Monday, November 30, 2009

2 States : Pedestrian Writing at it's Best from the Best-Selling Indian Author of All Times (Apparently)

I’m a big fan of language that’s simple and flows but the stories that Chetan Bhagat tells aren’t out of this world, and even a high-school kid can write the way he does.

He started out well with Five Point Someone (I genuinely enjoyed the book), then he lost the plot completely with One Night @ the Call Center. His latest offering - 2 States - is his attempt at redemption but the end product is a confluence of his two earlier books – ‘A’ Class b-school (IIMA) setting, followed by the unnecessary (and irrelevant) introduction of a spiritual Guru into the story.

2 States is the story of Chetan Bhagat’s courtship & marriage – how he, a Punjabi, and his girlfriend, a Tamilian Brahmin convinced their parents to let them marry each other. He plays on all the stereotypes of the Punjabi & Tamilian communities that exist, exaggerating them to the nth power. Punjabis love food, love all material things, are lured by money, huge houses & glitzy cars, are loud & over-the-top in everything they do, and are extremely racist, hung up on fair skin & hate South Indians. Tamilians on the other hand are quiet, not very gregarious people, have an understated lifestyle, eat on banana leaves & hate North Indians! The book is mainly about these stereotypes – which he has used to bring in the humor element – and not so much about the love story between the protagonists Krish & Ananya. The romance between them hardly exists!

The book reads like a script for a Bollywood potboiler that’s just waiting to be made into a movie! And I’m not surprised given that I recently read an interview with Chetan Bhagat where he says he’s gradually moving towards script-writing since that’s where the demand (read $$$$) is. So Mr Bhagat, why waste time writing books and waste Rs 95 of our hard-earned money? You might as well write scripts directly, and that way we will save our money because no one will waste money watching your movie! Remember ‘Hello’? Did anyone watch it apart from you, your wife & your twin boys?

Anyway, moving on….the first part of 2 States where Krish tries to win over Ananya’s parents is long drawn out, and the latter part (where Ananya tries to convince Krish’s parents) gets over in a jiffy!

In spite of all cultural differences there are no fights between the couple, only minor arguments. Common sense says that when you’re trying to straddle wide cultural chasms – along with the added pressure of having to convince two sets of non-cooperative parents – fights are bound to happen between the couple. Or when the wedding preparations are being done where the boy and girl belong to two different cultures - there are fights between the families (and consequentially between the couple) on issues such as the style of wedding, the rituals to be followed etc. But Mr Bhagat is in a hurry to finish his book and has no time to dwell on these.

The book is also very sexist. Just to convince his mother – who is way too hung up on the “hum ladke wale hain (we are the boy’s side)” bit – Krish asks Ananya & her family to be almost servile towards his family – buy expensive gifts for every member of the boy’s side, ask your parents to always talk to them with folded hands, pander to every demand of theirs etc. Ananya’s family obliges without a word. He also tells his mother that once the wedding is over he’ll show Ananya her place in the family - that of a daughter-in-law who dare not argue with her mother-in-law - and make her toe the line!! As a female reader, I take offense to such sexist attitude.

Chetan Bhagat has shown Punjabis as extremely avaricious, petty and racist – definitely immensely exaggerated. Ananya is shown to be an independent career woman and quite sexually liberated but she still panders to the demands of the boy’s side without a word of protest.

Overall, the book is good for a light read. It has plenty of humor though at the expense of certain communities. But otherwise it’s quite pedestrian.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Question

I want opinions.

It’s your birthday & you’re inviting your friends over for a party. One of them is seeing someone who you know’ve hung out with them in the past though not in the last 5-6 months for whatever reason. Still, you know these two people are quite close. Would you invite your friend but not the person he/she is with?

I for one would invite both. Especially since the girlfriend/boyfriend/partner is someone I know too. It’s basic courtesy. It’s respect towards the person my friend is with. Whether they would attend is their prerogative but I would invite them both.

What would you do?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Of Nice Guys & Imperfections

Nice guys are such a rarity, right? You know the kind of guys who don’t swear, talk respectfully all the time, who make sure they drop you back home after a night out even if you’re not their girlfriend, who always hail a cab for you & hold the door for you, who always give up their seat for a woman etc.

