Wednesday, November 09, 2011
"Entschuldigen Sie mich. Kann ich etwas Käse und Wein. Und Sie können meinen Porsche"
To rather briefly put it the German would politely offer his Porsche for some good French wine and cheese…Unfortunately by the time the soldier finished his statement in deutsch which in these days would roughly take up 15GB of your hard disk, age would be catching up with the poor French farmer and the wine would have turned vintage!
Out of sheer boredom and effort needed to have a conversation with the German, the Monsieur would curtly reply...
It was to no one’s surprise that in a few years Germany realised the importance of occupying France for strategic military reasons as mentioned in weekly newsletters issued by the third Reich... It was though an open secret in SS circles the strategic reasons were mainly cheese from Strasbourg and the wine from Bordeaux....
Several years later a malayalee landed in that country for the same strategic reasons as the Germans did.... and voila he had no choice but to express his joy when he tasted the fine elixir in the most passionate way possible...So he did fold his mundu, toasted his glass high and waxed eloquently what he had memorised all along….
“Monsieur this wine is excellent…exceptionnelle !!!… céleste!!....it has the earthiness of Bordeaux and astringent after taste of a Cabernet sauvignon and yet sublimely robust with a tinge of cedar wood and unpretentious crispness of autumn air in Burgundy. A grapey finesse with a peppery flourish which discreetly emphasizes the opulent undertone of a citrus crust that succulently brings out the Joie de vivre every human aspires for…”
Ofcourse as I said this the frenchman looked everybit the angry Gaul I had Imagined from Asterix comics… Either he was contemplating to use the french legion against me or the even greater humilation of running over me in a french made car.. Inspite of all the french sense of fashion and avant garde and other such sophisticated words which they are proud of, that is one thing they are really bad at…The Renault’s and the Peugoet’s were probably designed only with sole intent of packing as much groceries from Carrefour as possible... and the only reason why the world has forgiven them was coz of their cusine..
I realised how seriously they took their food when I looked at the menu in a restaurant out here… They could pretty much convince you with vivid descriptions and exquisite phrases how delicious it is to eat sawdust if the wood is French!!
There is nothing that can bring passion amongst the average Charles de and Gaulle as much as food does. For centuries they occupied countries in Africa and Asia and even took the effort of going to far away islands in pacific to steal the local cuisines. Ofcoz Algeria due to lack of parking spots in France but Pondicherry that was only for curd rice!! Infact several years ago, parts of France were declared as famine hit when there was a sudden shortage of caviar at a few Michelin starred restaurants in Paris … Well I must say a French man might after all die, but never of poverty...
While the language is really pleasing to the ears, for someone who is attempting to try a few phrases like myself the consequences are disastrous...After spending several hours memorising phrases like “Parlez vou Anglais” (Do you speak English?), I have been quite lucky to see a wide variety of French facial expressions when I gallantly asked them… “Poulet vou Anglais” (Chicken do you English?)
But I must admit, the French way of speaking French is very sweet…So its hard to make out what the mood of conversation actually is...Sometimes you think that a couple who seem to talk animatedly and loud in the street was probably saying very moving and romantic French lines from “Gone with the Wind”… only to realise after a few minutes that they would blow up like RDX coated popcorn generating enough power that sends those rockets to space from French Guyana…
Hmm… and I know you must be wondering why hasn’t he yet talked about French ladies…Well there are days here when the sky is grey, gloomy and overcast… you read about massacres happening in Libya…project fails and system crashes at work…somebody tops your top score in flight control…. You lose money at the stock market…salary hikes become a myth… and one of those days while sitting alone in a restaurant looking forlorn outside … you see a petit mademoiselle with a sweet and warm smile walking towards to you…and quips…
“Monsieur…Could you pass the salt? ”
Thursday, July 07, 2011
“I am on a Diet “
The moment I uttered it,my friend started laughing voraciously with a disdain usually reserved only when he hears something outrageously impossible and inconceivable… However I felt like he was laughing mockingly at the director of an intense and serious foreign language movie!! It was insulting and hardly motivating for a guy who was hoping to get a tummy like Baba Ramdev’s!
