Muses of a waylaid mind

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Ustad Hotel

On a grey cloudy evening, with a little spare time at hand, I watched the movie--Ustad Hotel. It is a Malayalam movie with Dulqar Salman and Thilakan in major roles. It is about one's love for cooking and the passion that binds a person to follow the hobby. The first half of the movie deals with Dulqar's love for cooking and to follow his dream of being a chef. He meets his grandfather who runs the Ustad hotel, a nondescript hotel, facing the beach somewhere in Kozhikode. This hotel is famous for it malabari biryani and the sulaimani served with love.

Ok my post is not about the review of the movie. My post is about the events that take place during the end of the movie. During the end, there is a sudden twist where Dulqar gets to meet an ex Taj chef in Madurai who devotes his life for feeding the impoverished, the downtrodden, and persons who cannot manage to feed themselves either due to physical deformity or financial constraints. This event changes the way the hero looks at cooking and decides to give up his exec chef post in Paris to settle down as the owner cum chef of the Ustad hotel.

This event changed my perspective towards food and how every human needs to value food. Today I started giving back to the society through my small contribution towards bettering the lives of the downtrodden through food requirement. 

We can make a difference by giving. It is fulfilling!

Please do visit and sign up to give. This is the least we can do.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Swetha's first birthday

Day: Friday the 13th (nov).
Venue: Ebony on the 13th floor.
Time: 7 pm
Occasion: Swetha's first birthday with her fiance
Weather: Breezy with love-in-the-air and slightly overcast weather conditions.

A couple of days back, I kept wondering which is the best way to spend time with Swetha on her first b'day. At work, I had a project release on 16th and so I had to time-share between the birthday prep and the release day. I had a lot of time to plan and re-plan to get her a gift but procrastination did me in this time. Let us not talk about it now :-).

Choosing a gift for your GF/ fiancee/ wife is really tough. This is a cliched statement and every male species would agree with me. Guys btw do get educated whenever you choose a gift for your woman. I never knew mauve and mustard are terms used to identify colors!! I firmly believe the person who discovered the VIBGYOR shades would be rolling in his grave if he realizes that mustard is a color besides a culinary item for women. Anyways, I did pick up my gifts the day before the b'day and really did hope-against-hope that Swetha loves what I chose for her.

On the D-day, I am all excited and after the initial phone calls to wish her, I reach her place, dressed impeccably (I thought so) and groomed well for the dinner. I starved a bit during the day to gorge well during dinner. We chose Ebony for dinner knowing well what this place offers for couples. At Ebony, I could sense my ego inflate when the valet and the stewards welcomed us and treated us royally. The staff at this place were really good and know how to treat their customers well. We were given the best seats in the place and with the best view of the entire city.

After a whole fifteen minutes, the steward came to us with the menu. I would have given him a piece of my mind had it been a different day. We preferred Thai for dinner and ordered a chicken clear soup and crispy chicken to start. The crispy chicken was amazing and literally finger-licking stuff. Knowing Swetha well, I knew I will end up finishing most portions of the dishes. Why do women always consider us as recycle bins? We had rice and a Thai yellow curry to end the meal.

During the course of dinner, I passed the gifts that I chose for her. After dinner we went for a stroll along Church street which was not crowded for a change. Later I dropped her off at her place and I went home happy and satisfied. Satisfied because I knew it was the best evening spent together when she turned emotional and said that she loved every bit of the time spent that day and the gifts that I chose. This will be a wonderful evening that I will remember for a long long time.

Mauve and mustard? Wait let me look up the dictionary. Guys, mauve and mustard is what we normally call as purple and yellow. So long.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Hurricane

As always when I am in front of the TV, I was scanning channels at almost the speed of light. A movie's opening credits were running and I stopped to spend some time on this channel. The movies was The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington.

This movie is inspired by the real story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a famous American boxer between 1961 and 1966. This movie is about the story of Carter who fights all odds to finally triumph and walk out to freedom. He is supposedly set up for a triple murder that he has not committed. He is in prison for 30 long years and does not give up hope. It is a good movie to watch and inspirational too. The movie's tag line is " His greatest fight was for justice."

After watching the movie, I guess, and hopefully should not happen to others--justice delayed is definitely not justice denied. According to the IDMB, this movie won Denzel Washington, the Golden Globe best actor award and rightly so, since he is in complete control of the central character.

