A travelogue, sort of

​My friends keep telling me that the pictures from my previous trip are really good and all, but  they are not sure if ​the place is actually beautiful or its more to do with my photography skills. ​I will share a very important photography secret here: Never make your bad pictures public. I am usually disappointed with my good pics too, but that’s when Photoshop comes into picture. ​Anyway,​the point I am trying to make here is, for me, travel is not all about going to beautiful places. Its much more than that. For example, ​​I just love the sense of belonging you feel after staying in a place for a few days​, even though you have no idea of the place before this trip. You begin to identify the routes and the lanes, go around by yourself and even give directions to other tourists. You talk to the locals, you eat their food (though sometimes it doesn’t turn out to be a good experience), you visits their pubs, you basically blend in. ​You become​ a part of the​ world not your own for a short while​. And when you come back from a long ​trip,its just awesome​ to find your people, your home, your bed, ​all of which you​ would​ take for granted otherwise. ​Much later, on a dull day,​ ​your magnificent brain decides to cheer you up and says,” Ok let me show you something nice” and starts conjuring​ up images and sounds of those moment​s lost ​in time ​and your face unwittingly breaks into a wide smile. I can go on and on.

My last trip to Cambodia was one such trip. We had a LOT of time to get bored of all the temples and architecture around, so I had to find entertainment wherever I can. Some mildly interesting stuff happened which at that time seemed much more interesting. I thought I will write it anyway.

We got up at 4:15 AM, took our cab and drove for around 12 kms to reach the temple at 5:00 AM. It was pitch dark everywhere and I setup my tripod at the edge of the pond, all set for the sunrise. There was an Asian guy next to me. Asian as in ​<racist slang here>. For the rest of the world, there are two types of people in Asia – ​Asians and Indians. So this guy started taking some pics while my cam was complaining about the low light. I peeped and asked him what settings is his camera on. He loudly said something in a language totally incomprehensible to me, as if I am totally expected to understand what he was saying. I told him I don’t understand the language and showed him the error message on my cam. ​We started communicating through our LCD displays. “ISO” he said in his typical accent and showed me his aperture and shutter settings. After that, he kept informing me every time he changed his settings, or lowered his tripod to get a better view etc with both of our vocabulary basically limited to “aaa” “umm” “ooh” “yayaya” . Some time in between, I asked him if he was Japanese. With my hundreds of hours of experience in watching (Japanese) anime, I should have guessed he was not speaking Japanese, but it was 5:30 AM on a cold, cloudy,dark morning!​ ​ His wife who was standing next,​giggled and said “Nooooo, Chinese”. It was quite sweet. I thought Chinese people usually take offense at being mistaken for Japanese. After that, I got so busy clicking I didn’t notice them go.

Later that day, me and my friend were trying out noodles at a mobile stall on the roadside, after painstakingly​ explaining him not to add anything ​that has moved once before (any animal,that is).​Of course,I told him to ​be liberal with the chilli. ​It was all looking good. ​Now came the​ bummer – he handed me the noodles along with two chopsticks! ​Expecting me to finish a bowl of noodles using chopsticks is like expecting Salman Khan in the lead role of Paan Singh Tomar! ​But as the cliche goes, desperate situations call for desperate measures.​ There was food on my plate and​ I will be damned if I don’t finish it,​and do it while it ​was hot. An elderly Chinese couple came to the stall. The husband looked at me ​making the chopsticks dance​ and smiled. I ​gave an embarrassed ​laugh and said “I am not used to this”. The stall boy asked him something and he replied “Can, can”. I immediately turned and asked him “Are you from Singapore?” He was. ​A brother from our land in a foreign land! Sentiments started flowing freely. He told us that they have come by a tour package and how he roamed about wild ​and free ​during his younger days but now he needs a ​transport to take him around.He ​meandered into the topic of Singapore​ by-elections​ and so on.​It was amusing how I actually felt happy seeing someone from Singapore. ​And to my credit, I totally cleaned up my noodles plate using the chop sticks. It couldn’t be helped, the stuff was spicy and delicious.Looking back now, thank god it was noodles and not rice!

