Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Travelling by taste-bud

In Culture, Food, Musings on March 15, 2011 at 9:03 am

One of the nicer perks of being in, or having a parent or spouse in academia is the opportunity to meet and befriend people from cultures, ethnicities and nationalities very different from your own. If a major purpose of university education is to ‘open up’ a person’s mind to possibilities hitherto unexplored –  whether in the realm of subatomic particles, or the reinterpretation of obscure pre-modern philosophy (take your pick really! Its all there, mostly funded by your tax money thank you 🙂 ) – then, being part of a really diverse mix of people really aids that process in subtle and beautiful ways.

The icing on this knowing-diverse-people cake has to be the part where you get invited to someone’s house for a meal to taste ‘their’ cuisine, or when they bring you back a little something from their trips back home.

A quick example of how this process has worked to make the grey matter swell in our crania : Rosolje (ROS-OL-YE — ‘Ros’- like Rose, the flower; ‘ol’- like ‘ole’ in ‘hole’; and’ je’ like ‘ye’ in ‘yesterday’)

Pretty Pink!

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Should you flip a frittata?

In Food, Musings on December 31, 2010 at 3:47 pm

This cold and lazy (cozy?) winter’s morning, found us waking up to New-Year’s-eve pressure, not having any exciting plans for the last day of 2010.  By the time noon came around, we had resigned to the prospect of watching fireworks at midnight with a friendly hand-out of oliebollen at the town square. But getting to that conclusion had us ravenously hungry. Which is when we decided on making a frittata for brunch. What is a frittata you ask? Like all good bloggers, we could link you to wikipedia, but will suffice by saying that its a ginormous omelette with stuff in it!

The recipe we decided to adopt is this one for a spinach and potato frittata. Every thing proceeded according to plan more or less (the potatoes cooked readily, the spinach and garlic additions added wonderful aroma and texture, and the eggs and milk made a fluffy cloud of appetizing goodness – the latter a sight I had never seen before). And then popped the question – which will surely bother you too if you enter the frittata fray – should I flip the darn thing? If yes, HOW??

Frittata : Flipped, and Un-flipped

Frittata : Flipped, and Un-flipped

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Latei, Amsterdam

In Culture, Food on September 26, 2010 at 7:44 pm

We first heard about Latei through the underwater amsterdam website. In their “events” section, on the weekend they mentioned (not anymore!) organic Indian thali meals for a decent price (Euros 8-12). We were mildly interested at that point and decided that we could check it out when we went to Amsterdam. A little more surfing closer to an actual trip revealed excellent reviews of the place and especially their “home-style” Indian food.

With relatives visiting us, we had the perfect excuse to check out Latei, while showing them around Amsterdam. The restaurant is located at Zeedijk 143, fairly close to Amsterdam Centraal and the Dam.

Having got somewhat dubious directions, the search for Latei was interesting too – the tram dropped us off at Amsterdam Centraal from where we walked past the sex-museum, into the heart of the Red-light district, where bakery windows choc-a-block with baked delicacies are tightly packed in line with windows offering other kinds of temptations…past ironies like ‘Kamasutra Indian restaurant’ offering ‘Pure Vegetarian Thali’, Police on horseback, and children in strollers part of a ‘special red-light area tour’.

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10 Questions

In Books, Language on March 27, 2010 at 7:24 pm

10 questions (mostly boring) for my favourite writer.

How old are you now?
I’m approaching 80. I don’t care about age very much. I think back to the old people I knew when I was growing up, and they always seemed larger than life.

The Royal Swedish Academy has made some bizarre choices for its coveted award in the past decade. Before they totally lose it, hope they can squeeze in one for him – can’t think of many living writers who’d be more deserving.

मिल बाँट कर

In Food, Images, India, Urban Life on August 4, 2009 at 10:03 pm


These lovely little girls reminded me of that wonderful time in life, when the ‘recess’ was the highlight of my day, and ‘whats in your dabba’ was the favorite game to play 🙂

It also made me think of how sharing food – cooking and eating is what I love to do with friends….

Quick Gun Murugan?

In Culture, Images, India, Urban Life on August 4, 2009 at 9:14 pm


Mind it 🙂


One of the million reasons I love my India : Customization is not a prerogative of the rich, and ‘designer’ is pretty much anyone on the street

Tom Swifties or Desi Twisties??

In Language on June 7, 2009 at 7:18 pm

This entry on Schott’s Vocab Blog in the New York Times has been reason for the biggest laughs we’ve laughed recently. The ‘weekend contest’ that accompanies the blog inviting readers to share their own seems to have been a huge success with eighty eight pages of comments and counting…..

According to the blog:

“Tom Swifties” are curious puns that monkey with the description of reported speech for comic effect. For example:

“I manufacture table tops,” said Tom counterproductively.
“Who discovered radium?” asked Marie curiously.
“Just parsley, sage and rosemary,” said Tom timelessly. (…)

(The credit for this linguistic frippery is usually given to the prolific writer and publisher Edward L. Stratemeyer, who was responsible for the Tom Swift series of adventure novels.)

In the midst of all the laughing, we tried to come up with some of our own incorporating a uniquely indian flavour.  Yes , you are more more likely to get them if you’re Indian or at least an indophile. One of the joys of being bilingual (multilingual!) is that it gives you a wider palette of words to play with. Read on…and join in the fun! Read the rest of this entry »

Not-So-Random Images

In cartoons, Culture, Environment, Images, India on May 15, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Our friend Sifar, in addition to her many talents, is a remarkable observer of life.  Reading the tack-board in her living room is something I look forward to, every time I visit. Email lets me have the good fortune of getting some of those snippets in my inbox from time to time 🙂

She recently forwarded me these cute, educational Eco-doodles (just a name I made up) that led to the discovery of the whole series drawn by Prof. Hiroshi Takatsuki on the  ‘Japan for Sustainability’ website.

cartoon by prof. hiroshi takatsuki

high moon

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In Food, India, photos on May 7, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Wheat being picked over to remove impurities - chaff and stones

Wheat being picked over for impurities and stone bits


The Romance of the Nation-State: Ashis Nandy

In Culture, Politics on May 6, 2009 at 4:28 pm

On a recent Sunday afternoon,  I accidentally stumbled upon  the video of a lecture  Ashis Nandy gave at the New School ca. 2007. The video (among the best talks I’ve heard lately) is available here.

Nandy, considered to be among the most important contemporary thinkers in India, deals with the idea of the Nation-State and the ideology of Nationalism.

The central insight from the talk : All ideologies are similar in their disdain for the purported beneficiaries of that ideology: Marxists bemoan the proletariat’s lack of revolutionary zeal, feminists don’t like women, nationalists decry the lack of nationalist sentiment in people, so on and so forth. Using the case of Savarkar, Nandy expatiates wonderfully upon this theme.

The question-answer session towards the end is great fun: Nandy is in full flow, expounding  on everything from culture (and the narrow ways in which the nation-state insists it survives) to cuisine and democracy ( how it is inimical to the nationalist’s agenda) to Devdas !

On display is one of India’s finest intellectuals; as lacking in pedantry as he is rich in unique insights and observations of contemporary Indian life.

Check it out!