Going Nuts over Coconuts!

TLDR: A long overdue post, delayed by my insipid routine. 
We are not normal people.

We are crazy.

We love being loud.

We love the intense fervor in life. We love our country, our religions, our festivals and everything that is associated with being Indian.

We love cricket, not only the gentlemanly game, but also the one with masala and mayhem. 

We are divided by our thoughts and actions, but come an outside farce questioning our integrity, then cometh the force with which we retaliate.

We are Indians first, then classified as a Malayali, a Tamilian, a Punjabi etc. etc.

Our festivals are something that always remain close to our heart. Be it in any corner of the world, your heart travels miles to feel at home. Supermarkets stock up festival items to ensure that the craving of the body, heart and soul is appeased despite the fact that you bear the groveling heat and bone freezing cold to fend for yourself in a foreign land. 

As a Malayali in the Gulf, a so called cliché adrift in the lands down south, we seldom find it difficult to celebrate our festivals, be it Vishu, Onam, Eid or Christmas.

Thronging in big crowds in the supermarkets during the festival eve, walking the aisles specially earmarked for the festival items, people load their trolleys with the festivity items. 

A glimpse into the Vishu shopping fiasco at a predominant supermarket chain in the “Gelf”
She was tall and curvy in all the right areas. There was not a man (and a few women) who did not gawk at her. Her trolley lay filled with the choosiest items befitting a chef in a Michelin 3 star restaurant. Truffles, provolone cheese, apple cider vinegar, bagels and whatnot. She was gliding over the supermarket floor, her trolley inching through the maddening crowd, her estrogen overdose driving them nuts.
The Vishu counter was crowded. She stopped right in front. Lindt chocolates were on sale on her right side aisle. No, she moved left. To the Vishu counter. 
She marked her arrival, her perfumed self had instantly made the crowd part to 2 sides, making way for her into the stacked shelves of banana and jackfruit chips, of semiyas and paladas, of payasam mixes, condensed milk and pappadams. 
Helping herself with all the goodies, the jackfruit chips lay cozy with the provolones and truffles of the world.
The “Gelf” offers the Mallus amongst all other Kerala goodies, our ever-beloved coconut, in its rich and varied heritage. Imported from India, Thailand and Sri Lanka, Indian coconuts remain our favorite. To add to our convenience, scraped coconut in small plastic containers are our to-go purchase of every single visit of every single person. 
The coconut stall in this particular supermarket is unlike others. Scrapped coconut is not to-go. You can choose your coconut from the nut sack, and they are scraped in front of you. So now you can figure out what goes on during a Vishu or an Onam eve. Hell breaks loose near the counter and the coconut guy develops his biceps and triceps in a day. 
People run helter-skelter and  with their overloaded trolleys, a child in one hand and a lot of coconuts on the other, it is fun and scary at the same time. 
How much ever we wish to change, we still have something in us that holds us to our roots. 


Food Trail-3- Beriani Flames

Soulful biriyani, vibrant packaging and sinful cravings- if a biriyani that gets delivered to your place can check all the boxes, yes; it is bound to be a delightful experience.

A delightful experience sans all its glitz, Food Trail trails Beriani Express and the faring of its beriani. 

The folks at office decided to try out Beriani Flames, a newly opened biriyani (read beriani) joint in Riggae, the latest business venture of the company’s star salesperson and an astute businessman, Mr. Manoj.  

The orders were placed and the delivery was on time, as promised. With a plethora of beriani options to choose from, the folks ordered chicken, mutton and vegetable beriani.
As a vegetarian, biriyani has always been a harrowing experience, good just enough to scrape through the plate, nothing to cherish. And then there was beriani that took me by surprise.

With the packaging befitting a cake, the beriani take-away packs arrived on the dot. The packaging had packed in all the goodness of the beriani along with an ambient temperature. Just as I opened the packaging, the strong aroma rose through the pack and wafted through the room.

