2017!! A random round up.

Since everyone is doing a round up, even I feel like doing a round up. But a round up of all things that i liked and hated. Movies, music, scenes and whatever other crap that comes to my mind as I type. Why? Because I’ve taken it upon myself to very strongly shove my opinion down people’s throats. So here are the things I discovered in 2017, even if they existed before that.

The thing that has me hooked and will have me hooked for the rest of my life, or his, is the podcast ‘Cyrus Says’. You’ll find it on apple podcast or simply type Cyrus Says on Google and keep clicking, it will take you somewhere. He’s clearly proved it to the world that he is the greatest comedian ever. Even after this nation has started giving birth to 18 stand up comedians every single day. He’s back, and he’s here to beat the crap out of everyone. In one of them he says ‘i just don’t understand why stand up comedians take their profession too seriously’. He interviews people who are kinda famous or getting there, and asks them a question every 30 seconds cutting them off the minute they get boring. And then he talks riveting rubbish. Actually, this is all you might need for life. The rest of this list doesn’t matter.

But you can check out Mani’s Kaatru Veliyidai. It’s not a very great movie. But the cinematography is mind blowing. This Ravi Varman is the new Santosh Sivan. Karthi was absolutely the wrong choice for the film, though I thought that that would be Aditi Rao..but she’s quite cool. And yes Rahman’s background score. If you feel like getting goosebumps then catch his interview with Arnab on Republic. If you don’t get goosebumps visit a dermatologist.

I thought Kriti Sanon didn’t seem too convincing as a small town girl when I saw the trailer of Bareily. So I didn’t bother watching the movie. Then I happened to watch it. Because I suddenly became a fan of Rajkumar Rao. After having watched Trapped. Trapped is not the best movie of the year. It is one of the best Indian Movies of all time. This fucker is a genius. I was sitting on the edge of my recliner. He then made me watch whatever crap he was in. Including an interview with him and Dulquer Salman (who I have become a big fan of)..(type Dulquer Rajkumar Mami on youtube).  Both these guys are absolutely brilliant and extremely articulate. So aah..Rajkumar Rao made me watch Bareily ki barfi. This movie comes from some absolutely fresh space. Supremely original and highly entertaining. Kriti was actually quite good. That woman Seema Pahwa needs to urgently be given an oscar. Infact they should have given it to her after Aankhon Dekhi itself. Rajlkumar Rao should be given nothing. Because I am scared it will go to his head and he’ll start making bad films. Like Kangana. So he should continue doing whatever he’s doing. Like Newton. Another awesome film. I loved Newton, but cerebrally. Like I know I am watching a very well made movie.

Ya like it’s being talked about a lot now, it’s time for the small time movies I guess. And small town. Small town is the new Switzerland. Like Japanese whisky is the new scotch. I have one bottle for which I paid an amount that I dare not tell my wife. And I hope it never gets over. And yes…there’s this other super small time movie which is not a perfect film..but it should not be, otherwise it would have never been that endearing. A movie made by a bald nobody ‘ondhu motteya kathe (the story of an egg)’. It’s a kannada movie on Netflix about this ugly bald guy who is unable to find a partner. I think Hrishikesh Mukherjee ghost directed this from heaven. Charming. hilarious and emotional. The second half gets a bit predictable but so what? We all knew what the ending of Sholay was going to be right in the beginning.  It has that good old days charm and vibe in its storytelling.

For good old days charm, The HMV Caravan Radio is cheapest way to purchase happiness. I bought the hindi and the tamil set. The tamil one has almost all the devotional and carnatic tracks that anyone has ever sung in their lives. My parents now take it to the bathroom, and even sleep with it on. Also listen to Riya’s Retro on Gaana. She has the most mesmerising voice. Switch it on, specially her talk with Gulzar, after a fat indian lunch, and remain immobile under the fan rotating at speed 2. Maybe for variation you could listen to Kahaani Express with Neelesh Mishra on Saavn. He’s a guy who narrates some middle class stories with actual live sounds as he’s narrating. He sends you on a trip.

