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.

One day I will…..

116I was standing there on the top of some mountain in Cape Town. The view around me was absolutely stunning. So instead of just cocking up and just enjoying the breeze and having a beer, I pulled out my phone and started taking pictures. I pointed it…framed it and took a picture. Then moved it a few millimeters here and there and took another picture. Then walked a few millimeters ahead and took a picture. And a few millimeters behind and took another picture. Then i scanned all the pictures to see which was the best. They were all good, but which was the best? I couldn’t tell. Then I thought to myself, suppose I were to take a print of this, which of these 4 would I take a print of? Maybe I should see it on a larger screen and then decide. So I kept all 4 of them, so that ONE DAY…ill go through all of them and decide on which one is the best and then send it to make a big print. And then get it framed and put it in a room. A room of a house which I will buy, ONE DAY. And then put this picture there….actually not just this picture. Infact Ill create a wall of nostalgia….ONE DAY and frame many such pictures of stuff that I have taken all my life.

b7d14f843407ccb1ed2f09ef15f7e907I remember, suddenly ONE DAY, I took my camera and went to this adda of mine many many years ago, and clicked pictures, random pictures of all the assholes who I hung around with, and wrote notes behind these photographs, and thought to myself, ONE DAY, when I’m doing nothing spectacular, I’ll pull out all these pictures and stare at them, and read all these stupid notes, pour myself a drink and think about these bums. Just for the fuck of it.

ONE DAY, many years ago, I walked into blossoms ( a bookstore in Bangalore, that gives you this feeling of ONE DAY…I’ll sit and read all these books), and stumbled upon some Amar Chitra Katha Comics. I saw one comic ‘Kesari, the flying thief’. I knew I had read this. Like ‘oh fuck-Kesari the flying thief…like Kesari the flying thief’ kind of reaction. I had forgotten the story of the comic that I returned to the library with a fine of 2 rupees, after 2 weeks. And I had forgotten the story. This was not on. I picked it up immediately to quickly recover from this severe amnesia. And what I do I see below it…”Chittarandan Das’. Ya….I think I remember him too. Was it the comic or was it my history book? Anyway, it was seriously sad that I did not know Chittarandan Das’ story…someone important in our history and noone even wants to make a cool movie on him. OK…Chittarnadan Das..I wont let you down. I wont let you remain unforgotten. Rani of Jhansi..shit….what was this now? I remember a school teacher of mine had dressed up like her in a school play of mine with background music like ‘woh toh jhaansi waali rani thi…’ I need to know more. Oh no…Tales of Shiva, Gandhari, The fool and his disciples, Tyagaraja, Birbal the just, Tenali Raman….no. I cannot exist without remembering these stories. I needed to read all of them. Again. Why? Why..because maybe there are many mini mini ads in them that I can whack…or make full blown stories….remix them and make them unrecognizable and do some feature film. Fuck the purpose…I took all of them. Some 300 of them, so that ONE DAY, I can sit and read them all at one go…and become a super improved version of myself.

I had preserved the ticket of the Metallica concert that I attended. A bit torn …but so what. Why? Dude, it’s Metallica…and I need to profess my absolute love for them. This is not a ticket…it’s the ticket of the first rock band that I truly fell in love with. I head banged alone at home, playing their tapes every afternoon, on the loudest speakers that mankind had invented (ahuja). These tickets need to framed and mounted with 10 inches of white space all around them and hung on that same nostalgic wall of mine in that room of that house that I am going to buy…ONE DAY.metallica

I had by now accumulated several of these ONE DAY items.

ONE DAY..I’ll plant these seeds of this special Cactii (that I picked up in that trip to Rajasthan…or was it Himachal…or no no..it was Soul Santhe) that brings peace into the house.

ONE DAY…I’ll restore these vinyls that I had inherited from my father-in-law.

ONE DAY…I’ll visit these restaurants bookmarked on my Zomato

ONE DAY…all these recipes my mother had handwritten taking notes from my grandmother on this special pink book.

ONE DAY…I’ll repaint all these cashew tin boxes that I have collected from Indigo Airlines, with quotes from Bruce Lee and Gandhi and Bob Marley and make them into cool looking visiting card holders. Ok..ONE DAY I’ll have a cooler visiting card and that ONE DAY…I’ll learn how to paint…and then ONE DAY..I’ll learn how to take off the paint from tin boxes and repaint on them. I have Youtube videos saved in ‘watch later’ for that.

