Saturday, May 30, 2009

Some things in life are fascinating

Like the last 3 seconds of the video

Post Script:

In case folks are interested in seeing the whole thing

Change of Guard

Watched the last episode of Jay Leno in Tonight Show with some senti yesterday. There is nothing new to say about this show as most of the trivia around it has already appeared in the press several times over. 17 years is quite a long time. When I began to follow this show a decade ago, I could rarely manage to stay awake until The Tonight Show aired, however the age of DVR made things a little bit easier. Tonight Show is like a "Friends" equivalent - Not super high quality humor but time pass stuff that made you go to sleep in a pleasant way. I really thought that the "Best Of Jay Walking" didn't really reflect the Best of Jay Walking. There were much better stuff that could have been shown.
Respect for Conan O Brien mainly arises from the fact that he wrote for Simpsons. It should be interesting to see his take on the show.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Aattu Mandhai

There used to be this really funny proverb said by Gandhi that appeared in first page of every school text book (CBSE or Matric - I forget). It went like "everytime you are sad, bummed, screwed think of the poorest, most wretched, dirtiest, eating crap from the bottom of the garbage bin, starved out dude you have ever seen and you will notice that your problems strangely disappear because of the superiority complex you get as a result of looking down upon the poor."
If I ever suck as a parent, at least I can look at parents of spelling bee contestants and people who think of them as role models and get the required superiority complex. If you grew up categorizing such things as "typical PSBB school buddhi" it almost feels as if PSBB school was made into a country and renamed as "Spelling Bee America".

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Bing & Decide.


Wired Review

With Bing, Microsoft has shown that it understands that different kinds of searches require different kinds of answers and interfaces. They’ve shown too they understand that a search is often only the beginning of a decision such as what Indian restaurant to try or what kind type and model of water filter is best.

CNET Review

It's a solid improvement over the previous search product, and it beats Google in important areas. It will help Microsoft gain share in the search business. It's surprisingly competitive with Google.

Google keeps improving in the area of in-search collation and display as well, but Bing makes Google look complacent, and that's not good for Google. For the moment, Bing's on top in this game. Try this search engine. I do not think you will regret it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Babies R Us

A shop that has perfected the art of relieving gullible parents of their money. First time parents are so excited about having a kid that they want the kid to have best of everything and want to shower total love on the kid. Such love inebriated parents quantify this "love" into enormous sums of money and give it all to "Babies R Us". Showing love is buying either (a) useless stuff or (b) expensive stuff that is otherwise available for half the cost in Wal-Mart.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009


Naattai: This is an offshoot of Chala Naattai, which means it takes some notes of Chala Nattai, as a result of which it sounds similar to Chala Nattai in some prayogams... As with most janya ragas, there are 2 views regarding the scale of this raga.

One being, Sa Ri3 Ga3 Ma1 Pa Dha3 Ni3 Sa
Av: Sa Ni3 Pa Ma1 Ri3 Ga3 Ma1 Ri3 Sa
and the other:
Sa Ga3 Ma1 Pa Ni3 Sa -Sa Ni3 Pa Ma1 Ri3 Ga3 Ma1 Ri3 Sa
"Ri3 Ga3 Ma1 Ri3 Sa" is the most important prayogam for Naattai.. This and the absence of Dha3 in the avarohanam (descending) scale should be enough to distinguish Naattai from Chala Naattai. Maha Ganapathim is a popular song in this raga. source

Maha Ganapathim

Chennai Senthamizh

One of my favorite songs.

Maargazhi Thingal



Saturday, May 02, 2009

Worshipping Ghatothgaja

Have you prayed for the best meal you could ever have? Ever wish for a feast of a lifetime? In between the mundane’ness of meetings and rigor of daily work schedule, I have been getting these hallucinations of great dishes appearing and disappearing right before my eyes. Things have become so bad that I decided to sit down and make that list. A list that comprises my wish list for the best meal ever. And just to be clear the scope of the meal is limited to a range. The lower limit or starting point is that of a good feast and the upper limit tends towards a marriage lunch/dinner level extravagance. This is with an intention to keep it all real.

Now before we get into the list, some philosophizings. Elders often rebuke us for praying to god only when the going gets tough. "Aha! so you think of god only when you need him, only when it is convenient". They are right for wrong reasons. They should be saying "only when it is inconvenient". And that brings us to this post's central topic. When things are inconvenient, our prayers are focused. We ask for one single thing to solve the immediate problem and forget to ask for many beautiful things that are far more important. For example - we don't pray for Extra Ghee Special Roast Masala Dosai the day before the last campus interview of our college life. It is the author's firm belief that one should - occasionally - pray for simple pleasures of life. I also think we are praying to the wrong gods. For example, if I wanted a sumptuous meal, asking Lord Rama for it is not a smart plan. I will get an austere meal that will make me wonder why I love food in the first place. Lord Nrihasimha on the other hand might end up feeding my small intestine with somebody else's small intestine.