This time around, I spent an other wise dull Sunday fruitfully.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Kumble and Kricket

Summer in Bangalore in the 90s was always pleasant and enjoyable. Those were the days when every ground in the city had kids attending cricket camps in droves. I was one of the boys attending the camp in Basavangudi.

The only thing I hated about the other wise enjoyable camp was that I had to wake up at 5 am in the mornings. With the kit on my cycle carrier, I would reach the grounds at around 6. We started the mornings helping the groundsman to lay the mat and fix the nets. The coach would take us with him for the initial warm-up exercises and we would come back at the nets and start our practice.

This day was different mainly for the fact that we had a very tall guy having a go at the stumps. He was unusually tall and his strides were long too. From a distance, I could recognize him wearing the best cricket flannels and the Reebok bowling boots. He went about his usual run-up and had a shy at the wickets. Most of us stopped and were looking at him practice. It was nothing short of a spectacle. When this guy turned around to his marker, we realized that we had ANIL KUMBLE in our nets!!!
I am not bragging, but I am sure every one of us had goose bumps watching him bowl with such accuracy and determination. I mean, he was like very well established by then in the Indian team; and here he was bowling on a matting wicket!!! Later, we came to know that he had come to meet Venkatesh Prasad. Venky, by the way, (was not in the Indian team then) was our coach. They were talking for a while, and then Venky called us to start our practice. Kumble joined us as well and he was nursing an injury.

Call it a privilege or honor or a spectacle, I was lucky enough to share the nets with the greatest Indian match winner. He carried no baggage and was bowling as another person at the wickets and not as India's strike bowler. I curse my stars today for not letting me have a cell phone to capture him bowling or posing with him for a lifetime remembrance. Kumble is synonymous with Kricket (it is not the Ekta Kapoor K syndrome!!)

Kumble took to the field at the Kotla for the last time. I was again lucky to watch him bowl his last over. Emotion was there for everyone to see on his face. For a man who never showed emotions, it was a sight to behold. Sachin takes his cap for the last time and hands it over to Billy Bowden. Hayden and Katich shake hands with the legend as he collects the ball. One ball bounced so hard that Dhoni had to move away to collect it. Hayden sent one ball down the long leg for a boundary. Kumble completes his over. He walks in to the horizon and as always with his head held high.

He ended his test career on his own terms. He was modest when he talked to the Kotla crowd. Ravi Shastri said it all when he ended the presentation ceremony. "We end this presentation on a sad note."

I was emotional when he addressed the reporters after the match. One of his comments was directed to all the doubting thomases and cricket puritans, who time and again, questioned his ability of spinning the ball. He said, and I quote, "I am still learning the art of spinning the ball." The media never gave him his due. But again, Kumble being Kumble, he did not bother much about it and thrilled fans all over the world.

Take a bow Jumbo. We will miss you.

A worthy snippet from Peter Roebuck’s article…

Yesterday, Kumble declared India's innings closed so that he could say a proper goodbye to his supporters. And then he declare his own innings closed, and left as always with a determined look in his eyes and head held high. As far as tributes are concerned, let us leave the last word to John Wright, his friend and sometime coach.

Years ago, I asked Wright why he had brought a bowler as aged and limited as Kumble to Australia. He said: "I need him in the rooms." Next day he took five wickets and later India won the match.

He never gave up, and with unyielding will and high intelligence, made the most of his abilities. He scored a Test hundred and never let his side down. A thousand pities the Australians did not speak to him in Sydney. Throughout he has retained his dignity, it has been an immense contribution, and he did not outstay his welcome by a single day. Even in his retirement he served the side and Indian cricket.

Some of the articles that were written by journalists to celebrate the era of Kumble are given below.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

D N O C H ahead!!

No I am not trying to revisit alphabets and it is not an acronym as well. This was the line on the ophthalmologist's clinic dashboard. I probably read it many times that I remember it very well. The letters I guess has to do more with the similarity in D & O and N & H. Why did our forefathers come up with weird terms such as ventriloquist or ophthalmologist. The words sound constipated anyways.

The scene is the ophthalmologist's clinic. It seemed to me as if I was entering one of the swanky hotels in Bangalore that keep dotting the city quite often than clinics. The old clinic with its brazen wooden cover, the stern receptionist, and the ubiquitous formalin (or whatever) aroma rising in the air, being replaced by plush interiors matching with exquisite chairs and Norah Jones singing from a channel speaker. Welcome to the clinic of the future!