And for good old times sake ‘The 80s India and 90s India’ docu on Netflix is one hell of a nostalgic trip. It’s like reliving your life all over again (for old farts like me). And if you want mindblowing soundtrack also, then watch “Sachin a billion dreams’. Awesome trip.

Just today I discovered this book that my wife got for my daughter. “Goodnight stories for rebel girls’. What a fucking concept. It’s the largest crowdfunded book or some such thing. It’s got stories of all the kickass women crunched down to a page, that reads like a bedtime story. Everyone from Rani Lakshmi Bai to Coco Chanel to Cleopatra to Mary Kom to whole bunch of other real killer women from all walks of life. Brilliant. Inspiring. Also since I like random stuff about things nothing in particular ‘Name place animal thing’ by Mayank Shekhar is also a good book about random shit.

By the way, if you have a dog and live somewhere near Jayanagar go to this cafe called SlimSins Cafe, a pet friendly cafe. It’s very tiny but has a huge heart. And some cool dishes with all dog loving people. And follow ‘Oota from your thota’ on facebook. An exhibition that happens every month in various parts of Bangalore. Stalls that sell gardening stuff, organic products and other interesting farm produce. And vaguely related things like pencils that have seeds in them. Or tumblers made from elephant dung and shit like that.

Oh..and if you have a dog and you live in Bangalore, and you still haven’t been to the Elephant Pond, near Bannerghatta, your dog must be pissed off with you. It’s that place where people who don’t own farmhouses but have dogs that dream of being in one, go to. Here dogs can run around freely or maybe even take a swim in a muddy pond that was once upon a time visited by elephants. While you lay horizontal on some hammocks. And it costs close to nothing. Wait!! You are not allowed there without a dog.

And if you are a whisky drinker and generally poor, Rockford Whisky is not bad. It has a nice smokey charcoalish kind of taste to it.

Short films ‘The affair’ by Hardik Mehta and ‘The juice’ by Neeraj Ghaywan were cutting edge.

That’s it. If I feel like it I might write more….later.

Shubh Mangal Savdhaan and Hindi Medium were the other movies I totally enjoyed. Is this some pattern or is it a sheer coincidence? Like all these movies including Bareily are members of a large north indian family. I hope it is a coincidence and they do not become material in PPT slides of ‘New emerging India’.

Also my deepest condolences to anyone who has watched ‘Half Girlfriend’ and ‘Baar Baar Dekho”.


Some random midnight thoughts about music

My brother-in-law knows 5 languages. He can fluently speak them, with nuances and twangs intact. I haven’t envied anyone more.

I once had a client who knew about 9 Indian languages, and he was so bloody fluent in all of them. The first thing that occurred to my mind was ‘Wow, he can watch movies in all those languages, without worrying if the dvd had subtitles.’ Or he can now bond with so many more assholes at bars, singing their songs as passionately, without missing out on the feeling of knowing what the fuck he was singing.

So when my Bengali friends are tripping on some bengali music, my reaction is ‘I want to know what that shit is, why the fuck am I left out?’

Then I’m thinking…well here’s what I’m thinking…

Here’s a little confession. My mother tongue is Tamil. I admit, that I’m not the best of Tamilians around. (Ask Chennai boys what they think of Bangalore Tamil boys.) Nevertheless, I am one. So, there are these two songs in Alai Payuthey that I totally trip on. ‘Kadhal sadagudu’ and ‘Endrendrum punnagai’. I have heard their hindi versions too, ‘Aye udi udi’ and ‘Oh humdum suniyo re’. I understand every single word of the hindi version, and honestly most of the words in the tamil version go above my head. But I know that the sound of the tamil version, just the way the syllables fall on my ears, is insanely more magical than the hindi version. And exactly the same way, ‘Dil se re’ has a tamil version to it, and it sounds like shit to my ears.

And when Ilayaraja’s Geetanjali, released, my cassette conked and dragged because I must have played  ‘O priya priya’ and ‘om namaha nayana’ more than even the sound engineer of it.  I don’t know a word of Telugu. ‘O priya priya’ was later made in Hindi too, and it sounded like crap to me. And yes, Geetanjali had a tamil version too, which I honestly never bothered to listen to.

