Thursday, May 02, 2013
So this post about taste-buds and food types comes because after long time I tried a cuisine that is completely new. Newer than the Ethiopian eat-able plate in Pittsburgh or the potato soup in a bread bowl. I had Ghanian food.
We have a Ghanian at our workplace (he blogs as well, but differently) who had been planning this for a while. And then in the middle of the day, we took the tube to the end of the district line. Our Ghanian had ordered the food before we arrived and there was loads of it. Different types of fish, meat, turkey and a chicken like bird called Guineafowl. But I barely ate the meat stuff, I was more interested in the "sides" which I think actually make up a cuisine.
The sides has something that looked like lentil powder but was a cereal of sorts, thought it might be cassava, some kind of beans, plantain, yam, a gooey semi solid made of rice which tasted nothing but I loved it. It tasted like an Andhra sweet called chalimidi, except this wasn't sweet. And then a kind of rice, I think called jollof according to wikipedia.
I wish I tasted some dessert. But unfortunately, I don't think I ate much, like always.
It was quite an experience. I want to try it again, without a Ghanian. So I can order whatever and then guess what I would get !
And now I want to have chalimidi !
Monday, April 01, 2013
This is the most beautiful part of the book. The literary style flows like poetry describing the most intricate details of the lives of people in Mumbai that will be engraved in your heart. It sets the reader through a voyage of humanity and what it really means to live and let live in conditions that would otherwise be uninhabitable. I use the word voyage and not journey because it isn't something on solid or tangible but letting yourself flow through the ebbs and tides of all feelings that rush at you. Unlike many other foreign authors captivated by the Indian poverty, Shantaram actually understands them. He understands why people fight tooth and nail to get a seat in general compartment and understands why after the train starts moving people settle down amicably. Like he says you need to surrender to India, and surrender he did. The slum, the village, foreigners who call Mumbai their home, all of them have that in common, to surrender and to accept which are not weaknesses but give rise to the strength to survive. A simple, loving life that fights for survival everyday without even noticing it. That to me is India and that is why this part of the book I loved and laughed and cried with.
Here is the random for-what-love-of-god-do-we-need-that-character Madame Zhou woman and the rather obviousness that it was she who trapped Lin (no longer Shantaram) in the jail. And then the prison and the cruelty of it. Rather disgusting detail of the conditions, the fights, the lice and the worm infested water. I'm not sure if it is true or if it is a massive exaggeration. Slum life wasn't really exaggerated so may be this wasn't either but I can't be too sure. Anyhow here the author begins to lose this audience but not entirely because we are still reading through this random life and hoping that there is light at the end of the tunnel and something great will then happen. But it doesn't. Oddly enough Lin gets out in an hour after someone sees him and he does not go back to his simple slum life. He goes on to become a member of the massive black economy that the overlord Khader Bhai runs. But still it's a life that is believable and everyone knows that there is a massive black market in Mumbai whether or not we have encountered it. So it isn't hard to understand but may be not so much relate to. We still continue to read in the hope of a massive turning point. But about this time I sort of understand where this is going and then comes part 3. (I had hope of the Sapna story leading to some kind of epicness).
Like I mentioned, I understand where it's going and I keep expecting Lin (never again Shantaram) to get involved deeper and deeper into the black economy until he is suffocated by it (and hope he comes out). So he does. And our frightful friendly overlord who trades in currencies and fake passports is suddenly party in a jihad in Afghanistan by trading in arms. Now the author completely lost me. And many of my friends who could not finish the book sighted this point is when they closed the book. Not to say it's not an interesting topic to some. But if it were I would be reading another book based on that and not a book called Shataram. So anyway he goes through the journey. On it he feels cheated by some people he trusted. He comes back miraculously alive.
I call it epilogue because it sounds like it. The writing has the haste in it to quickly complete the book and in order to do that the author ties up the loose ends quickly. Lin's love is marrying another man. The overlord is dead and there are new factions. A dead man is alive again. The Sapna story dies a premature death. Some other couples have happy endings that were not necessary since we didn't know much about those couples anyway. The group of friends have changed. Some people died, some people left and some people just changed. The face of Mumbai has changed. Time to pack up and go. If you hadn't closed the book already you would be glad that you are about to.
