Sunday, August 13, 2017

My finest takeaway from Baahubali Part 1.

The two Prince brothers are set off to fight their biggest, strongest adversary yet, in a do or die battle. It is also to prove one's prowess over the other.

After the religious ceremony conducted by the Royal Priest, the two Princes are to perform another ritual.

Bhallal Dev goes ahead and sacrifices the giant Buffalo by cutting the head in one, strong, powerful chop. His father, the priest and a few other Royal men hail him and his act of power.

Then comes the turn of Amarendra Baahubali. He is handed over the chopper but shows hesitation. The aide steps up ominously to finish off the act of sacrificing the animal as an auspicious ritual to mark the beginning of the royal battle and as "Pay in" to the Goddess Kali to get appeased and bless them with the victory.

Baahubali refuses to conduct the ritualistic sacrifice. Katappa, his loyal aide, inches closer and urges him to perform the sacrifice; both to follow the age-old ritual and to win the respect of his people.

Here's what Baahubali says and does -

He tells all the people gathered there - "There is no need to sacrifice a poor, helpless animal. I have blood raging in my veins - more warm and ready - to be offered to the Mother Goddess. She would be more pleased with that."

And then, he makes a sharp cut on his hand and in a symbolic fashion, his blood gets splashed on the Goddess's forehead as the formal Tika!

Baahubali gains on several scores with this - he gains the adulation of the Queen Mother and the fearless Katappa, he gains more respect (and the real kind that is not attached to fear of a person) from all his country people, and most of all he gains on good Karma by saving another life and showing utmost compassion and wise thinking in the face of archaic and cruel rituals.

What a fabulous lesson and something that all of us should abide by and never forget.

My huge compliments to the Writer of the film and to S. S. Rajamouli!

Picture courtesy - Google Images

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The rot, indeed, begins at home!

Why do villainous men behave so repugnantly with women and without any compunction?

Because they have been conditioned at home in such a way. 

They see their fathers behave similarly. They see the menfolk being extremely patriarchal and riding roughshod over the females in their clan.

Worst of all and extremely disturbingly, the mothers have a big role to play in rearing such monsters; not just letting them get away with it all but in most cases encouraging such behaviour as a mark of manhood.

A Facebook friend (with the background of incessant crime against women in India - from minor to colossally bad) says that women should be taught to cuss in local bad words and to retort when hit like this.

I fully concur with her opinion.

Abusing (both in the local language and the one you are comfortable in) lets out the frustration, it helps level up eyeball to eyeball with the offender telling him off and his bullying ways and in a contorted sort of way, it brings in a sense of liberation.

Perhaps, payback in the same coin is what is required for such men.

Once on a bus in Doon, coming back home from College, I had a dirty old man in a dirty kurta-pajama mess around with me as he stood behind me for some part of the journey. 

We were packed like sardines in the bus so one could not easily extricate oneself from the situation. 

So, the more the old man tried to press against me, the more I paid him back in his coin - I shoved my bag sharply into his crotch, I elbowed him back in a strong thrust time and again (and once to my utter satisfaction I heard him wail) and stepped on his toes heavily with my shoes.

This way I had ensured retribution and felt far less ravaged.

Only if Indian men learn to show respect to women!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

In India - We are like this only!

The picture above of a beautiful part of Copenhagen is taken by my Facebook Friend JD Andrews.

By all counts, it is a breathtakingly lovely shot. And the subject has been done full justice to.

We all will be cooing and cawing at the shot, marvelling at the beauty of the location, its cleanliness and overall aesthetics.

Back home in India, we will continue to do all the following and then blame the Government for not picking after us and for letting India be a dirty country -

1. We will continue to pollute Ganga and all our other rivers.

2. We will not ever assume responsibility in keeping even areas around our houses clean.

3. We will spit and piss on trees and walls.

4. We will roll down the windows of our sedans and throw empty bottles and packets, straight on to the road.

5. We will not pick up our own garbage and will allow the common garbage areas to swell and breed by adding our filth to it.

6. If we are getting the renovation work done to our houses, we will have nothing planned out to make sure the debris is instantly taken away and that we cause as little nuisance to others as possible.

7. We will choke the common drains with our misdoings and then curse the Government because it failed to clean our mess before, during, after monsoons.

8. We will be virtual tree huggers but care fuck-all for the environment when our own convenience is at stake.

9. We will just look within our four walls and never plan to beautify and upkeep the surrounding areas.

10. And if somebody else puts up pretty plants and flowers, we will either rain on their parade or pluck their flowers at will.

