Clouds on the horizon

Hello I am Mr. Selvamani, and this is a normal hot, humid, filter coffee scented morning, reporting to you live from Madras. I work in the meteorology department. Not he one who deal with meteors, aah no no. We deal with temperature both in celsius and in fahrenheit. Also with rain and the absence of it. I was the one who pressed the button for the sirens when the tsunami hit last to last year. I could also be asked to present the weather section of the evening news bulletin, if Lord Subramanium answers my prays.

The intro aside I would like to get into the main issue here. Today morning when I came into office and was reading my emails, peon Thambi came and announced that two people urgently want to meet me. I asked them to come in. They entered. One of them was middle aged, whereing a white joobaah, what you call a kurti in hindi. And a white gold edged dhoti. He was also wearing a pretty heavy gold chain on his meaty neck. The slight smile on his face made my apprehension disappear. The other guy was young and thickly muscled, and was wearing a maroon lungi with multicolored flowers. His shirt was open halfway down showing lush hairy vegetation.

“Ghung goon ghoon”, said the young man.

Why tell me, I said.

“Ghung goon ghoon goon”, said the young man, looking at the elder man, who nodded wisely.

This morning would be hard, I thought. How can I explain these simple folk of the vagaries of global warming. Of what harm their brothers and sisters had done to mother nature through the centuries.

Nowadays it is easier to forecast the winner of IPL, than to predict the rains, I thought. Sometimes we pick a card from a deck we have. That deck has various combinations ranging from humid, slightly sunny to extremely wet with knee deep rains. But how can I tell that to these men, who have such faith in my oracular powers.

“Ghung goo goo goo” this time the elder man said. To which I woke up and found myself staring out the window at a city pigeon.


Selvan dropped in today, with the April newspaper bill. While he was doing the calculation for my trip ridden month, I offered him the besan ke laddoos, mom had sent. He refused, embarrassed, at his own behavior.
‘I don’t have sugar’, he said.
‘Not even in tea – coffee. Started doing this since around 40 years, and I am 50 now. I work as much as a 20 year old.’
‘I just have sookha roti with sabji with no oil, and 4 idlis in the morning.’
I was a little dumbfounded to reply, soaking it all in.
‘Why so sweaty?’, he asked.
‘Just cycled from Jayamahal.’ I said.
‘I have seen you many times, in Neelasandra, Austin town.. It is good..very good.’
‘I was also cycling to Hosur till 10 years back. 80 kms a day. I was then in the courier service. Also dropped newspapers on my cycle. Got this moped 5 years back, as it was getting difficult, more because of the growing urgency. Zyaada paper daalna toh zyada zaldi daalna.’
‘165 Rupees sir’.
Leejiye sir 165.
‘Kuch zaroorat pade toh call kariye sir’

P.S. Selvan is around 5’6, weighs around 80kgs, and I am pretty sure can dhobhi pachad all you facebooking ppl.

Fictional Book Covers

I have always wanted to design book covers. One way to go about it is to create an alternate cover for an already existing book. A famous book which many people have read. So it is easier to determine whether that cover captures the exact emotions of the entire book. On the other hand is to dream up a title to a fictional book, and then design its cover. I will be doing this project at least once every week, and will always keep the publisher as Baby Sloth Publishers. The image used in this cover has been taken by me, and will try to use my own pictures in the future as well.

Feedback is very welcome, and other designers are welcome to join in.

Movie Posters – 1

You would have to look at the two posters beneath carefully, for the discussion ahead.

Do you see a marked similarity in the two visual styles? Do you find this style very different from the normal bollywood style? I find both the fonts reminiscent of hand painted ‘special signage’. Now hand painted signage has almost vanished from the major cities and metros. Due to cheap printing technology which have reached this places, you can get digital control over the final output, rather than depending on the whims and fancies of the sign painter. And being cheap is not a small deal.  But small towns where these printing has just begun to sprung, hand painted signs are still widely seen.Also apart from the hand painted signs, the bling everywhere, with lights and the wannabe glitz. As I have seen subtlety is not a forte of the small emerging towns. Globalization has brought its affects even to these towns with every alternate house having a son or a daughter working for a big IT company in Bangalore. Uncles chat around the milking gwala at the local dairy about how their son has just sent 10 lacs from US. Definitely bling is in.

Another similarity between the two films seem to be newly launched Hero/Heroine. If both these assumptions are correct that would lead to the conclusion that this was intentionally done; so that the producers wanted to target small towners. These small towners might be residing in big cities earning their livelyhoods, but that doesn’t change much.

Does anyone know how to find how much a movie made at the box office in different areas? If these movies (one of them yet to be released) made more money in the smaller towns, then these assumptions will stand true. What do you think about these thoughts pulled out of my non existent hat.

If you are interested in movie posters, check out these posters – Agneepath, Singham and the minimal bollywood posters movement going on here.

Ayurveda through Painting

Got this pic and the following info from . The yellow pigment in the painting has been created using the urine of mango fed cows. Though it says just mango, I am pretty sure it is ripe mangoes. Ripe mangoes are high in pitta. The fire element. Yellow in color. And since cow urine is considered sattvic, it can still be used in painting which is considered a sacred art. This is an example of a non-health application of ayurveda.