The rice was cooked to the right consistency. The vegetables were properly sautéed and infused to the rice. The spice infused masala, drizzled with rose water and a few sprigs of saffron, struck the perfect chord between taste and smell.

The accompaniments: the raita was real bliss; pure curd blended with host of herbs and had bits of cucumbers floating on the top. The side gravy was the only let down with a thin film of butter on the top making it tad too heavy for the arteries. The pickle on the side, well, was a pickle.

The non-vegetarian berianis were also packed with goodness: ample pieces of protein, which were very well balanced with the spices.  

Biriyani, in Kuwait, for me, a vegetarian, has always been rated on the scale of 1 to disappointing. Beriani Flames is a realization that good biriyani is just stone throw away, well, a colleague away.  


The Way the World Works!

I am an Indian, a proud one. The beaming pride of being one shines on you the moment you step out of the country.

As I type this, I am traveling enroute Colombo from Kandy in Sri Lanka, sitting in the crisp chills from the air conditioner made in China, fitted in a Japanese car while the scorching sun sets the outers ablaze in its fury.

Truly, the world would cease to exist if country to country coordination and association takes a road bump or a bottleneck. If countries can, why people can’t?

As a tourist whose country’s border is just 32 kms from this country, I am often appalled by how we see each other. Being the face of a country, you expect people to reciprocate the compassion in brotherhood while the same ceases the moment I desist flipping out my wallet.

Being an Indian is hard outside India as much as it is in India. For people, any tourist is just a walking stack of notes, easy enough to manipulate.

The moment I turned down a tour guide, cold eyes and contempt follow me down the halls. The moment I don’t tip, smiles beguile.
The moment I step into a shop, price tags become least selling prices.
The moment I don’t buy, I get cursed in their language.

A taunt is a taunt in any language.
A deceitful look is the same in all places.

You, being the face of the country, show me an attitude belittling your already small island nation, guess what, I do care. I am not just a wary tourist pumping in my hard earned money to boost your economy, I could probably be a loggerhead for your country’s economic development. If I can stop one person from coming to your country, if I can stop one dollar from being spent, I am definitely one to watch out for.


Doesn’t this malady happen in India by an Indian to an Indian in an all Indian context?

Well, yeah. It does.
And that is the sad state of affairs. Our affairs.


The Nuances of the Webbed Life

Life is becoming wicked
As our thoughts are becoming crooked
The rapids sweeping you through
Into the world of lies
The world we call the web
Beneath the veils of obscurity and insecurity
Lies the person, scared to bear
The scars of being unnoticed
Gone are the days where we made peace
With gizmos to make our life at ease
Thus begins the nuances of life, in and out
Just like the duck face pics with a pout
Gone are the days you walk in tall
To any place or a mall
Now should you forget to check-in
Oh the trip is so in vain
Gone is the peace and quiet of a meal
Must post the pic of your veal
Measuring your worth on the world
Is the hearts on the instant gram?
Gone are the days you see a good hearted glee
Now all you see are pics shot awry
With the intention to go atop the web
Humans are in, humanity ain’t
A beggar gets a coin and you get a like
With this shall you preach your philanthropy
The world sees you for what you did
He who sees all shall turn a blind eye
With this shall I conclude my thoughts
In girdle of the mind, molded and wrought
The social world is a requisite
May it be free from your soul
Let the web and thy life not intertwine
Alas, it all may be over without a whine

Call me Old School!!

This has been a thought for a while.

This has been a known fact for a longer while.

People like you have known this all this while.

What I meant throughout this while is not our increasing dependency on technology and social media, but our entrapment in the clutches of it.

All this brewed as a result of getting a wedding invite from a friend over Whatsapp.

Dude, it’s my wedding on at . Please do come

I am sure that a lot many of you would have received something of sorts. Where has the element of interpersonal relationship and personal touch gone?

Call me old school; I still prefer the touch and feel of wedding invites by post. At least the painstaking process of fitting in your address on glossy finished cover has an input from a friend, meaning he/she wants your presence while he/she gets hitched.

