Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Letter to the Fat Corrupt Politicians

Dear politicians, if you have an ounce of conscience and even a tiny bit of a soul in you, you should die of shame today! But of course, you've already sold your souls to the devil and you never had a conscience so the bomb blasts don't mean anything to you. You will just humiliate your people once again with a "compensation", tell them how courageous they are (of course, to be able to tolerate morons like you) and expect them to "bounce back" to life as if nothing happened while you conveniently move on to the next scam. 
Here are a few things you should know. In fact, these are things that we the people should also know but we are so overloaded with the task of surviving in this extreme jungle of chaos and corruption that you have created that we never get the opportunity to ponder over these basic facts. We don't even know what our fundamental rights are because if we have to struggle so hard to achieve it, then it cant really be a right now can it? So, here are the facts - 
- We vote for YOU. meaning we appoint you, we employ you at our command, to perform some administrative tasks for us. That means that YOU work for US, and not the other way round.
- We pay taxes so you can utilize the money and provide us some basic facilities. Nothing fancy here, just regular stuff like good roads, parks, schools, electricity, water, a transportation system, and above all a safe and secure environment where we can live fearlessly.. Whatever is left after this can go towards your salary. 
- We expect to receive these facilities at no extra cost on top of the taxes we pay.

Now lets look at how you operate.
- roads - pathetic, and its a well known fact that the PWD is an easy way to loot the government coffers paid for by our money
- government schools - sad story. Nobody wants to send their kids there because they are so low quality. Teachers are not motivated because they dont get paid well
- water - its a struggle for majority of the population to even get clean drinking water. If a poor man wants a hand pump or well installed he has to spend all his savings in bribing everyone from top to bottom
- security and intelligence - non-existent as is proved yet again by the blasts in Mumbai , the perpetrators of which run scott free and you haven't the courage to either arrest, try or execute (as Kasab)

So where is all the money that we pay you going? Let's look at some more facts.
Jaya amma is getting fatter by the year and tales of her mythological wealth are well known
Mayawati donned a garland of 5cr rupees on her birthday
Mayawati also sets a target for all her MLAs etc to raise funds for her birthday celebrations each year. Meaning the MLAs have to go and collect bribes from wherever possible to meet their astronomical targets. Of course they can't say "balls to you" to Mayawati cos she is their behenji after all.
YSR Reddy's son amassed hundreds of crores between 2004-2009
Every day there is a new scam worth not hundreds but lakhs of crores of rupees. Its hard to keep up with the scame stories but each scam has a similar theme - funds intended for a particular section of the society ended up in one of your personal Swiss accounts.
Kasab is partying in jail and you are spending 5lakhs on his "security" per day? What could be more insulting to us than to see our money being wasted on protecting a mass murderer who should be stripped naked and flogged to death in public!!! Can you not feel our intense ire?

This is just a small portion of the endless list. But we hope you get the point. The point is, you suck at what you do. Please. Stop. Step down. Surely you are incapable of feeling any embarrassment for having constantly failed at your job, but we cannot take this any more.

Take a look at history, the 1857 mutiny, the non-cooperation movement, Quit India movement - you are bringing it upon yourselves again. The last time it was for foreigners, this time its going to be true Indians against the corrupt, tyrant internal enemies of India.  And this time we will skip the mutiny and non-cooperation and force you to Quit India. Gundon, Chor badmashon, Bharat chhoro. 

Take this as a warning. 

And yes, please stop insulting us with your paltry compensations and false condolences. Stop talking about the "spirit of bouncing back". We don't bounce back, we just carry on with the rigmarole of surviving in this crazy system you have created for us. Its hardly a "spirit". Its a "majboori". We have no choice. So stop saying that, and stop taking us for granted. Also, stop saying that we need to be "united" at this time. If we unite and resolve to have our revenge, we will make sure that you suffer!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

No OBL pics please!

