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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Of scooterists and driving in Delhi

I take a spiffy right turn, hum my current favorite ditty and throw a smile at this absolutely gorgeous, drop dead gorgeous- baby! I am cruising along at a comfortable speed of about 40 when I suddenly spot a two wheeler- no, not two wheelers and dealers, but a two wheeled contraption, bearing a striking resemblance to the one used by Amol Palekar in 'Choti si Baat'. I am understandably transfixed by the sight but, and herein lies the catch, so it seems are they. Yeth, yeth, I know I am using the personal  pronoun in the plural -they, and you will quite likely want to know who is the 'they'. I mean only the person sitting pillion can look at me because the other has to propel the lambretta forward ( a la Amol.P) in the aforementioned movie. But, here it was 'they' who were looking, gesturing and speaking to me. It was, you guessed right, another instance of traffic rules being flouted. There were not one but two riding pillion!  

Anyways, no one can accuse me of being socially challenged and so I too , sort of  ,acknowledged them .The girl sitting at the back waved her arms - I thought she was being slightly over enthusiastic and raised an eyebrow. Next,- it was the turn of the girl in the middle.   She contorted her ample body to turn and give me a ' look.' I raised my other eyebrow. But it was only when the scooterist also turned and gesticulated and mouthed something which certainly did not look as if he was asking for my autograph that I realized that something was wrong. I looked at the car door-not open. belt-on. Check. Terrosist in the back seat-no. Check. I again looked at the trio. Heavens! They-yes all three of them- seemed to be having a problem with my driving. Well, well, well. I can take 'comments' about my driving from the husband and the girl and the boy , but from these characters? no way. I was mentally rolling up my sleaves and thinking of some of the 'choisest' (in  english, ofcourse) when I heard this screeching of tyres.

Guess what? the traffic police had just pulled up next to them and were handing out a slip ( challan? ) in just the way shown in movies .
What is it 'they' say about divine justice?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sitaron se aage abhi jahaan aur bhi hain.....

There comes a time in everyone’s life when the sun’s rays don’t seem to be warm enough, when doors open out to bleakness and the windows in our room seem to be blocking our escape.   I think Iqbal wrote these wonderful lines for just such a time .  Dedicating these lines to my daughter & son, to my indiblogger  friends  and to myself.

                           Sitaron se aage abhi jahaan aur bhi hain
                             Beyond the stars there are world more
                             Abhi Ishq ke imtehan aur bhi hain
                            There are even more tests of passion

                            Tahi zindagi se nahin ye fizayen
                         This existence alone does not matter
                          Yahan siakdon karwaan aur bhi hain
                            There are boundless journeys more

                            Khana’at na kar aalam-e-rang-o-bu par
                                 Do not rest on what you have
                            Chaman aur bhi aashiyaan aur bhi hain
                           There are paradises more to explore

                            Agar kho gaya ek nasheman to kya ghum
                           Why worry if you have lost one abode
Maqmat-e-aah-o-fughaan aur bhi hain
                             There are a million addresses to claim

                                Tu shaheen hai parvwaaz hai kaam tera
                             You are the falcon, flight is your task
                                    Tere saamne aasmaan aur bhi hain
                             before you there are other skies as well

                               Isi roz-o-shab main ulajh kar na rah ja
                      Lose not yourself in the cycle of days and nights
                               Ke tere zameen par makaan aur bhi hain
                              Within your reach are feats even more

                           Gaye din ke tanha tha main anjuman mein
                    The days are gone when I was alone in a crowd
                            Yahaan ab mere raazdaan aur bhi hain
                        Now I have other secret sharers( friend) too


Monday, April 21, 2014

The secret diary of Mahesh Bhatt

Dear Diary, you know, and I know, that my life changed the day I read the book' The Importance of being Earnest'. I did not understand  much of what I read but what sunk in was the name of the author. He was some Wild (e )chappie and his success convinced me that to be successful one needed to be wild. I was just contemplating how best  to become wild and unconsciously repeating the word wild when voila! my tongue became wild. It was as if I had no control over it ! Words were spilling from my mouth faster than the speed of light . For a second, just that one teeny weeny,itsy bitsy second I was scared. My mind was racing - Whatthehellishappeningtome?  And then a life changing event happened-  the famous Bhatt insouciance was born. If my tongue was going to have a mind of its own so be  it- but I would Goddamn well  make sure that it would made  me famous.

