Letters from Singapore – Part 1

Dear Mother,
Hope this letter finds you in good health and spirit. I duly apologize for not writing to you often enough and promise that I will write to you regularly from henceforth.

I am doing quite well. I like this country and the people. The sights and sounds are wondrous. But it would not be an exaggeration to say that the weather is unpredictable. It is terribly humid one moment and the next moment,it starts raining cats and dogs. And within minutes, its a clear sky again. Everyone here seems to be in a terrible rush to go someplace which makes me wonder where so many people are going on such a small island. The kids are really chubby and naughty but their mothers are quite grumpy, possibly driven up the wall by the kids. As is the case anywhere else,older people are only too eager to talk and the young ones try to look as smug and aloof as possible and often end up looking dazed and lost. I would like to narrate a minor incident here if you will indulge me for a bit. I met an elderly person, a local, on the train the other day who was asking for directions.We started conversing and suddenly he asked if I was married or if I have a girlfriend. He told me about his family and that he has two daughters both of who are in their early 20’s and are married and that he has 2 grand kids(without me asking anything). He went on to advise me to marry a girl from a rich family for obvious reasons, but finally added “Love is love, lah. If you love somebody, marry her no matter who she is”. Now that I have narrated the incident, I get a feeling that it might concern you as to what mischief I am unto. Do not fret, mother. I have no plans of finding a bride in this country.

Moving on, you will be pleased to hear that the kadai(cooking vessel) you gave me is in perfect shape. Your worries about its condition are completely misplaced.  The other day,I overcooked the brinjal a little which resulted in some blackening around the center but it was nothing a diligent washing couldn’t remove. Please do not pester father on this matter. While we are onto cooking, this thing has been bothering me. I have valiantly tried to recreate your “mudde palya”(north karnataka style dal) many a times, but the wretched dish just doesn’t turn out the way you make it. Its like when you make it, all the individual ingredients understand each other and blend perfectly which when boiled together, culminate into an ethereal,rich combination of heavenly taste(combined with ghee, of course) and when I try to do the same, the ingredients don’t get along well, fight with each other and are mixed together forcibly resulting in a bland tasting concoction with a hateful aura. It positively irks me that I not able to get what seems like a simple recipe correct. I request you to include a detailed recipe of the dish in your next letter without omitting even the tiniest of details.

Do you find time to watch you favorite TV shows now? I recall your lamenting that there multiple shows going on at the same time slot and you are having trouble catching up on all the shows. The last time I visited you, I remember watching episodes of a show where the male lead and the female lead started turning towards each other to meet each other’s gaze. What a tense situation that was! They started turning on Monday and by the time I left on Friday, they had successfully pivoted 30 degrees towards each other. Have their eyes met yet? And for how many episodes did they stare into each other’s eyes later? Do let me know. I was very much hooked to all the pivoting and it was unfortunate that I had to leave it midway.

One last thing before I end this letter. Mother, I see that you have recently made your grand entry into the world of social media. I am happy and proud of you. But please be prudent while using Facebook. If you see a page saying if you comment “Om Sai Ram” 108 times,something good will happen to you today, DO NOT believe and start commenting. Also google and Facebook are not same. If you want to search for some word, go to google.com. I realized this after I saw your latest FB status updates – “Mooli paratha recipe” and “tomorrow weather”. I would also appreciate if you don’t reply to each of my status updates with an appropriately timed “Have you had your breakfast/lunch/dinner?” after which none of my friends respond to it. I will give you a phone call and update you about my meals for the day.

That is all from my side. Please take care of your health. I will write to you again shortly. Convey my regards to father.

Yours loving son,

P.S: The chatni pudi(peanut powder) you packed me is finished up already. I think you should pack me 1 kg of it next time.
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Crises of our times:Part 1 – The 25-odd single Indian male

At this point,some of my friends are going to point out to me that I’m not 25-odd and that I’m, in fact, 26 years and 5 months, 6 days old and ticking. May god strike down upon them with thunder and lightning. Seems like quarter life crisis is a real thing. These days, I find myself exclaiming, “WTF? That Miss World chick can’t be 17! Look at how ‘healthy’ she looks” I guess I’m just in a state of denial. 2-3 years ago seemed much….better. I hope to grow out of this very soon and comfortably fantasize about gals much younger than me. And while we are on the topic,I shall no longer be jealous of Katrina Kaif. 3 years ago, I expressed my shock like this – this woman, this huge,big bosom-ed woman is MY age? While I look like a bachcha?!  3 years later, circa 2010, she did a Sheila Ki Jawani and I have no choice but to accept her wholeheartedly.Now lets look at the some of the practical aspects of the issue at hand. Being 25 and single, you are subjected to every kind of slander – from uncles you have never known “do you have a clear path for your career and life?” to the aunties “Beta,why you no marry? long term good. If no marry now, you retire and your son still no job” to your 15-year old niece “25 and single? Disgraceful” to your mom “Ayyo,why have you become dark? Have you tired applying honey mixed with lime?”. As for me,I have no worries. The family elders have assured me of total freedom – “we have no problem with you finding a gal by yourself.But she should be a Brahmin…and a kannadiga…and of course she should not be of the same gotra….and the 28 qualities in your horoscope should match. But you are free to select any gal you want”.This gotra thing is a huge issue.Until now,I had no opinion of sage Vishwamitra(my gotra) except for a mild amusement,courtesy his fiery affair with a high-profile celestial maiden, but now I positively annoyed at the guy.Actually, that kind of proves that I’m his descendant, because being annoyed was said to be his favorite kind of emotion.(which n turn implies I’ll have a fiery,passionate affair with some celestial babe..hee hee hee) Anyways,going by this, if I fancy a gal, I’m going to start the conversation with “So, what’s your gotra?”.And if she is the same gotra,”Blimey! We are brother and sister! I’m so glad I met you and asked you this question before I asked you out”.

