Friday, February 26, 2010

Sleeping with the Celebrity

The other day I was watching the episode of 'Friends' where Ross tries to hit on Isabella Rosselini, in the presence of Rachel. When Monica asks Rachel is she's going to let Ross do that, Rachel says she's just sorry she doesn't have a bowl of popcorn to give her company while she enjoys the show.

Many of us have a celebrity that we would sleep with inspite of being in a relationship/ being married, IF given an opportunity. This is particularly true for men as they have this amazing ability to compartmentalize love & sex into neat little boxes, not to be mixed with one another. To be very honest, I totally envy them for this. If women too learnt the art of compartmentalization, we'd be a much happier species.

Anyhow, for 'A' that celebrity is Megan Fox. The fact that she's bi-sexual is even more of a turn on, apparently. I suspect he thinks he can have a threesome with her, not realizing that the third person in the threesome could be another guy!!

Who would I sleep with, if I could? Well, there's a tie between wait, five men! Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Hugh Grant, Jude Law & Hugh Jackman. But I think I'd go for Brad Pitt in the end.

Who would you want a 'celebrity pass' to, if you could have one? And no prudish answers please...b/c we'd just know that you're faking it :P

This is Hilarious

Errrr...couldn't hubby standing right next to her have pointed out that maybe she's forgotten to wear a blouse with her sari?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's With The New Coke Commercial?

I used to think Pepsi owns undisputed rights to make lame advertisements. Their strategy was to sign up all the movie & cricket celebrities possible, put them in one frame and give them lame lines to mouth, just b/c they had to be given some lines. Who cares about content or message?

I preferred the Coke ads way more - their campaigns revolved around the product and brand values (purity, trust, happiness etc.) rather than a bunch of loser celebrities. But have you seen their latest ad - the one with Imran Khan & Kalki Koechlin? I don't like it at all. I can't even tell someone what it's about because there's no story whatsoever.

The ad before this (the one where a guy & girl are studying together, they link hands and coke flows from the veins of the guy to the girl's) was quite cool. This one's a drab, the only good thing being the song playing in the background.

Those who haven't seen the ad yet can check it out here. And tell me how you like it :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Yes, We Are Sexist Like That

The latest thing to rattle the Bachchans is an article in the Mumbai Mirror claiming that Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is suffering from tuberculosis of the stomach and has therefore been unable to conceive till now, even though she has been trying to for some time.

To add salt to wound, it mentions that she’s 37 years old and isn’t getting any younger. The article also accuses the Bachchan family of discriminating against the girl child by claiming that they have a very ardent desire of having an heir to the family as soon as possible and that Amitabh Bachchan is especially sold on a grandson!!

The Bachchans - the male Bachchans to be precise - are frothing at the mouth. Bachchan Senior has been droning on about it on his blog (do not underestimate the man's capacity to drone!) and Junior Bachchan on Twitter. Thanks to his (Abhishek Bachchan's) Twitter updates we know that he’s stopped reading Mumbai Mirror, that we (the people) have the ultimate power as we get to decide what should be read & what’s trash, and that Preity Zinta is with him in his fight against Mumbai Mirror. Like we care.

No, I will not talk about whether I think it was right on Mumbai Mirror's part to publish an article that the Bachchans claim is completely fabricated and detestable. I will leave that to the Bachchan men who are spending more time talking about it than they are acting, it seems (though I will say one thing - the article has got people who didn't care whether Aishwarya Rai Bachchan got pregnant at all, saying that she's already 37 & shouldn't wait any longer to have a baby!).

I’m going to talk about that side to the Bachchans that I always knew existed and that this incident has exposed - that they are one of the most sexist families of Bollywood, though they pretend otherwise. What do they say about our true selves coming out by the way we react to & deal with crisis situations?

Both Amitabh & Abhishek Bachchan have been saying the same thing over & over again – “If you want to write something about the men of the house, we will take it. But you cannot write anything derogatory about the women of our house.”

If that is not sexist, what is? Why not let the person who this article attempts to malign, defend herself? Is she not capable of it? In case you haven't noticed, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan hasn’t uttered a single word on this on any social/media platform. Letting the men in her house defend “her modesty” (in the words of Amitabh Bachchan), is she?

Sure, the Bachchan men have every right to defend their family members but they should do so because they are a member of their family and not because they are women. A non-sexist approach would have been to say “You cannot write anything derogatory about any of our family members”.

Do you think the Bachchans would have accepted Aishwarya Rai as part of their family if she had refused to add their last name to her name? I doubt. If someone interviewing Amitabh or Abhishek Bachchan ever refers to Aishwarya as Aishwarya Rai, they never fail to correct him/ her that her name is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (with extra emphasis on 'Bachchan'). Not Aishwarya Rai. Yes, they are sexist like that. But then, I knew it all along.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tiger Cornered

Did anyone find Tiger Woods' apology to the world, strange? I mean, why should he have apologized to us? Our name isn't 'Elin' and we're not his wife. The only apology he owes is to his wife. Was it to get his fans and the sponsors who have dumped him to support him once again?

If that was indeed the reason behind his apology, then it's a scathing comment on the maturity levels of his fans. It indicates that they are not mature enough to differentiate his professional achievements from his personal problems. For instance, would you stop believing that Roger Federer is a great player if you found out that he's been cheating on his wife? I wouldn't. I don't think the crystal meth episode made Agassi any less a player either.