I thought the book was about India, or more precisely Mumbai, or more precisely how this foreign criminal on the run who found salvation and redemption on the streets of Mumbai. And not from gurus like how most of the west believes but from the collective common people. I was elated when I began the book but soon enough I was disappointed. The book cannot be titled Shantaram. The only reason I completed the book was that I already invested time in it and I did not want to give it the elite status of joining the list of fiction books I could not complete.
There is another thing that irks me. That it's loosely based on the authors real life. That the author was a heroin addict, committed armed robberies to feed his addiction, escaped from a maximum security prison, and landed in Mumbai with possibly some of the stuff in this book being true. And he is famous and rich and most would say successful because of this book?
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Wapping station is literally under the Thames, the entrance right on the bank. Marc Brunel made it possible. Actually he made a lot of things possible including machine production and was the first person to envision mass production. He son, Isambard surpassed him and is often regarded as one of the world's greatest engineers.
Brunel Museum was by far the tiniest museum I ever saw. It's actually an engine room for the tunnel. Now used as a museum. But it still had everything. Sketches from the making of the Thames tunnel between Wapping and Rotherhithe, a video about the life of I K Brunel, storied of how young lad and his father made the tunnel happen. It also had a quip on how the tunnel that came after took very little time and money. However, that's now only used for cables while Brunel's tunnel is still used by the Overground, (running underground).
It is worth a visit. Won't take you more than a half hour. But you will love the stereoscopes, is that what they are called, the ones where you peep in to see a scene with a lot od depth that gives a 3D effect. Pretty cool.
I hear they have tunnel tours. Would love to do that sometime.
Outside too they have a lot of art. Murals on the walls. Bridge shaped benches! Would be lovely on a bright summer day.
Monday, March 04, 2013
Sunday, March 03, 2013
Sunday, February 03, 2013
It was dark and satirical on an extremely strong topic. Every person shot down has a fountain of pulpy blood burst. Every scene has it's glamour and glitz. And a crazy mix of music! A single word to describe it would be Tarantino and everybody knows what to expect yet everybody comes to the theatre to watch it. Though a couple of scenes were a little disturbing the rest of it is pure entertainment. However, I have new found respect for Morgan Freeman.
Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola
Everyone said it already. Pankaj Kapoor was brilliant. Everything else and everyone else was completely utterly random. If the movie makers spent a bit more time on getting a story around they would have had a bit more of a movie. The saddest were Imran Khan with his "posh" language and Anushka who can't seem to get rid of her spoilt girl roles.
Life of Pi
A directorial pleasure. The film was so beautifully made it's unbelievable. I thought the tiger was real through out and was shocked. I found it wasn't real through out and was shocked even more. Pi was incredible in his role and so was the tiger. For all those who think the story is open-ended, you didn't understand the story. Read the book, you might be able to follow it better. If you still don't understand it, watch the film. Keep doing this cycle until you get it. I hope you get it, eventually.
Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Kurana
A heart-warming and lovely movie. One of my friends described it as "comfort food". I agree. Every emotion is so subtle that it makes it real. The humour, the romance, the family relationships, all of it. It feels like a smile.
Too much and too many characters in one movie. Deaf and dumb doesn't make you stupid or obnoxious or retarded. It was a bit too long and bit too boring I would think. Ileana did a great job though. Finally a role that adds to her talent.
It was good, really good. But too heavy if you just wanted to watch a movie for fun. Ben Affleck though was unbelievable, at direction.
Again a lovely film. I want my mother to watch it. Sridevi is as brilliant as ever and I hear she is the most successful comeback big shot actress! Need more from her. Her husband was great. I hear he is the same guy who played tabu's husband in Life of Pi.
The less said the better. A beautifully choreographed movie with a pathetic ending that it got me depressed.
Sunday, January 06, 2013
Weekends however were different.
