Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The smell of time

It drizzled last evening as I ran back home from a walk with the kids. The rains have not stopped as I am writing this post at eight in the morning. Last night I decided to supplement our dinner with some punjabi protein - the tandoori chicken!

There is a new dhaba right next to the community gate that I live in and I called the guys up and ordered the fowl. As I was eating the meat in all its glory - the strange redness, burnt edges, the slight smell of charcoal, sardarjis and ajwain, goddamn, I remembered the sordid year in Delhi.

I used to live in a then suburb called Saket and my community was called Press Enclave. The place was teeming (?) with kurta clad confused socialists reading aloud Sartre and Mayakovsky to make their kids sleep. I was single then and I shared my apartment with a nocturnal friend of mine - an illustrator graphic designer. He slept through the day, woke up at around four in the evening, fixed breakfast of bacon and eggs, took it easy, made himself a drink and started work at nine in the night and worked through. This was his trick in handling Delhi. I was not blessed with such skills and I had to take Delhi head-on.

Delhi is very aggressive and if you are a sambar loving South Indian, it will stamp on you with such vengeance as if you are the runt with a sting. You have to be ready to swear or to be the victim at all times, twenty four seven. My morning to work included five minutes in front of the mirror, grimacing and repeating behanchod approximately forty times with varied tonality and pitch. You could have easily mistaken me for a method actor. And as I step out and ask the nimrod auto rickshaw driver to take me to work while he is picking his teeth with a screwdriver, he repeats ‘Klash Clooney? Nahi Jayenge!’. My Hindi was poor and gets worse in emotional distress. What I told him loosely translates like this ‘ Dear brother, you are creating a lot of trouble. You should anoint your vehicle with a board with your destination written’. He threw the screwdriver, loudly swore at me, deftly including my mother and sister in the rant. He then walked a little ahead complaining, burped, came back to his auto and put his screwdriver back to work.

The entire day was made of events with minor variations of this and me beating the retreat. The other party was either swearing at me or bragging about his diamond studded belt buckle (not one, he has three). I did encounter a one odd sardar who winked at me stressing the axiom that men are not safe in Delhi (if you drop something in Palika Bazar do not pick it up). I was plain bad at living there.

Eventually, I had no friends (with my only friend sleeping when I am awake) and I had these lonely dinners bought from a dhaba nearby. It was usually a small portion of tandoori chicken and an orange soda.

Yesterday I remembered the smell of those sordid times.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I have been lazy to think about writing a movie script. I have started a new blog to make you guys egg me on and help me create this script. There are a few things that I know in my plot. I am going to share this with alll of you and hope that you will post comments and guide this script to make it good. I will do a detailed posting of my outline and you can review that.

Visit my new blog for more details. Looking forward to work with you! Thank you.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The monastery at Bylakoppa.

Lunch beneath the wheel of life

Olive. If I remember right that was the name.

The Apparatus team had a disastrous outing this year. We went to this strange joint called Veerabhoomi supposed in the hills of Coorg (there was a small mound with a cheap replica of a cannon on it. A hill, they said). The food was atrocious and in the evenings we were invaded by public sector bank clerks in shiny safari suits having private party before the go home, beat their wives and pass out. This posting is not about that.

One of the days that we were in Coorg we went to this Tibetan settlement, Bylakoppa. Tibetans were offered land on lease by the Indira Gandhi government here and they have been there since then. Vinod called an unknown number and told Tsering that 16 of us are landing there for lunch. Wise thought and is more valuable as Vinod does not get them very often.

After visiting the monastery with a huge wheel of life we reached Olive Restaurant run by this friendly guy called Tsering (his brother is Tsering and his neighbour is also Tsering, we call him Tom). We had three massive bowl full of momos - pork, chicken and vegetables. The tables were laid out under a small shelter outside the restaurant and it was Tibetan poetry. I heard a voice and ordered a Thugpa - a soup style noodles with vegetables and chicken. As I relished it I understood the basic axiom of existence - me, monks, rain, thugpa, bliss.

That is the best meal I had after curries that resembled dead terns in Greenpeace videos! Thank you Tsering!

Nonsense poetry in T9 English

Oven fresh minds are hard to find,
Even leavened bread is a pain to find,
Yo cloven head diner
Wish for a bread like mind,
For oven even leavened mind is thine.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Pronounced grains of a gratifying breakfast

I am a sucker for a good breakfast. I can pretty much miss any other meal of the day. Sir, but surely not my breakfast. In one such endeavour to discover the perfect morning meal I found enlightenment next to a strange store that sells womens undergarments and thermal for the traditional South Indian H1B heading to some redneck country. We are talking Bangalore and this is on Indiranagar's CMH Road.

Suswad is a easily miss-able car garage converted onto a polite clean 'standing-joint' as they are known in this part of the country. Suswad Idli Bazaar serves the best upma that I have ever eaten. Upma is a strange dish. With a slight lack of attention it could end up resembling post office glue (probably tastes like that too). A good upma should have pronounced grains of rava well lubricated with a perfect mix of moistness. On the other hand you can make upma with pronounced grains that is dry as flaked thermocol (this is the kind of stuff that is served in malayalee homes and they mix it with coffee and eat! YES COFFEE! Is there a place where we can complain about this? In triplicate?). The Suswad upma is the right blend and is completely delectable.

I am not a great fan of beans and carrot pieces in my upma. I love my upma uninterrupted. However the Suswad upma is sparsely interjected with discreet pieces of vegetables that I have learnt to enjoy. If and when you are walking on CMH Road to buy thermals or find H1Bs stop over at this place and you will know what I mean. Down this with a coffee and DO NOT MIX IT FOR GODSAKE!