Sunday, November 30, 2008

You got to be kidding Chef!!!

I chanced upon a cookery show the other day when I was channel surfing. Last weeks episode was titled 'Getting Your Child to Eat Veggies". It looked like another one of those programs for mommies with small kids, so I decided to change the channel. As I was about to switch to the News channel, I saw an incredible sight! The program hostess was giving a brief glimpse of some mouth watering veggie preparations that the Chef was going to show and I was tempted to watch the rest of the show. It was not a show on baby food mind you. But regular vegetarian preparation, with an eye on the fussy kids’ palate to entice them to eat veggies. I looked at my kids…my three doggies and decided not to try it on them. Either they would walk out on me or push me out of the house.

The first preparation was a starter. The Chef took a couple of slices of bread, beamed at the camera and trimmed the sides off with a flourish. Next he took some tomato ketchup and drew eyes, a nose and a smiley on the bread slice with the ketchup. Then he drizzled some canned corn above the eyes to make it look like golden tresses. Next he arranged the decorated bread on a nice kiddie plate and viola the most delicious, healthy and nutritious yet revolting snack was ready to spit out...err eat!!

The audience clapped and I gave the Chef's wife a standing ovation for tactfully throwing hubbies preparation into the dustbin and feeding the kids some healthy Samosas and Chips and Sauce as starters. The man beamed as the hostess of the show showed off the creation in front of the camera, gushing over the color, content and sheer creative genius of the recipe. She urged moms watching the show to make the dish right away and give it to their kids asap. I could imagine the scene at some homes across the country.

Mom: Kids come and see what I have made for you.
Kids: What is it ma?
Mom: I have made a delicious smiley face on a slice on bread with tinned corn!!!
Kids: *barf*

The next item on the Chef’s list was the main course. The Chef was of the opinion that kids were fed up of the usual diet of Roti and Dal and Rice. He showed a simple yet delicious and nutrient packed ‘Kaathi Roll’ for the kids that he claimed they would enjoy eating without a fuss.

With a flourish the Chef laid out a Chapathi on a plate. Next he doused it in tomato ketchup. He then laid some lettuce leaves over the ketchup and sprinkled it with toasted Paneer cubes and chopped Capsicum. He finished the whole preparation with a drizzling of lemon juice and coriander leaf and when I was back after throwing up, he rolled the Chapati into a roll and pinned it with a Mickey Mouse tooth pick. Delicious, nutritious, lip smacking ‘Kaathi Roll with Summer Salad’ was ready to throw into the nearest dust bin err I mean eat!!!!

I could visualize kids all over the country packing up their bags and leaving homes by the dozen. Since we do not have Milk cartons in India, Ice Cream boxes would now feature mug shots of kids gone missing from home and presumably hiding till mom stops making them healthy and nutritious food as shown on TV by this Chef.

Next on the menu was dessert! I watched with disbelief and nausea. The Chef made a ‘Bursting-with-Calcium and Goodness of Wheat Kheer’ that he said would be hard to resist for the kids and would be polished off within seconds!!! The recipe was simple. A cup of Dalia (broken wheat) that seems to be synonymous with "health food" in India, cooked in milk and sweetened with Jaggery (for health) seasoned with cardamom powder and garnished with cherries *ugh*. The concoction was served in dessert bowls and a tube of jam was used to draw smiley faces over the concoction and viola…delicious ‘Milky Wheat Delight’ was ready!!! According to the Chef each serving had enough calcium and potassium and Vitamin A to Z to persuade the runaway kids to come back home.

The entire gruesome buffet was shown in the end in case there were viewers who were yet to puke and or finding it difficult to puke. I pitied the kids and thanked my lucky stars that cookery shows for kids were unheard of when I was a kid. My mother’s idea of a kiddie treat was chips and cola and other stuff that we gulped down with amazing efficiency. And by the time she was wiser, we had learned to eat these on the sly or lie that we never touched them at school and that we spent our pocket money on actual food.

