Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Drab Opinions

Someone I once used to consider a really good friend once told a mutual friend about how he detests people writing about their personal lives on their blogs. ???!! Well, sometimes I laugh at people, for their self pretentiousness. Apparently, blogs are meaningful only if you write tall lines about nuclear disasters and such like. To each his own, me thinks.

Honestly, I find writing my take on current events highly drab. Perhaps it will be a lifelong hangover from trying to set an opinion as a journalist on issues. I very rarely read such blogs myself, unless its a famous writer with a blog. Honesty again. Opinions matter, of course. But well, with an exception today, I would rather not bore you with mine. Like I said, to each his own, I suppose.

I shall say this once. I think B S Yeddyurappa is by far the worst chief minister Karnataka has ever had the misfortune of having. The rest of his cabinet, barring two, are no angels either.

The technology laggard that I am, after what must be years, I actually called up a friend today, asked him how to use Torrent and began using it! I know piracy is bad, but there isn't a chance in hell I am paying some Rs 600 for a single album! Make it cheaper and like with pirated books, I shall kiss Torrent goodbye, thank you very much!

I think the whole charade about reality shows, especially those involving children and gyrating dance moves, is very undignified, crass and steals them of their precious childhood. It is terrible that kids no longer have innocence about them.

I am not sure tourism is always good for a place, any place. They sure do talk about eco-tourism, sustainable models and such like, but having seen it from the ground upwards, it doesn't too good for the soul of a place. And I hate what has happened in Kodagu because of the weekend, shorts-and-tee sporting, affluent city crowd whose idea of my district is a great place for girls and alcohol. Yes, you gather that I hate it. Pity that the Malnad region is now said to be heading that way.

Uff, the very fact that my heart is not in writing this post means that I couldn't care less about sharing my opinion about the state of the world, neither do you about reading it.

And thus, this turned into a pointless post!

The only happy news I have to report is that I have started writing again. Not the articles, not the work bit, but the kind of writing that I quit my job for. One product is out of the mind already and my best (worst, the way you look at it) critics whose reactions matter were supposedly impressed. I am still grinning! :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Me and the Kids

I hope some of you who quoted from and asked about my blog one forenoon last week are reading this! :-) If you are, thank you! I loved being there!

I am not too much of a fan of little children, never been, having taken after a favourite aunt of mine. I clarify that I do not hate them, just that I don't have it in me to naturally be all gooey with them and keep them giggling. But in the long list of life's tragedies, kids take to me in an instant. I swear I can't see why. If you know me, you would wonder too. Touchy subject that this is, I must repeat, I do not hate kids, just that, well, read the lines above.

But in another of those contradictions, I enjoy working with them immensely. Hmm...that sounded strange to my ears even. Anyways, it so happened some months ago that through a dear friend I found myself sitting in front of a room full of kids listening to them read their stories and essays. That was to do with the Bal Bhavan, part of GoI, where I was judging kids from the South zone in creative writing. The chosen ones would compete at the national levels. Those two days were good fun, I came out thinking.

Some time later, the Karnataka Bal Bhavan called me again to judge them at the state level. There were many more kids and I had some more fun. I particularly remember a little one from Shimoga, called Aarya, who was one of the most bubbly kids I have ever seen. She is the sorts who will be somebody some day. (I sound old, don't I, saying that!?)

This and that happened over the next few months until I found myself talked into giving a seminar on freelance journalism (!) for journalism students at Vivekananda College in Puttur, Dakshin Kannada. It is a very prestigious college in those parts, also where my mum, her sisters and my uncle studied. The principal is an old family friend. There is a lot of history that binds my family with that college. Plus the utter dread of giving a speech!!! I used to be on the Student Council back in school and gave dozens of seminars in college, so not many people believe me when I say I hate giving speeches. I don't have stage fright, no. It's just that I am not comfortable standing on stage and trying to give the gyaan that I don't have. Or so I thought.

Last Saturday, it was sweltering hot in Puttur. In my beautifully hand-bound notebook, I had a speech written, having decided to read from it in a worst case scenario. When I was being introduced, a student mentioned this blog and read out a line from what I have on the profile. I hadn't expected that and was highly embarrassed.

Then the moment arrived and I promised to talk for 20 mins. I went on for 40, I was told. Parents, the parents that they are, said that I was getting better at speaking. Uncle said something similar. I didn't see anyone doze off and the next speaker began by quoting from what I said. These are people with work experience more than what my age is, so I know I didn't deserve the nice things they said about me. More utter embarrassment.

But at the end of it, after being gherao-ed by students, I confessed to myself that I actually enjoyed it. There is something about talking with children and the young adults that appeals to me. I know I am not the teacher material but it would be great fun to be more involved with young minds. And that is why I see myself working with them in a greater capacity some day in the future.