11. We will go abroad on vacations, take pretty pictures, curse our own country, say that our Government sucks and our places stink and then come back and add to all the muck around.

So typical of us! We are a strange lot!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Kitchen save - from washed out Fusilli to a palatable Pasta Casserole!

The way we love Pizza and Pasta at home, we could very well be Italians. But then, we love our Parathas, Rajma Chawal, Kadi Rice and Dosas too. I guess we are just hearty gourmands.

Anyway, back to our Pasta fondness, we have done our usual hit and miss with several pasta brands available on Indian shelves. A couple of times we have bought the premium Rustichella d'Abruzzo, but sadly it is not easily and always available.

Then we have gone the Buitoni, Borges and Disano route. We have also tried Bambino to our utter disgust.

Finally, at our home we have centred on Barilla - not very expensive, widely available from INA Market to Modern Bazaar to the neighbourhood Dutch Hypermarket 'SPAR.'

Similarly for the jarred tomato sauce in different variations - sometimes with olives or Basil or with three cheese - we have experimented with a few brands before collectively settling on Ragu. It is OK for our pockets and great for our palate.

Yet, in an instance of stupid decision making and trying to be thrifty in the silliest of manner, we recently picked up the 'SPAR' branded packet of Fusilli and a bottle of Delmonte Tomato sauce.

To say the least, the result was disastrous. I do make rather nice Spaghetti Arrabiatta or my version of the White Penne in a rich, creamy, cheesy sauce with almonds and a shot of vodka. But more on the good things later.

This time around, I dabbled with a blend of two kinds of sauces to go with the Fusilli. My expectation was that the family would be swept off their feet but that was not to be. The pasta turned out to be yucky. 

I attempt to do one degree more than al dente at home, in order to suit the Indian palate yet retain the 'to-the-bite' firmness of the Pasta. But this packet would have none of it. The pasta simply broke away in a wishy-washy mess. And the sauce was so bad that it ruined the entire dish.

Quickly resolving to never buy SPAR pasta and Delmonte sauces I went into a fight and retrieve mode. I just had to do something to the huge batch of pasta made. I couldn't have simply thrown it away.

So here's what we did. We made a fresh batch of homemade tomato and garlic sauce. Brought in some Cheddar to help us save the day.
I then layered out the pasta in a deep dish alternating the layers with the homemade sauce and cheese till I finished my lot of pasta, finishing off with a liberal garnish of more cheese.

The ensemble was baked as a Casserole and viola! we had something to sing and dance about!!

The proof is in the pictures!!!

Have you saved a cooking disaster recently?

Picture and Casserole courtesy - Karuna Dayal

Friday, July 28, 2017

Good Pizza Pie anyone?

Is it so difficult, in India, to get a good pizza pie delivered to one's home?

What if one does not want to go to Trident Gurgaon or the now 'expired' 360 degrees at The Oberoi or Mist at The Park each time one craves a delish Pizza!!!

Because of the sludge they dish out, I have jointly banned Domino's Pizza and Pizza Hut to be ordered at home.

Even the packaged one, my Husband's cousin bought for me in Frisco, from Sears I think, was far better than what most of our restaurants sell.

There was that one bright spark - Insta Pizza - but they don't deliver everywhere and not at all in South-west Delhi where I reside.

And no, the newbie The Oven Story is not that great.

Why should the customer be left wanting for better choices?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

You are being watched!

Like another Shepherd Mom said, we have a German Security System installed.

Trespass our home at your own risk!!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My take on the three R's!


I had the privilege of meeting Bitthe Foster of Sweden's 3Rs back in 1997 when I used to be working for the Hyatt Group. 

She initiated me into the concept of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Long before that, I saw Ma recycle things at home - utensils, garments, linen, food - she was completely ingenious in her approach.

Then there was Mrs. Bangia, Ma's nouveau rich friend who was already a millionaire back in the Doon of early 80s. Yet, Aunty Bangia did not let go of her good middle-class values and would string up and Sun out even one or two pieces of leftover Chilli, Aubergine, Lady's Finger etc. to be later used in Soups and Sambars.

I love recycling things and giving them a lease of life in their brand new avatar.

In my homes and gardens, both in Dehra Dun and Delhi, I will not easily throw away things - pots and pans, old bells and faded curtain beads, cracked water bowls and pretty cups with handles missing. I think a hundred times about reusing the item and once I feel there is no way it can be beautified and reused; it is only then that it will be sent to the Kabadiwala (Junk collector/Scrap Dealer) or retired to a Bin. 

It is a cross I bear from my Mother; that I end up seeing an aesthetic value in a lot of things - even parts of packaging material or broken wooden ladders.