Osama Bin Laden is dead, that's great news. Its a relief. Victory of good over evil.
Much as it is a reason to celebrate, it is also reason to be on high alert because the breed of terrorists that Osama created will continue to live on and seek revenge. They might be enraged, shaken and extremely full of hate at this point. The nation should unify and focus on its security at this time.
But once again, Fox News, Republicans, Birthers etc fail to see what the priority of the country should be. They continue to question the credibility of their President. They doubt the purpose of the operation that brought the most Wanted terrorist down. They continue to humiliate the valor of the brave men who put everything at stake and went all out to finish what started on 9/11/2001. Why? Because they didn't get to see the pictures....oooooh poor cry babies..."I want to see the pictures mommy, he wont show me the pictures"..boohoo

Republicans and others, this was your chance to show some dignity and solidarity. You could have gracefully accepted the fact the Obama administration brought home what the Bush administration pursued for 8 years. You could have congratulated yourselves for having started it and Obama for completing it. Instead you continue to maliciously politicize any and everything that Obama does. If you showed some dignity and stopped making a big deal about the dead OBL's pictures you would probably have gained some points in the popularity polls. WHY do you need to see those pictures? He was shot in the HEAD! Do you really want those pictures to be made public? The day Osama's new came out I too was curious to see the pictures, but that was just for curiosity's sake. As more details started to come in, I realized that not releasing the pictures is the sensible thing to do for many reasons  -
a) It was a headshot
b) The pictures would be extremely graphic
c) It will only aggravate the followers of Bin Laden's ideology, and jeopardize national security.
(and I am just an ordinary immigrant. One would expect the citizens and politicos of a country to know better)

More on the last point - they are saying that when Saddam's sons were killed we released the pictures. That was done to ensure the people of Iraq that the sons were really dead, to bring them a sense of relief. I don't think anyone in Iraq or elsewhere idolized Saddam's sons. Releasing those pictures would not have offended, aggravated or ired a large section of young radicalized Islamists across the world. Releasing OBL's pictures will.
Also, this is not something to gloat about. Killing OBL is a milestone but not an end to the fight against terrorism. The villains that Osama created are still out there. Releasing those graphic pictures will only add fuel to their fire.

And what if the pictures were released? Wouldn't you still question the credibility of those pictures? He was shot in the head. The face and body must be mutilated beyond recognition. You wouldn't be able to make out a thing. And you would still doubt the authenticity of those pictures. Nothing will stop your evil ways and malicious attacks on the President. In fact, in political terms killing Osama is such a big thing for Obama that no matter what he does now, you will only resort to cheap, below the belt attacks. Obama administration is doing the sensible thing by ignoring you.
So dear skeptics, please shut up, sit down and let the President and the nation move on the other important things - like National Security, the economy, etc, and stop cluttering up the news with non-issues and controversies because these resources could be used for more constructive purposes!!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hor d'oevres, Desserts, Brunch and Cricket

Following from the last blog on Holi, I wanted to write about discourse on the interpretation of the Satyanarayan Katha I attended. However, I am just going to mention one example here and leave out the remaining deep philosophy since I want to maintain the foodie nature of this blog.
One of the stories in the katha is about a woodcutter, and the symbolism is that we drag our lives and its responsibilities like a pile of wood, akin to the poor woodcutter, whereas human life is a divine gift that one needs to be thankful for and live graciously. Oh well, that didn't come across as well as it did from the Panditji, but believe me Rashmi, there is a deeper meaning to the katha that is best heard from someone learned and qualified to talk on the subject! :)
Now, coming back to food talk, yours truly and a few friends got together last Saturday for a "potluck" party with hor d'oeuvres and desserts being the theme. We had a few parties in the past where people got an appetizer and an entree, and invariably everyone would eat the appetizers and barely touch the main course dishes, resulting in  waste of food and effort. Indian hor d'oeuvres (if you can call them that) like papdi chaat, tikkis, tikkas, kababs and kati rolls, and gulaab jamuns, rabdi-ras malai etc. desserts can be deliciously satisfying and filling. Honestly if you have a table full of unlimited quantities of fresh chaats, chutneys, kati rolls and kababs, and buttery creamy desserts, who needs anything else? They are easy to cook, hassle free to serve (self servable mostly) and hit the right food pleasure spot in the the mind (or wherever). On a day to day basis one wouldn't go through the trouble of preparing these appetizers, so a potluck like this is the perfect way to satisfy the chaat craving, as well as bring out the exotic experimental chef in you. In a potluck setup it also saves participants the hassle of painfully preparing roti/bread/rice items. And kids love 'em too!

Here are some pictures of the spread we had.
This is the non-veg and desserts section. In this picture: Seekh kababs, kati rolls (in the foil), chicken tikka, fish kababs, cup cakes, fruit salad with custard and a bowl of Lindt chocolates. And of course the chaat paapdi which was delicious enough to be honored with a place in the non-veg section!