The same night, I left my friend having a good time at the club and started towards the hotel at midnight. A tuk tuk stopped (A tuk tuk is basically a moped fitted to a carriage. Very comfortable for 2 people) and I felt lazy and got in though the hotel was at a walk-able distance. He started the vehicle and without looking at me asked “Mister, want some lady?” I ​was caught off guard and ​replied “No no, just take me to the hotel”. He paused, turned back in slow motion and gave me a toothy, sheepish grin “HIHIHI” . Best grin of 2013 so far.

And there were stereotypes everywhere. The Chinese always arrive in bus loads. Once they descend in the vicinity, everything else goes silent. People move out of the way, the birds stop chirping, everything just freezes except the Chinese moving noisily around and their cameras pointing in all directions in all weird angles. Things get back to their normal peaceful self once the battalion has moved on to another target. I think, same would be true with Indians too, if only we had enough money to go to all these places. For now, I will give you an advice I read in a blog. Do not travel anywhere in the world, I repeat, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, on Chinese holidays. Moving on, the Indian stereotype – wearing tees/full sleeves, jeans and shoes – the entire wardrobe, in 35 degree C weather. Me and my friend were guilty of it too. I know at least one westerner who looked at me top to bottom and gave a sideways smile.​ Well, ​we laughed at them too. I don’t understand why westerners have to wear clothes like they are living in utter poverty​ when they are traveling​? Okay, agreed the clothes are more comfortable than ours, but some people ​who seem well off, ​wear clothes that resemble rags and ​are definitely not washed for a long time!

So that’s that. I don’t know how to end this, so I will just quote a brilliant line by one of my favorite bad guys in fiction.
“There probably isn’t any meaning to life. But perhaps you ​can find something interesting to do while you are alive.”


