Friday, December 30, 2011

Ultimate Urge to KILL ....

Peculiar things snowball into a PHENOMENON ...lesson learnt from year 2011, right on time when it is about to end. 

I had, for long, refrained from writing down a post on this topic - quite consciously. I did not want to give it my share of attention. The topic barely required it as it had garnered copious and unimaginable proportions of interest from many quarters - far and near, known and unknown. 

Why this KOLAVERI DI? Precisely, this post hovers around the new found national rage. 

To start with, it all seemed rather peculiar when I found a video on Facebook liked multiple (better said innumerable) times over a span of week. The feeling was reaffirmed when a fellow colleague at work, hailing from North India, requested me to explain the word "kolaveri" . I summed it up as an uncontrollable rage to KILL. The feeling lingered on with Times of India blog featuring 5-6 articles using Kolaveri Di theme that week. The theme was funnily extended to the release of Kanimozhi (2G spectrum scam case) from Tihar jail, an article quoted Stalin,  her brother wondering "Why this Kanimozhi Di"?  

Over the next few weeks, I felt very peculiar when I received an IT (Information Tech industry)  version of this song as an email forward. Then, I saw the original version sung by Dhanush and felt the IT version of the song fit IT folks' bill well. Sonu Nigam's very young son sang the song throwing in his "apt for kids" modifications. Kids in my street assembled and sang this song like an anthem, once (at least) every evening before they commenced playing. They ensured they emulated the minor nuances and naughty expressions of the song well - Kaila Glass .. only English .. , Mama notes eduthukko, Papapa Papapa etc .. They appeared thoroughly enthralled while singing. 

Recently, I found it fantastically peculiar when I saw a snippet of Dhanush's LIVE performance of the song in a New Year Celebration show hosted by Salman Khan, arranged by BIG Entertainment. The show is expected to be aired on Star Plus channel on New year's eve. Abhishek Bachchan tweets - Dhanush is his great friend and is extremely talented, Dhanush is seen singing a special Kolveri version for his friends' daddy dear - Big B on stage, talks are doing rounds on how Dhanush is planning to roll out a HINGLISH (Hindi + English) version of Kolaveri Di song, all by himself. 

Going a step further, it becomes fantabulously peculiar when the Indian PM invites Dhanush to render this song in front of Japanese PM who is on a visit to India to sell nuclear technology and sign deals for bullet trains. Looks like Dhanush's Why this Kolaveri Di? will oil the deal well and ensure smooth completion of work for our Indian government which is already tired of Lokpal and like hurdles. The Indian Government is quite like the soup boys who have no choice who figure in Dhanush's song.

The Japanese PM, I guess, will demand from Dhanush, a Japanese version of his song so that back in their country, they can sing the song in face of an impending Tsunami and many a typhoon, try to reduce the rage of such calamitous forces. The Indian cricket team too, I hear, loves Dhanush's song. Apparently, they believe, the music director of the song - Anirudh resembles their fellow team mate Ishant Sharma too very closely. 

Now, the sense of peculiarity attached with Dhanush's song, its lyrics, the song's rendition and music has ended, become all too familiar for me. My 2 and 1/2 year old nephew sings the song on phone specially for me - very cutely, with the whiteu whiteu blacku blacku extensions rendered correctly. At this age, he asserts that white skin girlu girlu has heart that is blacku blacku :) I can do nothing but LOL and ROFL

I do not intend to analyse here what worked with the song and why it is such a huge hit. I am sure we would have read articles of the likes -  "10 reasons why Kolaveri Di works". I also do not want to debate if the mammoth attention the song and its artist have received is in place or out of place. I am sure Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghosh and Arnab Goswami will do and would have done the needful in this aspect. 

My blog is titled - Furore Scribendi, furore means a rage, not kolaveri but veri (folks with Tamil background can understand this well, but thanks to Dhanush now, I am sure even rest of the nation will make an effort to understand). Furore Scribendi refers to an urge, madness or a frenzy to write. Therefore, not writing in this space about something that has whirl winded into becoming a national rage will be an unforgivable mistake. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year ... around the corner

2011 is quickly coming to an end ... a new year is about to begin soon ... very soon :)
I have, in recent past, gained this practice of buying copies of Manorama Year Book or say any other compilation that grasps details of all major events in India and world around new year time. In fact, on New Year's day, I buy a copy of the newspaper - The Hindu (the one I grew up reading) and carefully preserve the 4-6 page section/segment that covers events of 2011. 

The problem I faced with Manorama Year Books is that these are bulky, drab and small fonted; a stockpile of details -  apt for a civil services exam aspirer, in my opinion. I have their entries for 2009 and 2010 but managed to turn only a few pages, barely 20%. For the year 2011, I bought a pocket yearbook - much thinner, released by IIPM publishing house, more like a general knowledge info bank. 