Along the way to eternal, chronic ,unabating and sustained verbal diarrhoea I picked up a few neat  tricks for  my  trade. I realized that there were a few not so faint hearted who refused to be cowed down in the face of my tongue being let loose. For them I learned how to clench and unclench my teeth , wag my left eyebrow while keeping my right one raised , lean forward menacingly and keep a sneer on my face. All this to the beat of the words rolling off my tongue.The combination proved to be both unbeatable and irresistible . Unbeatable because no man,woman or child ( except my very own baby, Alia ) could dig in their heels in the face of this co ordinated and well rehearsed onslaught. Irresistible because the television news channels soon cottoned on to my worth. They understood the   importance of having Mahesh Bhatt on their unending Debate Hours. So, whenever the Congress and BJP spokespersons are at loggerheads I am called on to speak. And then, when my tongue and I take over ,there is blissful silence in the studio .Infact, many a times the host of the show takes it as an opportunity to sneak off for a quickie !! Now, now, you possessor of dirty minds- not those  quickies but the washroom quickie or the 'bum a ciggie' quickie. So sure are they of my capacity to speak on...

Of course, what has majorly helped, just between you and me, dear diary, is the fact that I learnt the Preamble of the Indian Constitution  by heart. Yes, cross my heart I did. So, whenever I am called on to hold centre stage I glibly use words like Equality, fraternity ( the latter comes in very handy for anything to to with the hindi film industry),  justice for all  ,secularism et al. These days I am making liberal use of the word secularism for Mr Modi. I know it is in fashion  to say Secularism and Modi in the same breath and I am not going to be left behind where being fashionable is concerned. However, last evening was a a narrow escape for me. I was sharing television  space with Swapan dasGupta  and liberally spouting words from the Preamble. Suddenly, Swapan got this really thoughtful look on his face. For one awful moment I thought he would ask me to explain what secularism means- actually means- not the rhetoric we spout( in my case my tongue spouts).  My heart missed a beat because in the hurry to mug up weighty words I had forgotten to look up their meanings. But  Nidhi Razdan realized the gravity of the situation and abruptly brought  in  the Congress spokesperson and the crisis was averted.

My baby, Alia, has the same ability to come out of tricky situations unscathed. So, when she couldn't answer a really tricky question on Koffee with Karan ( something about who is the President or Prime Minister of the country) Alia smiled charmingly and pouted and pulled up her gown and patted  her hair and threw back her head . In all this patting and pulling and smiling the host and the other guest got delightfully  diverted and the faux pas was history.
Now, I can go off to sleep knowing that Alia will carry  the Bhatt legacy of  insouciance very capably.

Restaurant Review : Indian Accent

We drive into a beautiful property, nestled in the middle of  Delhi's Friends Colony. The feeling is of being dinner guests at someone's house and I almost look for the doorbell. However, there is no need to ring a bell as the glass doors are pushed open by  Adonis himself. I suck in my tummy and exchange a good evening with the Greek God. He ushers us to our table for four . The dining area,opening out into a verandah adjoining a lush green garden, is beautifully appointed, very discreet and elegant, with white being the prominent color. One wall has three huge black and white framed prints of Delhi. Each table has a white conch shell . Inside the shell are two marigold flowers. Very understated and classy.

The restaurant has a chef's  taster menu and also the option of going a la carte. We are booked in for the latter. The drinks menu is exhaustive and innovative. Just when we finish ordering our drinks  bite size naans stuffed with blue cheese are  served , on the house. The naan is delightful and this more or less sets the food standards for the evening. We order baked paneer pinwheels with coriander pesto(410), potato sphere chaat with white pea ragda(410),  panko crusted bharwan mirch with goat cheese mousse and chilli aam papad chutney(410) and  sweet and sour bitter gourd  for starters . The starters come surprisingly quickly. The presentation is straight out of the Master Chef series and the taste is divine. There is no doubt in one's mind that what one is eating is the result of  painstaking research and the  labor of  someone's love for food. The only serpent in this garden is my own thought on seeing the portions-' is that all?' Yes, the portions are exquisitely tiny and even the coriander pesto ( our very own green  dhania patta chutney is served in an itsy bitsy  bowl )but these pinpricks are minor in the face of what is undoubtedly a  truly pleasurable culinary experience. After the appetiser plates are whipped away ,tiny pressure cookers with anaardana chuski are placed before us. Enchanting.