My pop sent me to this cricket coaching camp conducted by Syed Kirmani. I sucked big time. Bowling was pathetic. batting was okay. So all they made me do was fielding. I was good at fielding…but who cares if you field well. Its assumed that you are supposed to field well. And then I see Rajyavardhan Rathore pick up gold at the Olympics for shooting. Fucking shit…maybe I am damn good at shooting. Ya…that’s my calling. How would I know, if I have never shot from a rifle ever. So…ONE DAY…I’m going to just try my hand at Shooting. Or rowing. Or squash. Ok…shooting it is…you dont need to move around too much. So ONE DAY..I’m going to go and try shooting…or maybe Archery? Fuck…why did my school not have anything to do with Archery.

I have recorded this program on my Tata Sky Plus….’Trading with the stocks for beginners’. Maybe, ONE DAY, I’ll watch it and figure out how to make more money than the chaps at Infosys, who just overnight got a 200% increase in their salaries. And then they print their figures in dollars, so that you can take out your calculator and multiply it by 62 or whatever….I mean its great that they are doing this. But why publish it? For what joy? OK…so ONE DAY..I’ll watch this program and figure out how to become a multi millionaire.

one dayONE DAY…I’ll assemble this 6000 piece Lego Fire Station, that I picked up ONE DAY.

ONE DAY…I’ll go to the racecourse to figure out what the fuck exactly happens there.

ONE DAY…I’ll try this cocktail that I have saved on my evernote.

ONE DAY…I’ll open all these apps that I have saved on my cellphone and give them a good shot.

ONE DAY..I’ll do a movie marathon of all these dvds that I have filled half my house with.

ONE DAY…I’ll attend this heritage Bangalore walk at 6:30 am to figure out what is this heritage that I dont know about?

ONE DAY…I’ll open this 3000 page book on ‘How things work?’, a book a salesman sold to me 12 years back because he wanted to pay his college fees with the commission he earns from these sales.

ONE DAY…I want to know what the fuck happens at Bangalore Theosophical Society?

ONE DAY..I want to google and figure out what is exactly asafetida….a salt, a mineral, a fruit or a vegetable?

Then ONE DAY….I saw this article, in Times of India supplement, yes, that glossy supplement with aloe vera and power yoga and new trending stuff articles.


That was one new article.

A vacation where you just stay at home. Don’t go anywhere and just sit at home and do stuff that you always wanted to do…..ONE DAY.

So…I decided to take off for 20 days and dedicate it to this sole purpose.


Did it work?

no room for nostalgia


I have nothing that I can call my own

I wish I hadn’t grown

My music is on spotify

I have nothing to glorify

My granny’s recipes are on youtube

Sorry dear cousin, I now know you aren’t the best on the rubik’s cube

Sorry Mom, I’m throwing away that book of kolam design,

It was only yours, but it can’t only be mine,

Dear Uncle, Don’t ask me what you want back from the states,

Those times have gone,

Hershey’s is available down the corner, and so is Toblerone,

Do you remember my colony friends?

How we used to pool in money and get video cassettes on rent,

It’s now a click away on this awesome site called Torrent,

Dear School friends,

Our favorite hangout, the idlis and by-two-coffee we used to share,

They have busted it on Burrp, Zomato and Foursquare,

We have nothing now we can call our own,

They say we’re not young anymore,

We’ve grown.

Our favorite waiters in our favorite bars have moved on from that drudgery,

They now say that you can find them in a micro-brewery,

Dear friend, remember that fight we had when I asked you to return my cassette,

and you didn’t care,

They now have a simple button for that problem,

It’s called ‘share’.

My old photographs are all stuck to each other

and get ripped apart if i try

Like they are all shy

they’re either blur or out of frame

but i know they’re dying out of shame

crying and screaming “damn!”

why weren’t we taken with those fancy filters on instagram

my scrabble, monopoly and every other board game

in front of temple run and fruit ninja seem so lame

even that brilliant binoculars seems to have no room

now that i have a smart phone with 10x zoom

but when im all about to throw these things away,

they look at me in this peculiar sort of way

and ask me one thing for which i have no answer

are you sure all this new stuff will give you something that is nice to remember?

I’ll get myself a hundred new shelves to keep these things so dear

Because it is only this question that I fear.

the only question i fear.

Yeah Summer holidays

This is my fourth day of my long holiday. 14 more days to go. I am back to doing nothing. Something that i love doing.

I am in the mood of appreciating things. So, this post is all about things that have made me feel nice. I am choosing to be random in this one, since I am on a holiday of random things.

I’ve already watched five films.