Casual browsing through new collections in a Reliance Time out, close to my office, brought me to a very colorful book - Hachette Children's Yearbook and Infopedia 2012. This colorful book with vital information in it of many events of the year comes along with a free CD - full of famous quotes and quotations on varied topics. I purchased a copy of this book from - online shopping portal. This book marked for sale at Rs 275 in stores is available at crossword online portal for Rs 207. 

The contents of this book suffices my interests. There is no excess information and the way facts are presented is awesome. Bold lettering, different colors, the scheme of presentation is perfect for a casual summation of news of year 2011. Below are the sections into which the book is divided -

  1. News : India 
  2. News: World
  3. ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 Recap
  4. Awards and Award winners
  5. The year ahead - peek at 2012 Olympics
  6. Countries of the world (A-Z)
  7. Know your Planet 
  8. History section 
  9. India : States and Union Territories 
  10. Literature 
  11. Movies 
  12. Science 
  13. Space 
  14. Sports
  15. Diary - 2012 Calendar and Year Planner for you 

Each of the sections numbered 6-14 has a brief quiz session at its end with answers provided at the end of the book. The topics organization and extent of details are good for adults who are not so serious about every iota of detail in 2011. I prefer this colorful summation of 2011 by Hachette to Manorama series of which I have , now, got terribly bored. Though the title reads "for children", the book has many a detail that can fill in empty pockets of our heads too. 

Happy Reading and Happy 2012 :) 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Damn...this Dam issue

What started as a ban on the movie - Dam 999 moved to a more condemnable act - an attack on pilgrims from Tamil Nadu at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple. The insanity rages on with attacks on shops owned by Keralites in Salem, Erode, Coimbatore and Chennai. The movie directed by Sohan Roy met the ban because it purportedly depicts the collapse of Mullaiperiyar dam from which sprouts the currently raging controversy between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. 

While the former state wants to raise water level in the dam from 136 to 142 feet as per a verdict issued by Supreme Court, it is also working in every direction to allay fear psychosis of its neighbors claiming it has done everything timely to strengthen the masonry gravity dam originally built in 1887. The latter - state of Kerala is afraid if the seismically active zone of Idukki might see the dam crumbling soon with the slightest tremor, the breach in the dam observed by an experts committee presents a grim condition, foretelling a disaster of unfathomable proportions on environment, downstream dams - Idukki, Cheruthoni and Kulamavu and life. Kerala wants a new dam in place of the current Mullaiperiyar dam and definitely does not want the water level to be raised. The wants of the neighbors are in stark contrast when juxtaposed. While Tamil Nadu has been focusing on how the Supreme Court verdict passed a little back must be heeded to, Kerala is placing the magnifying glass on the damage in the masonry dam in upstream portions - 95 to 106 feet from the base of the dam. 

Insanity due to fear psychosis and intolerance has already risen over the last few days and there is widespread unrest in bordering areas and blockade of highway traffic. The Union Government sits at Delhi with its back turned to the South, not enough clamor until now in these two states to garner their attention or turn their heads. 

The Centre is busy rolling back decisions announced by it last week and fighting out the warrior in Anna Hazare. It is the Supreme Court of India that looks into all issues of national and state level importance. It has set up an experts committee to study the extent of damage in Mullaiperiyar dam and effectiveness of its earlier announced verdict. Top TV news channels do not consider this issue important enough to cover it for even a span of 5 minutes. Anything related to Kudankulam nuclear power plant or Mullaiperiyar dam appears as trailing meta data displayed at the lowermost portion of our TV screen. 

The nature and magnitude of damage as predicted by M. Sasidharan, a member of the Inter State Water Advisory Committee, in event of collapse of the dam can be read from the link below - 
This quite probable event of collapse is completely overlooked by Tamil Nadu state. The states are behaving like two sides of a coin. 

Human chains are formed and processions underway in Madurai, Theni and Ramanathapuram districts that benefit from water of Periyar river demanding the execution of Supreme Court order at the earliest possible. There was a one page appeal by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister in Times of India newspaper, Bangalore edition on Saturday - Dec 10, 2011 stating the history of the dam, repair works undertaken by the state and remarking fears and worries as a complete and needless misplacement. 

Water sharing and dam disputes are not new in the Southern states, that man made structures erected have a lifetime and are not free from error and prone to destruction by natural, calamitous forces is also a well established fact with various instances from different parts of the world, including the far more developed West. 

