Friday, March 26, 2010

Foodsteps - from Devagiri to SLV Coffee Bar

I know that this post is going to get Ramesh mad again, but then here it goes ...

Sometimes, you go for something and get something else in return. Last Saturday, hustled up a quick visit to Devagiri, a Venkateswara temple on a small hillock immersed in the surrounding cityscape in Banashankari after el Niño's tennis class. One treat about going to a Perumal Kovil is the prasadam. 'el Niño' loves the theertham given at temples. It is always multiple helpings for him and showing his cupped hand and gulping the water down with a slurp. Loves the fragrance and taste that the theertham has, with the Tulasi leaves, camphor et al. Seeing Perumaal or Pillayaar is secondary. Theertham is divinity, for him and the running around in the prakaaram. :-)

The prasadam at the counter there is laddoo and vadé. The vadé is 'milagu vadai' (pepper vadai) which is hard (almost teeth breaking) and disc shaped, but tremendously tasty once it starts to melt in the mouth. The heat of the pepper hits your senses. And add to it, the puliyogaré (puliyodharai) there. One thing I have seen in Karnataka temples, almost without exception, is the amount of free prasadam that they give there. No shooing of people or giving small helpings. It _is_ generous and the temples are usually very clean. Both Niño and Niña got their helpings, took some of ours, all of which were in our hands, stood outside the temple, with Niño eating off our cupped hands and finishing it _fast_ (if only eating at home could be as quick!). Perumal Kovil puliyogaré tastes ethereal wherever you go. [Govindaa Govinda]

As we walked down, remembered that there is another 'Brahmins Coffee Bar' [BCB] type place nearby. Trundled down there, which is across the park there (close to the BDA shopping complex), to see a milling crowd outside a small eatery. And we had arrived at the Sri Lakshmi Venkateshwara Coffee Bar. Idly and Vadé again after wading through humanity. The chutney was a tad hot, but the idly and vadé were yum-o-yum, very similar to the ones at BCB. No sambar here as well, but chutney is limitless. This place is different than the BCB in that you get a larger variety to eat, like dosé and rava idly. el Niño, fickle to eat at joints like this, asked Señora to get him the dosé with aloo and vegetables inside (masala dosai), that he had tasted for first time at a friend's birthday party sometime back. Sat on the platform for a tree on the footpath, finished it off in no time.

What started off as a short and quick temple visit ended up with a trip to SLV coffee bar. Thanks to all the little eateries that make up the little joys of life !!!

The milagu vadé pack-of-5 from the temple survived only for a day more before its extinction. If you visit Devagiri on a Saturday, you can treat yourself to the mouth-watering temple prasadam, gorge at SLV Coffee Bar nearby and wind it up with a glass of fresh and hygienically pressed sugarcane juice at "cane-o-la" in the Banashankari BDA complex, all within 3 minutes of each other by walk.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Suttum Vizhi Chudar Thaan - சுட்டும் விழிச் சுடர்தான்

After a long time ...

One more translation of a 'soaring poem' from Subramanya Bharathi.

If emotions had arms and legs of its own, they would be dancing a perpetual ballet to the way Bharathi plays with them and his use of words of imagery.

Kannamma is his muse and there are quite a few poems addressed to her.

Here is a rendering of this poem by Hariharan in Kandukondaen Kandukondaen, with the background score by A R Rahman. It is an external link to Raaga, which may or may not work.

சுட்டும் விழிச் சுடர் தான் கண்ணம்மா சூரிய சந்திரரோ
வட்டக் கரிய விழி கண்ணம்மா வானக்கருமை கொலோ
பட்டுக் கருநீலப் புடவை பதித்த நல்வயிரம்
நட்ட நடுநிசியில் தெரியும் நட்சத்திரங்களடீ

சோலை மலரொளியோ நினது சுந்தரப் புன்னகை தான்
நீலக் கடலலையே நினது நெஞ்சின் அலைகளடீ
கோலக் குயிலோசை உனது குரலின் இனிமையடீ
வாலைக் குமரியடீ கண்ணம்மா மருவக்காதல் கொண்டேன்

சாத்திரம் பேசுகிறாய் கண்ணம்மா சாத்திரம் ஏதுக்கடீ
ஆத்திரம் கொண்டவர்க்கே கண்ணம்மா சாத்திரமுண்டோடீ
மூத்தவர் சம்மதியில் வதுவை முறைகள் பின்பு செய்வோம்
காத்திருப்பேனோடீ இது பார் கன்னத்து முத்தமொன்று

And a translation below, that evokes maybe no more than a quarter of what the original does.