Not that its easy to find a gal you fancy at this juncture.Forget college years, you have even past the age where you could just send fraandship request you any random gal on orkut,”like” every gal’s status message and comment on every photo in FB or log in to yahoo chat rooms and ping a “cutegal008” with “asl (age sex location)?”. By now, you would have seen lot of gals come, pass by, get married and settle down; you would have analyzed and ruthlessly judged your female friends for all their good and bad points (sorry? :D) and then painstaking built a mental image of your perfect girl,carried it around everywhere mentally doing a “scan” on every gal you meet and always ending up with a “Pattern match failed”.Slowly,wisdom dawns upon you. The other day when I told my “criteria” to Rashmi, she was surprised “This is all? You are not able to find a gal with such simple criteria?” I said “Oh,these are my arranged marriage criteria. My love marriage criteria are different”.Go ahead and judge me all you want, I only speak the truth.

And all your married (ex-)friends are no inspiration either.Right after marriage, they suddenly disappear from the face of the earth and are zapped into a parallel universe where no single is allowed access.You can only access them through windows between the two universes,like facebook photo albums, gtalk and such. As much as you want to believe from their cute,smiling faces in the pics, you can’t help but think that is an elaborate racket going on here. Everyone including your parents,close friends,relatives,the TV,the government,Suresh Kalmadi(why not?) is involved in this racket and are trying their level best to push you into the proverbial well.You never know what goes on in the other universe.You finally ignore all the ominous signs,all the warnings and finally take the bait and then the truth dawns upon you.Then it will be your turn to pose and smile back from the windows and attract more hapless victims to the other side. Muhahaha, I’ve figured it all out now! But alas,I only very well know that at the moment of judgment, I am surely going to falter and take the same steps like so many have before me and fallen to ruin. And that is how the cookie crumbles ;).

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.

Sleepless in Ejipura

Its been a week now. I have been having sleepless early mornings because of a Rooster. Er… don’t get me wrong here. A Rooster-crowing,to be precise.Yessiree, I hear early morning cock-crowing,here,in Bangalore.Opposite house to mine. Nostalgic,u say? Well,it has been a real pain in the arse to me(And you can guess the magnitude of my plight if I am using expletives without **). The first time it happened, I was rudely awakened wondering who is the moron playing Himesh songs at 5 in the morning! I know you can’t call a cock-crowing nasal by any stretch of imagination. Actually, I think its as throaty as it can get. Still, one thing very much common between the two (Mr.Rooster & Himesh, if we have meandered too much) is the stress on the last syllable (Ooooooooooooooo!). Oh, just realized there’s more. The cap!!! Anyways, Himesh Bhai has been lying low for a while now & there might be a probability this piece might act as a catalyst to wake him up from his reverie(Yeah,right :P). I shall not digress further.

So,where were we? Ah,now Mr.Rooster is as persistent as,say,my mom when she bugs me to get the tiffin box in which she packed my dinner on the journey back from HYD to Bangalore(“It’ll be nice if you can find the spoon too”). I needed to take urgent measures for the problem. Started listening to Restful Sleep(audiobook) by Deepak Chopra. Such a waste. The guy talks only about Ayurveda,the body forms vata,pitta,bata (:D) or something to that effect. Never does he mention a certain Rooster and what needs to be done .Not even a word.For now,I have resigned to my fate. Sleep seems as distant and as impossible as an Akki movie winning the Oscar. Since we all know ultimately what fate awaits the cock (:(), I cannot be held guilty for wishing my opposite door gentlemen sing “Tandoori ‘chicken’ nights” (hey! Himesh song!) sooner than later. If its of any solace to anyone, I’ll say this: RIP,Mr.Rooster.

Here is a pic, taken from the balcony-like area beyond the front door(I should’ve taken another pic to show you the guys the relative location. This needed some zooming).

As you can see, there’s a Ms.Hen too, in the background. I am 100% sure it is also involved in contributing to my misery. Only, the MCP that I am, Mr.Rooster grabbed ‘meat’ier part ;)

P.S: Ejipura is where I reside
P.P.S: I like some of HR songs,actually
P.P.P.S : Gaara is back in Naruto manga!!! :))