“I am on a Diet “ I vehemently thundered again thumping my fist down the desk…. But I was greeted again with a nonchalant response that was making a mockery of general practices to be followed in mockery. Not to be discouraged by such folks, I set a deadline for myself. It was my own Anna Hazare moment of truth.
I saw telebranding videos of a white chettan from Louisiana, USA speaking flawless Malayalam in Kairali TV and swinging sidewise flaunting his six packs. Along with him was a chedathi who was showing a photo of another lady claiming it was herself one week ago. Surprisingly she knew Malayalam and sounded less convincing to me because she had a heavy Thrissur accent and I haven’t really seen many blondes out there at the Round.What really discouraged me was the chettan looked like someone who was still evolving into a human.
Meanwhile I searched for articles on how to lose weight in 7 days without exercising and without compromising on cheese burgers. That unfortunate day, Google failed me for the first time in my life….However I wondered how life is when people eat salads, throw away the egg yolk, buy a chocolate pastry and give that “OMG so many calories” look and actually read what is written behind milk cartons. So when I got a fruit bowl for breakfast I could sense somewhere deep down that I was doing something completely unnatural coz fruits as I knew until then was used only for making soaps natural. And a few days later I discovered a cruel and highly uncreative meal called the salad… A bowl which vaguely reminded me of the kitchen while Amma was cutting the veggies for an avial!!Folks who are not familiar with salad must know that it was used as a torture technique during the crusades. Believe me!! All those vegetables look good only in high definition television!
This brief attempt with fruits and salads resulted in cold turkey. I started hallucinating and behaving like a zombie… I would imagine fried ethakkappams and chicken kebabs floating around me…I insulted my friend Sam by addressing him as Samosa during a project meeting. At the canteen I longingly looked at the main course… the paneer so near and yet so far….Maybe as they say revenge is a dish best served cold and no surprise if the cold turkey must have been the curse of a sizeable lineage of chickens, cows, goats which had an abrupt end thanks to me.
Not to shy away that easily I looked for inspiration in movies… There was a Sylvester Stallone in me who was jogging inMysore city streets at ungodly hours to the background music reminiscent of his “Rocky” training …I would symbolically raise my hands at 12th cross, Vijayanagar 2nd stage staring intensely at chamundi hills only to be greeted by a few cows grazing early in the morning!! Other days I felt like a man on a run…a la Forrest Gump but not cross country like in the movie where they hide reality…mine was inside the Taluk only and I drove back home in a car….I bought Nike track wear and started drinking Gatorade and it made me feel like Carl Lewis though maybe his pace was negligibly different…Towards the end of such a routine the uncanny resemblance with a panting dog made me realize why the wise men say it’s a dog’s life after all…
In such a situation I sought solace in Jesus…I asked him for a sign….A sign that would tell me what to do….
“Oh Lord, I am hungry!!” I clenched my palms and looked skywards…
So when I walked into that book store I had no inkling of the mysterious ways the lord works…
I glanced at a book…”Eat, Pray and Love” which during that moment of enlightenment read...”Eat, Eat and Eat”
That was a sign and I knew it… And then there was another sign as I kept roaming in the bookstore…
“Who moved my Cheese…?”
Oh Lord, you even tell me what to eat!!Cheese Burger right? Your mysterious ways!!
My joy knew no bound as I started running out to the streets… Faces crossed my mind…Baba Ramdev...Rocky Balboa….Maybe it’s another sign I thought…. After pacifying myself I returned home consoling that maybe after all there is nothing like a free lunch … or in my case fat-free lunch!
