Friday, July 27, 2007

Vindaloo Masala

I decided to go eat on my own for a change at my newly discovered Mr India restaurant down the road from my house.

See, when you go and eat Indian food with non-Indians, you don't get the real stuff. Things are modified, especially spice wise, so that customers don't run to the bathroom holding their stomachs or leave with smoke coming out of their ears.

"Namaste Madam," says Ramu the Bangladeshi dude as I enter, and asks me in Hindi if I was expecting anyone to join me.

"How did you know I was Indian and spoke Hindi?," I ask.

"Madam, you come here often, we know our people," he says.


I order a chicken vindaloo, garlic naan and a King Fisher beer.

"Very good madam, I will make it apna style (our style)," he says.

Yippee. Finally a good authentic meal was on my way, my mouth was watering already.

After watching 6 Best of Aishwarya hits on the telly in the restaurant, my fragrant chicken vindaloo arrived with a steaming garlic naan and chilled beer.

The first bite was heaven. The spicy and hot curry touched my taste buds like they haven't been touched in a while.

Mum, I missed your curry; dad and bro, you would have loved this.

But, it seemed to get spicier by the bite.

The more I ate, the more my mouth burned, the more it blistered my throat, and later my ears began steaming, and shortly after it seemed to start scorching out through my eyes.

My beer was long over, and I couldn't taste the food anymore. I was stung badly by this chilly.

I started to feel dizzy as the spice molecules accumulated and aggravated my palate.

"Madam, are you ok?" asks Ramu.

"This is killing me. What have you put in this!?" I ask.

"Madam, you are one of us. I told Harvindarji (the chef) to make it as if he was making it for himself. Maybe you cannot handle it, let me take it back and add some yogurt and make it mild for you."

What was happening? Where had my taste buds gone? Was I losing them to Madrid? I don't want to turn into those 'firangs' who cannot handle chilly. But how could that be? I am...(well was...) queen of eating chilly.

It was intolerably spicy and I bet even Harvindarji wouldn't have been able to eat it.

Well, that's the story I'm going with anyway.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

An uncategorisable relationship...

He doesn't affect my current life in any way, yet I think of him everyday. I would love to see him, yet do not crave it.

I remember vividly every conversation, every chat, every outing I have had with him.

I wake up sometimes and smile because I remembered something he said to me, maybe 5-years ago. I have messages and emails saved from ages ago. Just because.

I take refuge in whatever little time I have spent with him. It has all been pure, expectationless and nurtured little by little.

Not seeing him often has not distanced me - as physically being in his presence has been the least part of the relationship. He has always managed to move me in some way.

I have seen him strong, overpowering, overwhelming; charismatic and fierce.

I have also seen him weak and crawl into his shell.

Although only momentarily, I have seen him discouraged and defeated.

I have seen him exposed as he narrates to me nothing but the naked truth - a vulnerable side, that has only increased my respect for him.

I have learnt from him, been encouraged by him and pushed by him.

I used to be this silly little girl trying to be around him, hungry for guidance, lacking self-confidence.

Today, somehow I cannot recall feeling more like a woman but around him.

I'm not sure what I have with him, yet I don't fear losing it, as I believe I never will.

It's not love, yet somehow it's been unconditional - at least from my end.

It's not an affair - not emotional, or physical. Never has been, never will be.

Perhaps I'm living in my own bubble that will see this relationship in no other way.

I have no fucking clue; that's why I love it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Book Review: Freakonomics

I was elated when I found this book at the airport in Sweden. A regular reader of their blog, I've had my mind on this book for a while; the one copy left at the shop made me feel like it was meant for me.

As the name suggests, it's about freak(y) economics. It takes the relatively dry subject of economics and sexes it up by using it to explain interesting, most random yet totally valid questions.

For eg: Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? Why do drug dealers live with their mums? Does your name effect your success in life? How crime rates and abortion are directly related...What do school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? things like this.

It's written by crazy economist Steven Levitt who in his university days hated calculus and wasn't particularly clued onto conventional economic theory. But his attention to detail, ability to ask great questions and analyze data in ways that just didn't occur to others, is what made it all happen. A Harvard graduate and an economics professor at University of Chicago, he was recently listed as one of the '100 People Who Shape Our World' by Time Magazine.

The Freakonomics idea sprouted when Stephen J Dubner, award-winning author and journalist who regularly writes for the NY Times and The New Yorker (and who was first published at the age of 11!), interviewed Levitt for the NY Times. With Levitt's crazy economic thinking ability and Dubner's writing expertise - voila, you have the book Freakonomics.

Written in lay man's language, it's an easy and intriguing read - and made me go 'what?!' more than a few times.

However, the only problem with the book is how it is a bit too disjointed. Filled with lines and lines of fascinating conclusions, as the information intelligently rolls off one after the other, it's not difficult to wonder how when you were reading about onions, how you are now reading about pig's ears (metaphorically speaking, of course).

I read most of the chapters with ease and perpetual curiosity, just wanting to know where he is going with his theories, but there was the odd chapter that dragged on way too much, and the odd chapter I skipped after reading a few pages.

It's written very sincerely though, and its bonus material at the end was my favourite.