Creating an event on Facebook, checking the names of the people you want to invite and mass sending the invite- despite the intent being good, the personal touch involved is not present.

While even the online marketers are using our browser cookies to generate ads based on our preferences, the kith and kin do not take so much of it being a minuscule task of taking the pains to putting in a personal feel. A telephone call would suffice with the same message spelled out; you know that he/she wants you there.

Call me old school; I still prefer reading news from the good ol’ paper sipping a cuppa coffee.

Call me old school; I still prefer the ATL promos that are beamed over all the media space.

Call me old school; this is just my point of view.

(checks iPhone and Samsung Gear S2 for updates and continues reading on Kindle)


Pinoy Gourmand!

The monotonous procedure of eating the same kind of food daily is often drudgery. At times, to rejuvenate the taste buds, a change becomes the need of the hour. Changes are inevitable, especially for the chawal eating mankind in the great subcontinent.
While the palette rejoices the fervent cravings with a dash of international cuisines like Italian, Arabic or Chinese, little explorations were done on the other gourmets of the world.
And little did I know that my need for change would land me up in a Filipino joint outside the hustle and bustle in the great Arabian country, Kuwait.
The eatery looked like it was lifted out of a pre-industrial revolution setup, with dim white light creating halos over the food behind the counter. While my knowledge of non-Indian cuisines is pretty amazing, the things behind the counter looked like I was gazing into a crystal ball of an alien fortune teller.  
While the lady behind the counter told the names of the dishes, all I could figure out was some myriad mis-orchestrated nasal music notes (like Himesh Reshammiya’s songs, but better)
The laid out spread had a few fish dishes, one chicken and a vegetarian item. I guess I could see a slight flapping of fins and shudder in the gills as the counter staff picked up a whole fish for the person in front of me. I am sure that I saw the fish’s eye roll in agony and plead for mercy as the person walked to his table, lips smacking. 
Being a righteous vegetarian who indulges in chicken once in a blue moon, I thought it was the best choice and second safest bet to choose the vegetarian dish.  The primordial safest bet was to walk out, as my imposing figure entering the place, had woken up the people enjoying their afternoon ambrosia. The time had passed for that.
I seated myself in the rickety chairs. The table had variety of sauces and pickled jalapenos for helping yourself. People around me were looking at me with awe, like I had wandered into a fine dining restaurant and seated in a table-for-1 on Valentine’s Day.   
The lady served my food- rice and some curry. The rice was sticky but was not that bad. The curry was some green vegetable cooked in a not so spicy broth, but was sharp in taste due to the citric acid. This was topped with fried tofu. Accompanied with the tangy jalapeno pickle, which had occasional chilly and onion to go, make it a revelation of citric acid and more citric acid.
The food was a no nonsense affair, simple and elegant, but apart from who likes experimenting new thing, I highly doubt whether the DalChawals and Thayirsadams of the country would live up to like the cuisine of this side of the world.
After getting back to office, I googled up the mental image of the dish and the closest resemblance for the same was something called ‘Ampalaya Guisado’ which was sautéed bitter gourd. And good heavens, it was nothing close to bitter.
While my monotony of chawal did not bring out any particular benefit, I could get to experience a whole new cuisine and get to know a civilization. (ahem, ahem, a simple yet powerful punch-lie to end an article)


Why did I start watching Game of Thrones?

Why did I start watching Game of Thrones?

Sheer boredom could sum it up as an answer. 

The next question could have been why did I start binge watching GoT? Could I have stopped watching it at any point in time?

I have stopped watching many a TV show because the whole idea of entertainment becomes botched up. I stopped watching Two and a Half Men shortly after Charlie Sheen was chucked off. With his exit, I guess a huge chunk of viewership also got chucked off. 