Of Haircuts,Discounts and Coconuts

This is how the going has been for me in Singapore. I should have posted this long back, but better late than never.
Curly troubles : I visited the hair saloon recently. “Ooo cully hai'(hair) aar? Very deefficul tu com’ lah (Though my hair is definitely not curly, its shamefully dull when compared to the straight, shiny hair of  the people here. I told the guy to cut it “medium” and not to make it too short. One thing I would like to mention here that I totally love haircuts. The lazy atmosphere in the saloon, the rhythmic sound of scissors and the slightly ticklish feel when they touch my hair transports me into a trance-like state where I drift away seamlessly between multiple worlds, with no boundaries between them. Or maybe I just get drowsy. Either way, like it has happened a lot many times, by the time he was finished, I observed with a shock that my crop is as short as freshly cut paddy! He happily told me, “See, looking neat ooreaddy(already). Very easy to com’ now laaaah”. What he actually meant was that he has saved the comb from the dastardly responsibility of working on my hair for a few days!   I expressed him my heartfelt gratitude, paid him “ten dollaa” and left muttering to myself. Seriously though,his position is understandable. They just have no clue how to go ahead when presented with the classic Indian hair, so one can”t really blame him. This is not the last time this happened. And this is the least of the problems I face here.
Thrifty wars: It sometimes gets on to my nerves how lot of conversations revolve around costs and expenses of something-something especially when Indians get together. Wherever you see a bunch of us hanging out, the most prominent topic of discussion would be who has got the said item(a tour package,an electronic gadget,onions – just about anything) the cheapest. Imagine an office scenario. This is how a sample conversation goes :
Person 1: Hey yesterday I bought a mixee.
Person 2 (automatically) : Kitte mein liya?
P1 (totally aware now that this is not going to end well for him) : $48
P2 (with a triumphant look) : I got it for $43. You should have gone to so-and-so place and bought it.
P1(to himself): OK fine. Thanks for the now utterly useless info. I’ll use it to bug somebody else.
Person 3 : (Let me introduce this person. No I cant, since I hadnt ever seen him or spoken to him until that moment when he suddenly popped up from the other cubicle looking as if he has waited for this moment all his life and this is the precise moment which will define his existence on the earth and render meaning to it. So he seizes the opportunity with both hands and jumps into the conversation): Did you say $43? What man? That’s too expensive. U just have to change two train lines, 3 buses and lo you are this so-and-so place where you have to bargain a little and you’ll get it for $37. If you had asked me before, I would’ve told you. Next time don’t do this mistake. Enquire with me first” Now that he is done talking, he looks around in slow motion, silently daring anyone to challenge his price. No one does. There is pindrop silence all around. P1 and P2 portray a variety of emotions simultaneously – awe, despair, disgust, anger and resignation to name a few.They take a silent vow to have their revenge on P3, when he buys something next. The battle is lost, but the war has just began. P3 grins and sits down , with a sense of joy and fulfillment gradually filling his heart. This will make a heartwarming dinner story for his wife,he reflects.
The coconut dilemma : Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined I will be facing problems of such gargantuan proportions in my tryst with the world outside India. I am a big fan of fresh coconut chutney and almost cant do without dosa and chutney once in a few days. And I do not like the packaged grated coocnut they sell in stores. Such blasphemy! It is like choosing …hmmm…a Mithunda movie over an Aamir Khan movie. Or for the international audience, choosing a Twilight movie over a Harry Potter Album. Anyway, one fine day, I got a coconut home. Then it occurred to me. Where to break the coconut? The question popped out from my head and lingered on, just hovering in the air, taunting me. This was not going to be an easy choice. I called my roommate to conference. He said no question of experimentation in the house for risk of breaking the tiles or the kitchen stand. I wondered why I never cared about the tiles back in India. And we could not find a stone to break it on too. When I sufficiently pestered my roommate, he calmly pointed me his head ala Lord Vamana Murthi to Bali Chakravarti and indicating that that I can break it on his head. I dropped the thought after pondering over it for a moment. As I was devising and destroying scheme upon scheme in my mind, I looked in our balcony. Voila! There was a small drainage opening right in front of the door. I was reminded of a quote from the Alchemist – when u want something really bad, all the universe conspires to help you achieve. As the sun set over the horizon and darkness shrouded this half of the earth, I opened the door, looked around for any signs of humans around and approached the hole ever so stealthily. I hit the coconut to the ground with all my might combined with a mental victory roar and quickly ran back into the house after collecting all the pieces. And thus fresh coconut chutney was made available for everyone since then.
The la-la effect: Well this is an attribute typical of Singapore. “lah” in Singapore is totally like “da” in Bangalore and “ra” in Hyderabad. Only difference is the Indian versions sound masculine like they are supposed to, and the Singapore one sounds,well,gay (because of the la-la-la sound, I guess) . What gets me slightly irked is the fact that Indians who have been living here since a long time catch the local English. Try this:
Me: Shall we go for lunch now?
Long time NRI: Can,can.
Me: Does this restaurant have vegetarian food?
Long time NRI: Have,have.
I think its just a part of natural evolution. Anyway, if you want to listen to some hilarious Singlish (Singapore English), check this out: Singlish chat on phone
More Singapore stories coming up!

Crises of Our Times:Part 4 – The ‘Circle’ of Life

I have had this Tyre(small one if I may add) around my belly for as long as I can remember now. I remember feeling it in my 8th standard and resolving to burn the hell out of it and I am still at it after all these years.  This got me thinking. Its been more than 2 months here  in Singapore and I’ve realized its not easy pickings  for food here, at least not for vegetarians (“Vegetarian la? No can, no can. Go go.” ). So I should have put off that extra weight. Why haven’t things changed at all? Is this the “circle” of my life? (pun intended)

Its this simple inequality really, that has been my bane.
my (Laziness + food habits > workout)

I know  all of you smart people get the point already,  but I will illustrate it anyway because I feel like drawing it out :P.

( OK these drawings are all popular memes from the internet. The words are mine).

One fine day, a noble thought comes to my mind:

So I passionately get it to it. I sweat it out  real hard drawing inspiration from various sources ranging from Rocky Balboa to Bipasha Basu .

I carry on for a long, long time or what I feel like a long, long time.