Notice: If any kid between the age of two and twelve is reading this post please don’t return home till next week. The Chef is showing "Healthy and Tasty Tiffin Treats" this week!

Healthy Tiffin? For gods sakes is there nothing sacred left on this earth anymore??!?!?! *sob*


Image courtesy Corbis

God bless the people who lost their loved ones in the Mumbai carnage. And God bless those who laid down their lives for us. And God bless us all specially so that we do not let their sacrifice go in ensuring that this does not happen again. May peace reign over our land and in the region. Amen!

Jai Hind

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Shopping with the enemy and winning

Before all the girls here gasp and faint, let me explain. I DID NOT GO SHOPPING WITH MY AMMA. It just err… happened! Yeah I know, shopping with your mother is not what you do unless you are a toddler or bound and gagged and taken under gun point or taken leave of your sense or all three. But this sort of happened…honestly!!

So here we were the other day, mother and daughter, walking innocently by Life and Style Inc when the lady remembered that she needed to buy new furnishings for Christmas. And since we were passing by the Mall, and I needed to buy approximately 116784 gifts for Christmas (6578 on Dad’s side of the family alone), I agreed to go in with her. I learned a few useful things in furnishings shopping that day…namely:

1. I hope to God I NEVER have to go shopping for furnishings.
2. I admire women who have shopped for their new homes. I would pass out after the Kitchen collection.
3. I am buying a furnished house when I need to refurnish my house!
4. I cannot believe people go shopping for room after room of furnishings
5. My mother is a like a woman possessed while shopping and no force on Earth, not even a fish sale will pull her out of the shop till she is finished.
6. Her daughter is just the opposite.
7. Me and mom and very unlike.
8. I pity my dad
9. Henceforth I will be nicer to him for putting up with my ma all these years.
10. I will never go shopping with my mother again!

We entered the Home section of the Mall at exactly 10 am and were out in the record breaking time of 6 pm. This is a record by my mother’s standards and as she modestly told gawping onlookers at the award ceremony later on in the day “It was because of my daughter that I was able to achieve this feat. Else I would never have left the store till 6 pm the next day”. My father had tears in his eyes a lump in his throat and huge hole in his pocket as he watched his wife blushingly acknowledge the standing ovation of my two brothers, an uncle and aunt and several cousin brothers hanging around the house as “it is not polite to eat and leave so early.” After which he pinched himself to ensure that he was not dreaming. Then he broke into tears and sobbed uncontrollably. Then the wife lovingly passed him the bill and he passed out.

The daughter took home the prize for Creative Direction, Screenplay, Stunt Coordination and Special Effects. Stung by the feat, Life and Style Inc has expanded their Home Furnishing Section by an additional 20, 000 sq feet. Speaking to reporters, the Managing Director, Home Furnishings Department Ms Matresswala said “pffftttt

Rumor has it that they plan to cancel the Gold Circle Card of a certain Miss Philip. Mrs Philips card however has been upgraded with stiffer reward points to ensure that she doesn’t leave the store till the mandatory period of 72 hours or Rs XXX in purchases whichever comes first. Mr Philip is not welcome at the store. His Credit card will however be acknowledged at all Life and Style Inc outlets, according to a Press Release.

When queried by eager fans, the daughter acknowledged that she was able to pull off this near impossible feat by some quick thinking, helluva lot of sleeping on the beds on display and some reclining on the imported recliners, also on display.

An example of quick thinking that day.

Mom: What do you think of this bedspread with elephant patchwork?
Me: Absolutely stunning ma. Beautiful!! Let’s pay and go home!
Mom: I am glad you liked it. Now let me show you the others I have shortlisted!
Me: Others? :-S
Mom: Yes. There are another 450 or so that I have shortlisted.
Me: *groan*

Ok….that was a bad example. Pliss ignore. But I learned quickly and did better in the subsequent rounds as shown in the following examples.