This on the right is a blowup of the beautifully presented fish kababs!

The Veg section consisted of alu tikkis, idli, samosa and cheese rolls (I think. I didn't explore the veg section in detail :-)). Also tagged in this picture, diligently home made gulab jamuns.

Yes, all of the food here in these pictures is home made, except the seekh kababs (mea culpa, I ordered them but they were yummm and there was no way I could make them myself)

The evening was complete with an unlimited supply of drinks and good music, and concluded with 2 hours of poker. The group has decided to continue theme based potluck parties. So it could be Indo-Chinese theme one time, and Italian theme another time. In the nearest foreseeable future however there is going to be a brunch party for the World Cup Cricket Final on Saturday at my place. All nervous for the match but looking forward to some great brunch ideas.

In other food related news, the PM Mr MM Singh and the Pakistani premiere dined together at the semi-finals. According to reliable sources, the menu for the dinner included gosht barrah, tandoori pink salmon, tawe ki macchli, murg lazeez, gosht palak saag, chaamp biryani, bhindi naintara, subz biryani, gajar ka shorba and dal makhani. The desserts included apple cinnamon crumble, kesar phirni and fruit salad.
Food for thought for the next party!!

Well, let's see how the finals go. The food will still be great though! May the best team win, and may India be that best team!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Long time no Blog, Belated Holi Hai

The last two weeks have been very happening in both good and bad ways. There is the tragedy in Japan with a nuclear aftermath, the turmoil in Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and Syria, the icy onset of a much awaited spring, the colorful Holi (thankfully the weather was great), and finally today the fall of the Australian cricket team.
For those of you who don't know, I had the most special Holi in a long time this year. I volunteered with two other parents for the Holi celebration in Sanjana's school. We made a little presentation on Holi, told the kids a Holi story, danced to Rang Barse with the kids, snacked on Holi namkeens and jalebi, and finally played Holi with the kids and teachers, and some of the daring parents :)
The school had requested parents to send spare white t-shirts which the kids changed into. Teachers poured out trays of red, yellow and blue hand paint. The weather was warm and sunny so we took the kids to the play area, gave them a little demo of gently smearing hand paint onto each others' clothes, and then it didn't take long for them to figure out how to play Holi and go crazy with the colors. Given that these are very young kids and that not all of them are Indian, I doubt that any of them had ever played Holi before, but they seemed to get it just like pros! The teachers did a great job of keeping the kids from pushing each other or putting color on the face and skin. Some of the parents who came to pick up their kids were fascinated with the colors and joined in the celebration. Such is the joy of colors that they didn't mind getting paint on their regular clothes. I hope they were able to wash it off with ease! Like the other kids, Sanjana was also thrilled, albeit initially confused, about Holi and the color play. The colored T-shirts were sent home as a souvenir of Holi and I hope they will be preserved as works of an art and social studies project! I will surely be preserving the hitherto white Kurta that I got from that day - picture above :)
Its been 6 years since I celebrated Holi at home. It is my favorite festival of all and I feel sad and nostalgic each time that I am not home for Holi. So this year's was a truly special Holi for me in the longest time! Sanjana kept wishing us "Happy Holi" for the next 3 days. She also enjoyed playing with gulaal and roli at home. I hope that others had a wonderful and festive Holi too.
As for food, I have lost track but I can tell you this. On the day of Purnamasi when the moon was the largest in 18 years, a friend of mine had organized Satyanarayan Katha at her house. She made the most delicious chhole, matar paneer, alu gobhi, bundi raita, mixed veg pulao and halwa for 30 people single handedly. Once the katha was over, lunch was served with fresh hot balloons of puri prepared with the help of yours truly taking turns at puri making with some of the other ladies present. We don't have a count of how many puris were made and served but everyone devoured the puris in large numbers! Such is the joy of hot puris (that they didn't mind putting a few extra inches on their bellies - in keeping with the last "such is the joy of colors" sentence!). Apart from the food, the katha and havan had a deep spiritual cleansing effect on me. The Panditji who performed the havan is extremely learned and went into the philosophical aspect of the Satyanarayan Vrat Katha, rather than going over the standard Leelavati, Kalavati and Sut ji Maharaj stories. It was a very interesting experience to understand the deeper meaning of the Katha. (I remember going to a katha at another friend's house where the panditji had got print outs of the katha chapters in English. He distributed the print outs and asked those present to read each chapter out aloud. Which was not bad because everyone felt like a participant in the katha, but seriously, in English?)
As a result of the spiritual awakening I have taken to reading about the Vedas, the Sanatan Dharm (Hinduism)  etc. Perhaps that will be the topic of the next post. And perhaps I will have to expand the scope of this blog to go beyond food.
However, coming back to food, I am utterly bored of daal-roti-sabzi again and experimenting with kadhi-chawal today. Let's see how that goes.
Till then next blog...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tsunami, Earthquake, State of Shock....