With regards to watching GoT, well, you could probably guess why.
The gripping story line and the effortless acting led by the ensemble cast made the series worth every moment of sleep lost. Every moment of the show, I could feel my heart beating against my Anand’s apple (damn you, Joey Tribbiani)

Since I didn’t bother to read the books, I guess each frame brought out a novel viewing experience for me. 

From the first minute in the first episode of the first season, I was blown away by the sheer amount of talent in the show, intertwined by the amount of macabre and nudity in the show. 

With almost each episode ending in a cliffhanger, I bet each one of the many million viewers would definitely be counting days till the 24th of April 2016. 

With the numerous talents behind the scenes, I would personally vouch for Lena Headley and Peter Dinklage as the better of the lot. 

Queen Cersei, a manifestation of cruelty and malignance within the whole plot leaves no stone unturned when it comes to the protection of her children and their father (ahem. ahem!) Every single frame of Cersei had a myriad set of emotions ranging from joy to authority, from hatred to pity, from lust to nonchalance, she was absolutely a delight to watch. 

Tyron Lannister, a dwarf always subjected to rebuke from his father and sister, was an amazingly effortless performance by Peter Dinklage. The facial facade of this marvelous casting is guaranteed to leave you in awe. 

In addition to them, the characters Jon Snow, King Joffrey, Arya Stark, Ned Stark, Catherine Tully and the ensemble makes it more likable and hateworthy, depending upon the inclination of the character. 

While the audience prayed for the death of some characters, their ends came in as a bit of a surprise with the ends being slightly off-putting. King Joffrey, for example, was a loathsome character, who had his end, in a not-so-the-way-we-thought-of manner. The murder of Robb Stark was at a juncture that was totally uncalled for. The sacrifice of Stannis Baratheon’s daughter cemented his position in the minds of the viewers as a uncouth insane human. 

The season 5 finale leaves the major stars in tantrums, Jon stabbed, Arya blinded, Theon and Sansa plummeting to the grounds and everyone else under a veil of verbose uncertainty. The season 6 teaser is shown with quite a lot of kick-on-the shins for the viewers. 

The fight for Iron Throne and mistimed murders of the characters makes Game of Thrones a TV show never to be missed. Not to mention the locale, casting and costumes (or the lack of it), the factors contribute to making its season 6 premiere highly desirable and most sought after. 

Valar Morghulis
Valar Dohaeris

Game of Thrones Season 6 Teaser


The Tall Man Tales

Being tall is a wonderful thing. 

Within any crowd, the tall man’s head wobbles over the preening eyes of the mob. In a crowded abbey, while everyone suffocates with the closest neighbor’s sweat strewn clothing, your head acts as a viable receiver for oxygen for your sustenance.  Often regarded as the weather man and being mocked upon the weather enquiries up there, life being a tall person has its fair share of perks and liabilities. It is always the head that needs attention while you walk down that goddamn narrow lane, strewn with branches of trees that encroach their way into the lane. Every bump on the road whilst in a crowded bus brings out a rhythmic beat of the thud of the head on the headboard, each syllable born out of the poor head’s peril.  Not to mention the woes of sitting in a crowded bus, the knee cap cracks with the pressure of the impending braking in the hectic city traffic.  

Can you find proper clothing that you fit in? The shirt that you fit in properly is short for the arms and torso.  Go one size big and you find yourselves wearing a baggy one. No jeans or trouser requires alterations in the bottoms. You are good to go just like that.

Can you find a car that you can comfortably sit in the driver’s seat? If you can, can you seat a normal human being behind you? If you can do that, man, you have got some serious disposable income to buy that big burly SUV.

And then, the privilege of being tall kicks in. Have you tried being in a temple where you have lunge up to see the deity? Well, it is just a breeze if you are tall. You can communicate with Him, eye to Eye, man to Man.

People look up to you. Literally, figuratively and yeah physically too, craning their neck to see you in the eye.