I feel like I own the world. I feel like throwing around the f-word and the b-word.

Not that I do. I can’t carry them off that well. But its okay to use them on the internet. So here you go.

I am doing really good.

But the trouble starts now.




Temptation, slow and sure as ever takes over. It feels like a giant evil serpent has coiled me

tightly and is slowly drawing the soul out of my body and everything around me has turned

into darkness. Nah, just kidding. I just happened to pass by Pizza hut.

Next day comes and goes and before you know, you’ve had your fill of junk food.This goes on for days. It builds up to  crescendo from which it seems there is no return.

And it does not stop there. Its like an addiction, only here it builds up with each passing day. You just turn into a devouring machine, gobbling up everything in sight like a Godzilla eating up the hapless Japanese townsfolk (I really thought a lot for a better analogy, but this is the best I could come up with :P).










Until on one of these days of raging gluttony,

...A W A K E N I N G.

The factors that can cause this awekening are myriad. For example, seeing Deepika Padukone in John Abraham’s arms which leads to a lengthy thought process which always,always ends on a philosophical note “Why me,God, why me?” or more precisely in this case,”Why not me, God? Why not me?”





This is just another update timelining my life.

Disclaimer: Whatever I have written below is all in good humor and there is no intention to offend anyone.
I like Singapore much better than US. It is amazingly green everywhere ( I didn’t expect this!) and is much more lively with lots and lost of people. Somehow the concept of hoards of people around me running about their lives gets me kicked up (same reason I love Mumbai too), though me walking at my leisurely pace might appear like a paradox. And I love the city lights, the  kaleidoscope of colours that accompany technology and modernization. So basically I love the two things which people always “claim” they want to run away from – the city crowds and the overwhelming technology. Anyways coming back, the most amusing part here is the language – “I need to see passpooooa” “My what?” “Passpoooaaa,I see passpoooaaa”.
On a related note, my conversation with a taxi driver went thus –

“Where you coming from, Eeendia?”
“Yes,yes India.”
“You come here work permeeth?”
“Yes yes”
“Ooo,Coomphany from India send you here, or coomphany from Singapore hire you?”
“Hehe company from India send me here”
“Ooo. Where in India you coming from?”
“I coming from Bangalore”
“Ooo Bangalooo? u come from Bangalooo? Ok. Many people from Chennaai here”
“Yes yes, I know.Lot of tamilians here”
“I like chennai foood, dosai (excitedly makes a dosa in the air), vadai (makes vada shape with hand), prata.”
“Oh cool. Paratha is not chennai food. It is north India food. Chennai food is rice.”
“Oh New delhi you mean? ( Apparently quite knowledgeable)
“Yeah,yeah exactly!”
“So what you eat with rice? Chicken?”
“No no, I am a vegetarian. So I can’t eat chicken”
“Oh you no eat chicken? No beef? Fish? No fish also?Then what you eat?”
“I eat sambar and dal with rice. You know sambar?”
“Oo I see. Yeah you get protheins from that aa? Protheins aa” (Impressive!)
“Hehe ya ya, that’s why we are always deficient in proteins”

“No no, dal also good protheins”

We reached my stop.

“Nice thu meet you sir.No worry. Singapooo very safe city.”
“Ha ha,thank you. Nice to meet you too”.

Most taxi drivers are nice and friendly. I have been slightly wary of people on the roads though they are helpful in general. All the college going crowd seems to be in a different world altogether and I can’t get myself to approach them. Also, yesterday when I asked a middle-aged guy for directions, he waved me off and began walking faster :D.

Coming to my favorite topic, food. I guess after a week here, I can confidently say I am better off then US here. While I will have to forget any kinda of pizza, burgers, chinese or most
bakery products while I am here (no veggie options), there are quite a few Indian restaurants around, so that’s a relief. I will still complain about the change in taste, but I will mostly
keep the complaints to myself.