The blazing radiance of your eyes, Kannamma
    Do the Sun and the Moon derive thence?
The round black pupils of your eyes, Kannamma
    Do the dark skies imbibe whence?
The silken saree, hued a midnight blue,
    With glittering stones embedded bright;
Are the twinkling stars seen,
    In the darkest hour of the night;

A bright floral garden,
    Reflects in your lovely smile.
The blue waves of the sea,
    Resonates like your heart.
The gay koel's notes
    Likens to the sweetness of your voice.
On you, the young maiden, Kannamma
    Envelops my encompassing love.

Ideology, that you talk, Kannamma,
    You need it not!
For those in a tearing haste, Kannamma,
    Credo is sought not!
With the elders assent,
    The wedding rites, we shall follow yonder.
How can I wait till then?
    Look here!, a kiss on your cheek, I wonder.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Class

First, wishing all a good Ugadi, that is passing by today.

This post is not a recap of the novel of the same name as the title from Erich Segal (which incidentally I liked), but just a remniscence triggered from a mini reunion of six of us from our class last weekend (from a class of 40) over lunch. Two of my colleagues came in from Canada to Chennai, and took time to come down to Bengaluru, meet the motley crowd here (six of us are here, out of which four made it to the meet). I had written sometime back when I started to blog, on the topic of  "The home that wasn't" on my observances on college hostel life.

I saw 4 of them again only now after leaving college an eon back (நாமளும் ஒரு காலத்துல படிச்சோமான்னு ஆயிடுத்து!) Lots of changes in physical appearances, but once we started to talk, the college days were back. There was constant and non-stop prattling, the flashbacks, our teachers, growing up topics and poking fun around generally. I had met three others and talked to a few more when I was in the US a few weeks back. After our meeting, I was trying to recollect all the 40 in my class, but couldn't move beyond 37. :-( I have asked for help from one of my colleagues to fill in the gaps. Each one of them kindles a tagged memory, which is something academic or something funny or some incidents at college or their nick-names :) and it is nostalgic walking through the disjointed and hazy memories of almost 3 years together before we went our paths. And while browsing our class' Yahoo! Groups archives, dug out a scan of three photos uploaded by a colleague back in 2004 of the undated old photos which were taken at the end of our academic lives before we dispersed to do our final year projects. Those were the times!

The class is now spread between the USA where the majority is, Canada, Bengaluru, Chennai, Malaysia/Singapore and Australia. A few of them are randomly in touch with the others, few more regular, a few incognito with almost no trace in the past few years. Some are entrepreneurs running their own companies, some are in regular jobs (like me) and some have chucked their jobs for the most difficult and demanding job of all, parenting.

We are still a long way from our silver jubilee re-union (the premise of "The Class") if it happens, but we have crossed around two-thirds of the way.

Memories, memories and memories! The more you stoke it, the more its embers glow! The four hours that we spent together over memories, priceless!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Short Takes

Short takes over movies seen in the past 3 weeks.

The Devil wears Prada - I was besotted watching Anne Hathaway repeatedly over a weekend, brought down by Señora, who paraphrased her name to 'annaathéy' to irk me. Three ladies, Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt anchor the movie. It is around MS, who runs a powerful fashion mag in a dictatoresque fashion, and her two assistants [EB, AH] and the dynamics surrounding them. Loved some of the dresses AH wears, especially when she first walks into her office dressed stylishly in a Calvin Klein, Chanel and Jimmy Choo and also her million watt smile. Loved the flow of the movie and its characters. The Devil wears an Attitude with a capital A!

Love Happens - Watched it thinking Jennifer Aniston will redeem the movie, if not anything. Pfft!, no vibes between JA and Aaron Eckhart, weak story and flat performance. The movie never had life anywhere except for a flash or two. Love (never) happens!

An Education - I thought the movie starred Emma Watson (Hermione of Harry Potter fame) and was awaiting her throughout the movie. And she didn't, till the end. Because I misread Emma Thompson as Emma Watson. :-( Movie is a "coming of age" story of a British schooling teenager (Carey Mulligan) who falls for a married man unknowingly and then recovers when she finds out. Good in spurts. An education, it was, for me to read the cast names properly!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

(h)ear (h)ear

How does it feel when an insect decides to have a rendezvous with your ear canal and decides to end its life there? I was in splits at the misery of a fellow blogger who logged such an experience a few months back. I never imagined that I'd be aurally deficient for 2 days from my own doing which ended only after a visit to an ENT specialist.

