Monday, February 21, 2011

What is worse than heels???
Bad Heels...bad heels that wobble as you walk.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Travelogue: The Last Frontier of Dudh and Ghyo...Eat at your own risk!

Writing a travelogue usually fills me with uneasy feeling mixed with nostalgia, desire to go back or displeasure in returning home. But, as I right the travelogue for Amritsar I have a smile on that runs from ear to ear. The reason is, well, I don't like going there because I am made to go there too often, and the purpose of travel is usuaully family and not vacation so I know I will return time and again to this city which is rightly regarded as the center of Sikh world and also a sort of center of my family world.

Every third shop in Amritsar is a restaurant/dhaba/halwai/tandoor/tikkiwaala or sells something edible. And they are all proudly "pure desi ghee" preparations. If you are travelling from Delhi, you will be please with the menu and the prices quoted but will be scared to see the portion size and thick butter floating along with sabzi and masala. They say, it is the last frontier of pure milk and pure ghee in India. I agree adding that if you throw a stone in Amritsar and it will fall in the big kadhaai full of rich creamy milk with boiled cardamom and other condiments sold for Rs. 20 a glass. Lassi and Kadhai dudh is the speciality of Amritsar, glass of which outsiders cannot even dare to lift.

Special kulfi faluda, punjab famous Bharawan da dhaba, Gyani tea stall di special chai, beera chicken, kesar da dhaba, makhan fish, chajju da palak paneer...this city has more than what one stomach in one visit. But my favourite that I could accomodate each morning for breakfats was the special Amritsari Kulcha. Baked to such perfection, no matter where you order it, you would be forced to grant that no one can do tandoori stuff better than Amritsaris. Add to it a big chunk of butter with special choley that are served with it and it is a delicacy anyone can afford. There always comes a moment in your stay in Amritsar when you are so stuffed with the desi "ghyo" and makkhan that you feel like food itself. The memory of all this food itself turns my stomach into an acid factory.

Amritsar, "Sifti da Ghar", "Bhajan aur bhojan ki nagri": No matter where you are in the city you will be able to hear Gurbani paath. Amrtitsari people are very dedicated to the religion of Sikhism and their Gurus who blessed the land by choosing it to locate the Gurdwara "Harmandir Sahib" which is historically the most important place of worship for Sikhs. The whole city is dedicated in the "Sewa" of "Darbar Sahib". With people visiting Gurdwara round the clock from around the world, meals and tea is served 24X7. Their is a whole set of people and hundreds of them who find little things to do for the Guru "Ghar". From helping people with plates, spoons and dishes for eating, to serving food, to collecting used utensils, to cleaning the floor and carpet after people have eaten, to washing the utensils or cook for thousands of people each day. People find a little task for themselves in the bigger endeavour of the whole community to attain naam and live their lives around these duties.

All in all, I have'nt seen a city with a bigger heart that feeds well not just richest but the poorest to heart's content and in the royal style. Infact to enjoy the true taste of the city you must get off your big car and line infront of the modest looking dhabas serving lavish meals fit for royalty. Just the reason why the city feels more like home than even home does.

Date with TV - Feb 20th - A weekend I was not travelling

I think its a cosmic conspiracy to turn you dumb...this TV... that here is what I watched all day long:

1. Movie 1 - Junoon - the movie with Pooja bhatt when she looked like a cake of Amul butter. She looked damn gorgeous with that "I will melt at moment's notice" expression. Her co-star was Rahul Roy, the man who turned up in Big boss season something after his major hit "Ashiqui" two decaded ago, whatever happened in between!

2. Movie 2 - Dharam Veer - Starring Dharamendra in mini skirts with shaven legs and Jitender wearing his wife's earrings and necklace, the movie set Metrosexuality in motion which seems to have taken pace only recently.

3. News 1 - Katrina Kaif - Indian of the Year! WTF! I fazed out a bit, befuddled I pressed the button and changed the channel . Why think so much when you can change the world with the click of a button!