I have been living out of my American Tourister and Calvin Klein since last week. My luggage is still not fully unpacked, so the spices and my clothes have blended nicely among themselves. We Indians are anyway notorious among foreigners to give out this strange smell of “Indian spices” (that’s how they put it politely),so I guess I am doing a great job of upholding our honor. Not sure any amount of deodorant is helping.

That’s it. This is the beginning.

A New Beginning

Well, I have postponed this post for a long time. So it has ended up somewhat huge and winding. I had to cut out the entire prologue on my passport episode since it got too big (and no one would be interested to revisit that phase anyway :P) Bear with me, as you guys always have.

So things are going on great here. I am not pining for my weekly dose of Masala dosa and chutney as much as I thought I would. Oh god, why did I write that?Now I am not able to get it out of my head. I’ll go to Indian stores tomorrow and get some batter.The last time I went there I did this: $4*44.45=Rs.177.8,which would get me about 9 such boxes in India, but SHUT UP NOW! I’ll also find some coconut powder/cocnut paste/coconut extract whatever darn thing they substitute it here with. So I was saying,life’s going on good. Sure my birthday was “Meh”, but who needs a birthday when everyday of your life is a celebration? ;) :D

More on food,as predicted, vegetarians live miserably here.The other day, I wanted to have a chilli burger and the waitress said “OK,we can stuff the burger with veggies instead of the meat”.And she suddenly she remembers,”Oh we stuff the chillies with beef too”. Groan.But I had awesome Mexican and Thai food.Particularly that Mexican-Indian place in Downtown San Mateo “CurryUpNow“, they have burittos and rolls stuffed with Indian curries. I was not very hungry,and after dilly-dallying for a while whether to have a burritto or a roll(burrittos are huge), I finally decided on the former  (well, you guys know me,I can EAT). Then debated on which variety to order, finally zeroed in on “Punjabi by Nature” and told them to make it hot. Later, to quote myself exactly(as told to a friend),”Thanks a lot man for bringing me here. Its like a miracle just occurred. You saw how I was wondering what to order there and finally ended up with the perfect choice. Miracle indeed”. That’s how great it was(read spicy+++). I had a bad stomach the next day. Same with the Thai too. I believe it was called Soo kee mau. Something like that. Same routine followed. Yummy.  Very spicy.Bad stomach. Stupidly ironic thing to happen while you are in US.

Things are much more convenient at our hotel . (Seems like I’ll ramble on only about food in this post).We have a very useful barter system going here. Exchanging chapatis for tomatoes, puliyogre powder for garam masala etc etc.(I am not exchanging MY chatni pudi for anything though. Its priceless). Sometimes there are issues between roomies -“Yevveryday, I only prepare rice man. Today I prepared sambar, yesterday I prepared khara kolumbu, day before vetta kolumbu and that guy is always sleeping” or “Illa kano, avattu ello hogi 6:30 ge bandu nange adge maadu anta iddane avnu (No man,he came from somewhere at 6:30 PM only and and asking me only to prepare dinner). Premium entertainment.

Its all quiet here in Foster City(where I am exactly located,some 20 miles from San Francisco) . We have a nice,big lake nearby. I am yet to take pics there.  But  SFO down town is a charming place. It has this buzz of a tourist city. And there is always someone sitting in a corner and playing a musical instrument. Makes you feel as if you are on a long vacation. And China town is awesome! There is really cool stuff to buy there. And super cool knives, samurai swords,katanas, both really and fake.  The real ones are super expensive too. :(

Hey, howz it goinnn….

That’s how a stranger will greet you here. For the first week or so, I would be caught off guard and go “Aaa, ya ya fine..Aaa”. I’m doing better now. Nice people. If you ask them where the station is, they’ll stop and explain every turn until you have to say “Okay,you’ve explained me clearly enough. If you hold me any longer here, there will be no train to catch”. Another interesting thing.Everywhere you see there’s a sale going on.There are discounts in every store all the time.For flights,tour packages,everything. Even the TV ads focus on how much you’ll be saving if you buy their product.I asked a friend who has been living in US and he said “Oh Americans are very thrifty.They wont spend a dollar more than required”. Hmmm.

