Wednesday, December 30, 2009

When the world comes shattering down.

They say that the crash is going to happen in 2012.
But for some its going to happen tomorrow midnight.
And those few are the music lovers who have their faithful World Space satellite radio at home.
Like somebody said “Indians need food, water, clothing and music to live”
But unfortunately the music is going to be yanked off by World Space as it is coming to an abrupt halt at the stroke of midnight.

So what do I do with this rectangular box which I had switched on and off for the last four years. In fact it was mostly on and hardly off. I was surprised that my wife did not object to it being on even when we were sleeping at night (of course at a very low volume)
As for World Space, I think this is another classic example of huge companies who squander away money with no thought of the consequences. Like some one commented “what is the justification of spending a whooping 5 crores of Indian rupees on A R Rehman by asking him to lend his voice for the promotion of the satellite radio. You people got nice money without doing any serious job, without taking any responsibilities, enjoyed life in posh hotels with good food for each birthday, anniversary, for team entertainment, roamed in the flight all over the world for no reason, given good increment for your favorites, spent life in the office for chatting, browsing, downloading, viewing and played enough internal politics. Your wrong management had a Supervisor Worker ratio of 4 : 1, and did not allow subordinate to do work properly, All these years you made enough without any pain. Nobody to check, ask, supervise, you have cheated Indian Subscribers and also those who served. And now when the chair is yanked off your butts you cry foul play
I heard that they have filed for Bankruptcy in the USA. Wonder what will happen to the 4.5 lakhs of subscribers in India.

So I think I will pack the rectangular box and keep it on the loft. Maybe some kind soul (like the Ambanis or Tatas or even A R Rehman) will take up this sick unit and continue the service.
After all what is life without music. And when we say music I mean real good music. Not the ones belted out from the local FM stations where it is more of gibberish (and jabber) and hardly any music.
Colourless ?
That’s the reason I listen to my favorite ipod while I travel to work ( two hrs both ways) The recent inclusion in my ipod are five cds of Binaca Geet mala (one CD lasts one hour) .
Ameen Sayani’s narration keeps you going as he unravels the yesteryear singers and actors and how life was tough then.
Like the hero who came from Lahore in 1947 (during partition) to work as a hero in Bombay. After a lot of rejection he finally got his first job as a villain (for a salary of Rs 500/- for the whole film)
His name was Pran.

That is Ameen above. He talks about himself too where he started with jingles for Ovaltine !!
More such jingles followed which instilled in him the confidence to ask for payment. Says he “I hesitantly asked the producer, ‘how much would I be paid for that’? The producer shot back, ‘No money, but you would be given a tin of Ovaltine every week…’” And I believe the health that I have today is because of Ovaltine, which is not sold anymore…” laughs Sayani, who is now 78.
There are more insights into the old Hindi film world and it’s a real entertainment for the ones who love old Hindi songs.

Another inclusion in my ipod are 3 CDs from the Album Stars on 45.
A gem of a collection with songs like Tie a Yellow ribbon round the old oak tree, Papa Love Mambo, Paper roses, Que Sera Sera, Beautiful Sunday, Rose Garden, Yellow River, Knock three times, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, Rain drops keep falling on my head. . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 songs in all.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lata's mummy

Hand painted Table cloth

What you see is only the corner of a table cloth which is hand painted. There are 15 such figures on the table cloth and believe it or not its done by an 88 year old lady.
When people talk about retirement and taking life easy after 60, here is a lady who is very busy and innovative with stitching, painting, embroidery and what not.

87 and innovative

The flowers in the forefront seen in the above picture was created by simply painting old withered flowers. Her artistic skills really amaze me.
Not only is she occupied, her work sells like hot cake and she is hard pressed for time.
In line with the need of being eco friendly and cost effective, the bird nest seen below was made by simply rolling old news papers and painted.

Bird house made of paper

Last year she learned how to use the net and send e mails. So now all her relatives who are flung all over the world just waits for her mails.
Flying and jet lag does not bother her as she is now planning another trip to Australia to visit her son and family who are settled there.
A true inspiration for today’s younger generation who gets flustered by the drop of a hat.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Next station.........Hyderabad

Charminar in all its glory at night
I was trying to figure out how to divide this huge colossal monument.
I mean if Hyderabad is going to be divided then the next step would be to divide the Charminar.
In our school days there was a phase where empty cigarette packet collection was a craze, and boys used to barter cigarette packets for marbles. And when it came to small marbles the barter was for half a packet. (this beats even the sophisticated game know as Monopoly)

And in those days there used to be the Charminar brand ciggi. Now tearing a cigarette packet in half was easy but how do we divide the Nizam’s Charminar?
Cutting it diagonally is not a good idea as it will cut the Minars too.
I like the idea of a horizontal split and that will ensure two Minars for each state and equal distribution of irrigational water supply too.
Then what about the famous Shadab hotel nearby? You get good Haleem there, but we have to ensure that there is a steady flow of customers from both the states. No point in some one going on a fast because he was not served the best Haleem in town. (click on picture above for more details on Haleem)
And then what about the 350 ton Buddha statue in the Hussain sagar?
hussain sagar at Hyderabad, India
I wonder if Qutub Shahi ever dreamt that this would be the turn of events when he built the Charminar with the prayer “Oh God, bestow unto this city peace and prosperity. Let millions of men of all castes, creed and religion make it their abode, like fish in the water."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pazham pori (banana fritters)

Writing blogs is easy but writing down the procedural steps of a recipe is not easy. But still I love these Ethakka Appam / Pazham Pori (banana fritters)
You can’t miss those big variety of Banana known as Ethakka in Kerala. (now a days you get them in all the “Kerala stores” across the country and what is available across the country is available all over the world)
I was told that daily about 10000 idlis were made in Ernakulam early in the morning at 5 am, packed and send by flight so that they can have hot idlis for breakfast in Dubai.