Example no 1:

Mom: What do you think of this bedspread with elephant patchwork?
Me: hmmm it is fine but I think a darker shade would look better.
Mom: You are right!!! How about this one?
Me: Perfect!!!
Mom: It’s settled then!

Example no 2:

Mom: And how about this ruffled country style curtains?
Me (quickly scanning the catalog): hmmm personally I feel that we should go for easy-care polyester.
Mom: You are right! Cotton would not be so easy to maintain.
Me: You are right ma!
Mom: It is settled then.

The key you see folks is acting like you are actually participating in the decision making while you are actually hastening the decision making process heh heh Pleased with my contribution, my mom paid for the Pure Poison I picked up and looked at so wistfully sighing loudly several times. When my father came around from the faint, my mom explained that next time when her daughter looks on wistfully at something, she will hit her on the head with the shopping bag. The father plans to pay for the perfume priced at Rs 5000/- for 50 ml from the daughter’s dowry fund.

We are officially bankrupt now. But the house looks so lovely for Christmas! Sigh.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wanted - A Quantum of Solace

I saw a Quantum of Solace over the weekend. If I were to condense the movie, it would go like this:

M: Is he alive?
James Bond: Yes!
M: Well, that is unusual!

That in very brief was a brief on the new Bond movie "Quantum of Solace"

You can meat up the above dialog with high speed metal crushing car chases, bone crushing foot chases, muscles ripping scaffold chases and ear drum piercing Dolby Surround Sound system all ending in Bond killing someone and the nerve wrecking picture is complete. And when you walk out of the theater your nerves short circuited, your hair standing on one end, you will need more than a quantum of solace for sitting through ‘Quantum of Solace’.

I was amongst the privileged many to be invited to the premiere of “Quantum of Solace" in Bangalore last Friday! In fact the whole theater was filled with such 'privileged' people. As a token of our appreciation for the free passes, some of us stayed back after the ‘Interval’. To the ingrates who left after the interval (thoughtfully provided half an hour before the movie ends) I have only this to say: I HATE YOU ALL!

People, who intend to watch this movie, may please leave this blog immediately or you may end up spending your money constructively on pirated DVD. So read on at your own risk!! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

If you had a stressful week like I had, then “Quantum of Solace” is not for you. It's like having a brain surgery after a root canal procedure and then going in for a voluntary amputation of a limb!

In the very first scene of the movie, you are brutally shoved into a fast moving car hurtling on a narrow mountain road with fast moving vehicles approaching from the other direction. The traffic on this road will make Bangalore roads hang their potholed heads in shame! And the speed of the traffic will make the Bangalore traffic coppers look at each other and say “Mommmy”. After which they will resolve to be nicer to us and bribe us a little less.

The high octane chase ends in another hemisphere of the Earth, and we have Bond parking his battered car now bereft of doors, roof and chassis and engine and retrieving a captive from the boot of his car. The captive is in remarkable condition, considering he has been lying in the boot trussed up without a seat belt. A lesser mortal would have leaked out through the car in liquid form after the pulverizing!

While the captive is being interrogated by MI5, a different drama was being played out in another place…behind my seat. It was a more thrilling and sinister drama than the one on the screen.

Kid in back seat: Mujhe Popcorn chahiye!!
Kids mom: Abhi nahin Munna. Papa aane ke baad.
Munna: *bawl*
Papa to Mom: Why don’t you give him something else?
Me: Yeah right! How about a duct tape around his mouth?
Mom: *Glare*
Papa to the someone on the phone: Haanji aapka consignment nikal gaya hai!
Munna: Shriieeekkkkk!!!!!!!!!

While ‘Munna was Shrieking’ (which would be a nice name for a Bond movie name btw) there is mayhem in the interrogation room as the captive escapes with the help of a mole! Bond takes off at supersonic speed after the mole….on foot… breaking the world record in the 100 meter dash and a few limbs and lots of roof tiles in the process. He catches up with him… after running over several roofs and jumping from building to building and swinging across scaffoldings like a modern day Tarzan to shoot him dead while suspended from the ceiling from one leg. But before the bullet finds his heart, the mole had already passed away …from laughing his guts out at the sight!