I reached on a Saturday so the first weekend was absorbed in my fake jet-lag. What it means is that I practically slept all the time I was not awake to eat or bathe.
The second weekend we went to the Golconda Fort. I have never been there before. It was enormous. I had not expected that. I think a second visit is needed. We didn't climb up all the way to the chambers and we didn't stay for the laser show which was supposed to be the highlight. Quite a historic place. It was built by the Kakatiyas in the 13th century, taken over my the Bahmani Sultans, expanded by the Qutub Shahis and finally left to its fate by the Nizams who moved to Hyderabad.
The second weekend we visited family friends in Warangal. Warangal has a lot of heritage sites in and around. The city was the rich capital of the Kakatiya empire. We missed the Kakatiya festival that happened the weekend earlier. We visited the 1000 pillar temple but unfortunately in the night the photographs were blurry and most parts of the temple grounds were closed for renovation. The place of worship was still open and functional. It is a very large Shiva Lingam.
A few minutes drive away lies the Bhadrakali temple. A very large area right next to a beautifully maintained lake. It also has a natural stone that looks like a face. The photograph again was in the night so it isn't clear but you can see the semi face stone in it.
The next day we went around to the Warangal fort. Another 13th century structure, it was completely destroyed I believe. However, the archaeological society is doing a great job in extracting pieces of stone and putting the pieces together like a puzzle and we have beautifully reset stone archways and statues and framework pieces and chariot and whole structures together. This was by far the best thing on the trip!
This is the original layout
Monday, December 24, 2012
I wasn't planning on reading the trilogy since I wasn't happy with the first book. I would rather wait for the Jennifer Lawrence movies.
However, London celebrates pre-Black Friday and Black Friday even though it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, all thanks to consumerism! So Amazon had these deals spread around, emailing us, friends passing links to each other and I came across the trilogy set. And there was my early Christmas gift...
The story is rather bland. It still continues to be a show with few acts of heroism from anyone at all. Those from Gale are rather dumb than heroic. Their Mocking Jay would just turn up and shoot a few scenes. Sometimes during the shooting she would get into a bit of trouble and then would survive anyway.
The twist with Peeta was a little too much drama may be. The twist with Snow was rather expected but good. It added to the story and gave it some weight that was missing.
The climax was rather at odds with the rest of the trilogy. The Trilogy itself I thought lacked any depth or emotion and little character building. But the climax is the complete opposite. It's beautiful. The way she pulls back from everything and finds comfort in little things that she now understood mean a lot more. The time she realizes the need to find something stable and unchanging in her life.
But one thing that is a little weird is that her emotional trauma stays on while Peeta's brain though all crazy becomes totally normal.
However though, the idea is good. The plot is good. The delivery is bad. The movies will be great. And the climax, beautiful.
May be if the movies trilogy becomes a super hit or something, our crazy reality shows might stop ?
Oh and by the way, it still has nothing to do with archery. Really!
Sunday, November 25, 2012
No, my name is not Pranav! No, it wasn't my birthday. And I'm far from 3 years old. Yet the cake was for me. You can imagine it was a big surprise!
My birthday fell in the summer hols during my IIT life. More like the monsoon but nevertheless, holidays. So I never celebrated it with my little gang of girls. Actually we didn't have many campus birthdays. Only one of us has a birthday during semester and we celebrated hers. For the rest it off the sem yet somehow it happened that over the four years we celebrated everyone else's once. Except mine!
Actually I had to act surprised. They couldn't really keep it a secret from me. One of them was so excited, she told me the previous night and asked me to act surprised. It only made it sweeter.
So there it is. Fours years of togetherness and all my insti life transformed into one cake, on one unexpected day, captured in one picture.
True, pictures do speak more than a thousand words!
I have been following WOW for a while but this idea caught my attention and I started browsing old pics.
God only knows how difficult it was to just pick one. And god only knows that a trip I took into the depths of beautiful memories. Thanks to Blogadda.
I had written about this incident earlier, when it actually took place. But to remember it, is far more beautiful.