I own the craziest collection of punjabi music, because I just love the sound of it. I don’t understand a word. Now I know a bit more, because I’ve asked around, because it makes me want to know what ‘gur nal ishq mitha’ really means. Apparently it’s ‘love is sweeter than jaggery’ or ‘mera laung gawacha’ means ‘my nose ring is lost’. I want to meet a person who knows the meaning of these lyrics. And compare notes with him. Did he enjoy it more than me, just because he knew what the words meant?

The songs of Metallica do something to me. The mere sound of it. I have now bought a book that explains the lyrics and context of every song. I’m reading it for academic knowledge, but it makes no fucking difference.

Apparently ‘Enter sandman’ is about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Crib Death), when a baby dies inexplicably in its crib.

Apparently a sandman is a chap who sprinkles sand in your eyes, to induce sleep, and get you rid of nightmares and give you beautiful dreams or some such stuff.

I had never heard the word ‘sandman’ till that song arrived. Yes, but it made me want to know what it meant.

I listened to it an entire night when my landlord asked me to vacate my previous place because my neighbour had a problem with me. That track made complete sense to my emotions that night. The lyrics are totally senseless for a situation like that. For you. Not for me. How do they make sense? I don’t know. It’s beyond logic and analysis.

I know no better by now knowing what Metallica really meant.

When Rahman was composing for ‘Lagaan’, he asked Javed Akhtar to give him a word that sounded thunderous, and Javed said ‘ghanana ghanana’, which means nothing actually. Yes, that part does sound thunderous.


So which now brings me to the point that I’m baffled by. A huge crowd walked out of Rahman’s concert at Wembley, because he sang some 12 tamil songs, a language that they don’t understand.

It wasn’t some karaoke night. It was an AR fucking Rahman show. I pity the assholes who had all the money to shell out for the tickets, but left behind that part of their anatomy that could really feel his music.

They needed words? Words in their mother tongue to really feel it? If they need to understand what ‘nenjukulle’ really means for loving it, well here it is, ‘nenjukulle’ literally translated means ‘inside my heart/ chest’ (which is still not accurate). Infact the sound of ‘nenjukulle’, the way Rahman has asked Shakthisree to sing it, is the more accurate meaning of the word than this crap.

If one fucking tweet said ‘Hey heard this beautiful sounding song that Rahman sang today that went something like ‘ninjakullai or nenjikillaaa…or something like that..and it sounded so awesome..anyone there who can tell me what it means..dying to know’, you would have had a million guys going all out to tell you what it means. That would have been much nicer. But anyway, that meaning is futile. The real meaning is the sound of it.

And to all those who feel that they are being broad minded or broad hearted to accept ‘why this kolaveri di’, despite it being in tamil…apart from the words ‘kolaveri’ and ‘di’, the entire song is in English you assholes. (I don’t know how this makes sense for this argument, but somehow I think it does). Nobody realizes it, that they are loving it because of the music. And they think they are strangely connecting to a tamil song. ..but no. There is no tamil in it.

I can hear a million people echoing together ‘kun faya kun’ at any concert, the exact part in a hindi song that noone really understands. And when the hindi part happens, everyone kind of mumbles something. But the fun is that the most non-understandable part of that song is also its most beautiful part.

I’m not demeaning lyrics. But those words are lent to music and not reserved for poetry. Because the writer knows that there’s only so much words can do. Music can give it a meaning that it never had.

My father doesn’t know a word of hindi. But he still keeps asking me to play Rafi’s ‘Chahunga mein tujhe’, from Dosti. He has never asked me even once what those words really mean. But every time he hears it, he’s moist eyed, and says ‘Rafi’s voice is like butter’.

I now realize, music is not just about the words. It’s about the sound of those words.

And mainly, music is now the only thing left to unite us. Do not drag that too into this muck of languages. Please leave it alone. There are enough things like language alone, religion, states, countries etc working overtime to make that boundary thicker.

Please leave music alone. It was invented to make the world a more beautiful place.

I hate whatever I have written here, because I am not able to exactly express what I am feeling. But that’s the fuck up. This isn’t music.

PS: Ignore spelling, grammar, construct, repetitiveness etc because it’s too fucking tiring, boring and irritating to keep editing it. 