And a few days back as I strolled by M.G Road Bangalore, I saw a bespectacled man wearing a bow tie at a distance…He seemed to be the kind who gives one of those offer you cannot refuse…His shop was buzzing with friends curiously dipping hands in oversized red buckets ….I stared longingly through the glass window of the KFC outlet….but then a poem crossed my mind…
The drumsticks are crunchy, golden, and delicious,
But I have promises to keep,
And calories to burn before I sleep,
And calories to burn before I sleep
Well...umm….Maybe the in’fat’uation would last for a while…
Sunday, May 29, 2011
A couple of months ago at Munich, Germany.....
Sunday Mornings are often colder than weekdays and the process of getting out of bed makes you act like a tortoise who is not interested in any kind of race for that matter! However as a true devout whose commitment was unquestionable, I did not think twice before waking up when the clock struck six...
It was dark and chilly outside...It does not matter when your faith is strong and unwavering....I took a quick shower as the urge to get there as soon as possible was overwhelming...At 6:30 am I started my brisk walk towards the holy place… It was overwhelming to be part of the august gathering of people who were marching along to offer glowering tributes at the shrine...It actually reminded me of what it really means to be part of it...About sharing happiness and sadness...about touching people’s lives...and about forgetting... Being someone who hates to be late, I was glad that I could sit right in front along with passionate gathering... Glancing at the faces around me I realised how over blown were talks of atheist’s taking over the world... There was a collective sense of hope...and an electric vibrancy in the air...I wondered, wasn’t it amazing that thousands of people sacrificed a lazy sunday morning to be part of this offering...to be part of something truly special...At precisely 8:30 am after a long wait, when the first german frau wearing a dirndl and holding 8 mugs of beer arrived...ten thousand devotees from around the world at a beer tent for Oktoberfest had the widest glee’s in the whole world!!
The crowd roared in unison… The blessed moment we all waited anxiously had truly arrived.
Oktoberfest is as important to Bavarians as yeast is to Bread! The annual event which attracts the faithful from around the world does bear justice to the magnetic reputation it has. I had tried to get into one of those tents with my friends on a Saturday morning and we had to return disappointed as we underestimated the strength of people who took the pilgrimage…So it was with brahminical devotion that we made our second attempt that Sunday morning. What makes Oktoberfest amazing is the fact that it proves wrong a myth that Germans are cold (well the beer is…J), unsocial and hard to have fun with… I can imagine why Oktoberfest may not be as great in a place like Brazil coz we expect the Brazilians to be fun loving people… The first Mass (1L mug of beer) is drunk by the locals with all the stereotypes typically attached to Germans… People talk in hushed tones at the tables as if they were discussing the second quarter results of an IT firm! The first Mass is usual the tonic what the Germans need to shed that inhibition to talk to strangers and start singing and dancing.
Besides your friends you would often have random strangers sitting beside you...In the beginning the strangers start talking to you in German and you reply in a mix of broken German and English...However after the second Mass I faintly remember that we had a deep and intellectually stimulating conversation in Malayalam... Schmidt chetta, if you are reading this, Kottayam is not a 10 minutes bus ride from Bombay as I had claimed that day.
Although I don’t remember much of Schmidt, I do remember the beautiful german ladies whose appetite for beer can only be topped by Kalmadisque penchant for buying expensive refrigerators! Most of the local girls wear the German version of chattayum mundum called the Dirndl which actually is cool and pretty. And the guys wear the lederhosen which can make your Levis denim look cheap...As the drinking and the music continues you could occasionally see some daredevils grabbing the attention of everyone in the tent and proclaiming his/her attempts to drink the one litre mass in a single gulp which is by no means a small feat...The crowd cheers such daredevils but usually fizzles into good hearted boos when they fail... The local Bavarians look at in amusement when outsider’s attempt that and fail gloriously and later as a sort of vindication they show the tourist’s how it is done...Believe me these guys have tummy’s as big as a fuel tank of a decent sedan.
The mood in the tent gets progressively jovial over time and the real fun starts when the music begins...Almost everyone in the tent are up on the benches with hands on each other’s shoulders and sing passionately beer songs...
