father’s laconic comments at the end of today’s episode “Looks like a battle zone!”

After heating the oil, I started dipping the cauliflower in the flour and then into the oil. Putting it into the oil is a another great source of trepidation for both me and my mother (who checks up every ten minutes or so to ensure that I’ve done nothing worse than spreading the aforementioned flour in the aforementioned mysterious ways on the aforementioned wall) The oil hisses and crackles every time an intruder in the form of flour coated gobi enters its territory and habitually spits its venom on me. Dodging these high temperature oil drops is a big adventure (and invariably the oil manages to hit me a few times).

The first batch took a long time and afforded me plenty of time to keep checking on the match. With an occasional stirring and watching it closely, like a mother indulgently watching its offspring, I ensured that all the gobi did was lie contented in the oil and turn the golden brown needed for me to remove it out. Mistiming things a little, I found that some had turned a light black when they were taken out but sampling the first batch, I detected to my delight, other than a dash of salt and perhaps a slight spiciness missing, it was quite good. The second batch turned out faster and while it was cooking, I was with one hand turning the pieces over with a ladle and with the other helping myself to the first batch. It was with a slight gasp of horror that I realized that I had cleaned out the first batch while waiting for the second to cook. Determined not to have any more in the midst of cooking, I took out the second and then put in the third (The third was tiny pieces of cauliflower that had disintegrated during my crisscross cutting). Having slightly lost patience and feeling tired of standing in front of the stove for so long, this batch was taken out rather quickly. Still quite decent it was.

My mother pronounced the dish fit for eating and that it was not bad taken with sauce. HOORAY!
Tips that I have learnt during my past forays in cooking ----
i) If one likes broccoli, then fried broccoli is also quite good( though not in the same scale as cauliflower).
ii) Keeping cold water/ice is very handy for treatment from splattered oil drops.
iii) Cleaning up the mess is a really tedious process.
iv) Waiting for the gobi to cook allows one ample time to ponder on various mysteries of life like how the gobi got its name. When God was naming all vegetables, he told the humble cauliflower to just leave and exist and thus the name stuck.(He said ‘Go !Be !’)

So go ahead. Happy cooking!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

15 seconds of fame

It was a dark and stormy day. Somewhere a dog barked. A maid screamed. (Ok nothing of that sort actually happened. Just felt like continuing the famous starting line sequence) It was a grayish day and I was in Besant Nagar beach leisurely ambling along as usual with a few friends. The waves were grayish colour, much much darker than the cloudy sky, and broke to form milky white pools, with the sea slightly choppier than normal. As we were walking down the promenade, a guy with a mike, who asked me if I wanted to comment on Sachin’s 35th century, suddenly accosted me. Not having been home all day my first reaction was “Hooray! He scored it today?” To which he replied with a curt “Yes! Please give us your comments on that. I’m from channel ----------.”

Not unwilling to have my say on Sachin, I instantly agreed and within no time a crowd had formed around the camera, all eager to pour out their views on the Great Man. Turning to the camera, he started speaking in Hindi and told the viewers there that he was getting the reactions from Chennai about this momentous effort. He then smiled at me and asking me to introduce myself and give my views on this. Putting gas I said “amazing effort, wish he had done it here blah blah “ Then he asked my friends these questions too (including a guy who didn’t watch cricket at all)

Interviews with a kid followed.
I ( Interviewer) : So what do you think about Sachin’s 35th century?
K(Kid) : (After long pause) Amazing
K: (Even longer pause, K clearly uncomfortable and fumbling for words doesn’t answer but stares in a sheepish manner at the tv)
(Father prompts from behind to no avail)
I: (Trying to get K to say something changes tack) So what do you feel about Sachin’s batting)
K: (Smiles a little because it’s just remembered another adjective) Fantastic
I discontinues and goes to father
Scenario repeated for another kid among the group

At the end, he concluded “While viewers from Chennai are clearly happy that Sachin achieved this effort, they are disappointed they missed out on it last week when the match was rained out”
Then thanking us, he left and the curious crowd immediately dispersed.

Is this really news? Is there really a market for all this? Do people actually watch this and think “oh Chennai fellows are so unlucky.” Just because they have to fill in a day with 24 hours of distance run, do they have to telecast all these obviously contrived statements. While I’m happy (overjoyed rather) at his scoring ton number 35, how does it make a difference what I think? Whether I’m happy or not, I’m not gonna ruin a perfect sound byte and say “No, I don’t watch cricket, I think it’s a game of 22 flannelled fools. I prefer buzkashi and pelota vasca. And pray tell who is this Sachin?”

Since unfortunately I couldn’t tune that channel, I didn’t watch the fifteen second interview where 6 arbit people (+ 2 kids) helped form the channel’s opinion of Chennai’s reaction to the event.

What would news be like without 24 hour news channels?