And coming to weather, its sunny and chilly. There’s always a cold breeze blowing as its the bay area. But I can’t complain. This is the best weather in the US. And guess what, I have acquired the California tan along with my regular Indian tan.  Apparently its a brand name and people pay through their nose to get it done.

That’s it for now. I will have to put the cynic within me tied up and locked for a while now. As they say,when life throws lemons at you, collect as many as you can, crush them and then make a big pitcher of sweet lemonade. And not follow what Calvin said – when life gives you a lemon, wing it right back and add some lemons of your own! For a while.

P.S: Our cafeteria serves Indian food along with chai tea every Thursday :D

P.P.S: I should visit happening places(if you know what I mean) to get interesting things to write about.

The Mirchi-Bajji Affair

If your ‘native place’ is North Karnataka(I won’t bother mentioning the exact place.Most Bangaloreans know N.Kar as one humongous flat piece of rock, with no boundaries) and you live in Hyderabad,I will be damned if you haven’t had some aspect of your life influenced by this masterpiece food item : the Mirchi Bajji(MB). It will suffice to say we are as passionate about Bajji as a Bengali is about a Rasgulla or a Mallu is about Parotta Egg Curry, probably more because the hotness quotient is more in a Mirchi bajji than the other two. Take my family for instance,myself included.Roughly speaking,the count of the mirchi bajjis we consumed during the 90’s was greater the cumulative sum total of all varieties of fruits dad got home during that period .Not that we ever complained. In fact, dad is still famous in the larger family circle for his Bajji fetish. All my elder cousins still never miss an opportunity to pull dad’s leg when they meet him – “Dattu kaka, nim makklige mirchi bajji tandilla(You didn’t get MB for your kids)?:D”.The proud gentleman that my father is,he would vehemently go on denying all the allegations and declare that he hasn’t been tempted by them in a long time now.

The Mirchi Bajji affair resurfaced during our house warming ceremony last week. Apparently, dad had ordered the cook to add the ‘delicacy’ as part of the lunch menu :D. At the last minute,some one found this out and politely suggested dad to change it something else,because having MB again is too boring.BTW, have any of you tried asking for sambar with your dosa at MTR? If yes, have you noticed the startled and offended looks the oldies sitting around you kept giving you for asking sambar? I tell you,never ask for sambar with dosa at MTR(or any of the popular breakfast joints in South B’lore). Coming back,my father’s antagonized facial expression was the same when asked to cancel the MB.  So me and some relatives were reminiscing this with amusement while going to the new house (dad was not present with us), our hyper-talkative and mutliloquent driver who works at dad’s bank piped in without warning “Saar eats lots of bajjis at work”. He didn’t need much prodding to gain full dramatic flourish before continuing – ‘What do I tell? Saar keeps sending me to get MB for him. I tell him that he needs to stop now and I wont let him go down like this. But Saar says – “What can I do Narsimulu?(cough cough) I need these. I can’t carry on without the bajjis.(cough) Don’t argue too much.I’m doomed anyway. Just get me those damn things(cough cough cough)”.My heart bleeds for him. But I am helpless’ he concluded. When contacted, dad had this to say “Aa soolemaga hang andna (That fellow said this)? I’ll see him at the office”.

(Disclaimer: Everything below as narrated by my brother)                                                  Mom has her own mirchi bajji story. The other day as I was going out, she said she felt like having MB and asked me to get two of them. Just as she had the first bite and was going for second,she froze. Tears started rolling down from her eyes. I was puzzled “Mummy,enaytu”? Mom went full retro. “Beta,this incident happened 22 years ago. You were still a baby then.We were traveling somewhere and the train stopped at a station.Your dad got hot MB and passed them to me from the train window.(Maybe all this started on that historic day). Nothing has tasted the same since then. I’ve been looking for the same out-of-this-world taste for the last 22 years now, and without success.Today,finally, my quest has ended with these bajjis”.I think she stopped short of saying ,”This is why you were brought into this world,my son. This was the purpose of your life. To get me Mirchi bajjis”.Sigh.