“Allee Allee Allee Allee Allee
eine Straße, viele Bäume,
ja das ist eine Allee
Allee Allee Allee Allee”
It is an amazing feeling when a group of people who did not know each other a few hours ago start showing camaraderie like they were best buddies in town...People take photos with each other bridging nationalities and although there are sporadic cases of bad drinker’s creating havoc, most people in general are jovially happy and soaking the moment...The beer girl’s (actually middle aged women) make sure that the ale is supplied at the tables with precision typical of Germans. You look at in awe how they hold 8-10 glass mugs each containing a litre of beer which is a feat in itself...Besides the beer they make sure that the revellers are supplied with roasted chickens, steaks and pretzels... It was really hard for us to leave the tent afternoon as the atmosphere is something which you don’t want to run away from...Unfortunately we had to catch the train to Hamburg and we did not want to end up as beer corpses (as the locals describe the passed out fellas).
Over the years and places I have been in Germany, it was easily one of the best experiences I had...As we came out of the tents and marched to the exit, I thanked the beer gods for the pilgrimage I could make... The satisfaction of being at the holiest of shrines…of having tasted the beer which might have inspired hundreds of poets and writers…Schmidt did tell me that I am a blessed man having come all the way from Kottayam…duh...He was drunk it seems!!….But as I strolled out, the true sign of being blessed was charmingly displayed in that outrageously zigzag spaghetti walk to the train station…or as I prefer to call it ….my Beer Ballet!
Monday, May 09, 2011
“The bitch will behave nicely today and looks a lot better than the bitches we have seen in the country.”
Although I was startled for a few minutes to hear this on primetime television while I was making tea in the kitchen, it brought immediate relief when I heard the next sentence…
“The bitch will have something for both the batsman and the bowler”
First I wondered whether it was my new TV who’s crystal clear and some Ph.D. lingo technology was working way too precise for comfort. But later when I saw Sivaramakrishnan the commentator still praising the bitch I kinda assumed it was the bitch of his tone which was creating all the trouble...And as marketer’s try hard to sustain the interest in cricket from the giddy successes of world cup and however I try, the whole IPL feels like a bad hangover … or rather a drink too soon after a binge party!
I had managed to insulate myself from the advertising blitzkrieg by subscribing to the HD telecast and I saved myself the trauma of watching Akshay Kumar who seemed to have tried a thousand times to say Mannapuram Gold and failed miserably at it…I was equally glad that I could skip those Idea-No Idea ad’s where creativity was as lacking as hair on post-world cup Dhoni…While the telecast did not save me from the Sidhu talk which probably was like one of those sufferings you go through to finally enjoy the good things in life, I really enjoyed watching the World Cup on TV.
Since I had never here been during IPL in the past years, I really wanted to watch atleast a few matches to get the gist of it. Infact what amused me more than cricket was the marketing machinery which displayed endorsements that could actually bring more than a chuckle …It was amazing to see the plethora of sponsors ranging from cement manufacturers, marble sellers, liquor makers and even tea manufacturers. Well infact the sponsors also taught me that White Mischief was a cheer leading group and not a detergent manufacturer as I presumed. At times you would see one of those “Thank you *tournament sponsor* for everything!” placards and wonder…Seriously? It’s like a Mc Donald’s ‘I ‘m loving it’ ad in an Udupi restaurant!
For many cricketers from abroad the IPL is more like the onsite trip folks in IT would love to have… I can imagine KieronPollard’s mom packing tortilla chips and himself smuggling in a good bottle of Jamaican rum when he left the West Indies shores. After a few weeks in India he would upload pictures in Facebook with Album names like “Rocking in Fort Kochi” and photos of him probably eating naan and butter chicken at Mohali...Status updates like “Missing Barbara” instead of Barbados would make sure his relationship got fireworks.