3. Movie 3 - Singh is King - I hate the movie, I always have but I am not going let that affect my liking for the movie. My strong bias for the turban and the song "Singh is King". Then I saw Katrina Kaif dance to "Jee Karda mera Jee Karda" and I understood why she was awarded the "Indian of the Year" award by NDTV. I saw so much of her in a day's TV viewing that I achieved enlightenment, the truth revealed itself to me. All doubts were cleared. She was Indian of the year because she had the last word in the Shiela and Munni's battle this year.

4. News 2 - Sehwag apologetic and accepts responsiblity for Sachin's dismissal in the first world cup match against Bangladesh. I also learnt that Indian cricket squad won the first match in the world cup 2011. Weirdo "Veena Malik" in her lovely dress which was (or not) as short as her heels were tall went talking about "our" victory. Was'nt she a Pakistani?

5. News 3 - Madhuri Dixit's evil eye bracelet. Won't say more

6. News 4 - A panel of 3 experts dicussing the case of a vengeful "vishkanya" who contracted HIV virus from her husband and is now out to out having unprotected sex with men in Mumbai infecting 300 other men...

7. Interview 1 - Priyanka chopra talking to Ko-Ko-Koel about being "okay" with plastic surgery. Well! her nose spoke about it louder than she did! She also spoke about being metabolically blessed. Funny was as she sat their worry free talking about "being yourself", I waited for her wig to slip down. I am sure it did, they just edited it out! Darn, the TV!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

30 Kms from Amristar, The other side @Wagah Border

I wanted to go there to see what the other side looked like, for a peep through the gates, to confirm if they spoke the truth when they said the people looked like we do, to check if the grass looked the same on either sides, to see for myself if what lay beyond the boundary was not a land drastically different from ours. I wanted to go there to perceive the reason that caused all the madness through the ages, to cry for a moment for those who died in the name of religion turning the green of the rich field into red and the holy water of five rivers into blood. But I failed. I failed because they wanted me to masquerade my curiosity behind the veil of patriotism.

I heard the Pakistani tunes first. It felt like a marriage party, a typical Indian (or Punjabi, if I may say) style wedding reception. It was my favorite Punjabi singer Abrar-ul-haq on the other side. I thought they were playing music so that people on both sides could have fun. I saw the sight of a flag on the other side, a big Pakistani flag held by the people on the stands across the border. I looked at them full of awe I saw some white caps and long beards. I thought for once we were having a cross border party. But then I heard the tunes of an Indian patriotic song with some school girls dancing in the center. I instantly got the joke which was a serious business at that point. The next to come was people shouting from the stands, and loud slogans which were orchestrated by someone running from point to point signaling the crowd to jeer, clap, shout, whistle and sing.

It was all in good fun for the adults, they came, they shouted slogans and went back but there was child in the crowds who on his way back with his parents was singing, “Chak de, Chake de India”. He learnt that evening that Pakistan is a country he must hate and patriotism is about jeering at its people. That is the harm that jingoism of this sort does.

I wish the flags go down one evening and never rise back again, I wish that the gates open and never close down again, I wish I leave from Delhi and end my drive at Lahore one day to see the sun set on the beautiful land where my ancestors belong. I wish I could call the land that my grandparents were driven away from mine once again.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Little Highway treats: Chaalu Dhaaba Special Chai

Highway treat that makes monotonous drive something to look forward to.

Stop for special chai at a random dhaba available by the dozen on North Indian highway...the better the place the worse the tea is my thumb rule so stop at a chaalu dhaba for special chai
Mixed plate Pakora - 10/-

Butter Toast with more butter than Toast - 20/-

Two Chai - 20/-

Total bill - 50/-

Little Highway treats: Tangerine Delight

Highway treat that makes monotonous drive something to look forward to.