Another unrelated but funny incident. My dad and I were looking for an address in some locality in Hyderabad. Dad spotted a man getting into a swanky car,went to him and casually inquired about the address we were looking for. The guy totally panicked,frantically mumbled something and tried to get away quickly. Meanwhile, I walked up to him and shook his hand.He smiled back pleasantly and sped off in his car. Puzzled,dad asked, “That guy didn’t even tell the address properly. Why did you shake his hand and why did he smile at you? Do you know him?” I was hysterical with laughter by then.Struggling to control my laughter, I told him “Pappa, that’s Shekhar Kammula,director of acclaimed movies like Anand, Happy Days and recently, Leader. You totally scared the poor guy”. Dad was surprised, “Oh Happy Days director-aa?” and then,”So why is he roaming on the roads like this? Is no one giving him work these days?”

P.S: I suddenly wonder what’ll happen if one day Dad somehow stumbles across my blog and goes through it? Have I written anything that he would be proud of? Proabaly not. I will be extra careful :D

The legend of Masala-X

I am pining.I am pining my dinners away.The sambar masala which mom packed (lets call it masala-X for easy readability) me for Diwali is nowhere to be seen. No ordinary powder this one. One look at it and you would be reminded of gunpowder. Bend down a little and smell it and the spicy flavor of it intoxicates . Just don’t get your nose too close,for all you’ll get is fits of sneezing and coughing. You have been warned.You might not convinced yet.Let me compare this to the popular MTR Sambar masala. The most efficient way of putting it is this :

That sums it up (I knew my calculus would be put to good use someday). Few of us might argue there is no way one can integrate MTR masala from 0 to e powered x to get some mom’s sambar masala. If that’s the case,you are cordially invited to a Sunday afternoon sambar-rice lunch to my place over which I will prove to you beyond doubt the above equation. Fine, we shall take a more real-life example for the present, say traffic in Hyderabad. Another mathematical equation comes handy again :

                 Masala-X : MTR’s   : :  Hyderabad city traffic : Galli traffic in Ejipura

An inquisitive mind (probably one of those who had a problem with the integral)or a Bangalore loyalist would raise a question as to why Hyderabad was quoted and not Bangalore, although I daresay this matter is none to be proud of. I am afraid I will have digress further assuming that my intelligent reader is capable enough  to keep track of the narrative.Lets take a simple case of a pedestrian crossing the road in Himayatnagar, a fairly upmarket locality in Hyderabad. Once you reach the middle of the road, 6 out of 10 times you find yourself dead straight in line with an adrenaline charged biker zooming at an inestimable speed, usually returning from a telugu movie at a theatre at RTC X-Roads where he would have seen the super hero (there are only superheroes in telugu movies)  beat the crap out of the 50 people surrounding him in an epic climax. At that instant as you look into his eyes, you know you are done for. And at that very instant,your entire life will unfold in front of your eyes in a series of snapshots, rewinding fast from frame to frame. Then blank.Peace.….A deafening noise. The bike has zoomed past and you are standing like a dead trunk in the middle of the road,heart in your mouth You have been warned. Again.

Now that we have effectively described the credentials of this masala powder, I have to clarify one more thing. Granny will be stirring in her grave hearing me address the legendary Masala-X as mom’s, for it was her patented recipe. As a kid, when I visited grandma’s place for summer holidays, I would get down the auto and run straight to he kitchen shouting “Ajjjjji, masale haaki huli madidiii?”(Grandma,have you prepared the sambar adding the masala?) Grandma would walk to me at a slow pace, chuckling, peck me on my mouth (Why do grannys do that!?) and then open the container to proudly display the brownish-red sambar, its aroma filling the entire kitchen.And then we cousins would have the rice and sambar for dinner,with dollops of ghee to add, sometimes in the verandah by moonlight. My summer holidays were made of such memories :). Ajjis and Ajjas have gone, but their legacy remains.

So what now? I have lost all hopes of finding masala-X. And so the X-factor wil be missing in my dinner till I go home next time. Until then, I will just have to make do with the e^x times differentiated version from the MTRs.