2016-What was that ride?

La La Land. Just them sitting in that dark theatre and him trying to hold her hand for the first time. And the nervousness he goes through, I wondered if people still go through this. Im happy that they do, or at least Emma and Ryan convinced me that movies can be as magical as you want them to be. La La Land took me to La La Land. Im happy that classics can still be made. It doesn’t have to be restored or digitally mastered only.

Thithi. When Gadappa took that long drag of that beedi, that the smoke almost got to my lungs, quenched quickly by the Tiger Brandy, that he swigged on the screen. Thithi, made me so happy, to hear lines spoken in a language I am so fond of.”yen ninnn problemu’, Gadappa asked and all I said to myself was ‘yenu illa’. Thithi wiped off my life’s shitty problems for the 2 odd hours I spent watching it. I wanted to be Gadappa. Not give a damn about the world. It was therapeutic.

Aligarh. When Manoj Bajpai, closed the doors of that little room he had moved into, after being humiliated, and puts a chair in front of the closed door, so scared that the world could find him so hate worthy, even when he is sitting alone in that room drinking all by himself, I choked. Aligarh, moved me to tears.

The Jungle Book. It tickled me back to life. More than the movie, I was happy with myself, because I was happy that I still had it in me to be fascinated. Fascinated like a child. It just took off about 30 years from my actual age. I am still wondering why it needed an A certification.

Kabali. Kabali touched that raw nerve. That nerve that activates endorphins. I needed calming pills. Not throughout the movie. But enough and more times with a soundtrack that can wake up even the dead. It was enough to see my God on screen. But to make him so sexy was too much sexiness to handle.

Dangal. A movie that make you leap out of your seat every now and then. It is almost like following a rule that only once in two to three years is it allowed to make a movie this inspiring.

Kapoor and Sons. It never felt like a hindi movie. It broke all expectations of a multi-starrer. Thankfully so. A new kind of story. A new kind of story telling. I was engrossed. Contemplating on behalf of the people on screen.

Visaranai. A big applause to the chaps who decided to send this as our official entry to the Oscars. I am still to come to terms that it was just a movie that I watched. I squirmed uncomfortably in my seat. I was in the story, being beaten and bruised. I was screaming innocent. It took a lot of time to exit out of the film.

Viral Pandya – That sounds like a really cool name

Yesterday afternoon, a colleague of mine asked me

“Machaan, have you heard of Viral Pandya (he pronounced it right..not like viral as in viral fever)”

I was like “Ya man…I’ve heard this name. Isn’t he some famous advertising dude.” Pardon me man, because my networking skills are really bad.

But I had heard of you…as this really kickass art guy who has won a lot of awards and all that.

But then he showed me your post.

And I was shocked. Like in Rangeela…Aamir says no..”I shocked”..ya..that kind of shocked.

I was shocked at various levels. Actually not shocked, but some mixed emotions.

One was…shit..why is this famous art guy accusing us of something which is totally baseless.

But then I thought about it from your point of view.

Yes. I admit..it does give you some kind of kick when you spot the original of something. Something that is generally popular. Like even when we suddenly spot the original version of a song or a TVC or a scene in a movie or a picture…we go like..”Dude…check what I spotted. and everyone gushes and bitches about it for sometime. I agree it’s fun. It’s a kind of a kick.”

So let’s leave that part.

But usually we do that with a few set of people we know…in private. Laugh about it.

But you decided to post it on FB. But that’s ok. It’s your wall. You can do as you please.

Infact, I am quite motivated by what you did. See how influential you can be man. I am also planning to post this on my wall, after completing this. I mean what the hell. If you feel something, you should say it. Say it openly.

But then you jumped the gun. Shot off your mouth. We all do it.

And when we realize we screwed up, we kind of shut up. Tuck our tails back…and say sorry whatever and get back to life.

So when we told you the actual story of what really happened, we expected you to kind of shut up, tuck your tail and get back to life.

But no. You seem to be of another type. This part onwards is when we start feeling a bit puzzled. Because dude, you are not like us normal folk.

Then we realize, oh yes, you are different. You are trained to think ‘out of the box’.