For the mains we order masala wild mushrooms,with water chestnuts and paper roast dosai ( 975) and a dish of khandvi ravioli with mixed cheese mash and khakhra crisp(695). No surprises - good ; tiny portions! For dessert we plum for dark and white chocolate kulfi lollypops(595). Six tiny lollypops stuck  in a lovely serving dish.The lollypop kulfis are o.k ish , very comme ci comme ca. However, the feeling of disappointment does not linger. It is banished by the sight of a tiny (!!!) Indian charpoy. The charpoy has four bowls - for the churans ,golis, aam papad and the best  peanut chikki I have ever had.

The best thing about the evening- the Greek God, the food, the ambience and the fact that the tummy is not overstuffed by humungus portions. In fact to let you in on a ( tiny) secret- the husband and I had some milk and cookies when we came back home.

 Would I like to go back- certainly.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Of Shopping sprees , pancakes and Waffles

Ah ! the sheer bliss of sailing forth on a shopping spree  - the feeling is pretty much indescribable ! This time I was 'exploring' all the options at  the G.K market. Four hours and two laden hands later I was feeling even better - except that my throat was slightly parched and my tummy had given a couple of ( ofcourse lady like) rumbles . Just then I spotted a roadside outlet  selling Depauls coffee.... Depauls can never go wrong - the coffee was perfect, cold and strong. Sipping it I glanced at the  menu, handwritten on a small blackboard . It said :

Waffles with maple/orange/chocolate syrup
Pancakes with butter and choco chips

"what would you recommend ,waffles or pancakes"? I asked the young man behind the counter. He smiled and replied," both'. Just then a fresh batch of waffles was served to the person (another shopper) perched on the stool next to mine. They looked and smelled great and the die was cast. "A plate of waffles with maple syrup, please". Seven minutes later a plate was placed before me - but it had both waffles and pancakes. I opened my mouth to speak but the young fella spoke first-" the pancakes are on the house ,ma'm ". I looked askance at him. Turned out that the place was his baby; he had opened the previous week only and wanted my honest opinion on the pancakes. Well, the waffles were very good but what easily stole the show were the pancakes -soft, golden in color and just the way one sees in American movies where wholesome kids from wholesome families breakfast on them. But, I think our home grown young man did very well coz he teemed  them up with a topping of choco chips which was absolutely irresistible.

I came back home in a great mood. My shopping list was almost done and I had a great pancake recipe with me. Let me share it with you.

Makes 8 pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon butter
  1. Combine dry ingredients and mix slightly. Add milk, oil, water, and vanilla. Whisk together until just combined. Be careful not to over mix. Set aside to rest for a few minutes.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. While pan is heating, add butter. As soon as the butter is melted, add melted butter to pancake batter.
  3. Return pan to stove and stir butter into batter.
  4. When pan is hot, with a measuring cup or ladle, pour 1/4 cup of batter into the skillet for each pancake.
  5. Cook until bubbles form on the surface. Carefully flip pancakes with turner/spatula and cook until golden brown.
Note: This recipe also works well with whole wheat flour. Chopped fruit, nuts or chocolate chips can be added to batter before cooking for a unique treat.

1 comment:

Ummmm.........sounds absolutely mouth watering.....Please make it one of these days mom...Will save me the trouble of going all the way to G.K. just to try out the pancakes:):)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why married men at fifty plus start hitting on other women

This is a mail I got from a very dear friend a few days back. I am sharing some excerpts from the mail.

The dinner is progressing well and  Ravi's ( her husband- name changed) friends wife has just been showing us photographs of her children, both in their early twenties. We make a cozy foursome, sipping decaf coffee and  bonding over shared concerns such as aging parents,empty nests syndrome  and flighty maids. Ravi's  phone rings and he excuses himself to take the call. The friends wife also gets up to go to the washroom. In all this pushing back of chairs I don't even notice when the friend gets up and comes to me and ever so casually and sincerely, hugs me and pronounces me to be 'such a lovely, open person' and does a 'God Bless' too. My first reaction is : this guy just hit on me. The second is: oh! he couldn't possibly have done so- he is such a doting father and a loving husband. The third is : did I encourage him in some way? The rest of the evening passes in a blur and it is almost midnight when they leave. I am confused whether to tell Ravi or to keep mum. The confusion continues as I change. just then my phone beeps- a message at this time? The message is from the friend thanking me for the lovely dinner and inviting me 'if I am ever his side of the town' for coffee.  The confusion clears. I tell Ravi about the hug . Ravi doesn't say anything. I know that he feels I am reading too much into the whole thing ; that his friend doesn't have a dirty mind; that I am too old for anyone to make a pass at me; that we should just go to sleep.The messages continue the next day. Nothing in them  can be pinned down as offensive or sexual in nature ,apart from the  fact that this 55 plus alpha male feels an  urge to communicate with his friends wife , and not his friend....