Is Tiger Woods' apology real and sincere? I'm not so sure. After all, in an age where even film reviews are paid for, you can't rely on any public figure to show you their real side.

Do you think Tiger owes us an apology?

P.S.: In his apology that was aired on television around the world, he says he felt that "he deserved to give in to the temptations that came with his success". That's the lamest justification for infidelity I have ever heard.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Black Forest, Sausages, Sauerkraut, Pretzels: All Things German

Did you know that the Black Forest cake is named after the Black Forest region in Southwest Germany? And the original Black Forest Cake, or Black Forest Gateau as the Europeans call it, is LOADED with whipped cream (Gateaux are very light sponge cakes with a rich icing/ filling).

The Black Forest Gateau consists of two or three thin layers of cake sandwiched between thick layers of fresh whipped cream, covered on the top & all around with whipped cream and decorated with whipped cream, maraschino cherries & chocolate shavings. It also consists of Schwarzwald Kirschwasser, a cherry liquor from the Black Forest, or Schwarzwald region of Germany.

The baked cake is stored for 24 hours before it is dressed with the whipped cream & cherries. From the outside, you’re only supposed to be able to see the whipped cream and not the chocolate cake.

The original Black Forest cake is supposed to look like this:

(Photo courtesy:

Or this:

(Photo courtesy:

Contrast these with the poor excuse for Black Forest cakes that's served in India.

Did you know that an average German eats approximately 67 lbs (approx. 30 kgs) of sausages in a year? The sausages are accompanied by sauerkraut (got the spelling right without help from the dictionary!) which is made from cabbages & onions. The cabbages are thinly sliced, pounded, sprinkled with generous amounts of salt & let to stew in the salt for 6-8 weeks!! The salt drains the water from the cabbages and they are then cooked with onions.

Did you know that pretzels are German too? Legend has it that a monk, in 610 AD (beginning of the Middle Ages) was trying to use leftover bread dough. He twisted the dough in the shape of arms in prayer (Christians in those days prayed with their arms across their chest, apparently) to reward children who had learnt their religious lessons well. He named them “pretiola” in Latin, which means "little rewards". The three empty holes were meant to help children grasp the concept of the Holy Trinity.

(Photo courtesy:

Pretiolas spread throughout Europe over the centuries and became really popular, particularly in German-speaking countries where they came to be known as “pretzels”.

Almost all food in the world has such interesting origins, most often than not drawing from the local culture and tradition of the place it originates from. Some of the stories around their origin are too old to be traced or verified but they are amazingly interesting stories nonetheless. The world of food is a fascinating one.

Yes, I’ve been watching a lot of Travel & Living lately. :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Italian Lovin'

I got home late from work last night, with a major craving for continental food. I was totally not feeling the mixed vegetable & tomato soup that was supposed to be my dinner (I’m in one of those no-carbs-at-night phase) and was looking at me from the fridge with “poor-me” eyes, begging to be loved. I decided it could wait. Luckily, I had boneless chicken, mushrooms, fresh cream & tomato puree at home. Besides, I had promised A I would cook for him. So I decided to make Chicken in Mushroom Sauce with Pasta & Garlic Bread on the side for dinner for me & my boy.

Now, I’m not a great cook. Just about average. I started taking an interest in cooking just a few months ago, and I cook only about once a week or so. I definitely don’t find it therapeutic as many people do (I do find doing dishes therapeutic though). I also don’t cook the regular chawal-dal fare. I cook when I feel like eating something different - say Italian, Thai, Mexican etc. - but I don’t want to eat out. Or when I feel like cooking for A, who is an absolute gift from heaven! He serves the food, insists on cleaning up after dinner and likes whatever I cook. Yes, he’s that kind of guy :)

So, on demand, here are the recipes for Chicken in Mushroom Sauce, Pasta Arabbiata & Homemade Garlic Bread that I made for dinner last night.

Chicken in Mushroom Sauce (Serves 2)

Boneless Chicken Breasts, whole, without skin - 2-3
Mushrooms, finely sliced - 100gm
Onion, finely sliced - 1 medium (or 2 small)
Garlic, finely chopped - 2-3 cloves
Milk - 200ml
Fresh Cream - 4-5 tbsp
Dried Thyme - ½ tsp
Salt & Pepper
Olive oil

Heat oil in a pan. Sprinkle a pinch of salt (not much) & some pepper on the chicken and cook till done, turning sides.

For the mushroom sauce, heat oil in another pan. Add the sliced onions once the oil is hot and cook till they are soft & translucent. Add the garlic and the mushrooms and cook till mushrooms are dark & soft. Add the milk and fresh cream. Fresh cream will give the sauce the consistency it needs for this dish. Add salt, pepper, dried thyme & bring to a boil. Cook on low-medium heat till the sauce thickens. Pour the sauce on top of the chicken & serve.

Tip: You can also add a sprinkling of paprika for taste but it’s optional. And don’t add too much thyme - this dish is supposed to get its flavor from the mushrooms, not the herbs.