When Gadorgajha announced himself, he was unsubtle and direct. He was about food. He was going to get it no matter what. He was in a Bazaar and he sang about food. And I pray to him. I get up everyday and list my favorite meal to him. More importantly I advertise it to everybody I know so that when people invite me they know what to feed me. I will walk into people's house with the same swagger that S.V. Ranga Rao shows in the song below. Probably laugh even louder and sit down. A song will be there in the heart. I may not actually sing aloud a glorious song like the one Ranga Rao sings. His song became an iconic song in thamizh/telugu cinema, crossed over generations and ensured that songs inspired by food are better than those inspired by love.

For starters, the meal has to be served in banana leaf. And I will devour it with my bare hands. I may struggle with the rasam. Rasam is like the free spirit, it wants to run away from the rice and so quickly finds a way out of the banana leaf. One has to do the tedious job of ring fencing it with barracks of vegetable, kootu and rice. And the further protect the boundaries by folding the edges of banana leaf. Inspite of all this banana leaf rocks. And that is how I want my food. I want the sliced banana with sugar smeared on it as the first item in my leaf. No one knows why that is the first item but it is good and I want it.

Since we really don't know what "Angaara" bajji and "singaara/junthaara" sojji is that Ranga Rao is raving about. We will skip that. Tomato soup, masala pappad, masala kadalai and roasted cauliflower, and vegetable spring rolls will kick start the appetizers section. Vadai should be crowned as the prince of appetizers. Both sambar vadai and thayir vadai. A touch of onion sprinkled over sambar vadai and boondi sprinkled over thayir vadai is what is required to get a good meal on its foot and running. Tiffin follows next. And let us be a little shy here as we want to save space for the main course. Ranga Rao suggest Poori/Kizhangu and let us allow for that. But beyond that we really want to see a full ghee roast masala dosai. People must really try this in marriage reception dinner. It works well. Rounding this off with onion utthappam should be okay. Now we move on to the vegetables section. Potato is as important as water here. Roast potato that glistens with oil is what we are looking for. Kothavaranga Paruppu Usiyal comes next. It is an amazing dish and one can write several poems about it (which I'll save for a separate post). Seppan Kizhangu, Aveeyal, cabbage kootu and roast vendaikka (okra/ladies finger) follows. These vegetables should surround the banana leaf like palm trees stand around the kerala coast.

Now to the rice dishes. Two varieties of kuzhambu is what we are looking for here. 'Aaraichu vitta' Onion sambaar is key. We all know that. So let us not dwell on the obvious. We also need onion vattha kuzhambu as an alternative. This vattha kuzhambu must have boiled peanuts in it. Very important. Then you have Puliyodharai (boiled peanuts here too), thengai saadham (more peanuts), bisi bela bath (cashews baked in it. yes thank you!) and vegetable pulav that acts as the interval between the two main rice dishes (sambar & rasam). We certainly need raitha (onion and capsicum), chips (nenthrangai & potato), and appalam as side dishes for these. Then comes Rasam or as the iyengars call it (pazha)-saatru-amudhu. Tomato rasam pazha-saaru is the amudhu under question here and we want loads of it. This essentially rounds off the rice variety. Rasam may sound simple to make but only certain hands have the ability to make a great rasam.

I don't know when the tradition began or what the reason for this tradition is. But the sweet variety is served immediately after rasam and just before curd rice. It may have something to do with after taste and so on but I generally think it is a fantastic idea. So we move on to what the iyengars call thiru-kanna-amudhu section. Or as the rest call it - 'paayasam'. Akkaravadisal is the esoteric dish that has been hidden from the rest of the world by these conniving 5-ngars. No song or words are adequate enough to express the beauty of Akkaravadisal. It has a massive taste explosion that probably renders the mouth too weak for anything else. Let me promise you - a well made Akkaravadisal is not just amudhu for thiru kannan himself but for the akila jagadh bhaagavathas. Then comes Jaangiri, Sarkarai Pongal (with ghee dripping), Kesari (again maximum ghee), samiya paayasam, rava laddu, laddu, and a pinch of maanga pacchadi. We then put the 'mangalam' on the fantastic meal with a bagela bath. Now this curd rice concoction is not the usual one. It has to have 'more molagai', raisins, and cashews all baked into it.

At the end of it all one should dust off one's hands and settle down on a good "thinnai" wih 4-5 beedas. After chewing the fat out of all topics under the sun, we set ourselves to sleep for a good 3 hours in the afternoon. A good sleep after a sumptuous meal is a sign of awesomeness of the meal under question. Now if someone were to serve me such a meal - I would probably not need my hands. I would sit down like my favorite god Gadorgajha and simply let the food flow into my mouth. sigh..

P.S: people who have similar lists. Consider yourself tagged. Let me know and I'll link the post.


1. LKS provides an invaluable guide to veggie food in the US.