I digress from food talk this time when the mind is cluttered with horrific images of devastation in Japan. Cars, ships, houses and other massive structures being engulfed and consumed by the black monster like waters, belittling all things living and all things we consider "big". Making us realize how helpless and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of all that constitutes this universe. As if the tsunami and earthquake were not enough, the nuclear reactors are melting down posing a serious radiation threat to the survivors. There is shortage of food, water, shelter. There are logistical challenges in providing supplies because of the nuclear threat. The death toll is anybody's guess.
The world is sympathizing with the victims and the economists are wondering how does a nation recover from a tragedy of such an epic proportion. And it makes me wonder - what (on earth) is going on? Did we bring this upon ourselves? Is 2012 really inevitable? Can someone tell me if this is the beginning of something bigger? Is this how the existence of civilizations is threatened? That ancient Egypt, South America etc were really once home to a civilization as advanced as ours? My mind is reeling with a ton of thoughts that I'd rather not put to print. Call it an abrupt ending but I think I want to stop writing here. There are no words to express the emotion that you and I are feeling and there is no point trying. Let us pray for the victims, and help in any way we can. Insignificant as we are, let still us pray for safety and peace.
As my friend Purvi pointed out in her comments to this entry, let us learn from the Japanese to be graceful and dignified even in the face of disaster. It is worth mentioning and so I am adding this last paragraph after reading the comments.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tarantino inspired Apple Strudel

Over the weekend we saw Inglorious Basterds for the nth time. One of my favorite scenes is the one that takes place in a fancy Paris restaurant. The superficially elegant Nazi Colonel  Hans Landa interviews Shoshana about her background, the theater she owns etc in light of the Fuerher's plans to attend a movie premier in her theater. He is not aware that she is the same girl who had fled from him a four years ago when he ruthlessly assassinated the rest of her family in suburban France. During the scene, he orders an apple strudel, telling her its the best in town. Once the strudel arrives, he says - Ah, I forgot to order the cream. She begins to start eating. He stops her with a smile - wait for the cream. Cream arrives. Close up of crispy flaky strudel. Close up of deliciously swirled layers of fresh cream. Dollops of fresh cream served with a silver teaspoon. Close up of Shoshana cutting a piece of strudel with a knife, scooping some of that mmmmmmmmm cream on it, and finally savoring it. "Verdict?" he asks. She nods her head in approval.
The scene is a work of art. And the strudel close ups are just tantalizing!!!
Sigh....What I would do to sit in an upscale setting like that and devour a crispy strudel served with that yummmmmmm cream. That scene is the best scene in the great movie. Its the best food porn ever made.
So inspired by the strudel scene, I picked up a pack of 6 Pillsbury Toaster strudels (frozen of course), which came with 6 tiny sachets of cream, on my weekend grocery trip.
The strudels were toasted and served for breakfast on Tuesday with thawed cream from the sachets. Doesn't come anywhere close to the original of course but that's the closest I could get to fulfilling the desire to dine on a strudel.
Meals for the rest of the week have been quite uneventful, but just to write them down -
Tuesday lunch - Alu matar, roti and rice
Tuesday dinner - Daal, rice and alu beans which got burnt and wasn't highly palatable.
Wed lunch - Pret a Manger Chicken wrap, quite good.
Wed dinner - I was too bored with daal so I made a soup, knorr sweet corn soup mixed with daal, and skipped rotis.
Today lunch - Korean Ramen soup
dinner - Alu-capsicum-matar, daal etc.
Sanjana is recovering from her flu and is back to having full meals for the past two days too.

Before I sign out, if you haven't watched Inglorious Basterds you should watch it. Not as gory as the other QT movies, and quite entertaining too.

