Monday, September 26, 2005


I got to this quiz from Chai's post. I have always believed I am a red. And here is the result to prove me right!!

You are the color red. You are the most
controversial of all the colors. You are often
easily angered, but as easily as you got
excited, you come down. When angered, do you
have the tendency to be malicious? Afterwards,
do you end up begging for forgiveness? Maybe.
But you're incredibly generous, and, odd
enough, needy. You love to hate, and
sometimes, you hate to love. This color
describes you as generally edgy. When in a bad
situation, you're pessimistic, and when you're
in a good situation, you're extremely
optimistic. You're painfully tempermental, and
sometimes it hurts the ones you love. But with
an exciting and stimulating attitude, you enjoy
talking to people and being social. But aside
from your bold and outgoing attitude, you're
attention-needing and attention-getting. This
color is associated with lust and desire--and
you are both lust and desirous. You're a
protective person when it comes to the people
you love. You're incredibly sharp-witted and
powerful (not to mention intelligent!).

What color are you? (Amazingly detailed & accurate--with pics!)
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Weekend Past...

Just an account of the weekend gone by...

AG and I started the weekend with a dinner at Tandoor on Friday. Tandoor is the Indian restaurant at Holiday Inn. It had been recommended by some colleague of AG's. We had booked a table thinking this would be necessary, it being a friday evening. But when we reached at 8:30, the place was two-thirds empty. The decor was an attempt at emulating the rajasthani style but the effect was unimpressive and the lighting was too bright which I though was a bad idea for a restaurant with not too good interiors. Now bright lighting is a very good thing if you have architectural details or ornate cornices or crystal chandeliers to show like the Tiffin room at Raffles, but if all you have are bad replicas of Rajasthani paintings, then I would say stick with soft, dim lights. Anyways we bravely went ahead and ordered food. I actually even ordered a cocktail (something that AG wisely refrained from). The cocktail was a poor concoction and it was brought to me in a simple ordinary glass, not even one of those fancy cocktail glasses. I knew then that this didn't augur well for the rest of the dinner. But nevertheless I looked forward to my tomato shorba. Ugh!.... that is the only thing I can say about that vile brew they brought in and called soup. And the paneer tikka we ordered with it was average. For main course we had asked for Handi chicken, roomali rotis, pudina paranthas and the ubiquitous dal makhani. The Handi Chicken had been described on their menu as chicken cooked in peshawari spices. I would advise them to change it to chicken drowned in peshawari spices... so strong was the taste of cardamom and cinnamon in the dish. The roti and parantha were disappointing, if anything could disappoint after what we had already been put through! The star of the evening was the humble dal makhani. It was among the best I have eaten. But what a pity the rest of the evening's experience was so off-putting. I don't think we will go back there.

Saturday, early morning saw us jostling among a few hundred other Singaporeans at the Suntec convention centre hunting for good travel deals at the NATAS fair. Thankfully we had gone there with a clear plan in mind. We would get in, buy a good deal for a 3 night stay in Cambodia and get out as fast as we can. The entire thing still took us 3 hours!! But at the end of it we had our bookings for a 3 night stay in Le Meridien at Siem Reap and return tickets on Silkair for the Diwali weekend in November. And we came out of the convention hall hungry enough to start gnawing away at our knuckles. Headed straight to Chutney Cafe in the basement food court at Suntec. IMO chutney cafe is the best place for authentic North indian fare at prices which doesn't require you to sell yourself first! And those people have now started buffet lunches on weekends. AG and I feasted on divinely soft garlic naans, tangy paneer makhani, dal, fish tikka masala, chicken curry and topped it all off with some delectable gulab jamuns. The weekend before AG and I had set out for Esplanade and ended up at Chutney cafe for evening tea. They serve some amazing samosas and to-die-for peas kachori... with fresh mint chutney and sweet tamarind chutney! The service is horrid but the food more than makes up.

Saturday evening... watched Salaam Namaste. Bedok Theatre does have some lousy management. And every time we go there they seem to have scaled new heights! This time they kept the whole crowd (and trust me there was quite a crowd!!) sweating and cursing in the staircase. But since Bedok is the only place showing Hindi movies, we are left with no choice but to grin and bear. The movie was VFM or paisa vasool as we would say in Bombay. Saif and Preity look great, though I do think it is time Preity had that facelift! And the movie has the usual feel of those in the Johar-Chopra genre. It also uses the taboo topic of live-in relationships... a first for a mainstream Indian movie. The music is average and the editing in the second half leaves much to be desired for. The movie starts well and the comedy from Javed Jaffrey hits all the right notes. Arshad Warsi is wasted in his regular comic side kick character. And Jugal Hansraj has been brought back from the dead to do a small nice-boy role, which is the only kind of role the poor guy can essay with some conviction. The idea itself is 'inspired' from the Hugh Grant starrer Nine Months and the last few scenes are a direct lift from the movie. But all said, the movie is worth a dekko.