Pasta Arabbiata

Pasta – desired quantity
Tomato puree (I tried using homemade puree once but the dish didn’t turn out good, so I now stick to packaged puree that you get easily in supermarkets).
Garlic, finely chopped - 3-4 cloves
Parsley (though fresh parsley would give the dish more flavor, ½ tsp of dried parsley works as well)
Salt & pepper
Olive oil - 1 tsp

Boil the pasta, al dente. Drain and set aside.

I prefer cooking the sauce first and then adding pasta to it, rather than adding the sauce to the pasta.

For the sauce, heat olive oil in a pan. Add the chopped garlic and sauté till it’s golden brown. Pour in the tomato puree. Add salt, pepper & parsley and bring the sauce to a boil. Cook for 2-3 mins on low heat. You can then put in the pasta & cook for a few more minutes.

Homemade Garlic Bread

I made this with regular whole-wheat bread. Mix butter, a teaspoon of olive oil & parsley together. Again, fresh parsley, finely chopped, would be better but dried parsley works too. Spread the mixture on the bread slices, wrap in aluminum foil & bake. Servce hot.

Tip: Remember to leave the foil partly open so the bread doesn’t become soggy from the heat getting trapped inside the foil.

Buon appetito!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

PC's Custom Ferragamos

Priyanka Chopra had these sandals custom-made for her by Salvatore Ferragamo, as part of their 'Shoes for A Star' project. She's the first Bollywood actress and the second Indian woman (after Indira Devi, the Maharani of Cooch Behar) to have her own customized pair.

I'm quite on the fence about them - hated them when I first saw them, mainly b/c of the material and it's too blingy for my liking. But then, they're supposed to be diva sandals and I've warmed up to them a little bit since I first saw them.

How do you feel about them - do you love them, don't care much or are you on the fence about them?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

His Name Is Khan

And it doesn’t matter whether I say it from the epiglottis or not because I’ll be going against the grain anyway. I did not like MNIK. I did like Shah Rukh Khan in the movie though. He is brilliant. It must have taken a huge deal of effort for an actor who has relied on his dimples, his charismatic smile & outstretched arms to sail his movies through for the past two decades, to pull off a character whose eyes are dead, whose face can’t betray emotions, and who walks & talks differently. And pull it off convincingly. It’s a brilliant piece of acting from Shah Rukh Khan, only to be let down by a flawed script and poor direction.

I will stick my neck out and say that MNIK is a badly directed movie when critics and reviewers all around are applauding Karan Johar for having made something different from his usual fare. This is Karan Johar’s first mature piece of work, and given that he is 40, it should’ve come a long time ago. Alas, he has always been a film-maker too trapped in his trademark style, i.e. exaggeration of emotions, grandeur and larger than life everything. And it is this failure to let go of his trademark style completely while making a film that necessitated he do so, that is the undoing of MNIK. And the over-simplication of things.

But, let’s talk of the larger than life-ness first.

It’s common knowledge that Karan Johar is obsessed with Shah Rukh Khan. Without getting into the debate of their sexuality (which, incidentally, I don’t buy into) we know that K Jo is in love with SRK. He can never give the man a character that is real, not larger than life, Autism notwithstanding. A man afflicted with the Asperger’s Syndrome will most probably not have the resourcefulness to mobilize relief efforts throughout America in a bid to rescue a village hit by a hurricane. He would probably not travel the length and breadth of the country chasing the President just because “his beautiful wife asked him to go and tell the President that his name is Khan, and he is not a terrorist”. He would probably also not be able to sell cosmetics to salons. He will kept his ‘autistic disability’ card at hand at all times, not only when it suits the script.

Rizvan Khan is shown to be flawless, godly and capable of almost anything, even though he is autistic. But in spite of these flaws in his characterization, SRK makes Rizwan Khan work like only he can. He makes you feel sorry for the guy from the opening frame itself, and he is the only good thing about the entire movie…because he is unbelievably restrained. Because he isn’t SRK.

I’ll be going against the stream once again when I say that I didn’t like Kajol in the movie (I think people are raving about her because we see so less of her these now). Her character is half-baked - she swings from being real to being really ditzy.

Sample this - Rizwan keeps insisting she marry him but she keeps refusing. And in the very next sequence, she asks him to marry her! Why? Because he showed her a view of San Francisco she hadn’t seen before (say what?)!

She promptly changes her’s as well as her son’s last names to Khan and then goes on to pin the entire blame of her son’s murder on Rizwan. The fact that SHE chose to adopt his last name doesn’t matter, of course (it comes across like it’s a given women will change their name after marriage and they have no choice about it). She’s too shrill in the happy parts and too shrieky in the sad ones. But the Kajol-SRK chemistry can’t be denied - even though it’s slightly wrinkled and fine-lined now.

There are other loopholes in the script as well. For instance, we don’t know why the two fell in love. Rather, why Kajol fell in love with an autistic character. Their romance is hasty and culminates into marriage way too fast. The question is, would a perfectly cognitively-abled woman fall in love with and marry a man with a very obvious personality disorder that impairs the sufferer’s ability to form & maintain interpersonal relationships, so easily?

When SRK is frisked at the airport at the beginning of the movie, he’s let off after the officers see his ‘Autistic disability’ card which he wears around his neck. Yet, the same card is missing when he is arrested, thrown into a cell and tortured by the police for saying “My Name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist” in a public gathering.