As these phoren cricketers take work in IPL, we can see that jobs are lost back home. Offshoring meant that expensive local talent lost job and had to engage in alternative professions like commentary! On the bright side some visitors did really indianize beyond recognition… Shane Thakur Warner has got such a tan now that he can camouflage easily in the Rajasthan deserts. Cameron White even got his name changed to Cameron Brown. And so can Vettori easily pass of as the tired and overworked resident doctor at St. John’s medical college. Lasith Malinga whose hair locks are considered a national asset in Sri Lanka and infact even causes the stock markets to plunge every time he passes by a hair salon has now become part of folklore in Mumbai.
But alas after a few matches in IPL I think I have had enough of it…It has now become like the 8th season of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. You know it was good in the beginning and now getting somewhat ho-hum…There is something discernibly lacking in how the game is showcased this time around…Or maybe am someone who likes the good old test cricket with its broad culinary experience involving lunch, drinks, tea and all…team jersey’s devoid of the overdose of advertisements and where passion amongst the cricketers are real and where the lady at home could do some bpitch talk with her friend about a husband who spends five days watching cricket all day…….. Have a nice week ahead folks! :)
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Place: Somewhere in
Time: A couple of thousand years ago…
Adam: “oh…c’mon...can’t we just order it from heavenbay.com”
Eve: “you don’t understand Adam…we need to have something fresh…bio-fresh...could you just get ready fast!!”
Eve: “Eh…why do you need them anyways??”
Adam: “I just get the feeling we might need em today!!”
Eve: “okie dokie…it must be somewhere...i ll get it”
“The Garden of Eden” *Today’s offer…Apples!!*
Eve’s joy knew no bound and she pestered Adam to the shop…But Adam reminded her of the fatwa issued by the almighty…But in an unprecedented move they went inside and plucked an apple. Life changed ever after. This historic shop lifting incident documented in a holy book gives insights into why women love shopping and men don’t.
Over thousands of years the fig leaves graduated to products from L’Oreal and wardrobes from Louis Vuitton. Men were forced to buy products from Gillette and had to stop hunting for wild boars under the pretext of wildlife protection. These drastic evolutionary changes also resulted in man adapting to the new way of life. God who was very well aware of the plight men were going through did occasionally make products like I-phone, Bluetooth headsets and play stations. Though I believe those were mere ploys to make men come of their caves.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Several eons ago, fashionable people imitating Elvis Presley roamed the streets in a land called Kerala…Polka dotted shirts with designs that appeared like carbon covalent bonds and side burns that would have rendered contemporary shavers useless were sported generously by our older generation…. Though with a slight difference coz the malayalee Elvis was shorter and he was not Caucasian…That made Babumon rather an overweight Boney M with a moustache…
The resident English language instructor mentioned to us that trainees are punished severely for using malayalam phrases like… ente eeshoyeee...ente Velankanni maathaavei...bhagavathi...ente ammo…
While they are encouraged to use english exclamations like oops, ouch and schmuck liberally.
- Tuvaalaa >> tissues
- Pants >> trousers
- Kaapi >>> Cappuccino
- Dosa >>> crepe
- Puthappu >>> bedcover
- Lifebuoy soap
- Godrej shaving box
And the dude has definitely not heard any of these…
- Cabbage thoran
- Parippu vada
- Ayn Rand
- Malayala Manorama
Put both your hands inside the jeans pocket while you walk..
Wear over-sized T shirts preferably with a picture of a black rap singer.
While walking, do it like you have a painful sore on one feet which moves to the other feet after a step.
Happy weekend to all dudes and dudette’s!! J
Sunday, April 10, 2011
When I started blogging, I was fascinated by the space and its ability to reach out to people around the world...Its ability to find people who shared similar thoughts...Infact I loved the media so much that I really did not imagine that I would hit a road block in blogging someday… Unlike many who had stopped blogging as a conscious decision the reasons why this space hit a halt was a landslide of several reasons… There has been drastic changes in my life since the last time I blogged…The times I have blogged from 2006 till 2010 were times when I had probably the peak happiness in my life…I was someone who hadn’t really anything much to worry about and most days were generally joy filled…well ofcoz there was periodic disappointments of reasons subtle to not so subtle…ofcoz there was the joy of meeting new people to the heartbreak of knowing that a crush was already seeing someone…there was the adventure of cooking dinners, of seeing new places, of laughing over a beer, playing Jenga with friends to tragic failures in learning new languages, unfortunate or delightful stories from friends and likewise… And all these incidents were fodder for me to keep blogging… Then 2010 happened!!
