Thursday, June 24, 2010

Eatopia - Davanagéré Bénné Dosé

The simple eateries provide maybe the best taste. Proved again by a random visit to a non-descript eatery tucked in the 13th Main Road (it is not really a main road though) of Jayanagar IV block, close to the bus stand, at Bengaluru. I usually see this eatery named 'Davanagéré Bénné Dosé' (no prefix or suffix names) without any bells or whistles, a one room entity and pass by after savouring the aroma. Last Friday evening, on a visit in that direction, it had gotten late and the choice was to either go home and make something for dinner or eat outside. Stepped into this eatery, which was around 15x15 feet in its entirety with a few four legged stools to sit on and a round high table for those who prefer to stand and eat.

A brief history on the name. Davanagéré (also called Davangéré) is a mid-sized city, once famous for its sarees and textiles, and is in the heartland of Karnataka. Bénné means butter and Dosé is Dosé. :-) The past few years, alongside the famed darshinis, Bénné Dosé eateries have sprouted around and the USP was the Dosé roasted crisp with dollops of butter and served with mashed potatoes (you can have multiple servings of this) and hot chutney. Typically eveningesque fare.

Downed Bénné Dosé with the masala (mashed potatoes with onions and chillies, but colored naturally as creamy white since no turmeric or masala powder is mixed. There is a khara paste smeared on the dosa, just like masala dosa, but we asked to be spared of that) and Paddu (kuzhi paniyaaram, in Tamizh) along with medium hot chutney for dinner. It was filling, fattening and good on the tongue. The eatery is run by a middle aged couple, is clean, served with a smile and I noticed that the oven used was not gas fired, but with firewood. It is decently priced, at Rs.20/- for a Bénné Dosé and the same amount for a plate of 6 paddus. The menu was lean with not many other items.

Hail the Bénné Dosé and the small eatery!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


The last of the Tamizh TV shows that I watched with some degree of regularity, at last wound down last Thursday, the Airtel Super Singer Junior 2009 on Star Vijay channel. "At last", because of the impatience with how the talent show progressed and dragged to its end. I think our TV show honchos do not know the concept of a pacy progression without melodrama or the Occam's Razor (avoiding unnecessary things and keeping it simple). The winner, 'Alka Ajith' won for her consistent performance and capping it in the final with a superb rendering of 'Singaara Velanē' from 'Konjum Salangai', and a non-impressive 'Munbē Vaa' from 'Sillendru Oru Kaadhal'.

The finals had the eternal backgrounder, Shravan giving the only challenge to Alka with the others (Nithyashree the dancer-singer, the wonder-boy Srikanth and the silent Roshan) being their normal selves. I felt that Alka was tagged to be a winner early on in the show with constant praising by the judge trio of K S Chithra, Mano and Malgudi Subha, when compared to the others. (BTW, I never knew that Alka was in the Limca book of records for the most number of recorded songs for her age, has already sung in Malayalam movies and has won a few international awards as well)

Probably the hardest challenge to Alka (even could have been an upset) in the finals would have come from either Priyanka or SriNisha, who in spite of stellar performances in the wildcard (recall) stage were dropped from the final 5 over Srikanth and Nithyashree. I wasn't amused by the inclusion of the kid Srikanth into the finals, under the guise of public sentiment humbug. Priyanka or SriNisha who were improving leaps and bounds, round after round and with a pretty wide song range deserved a place in the finals. He is definitely superb for his age, but still raw. It was a small consolation that Priyanka and SriNisha were called and awarded separately on stage. It was sad to see that Srikanth's father not showing even a trace of happiness at Srikanth winning a special prize (3 lakhs!) and sat stone faced. One more proof that parents push their children to unreal levels on reality (actually, pseudo-reality) shows.

As is the norm during the finales of such shows, there was a lot of dance and singing slots by multiple personae to prolong the winner announcement which eventually happened somewhere at 11:45 PM. The Super Singer anthem sung by participants, past and current, sounded good (I love choruses and choirs); I recall Andrea and Ajeesh's rendering of 'Idhu Varai' from 'Goa' (lovely instrumentation and contrasting vocals), dance-song acts by Divya (the Airtel Super Singer compere) and the RJ/singer, Suchi. Amala was watching the finale and she looked jaded from how she was in her hey-day. Mano had become more of a clown as the TV show progressed and his clowning glory was at the finale. :-)

One aspect of all this was the lack of transparency in how the winner was shortlisted during the pre-finals and finals. Different figures flew on the finale stage itself as regards the number of votes received (3.5L, 13L) for the final and it sounded wishy-washy. :( Doesn't augur well for the program, or its host channel or its sponsor, Airtel. Hope they make it transparent in the future.