Rizwan Khan is able to free himself from the cops and exonerate himself of the accusation that he is a terrorist because he calls the FBI to report a fundamental Islamist who is recruiting terrorists in Los Angeles and because he is able to rescue a village after a hurricane. But what if he had been a real person suffering from autism and not the larger-than-life hero of this movie, who didn’t have the cognitive ability, the resourcefulness or the wherewithal to do either? Would he have been able to set himself free and meet the President in that case?

The other undoing of the movie lies in the over-simplification of life, people & relationships. According to this movie, there are only two types of people in this world - the good and the bad. There’s no one in between. There are no “grey characters”, so to say. And we know that’s anything but true in real life. There are no only good or only bad people in the world. All of us have some good in us along with some bad. It may be a lot of good with a little bad, or vice versa, but no one’s a godly Saint and no one is a completely goodness-stripped devil either. As per this movie though, Americans in post 9/11 America are all paranoid, cruel, bad, and our protagonist is all good.

And that’s where this movie, which attempts to deal with one of the most complex issues (terrorism) and defining incidents of our time (9/11) really fails to impress. The approach is too simplistic compared to what this subject warrants. In fact, I feel 9/11 as a subject or a backdrop to a film should simply be left alone. Yes, there was a lot of racial profiling and faith-based attacks on innocent people in the United States and across the Western world post 9/11, but the dynamics of it is too complicated to be captured in a two & a half hour movie. And certainly not by a director with a limited repertoire like Karan Johar.

There’s confusion regarding the message that Karan Johar wants to give out through this movie. Sometimes it’s said that the movie has tried to show that Islam is not a bad religion that preaches violence and terror, and at other times that it’s just a love story with the backdrop of 9/11 and how the incident affects the life of the protagonists. I would say it’s the latter. Despite what the promos would have us believe, MNIK is neither about autism, nor about the misperception of Islam post 9/11. The autism bit helps generate a lot of sympathy and support for the guy and religion forms the backdrop. This is a film about a larger-than-life hero is madly in love with his heroine and will do anything to win her back, even if that means traversing the length and breadth of the United States of America with very little money in search of the President. And he will not hug her even if he runs into her after days of separation because he hasn’t fulfilled his promise to her of telling the President that “His name is Khan, and he is not a terrorist”.

MNIK is unbearably long, almost 3 hours, and without much of a story to tell post intermission, it seems to drag. Now, you don’t want a sad movie which is meant not to entertain but to arouse pathos, to drag.

I’m not saying MNIK is a bad film, or a badly researched film. But the disability (Asperger’s Syndrome) has been twisted to suit the script, and along with the flawed script, Karan Johar’s obsession with Shah Rukh Khan and everything larger-than-life prevents it from being the movie it could have been. SRK shines though and surprises you with his performances like only an actor who is good at his craft but inconsistent can.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Saffron is the New Color of Terror

There are disturbing articles in the papers. Articles about how multiplexes in Mumbai have refused to screen 'My Name Is Khan' despite assurances from Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan that they’ll be given full security. But more disturbing are articles about how in order to be successful in Mumbai, every industrialist/ Bollywood personality needs to pay obeisance to Bal Thackerey, the self-proclaimed protector of Mumbai. This had me enraged.

Earlier, I was angry at the fact that the Maharashtra government didn’t take any action against the Shiv Sena when their goons were beating up North Indians a couple of weeks ago! Mantralaya was silent as a lamb. But when it came to protecting the interests of the powerful, moneyed people of Bollywood, the State Government suddenly woke up & started arresting Shiv Sainiks! How pathetic is that?

The decision of multiplex owners not to screen MNIK for fear of Shiv Sena, despite assurances of safety from the State Government, is a damning commentary on the state of our government & our democracy. It goes to show how impotent the Maharashtra government is considered to be. And I am not surprised - Vilasrao Deshmukh was nowhere to be seen or heard during 26/11. The one man who should’ve been at the helm of affairs was conspicuously absent. There have been repeated episodes of the Shiv Sena & MNS terrorizing & beating up non-Maharashtrians in Mumbai, rioting and destroying public property while the government has watched silently. No wonder they brazenly continue with their hooliganism, with complete disregard for law & order.

I want to know why the Thackereys - all three of them - are not behind bars. Every individual has the right to protest in a democracy but aren’t rioting, spreading communal violence & destroying public property, criminal offences?

I am ashamed to be a citizen of a country where goons hold the society to ransom, abuse & beat people up while the government, rather than bringing them to book, issues meek statements such as “this is not in the interest of the state”. Or empty warnings about withdrawing Udhav Thackerey’s Z-plus security while Udhav gives them the finger saying he doesn’t need state cover in the first place!

The Shiv Sena won’t let Australians play in Mumbai because of the attacks on Indians in Australia. But they are attacking Indians in India! Someone needs to tell them that North Indians are Indians too. Just as much as Maharashtrians are. Maybe those uneducated law-breakers don't know that the borders of India extend well north of Maharashtra.

For me, anyone who spreads terror through violence of any kind is a terrorist. They need not have a beard, be waving a green flag, or reciting phrases from the Quran.