I really became inquisitive about you. So I googled about you. And stumbled upon some of your ads.

I must admit. Some of them are quite mind blowing. And yes, I share your feelings on this one. It’s sad that they had to be with strange logos. Like I wish the world got to see it. So much effort gone into it. But sadly, it’s only earning you awards.

Like the one where you have so painstakingly arranged grains, lentils and all, and it forms the image of a dog. And it’s about Vegetarian food for dogs, for some ‘SM Store’ in Pitampura.  I thought it was quite kickass. I mean so what if this kind of a treatment has been done some zillion times where small small things are arranged, and the larger picture is then something else. Just out of curiousity…what was this? A poster? If it was, then was it instore. I don’t think so. Because if it was then the ‘Pitampura’ is totally unnecessary. Because they are already there. So it’s pointless. But if it was for other places outside the store. Then don’t you think its kind of too small to read. Ya, I agree it will totally screw up the layout. It’s for awards right. Then fine, because they usually see it from close quarters.

Sorry, I digressed. Ya, I also came to know you are the jury member for One Show. Yipeeee…congrats on that. It must be quite a proud feeling.

Just out of my experience, I want to just point out a few things. I don’t know much about awards and all. I haven’t won many. Since you are into it big time, I just wanted you to know a few things. What I hear from other industry folk, it’s a bit sad for some of them.

Apparently, a lot of young interns from art schools are engaged in doing these things. these pain staking things like arranging those grains and all. They sit and slog for many days doing that. Of course the idea isn’t theirs. They are only used for executing it. Because the ones who come up with that idea, don’t have the skill or talent to do it themselves. So they ask these young fellows to spend half their lives doing such stuff. They promise them credits. And they are made to believe that those credits can then give them a great career ahead. So poor chaps fall into this trap.

But no. Nothing happens. Because even after years, they don’t grow up in the system. They just remain mute executors. I’ve even heard that sometimes they don’t even get the credit.

I hope you are giving them their dues. Because they spend their lives doing only these kind of posters for SM Store, they are quite clueless about real brand work. Oh yes, going by your moral standards, you surely must be.

Ya, real brand work is boring. I don’t know if you’ve tried it…but it’s quite an uphill task. Because there are too many people with too many opinions. And you know budgets, market realities, building a brand, reaching out to consumers and all that jazz, can be quite a bummer.

But then there are a whole bunch of people out there who’ve dedicated their lives doing this stuff. Ramming their heads, killing themselves, to get their stuff through all this, and still manage to do some work that people out in the streets end up loving.

Sadly man, these chaps aren’t the ones who are celebrated. You know, they have never been to Cannes, drunk at the gutter bar, or seen their names on One Shows. Nothing.

The only thing that concerns them is ‘what’s good for the brand’.

And if they happen to spot something that seems like a good idea for the brand, they will find a way to make it happen for the brand. It could be a cause, a song, a play, a celebrity, anything. Or sometimes a picture.

They know their brand. And are passionate and pretty selfless too about it.

Those 86 people out there, are defending that my friend.

Lastly, I feel, it’s still better to search for a picture that suits the purpose of your brand, than search for a logo that suits the purpose of your award.

Remember….SM Store, Pitampura.

By the way, Viral Pandya is quite a cool sounding name.

And I’m not copy checking this shit. It’s not for an award.

Kabali – Don’t review God

o-KABALI-facebookImagine standing in front of a tornado that’s fast approaching you at the speed of 280mph. And you stand there ready to dive into it. You stay put. All willing to hitch a ride. The tornado arrives with some dizzying surround sound. Engulfs you. And carries you to a spot which is the epicenter of an earthquake. And then suddenly ejects you out into outerspace..where you are floating somewhere between Neptune and Uranus.

I think such an experience cannot be called ‘watching a movie’.

So when a lot of them seem to be let down by ‘Kabali’ because of high expectations…I feel sad. Because I feel their expectations weren’t high enough. They weren’t willing to let go….and probably wanted to be sitting close enough to the ground…and maybe take them only as far or as high as a giant wheel can . Where they still get to see ‘familiar things’ around them. Like spotting their school from up there. Or point around towards some parks and roads which they’ve seen from close quarters. And get all excited because they are now seeing the same from as high as a giant wheel.