Sunday, attended a desi blogger's meet at Mindcafe. Mindcafe is this lovely little hangout place tucked away on Prinsep Street and is based around this cool concept of board games. It provides a huge collection of board games to its patrons in addition to the usual cafe fare of fries and drinks. The meet itself was well-attended and was quite a bit of fun. It was a great opportunity to meet fellow bloggers and indulge in some general chit-chat. Here is a list of attendees:

Ended the weekend with Sehar. Now, I have always suspected that Arshad Warsi is a very good actor and can do far more than the funny side kick. Sehar has proved that these suspicions are well-founded. The movie has some excellent acting and slick, slick editing. The storyline is your usual good cop against bad thugs and corrupt system. But the acting, editing and dialogues have made this movie a delight to sit through. The dialogues are written in beautiful Hindustani and is like music to one's ears. A must watch!

Coming weekend, we have planned a trip to KL. Now wading through this week trying to reach the end of it. Hmph!

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Namesake: A review of the 1st 100 pages!

Am reading The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri or rather am reading it on my commute to and from work and then being haunted by the book for the rest of the day. And this book threatens to sweep me away in its flow. Many are the times when I have to stop reading, look up and blink to stem the tears that otherwise threaten to trickle down as I sit there in the bus reading the book. And many are the times when my throat is thick with emotion but a warm feeling of recognition runs through me... "Oh! I know how Ashima is feeling or I know how sad she must be or I know exactly how she must be craving for Indian food or just I know...". I have not progressed much through the book, still reading the initial portion where Gogol has started to realise that his name is rather unusual. But whatever I have read of the book has endeared it to me... its characters are people I see in me, in my friends who feel the same way... so far away from home and family, even in my mom who came to Bombay after her marriage and my dad who left his home in Kerala to come to Bombay when he was in his early twenties. Something needs to be said of the genius of the author who has managed to bring out the bereftness and the acute loneliness felt by the first generation Indian migrants who leave their country and their warm, extended families behind to make a life for themselves, in countries so different in every possible way from what they have always known as home. Jhumpa Lahiri is herself a 2nd generation migrant, born in London and brought up in Rhode Island. Inspite of this (or maybe because of this), she has managed to draw out every nuance of emotion that her parents might have felt.

The book starts with Ashima preparing an adaptation of that quintessential Indian snack... the bhel puri, using Rice Krispies (combining Rice Krispies and Planters peanuts and chopped red onion in a bowl. She adds salt, lemon juice, thin slices of green chili pepper, wishing there was mustard oil to pour into the mix.) Note the usage of the more pungent red onions so typical of India and not those colorless, insipid white onions which are common abroad. This is an example of how expertly Lahiri has managed to use simple actions to bring to life the small things we all do to keep alive the illusion of home away from home. One nods with understanding and empathy when the book narrates how Ashima repeatedly reads the couple of Bengali magazies she had brought along with her in her efforts to hold on to the littlest things that remind her of home. And then there is the fierce pride with which Ashima and Ashoke perseveringly cling to their culture... trying to christen their son with a 'bhalo naam' (name used for official purposes) and 'dak naam' (name used by family and friends) in accordance to the bengali tradition. There is also that lovely description of Gogol's anna prasan (rice ceremony... where a baby is fed solid food for the first time) which his parents try to celebrate in a manner as closely adherent to the traditions as possible (Ashima regrets that the plate on which the rice is heaped is melamine, not silver or brass or the very least stainless-steel).

Over time they develop friendships with other Bengali families whom they meet often to eat "shrimp cutlets fried in saucepans" and in true Bengali way discuss arts and how can one forget... politics (argue riotously over the films of Ritwik Ghatak versus those of Satyajit Ray. The CPIM versus the Congress party. North Calcutta versus South. For hours they argue about the politics of America, a country in which none of them is eligible to vote.) For their kids sake they cheerfully also adopt more and more of the American ways of life and the American traditions... Thanksgiving, Christmas, hot dogs and hamburgers. "Still, they do what they can." They also take the children to watch Kathakali performances sitar recitals and also the Apu triology!! They ensure the kids learn Bengali and also of Subhas Chandra Bose. They drag them to Saraswati and Durga pujos. As you read on the feeling strengthens that Ashima and Ashok are people you know and in a way are people that you are.

There is this very touching moment when Ashima learns of her father's death of a heart attack. And eventually there are many more of these bad news. "As their lives in New England swell with fellow Bengali friends, the members of that other, former life, those who know Ashima and Ashoke not by their good names but as Monu and Mithu, slowly dwindle". The kids, not having bonded much with their relatives, never comprehend the depths of their parents sorrow at these deaths and are "embarrassed at the sight of their parents' tears". And Lahiri drives home the desolation in a sentence which I think is going to stick with me for the rest of my life. She says... "In some senses Ashoke and Ashima live the lives of the extremely aged, those for whom everyone they once knew and loved is lost, those who survive and are consoled by memory alone."

Read the book if you are an Indian living abroad... it will speak to you and several times you will mentally hug it as you would a dear friend who empathises with you, read it if your parents were 1st generation migrants from India... the book will bring alive for you an aspect of their lives which you often must have felt and which must yet not have been something you could identify with or understand completely, read it if you have children or dear ones abroad... you will for once understand that their lives in those rich countries abroad is still so poor... bereft of the richness that comes from living at home, near loved ones.

Since I am only at the first 100 pages, I know it is too early to review this book or even say too much about it... having yet to touch upon the primary plot of the book. But I wanted to write this post now so that I can focus on these first few pages which have touched me so immensely. Let's see... if the rest of the book manages to fulfil the promise shown by these intial few pages then you will hear more from me of this book and its characters.