The Wilderness Years

I wrote this yesterday, people, but didn't get a chance to post it. I was having a crappy day. Today is remarkably better. I slept early last night & got up late this morning. That worked wonders, with a little bit of help from a cup of dark hot chocolate & freshly baked chocolate chip cookies :)


Today is one of those days. Household appliances that are indispensable in the mornings conked out on me. Halfway to work I realized I’d left a very important document at home, so I had to go back to get it. Got terribly late to work in the process. As soon as I reached work, my cell phone died, leaving me feeling listless all day. Tried doing an online transaction but I kept entering the wrong password REPEATEDLY (thanks to the retarded bank guy who INSTRUCTED ME TO ENTER THE WRONG PASSWORD), so my card got blocked for online transactions. Had to make multiple calls to the bank since morning to un-block my card but it hasn’t been done yet. DESPITE PROMISES OF IT BEING DONE WITHIN AN HOUR. It’s been ten hours since :(

SO...I’ve been feeling terribly ‘meh’ since morning. Tried drowning myself in work (not that I had to make much of an effort) but that didn’t work either. So I’ve given up all attempts to work and am writing this post instead. At least I will get something accomplished - which is to get these thoughts (that I’m going to ramble about now) out of my system.

I’ve wanted to write this post for quite sometime and today seems to be the ideal day for it. So warning folks, depressing, long & rambling post ahead :0

I hit the big 3-OH next month. Yes, I turn thirty. Which means I start using Olay Total Effects in a little over a month from now. Pooh! To think I reacted with a mixture of incredulousness & rage when my poor mum tried to subtly pass on a bottle of some other anti-ageing concoction to me a couple of months ago. In my defense, I think I reacted like that because it said ‘For 30+ people’ on the bottle. Those guys need a lesson in marketing. And in understanding their target group. I mean, hello, women are terrified of turning 30! You’re definitely not going to win any fans if your bottles are screaming “You’re 30 plus! You need this stuff!”

But I digress.

The last couple of years haven’t been the best of my life. They’ve been fraught with confusion, indecision, dissatisfaction & boredom with certain aspects of my life, and the general lack of inertia to change things. My personal life - at this moment at least - is not completely in my own hands. Professionally, I know where I want to be 5 years down the line but that requires a great amount of sacrifice on the personal front which I somehow am not able to get myself to make.

The result of all this is that for the past year or so I’ve been having more bad days than good. I’ve been irritable, snappy, withdrawn, unsocial and cribbing incessantly. I’ve been having mood swings by the hour. In short, LIFE. HASN’T. BEEN. GOOD.

It’s funny how when a couple of things aren’t going your way in life, everything else seems wrong & messed up too!

The other day I met a very dear college friend for lunch. She turned 30 last year and we got around to discussing the entire “turning 30 paranoia”. She admitted having gone through those feelings too, in the run-up to 30. She called the late 20s “The Wilderness Years”. And I thought that was hitting the nail on the head (pardon the cliché)!

That’s what the late 20s are, aren’t they? The Wilderness Years. Things that you wouldn’t have given much importance to in your early-mid 20s suddenly become very important. You worry & crib about them incessantly. You’re confused, you’re lost, you’re questioning what you’re doing with your life personally & professionally, and you’re antsy about turning 30.

Life is simple when you're in your early 20s. You like your job. You don't think about job satisfaction much or whether that's really what you want to be doing with your life as long as the job gives you money to pay your bills, go out & shop. You go to work, you hang out with friends after work, you hang out at coffee shops, bars, you go out for dinner, you shop, you travel.

But as soon as you hit 27-28, the realization that you'll be 30 in a few years hits you BANG! Because once you’re 30, you know you’re getting old. And you’re reminded of it every single day in very cruel ways. Your metabolism slows down. The pounds pile on to your waist as if it were a happy, sunshiney place to camp at permanently. The wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots & every other sign of skin aging that anti-aging cream manufacturers try to scare you with start appearing. There are people telling you that you don’t have much more time to pop babies!!

30s also means that your years of struggle at work are over, so you should be doing something substantial, should have respectable savings & investments, and you should’ve achieved some professional milestones.

But more than anything, there’s that niggling worry that you may not be doing what you actually want to in life, and you might be squandering away the best years of your life and your potential doing something that hardly matters in the larger scheme of things.

30 is the year for introspection, for asking yourself questions. But according to my wise friend (and wise she is!), once you hit 30 life is back to being good. You become more confident, you are sure of what you want instead of going chasing everything in sight, you learn to prioritize, and you learn to say no when you want to because you no longer have the need to appease people. You’re comfortable being yourself, comfortable in your skin, comfortable letting your partner be himself and have his/her space. You stop worrying about what will happen a couple of yeard down the line & take things as they come.

But does that really happen? Does all that pre-30s nervousness, anxiety, confusion & disillusionment dissipate once you hit 30? I guess I’ll have to wait another month to find out!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Will You Work While I Take a Break?