The stuff you will read in the book will probably not affect your life in any significant way(as it says); you will not necessarily agree with his analysis, but nor will you be able to challenge it.

But, what it does do, and why it is worth reading, is because it will (as it says) encourage you to challenge conventional wisdom eg what we read every day in newspapers, or hear on the news. It encourages you to use your intuition and instincts to think beyond what you see on the surface, because most of the time what we see or hear, is not necessarily true.

Start off by reading this interview of Levitt by Dubner in the NY Times; it's a super prelude and summary of the concept of Freakonomics. If you enjoy the interview, you will enjoy the book.

Map Madrid

So in my attempt to write as much as possible, and get exposure as much as possible, and network as much as possible, I have started to contribute to Map Madrid - a cool Madrid based cultural, social, political and simply fun website.

I was lucky with my first piece, as they chose to feature something from my blog I had written last year - one of my favourite pieces actually - check it out here.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Friday the 13th

I fly to Paris tomorrow: on Friday the 13th. A detail I only realised a few days ago.

For those who are wondering what the big deal is, Friday the 13th is known to be the most unlucky day in the world. I forget why, and honestly I couldn't care less to find out.

I'm not superstitious at all, but there's something with this date that allows something uncomfortable to linger in your mind.

(Random recollection: many buildings in India don't have a 13th floor because the number is considered so unlucky that real estate agents never manage to sell apartments on that floor! Now how's that for super superstition!)

Anyway, good news is that in Spain it's Tuesday the 13th that is deemed fatal - so I suppose I'm in the clear.

Lot's of posts in the backlog, am back Sunday night - stay tuned.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Movie Review: Cheeni Kum**

So India seems to be in this whole 'let's talk about taboo or unconventional subjects, that'll give us a hit' mood - and voila, we have Cheeni Kum.

{FYI: I've found a little Bollywood video club close to home, and was ecstatic to see that they had the latest (though fake) films, but no problem - as long as it's watchable I don't give a shit about piracy}

Anyway, 64-year old hottie Amitabh Bachchan falls in love with 34-year old Tabu. Big controversy. Tabu's father Paresh Rawal goes on a hunger-strike in protest. That was all of his role, quite an insult to his talent actually. Bachchan gives him some super filmi dialogue. They get married. That's all it was and it was 2-hours 20 minutes long.

Very average film with mediocre script that didn't do much justice to the film's superb actors. The humour was cheesy and the small details in the film were overthought:- e.g. Tabu asks Bachchan to run to the closest tree and back to see if he has stamina to do more than touch her hand. HUH?

I found the side-kick with bad teeth called 'Colgate' the funniest part of the film. Oh and I couldn't keep my eyes off Bachchan's pigtail. It was the ugliest and most distracting pigtail I have ever seen. Why did they have to give him a puny pigtail?

There is a cute little girl in the film called 'sexy'. 9-years old, she plays Bachchan's best friend and is dying of cancer. In the beginning I thought it was a well thought out detail of the film, but it bypassed all the nerves and died (literally) too soon.

The scenes were trying too hard to be funny. Tabu's pet name was Tangdi Kebab, and Bachchan's Ghasspoos. Funny. Bachchan did manage to pull it off gracefully though, and looks good.

Tabu had the corniest dialogues and too many scenes walking as if she was doing a Sunsilk commercial; Zohra Segal who plays Bachchan's mother was typically Zohra Segal so she was a joy to watch.

Thank God there was no kissing scene, I would have barfed.

Oh and I forgot to mention a very important character in the film: Bachchan's umbrella. The movie has more umbrella than song, can you believe it?

Other than the focus on Paresh Rawal being a diabetic, and Tabu finding the rice in Bachchan's restaurant too sweet, I didn't quite get the sence of the film's 'less sugar' name either.

Hmmm. I can't help thinking I missed the plot of the film. The message was interesting and valid, especially for an Indian society, but it's depiction was pretty lame.

Wait for the DVD to come out - and that too only if you fancy some cooking tips (Bachchan is a famous Chef in the film), but otherwise it's quite a waste of time.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I've got the giggles...

...the unacceptable, annoying, need-to-be-slapped type giggles.

Anything anyone says to me: be it about Carlota's new diet plan where she will loose 10 kilos in 5 weeks, or Linus is ill because of inhailing too much smoke from when his house caught fire, or how Maria's day at work was shit because Raul spat in her face, to Stephen's travel plans, or my student explaining to me how to cook duck in wine - I cannot not feel like laughing. If not laughing, I have a perpetual smirk on my face that I feel like slapping myself.

And this has been going on for atleast a month now. Thank goodness for being able to perpetually bite my lips. Pretty pathetic really.

The most problem is with people I know well, especially my flatmates - I'm definitley getting a shouting or a slap from one of them soon.

And the bigger problem is, I don't know what is causing this adolescent behaviour on my part. There is nothing funny about what anyone is saying to me. Infact, the more serious something seems to be, the more I want to fart a laugh.

When they talk, everything turns into a caricature style comic and my imagination starts running wild, and I can't take anything seriously.

This has happened to me before, but never for more than a day or two.

I keep telling myself it's a phase. Whatever it is, it needs to stop. NOW.

Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening? Locations of visitors to this page