But you know what….after a point even nice guys get annoying! Just like perfect women are annoying.

You know the thing they say about perfection….how we all look for someone who’s just a little bit imperfect b/c that tiny bit of imperfection makes them even more appealing & attractive?

Well, guess what….that’s all bull. We look for someone with imperfections b/c they make us feel better about our own short-comings. They reassure us about ourselves. And we all look for external reassurance, alright. Anyone who says we don’t is probably the most insecure person around.

Defense mechanism, they call it.

I am with Bombay

It’s 1 year since the carnage today, and the entire country is getting into a state about it though not in the way that we should be. We’re organizing & attending candle vigils, walks, memorial services, tributes etc. The media has been doing documentary dramas, special features & panel discussions. But strangely, no one seems to be asking the questions that matter the most and demanding answers to them, given that an entire year has passed since 26/11/2008.

What has our government done to bolster our security in the past 1 year? Can we rest assured that such attacks will not take place in India again in the future?

For all the America-bashing that we, and the world, loves to do, LOOK AT THEM. There hasn’t been a single attack on America since 9/11/2001. They too were caught unaware when planes rammed into the twin towers, but they immediately got their act together. I am by no means justifying Afghanistan or Iraq. Or the racial & ethnic profiling that may have happened as a by-product of enhanced security at airports & other strategic points. But the bottom line is that America sent out a clear message to the world that it can’t be messed with, and no one has dared to do so since then.

So what WE need is not to carpet bomb Pakistan. But we need not be “talking” to them either. The Pakistani government, as of now, is clearly incapable of preventing terrorist attacks on its own soil. How can it be expected to help prevent attacks on us? You can’t expect help from a government that washes off its hand from its citizens killing people in another country by saying they were “non-state actors”, in the first place!!

In such a situation, we need to secure our own borders. We need to seek out the terrorists who are already within our borders, operating from our soil, planning attacks on us. We need to find them and bring them to book, rather than waiting for America to chance upon a David Headley.

Why is Kasab still in jail? He’s obviously thriving there, demanding biryanis!! And I read this morning in the papers that it’s taken the government Rs 31 crores to keep him alive till now!! 31 fucking crores of the tax payer’s money. The same tax payers who lost their family & friends at the hands of Kasab & his gang members are paying for Kasab’s security. Well, about time we stoped funding his security, don’t you think? And his biryanis too!!

My thoughts & prayers are with Bombay, the people who call it home (and those who have made it home), the people who demonstrated bravery in the face of terror, and those who lost their lives to a handful of deranged, misguided men. Today, and always, I am with Bombay.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Some Love Stories....

Our stories are getting more intelligent by the day, production values are getting slicker. Budgets are humongous, so our movies are a visual treat, being short in US, Europe, Australia etc. However, there is a reason why we’re still miles away from attaining the same standards in movie-making as Hollywood – lack of attention to details. Our scripts abound with loopholes, unanswered questions and illogical sequences. In a bid to get star power for their movies, even big banners ignore the soundness of the script. And trust me, details matter!

Kurbaan reminds one of New York because both movies revolve around the genesis of Islamic terrorism and are shot in NYC. However, I personally preferred Kurbaan over New York because I felt it was more engrossing than the latter, and it seemed like more research had gone behind its making. Maybe also because I no more have the patience for campus romances!

Still, I found a number of glitches in the movie.

The first 30 mins of the movie are used to show the build-up of the romance between Kareena & Saif. The pace is slow, the sequences weak, the actors unconvincing, and if you’re going to show a couple who decides to get married within a few months of knowing each other (or was it a few weeks??), the romance needs to be heady & passionate! A couple of insipid coffee dates won't get the message across. And oh, I’m yet to come across a college in India where professors openly kiss & make out in the staff rooms. Have you?

Secondly, any man with a sane mind – leave alone a journalist who is accustomed to covering war zones & knows the risks associated with not following security protocol – would never agree to track down dangerous terrorists who’re capable of blowing up planes & subway stations, on his own, rather than letting the FBI/police know about them!