Royal Victory

It took me 5 mins to figure what the cubicles where for, what the numbers meant in the TV. 10 mins more to make an approximation of the probable winner, based on the past data from a pink pamphlet. Had purchased the pamphlet from an old man just outside the gate for Rs 10. Got into the wrong queue meant for the high rollers. It would be Royal Victory numbered 2, with an odds of 21/10 for me.

A few minutes later all eyes turned towards the TV screen. Number 2 was leading. A few seconds later, I had won 310 on by bet of Rs 100 (+15 for tax).

On my way back to my bike I was chased and stopped by a plump middle aged guy. “Could you give me 20 bucks for my bus fare home?” I smiled and said, “Please No”.
“But I lost all my money in the race.”

I smiled and kept walking. Walk home and learn the lesson, I thought.

A one pot Warming Recipe for the Winters

The suggested amount is sufficient for two people with decent appetites :).I had it all myself.

  1. 3 Green chillies sliced lengthwise
  2. a Thumbnail sized piece of ginger finely diced
  3. One onion diced
  4. 5 black pepper (use more if you like it spicier. In fact black peppers act more like landmines, compared to red chilli, which is more of a poison gas)
  5. One cup broken wheat (daliya)
  6. One cup dal (I used Toor/Tuvar/Arhar Dal, feel free to use any)
  7. Half Teaspoon of Jeera (cumin)
  8. Half a teaspoon of turmeric (haldi)
  9. A little bit of heeng
  10. Half a teaspoon of salt (or according to taste)


Heat a small amount of oil in a vessel (I used a pressure cooker, so all the cooking is in that). Use oil according to your habits. With too less oil there would be chances of the ingredients getting singed.
When the oil is hot, add the jeera. Then the black peppers and heeng. A moment later add the green chillies and the diced ginger. After you see that the oil has all these flavors (typically a few minutes), add in the diced onion.

Fry this for a while. When the onion pieces are no longer crunchy add half a teaspoon of haldi and the heeng. Fry all this for a while, till the onions get brown. Then add in the dalia and the dal.

Fry all this for a while. Keep stirring, till you feel enough is enough. Then add water. How much water depends on how  you want the final consistency and the vessel you are using to cook. Here is the decision point in your path. Do you want it to be like a biryani, or, a khichdi meant for a convalescing prince. I used a pressure cooker and added 5 cups (use the same cups for the main stuff and the water, till you can eyeball
it). I kept the flame at high till one whistle then brought the flame to medium. Next whistle, I shut the flame. It gave me a consitency of toothpaste when mashed.

What do you think of the name Daldalia for this dish, as the final consistency is very similar to a slimy Daldal (swamp).

I added some boiled eggs on top of the Daldaliya, for added measure. This is a high protein, fibre dish which is great for heating you up in the winters.

And tell me how it tasted, if you decide to cook it.

Google’s ‘being Social’ problems

I received an email in my gmail account, saying that a person has added me to their (google+)circle. The subject is “XYZ dded you on Google+”.Here XYZ stands for the name. Now I go into my mental database and think of all the people with that name. The email next says that I can add him to my circle as well. Then as an afterthought it tells me that I don’t have to. It also gives me this link, which tells me further about what a circle is and how it can make my life better.

Now where can I go and see who this person is? I don’t see his name as a link anywhere. Later I realized that the image is a link to that person’s profile. They are so involved with their own devised feature (the circle) that they forgot to add a proper link to that person’s profile. Also their seems to be an assumption that I would not be inclined to add that person into my circle if I did not know him beforehand. At the very least the name (XYZ) in this line “Follow and share with XYZ by adding him to a circle” should have been a link.

What would you do when you see one of your friend’s pic in your gtalk list with the head section cropped off? Most of you I would guess might want to see the full picture. That is how the profile pic interaction works across the internet. In fact at some places that small aspect is also used to push people to signup. Case in point being twitter, where only signed up users can view full profile pictures. When you click on a thumbnail of a profile picture you expect a full size picture.

But google thinks most people want to change the picture. In fact they have thought about this feature so much that it has two parts. For friends who have not added any picture, I can add pictures as well. So it clearly is not a lack of thought. I think it is a very individualistic view of seeing things. Being social is not changing another person’s profile pic for our own view, but to maybe suggest the person to change the picture. Which is what happens elsewhere, “change the bloody picture, it has been there since ages”. Ever seen that?

The good point about this is, you can stop getting scared of google taking over the world :D.

Shahi Toast

It was a yin-yang morning. With the clouds and the sun playing the eternal game. I was upto one of my DIY projects when I smelled the divine smell of something frying in ghee. A smell that would make any real foodie go weak in their knees. My mom was making ‘shahi toast’. The thing being fried was white bread. After being crisply fried it was immersed in a wide shallow thali in a sweetened cream, and left their to drown. After a few hours the labyrinth of the stiff wheat dough has been completely invaded, changing its nature closer to that of a gulab jamun. In texture it even beats gulab jamun, as it has the burnt sides which are thicker and have a different gradient of the sweet cream.
A salute to the person who thought of using a firang brought concept of bread for an indian sweet.

p.s. Shahi Toast is also called Shahi Tukda, or the Double Ka Meetha. Double ka Meetha gives it a James Bond of the sweets world sound.