RIP Airtel Super Singer Junior 2009 and thanks for those moments of brilliance and panache from the children which made it worthwhile !!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Short Takes

Some movies seen over the past few weeks.

Avatar - Nothing more to comment since I may be one of the last folks to see it in blogdom. I am awed at the sheer poetic imagination and technical wizardry...

The Twilight Saga:New Moon - Part-2 of the series. Slower and longer than the first one, but holds interest overall. (At times so slow, that I got an urge to take a log and whack Bella Swan, the protagonist in the movie, to speed it up :-D) And I have to point out the music score and the soundrack for a special mention. Simply soaring!!! I had goosebumps at some of the score pieces. The locations are so damn beautiful (Vancouver). Perpetually cloudy/rainy with short bursts of sunlight and the damp dense woods. Perfect for the gloomy setting of the movie.

Interestingly, an Indian company, Prime Focus, was involved with the visual effects for both the films above. 10% of Avatar's and 80% of New Moon's effects were done by them.

Mussanjē Maathu (Twilight Talk) - A 2008 Kannada movie. Was inspired to watch it for its intriguing title and lovely songs (Music by Sridhar) that I hear now and then on the FM channels at Bengaluru. Story-line slightly inspired by Lage Raho Munnabhai. A RJ falls in love with a girl he meets incidentally, but doesn't disclose it until the girl is getting married, meanwhile withdrawing into a shell when he comes to know that the girl is planning to get married to someone. Déjà vu, anyone? Decent performances though, by Sudeep and Ramya (aka Divya Spandana in Tamil) and free publicity for Radio Mirchi. Watchable once.

Gaalipata (Kite) - A 2008 Kannada movie from Yograj Bhat who gave the blockbuster Mungāru Malē (meaning Monsoon Rain, in 2007, which had scintillating music by US based Mano Murthy). Here, 3 guys are off to a hilly place to escape the city. Meet 3 contrasting girls there. Woo them. What else? Guess!!! :-) Lovely locales (Kodachadri mountains near Kollur) and the beautiful Shivanasamudram falls (Gaganachukki and Barachukki) seen gushing from a different angle. (Yograt Bhat showed the Jog falls for the first time from the top angle in Mungāru Malē and it looked angelic). Music by Harikrishna is good. Ganesh, the main hero (unconventional, he is) does quite an amount of motor-mouthing (almost like a vuvuzela drone or like Chennai FM radio jockey Suchi [Hee hee hee at the dig, but isn't she one heck of a motor mouth?] ) and gluttonous. (Señora noted aside, that he imitates Vijay (gasp!)) Others have done their parts fairly well. Despite some stereotyping, a good watch.

I am amazed that singers like Sonu Nigam or Shreya Ghoshal, who do not know to speak or understand Kannada, do significant justice to the songs while singing. All the hit songs from the above Kannada movies, award winners included, have been sung by either or both of them.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Unworded - Plane view - Crop Circles

Surprised how the farmers find time to do the patterns as these
Shot using Nokia N73, Downsized/adjusted with Picasa 3

This picture was taken approximately half an hour later on the same flight path of where this picture was taken. This region is the bread basket of the US.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

And Wiiii flew the Wiikend

This is a long verbose ramble, but nevertheless, here it is.

I have never been too much of a fan of computer gaming and my attempts at mastering Prince of Persia or Wolfenstein 3D long back, never went beyond 2 or 3 levels. I never found it easy to get beyond those monsters guarding gates or get around traps or move through the mazes or fight. I just get killed. Never was much into gaming after that, save for a few sessions of Solitaire or Pinball. I let go the entry of the vastly improved RPGs (Role Playing Games) or MMPORGs (Massively Multi-player Online RPGs) which seemed to take gaming to a different realistic 3D level from the older gen 2D imagery. Gaming hardware!!! Nah!, at least till a couple or so years back.