The best part of being tall is that you are tall. In the world of burly and petite midgets, you are the Gulliver. Despite the Lilliputs trying to pull a sling on you- (read ‘pull your leg for the stretch that you scale’) it often is just the byproduct of jealousy that spews from them for not being able to see the world from up here.

So, the weather is fine up here, you puny earthlings, strewn on the roads like pebbles by the brook. Take care. 

The Busride Chronicles

The scorching heat had unveiled its wrath to the fullest as the fifth bus overtook me without a whiff of guilt. The expanses on either sides of NH7 lay barren with a few strays wandering limp and dehydrated.

The mirage of seeing many a bus made my hopes soar and dampen on understanding the truth of the eye’s magnificent mistake. 
The yearning for momentary pleasure of clutching the handle bar of a bus and feeling the icky plasticky seats had reached its peak. Finally the oncoming rickety old bus slowed down for testing the incoming passenger reflex. There is just a moment to get in the bus. And failing to sync the right moment with the driving would mean dangling down the handle bars or even worse, kissing the mud on the ground. 
Well, the yearning to get in stops, kickstarting the desire to get out. The never lasting host of desires is a characteristic of the common man. While the battle of desires wages war, I sit on the dilapidated seats of bus whose legroom was set eyeing the dwarfs and midgets. The suffering of the leg to squeeze in numbs the blood flow to the lower part of the body, giving the upstairs copious amounts for quality thoughts. 
The conductor enters asking people for tickets. The folded notes and bundle of tickets in his hands, he goes squealing ‘tickets’ in a baritone. Buying tickets and the horizontally folded balance from the balding man whose eyes hinted remorse or last night’s hangover, I surveyed the surroundings. People were ingressing and degressing the bus at regular intervals. The naive innocence of the village folk and nonchalance of lives lighting up in the way they talked made me realise how much filth has piled up in the city mouse in me. 
The bus stops at a make shift tea stall where driver leaves the bus idling while he stands out stretching and puffing away rings of acrid cancerous smoke. The tea shop boy brings him a plastic cup of piping hot tea. Caffeine and nicotine pumped him side by side, awakening and rejuvenating him after a supposedly hectic monotonous day. Ready to take off, he got in and chugged the key. The rackety engine rose to life with a groan. 
There were hawkers plummeting into a bus everytime it stopped at a big junction. There were samosas, pineapples, cucumbers, water melons and many more. The aroma of those went in and triggered a gastronomic response making people go for buying. Rummaging their money sources for coins and loose change, they bought their item of desire and started indulging the momentary pleasure. As the bus kicked off from the junction, the hawkers would make haste in collecting money and jumping off the bus. Some unlucky ones would run behind the bus for the cash till it reached an unsurpassable speed. Weary eyed and having lost a potential sale, they would walk back. The freebie wielding man would gobble the succulence of the fruit which would house in it a curse of a common man. 
The winding village roads and occassional entry to the highway was in a  way a fun journey. The unpolluted air brushing against the face was one of its kind in this part of the country.  
People were getting down at their destinations and moving to pursue their daily activities of life. As the cycles of the clock moved, I too stepped down and made my way through the blazing sun. 

School chale hum

A year has passed since my life has been revolving around schools. While everyone’s lifr was a transition from schools to colleges to confinement of a cubicle, mine went from school to college  and back to the place where we spread wings. 

Each interaction made me delve into the rich memories of my childhood. 

The gleeful chanting of memorising the formulae, the innocent peering at each other, the doleful looks when a test is announced and the puissant surge of energy when the last bell rings- all are just characteristics that reminds us of the good old days at school. 

The happiness of learning and joy of understanding coming onto you is a feeling that needs no mention. The sweat stinking classrooms with the pungent lunchbox odour makes the heart meltin a  cranky pot of nostalgia.  

The kids being uplifted as the men and women with mettle to lead the country to the world and the world to a better place to be. 

The kids who miss out on the chance to kindle the wick of knowledge- let thou soul be enriched with an opportunity to learn and let learn.