Then there are other small lapses...Kareena Kapoor goes snooping around the house of her neighbor, who she suspects to be a dangerous man capable of murdering his wife, and sneaks into his basement at night (a normal person would call the cops)....she asks Vivel Oberoi, who she knows from before, to rescue her from her terrorist husband but instead of doing so (or taking her to the police who can keep her safe), he asks her to go back to her husband because he has some smartass plan in mind! She is never shown going to work after marriage though she moves back to New York from India because she has to start teaching at NYU again (and she's not supposed to have quit either). And she is pregnant without a bump!! Ever heard of that? Apparently, it’s possible if you’re living among terrorists in New York!

Overall, Kurbaan is engaging if you get past the first 30 mins that are unconvincing at best. The story is predictable but manages to make an impact. The music is fantastic. Vivek Oberoi has acted well & pulled off an almost genuine American accent without sounding stupid doing so (as is generally the case). While Kiron Kher fails to portray an Afghan. The performances by Saif & Kareena are good, though their pairing lacks chemistry. However, the movie's undoing lies in the many ignored details. OK for a one-time watch.

Monday, November 16, 2009

One For The Knife

I apologize for the quality of the picture. Taken with a camera phone.

Shock Laga?

Sex sells. Why else would Om Puri’s wife make only those parts of his biography public before the launch of the book, that deal with his sexual encounters with his maids?

Om Puri went running to the media as if bit by a rabid dog, yelling that his wife has made the most sacred parts of his life (really? sex with the maid?) sound like cheap and lurid gossip. He further went on to say that one of the maid servants, Laxmi, with whom he got sexually involved had raised him, and the physical (and apparently also emotional) relationship he had with her was his homage to her loyalty and the fact that she looked after him unconditionally.

Excuse me? Am I missing a point here? She took care of him, he gave her sex...what exactly is unconditional about that transaction?

There’s something extremely funny about this entire thing. You see, if Laxmi raised Om Puri as he claims, that makes her second to his mother. And who pays a mother-like figure back by having sex with her?? Warped, no?

Om Puri also claims that his wife didn’t let him read the biography after she wrote it. I find that hard to believe. Preposterous.

Here’s my take on the entire episode…Sure, this is a publicity stunt for the book. Nandita knew, and rightly so, that there would be no takers for the biography of someone like Om Puri who has neither had a meteoric rise to fame a la Shah Rukh Khan, nor is seen to be a mysterious personality such as Rekha, nor is his life ridden with controversies as, say, that of Parveen Babi. So she leaked only those parts of the book to the media that contained sordid details of his sexual liaisons with his maid servants. Om Puri further oiled the publicity machine by calling his wife names in public, and then apologized to her publicly as well, probably after the publishers showed him a carrot. I also think that this was Nandita’s way of getting back at her husband for having had physical relationships with maid servants!! She sugar-coated it in the form of a biography, a “tribute” to her husband, and stabbed him nice & deep. Clever woman, Nandita.

BTW…I think having sex with the maid servant is the depth of desperation. I thought those tales of men salivating at maids with their pallu tucked between their breasts and their bended over bottoms was all just a myth. But the Shiney Ahuja episode & now this proves otherwise.


I feel bad for Shamita Shetty. While she was locked inside the Big Boss house, going on & on about how close she is to Shilpa Shetty and how much she misses Shilpa and her fiancée now that they spend a considerable amount of time in London, Shilpa Shetty got engaged and even fixed a date for the wedding to take place without Shamita around.

I don’t want to judge anyone here simply because there might have been certain compelling reasons for Shilpa Shetty to do what she did (but none that have been mentioned till now), but this is just a very sad thing to happen. How can you get married without your only sister present? Hell, Shamita wouldn’t even have known of the wedding had it not been for Pravesh Rana! Isn’t that terrible? I mean surely Shilpa could’ve waited for another month? Or did Raj Kundra, after gifting her a 2.5 crore engagement ring, promise her another few crores to marry him?

Desi TomKat, anyone?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Food Wars

Remember the time when you saw guys at work order in the most delicious-looking keema (or whatever) for lunch? And you with your dabba of sad roti, sabzi & dal found yourself salivating all over? And the next day you ordered the same keema, only it didn’t taste so delicious anymore. It tasted just about OK and was floating in oil (or dalda if you please), so you felt stuffed & bloated until hours later.

Yup, today is that day! So while we’re discussing delicious keema, I want to discuss a food-related attitude that stems essentially from the cultural difference between the East & the West. Well, it stretches to other aspects of life as well but let’s limit our discussion to food here.