The mail is a long one . The upshot is : why did this man who has everything going for him, including an attractive,intelligent,confident wife, a prosperous career and children he evidently dotes on hit on another man's wife? More disturbing was the thread of guilt running through the mail- the 'did I , in some oblique,obscure,manner encourage him to hit on me'? This is what I wrote back to my dear friend.

The predator in your story is going through a mid life crisis.  MLC  can  hit men anytime from  their late 30s to their fifties, or even early sixties. For many men midlife is a time for looking back at their lives. For some people that can be a life changing exercise. Midlife can generate a sense that time - so generous during their youth - is starting to run out, that their youth has drawn to a close and that the image they will see of themselves will be of thinning hair and a fattening middle.  The end of youth provokes an identity crisis in which the middle-aged man (and sometimes woman) fights against being middle-aged. Hitting on women, in the hope that at least some will respond,  is one of things a man in midlife crisis does as he panics about aging, loss of youth, identity and masculinity. Men in midlife crisis become extremely selfish. They develop a huge sense of  'I'. Even if a man has been a doting husband and father for umpteen years, once he goes into crisis he will feel that absolutely nothing matters except himself and his needs and desires.  For a man in MLC, it's suddenly all about himself.
 Ravi's friend is obviously trying to get back to his youth. You have absolutely no reason to feel any guilt. I am hundred per cent certain that he extends the same 'warmth' to other women. The only way to deal with men like him is to ignore them, keep them at a distance and, as far as possible, steer clear of their beat.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Meet my Neighbours

 The voice is very familiar -but it does not belong to anyone in the house. It is coming from  the house diagonally opposite ( left opposite, to be exact) to ours. My ears perk up- not perk up as in an Aunt Marplish manner, but more desultorily. I just want to check out what the matter is. Is it the colony dogs using the park adjoining aunty's house as a 'lavatory'( listen-i am not even beginning to use the hindi word !);or is it the MCD sweeper not doing his job properly; or is it  someone being given the blessing of having at least three sons! Well, it turns out to be the dog poo problem and the dog and the owner/domestic help get an earful. The earful is enough to reduce even the strong and fearless to tears because it is not an angry diatribe. Not at  all. The dialogues have been culled from ( I firmly believe) hindi movies of the era of Nirupama Roy and Balraj Sahni. They are all about the emotional atyachaar a poor widow is subjected to.( I always fear for the mental health of the dog by the end of it .)Aunty doesn't stop till the dog has its tail between its legs and the owner/domestic help is searching for his/her hanky. Then she turns to march triumphantly inside- but then stops to look straight up where I am .With practiced reflex I duck behind my palm plant. I have a love -hate relationship with her (though she doesn't know it).Most of the time i am fond of her. The opposite happens when the boy irritates me. O.K  I know i need to explain  how the son  and my less than neighborly feeling to aunty are connected. It so happens that having received her 'blessing'  innumerable times for 3 sons I am firmly convinced that she and she alone is responsible for the existence of the boy- X and Y chromosomes be  dammed !!

The house exactly opposite to ours houses the  principal of a leading D.U college and his wife- a professor in a not so leading college. They came here a few years back and still haven't stopped telling what a mistake they made. When they come to the mistake part they always fix a reproachful look at me. I try to outlook their look with an insouciant look but have come to the conclusion that a reproachful look wins hands down over an insouciant one ! I try to fix this shortcoming by hinting (gently) that maybe they can go back to wherever they came from but this earns me a look of such reproachful intensity that I suddenly remember the veggie I  left cooking on the gas stove and run homewards.