What is incomprehensible is the way in which these two states are not being brought to the discussion table by a supposedly bigger and more respectable force - the Centre, be made to talk out all aspects of the problem and arrive at a plausible solution after scanning reports by fair and well informed committees. Looks like that honorable stature goes only to the Supreme Court in our country and not the Legislature we people elected. Irrespective of who comes to table a solution, the sooner the better it will be, before peace and amity wanes between the neighbors who have already begun to unscrupulously mix business, religion and spirituality, entertainment with this damned DAM issue. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hypermetropic Cooks

Another update on my blog ... may be a post that can fit in here and my other blog on cooking - Foodies' Sphere. 

A thought struck me as I was watching an episode of Master Chef India 2 on Sunday - Dec 4, 2011. Four contestants were fighting out an elimination round. I have noted, be it Master Chef India - the first or second season, top contestants are experts in Awadhi, Gujarati, Rajasthani cuisines, they have toiled with the extremely hot Bhut Jolokia chilly from north eastern states, tossed many fishes in kasundi (mustard paste) much in Bengali style, rolled out sheek kababs and patiently cooked flavorful biriyani. 

In the arena of desserts and baked goodies, they are kings and queens. Adept at making mousse, artfully using mascarpone cheese, baking pies, tarts, quiches, meringue cookies and macroons, they also churn out desi sweets like Ghewar, intricately shaped Jalebis and Rasagulla cake in remarkable style even when provided very little time. Simply stating, they know it all. 

The contestants of Master Chef India are unparalleled experts in international cuisine - Risotto, Ravioli, Lasagna, Tortilla, Quesadilla - from Italy to Mexico to China, name it and they present them matching international standards. Be it Galangal ginger, Pad thai, Sushi or other tongue twisting names, these are no surprises to them. The thought process and creativity these people put in, their knowledge of ingredients, quality and taste of end products they create have always startled the three judges on the show and many lucky ones who have had a chance to taste their platter. 

This Sunday, however, I realised, they are all what I can call Hypermetropic Cooks, a new term I have coined to describe at least those who were fighting out the elimination challenge. These hypermetropic cooks  have abnormally above average, in fact, supreme distant vision, in this context, technical know how of recipes made in regions of the globe, miles away from India. When a banana tree came bang in front of them - more precisely, its various parts - banana stem, raw and ripe banana, banana flower were presented as the core ingredient to be used, they were all flabbergasted. If it had been only an expression of shock, I could quite understand it.Their expressions were like all hell broke loose on them on Sunday.  

The four contestants had to prepare a complete platter using raw banana, banana leaf and ripe banana in the first round. The second round involved usage of banana flower and the last one required contestants to prepare a starter using banana stem.

Raw bananas make yummy dry curry, especially when mixed with grated coconut. Ripe bananas could be steamed with honey laced water to provide a simple, delectable dessert. Steaming in banana leaves added an extraordinary flavor to any dish. Ample knowledge can be derived on how to use all of the above elements of a banana plant from Canara coast, states of Kerala and Tamil nadu (as far as I know). Banana flower beats the rest when it comes to taste factor though it is quite meticulous to clean it. Finely chopped banana flower could be mashed with potato and used to make cutlets or mixed with channa dal to make vadas. Banana stem is a miracle ingredient, rich in roughage, yielding tasty dry and yoghurt based curry. The core ingredient is quite common place in the southern states of India and very vital in nutritive aspects too. People who cared to know about global cuisines could have had an easy take that day had they turned a few pages of any South Indian cook book.

I felt a strange sense of ignorance looming in them and I have seen this in most cookery shows aired in India.    There is much more in South Indian cooking than only idli, vada and dosa.Whilst the whole nation has adopted the tandoor, naan, kulcha, paneer butter masala, concepts of weaving magic with a wet grinder and simple fermentation techniques have gone amiss. It is very appreciable people put in sincere efforts to master things that are cooked and served in far off corners of the world, but why some take a huge leap before they are even aware of indigenous lessons is not clear.

I realized that day - to be a key contender in Master Chef India, it is mandatory one excels in North Indian cooking and be a clone of Nigella Lawson in baking. Churn out a 1000 recipes with olive oil but remain blissfully ignorant of the fact that even till oil can be used for cooking. Be crafty with the pasta maker even if you haven't (even once) skillfully squeezed out murukkus and chakalis. With an overdose of enthusiasm, there are takers for the far fetched Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Thai and Japanese, but even indirect references and simple awareness of completeness and diversity in Indian cuisine strangely goes for a toss. 

Eight Minutes

Here I come, hitting my blog after a brief gap, to write about nothing like Paulo Coelho's Eleven Minutes. Busy days at work kept me away from jotting down my thoughts. The month of November was exceptionally cold in Bangalore. Cyclonic storm and rains in Chennai sent mercury dipping in Bangalore too. Getting the morning cab on time and reaching work at 8 has become next to impossible. So I have been doing this exercise of taking Bangalore Metro, better known as, Namma Metro to work! 