Although I had stopped blogging sometime in beginning of 2010 it was due to sheer laziness and the fact that I was getting quite busy at work around then…In the summer of 2010 while I was enjoying a vacation with my close friends from Hamburg at an island in the north sea (Rugen), I received the call from my cousin who delivered a news I feared the most… And then from that day nothing has been same for me… I hurried back home in India to meet my family … I don’t remember a journey as excruciating painful as my flight from Hamburg to Trivandrum and I was probably too over struck by shock that I can barely express it in words… My dad’s demise in a car accident on May 21st was like a big arresting stop in my journey of life… I don’t think I have to tell how I felt during that day and the following weeks as I believe it not something you can really explain…you just have to go through it…I was lucky that I had really good friends in Hamburg who gave me the strength in the hour of need and to my beloved relatives back home who played a huge part in my personal recovery…After 3 and half weeks I returned to Hamburg…I wanted to be alone…
I am usually a person who keeps all my emotions with myself and rarely share it with anyone unless am absolutely comfortable with that person… The physical and emotional toll of the few weeks made me really sick and I was bed ridden in Hamburg for a few days..The following weeks I was going through periodic depression and an urgency to withdraw from all sorts of social contact with people I knew… I had become some kind of a social loner and it was necessary for me…Atleast that’s what I felt around then…My behavior was ofcoz weird to my close friends and family as I can presume...But the period also taught me how to fight and be strong…. This was probably the lowest ebb in my life and I needed self conviction to fight it…The period also helped me to know the people who really mattered to me…
My friends out there who made sure that I did not sulk and stay at home all the time…friends who took care of me when I was sick…family who used to call me to check on me….My biggest reassurance or tonic for my recovery was how my mom and brother were doing…It was a huge relief for me when I saw them pulling the strings back…Infact I think that’s the most beautiful aspect of a relationship in a family….The relief you get from your loved ones recovering helps you the same…Infact when all do it for each other…the collective recovery is faster… I have to particularly mention two of my friends in Hamburg S&J who took me as part of their family and made me feel like I was not alone… And new friendships came from unexpected quarters when a spanish neighbor of mine became a very close friend to whom I could express my fears, disappointments…etc… It was a liberating feeling for me who usually tries to keep a cocoon around myself from expressing to friends what I truly felt …
Although people say time heals things… and my general optimistic nature should have helped me, I was going through something that needed something beyond that…and am thankful to all the people around me for giving the much needed relief…I need to mention a lot of my blog friends/readers who checked on me and encouraged me to get back to blogging…I don’t have to mention names here as I know they themselves know it…I have shifted from Hamburg to Mysore last December..am back at my old workplace and have settled here…I miss my friends in Hamburg a lot as I realize that they can never be replaced…Getting used to rigours of work life in India is a bit intimidating after the relatively balanced style in Germany and the difficulty for someone to get used to the ‘indian way’ of life was not exactly smooth after such a long gap. (The difficulty often misconstrued as arrogance from a foreign-returned in our parlance is quite natural and I really have to walk a tight rope to make sure people don’t think otherwise )… After a few months now in Mysore, I am much more comfortable than when I had landed in town… Even though the residual romantic love for Hamburg still remains, I am counting on starting a new life in India with new friends and happier times…I have promises to keep…And I believe the first thing I need to do was get back to blogging which is one of my first loves besides Frasier and pencil sketching ofcoz..:)
I would like to express my sincere apologies to all friends and family with whom I have not been my usual self…. I have not replied emails from many of my friends and family during this past year due to my indifferent nature … I hope you can understand and forgive me for the same.
I would like to stop for the time being with a favourite quote from Emily Dickenson...
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all."