Kabali is certainly not that.

Don’t go, if you are in it for a movie. Don’t go if you are in it for a story. For screenplay. For familiar emotions being replayed. Don’t go for technical brilliance. And certainly don’t go if continuity, logic, brilliant performances, a coherent story, great character sketches all come in as prerequisites that first need to be fulfilled and tick-boxed before you are ready for the ‘take-off’.

Don’t go if you are not willing to ‘let go’.

Go only if you are willing to get carried away. And be swayed and swung and spun and churned and thrown around by the only superhero we know who exists for real.

He’s here in his newest avatar to take you on a heady trip you’ve never experienced…not here as a cuddly grandpa to sit you down and tell you a story.

And yes, he and we, want no time wasted before we’re in the middle of this trip. Because he knows and so do we that we’re here only for that trip. Nothing else. Rest is mandatory.

Yes, since he’s decided to only meet us at movie halls, he’s engaged some mere mortals who have sat down and put together some mandatories for that to happen. If you are going to be stuck there…then you are missing the ride. The larger picture. The madness. The heady giddy mix of all things Thaliava…all things Superstar…all things that we are in it for.

I have been watching every movie of Rajini ever since he made my brain understand that there are some things in life where every part of your anatomy can be given immense joy at the same exact moment.

There is nothing more supreme than this euphoria. Everything else is a means to it.

And ever since, after having watched every movie of his, he’s only left me behind with this feeling that makes me pissed off with the people who contribute words to the dictionary. Only because they haven’t invented a word that can fully express what this feeling is.

This feeling has now grown with passing time. And now this feeling has somewhere crossed the line and now has the audacity to make demands.


‘Expectation’ makes you the higher one. Makes you and your imagination the elevated one. And then someone has to rise above to meet it. It is great when you have it in some cases…and it’s absolute stupidity when it comes to some other things. And certainly impudent and immodest when it comes to Rajini.

kabali hi resTo me, ‘Kabali’ is a return of sorts. Right from the credit title. Where it’s back to where the ‘Superstar’ phenomenon all started. Back to those little led lights that tries to illuminate that feeling on the screen. A feeling so euphoric, that we’re unwilling to accept any word that the dictionary has to offer for it.

Rajini gives this feeling a new journey. A new path. Rajini reboots. Restarts. And goes back to a place where it all started. Back to that place where he walked into that dingy stage at the ‘Gubbi Veeranna’ theatre. Where he played the character of Ravana in a play.

A time when people queued up only to see him. He was there to show you how menacing he can be. People came to watch that. Nobody came to see the story of Ramayana. Everyone knew it. They came there to lose themselves and travel along with him.

Over there people knew the story. Over here I feel we need to assume it. Either way, the fun is only in travelling along with him.

He’s back here playing an evil baddie. He goes about killing everything that doesn’t suit his taste. Who or what he’s killing doesn’t matter or shouldn’t. Why he’s killing too shouldn’t. That part is ours. To fill it up on our own.

Half of what Rajini does lies in our imagination. Whatever he was fighting…we weren’t fighting the same enemy in our heads. We were fighting our own. He just gave us the manner in which it needs to be done. And we loved it.

We’re only back here for a refresher course. Not for a movie. To learn from a man who teaches us as to ‘how it’s done.’

And then…we now have to come back to terms that this is a movie.


Tiring to interact with people who still see him as an actor. And as an actor who acts in movies.

And then to see some reviewer say ‘his age is beginning to show’. I wanted to laugh out loud. Like the way Rajini laughs. I only want to ask him ‘where or when was he trying to hide it?’

“He’s not moving in the same speed. Not picking up the guns with the same swiftness.”

Now show me a 60 something man doing that with even half that speed. Fuck that. Show me a 20 something anybody who does that with one hundredth of that swag or style.

Infact he adds a whole new body language. That I think is nuance.

Chuck it.

Ok…now coming back to what if ‘Kabali’ were a movie.