Why is it that when I tell A that I’m completely sick of work and want to take a break, he is all supportive? To the extent of saying that he’ll take care of me financially while I'm not working, will cut down on his own expenses so I can have ALL his extra money (just leave him enough to pay his EMIs & a little bit for his personal expenses :) Which makes me go all ‘awwwwwww...’ over him and this tremendous wave of love & affection for him washes over me :P

But when I tell him that I intend to take a 6-month break when I get married, his reaction goes something like this: “You want to quit working & be dependent on your husband? You women have it so easy in life! You can happily quit your jobs when you get married & expect your husband to take care of you! But does anyone care to ask the husband if he wants to take a break too? Would you support your husband if he decides to quit his job?”

To which I reply, “Of course, I will. If I wish to quit my job & expect him to take care of me financially, it’s only fair that I support him if he wants to do the same.”

But I don’t think my argument cuts much ice with him :) The man has issues with any kind of convention, so he’s OK with me taking a break b/c I’m sick of working but not with me quitting just b/c I know I have a husband who'll take care of me.

And though it’s funny because he has contradictory reactions to the same action, i.e. taking a break from work, it also got me thinking.

We (women) are so conditioned to think of the man as the primary breadwinner that it’s almost unimaginable to think of him as being unemployed for even a short span of time. We expect men to work non-stop their entire lives, while we’re OK with taking an extended break from work ourselves. And while I say that I’ll support my man if he decides to take a break, I don’t know how I’ll deal with it if it actually happens. While I will definitely support him financially (if I have a job, that is :), will I do it gladly? Will I be able to appreciate his need to take a break just as I would mine? Or will there be a thousand questions in my mind about how we’ll we able to maintain our lifestyle, travel & do the other things we wish to do that cost money?

What about you? Especially if you’re a woman, how would you react if your husband told you he wants to take a break from work?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Are These Your Thoughts Too?

I have lots to write about (don't I always? :) But I'm just out of a very hormonal weekend (PMS, what else) that's left me all over the place emotionally and groping for my bearings. To add to my woes, I'm swamped with work. So I'll get back to writing once I find my bearings again and the deluge of work subsides. Oh, I have so much to say!

In the meantime, I'm leaving you to read this article I recently read on Rediff. While I AM currently admiring SRK for his balls to not bow down to the Shiv Sena, unlike his chaddi buddy K Jo, I do agree with the point the author of this article is trying to make.

You may skip the first paragraph. I didn't understand most of it :)

The polemics emanating from the IPL affront to Pakistani cricketers again brings to the fore the confused morass that is the Indian psyche; a jumble of misplaced morality and mawkish sentimentalism that revels in sadomasochistic self doubt and translates into a gibberish that has no functional value. The net result is a floundering nation unsure of how to confront the inimical forces that confront it.

In simple terms, a country that is unable to make strong decisions and stick by it.

Rajasthan Royals' co-owner Shilpa Shetty unusually forthright response to the brouhaha that followed the non-selection of the Pakistani players was a breath of fresh air. She bluntly remarked: "People have to be a little more sensitive, a bit more mature. Let's not be hypocrites and let's not turn a blind eye to the already volatile situation. …you must look at it pragmatically and see that we have had these people who are constantly threatening."

"It's not something we hold against the Pakistani players. We completely understand the situation but as franchise owners are we willing to take that risk? If something happens to the Pakistani players, the onus lies on us and who is going to take responsibility for a situation like that? When we said 'availability', we wanted complete assurance that those players would be available in the country and that we were going to be able to provide security for them."

At the outset the near unanimity of action of the IPL was praiseworthy. It was grounded in reality, made good business sense, accounted for security concerns and above all resonated with the national sentiment prevalent in the nation post 26/11.

Although the IPL refuted the charge of a premeditated conspiracy there was no denying the undercurrent of patriotic fervour. It was strong decision but subtle and hurt the enemy where it hurt most. And for once India revealed a depth to its character, an ability to stand up for itself, a new found confidence that clearly said: 'Don't toy with us'. But alas the satisfaction was short lived.

Soon notes of dissent surfaced with our honorable home minister and a Bollywood icon mouthing a namby-pamby view that was in line with India's perpetual guilt complex.

There was no need to be apologetic about the IPL stance. Yet there was Shah Rukh Khan decrying the decision not with a logical counterpoint but by singing paeans to Pakistan and invoking personal ties. He remorsefully exclaimed: "It (Pakistan) is a great neighbour to have. We are great neighbours, They are good neighbours. Let us love each other. Let me be honest. My family is from Pakistan, my father was born there and his family is from there."

Two glaring inconsistencies stand out in this remark. One, if Pakistan is really a great neighbour then I am Albert Einstein. Without mincing words let me say that Pakistan is a deadbeat nation that is nothing more than a drag on India's progress. The less we have to do with this nation the better.

The second objection concerns the merging of private and public domains. I have no issue with Shah Rukh Khan's personal empathy for Pakistan borne out of familial affiliations even if it cuts across hostile boundaries. But can a national icon cite family ties to influence the professional decisions of an India based organisation or to sway public opinion?

The home minister's response too was unnecessarily defensive with an uncalled for dose of self reproach. He dubbed the non-inclusion of Pakistani cricketers as a 'disservice to cricket and contended that 'these players were coming as individuals, it was not a Pakistan team.'

Another misperception that stems from a lack of pragmatic thinking. A perusal of the following excerpt (Saba Naqvi. It's Not Cricket. Outlook, January 25) reveals that these Pakistani players are not isolated individuals but members of a larger hate India club that is Pakistan.'