I stay in New Tippasandra, about 2 km from Indira Nagar Metro station and work at Cunningham Road, about 2.5 km from Mahatma Gandhi Road Metro station. There are buses that ply from close to my house (Indira Nagar 80 feet road) to Shivaji Nagar (314, 314A/P/N, 139) and these buses ply via Indira Nagar CMH Road- Ulsoor- Dickenson Road- Cubbon road. A hop from Shivaji Nagar (a prominent bus terminus) onto any bus going towards Hebbal/Yelahanka/Yeshwantpur will take me to Cunningham road and a brief walk of 10 minutes to my office. 

Leaving home post 9 in the morning to reach office is a killer decision in Bangalore. To commute the distance of 11 km from my home to office, time taken ranges between 50-70 minutes due to heavy traffic congestion. Those who reside in Bangalore can definitely relate to copious time one spends in Ulsoor to reach MG Road, the most decisive bottle neck. MG Road itself has 6 signals over a stretch of 2.5 km, some of them marking "GO" Green signal at 120 or even worse 140 seconds interval. The more one slips from
9am departure from home, hits close to 9.30am or thereafter due to reasons - planned or unplanned, the more he/she will face the ire of Bangalore traffic.  Traffic is TERRIFIC.

Two weeks back, I decided to give this "two-buses" journey scheme a break. Of course, what is stated below might appear little tedious but it saved a lot of time and energises me in the morning despite the slumber that creeps into this city's environs during winter months. 

I take a brisk walk for 8 minutes to reach Indira Nagar 80ft road bus stop, board a bus to Indira Nagar Metro station, then board the Metro train and reach Mahatma Gandhi Road - my and Metro's destination. I then take a G-9 bus, right outside MG Road Metro Station to Cunningham road, again walk for 10 minutes and reach office. The total travel time despite many hops and ups-downs comes down from 60/65 min to 30/35 minutes. 

Reason - Namma Metro, however slow it wriggles on tracks laid between buildings, covers the deadly bottle neck in 8 minutes - ON DOT.

The metro train is punctual, no question of congestion up there on the tracks, seats in train during office hours are full but there is ample space to stand and standing for 8 minutes is not a pain. There is no pollution and no squeezing of fellow passengers against the ticket collector. As the metro chugs past Ulsoor, crosses Trinity circle and reaches its final stop at MG road in 8 minutes, one only thinks - WOW! ... the race against time is completed in style. 

A trip from Indiranagar to MG road by Metro costs Rs 12 per person, for now it is tad costly but I am sure that with future expansions and route completion, Metro will draw more crowd and lessen the fare. Commuters in weekdays rush hour are office goers, many who work in banks and other offices on MG road and Trinity circle. On weekends, there are all sorts of people on board, those who want to go shopping, catch a movie, enjoy a trial ride, kids who want to want to cling onto the holders inside train, swing using them as if they were Roman Rings and catch a view of the city from a height. 

The current route plies from Byappanahalli to MG Road, a short stretch I must admit, well supported by feeder buses. This eight minutes journey by Metro from Indira nagar to MG Road has helped me avoid head aches and migraines. But there is a big, nagging question I have, not one, but many ...

Bangalore has multiple railway stations at Byappanahalli, KR Puram, Bangalore East, Bangalore Cantonment, Bangalore City (Majestic), Malleshwaram, Yeshwantpur, Banaswadi and Yelahanka and more which I may not know. Why the thought of leaving Electric Multiple Units (EMU trains) on these tracks with stops at these stations never occurred to the state government? I had written twice to the decision making body when Namma Metro was planned but no avail. BEML (Bharat Earth Mowers Limited) factory located in Bangalore makes coaches for electric trains running in Chennai and Mumbai, then why does this workshop not churn out coaches for Bangalore local trains? Feeder buses now used to connect Metro could well have been used to connect all the above railway stations to prominent city centers. If there are AC electric lines already running above tracks in place, why lay a third DC rail, build many pillars, lay tracks, fell tress, dig and scoop earth out, make potholes on roads of Bangalore which are already crushed under the weight of incessant traffic during the day and heavy metro-work related machinery during night? This cannot be a case of simple overlooking or a careless flaw in planning. It only seems an orchestrated effort to start something anew as this alone brings forth fresh contracts, more money and thereby more SCAMS. 

Questions remain and concerns grow on the change of scape of a city I have always loved since the day I landed. But as I even reckon them .. eight minutes are over and I prepare to get down at MG Road station.