My ear seems to be a gunk magnet and needs to be taken care of every now and then. In the process of one such twiddling operation with ear buds two days back, I messed up, causing some gunk to half-block one of my ears. From hearing in 2 channel stereo, I was reduced to a 1.5 channel stereo with one ear struggling to hear. My ear was reacting to it in a funny fashion. I take a finger close to my faulty ear and I could hear odd whoosh sounds inside. I take the finger away and the sound reduced and faded. The tuning fork experiments in the Physics labs of yore flashed back.

Me, being the eternal experimenter, for relief, tried pouring warm water (not hot water, mind it) into the ear, shook and slanted the head in an effort to cajole the gunk to come out, but it refused. After a few minutes, it almost became a single channel stereo, disorienting me with a perpetual whoosh sound and a 'goiiiiiinnn' sound (:-) there is a medical term for the ringing, buzzing, crackling and hissing sound, 'tinnitus'). In spite of careful prodding with Johnson's ear buds, it worsened and I was a verbal wreck, bugging Señora every now and then (நச்சரிப்பு) to see with a flashlight if she could see something inside. Fed up on my antics from the morning, she quipped "இப்போவே இப்படி, இன்னும் வயசானா என்னெல்லாம் படுத்துவியோ". (It is like this now itself, I dread it when you age older)

Drove with the mono-aural capability to an ENT specialist in the evening who 'irrigated' my ear with warm water and washed the gunk out restoring my stereo hearing to all glory, all in just around 3-5 minutes, the driving took 25 minutes each way and the waiting at the empty clinic, another 30 minutes.

Today morning 'el Niño' was in a bad mood and left a piece of dosai in his breakfast plate, and I told him not to waste food as half the world goes hungry every day and that he was wasting food and hence money. Came a quick-fire retort, "You wasted money yesterday at the doctor by not knowing how to clean your ears properly. I don't do that. Ok!!!". I was speechless.

Lessons learnt - Avoid using ear buds to clean your ear, they could push the wax further into the ear canal, causing you extreme discomfort. Do not advise kids when they are in a foul mood. You will get it right back where you expected it least. :-) :-)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Whom are we sending to our Parliament?
Rogues, thugs, uncivilians, indecent scoundrels and what not!

Looking at the ruckus caused in the Parliament by our gender-threatened politicians on the women's reservation bill, I can only feel sad at their antics. Isn't there a scope for decency in disagreement? I am no fan of reservation, having studied in Tamil Nadu where it has been carried to an extreme as a state sponsored casteism and discrimination. Definitely there needs to be a quota based on economic status, one for the repressed classes (time bound, say 20-30 years, for all the stomping that has been done on them in the name of caste by the so called upper castes). What is all that layering of casteism everywhere (scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, backward caste, other backward  caste (as if it was more backward) and more castes wanting to go backward rather than forward, and all this in the name of flattening the society of layers? We have made politicking an art of self-proclaimed morality out of caste and should never even talk about a discriminatory society in any other country.

There is definitely a  merit in getting a better representation for women in Parliament, but make that clause time bound (again, 20 years or 5 terms of elections). In the space of 4-5 full terms of a government, we can anyway see if the women's reservation is making any sense and if it yields any benefit.

There is an 'oath of secrecy' administered when our MPs enter Parliament. I have no clue what it is or what secrets the MPs uphold to keep, but I would also want those appointees to take an oath of decency. We stick to an already half-obsolete and murky  constitution and there can always be an amendment to it to recall MPs with indecent behavior and ban their candidature again. That could drill some sense into their bull-headed filthy behavior. It is time that some of the bigger parties work together for some decorum and bi-partisanship rather than bickering over protocol and on issues of non-importance.

Hmmm. Look at me ranting at noon. (As they say in Tamizh, uchchi veyyil mandaikku aerina maadhiri, the overhead hot sun playing with your brains)

Monday, March 08, 2010

Monday Morning C&H + Dilbert

All copyrights for the "Dilbert" strip acknowledged. © Scott Adams

All copyrights for the "Calvin and Hobbes" strip acknowledged. © Bill Watterson, Gocomics

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Eatologue - Brahmins Coffee Bar

Dropped by, last Friday at the Brahmins Coffee Bar, an almost non-descript, small place in the old-timer eatopia zone of Bengaluru, Basavanagudi, after dropping off "la Niña", at her dance class. The place is tucked away in a primarily residential area and is surrounded by homes (not houses). The menu (if you call it so) is only idli, vadē, khara-bhath (upma/uppittuu), kesari-bhath, and coffee/tea/badam-milk. This place was voted sometime back as the best place for idli-coffee by Times of India. Never judge a building by its facade. This place can be missed easily if you aren't attentive, but the crowd around makes you pause. It isn't a sit-and-eat at leisure type of restaurant, however.