Masoom. Hadn’t seen this till date. Am feeling foolish that I have spent a good part of my life without this being inside my brain. Had I seen it earlier, I would not have noticed Jugal Hansraj walking like a Dinosaur, a walk that he has been made to practice to perfect the role of looking innocent. I might have not found the littlest kid screechy, and would have joined a happy bunch of fat ladies who find such notorious pesky creatures, cute. I can almost visualise some aunty from delhi spilling her popcorn on her chiffon and going ‘haay, kitni cute hai bachchi, bilkul apni Pinky ki tarah.’, pinching Pinky’s cheek beside her and getting her to rehearse ‘lakdi ki kaati’ for the talents day in her apartment block. But in spite of becoming a over cynical product of advertising, I still loved the film. The story is charming, and I slowly realise why Shabana is who she is. It’s sad that Shekhar Kapur has diverted his attention to larger subjects of lesser importance. Gulzar is at his schizophrenic best, penning an absolutely charming song, stringing together words that are absolute fun to utter ‘sabzi mandi, tag bag tag bag, dum uthaake dauda’.  The lyrics are so perfectly meaningless, that it could give the guys at Disney Pixar a thousand ideas. And then switching over to a soul searching number ‘Tujhse naraaz nahin zindagi’, with such versatile adaptability that it makes sense to different situations in your life.

Trainspotting. Hmmm….a typical ad guys typical favourite. It has all the elements in it to massage your ego. Weird characters, crazy cuts, bizarre philosophies and banned substances. I liked it. All the techniques of story telling. The characterizations. The supreme use of camera. Ya…but what. In fact, stories of such kind are so predictably unpredictable, that you know from the beginning that this is not going to follow the path of your mind. Caters to an audience who are in perpetual quest of topics that challenge their imagination. I cannot think of reasons to store this in my memory.

Scoop. After Vicky Christina Barcelona, I started getting inquisitive about Woody Allen’s work. I had only heard of his sense of humour, but had never seen his films. Saw Vicky, only to see Penelope Cruz. But was amazed with the dialogues. Easily some of the best lines I’ve come across in Hollywood. I love his writing and play with words. So decided to see more of Woody. Got this one called ‘Scoop’. Its such a differently same film. A murder mystery that is funny. Its strange. You are on the edge of your seat, and also laughing. I havent experienced these two emotions coming together in me before. Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johannson and Woody Allen make you not want to see any other character. Brilliantly written. Brilliantly performed.

Idhu Sadhya. A suspense film in kannada that boasts of a fantastic line up. Shankar Nag. Ananth Nag. Revathi. Prabhakar. Devraj. Srinath. Ramesh. Srividya. Disco Shanti. Apparently this film was completed in two days. A record of sorts. That’s what prompted me to watch it. But it’s nothing but a whole load of bull. Garbage packaged in garbage. I seriously wonder why it won so many accolades.

Two days in Paris. I have not seen a film with so much conversation. There is not a second in the film where everyone is quiet. Its a simple story. And so real, you’ll really wonder if it was all shot. Absolute attention to details of everyday behaviour. It is hilarious. Hilariously hilarious. The strange ways of the french and their strange behaviours. An american caught in the middle of this. I am saying it again. Funny as hell.


Like when you wait for your turn at a barber shop, you do notice a lot of things. You notice it, because you are doing nothing but just waiting. You notice that the barber just went outside and blew his nose, and then he’s back massaging some guys head. You watch some random telegu channel, which you have at your home too, but never ever stopped at it. But you now watch it in the barber shop because you have nothing better to do than wait. The guy next to you is on the phone speaking to his uncle about some sick relative of theirs in a language that you dont understand but you strain your ears and try and figure out the story because you have nothing better to do in that barber shop than wait.

Court is an incredible incredible documentation of just observations. Observations that are so accurately translated back to cinema.

c o u r t_0If every road, every street and every room in the country had a cctv camera, and if one incident were to be covered in its entirety by only using footage from these cameras, the result would be something like court.

Court makes everyday life more exciting than fiction. Court throws the spotlight on everyday mundanity and makes it steal the thunder out of the most bizarre fantastical dream. Court creates superstars out of nobodies. Court makes you sit up and take notice of everything happening around you, and makes you believe that your life is not mundane. It makes you think that you could actually be amidst the most engrossing story ever.

Court opens up your mind to a new topic. A mundane life. And it has the sexiest stories hidden underneath.

This Talvar has the edge

The reason I went to watch this movie was plain curiosity. And yes, with that thought playing in the back of my head, that someone is being opportunistic about this. As I began watching, I began to realise that the film was not being made with sensationalism in mind. I never guessed that the filmmaker’s motivation behind this was to seek justice. It’s the pitch and the creator’s sensibilities that speak volumes about her craft and intention. The film opens up your mind, and elevates you from being a layman. Mostly, it brings to attention that at the end of the day everything is a consequence of various individuals and their characteristics. Nothing is a system. Nothing is a process. Not even law. No system can be so watertight that it can’t be influenced by the people that are in it. A lesson I learnt after watching the movie ‘Court’ too. I have no idea how this lesson would be useful to me in life, or maybe I do. Just that I am aware could probably make me more emotionally intelligent and competent when I am going about living my life.