I beat time to reach the place only to find that there were four patients ahead of me. Actually, a clinic is a great place to spend time, provided you enjoy people's rantings, expressions, and chat. Some people interest you that you keep following their antics. Folks these places though seem boring, they actually offers a lot to the keen observer. "The Terminal" is a case in point. It is an amazing movie that delves in to the moments of a passenger stranded in an airport terminus.

Back to the clinic now. There was this interesting couple who sat opposite to me. The guy had a patch on his eye and his beautiful wife accompanied her. With a patch on his eye, he strained at the TV watching the day's proceedings of the stock market. She was glued to a magazine and never bothered about anything, occasionally lifting her head to check the TV. There were this two old ladies (I realized they were sisters) who were like "I am busy than thou" attitude. They did not have an appointment and yet were grumbling that they see the doctor since they feel they will see him for a few minutes. The clinic staff seemed peeved with these ladies. And then there was this big family of five persons come to see the doctor.

As time passed, I kept my fingers crossed expecting the patients finish their appointments so that I can reach office after my visit. It was the turn of the couple to see the doc. The lady kept browsing the magazine till she reached the room and then realized that she has to leave it in the lobby!! And then it was the turn of the old ladies. The joy on their faces when entering the room reminded me of Kapil's toothy smile when he held the World Cup in '83.

My turn came and I was upset that I have to leave the show. The doctor recognized me and we chatted things other than the eye. Everything in the clinic had changed except the doctor and his smile. There ends my day at the ophthalmologist. I am sure one day another person may be writing about me ranting or idling in a clinic or a bus station or the airport.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Mysooru Musings

The time was 3 am on an early sunday morning in December. Dad's weary eyes welcomed me home as I got off the vehicle that was my home for the past 20 odd hours. As I unwind the 20 hours, I felt, a day should have had 72 hours a day. If wishes were horses...

Friday night was long after boss's party ended late. During the day, my friend, Manju was busy planning and planning and planning the tour itinerary for saturday. Finally, we decided to go to Kushalnagara and Dubare camp halting at Mysore for some time. I had my doubts about Manju's planning, cuz he was always known for pulling it off the last minute. Saturday dawned pretty early for me when the alarm disturbed my sleep. I reached Manju's place and we started off from there to his office. I had my own doubts about being part of this trip, mainly since I was the odd man in the entire group of manju's company folks.

After the initial handshakes and intros, we started towards Mysore. We were 8 of us including the hero at the wheels. He was always busy either driving or talking. He seems to know every other driver on earth. Either he would wave at them or curse them. Occasionally, I had to listen to his endless banter on driving and bland topics. We had a light meal at Kamats since Anju had invited us to her parent's place for breakfast. We reached Anju's place in Mysore around 11 am. Her parents and bro accorded us a warm welcome and made us feel at home. The house was home to love birds, a pair of daschunds-crystal and pluto, and antiques. There was a rifle stand which amazed us no end. There was a pair of swords, bravery medals, and a grandfather's clock as well. Now this clock surprisingly was not an antique, but made-to-order. It can always be passed as an original to the gullible page 3 people though :-). We bid our gracious hosts goodbye, after savoring authentic Coorgi dishes and hot coffee. All along the route, Irfan slept occasionally before a hump or a pothole disturbed his sleep.

We hit the Hunsur road leading to Coorg. The bumpy road seemed less strainful since we all crooned some popular hindi songs. On the way, we stopped for some ever tender elneeru or tender coconut water. Nandroling monastery and the famous golden temple was our next stop. This place is in Bylakuppe, a Tibetan settlement camp near Kushalnagar. The next one hour was spent inside the temple and the surrounding environs. It was, as if we are in a Buddhist country and no longer in India. The paintings and the architecture kept us spell bounded and the place was clean and well maintained except for the washrooms. Manju captured every moment of the temple with his new handycam. We reached Dubare- an elephant breeding camp that also doubles up with cottages for tourists along the river Cauvery. Unfortunately, we missed the elephant ride since the time was over. Yogitha was sad since she was excited about riding an elephant. Finally we were lucky enough to view an elephant feeding on what appeared like a raagi mudde. We spent some time there and after some snacks we started our journey towards B'lore.