And me, being the idli lover, jumped right in, with a couple of idlis with vadē. There is no sambar and it is only chutney, poured over the idli and which tasted different and good. The idlis just melted in the mouth, aided by the chutney and were gone after one more deliberate helping of chutney. [Slurrrp, it was]. The vadē was wonderful. Roasted to crisp perfection and no trace of oil. Went for a small helping of kesari-bhath, stolen from Señora (I am no connoisseur of sweets. I'd rather stick with the khara items.) Snuck inside once again for a khara-bhath, again aided by the reverential chutney. Had to miss the coffee as it would have been the fourth in the day and hence vetoed out by Señora. :-( This itself was so heady.

The idlis cost around Rs.16 for a pair, the vadē Rs. 12  and the kesari/khara bhath Rs.12 for a single helping, higher than a typical darshini, but well worth it. You can take out a parcel as well. They are open for around 4 hours in the morning and then similarly in the evening. If you are in Bengaluru and if you are somewhere near Gandhi Bazaar in Basavanagudi or going close to Shankar Mutt, drop by at the Brahmins Coffee Bar. You'll never be disappointed!

And this post is dedicated to some of the foodies in blogdom like "Bangalore Blues", whose experiences I have enjoyed reading as much as I try to walk their foodsteps.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Unworded - Contrasts

A distant moonset from a morning walk, a raging sunset from Richmond Road, Bengaluru
Montage-Picasa 3.0, Image downsize-Irfanview, Original images-Nokia N73

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A generation cloud and a lightning strike

Sometimes, you chug along on your life, unaware (or deliberately non-conscious) of the fact that you age every day, along with the world, and to the rest of it, until there is a moment of reckoning.

Was herding mine and brother's kids in a park near my parents' house weekend before last, as they were making a huge racket at home. The kids were roaming around and playing. This park (a vast one with hundreds of trees) is close to a few colleges around and frequented by those who need a timeout from their classes or a rendezvous point for young pairs to nestle in the relative obscurity of the boulders and trees. I was watching the kids, sitting on a bench and opposite me were a group of college girls (maybe doing their PUC) cackling away loudly and having a good time.

As I got up and started to walk back home past the chattering girls, one of them called out, "Uncle, can you please take a photo of us?". Uncle? Me? Ouch!!! I did the honours for them, smiling. It is not that I was not called an uncle before, or I felt anything wrong with that or offended, but it was probably never by a college student and that felt a bit strange. Kids (relatives / neighbors) call me by the various flavours of uncle (chiththappa (chikkappa), periyappa (doddappa), Ram mama, uncle etc), but they are 'kids' and I happily oblige them. Today's youth are so 'in your face'. :-) Reported to Señora on this and she had fun, taunting me. This was Newton's third law at work because of my mirth on a similar 'Aunty' episode earlier. :-)

I was just wondering how I may have requested someone in such a situation, in my past or even now. Maybe, I'd have started the conversation with an "Excuse me" and then requested for taking a photo without referring to any name, gender or a relationship, irrespective of their age. Or, could have used the words, "Sir" or "Ma'am" to start the conversation. In all probability, I think it would have been the first one and that is what I recollect of my trysts with strangers of all ages. A gender agnostic, non relation-referring, straight request for some activity to be performed.

An interesting behavior is reflected by 'la Niña', to an extreme, who refuses to call her aunt (my sister-in-law) as 'periyamma' in spite of cajoling by all, with goodies or even large monetary inducement (1000 rupees!), multiple times. No clue why she does that. If she wants (or has) to talk to her, it is a 'relation indifferent' conversation with no mention whatsoever of the term 'periyamma' and references to my sister-in-law to others would be as '[her cousins' name] Amma' (like "D's Amma"). This generation kids are stubborn, damn stubborn. :-) My nephew/niece calls us chiththappa/chiththi, a dozen times in a minute. :-)

Hmmm... Kids are kids to us (parents), even if they grow up tall.