A glass memento adorns my shelf now. Most Kannada dailies in that region covered it; felt weird to be on the other side of the report. One apparently mentioned that I was a yuva lekhaki, a young writer and I couldn't help but laugh at that. Some of the students took my number and promised to be in touch. I hope they do.

In this year of letting go, I think I let go of my apprehensions about public speaking.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Have a Couch, Will Surf

Once in a while, I worry that I am turning New Age. Whatever that should mean. Alternative eco friendly organic and the rest of its sub-groups is where I seem to lean, once in a while at least. Maybe it a phase, like most things were.

While we are on that topic, I must tell you about Couch Surfing. I am told that it is rather New Age too. Wonder how and why it is classified so!
Anyway, I had heard of CS a long time ago and done my bit of surfing around the website. Then it so happened last month that the best girl friend Lizzie and I were to go on a vacation to Goa. Yes, I know what you are thinking....another of my never ending vacations!

After much holidaying this past year, I was predictably short on the crispy notes, so was she. Eureka moment happened then and one late night in Madikeri (vacationing at home!) I made myself an account on and added another word to the annoyingly long list of passwords I am supposed to remember. Too much, I tell you, passwords (and different ones at that) for every damn thing you do!

And so I surfed and got confused with the terminology there (as if walls and pokes hadn't bugged me enough: yes, I am whining!) and finally, long story short, I arranged to stay with this nice couple in Calangute. I thought they were old, they were not. Peter and Rosie turned out to be what I would say something of a New Age couple. They were extremely sweet, amazingly helpful and just really really nice people. We stayed about four days, drank copious amounts of lemon grass tea (where can I get a lemon grass plant in Bangalore?), cooked for them because we wanted to, went out, and generally had a great time. The best part? Staying with them was absolutely for free!

And that is why I recommend Couch Surfing if you are the sorts like me to either travel alone or in twos. It is NOT a dating site, not social networking either. Just that there are thousands of people in the world who genuinely want to help travellers who are on a budget. If you have extra space in your house, you can put up a profile and in case someone is passing by your town, they can write to you on CS and ask if they can stay with you. Up to you to agree or say no. If you cannot host them at home, you can also offer to show them around, meet for a drink/coffee, such like. It is the most amazing way to meet new people from different parts of the world.

Ma was of course extremely sceptic about the whole thing before we went to Goa. Lizzie was apprehensive and I admit, so was I. But it turned out great, we had a whole room to ourselves. Peter and Rosie were amazing. It is heartening to know that there is still goodness left in the world.

If you are travelling alone or with a friend and would want to save on money and meet someone amazing, check CS out. It is safe, the members are strictly monitored. The disclaimer remains though, you have to choose wisely who you would want to stay with or who you agree to host. I am a convert. Try it. Check details at

Monday, March 14, 2011

This Blogger Recommends

Okay, here is where I subject you to inanities like recommending stuff that you couldn't care in less for. But well, this is one in the list of things you can do when you have a space to write just about anything in the world.

* The King's Speech: Colin Firth is amazing and after my Oscar favourite Inception, this movie does it for me.

* The Fighter: I love Mark Wahlberg but the movie is too much of Invincible for me to be wholly impressed.

* True Grit: Loved Jeff Bridges, loved that little girl whateverhernameis. Full on Wild West sort of drama, but quite recommendable!

* Black Swan: I for one loved it for the way it tricks your mind. People called it a horror but its watchable, you ask me.

* Inception: Definitely my favourite. It takes someone of great creativity to imagine something so complex and bring it on to the screen.

* 127 Hours: Intense and quite good. Though I really didn't think A R Rahman's music suited the film.

* Sanctum: I watched it in Goa on the big screen. Very tight and intense, predictable ending but the cinematography is amazing.

* Band Baaja Baraat: If you understand Hindi, don't you dare miss watching this. Hilarious and rather touching. Anoushka Sharma looks gorgeous and the girl can act!

And there are more and more movies to watch. Until my next inane post, ciao!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

One Day. One Day At a Time. One Day Henceforth.

This book is supposedly falling off the shelves these days, lucky Nicholls! Now I have been fussy most times to read books that become sensations overnight, at least for the first few months, years even. I read the Stieg Larsson series only a few weeks ago; that should tell you what I mean. He combines crime and sex in a manner that makes me remember James Bond in parts, the series couldn't not have been the success it is. Helped of course by the author's intriguing personal story.

So one day I decided to take the risk and picked up One Day, a new sensation. I couldn't be bothered to review it just now. Read The Guardian's here. The book is rather nice and funny, though definitely not extraordinary. I felt it to be something of a mild chick-lit crossed with Love Story and more than a hint of When Harry met Sally. It is hugely funny in parts.

But the reason why I think the book strikes you is because you can so identify with some parts. I talk of the 20-somethings who have moved to cities and get busy in the daily struggle of trying to get the better of all that the urban wall bounces off you. Friends, fun, work, struggles, survivals, it quite hits home, sometimes a little too much.