After this we have Bond suddenly taking off to Haiti and killing another guy, chumma just like that! The tension in the story is broken by some humongous dialogs like this.

M: *mumble*
Bond: *hrmphfxl*

The audience consisting mostly of corporates (read: techies) who had come geared up (read: drunk) to whistle, clap and roar were left whistling, clapping and roaring to the Trailer of Gajini and Dostana. Quite disconcerting actually to see young men roaring as a hunky John Abraham emerged out of water Bond like, wearing nothing but an attitude!

Soon we were engrossed in another high speed boat chase that has the beautiful Camille, hanging on for dear life from a boat that seems to take off to the blue yonder every two seconds to come crashing on the baddies boat every three seconds. Remarkably, she too survives the bone crushing, spirit ejecting ride and Bond leaves her to attend a party in Austria. The party is boring (read: no major chases and kills) and soon we have Bond flying to someplace in Chili on a very old airplane held together by staplers and safety pins and glue. He gallantly ignores the private Lear Jet also on hire in the deserted Chilean desert. The plane owner immediately calls up the baddies and tells them of the mad man who hired his junk. They pass out laughing. Kidding! They send an F 16 to shoot down Bond and he evades them with the dexterity of a sluggish sloth trying to evade a sinewy Leopard (remember, old plane). The cat fight in the sky totally puzzles everyone and more than a dozen orders for F 16 planes are canceled around the world. Kidding again! It was more than two dozen orders of F 16 actually!

Much to the relief of the Americans, the F 16 does manage to damage the old warhorse and it crashes billowing fat clouds of smoke and debris ( god bless its brave heart). You feel sad for the wretch thrust into such an unfair fight. Bond and Camille manage to jump ship and open the only parachute between them just before touchdown. They hit the earth with a resounding thud. Then they burn down a nice eco hotel in the middle of the desert.

Your misery ends when Bond finally catches up with his main target i.e his ex girl friends ex lover. He does not kill him as Bond finally decides to heed M’s request that “Bond, if you don’t go around killing every suspect, it would be deeply appreciated.”

Kidding again! He does not kill him as the fall from the airplane hurts real bad you see.

There were some entertaining parts to the movie though! Namely the scene that says - "The End"

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Those 70's movie shows!

My Dad, unlike most normal Dads was hell bent on showing his kids the movies of the 70’s and 80’s when he was a young man dreaming of Hema Malini and Sharmila Tagore ( shh don’t tell my ma). Now back in the 90’s, the good old VCD’s ruled the roost. Hindi movies of those days were replete with scenes that my Mom pointed out was not exactly wholesome for her children to view. So my Dad became a sort of an amateur movie editor. And his ham handed editing scarred us forever.

Scene one:

Villain has trapped a girl in a room. He is slowly inching towards the girl, lust in his eyes. The girl has nowhere to run.

Villain: heh heh
Girl: Nahiiiin!
Girl’s mother to shopkeeper: Yeh Bhindi kitne ke diye? (How much do these ladiesfinger cost!)
Girl: *puking*
Mother: Nahiiiin!
Us: Huh?
Dad: ermm!

Now imagine a first night scene!

Hero: I love you!
Heroine: *blush*
Heroine to her mother: Mein maa banne waali hoon!
Mother to Dad: Sunte ho heroine ke bapu. Aaap nana banne waale ho!! I am so happy!
Us: Duh!
Dad: err orange squash anyone?

Sometimes my Dad was a little quicker with the scissors or whatever it was he used to edit the movie. And we had scenes like this.

Villain: heh heh
Girl: Nahiiiin!
Hero: (shooting the villain): Kuththe Kameene!
Us: Poor guy!
Dad: No! No! He is not the good guy!!!
Us: Why?
Dad: Chips anyone?