This time in Dehra Dun, we were cleaning up the Kitchen and the Store at the Farmhouse, readying the places for pest control. While I found an old painted stone that I had painted while in the Sophomore year in College and a bunch of old Greeting cards that will now live with pride in my Memory Book; I also discovered some forgotten, unused treasures. 

There, lurking in the dark spaces of the bottom shelf were two glass jars and two old world Martabans - the former two were used by Ma to store jams, jelly and preserves and in the latter two she would keep away pickles. One of the jars had a teeming population of giant cockroaches, so in a moment of utter disgust, all four were banished from the kitchen and sent off to fulfill a new purpose - that of letting miniature Sansevieria flourish in their wombs and sit a-pretty in the front garden.

I do the same with old tea cups and coffee mugs kitting them out with the resilient cacti. Old, discarded ceramic or metal mortar & pestle either become garden objets d'art or pots for succulents. My Karva Chauth karvas almost always become flowering pots. My Diwali terracotta diyas and knick-knacks - re-painted and interestingly placed - often become Garden decorations.

When our Delhi home was being reconstructed, I went to town with my recycling and beautifying ideas. The old DDA Living Room ceiling light is now our Porch light, painted in the shade of Santorinian Blue. The seat from our Garden Swing is now the Blue Couch prettily poised in our patio. 

The Wrought Iron Mirror from one of the Bathrooms is now a Garden Installation. It adds to the beauty of the patio reflecting the images of my lovely Garden and the beautiful park in front of our house; besides attracting a motley crew of Sunbirds and Butterflies. As for the Wrought Iron Rack, that used to hold the toiletries, it now is part of the facade decor and proudly showcases an array of my tea cup pots.

In one of the quaint moves, I outdid even my own craziness. I found this interesting ladder like thing as part of the new Commode packaging delivered to us by Hindware Italian Collection. All through the reconstruction period, I held on to it, in spite of strange looks and queer questions from our Man Friday and the friendly bunch of labourers and carpenters working on the site. Our boy kept asking me as to why was I holding onto that piece of crap and I would tell him to be patient. Once the painting work began, I got the contraption painted in white and today it performs the function of a 'Squirrel ladder' going up to the Patio Birdhouse.

I love to reuse the cracked, ceramic water bowls of my fur children as planters. And I have learned from Ma that one must never throw away a Kitchen sink. Place it nicely in your kitchen garden and grow herbs and spices in its basin.

I am quite the version of the crazy cat lady, or at least the contractors who worked with me thought so, with all my quirky designing ideas. But they always feel delighted to see the ideas, once they are brought to life. I sense a feeling of pride in them when they see parts of their thrown-away stuff given a huge facelift and decorated around. I think, at that moment, they feel they have been part of a secret society; and between them and me, several surreptitious, knowing looks are shared.

Recently, one of the Contractors conveniently dumped a broken wooden ladder at our front gate. He kept telling us that he will soon have it thrown away until my moment of serendipity struck me. A hurried call was made to him, telling him not to throw away the ladder and asking him if we could use it. He was both surprised and relieved, I could tell from his tone. He was asked to send a worker to our house to paint the ladder in our shade of Blue. Today, the ladder encases the house as three Wishing ladders with pots and plants hanging from them.

Le Husband, over the years, has been persuaded and pushed around to become part of my plan. By now, he has stopped cribbing and become a happy conduit. So, on one of his business trips, he was coaxed and cajoled to bring the old style Aluminium kettles used by the roadside tea vendors. He has, so far, managed to bring two - both of which hang as elements of adornment in the Courtyard, reflecting a sense of old world charm. 

In the same vein, our Computer Man knows exactly what he needs to bring for me from his native village. He has already revealed to me that several Aluminium utensils such as the milk can and the stirring pot or the squarish "Pateela" pan are used in his village and I have a "re-use" for all of them, I've promised him!!!

When you come visit me, you will find a pair of 'blessing' Buddha hands in brass sitting primly next to the Gramophone. Look closely, for they are the recycled door knobs.

Very recently, we had to throw away two pairs of similar looking Greek sandals - one in fuschia and the other in purple - as they came apart at the edges. Just before they were being chucked, I saw some frantic activity from the corner of my eye. My niece cum soul-child cum soul-sister rushed to yank out the nice looking metal pieces from the two pairs. Today, the four metal chains are hung down as dishy wind chimes from a couple of empty Moscatel Oro bottles. I guess blood does run thicker than water. And with that, we seem to have come a full circle.

Here, then, is my expression of gratitude to Ma and Bitthe!