You know what cultural difference I’m talking about?

Individualism vs Collectivism. West vs East. Have your keema mostly by yourself vs share it with everyone around & get only a bite to eat yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not selfish. The only food items I’m possessive about are brownies & cheesecakes. I’ll even share my chocolate with you! But if I order something for myself, I like to get to eat the most of it unless I went in with the understanding that I’ll be splitting it with someone.

I get bugged when you’re expected to share everything you're eating with people at work. If you don’t, then you’re snooty, you have an attitude problem ya di ya da. Which, according to me, is just plain stupid. I’m like, “Hello, if I’ve ordered this it means I’m hungry. If you want to eat it too, go get your own!”

There’s this very collective, social mentality in India - we’re all one big happy family etc. As opposed to the West where everyone gets what they want and minds their own business (and their food). They believe in making their lives simple.

Take for example the restaurants…they’ll always ask you if you’d like to split the bill (unless they’re a very high-end, expensive restaurant where etiquette demands you not act fussy about money. And the assumption is that if you're loaded enough to dine there, you can very well foot the entire bill). So each person orders a dish, the restaurant splits the bill & everyone pays for what they ate. Unlike India where people order collectively and when it’s time to pay the bill, there’s unnecessary confusion on how much each one would need to pay, and someone or the other always feels short-changed at the end of it all because they either didn’t get their change back or they paid for more than they ate because you the bill is generally split equally, regardless of what people order. This is not an efficient system. I’m all for individualism. I’m all for eating my own food.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Will India ever grow up?

The idea of making over-the-counter emergency contraceptive pills a prescription drug was preposterous, I feel. It would’ve defeated the purpose of emergency contraception.

I do appreciate the issue at the root of the debate. Young women, especially teenagers, are using EC as normal contraception and not something to be relied on in case of an emergency only. As a consequence of this pill abuse, teenagers are ending up at gynecologist’s offices with serious menstrual & reproductive problems in larger numbers than before.

On their part, the companies that manufacture these pills place adequate warnings in the booklet that comes along with each pill, saying that the pill should be consumed only if there’s an emergency and not as a normal mode of contraception. But their easy availability combined with the fact that many youngsters dislike using protection and would like to just "get it on" without worrying about the consequences of unprotected sex, are resulting in pill abuse. Naturally, "responsible adults" are worried. (Though I wonder whether these responsible adults are genuinely worried about the health of these young women or the degenarating "morals" of young India).

However, the answer to this problem does not lie in taking away the pill's OTC status. That would cause more harm than good, not to mention that it would impact even genuine users. I feel there are other ways of combating this problem of pill abuse:

  1. The Govt. has already asked all companies manufacturing the pill to clearly & openly state the harmful effects resulting from pill abuse in their advertisements. The companies should also mention those on the outside of the box. This will go a long way in deterring irresponsible use of the pill.
  2. I’m not even going to get started on the attitude of Indian parents when it comes to educating their kids on sex. I can go on & on about that. But what horrifies me is that most gynecologists in the country also adopt a very censuring attitude towards sex when dealing with unmarried women. They make it sound like the woman has committed the ultimate sin by becoming sexually active before marriage! I think this kind of attitude is completely unnecessary – doctors are professionals and their job is to treat the patient, not to lecture her on "morals" or judge her character. They are supposed to be a source of support for women. Counseling on healthy sexual practices is OK, lecturing them on morals is not. And I think, apart from the general lack of awareness regarding safe sexual practices & sexual health, this reproachful attitude from parents as well as doctors is one of the main reasons why there are so many abortions & cases of cervical cancer in our country, even among the educated lot

I’m glad the authorities decided that emergency contraception should retain its OTC. It is upon us as parents, teachers, doctors etc. to make teenagers aware of the harmful effects of abusing the pill, and for teenagers to understand that they might ruin their long-term prospects of bearing children by doing so. Especially since Indian society is so hung up on procreating. But the question for both sides of the line is - will we ever grow up?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

There are some days....

....when you wonder what it is that life really wants out of you.

Does it want you to be happy or sad?

Feel loved or loathed?

Lucky or doomed?

Count your blessings or things that are horribly wrong about your life?