Also, the picture above is not something I took, I am not trying to violate any copyright laws here and would like to give credit to whoever it may be that shot it, and whoever posted it on the internet.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Monday - march 7

nothing fancy - stayed home as little one has flu. The only thing she consumed throughout the day was milk, juice, and at one point a bowl of cheerios :(
For us, lunch was daal, alu methi, roti and rice. Dinner was same as lunch, with bhindi made in methi-mirch substituting the alu-methi. Had a minor tiff with hubby cos I didn't make rice for dinner cos there's always some left over and I can NOT keep storing katoris after katoris of bird meal sized rice leftovers! So I let him huff and puff - which didn't last long because he didn't stand a chance against my very rational and reasonable arguing. LOL.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekend - Chinese, Steak, Leftovers

Saturday lunch was purely re-engineered leftover food - alu gobhi leftover spiced up with leftover paneer masala, and parathas made from leftover rotis from Friday.
For dinner I threw in finely chopped onions, beans, carrots and peas in a wok, added some soy cause, vinegar, chilli sauce (from India street) and Ajinomoto (courtesy Susheela), and added some rice to it to prepare a desi style Chinese fried rice meal, served with anda bhurji.
Sunday started with the Ireland-India cricket match served with peas-poha. Since it was a light breakfast, I made a full lunch with fresh daal, rice, rotis and a medley of subzees lying in the fridge - alu from dosa filling, paneer tikka, anda bhurji and cabbage-gobhi-alu sabzi.
For dinner I decided to experiment a little and cooked a juicy piece of steak and baked croissants with a ready to bake Pilsbury dough. I wasn't confident I would be able to consume the steak so I also made mushroom-matar and daal as my Plan B, which is what I ended up having, though hubby did devour a large part of the steak.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Friday evening

As is inevitable in a technology job, a last minute "urgent and critical" task came up which I was involuntarily volunteered for, and didn't feel good about refusing as it was in the interest of the greater good. That was the end of my plans to go out for a free wine tasting event, followed by dinner, with friends in Hoboken.
I was hoping that I would still be done by 9pm and the client that I was doing this for - a billion dollar hedge fund employee - would have a life and not bother to take a status check till the next morning. I was wrong. It turned out that the guy really didn't have a life and was sending emails back and forth till 12am about how disappointed he was with the state of progress and the speed of data retrieval even though he was promised that things would be rosier once the "patch" was applied.
Anyhow, my plans of going out were more or less ruined but the friends we were supposed to go out with ended up coming home to make things better. And they brought a bottle of a 2006 Italian Chianti in tow. Even better!!
At 9:30pm, after one round of wine, I managed to topple the second glass of wine from the side table and spill the liquid all over our precariously configured phone, internet routing Vonage device. Which means that our phone no longer works and wifi was temporarily disabled. However at that moment I was thrilled because now I had a very valid reason for not being able to login and requesting the very coworker who dropped the Friday evening task in my lap to come back, pick it up and nurse it to finish, and that too at a later hour! AH! The sweet buzz of delicious wine complete with the feeling of revenge!
With that done, I could focus on the biggest purpose of life - FOOD! We ordered kolhapuri chicken, handi mutton curry and butter paneer masala from a low budget take-out place called Canteen in Journal Square. I hadn't eaten from there before and I was skeptical about it. The food however was the tastiest Indian food I have had in a long time. Every dish was carefully prepared and had its own distinct flavor, unlike the food from high end places like Raaz and Amiya which all ends up tasting bland and made in the same sauce. And it was very reasonably priced. The whole meal, for 4 people, was under $30!
All in all, it ended up being a pleasant evening.
Saturday morning now, with frozen idli-vada and home-made sambar and chutney was scrumptious as well. The downside to this weekend however is that the little one is down with fever - side effect of the flu shot she got yesterday. She is napping right now and we are hoping that she will recover in a day or two.
Till the next meal! 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cooking chronicle for the past week

Monday - I am blank.cannot remember...i guess it was omelette's for breakfast, lunch was some leftover gobhi alu, dinner was daal and alu spinach.
Tuesday - oatmeal, roti n spinach leftovers for lunch, chinese fried rice and home made gobhi manchurian for dinner.
Wednesday - Shivaratri, suji halwa, salad, puri paneer tikka
Thursday - poha, salad, dosa-sambar
Friday - omelettes again, TBD, dinner in Hoboken

The idea is to avoid plain daal roti types khana and i want to see how far I can go with it. Writing a journal will just help me come back to it for ideas instead of thinking afresh each time. This is solely for my reference but others are welcome to read it. Can't be helped! :)