Normal kids grew up applauding the hero as he thrashed the daylights out of the villain. We grew up pitying the poor villain who seemed to do nothing but go “heh heh.” He had a funkier hairdo than the hero and a lot of stamina to withstand the thrashing he would get from time to time. If I were asked to make a five minute Hindi movie, it would go like this.

Hero: I love you!
Heroine: I love you too!

Any ways after watching the Hindi movies of that era, I have more or less become an expert in the salient points and characters that make up the movie.

1. The elderly woman with the saree pallu draped around her head and a big red bindi denotes a chaste pati vrata naari , indulgent mother and wonderful cook who whips up 75 courses meals with her smile and pallu intact. She has witnessed first hand the battle of Mahabharatha and the unfolding of the Ramayan. She is on first name basis with the presiding deity at the temple nearby! Preferred background score when she is around: The sweet sound of Bansuri or Flute!

2. A frail old man in a kurta pyjama is almost always the father who works hard at the villains factory for a pittance. He is a sincere and dedicated worker who sticks to his job even though he has not been paid for the past 72 years! He suffers from a chronic cough that may be used to kill him off if the script demands. Preferred background scores for Pitaji: A mournful violin recital.

3. If their daughter is shown plain and with a cherubic character, then she is sure to get raped by the villain so that her brother, the hero has enough ammo to go after the villain. She will commit suicide after she vomits.

4. If the sister is shown wearing short mini skirts and revealing clothes then she is a bad bad girl and will surely fall under the charm of the villain’s lackey and get pregnant. Hearing this father will suffer a heart attack and die leaving the family destitute. The sister will turn a new leaf overnight and wear simple cotton sarees and begins going to the temple morning, evening and night. She will eventually marry the father of her child after the last scene when the Hero beats him up black and blue and is about to crush his head with a rock the size of Mt Abu. She will intervene just before the Hero crushes his head by imploring the Hero to spare the father of her unborn son or crush her too with the ten tonner of a rock. The father of the unborn child is immediately due to a chemical reaction, transformed into a good man who will promptly agree to marry her without a DNA test of the baby.

5. A woman in a saree with her eyebrows shaped in a sharp arc is the vixen of the piece. Her make up is harsh so that you don’t mistake her to be the loving mother. And to drive home the point that she is the villainous of the piece, the preferred background scores for her will wear out the cymbals and drums of the orchestra.

6. The gal who arrives into the camera frame in slow motion, tossing her hair to some electric music is the Heroine. The Hero instantly falls in love with her. She instantly dislikes him. Then they sing a song picturised around ten International Gardens spanning seven countries. She falls in love with him after the song is over. Then they introduce themselves.

7. The man with the really bad wig, sun glasses and cheap Cigar is the villain! He will sit on a papier-mâché throne in front of a bar with foreign scotch whiskey bottles filled with what looks like weak tea surrounded by a bevy of beauties called Mona, Monica, Ruby and Julie, not necessarily in that order.

8. The Villain will almost always kidnap the Heroine and keep her captive in a dilapidated Architectural Society of India (ASI) fort. The fort has huge walls with "Raja loves Rani" and "Jesus saves!" kinda scribbling all over.

9. The Hero will home in on the ASI Fort ignoring the other 4567 forts under its aegis with the precisions of a GPRS device within minutes of the kidnap.

10. The mother of all battles happen in the last scene when the dilapidated fort is made further berefit of huge rocks that the Hero takes to throw at the Villain and his hired men.

11. The Police arrive at the fag end of the movie without an FIR being filed. This is a miracle of sorts in India and happens only in Hindi movies. They will immediately spot and arrest the baddies from the milling crowd of people beating each other to pulp.

12. Hero and heroine are immediately beamed up to a marriage pandal where they smile bedecked at the camera and the legend “THE END”

And they look genuinely happy it is over!