Make plans to secure your future, personally & professionally, or let destiny sweep you along the pre-destined path it has carved out for you?

Believe that we, on accord of being intelligent human beings with the capacity to think and discern what will be good for us & what won’t, have the power to mould our lives the way we want, or that we’re powerless at the end of it all?

Conquer fear or be a slave to it all your life?

Tell people who mean the world to you what it is that you really want, or keep it to yourself so as not to burden them more than they already are?

Stay or leave?

Laugh or get stressed?

Trust or suspect?

Keep the faith or doubt?

Hang on or give up...and in?

Say ‘yes’ or ‘no’?

Accept or decline?

Fight or make up?

Go on to the next level or stay where you are a while longer?

Cry at the smallest things, tired after years of fighting it out on your own, or continue to be strong because Daddy taught you that "sher ka bachcha kabhi nahi rota"?

Say “It’s all good” or “I can’t take it anymore!!"

Get hit or hit back?

Take or give as good as you get?

Screw or get screwed?

The one thing I would like to do is know for sure and not wonder, and to, for once, have things go the way I want them to. And a chance to fuck life over.

Yeah, I would really like that. And you thought this was a philosophical post!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Story of an Apple Cake

I’ve recently fallen in love with the Blueberry Muffin & the Apple Cake at Barista. They’re soft, moist, have just the right amount of sweetness & best of all, they’re free of the calories of chocolate pastries you get at coffee shops. I’m sure they’re laden with butter but let’s just let them be, shall we?

I’ve been craving a Blueberry Muffin or an Apple Cake almost every day for the past couple of weeks, so I decided to make an apple cake at home yesterday evening. Headed straight to Lake Market after work to pick up apples & ground cinnamon. The rest of the ingredients were at home.

I spent more than an hour mixing the ingredients & beating the batter before popping it in the microwave, yet the apple cake came out dry & harder than a cookie!! I know what mistakes I made but I was heartbroken nonetheless, not to mention that my craving got intensified.

For those who care, here’s the recipe for an apple cake:

Apples – Peeled, cored & chopped
All purpose flour (maida) – 3 cups
Butter or vegetable oil (You can use either but butter will obviously enhance the taste) – 2 cups
Eggs - 3
White sugar – 1 ½ cups
Ground cinnamon – 1 tsp
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Vanilla Essence – 2 tsp
Walnuts – chopped (optional)

Sift all purpose flour, baking soda & ground cinnamon together. Beat the eggs, add sugar till it dissolves. Gradually stir in the flour while beating continuously. Pour in the butter, keep beating. Add baking vanilla essence, apples & walnuts. Pour into a pan (that you can pop into the micro) smeared with butter. Bake!

You will get this...

(Photo courtesy: The Home Executive)

I promise yours will turn out better than mine, just don’t skimp on the butter, or OD on the flour or baking soda!!

P.S.: I used to think Gwyneth Paltrow & Chris Martin were really crazy for having named their daughter 'Apple'. While I still wonder what they were thinking when they named her that, I think 'Apple' is a pretty cute name for a kid. Though I'm not sure I would've felt the same way if I were named that, or she will when she grows up!!

Monday, November 9, 2009


There’s a popular restaurant on Park Street in Calcutta called Mocambo. I use the word “popular” because if you get there for dinner after 8pm on a weekend, you can be rest assured of at least a half an hour waiting time. WHICH given their food is shocking! To me at least. The restaurant serves Indian & Continental cuisine, though it’s more popular for its Continental fare. People say Mocambo's the way to go if you like Continental.

Continental food, my ass!!

I ordered lasagna. Now, we all know that lasagna consists of layers of meat, flat pasta sheets, tomato pasta sauce & cheese. At Mocambo, they believe in flavoring the meat in their lasagna with Indian spices & garnishing the dish with chopped raw tomatoes!! Absolutely horrifying!!! That’s a Calcuttan’s idea of a lasagna??

My cousin ordered a spaghetti carbonara that had no flavor whatsoever. My uncle, who was treating us, turned out to be the most sensible of us all & went with Indian food. Not much chance for a restaurant to go wrong with that. Thank God they didn’t, or I would’ve really doubted their right to even exist in the food business at all.