And in movies, usually characters talk and behave in a manner that adds to the overall character of the film. The personality of the film in some manner dictates how each person should talk and behave. Talvar breaks it, and brings it as close to reality. There are no two of a kind. And they all speak in very different ways. It’s impossible to believe that one person was behind all their lines. In some sense finally hindi films are catching up with regional cinema.

I can’t pick a character who went wrong, because they leave no room for anyone to imagine them in any other way. Yes, but Irrfan just by his sheer presence elevates his role to make himself the face of this film. Even Prakash Belawadi and Gajraj Rao, are absolute scene stealers whenever they make an appearance. Down to the background cast, like even the bystanders are handpicked in such a manner that they were made for that role.

This film clearly proves that Meghna Gulzar belongs to a better pedigree.

Al Fucking Pacino

No. I didn’t go to watch Danny Collins. I don’t even know who the fuck he was. Maybe he was real, like the movie declares right in the beginning ‘This is a true story…ok a little bit of it’. That intro was just like in the movie ‘Salim langde pe mat ro’, where right in the beginning Salim says “ye apun ka story hai…beech beech mein thoda bandal merega…chalega na”….something like that. You know right then and there, that this is unlike any other. Yes…I was there to watch Al Pacino do something, some role of Danny Collins, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein…..whoever..I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m sure everyone in the theatre, though it was a few of them…were here for the same reason. To watch one man. Not Danny Collins. The movie began, and Al Pacino came. Just like how Al Pacino needs to make an entry. Under the arch lights with a thousand fans screaming for Danny Collins, a rockstar. And Al came in with a swagger, as the camera follows him from behind and enters a deafening stage. And outstretches his arms. And the crowd roars. And the popcorn stops. The man is back. That was Al Pacino making an entry. Not some Danny Collins. tumblr_lxpmrnomQm1r6bre1o1_500 Then Al Pacino performs for about 3 minutes. And Al Pacino exits the stage. And then suddenly it is Danny Collins who exits the stage. I forgot I was watching Al Pacino. No, it wasn’t The Godfather, The Scarface, Lt. Frank Slade…not any one of them. Who exited that stage was Danny Collins. I then realize that I am not supposed to be here to watch Al Pacino. I am supposed to be here to watch the story of Danny Collins. A rockstar who is in his sixties or seventies, who has lost the plot some 30 years ago. And still living off his past glory.al And he drew me in, and got me engrossed about some fucking Danny Collins who till then I didn’t give a fuck about. No, I wasn’t here to watch a movie on Steve Jobs, or Maragaret Thatcher or Gandhi or characters who I wanted to know more about. I was here singularly to watch one man, and that man vanished. Al Pacino made me forget Al Pacino. He made me notice every other character in the film. His manager. His wife. His son. His daughter-in-law, his granddaughter, the manager of the hotel he stayed in, the valet parking guy, the receptionist. And everyone else who were a part of Danny Collins’ story.danny He made me watch the story of a failing rockstar who is going through an existential crisis. It was just last night where I watched on youtube, legends like Robin Williams, Andy Garcia, Sean Connery, Oliver Stone, talking about the kickassness of this one man, at the AFI ceremony where they gave him the lifetime achievement award. I never saw that man in the movie. I saw Danny Collins. All I saw was an aging rockstar. A drunk drug addict trying hard to connect with his estranged son. Hitting on a middle aged hotel manager (played amazingly by Annette Bening), and trying hard to get her to agree for a dinner date with him. Saying some of the cheesiest lines like ‘I’ll check you out while you check me in’, delivered in such a sexy charming and funny manner, like he knows he’s being absolutely lame in his attempt. A superstar’s story narrated in the most human manner possible. I don’t know what the oscar boys are really looking for. But all I know is that in one scene in this movie, Al Pacino feels shit nervous about a new song he’s written, a song that he’s composed after 30 bloody years. that he’s about to perform to a small audience. And that small audience has his family in it. I can bet that every single person sitting in that theatre was feeling equally nervous. Like as if they were going to perform themselves. If someone can make you feel so much, like you are that person himself, I really don’t know what can be better than that for an actor. The best part of Al Pacino is that he doesn’t know and act like he’s Al Fucking Pacino. al 1


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