Consider this conversation that took place in a TV show titled 'A morning with Farah' on ATV, a Pakistan channel. Sohail Tanvir, who helped the Rajasthan Royals win and got the highest number of wickets in the first IPL is being interviewed by another journalist while the glamorous hostess, Farah, looks on. Consider Tanvir's remark: 'Hinduon ki zahaniyat hi aisi hai (the Hindu nature is like that only)' the implication being that the Hindus have deliberately deceived and humiliated Pakistanis. The journalist responds with a remark about Indians being baniyas and says: 'bagal me chhuri/ muuh me Ram Ram' (they are ready to plunge a knife behind your back though they will keep saying Ram Ram). The gentleman with this shocking view of Indians in general and Hindus in particular then goes on about how India is tricking Pakistan out of hosting the World Cup next year.'

This vitriolic outpouring is shocking but what makes it even more despicable is the prime time prominence given to such Hindu/Indophobic venom. In comparison, it is hard to find such rabid talk from even the far right of the India's political spectrum and certainly not on national television. It is this stark difference between the two nations that needs to sink into the fuzzy minds of our peaceniks.

We, in India are quick to vilify those who propose a hard line approach to Pakistan that includes severing cricket ties by branding them as radical and uncivilised. We cannot mix cricket with politics is the oft quoted mantra. But what is so sacred about this dichotomy? Is it a directive derived from logic or common sense or an abstract feel good notion with no utility value? And has continued cricketing ties mitigated Pakistan's terror shenanigans?

I would like to look at in another way. This is not about cricket and politics but cricket and humanity. I am passionate about cricket and love the game. But that is the point. Cricket is merely a game and must take second place to humane concepts.

Is it not barbaric that we choose to continue playing cricket with a people whose compatriots routinely massacre our innocent civilians? I find it uncouth when we walk over the dead bodies of the carnage of 26/11 and extend a 'loving' hand to Pakistan and Pakistanis? This suggests that we care little for the lives of our citizens and more for our image and entertainment.
This train of terror cannot go on. We must draw the line somewhere and it is here and now even if it means no cricket.


While I don't belong to the "let's carpet bomb Pakistan" camp, I do believe that we need to adopt a hard-line policy with them. We've put up with more than enough. There should be no friendly talks, no discussions, no cultural or sporting exchanges with Pakistan until they stop pumping terrorists into our country. And we need to hit them in a way that hurts any country the most - in financial terms. Not including Pakistani players in the IPL would have done just that.

Your opinion/reaction to this article is invited :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Original, my dear Watson!

This post is a little late in the day but so what?

Guy Ritchie, the man behind movies like 'Snatch' & 'Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels' has come up with a completely original take on Sherlock Holmes - which isn’t Sherlock Holmes as we know it, at all!!

Note I didn’t say Sherlock Holmes as we know ‘him’ b/c the essence of the character is retailed. He still relies on his trademark deductive logic to solve mysteries.

Guy Ritchie’s interpretation is less Sherlock and more Da Vinci Code-meets-James Bond. And I loved it. I thought it was an intelligent script and very well-made though A, who is a big Sherlock Holmes fan (he went to visit 221B Baker Street when he went to London!) didn’t like it for the same reason. Also, he hates James Bond :)

Seriously though, is it possible to not like James Bond??

Coming back to the movie, the things to absolutely devour were the homo-erotic relationship between Sherlock & Dr Watson (the sexual tension increased by the minute!), Jude Law who remains just as edible in any ‘avatar’ (Ha! Take that Cameron!) whether it’s the droolworthy Graham Simpkins of ‘The Holiday’ or the moustached, nerdy Dr Watson, the élan with which Robert Downey Jr. has portrayed the eccentricity of Sherlock (he's sunk his teeth into this role he has), and the intelligent humor. These characters remain unfazed even in the face of death and manage to infuse humor in the dreariest situations.

The biggest challenge when it comes to adapting characters that are widely loved and have a fan following from books or older movie series, and when you are also coming up with a completely original story, is to get people to like it. And I think Guy Ritchie has managed to do that - I’m yet to read a bad review of the movie.

Apparently, the producers of the movie are trying to get Brad Pitt to play Professor Moriarty, the villian, in the sequel to the movie which is due for release in 2011. Imagine Brad Pitt & Jude Law in the same frame!! Poor Robert Downey, Jr.

Well, I don't know whether they will actually be able to get Brad Pitt to play an evil character - which will be delicious by itself. What I do know is that the first intallment was gripping, fast-paced, witty and very typical Guy Ritchie. You’ll like it if you’ve liked his earlier work & aren’t too hung up on the Sherlock Holmes books. If you haven’t & you are (respectively), well you’re on your own then, my dear Watson :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Homemade Chicken Curry & Steaming Vegetable Soup

Chicken curry has always been my comfort food. Though my favorite cuisines are Chinese followed by Italian, homemade chicken curry is what I crave when I need nurturing. It’s the kind of food I want when I need a hug from mom but mom is in a land far away.

