Of Pumpkins And Gourds...

I made an astounding (only for me) discovery this week. I had sailed through life all these decades without having a clue about the English nomenclature for boodugumbLakayi…or what I used to refer to as white pumpkin. But a little context before I present my ignorance in full scale.
The pumpkin cuisine in my Iyengar home consisted sambar and majjige huLi mostly. I did not really care for the unknown and hazardous territories of halwa and dumrote. Even majjige huLi was too out there for me. Why waste a good pumpkin drowning it in a yogurt base when, oh my god, you can make sambar? I especially love white pumpkin in sambar and bisibelebath (BBB for the uninitiated). Unlike the sweet pumpkin, which has its distinct taste, white pumpkin is very subtle. It becomes translucent and succulent when cooked and absorbs the flavours of the gravy so unconditionally. And so, white pumpkin sambar was always my comfort food; on the odd days I’d take off from work, this was always on the menu. For samb…

My Women's Day

I knew it was a special day. First, there was a clear day break. You don’t know what it is to wake up to perpetually weeping skies and suddenly spot a splash of red on the eastern horizon. Plus, there was a perfectly sliced moon still hanging around and spring birds were out in numbers.
I felt like Popeye on spinach overdose (they’re adding something to the coffee these days, I tell you). I edited and dashed off a bunch of writings to competitions. The sun was proper golden by now, pouring in through all the windows, revealing all the places we don’t bother to dust. Then, just as I was done slurping the coffee, the carpenter called to say he’s sending his boy to finish a pending work…a work I’d envisaged following up till 2040 at least, going by past experiences of other tradesmen. This was surely some sort of cosmic intervention—
I checked my Whatsapp – all my favourite men had wished me. What? What? I thought. Did I win a lottery? Ooh is someone casting me in the movies? I fumbled fo…

Into The Water - Paula Hawkins

I wanted to put up this review a couple of days ago. But I held off till after Sridevi’s funeral – as a mark of respect for the woman and professional I admire immensely. I held off because the title of this book and the nature of her tragic, untimely demise was too much of an uncanny coincidence. Besides, there was such a glut of faecal material on news channels and personal blogs, I just did not feel like even opening my blog. No amount of lamenting on the severe mental regression of our populace will serve any purpose. All of us know it was not like this before…and none of us know why it got to this. Where did this generation come from? This entire generation of sociopaths who’ve invaded our lives and purged every ounce of decency in public discourse? It’s a question that requires many blogs.
But back to Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. With her debut The Girl on The Train, Hawkins gave an adrenalin shot to the publishing industry with its astounding success, perhaps even surpassing…

Kitchen Cults

So, two of my childhood friends are turning out to be androids of some sort. I always suspected this of one of them – A – who’s efficiency in just about everything peaked much before the Japanese discovered productivity metrics on the assembly line. She’s super practical and clinical and does stock market number crunching as a hobby. Let’s just be thankful she’s on the right side of the law. But the other friend, C, well, she threw me off guard with her recent display of kitchen nerdiness. Maybe I did not suspect her of android traits because the two of us share the same incorrigible hair woes –  we look like we’ve slept on thorny shrubs. And that’s just the good days. That, and also she’s abreast of all the tapori songs and movies I enjoy.
Both A and C are working mums and so, a lot of planning goes into kitchen chores. Breakfast and lunch must be packed really early in the morning. So, menus must be worked out well in advance. A’s kitchen is a lean six sigma operation. She’s the gadg…

How To Watch A Movie In 2018?

Who knew watching a Bollywood movie in 2018 can be such a minefield? Here you are, a sorry-ass just trying to get through the week one traffic jam at a time; juggling linking of Aadhar and PAN; worried the bank will start stealing your money because you can’t maintain their exorbitant minimum cash balance. . . and so many other things. You just want to go catch a movie. Like how it was done for donkey’s years. Three hours of escapism. Where you are transported from Thippasandra to the Swiss Alps, to the pyramids, and to the streets of Budapest whilst munching popcorn. Where a babe can be irresistibly drawn to a middle-aged waiter and the guy suddenly becomes a bomb disposal expert for the Indian army because his heart is broken (whereas, you must pluck your eyeballs out just to move from one project to another). Where a middle-aged man can become a worldwide wrestling champion to prove his love (and you already have lower-back pain and knee joint pain because you are sat on your butt…

Siddhartha - Hermann Hesse

Some books show up on your radar when you are ready to accept them, and such books must be savoured at least once in a lifetime. Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha showed up on my Amazon recommendation cookie for no decipherable reason. Years ago, when my life moved from one soundtrack to another, I had failed miserably in engaging with Hesse’s Steppenwolf. I bought Siddhartha immediately (Amazon’s one-click is the boon and bane of our existence).
I don’t enjoy spiritual books, at least not the ones where the author sits on a high pedestal, literally and figuratively, and preaches condescendingly. I was not sure what Siddhartha had to say. But when a story starts off with, “In the shade of the house, in the sunshine on the river bank by the boats, in the shade of the sallow wood and fig tree, Siddhartha, the handsome Brahmin’s son, grew up with his friend Govinda” – you stand no chance and you become an instant slave of the book.
We follow Siddhartha in his stumbling journey of self-discovery…

Munroe Island (Mundrothuruth) - Review

The premise of Munroe Island looked quite interesting. A father drops off his adult (eighteen-year-old) “sociopath” son at his ancestral home, where the grandfather still lives. What happens next?  This movie is categorised as thriller on Netflix. I think more than the synopsis, the title intrigued me. Malayalam movies, like Bengali ones, are way ahead when it comes to experimenting offbeat themes. I figured Munroe Island would be one such treat and I was not disappointed.
We are introduced to the grand patriarch (played by Indrans to astounding perfection) lovingly addressed as Appoopan by the grandson (Jason Chacko). We also get to meet the house-help Kathu (Abhija Sivakala). We follow them around the jaw-dropping (for city dwellers like me) ancestral home. It’s shot on location and it’s not a gaudy set. Neither is the place a new-age teak and marble monstrosity. It’s a sprawling house that’s weathered many elements. There is the unpretentious gate leading to a sheltered porch. If y…