After the previous two disasters, Rajini has understood the dangers of the tried and tested. The very idea that he now stars in a movie like this sends out a strong signal that he’s moved on.

Rajini has chosen a guy with right kind of sensibilities.

Even if he doesn’t have the right sense.

Pa Ranjith’s desire of seeing Rajini as a menacing gangster who probably should have been in ‘lock stock and two smoking barrels’, is absolutely mind blowing.

The mind-blowing part of Ranjith pretty much ends there. And is then taken over by Santosh Narayan.

Santosh is sensible enough to understand that all the bullshit that Ranjith serves and all the awesomeness that Rajini radiates, needs a separation.

His job is now then to become a guide of sorts to bring our attention back to the screen at the right moments.

Which comes in the form of a siren. A siren that summons us back. A siren that has been programmed to release the dormant endorphins within our bodies..asking us to drop our popcorn, leave our phones alone, stop our pee midway and rush back in time to succumb ourselves to the God on screen.

Kabali_2834894fAnd It is in these parts where Rajini takes it upon himself to more than make up for the mistakes committed by his mere mortal crew.

It’s only then when it strikes us.

That we were here only for him. Nothing else matters.

Chennai teaches us everything

Don’t give fodder to the North Indian South Indian divide debate. 
Don’t give fodder to the politicians about how they branded stuff with Amma stickers. 
Don’t react to the photoshopped Modi’s picture about how the central government tick marked its duties. 
Don’t give fodder to the bad infrastructure the city has. 
Don’t give fodder to that channel that sensationalised the disaster with bad graphics. 
Don’t give fodder to the looters at Cuddalore who waylaid the relief trucks. 
Don’t give fodder to the insensitive tweets by the so called representatives of the North Indian community. 
Don’t give fodder to the media that woke up so late.
Don’t give fodder to the Rajdeep Sardesai’s guilt trip of the media.
Don’t give fodder to the memes that compare this to the Paris disaster. 
Don’t give fodder to any superstar’s retweet of your concerns. 
Don’t give fodder to celebrate any star’s humanitarian efforts to bring about a change. 
Don’t give fodder to encourage postmortem debates on the situation you are all dealing with. 
You need nothing of the above right now. Because you are right now making the entire world realise what humanity truly means. 
We are learning from you. Every single Minute. 

Truly inspired. Respect. 


kosumbari1I have always felt that this dish should have shot to fame with brands trying to patent it. It’s my own stupid notion, but I feel that it suffers from its own simplicity and modesty. Much like the women who make it

Cucumber, coriander, coconut, split green gram dal, green chillies, salt and a dash of asofotieda. Its all too simple to be celebrate it.

But it’s special because simple isn’t that simple.

The sixty odd year old lady opposite my house probably knew something that she never told me  about.

‘Manjunath Aunty Mane Kosambari’ (Manujunath Aunty’s House’ Kosumbari) has something that I can never ever recreate.

Maybe it was the perfume of the Nandi Diamond Agarbatti engulfing her house. Or the smell of jasmine flowers that crept into those pulses from her puja room.

Or the fact that despite the enitre colony changing their floor tiles, she still chose to shine her red oxide floor every month with coconut oil and coconut fibre.

Maybe it has to do something about her house being the only house in the entire colony that still rests only on the ground floor. (There’s something about an only ground floor house with ivory window panes).

Maybe it was the Bhimsen Joshi’s cassette on her tape recorder blaring ‘Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma’ that did the trick.

When the food is good, you start to like everything around it. The person who makes it, the flooring, the color of the walls of that house, the curtains, the plates, the spoons

I would wait for ‘Ganesha Habba’ to arrive, when she would call me over to her house to see the decorated ‘Ganesha’ idol in her house, and seek the lord’s blessings. And I would jump at the opportunity only because I could get a taste of ‘Manjunath Aunty Mane Kosambari’.

Uneven pieces of cucumber, chillies smashed on stone, abundantly chopped coriander with stem, roots, mud and all, coconut carelessly grated with the traditional hand-grater, along with splinters of its shell, mixed with split green gram dal soaked overnight, and rock salt, mixed in a manner that proved that she never prepared it with the kind of love that mothers are now famous for.

traditional coconut csrapper

She never bothered to respond to my compliments “Aunty, kosambari thumba channagide’ (Aunty, the kosambari is superb). It had little to do with modesty, and more to do with lack of experience on ‘How to handle praise?’.