The progeny (La Niña and El Niño) have made sure that there needed to be a gaming hardware at home, courtesy their cousins. Being the electronics junkie (not the rabid one though), I got the gaming hand-held, Nintendo Game Boy Advance (GBA) into the home. Never has a single piece of gaming hardware been used amicably between siblings, AFAIK. Endless quarrels over rights of use and overwritten scores followed. (Apple may even accept Flash on the iPad, but the 'rights of use' over game systems at home never will be resolved) Well, technology improved and this brought the Nintendo DS-Lite (with dual screens and touch capability), the more sophisticated brother of the GBA. Peer pressure mounted and after constant nagging and promises of good behavior (Blah!, there is nothing like that, was the late realization) I got it, not one, but two DS-Lite gaming consoles, to end the never-ending quarrels over rights to the lone GBA. And the DS-Lite supported a private form of Wi-Fi where the same game can be played with up to 4 different DS consoles. That orphaned the GBA to an almost never used status as the new DS could play the old cartridges and had a new sleek cartridge type for DS specific games. And I had to be crafty enough to get diverse cartridges that wouldn't be the bone of contention (which still was for a few games).

Thet brings us to the quicksand rip-offs in the gaming eco-system. The hardware is relatively cheap, buying the software, in the form of game cartridges is a big deal. If you buy 4 or 5 of them, they could very well exceed the price of the hardware itself. Buying cheap cartridges in the Burma Bazaar type shops is a no-no. The kids figured out that you can't save games in the cheapsters, which is important for them and without which you have to start all over from level 1 each time you start the console (geez, there are some 99 levels in some games). So much so for cheap rip offs. And by the time you get a good hang of the system, a new variant of the console is out. And thence starts the never ending cycle.

In comes the Internet and there are free emulators for the GBA and the DS-Lite out there and there are also the ROM images of the games which can be loaded and run on the PC. And add to that there is a 'game cheat' ecosystem where after entering data into the emulators, you get unlimited lives, open secret doors, jump to the final level, grab goodies etc etc. In addition to all the game cartridges possessed, the ROM images were another source of play with the home computer(s).

Picture courtesy: Wikipedia
[Downsized copy]
And then, the junkie parent decided to get the latest (ok, it is more than 3.5 years since its introduction) and greatest gizmo from Nintendo, the Wii, a black shiny one at that. It is almost an ultimate family gaming machine. No need to learn umpteen key combinations and meanings, special keys (A, B, X, Y, Start, Left/Right paddle etc) and uses natural hand movements to play. A small beautiful console that looks like a baby DVD player, the remotes similar to TV remotes, but with very few buttons to press and lovely silicone covers to grip with.

I am impressed with the hardware, its interactivity and the fun quotient. Last weekend had the whole home started on the Nintendo Wii. There are simple games like bowling, golf, baseball and tennis and as usual, the complex, multiplayer RPGs also. Of course, the kids beat us, the parents, in almost every game (the ones lost were branded as 'cheating by Wii' :-D) and then started the quarrels about which game to play between the siblings. :-( Déjà vu time!!! And I haven't yet figured out the Mario Kart races (I fall regularly into gorges, volcanoes, go the wrong way, cannot turn properly, do not use power-ups etc) while the kids around take it like a fish to water. And they seem to have special eyes for reading the game manuals for tips, but bark and balk when asked to do the same with their homework. The kid-gang, when they meet, converses only on Pokémon and its ilk or strategies (!). Probably, the most fun job would have to be a tester at a game software company.

Señora has restricted the access to the new addiction to all (the DS-Lites have already been banished for 2-3 months), to be used only on weekends, lest that all three (me, La Niña and El Niño) become zombies when we are at play. Till then, I see the beauty at eye-shot distance and salivate. I am smooth-talking the kids to allow me to use the DS-Lites later (to gain some experience in gaming), but they have rejected it saying that the scores cannot be tampered with and are asking me to play Pet Shop. :-(. [Reminds me of a hilarious Seinfeld episode where George Costanza gets a Frogger arcade machine which still has his top score, preserved for posterity]

Wii Nintendo, Wah!!!
(for now, Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony Playstation 3 are in comparative conversations only. The home won't stand another one, even if someone gives it for free)

Monday, June 14, 2010

The barometer ...

Cheee!!! Horrible, Ugly.
It looks so 'gandha'. (gandha-dirty in Hindi)
Yeow! Inji thinna korangu maadhiri irukku (like a monkey that has been zinged by biting pungent ginger)
Ennadaa idhu? Yaendaa? (What is this? Why?)

So, what are these reactions to?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Unworded - Plane view - Peaks and valleys

Shot using Nokia N73, Downsized/adjusted with Picasa 3, Effects with PhotoFiltre