Mocambo is not cheap. Each continental dish costs around 200 bucs & the portions are rather small. It’s also one of the restaurants that makes me question the taste of the people of Calcutta when it comes to non-Indian, non-Chinese food. They really don’t know other cuisines at all – something that’s validated by the fact that a restaurant that serves such monstrosity is so popular. Even other Continental restaurants such as Taaja’s on Ballygunge Circular Road & One Step Up on Park Street don’t fare much better. Marco Polo on Lansdowne Road is a better bet for Continental food any day.

More Validation for Women Who Luuuuurrrve Dark Chocolate

According to a research carried out at the European Dermatology Clinic at Harley Street (whichever Alpine corner of Europe that is in), eating dark chocolates every day can reduce the risk of skin cancer & help the skin tolerate wrinkle-causing UV rays better, as it is high in flavanols, the antioxidants that occur naturally in cocoa beans.

Which means that dark chocolate is anti-ageing! Hurray!!

Now you know why women are so obsessed with dark chocolate!!

Butter on Toast

With sugar sprinkled on top. Had while soaking in the winter sun. Pure bliss.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just when you thought…

…that you beat the change of season by jacking up your immunity through healthy eating & regular Vitamin intake, you’re pinned to the ground with a nasty cold, temperature & obstinate blobs of snot that are happily making little swirls inside your head!

You gulp down buckets of orange juice praying that the greedy capitalistic firms manufacturing them didn’t skimp on the Vit C, and your mom was right about the healing powers of OJ when it comes to the cold virus.

Your respiratory allergies start acting up, compelling you to pump yourself with Allegra & inhalers – stuff that makes you nauseous & dizzy so you most dutifully avoid them otherwise.

Did I say I hate falling sick when it's so close to the weekend?

UPDATE: Orange juice does little to alleviate a cold apparently. The Vitamin C in it can boost one's immunity but one's the cold has set in, it's of no use. I'm doomed!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Care Package In the Making

‘The Boy’ is ill. He rarely falls ill. This is the first time I’m seeing him so sick in the past one & a half years of knowing him (it really has been that long!!). I reckon he’ll be out of action for a while, so I’ve decided to make him a care package.

Have you ever made a care package for anyone? I picked this concept up from my friends in college whose moms would send them care packages every now & then (Americans are big on care packages!!)

Of course, it’s more fun making care packages for girls since you can put in things like nail polish, lip balm, lip gloss, shower gel, bath oils, body butter, cosmetics….you know, the girly stuff. So, after racking my brains to come up with things a boy wouldn’t crinkle his nose at (given that he isn’t in the Hot Wheels, G.I.Joe, He-Man phase anymore) here’s what’s going into my care package for a boy…

  1. A car magazine – He loves them
  2. Cookie Man cookies!!
  3. Chocolates
  4. Gems – The candy, not the stones
  5. Hot cocoa
  6. A coffee mug
  7. Canned chicken soup
  8. Maggi
  9. Act popcorn
  10. A bottle of Starbucks Frappucino
  11. A bottle of Snapple
  12. Flavored cough drops
  13. Gummy Bears & Sour Green Apple Strings
  14. Stationery
  15. Crayons – So what if he's 28 years old? They'll make him smile!! :)

I can imagine how much fun I’m going to have putting this basket together! Even though I’m sniffling myself thanks to an annoying cold.

Got any suggestions, y’all? You’re free to drop them in but remember….it's a boy!! :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Marriage Contract

There was an article in the newspapers today about Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes re-negotiating their marriage contract, as their present contract expires this month on their 3rd wedding anniversary.

Katie Holmes is apparently demanding an extra $500,000 for supporting Scientology, Tom Cruise's adopted religion, an increase in her annual clothing allowance from $750,000 to $2 million, and a role in the next ‘Mission: Impossible’ movie.

She's believed to have received $3 million bonus from Tom Cruise when she gave birth to Suri, and he’s ready to pay her up to $5.5 million to get pregnant again, with a $2 million bonus if she conceives by 2011. However, Katie wants at least $11 million if she gives birth & $5.5 million if she tries and fails.

Is your reaction to this piece of Hollywood news the same as mine was? For all my liberal thinking & Western bent of mind, I found this extremely bizarre. Hilarious, yes, but also bizarre. For that matter, I find even pre-nuptials to be quite bizarre. How can one treat marriage as a contract?