Makes me wonder, you know. Life is passing by. And I wish I wasn't the sorts to be noticing it do so. Suddenly responsibilities are heavier, the 'future' isn't something that will happen many years ahead. You realize that dad gets tired easily these days, that mom is taking longer to recover from a bout of fever. You get asked an opinion. It all starts to matter.

I suppose it is a case of all of us having finally become "grown ups."
One Day, all of a sudden, it strikes you without much warning.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Food!! The New Hobby!

Food!!! I shall have you known that food is my latest obsession, the cooking part, not necessarily the eating side of it. Ma finds it stunningly strange; for I have always been the one that hated so much anything to do with cooking. But here I am, doing things I never thought was "me", experimenting in the kitchen, looking out for recipes in the weekend sections of newspapers, even watching Masterchef US on TV last week I was home.

Also, the thing I love about food is how it binds people so much. Ma always insisted that we all sit down together for dinner. I could never really get the practice of not talking at the table. We would always tell jokes, debate politics, argue; some dinners when we had company would stretch hours. With friends, with family, save for the regular meals, there has always been a story behind the times we spent together, eating, talking and making memories.

Given that my camera now is better than the one I used to have, food photography is also happening these days. I don't claim to be good at it. To go with my new hobby, here are some pictures and some stories. Bon appetit.

That with which it all begins, a gorgeous array of spices. I so love Indian cooking for the colours and spices and the aromas. Nothing excites me as much in grocery shopping as does standing before the spices rack and conjuring up images of swishing them in together. (I cant believe I just said that!!) Anjuna beach flea market, Goa

There we were, almost a year ago, a bunch of young people, on a trip that was...a lot of things, a lot of incidents and memories. This place saw us all being incredibly depressed, where we had quarter-life crisis, where we threw an advance surprise birthday dinner. The food came in very late and wasn't too good. But then, that place, that trip was one incredibly story. Pub 25, Gangtok, Sikkim

I have spent countless hours over several years at Cafe Coffee Days, with company, by myself and it remains part of some incredibly moments. The coffees there are some of the worst you can possibly hope to have. Yet, they hit the nail on the head when they say that a lot happens over coffee. A great deal did happen. Cafe Coffee Day, Mangalore

Another interesting trip to the ruins, to the coast later, more anecdotes. A meal at a supposed roof top shack, a light drizzle, an ambiance that tried too hard to be New Age, a dog at my feet, Indian Ocean's Khandisa and more, for lack of a better word, conversations. The food was not great again. And the printed reddish something in the background are my hippie-pants. Some restaurant, Hampi

There is nothing to say that Laxmi Nivas Hotel is any different from the hundred others that dot villages on highways. But the regulars on the route know that no matter what time of the day it is, no matter how disgustingly humid the coastal summer can be, you always stop here for a glass of Rim-jhim Kaapi. Some very oily snacks accompanied that day when there were four cups coffee on a greasy table. Hotel Laxmi Nivas, Kalladka, Dakshin Kannada district

Tito's was more for the whole 'been there, done that' list. Though under the hot February sun, it was nice to have the whole of the place to ourselves. Yet another trip, with one of the best girl friends, with pictures and sand and sea and long chats about work, music, men, life. I had, left with little choice, veg Xacuti, good one at that. Tito's, Baga beach, Goa

Peter and Rosie, the couple we couch-surfed with in Calangute, were the sweetest hosts. Along with great dinner that we made for them, there were these yummy sweets. What a lovely time there it was! House in Calangute, Goa

Soggy French fries, ugh! Fruit bowl, so-so. But that day was more about sitting on the lounge chairs and people watching away to sunny glory. Morjim beach, Goa

More, of course vegetarian Xacuti or some such for dinner by the candle light, by the side of a quiet road with a dog below my feet. That trip, strangely, had a lot of animals of the four legged kind hovering around us. Mirabai's Restaurant, Calangute, Goa

Why haven't I yet got Bengali recipes yet, I wonder! Excellent, excellent food at the durga puja last year. Absolutely had loved the poshto, had loved the company. We ate till we nearly burst, then stuffed in fantastic rosogollas and people-watched and bitched about them endlessly. I think the band Arko was playing in the background. Palace Grounds, BangaloreOnce in a while, I go through these salad phases where elaborate planning goes into throwing in raw vegetables together and pretending to dress it with something equally easy. This one was a cold potato, broccoli and lettuce salad with a yoghurt dressing to which I added basil, parsley and thyme. I admit, wasn't too exciting and I had to remind myself they were healthy. Home, Bangalore

I love how luscious the melon looks. More salad it was with a bowl of fruit. This was one where there was stir fried beans with pepper corns and lots of herbs with juicy Granny Smith Apples in olive oil. A little tangy, a little juicy, I admit that it was rather delicious. Home, Bangalore

Well then, here is to Food!!