Ambala - Chandigarh highway is flooded with tangerines, called keenu colloquially, this season with hillocks of orange fruit at every kilometer. Stop at any of the many to buy this juicy fruit at wholesale prices (i.e. if you can bargain) or for a fixed price glass of juice.

Total Bill: 5kgs of tangerine - 125/
3 glasses of tangerine juice: 45/-

The Tangerine Hillock

Keeping Company

The Juice maker

Friday, February 11, 2011

Encounter: Boris Nikolaevich Verzhutskii

“Hi!” and the usual conversation ensued. “Please be seated,”“What is your name?” “Where are you from?” and all that mundane stuff. But little did we know that this time it was all going to be with a new refreshing twist.

We were checking out a guest house in Auroville which we heard would cost us 10th the price of what we were paying in the premium place we were at with food included. It well deserved a visit so we hopped on to our bikes and wobbled up to “The Aspirations”. Note the wobbling was because we rented an old bike, most people think it was because I am learning how to ride and had met with a major crash that left me severely wounded less than 48 hours before wobbling to “The Aspirations”.
So there we were, in the middle of small huts with roofs made out of dried coconut leaves and a huge eating hall in the center.

He offered us tea. Then he said that the food was finished because most people had already eaten but he could cook some for us if we were hungry. I refused politely but I was astounded. He offered to cook for us. Such kindness! It wasn’t that he was waiting for a refusal and “thanks, that is so nice of you.” He was genuine, almost ready to cook with the spatula in his hand. But we insisted that tea was good enough. There were another couple of guests finishing their breakfast at the table. I liked Boris instantly. I thought I would have to fight for Boris’s attention with the other guys on the table. But they were not half as impressed with the awesome creature that presided the gathering. Boris was the only one who talked and I was this teenage girl fluttering her eye lashes and animating everything he was saying.
To not be rude, we asked about the other people who were on the table. They were Indians who left India and came back to travel through and “cover” whatever they had missed in their miserable years in the country. Two Indians on a quick 15 day trip around South India and then flying back to UK. Not interesting! A 71 years old Russian sitting in a small town in South India who asks you your name to test his skills in numerology, darn interesting!

Boris & Madman

What a stark contrast was Boris to those people (and to be fair, to all of us)! They gave up India to find prosperity in another land while he gave up all the prosperity to find peace in India living in a small hut with a big collection of books. He eats very little and wakes up at 1:00 AM to do Tai chi and yoga. He uses newspaper to learn French, Hindi and Tamil. He owns an old bicycle, a few clothes and lots of books. He was an entomologist in his past life and knows the name of every plant, scientific and colloquial, in Auroville.

So back to his initial question: “what is my name?” Ishwinder Kaur was the answer. He did some numerological examination to tell me about my personality. I don’t remember what exactly he said, but it must have been something about me being extremely ferocious and stormy (and the man without the pants being very calm). It always boils down to that each time.

And then we returned to see him, again and again and again. But now I cannot return soon enough. I still remember how he looked the last time we saw him. He wore his hat. We rode to some thickly forested area in Auroville called "Two Banyans" where his friends lived. I asked him if we would stay in touch. He said, “Yes, of course my friend.” I knew he would but I knew I wouldn’t. I have come too far from writing letters and he doesn’t carry the modern sickness of mobile phone and email accounts. He is too shy to talk on phones. It would not be the same. Before I left, I touched his feet and what next? Well, he touched mine.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"First of all u r stupid, then when I explain it to you, you dont even believe me. You are becoming more and more like common people..." --To a certain someone!

Sometimes i feel so lonely with all this intelligence that I have noone to share with. Lame people all around! N you must be equally lame to get along with them. Yes, its quiet lonesome up heya! The tremondous pressure to go down to there level. To laugh at the tupid repeptitive jokes and find silence at something genuinely funny and mirthful, discussing lame stuff about lame places and lame hangouts to do the lame things every evening and on weekends with no end in sight.