Agreed, my attitude towards marriages is a little different from that of most Indians. For me, marriages aren’t “sacred”, a “holy” union or anything like that. Rather, I think marriage is something very intimate….something you should go in for only when you feel you’ve reached a level in your love for the other person where you can put them before yourself – though by this, I don’t mean you should be a martyr.

You should have kids when you want to & not because you’re getting paid to do it. Similarly, you should support a religion you believe in, not something you’re being paid to support. Imagine getting paid or asking for money to have a child! How ridiculous is that??

Are these people really so out of touch with reality? Or are they just being practical, making sure they have enough resources for when they find themselves single again, given the divorce rates in their country?

What's your view on this?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rendezvous at Flurys

What do you do when you get an unexpected half day off work and that day happens to be a Friday?

You make the most of the early weekend!! You do girly stuff like shop (if you’re a girl that is), and then set off to meet a friend for coffee & desserts. Now, that sounds like a plan!!

Honestly, I had no clue what to expect when I set off to meet The Knife on Friday evening. He’s fairly senior to me professionally (though he's part of the same organization as I), and I know him mainly through his blogs & a couple of face-to-face meetings that lasted all of five minutes. I didn’t know if we would find enough things to talk about for an entire evening.

Well, as it turned out, we did!!

In a quest to find a coffee shop that is different from the staid ambience, lukewarm coffee, and clueless & often rude waiters of Barista & CCD, we settled on Flury’s.

Flury’s, a cakes & pastry shop that the generation before ours that grew up in Calcutta swore by, has seen a dramatic fall from grace and glory since the 70s-80s. As a result of which most Calcuttans today are quite anti-Flury’s. Their stuff isn’t so good anymore but is fairly expensive. Other chains such as Kookie Jar & Cakes have taken over the desserts domain since then but the few things that are still good at Flury’s are it’s Chocolate Cubes (a simple, unassuming chocolate pastry), rum ball (rich but delicious) and as I discovered during this visit, the almost-neon-pink Strawberry Cube!

(The one thing that absolutely ticks me off with Flury’s is that if you visit during lunch/dinner hours & want only a cup of coffee and/or desserts rather than their food items, they refuse to let you sit on one of the tables. Instead you have to drink your coffee/have your pastry standing at the bar. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a bar stool.)

The Knife was pretty nostalgic about Flury’s and ordered a chocolate cube, a rum ball & a strawberry cube that I crinkled my nose at first, and even resisted eating due to it’s bright plastic pink color! Well, one bite of it & I couldn’t stop myself from taking many more. It wasn’t until when there was about one-fourths of it left that it struck me that it was actually The Knife (and not me!) who had called for the Strawberry Cube & I was being rude by gobbling it up. That didn’t stop me from polishing off the rest of it too, but at least I kept asking him to eat it as well.

We spoke about a lot of things – his market research papers (Kalyan, I think you should be a culinary expert rather than a Market Researcher, I really do!) that take him to exotic locales such as Switzerland frequently, Candies, our shared love for Bandra & loathing for coffee shops serving lukewarm coffee, books, blogging, Calcutta food & restaurants, the Calcutta Metro & many other things. It was mildly amusing to see him get excited over the word ‘Sprugli’ used in conjunction with coffee (he has just returned from a trip to Switzerland)....he was being very hopeful.

Two brewed coffees (for him), two Mochas (for me) & 3 pastries later, we headed to a roll shop where we had….guess what?....a roll each that was stuffed with chicken/mutton and deep friend in oil. A Calcutta original. I kept staring in horror at the amount of oil leaking out of the roll while he happily ignored me & chomped on his mutton roll. (I’ve got to give it to you, you really know your food. The fried onions in the roll, instead of the raw ones, did make a world of difference to the roll).

We didn’t run out of things to talk about even after 3 hours of hanging out. But I must admit one thing – if you read each other’s blogs (and blogs being an integral part of the lives of bloggers, we do put a lot of us & our lives out there), it’s strange when the other person says, “Yeah I read about this on your blog”, or you’re saying something & they finish your sentence for you because they’ve read it on your blog already. It’s a strange feeling but is it nice?

You tell me.