The house adjoining ours , with only a low wall to act as a boundary, houses a retired Air Commodore and his wife ,who is from one of the old families of Panchsheel Park. Both of them play their role of an ideal neighbor to perfection. Uncle is all  army  spit and polish. Come rain ,snow(!)and hail (!!) he is out of the house at 6.30 sharp for his morning constitutional- dressed in crisp white short shorts, white tee, ditto for socks and sneakers. He returns, as  fresh and crisp as he left, after an hour. That unfortunately ( for the boy and me)is the time when we are leaving-all huffing and puffing to  try and be on time for the school bus. Uncle tut tuts disapprovingly and announces crisply, in very British English that the boy should be walking and not going by car. Since he does not know the whole story (refer to my earlier blog about mayhem in the Gupta house in the mornings ) I just smile .Aunty has a lovely personality. In the morning half she is like any  hausfrau-  but come afternoon ( when they leave for the 'club' to play cards) she is all togged up -like a typical P.P resident. I think I  have a karmic connection with them -we have sort of adopted each other. So, whenever I feel I am a potato short I just coo over the wall and hey presto-my potato is there. Ditto for aunty. So the wall has seen saffron ,ginger, sugar, coriander leaves, curd- you name it- being exchanged. Tuesday is their off day from cards and aunty and I try to walk  together in the evenings. She tells me all the colony gossip -and since she has a very droll sense of humor, the major part of the walk is spent in guffawing.

Well, I could go on and on( for example the person in the house one house away to ours gets married every two years- don't ask me what he does with the earlier wives; or the house diagonally right to ours ....)but my watch tells me it is time I called it a day and so it is finito here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Understanding the 'Urge'

When used as a noun ,the word 'urge' has been defined as an involuntary, natural, or instinctive impulse. The definition very clearly explains  the raison d'etre for all the urges that we, as a country, experience and brings immense relief ,along with absolution of  guilt and dissolution of any  conscience pangs that I  may have experienced. It is certainly not our fault if we stop anywhere, and i mean anywhere, to answer nature's call- or as my favorite columnist, Jug Suraiya , puts it ( though slightly indelicately and not very 'Cal', the city he oft remembers ) shoo shoo. This is not to be confused with the shooing away of a cat or a pesky salesman or a husband. You and I know what Jug's shoo means. We can't but know it. This is what we see when we look out of our bedroom window, or the car window, or the train window. I am slightly unclear and foggy about the plane window( having looked out of a plane window many years ago) and welcome any inputs on whether we are able to spot one of our  brethren doing 'it' from a plane window. The point is , it is certainly not his ( 'his' is an inadvertent slip of the pen here and not a feministic aberration) fault. How can the poor fellow be expected to control an involuntary, or  natural impulse? If anyone is to be faulted it is the peeping tom-the person peeping out of the bedroom /car/train/plane (?) window. That is not an urge- that is an invasion of space and we better stop doing 'it'. By now  I hope , dear reader, you know which 'it' is being referred to here- coz I am slightly confused ...

Another urge that till now leaves  me turning up my nose and gingerly lifting my trousers ( or whatever) is the urge to spit,  experienced by most of my beloved countrymen-oops - and countrywomen . I had always wondered why they could not take, whatever was in their mouth, in - why did they have to heave it out. But now that I have been enlightened, such banal thoughts have forever been banished from my mind. Infact, now the spitting seems to me poetry in slow motion or should that be slow poetry in motion ? I mean, look at the way the goo is all bunched up in the mouth , and then the mouth opens to just the right degree , and then the doer , ever so slightly, leans forward and then aims it at a wall or a heritage building-or whatever he/she finds a worthy beneficiary. Neat, frolicking neat !

And what about the urge to advise ? so parents advise their prodigy to become doctors or engineers and certainly not  actors or singers- coz children from 'good families' don't do such things ; teachers advise the errant student ( who had just happened to nod off) to mend his/her ways ; the doctor advises the patient to go slow on sugar, salt, saturated fats, potatoes, dairy products and almost everything which is edible; the friend advises on how to tackle a philandering and meandering husband ;and , of course, the poor Supreme Court is forever and anon advising the government to come back to governing the state and to stop governing its ill-gotten wealth. You and I, by now know all about urges, and how they are involuntary, natural and instinctive and so we permit ourselves an indulgent smile and restraining the urge to go on and on about urges, sign off- as a reader and as a writer.


Monday, April 7, 2014


I existed from all eternity and behold,I am here: and I shall exist till the end of time ,for my being has no end.

Khalil Gibran