Chicken curry also reminds me of Sundays while I was growing up. Sundays used to be chicken/mutton/fish curry days! My family called itself non-vegetarian but our idea of non-vegetarianism was having chicken/mutton/fish one day of the week. That was the world I grew up in. It wasn’t a money issue; it was the fact that non-vegetarian food was essentially considered unhealthy thanks to the more-than-you-can-count-on-the-fingers-of-your-hands number of doctors in my family!

My mom’s chicken curry used to be lavish. She used to take as much onion as chicken - almost a kg of onion for 1 kg chicken - and she would cook them together till the onions melted and their flavor inflused into the chicken. She used to finish the dish off with a generous helping of ghee. Do I need to mention how divine it tasted?

The chicken curry I make isn’t my mom’s recipe. It’s a recipe I’ve picked up along the way. The best part is that it’s light as it doesn’t need too much oil, so you won't have any ghee stubbornly applying for permanent residency on your hips/butt/tummy. And it’s a happy bright yellow color!

I would like to dedicate this recipe to The Knife. He has inspired a person like me who hated cooking to start experimenting with it. I cook often on weekends now. So it’s only fair I dedicate my favorite recipe to him!

The ingredients for this Chicken Curry are:

Chicken - 800 gms
Olive oil - 4-5 tbsp (you can use regular vegetable oil too)
Cloves - 2-3
Cardamoms (whole) - 2
Cinnamon stick - 1
Bayleaf - 2
Onions, sliced - 100 gms
Ginger garlic paste - 3 tbsp
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder - ½ tsp
Turmeric powder - ¼ tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala powder - ¼ tsp
Yogurt - 4-5 tbsp
2 large tomatoes, chopped
Green coriander for garnishing

Heat oil in a pan. Add the whole masala and once it starts cracking, add the chopped onions. Fry till the onions are golden brown. Add ginger-garlic paste along with all the powder masala. Sauté for sometime, then add the chicken pieces & salt. Sauté for sometime. Add yogurt & tomato and sauté. Add water and cook till done. Serve with rice or chapattis.

There’s also a vegetable soup that I made yesterday for the first time. Completely original recipe. I won’t tie you down with proportions since I’m not an expert cook. Most of you who know cooking will have a much better idea of proportions, but for people who’re as culinary challenged as me, the quantity of each ingredient I used is as follows (Serves 2):

Peas - 100 gms
1 medium sized carrot, thinly sliced
5-6 florets of cauliflower
1 large tomato, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 green chilly, chopped
Salt to taste
A pinch of turmeric
Crushed black pepper
Maggi soup masala cube (This is just to spice up the soup a little bit. You can use any other soup seasoning as well or skip this completely if you’d rather have a blander tasting soup).

Dump the peas, carrots & cauliflower in a pressure cooker & cover with water (enough only to submerge the vegetables). Add a pinch of salt & turmeric powder. Fix the lid & pressure cook till done (they should be done in 3-4 whistles). Dump the contents of the pressure cooker in a blender along with the water you boiled it in. This is because they say that if you boil vegetables, most of their nutrients seep out into the water. This is simply a way of retaining the goodness of vegetables and you won’t need to add additional water into the blender.

(You can alternatively steam the vegetables but in this case you’d need to add some water into the blender while blending the vegetables.)

Add the chopped tomato, onion, ginger, garlic & green chilly into the blender & blend. Caution : do remember to fix the lid of the blender properly or you’ll soon have green colored walls!

Once the vegetables are blended, pour the liquid back into a vessel. Add some more salt (to taste), crushed black pepper (as desired), Maggi soup masala cube and bring to a boil. Simmer for 4-5 mins. Serve hot.

I’m not going to dedicate this recipe to The Knife. I do want to live to write another post, afterall. So…I’ll dedicate it to my mother!
See mommy, I’m eating my vegetables!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Raspberries & Plums

Boy: You’re smelling of strawberries.

Me: Raspberry. And it’s Body Shop. And it costs a bomb so you better not trash it.

Boy: I don’t care. I don’t like fruity moisturizers. Why would anyone want to smell like a fruit?

Me: Well then, I guess I know what we’re doing tonight.

Boy: No wait! I didn’t say I couldn’t make exceptions! Isn’t raspberry, like, an exotic fruit? I can make an exception for an exotic fruit!

Later on the same night…

Boy: You need to go back to the gym!

Me: Errr…shouldn’t you, like a good friend who cares for my mental & emotional well-being, be encouraging me to be comfortable in my own body?

Boy: No.

Me: No?

Boy: Like a good friend, I’m supposed to be encouraging you to lose weight.

Me: (Damn!) Ummm, don’t you love having more of me to love?

Boy: No.

Me: No?

Boy: There’s way too much of you to love. I don’t need so much.

(Double damn…The reverse psychology thing was really not working!)

But after some time, The Boy felt bad…

Boy: Well, you don’t have to be thin thin. You can be plum.

Me: It’s not ‘plum’ silly, it’s ‘plumP’

Boy: What??!! I thought it was ‘plum’!

Me: Plum is a fruit!! You know, like plum cake, plum custard….?

Boy: Oh…but you like fruit

Me: I like smelling of fruits, I don’t want to BE one!

Boy: Hmmm…is plum an exotic fruit too?

Me: No it’s not. Go to sleep now. G’nite

Tell you what, boys WILL always remain boys :)