She would turn red behind her ears whenever I praised her humble dish. (It’s not like she made some special basmati rice vegetable pulao cooked on slow fire for hours. It was just a random salad that every ‘kannadiga’ household should be able to make with their eyes closed).

I could never understand why these women would behave this way. Infact, a lot of kannadiga folk are pretty much like these. Its not in their ritual to invite guests over for a feast every other day.

Guests would arrive only during festivals, dussera, diwali, sankranthi and ganesha. Apart from these it would only be a random visit to invite them over for the thread ceremeony of their child, or a grihapravesham or a wedding. It wasn’t a ritual for guests to pop over for dinner or without any other agenda.

The talk would mainly consist of the host coaxing them for a tea. Or a coffee. Or a uppittu.

And it is expected of the guest to say “no no…we are full. Just now we had coffee and snacks in Latha’s house”

And the host would coax further saying “swalpa thogoli …swalpa”

And the guest would say “ok..half plate..or quarter tumbler coffeee”

And the host would return with a full tumbler and a full plate of snacks.

And the rest of the conversation would only be spent on coaxing and cajoling from the host’s side and the guest slowly giving in to the delicious snacks.

This however, would never graduate to the guest praising the dishes anymore than a customary “thumba channagide”.

It was complicated. Because if the guest praises anything more than that, he is hinting at ‘give me more’, which would mean ‘I’m a glutton’. Because he had just declared that he had eaten to his full, in some random ‘latha’s’ house.

And the host would silently conclude that ‘her dish wasn’t good enough otherwise they would have asked for more.’

I feel a million dishes that deserve praise have been lost in this ritual of modesty.

And the host would ignore the praise and coax them to have some more.

But I still find this ritual charming and endearing.

I would wait for Manjunath Aunty to disappear into the kitchen before puckering my lips and shooting mini-darts of the coconut shell chips into obscure shadows on the red oxide. And crunch on her muddy coraindered kosambari.  And scream for help till I could no longer take that lonely chilli that arrived in my mouth without warning.

She would reappear from her dingy kitchen with a tall steel tumbler of water. Just in time to rescue my watering tongue, eyes and nose from her inconsiderately imbalanced chillies.

“ayyo paapa, sorry, nimmagilla idu tumba ne kaara alla?’ (oh poor you, sorry, you people aren’t used to so much spice right?) she would express her concern, suggesting that her dish isn’t up to the mark.

I loved the spice. The sting on my tongue. But I probably could never express it.

I would gulp the water and then seek blessings from her ‘Ganesha’ idol, before I dived back into the kosumbari container that was called ‘dhonne’, a cup made from dried banana leaves. 

Yes, the ‘dhonne’ had its part to play in the taste too. I could smell that faint scent of raw bananas as I slurped the watery residue of the kosambari. A kind of summary of all the flavours that went into it. A magic potion that was a heady mix of all the ingredients. The part I hated the most. Not because I didn’t enjoy it. But because it signalled to me, that the dish was now over.

It’s been many years now since I have tasted “Manjunath Aunty’s Kosambari”.

I have tried it many times now. I have googled recipes and followed them to the tee.

I’ve tried preparing them carelessly, carefully, artistically, intuitively, meditatively, and every other ….ly.

And then served it to myself in the humble ‘dhonne’.

They all taste sexy.

But it just doesn’t taste like ‘Manjunath Aunty Mane’ Kosamabri’.

Every time I sip that juice in the end, I realise that there is something missing in it. One tiny little thing. But I can’t put my tongue on it.

I realise that the identity of every state lies in its simplest of dishes. Dishes that follow the same recipes and add the same ingredients. And dishes that are so simple that it forces the cook to add a little something to it just to gain a satisfaction of having done something ‘extra’ to it to deserve all that much advertised ‘mother’s love’.

Something so little, that if it were to be taken away from them, it would be such a bland world.

I’m happy that I can never ever crack that recipe.