It was 7 pm and the road was pretty dark and we started the return back home. After some time, the vehicle stuttered to a halt and we realized that we had run out of fuel. The ever-tense manju was seen somber and I had to calm him down. We were lucky enough to get some fuel and we started again towards Bangalore. En route, we stopped at Greens for dinner. The place resembled a Victorian building replete with a big lawn. The weather forced me to down a peg of vodka with hot water. It helped me stay warm all along the drive back. We reached B'lore around 2 am in the morning and dropped everyone home. The long day ended at 3 am and it was a good outing away from the usual grind in the city. I was definitely wrong about thinking myself as staying an odd man. I gained good friends and a good day out. Until I write long.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dugappana Katte and leeches!

I am back from my 3-day trip to Kalasa and nearby places in the Malnad region of Karnataka, more known for nature, coffee, spices, and the people's hospitality. I now add leeches for a different kind of hospitality that they provide :-).

The sunday started with a visit to the temple and then to the amazing Hanumangudi falls near Kudremukh. I strongly advise people to take an extra pair of inner clothes and towel so that you do not miss the dip in the water there. The falls reach the ground from a height of 50 feet only but it the intensity and the force that makes you stay there for long.

We reached our hotel at around 4 pm and after a late lunch we planned on the Maidaddi view point. One of the locals, told us that this place is "infested" with leech at this point of time and that we try Dugappana katte instead. We decided on this katte place. Technically katte is the kannada word for the spot below a tree or benches where people idly sit around gossiping about the daily grind. It is a term more fondly remembered by guys who sit around dragging a single cigarette amongst themselves or sharing a by-two tea and buns during the much awaited coffee breaks during college. My katte was the malayalee kaaka bakery near my PESIT college and the katte opposite to Cool Joint when in PU. So we reach the foothill of this place at around 5 pm and take the path made flat by people and animals that go up the hill.

After a weary day we were looking forward for a relaxing stay at the hill top and viewing the town from there. These days, fresh air in Bangalore is at a premium. All set we start the climb. Remember we are without any trek gear except for the clothes and the footwear since this place is near to the town and that we are only staying there for a short time. On the way when we walked for around 300 meters, one of my friends let out a yell. We all close in and notice that a slimy creature, that is an inch tall is making its way up my friend's foot. Then we realized that it was a leech; the kind that thrives on blood and rather very enthusiastically.

We looked around only to be welcomed by hordes of leeches that were surrounding us. They were all sticking up the ground. We then decided to walk fast and never give these creatures a chance to suck our blood. The worst part was that, these leeches do not sting, let alone a prick, to make you feel that someone is hurting you. We started walking briskly and followed the path, stopping very regularly to ward off the leeches. We reached the peak, and lost no time capturing a few moments of our journey at the top, and started our descent around 5:30 pm. I specifically remember the time lines cuz they are very important in this tryst.

Our walk back was busy looking for leeches. We were so engrossed about the leeches, that we missed the path that we took. We kept on walking along the ledges that we never realized that we are on the wrong track. We kept walking until we thought that this was not the path we took early. By this time, leeches were happily enjoying their sunday meal and around 2 leeches were busy helping themselves to my O+ blood. The very sight of those creatures made me wiggle. I carefully removed them off my feet and there were blood specks on my toes and feet. One fat leech stuck itself deep into my friend's foot that we had to remove it after lighting a match near the foot. Probably it was a spinster I guess ;). Keshava- your gf in your previous birth :)

The time is now 5:45 pm and we have reached a point of no return. We had around 30-40 minutes before daylight ends and the nightlife would start in that region. Wonder if the Smirnoff guys had any clue when they came out with their caption--life is calling...where are you? With a box of matches and nothing else we had to face the night if we were further stuck there. Some guys started to panic, and one friend regularly yelled for help. We could not miss the laugh when he kept yelling for help. All our navigational skills were now put to use. Some guys came up with tossing the coin.

Finally we retraced our route and reached the point where we faced two paths. We now took the other part and lo and behold! we saw our vehicle after walking for 300 m itself. It was 6:10 pm now :-). The next 15 minutes was spent removing and checking our footwear, socks and one guy took off his track pants too to check if there was any leech. I guess the airport security too would have felt medieval in comparison to our check. All exhausted we reached our rooms and ended the day driving back to B'lore. I am sure every person who reached the point of return had a prayer on his lips seeking the Almighty's help.

I hope to add the pics as and when I get them.

Till the next time, I hope the lost blood is replenished by now :)