Making Pazham Pori (Ethakka appam) is very easy.
Select the ripest ones.
Cut each banana into 3 or 4 pieces, lengthwise.
Make a thick batter with one cup refined flour and half cup rice powder (with half cup water). Add half cup sugar and teeny weenie bit of bicarbonate of soda.
Pazham pori in the making
Dip the banana slices in the batter and deep fry in hot oil till golden brown.
Drain off the excess oil and serve hot.
the finished product
Simple isn’t it.
Now to make it a little more tasty, replace water with coconut milk.
Powder some elaka (cardamom/elaichi) and add to the batter. Yummmmmm.
(economy hint: the more ripe the banana, the less sugar you have to add)
Talking about banana reminded me of how I polished off 7 bananas at a stretch. This was in response to a challenge thrown in by my dad. I was well known at home for consuming bananas. One day my dad was back from marketing and as soon as he kept the bananas in the basket two disappeared. When he discovered that, he took the whole bunch (one doz) and kept it in front of me. “OK son let me see how much you can eat” I took up the challenge and started off one by one. I could eat 5 more making the total tally at 7. That should have created an aversion for bananas, but in my case it did not.
Below is a photograph from the net (plantain packing around 1900 in Circa)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Baking is another option

It all started with me trying to bake a sponge cake for my wife on her birthday.
But once the batter was ready there was some problem with the power supply by which the oven would not work. That ended my attempt of the surprise cake for her Birthday.
When my wife discovered the batter she thought “if my hubby can bake a cake then why not me” (she was not into baking till then)
So she took over the second half (when the power was restored) and baked the cake which turned out pretty well.
That boosted her moral and she started experimenting with different types of cakes.
Now it was my turn to be surprised as she started churning out cake after cake with expert advice from my sister.
One day she announced “Hey you all want to have pineapple upside down cake?”
This was something new to me. I mean I always thought that the cashew fruit was the one who used to hang upside down whereas the pineapple used to stand erect where they used to grow wild around the huge pond (kolam) in our home town.
But once the cake was done, it was a visual treat as I could see the slices of the pineapple very clearly. The trick was to put these slices at the bottom and bake the cake. Once it is baked you turn it upside down and hey presto this is how it looks. I thought its worth a click. Its not only the slices but the complete cake has the pineapple taste as the juice is mixed in the batter. (oops I hope wifey won’t read this as I have given out the secret formula)
pinapple upside down cake

Then came the Brownies. These were a hit with all those who had it and they swore that they were much better than the expensive brownies that are sold at the Coffee Day outlets. Some even placed orders, especially the vegetarian ones. (with out eggs) By the way all ye veggies, serves you right if you don’t want to listen to what Gandhi said.
The best brownie in town

Before I proceed a word has to be put in about my sister who loves baking and this is what she had baked when we went to Bangalore to visit her. The minute it was kept on the table, I knew that it would finish in a jiffy so I took it out in the natural light and clicked it. The cherries on the top is the highlight I suppose.

Black forest
OK coming back to the home front, it was a loosing battle for me. I mean here I was, spending money and trudging on the tread mill to loose weight and my wife went on churning out cake after cake in different sizes and tastes. How can I resist.
The lava cake is something that has to be seen when served. Before serving, the cake is made warm in the microwave and then a dollop of ice cream is added. You can literally see the middle of the cake “pop” up with the lava flowing out. Yummmm tasty.
Lava cake

Earlier baking was a tedious task with all those Aluminum baking vessels and greasing them and the ultimate task of removing the finish product from the mould without breaking it.
Now with the advent of the plastic moulds in Siliconflex material it’s a pleasure to bake. I tried clicking a product along with the mould so that you can have an idea how it looks.
Baking is a different story now

Some of the cakes baked for Wedding Anniversaries and Birthdays.
The one below was for Dr Sudhakar and Cindy's 35th wedding anniversary.I am sure the cake matches that broad smile.
All ready

This was for Nikhil's brthday:
Home made

And this was for my sister's 25th wedding Anniversary:
Date & Walnut cake with icing

As for the one below don’t go by the looks. It may look dull but its made with almond, peach and yoghurt. A different taste altogether.
peach cake

As I was sure that the cakes would be a hit, I used to distribute them to the volunteers at the Flickr photo exhibitions held in Pune and also at the Flickr meet.
Then there was the cake and wine sessions at the Orkut FM meet
The below picture speaks for itself when it was distributed at a Flickr meet at RSI Pune which was sponsored by Captain Nandu Chitnis Though it may look like a posed photo, it is not.

Thanks to the quick reaction by Sahil who did a good job of clicking a lovely candid picture.

Coming back to me, I forgot how to bake a simple sponge cake.
(to see the complete pictures click on them)