Monday, March 05, 2012

Memoirs of Cookery Contest :)

Well, listening to the emotional melodrama of the participants and the hosts of Master Chef today, it appeared more like any other matinee show than a reality contest. But that didn't stop me from watching. Looking at me nobody would consider me a foodie, and neither I enter my kitchen daily, but there's one thing...when browsing through channels, if I ever came across Khana Khazana, Mallika-E-Kitchen, or anything remotely food, I couldn't help pausing! Hope this theory bit helps when I need to apply this for practical use.

Nonetheless, I have always been experimenting with food, ever since I got deprived of mom's delicacies and entered my hostel. By and large my mess was good, but any-day I would prefer to cook a two-minute Maggi than eat that poisonous 'baigan ki sabji'. And so started the trails to every affordable eating outlet in the city, trying out unknown unseen dishes. And one fine day, with the moral support of my flat-mates, started attempting to cook exotic dishes. So what if it was intended to be 'singhade ki poori' and we ended up eating 'baigan ki pakori', it taught me the art of defect resolution! So much of it, that I can safely call myself a self-proclaimed chef.

So when this cookery contest came up during our cultfest Saarang, I couldn't help putting my foot in it. Guess it was more an urge to meet one of the most famous Indian chefs - none other than Sanjeev Kapoor. And that was my closest real life Master Chef moment!

The rules of the game were simple: selecting one of the three categories - fast food, health food or sweet dish; no heating on flame; just a quick preparation accompanied with a write-up. So we were led to the assortment of the ingredients - what seemed to contain everything under the sun! And hence everyone geared up to prepare something divine to titillate the taste-buds of the judges.

It was one of those Alice in Wonderland occasions. Even before we could take a proper look, and think of what to cook, half the time was over. So we had to rush through picking up whatever we could lay our hands on. Without a particular dish in mind, our task now reduced to churning our basket of items into a concoction of something edible! And we could finally narrow down to one choice - the evergreen 'bhel'. The scene on the other tables was something similar - somebody asking how to cook, somebody secretly borrowing an item from the neighbor that they forgot to pick, some guys crying over chopped onions the way they would never have cried over a blank answer-sheet! Amidst all this, suddenly came a warning-bell, and everybody rushed to complete, decorate, choose a fancy name and prepare an elaborate write-up sounding like a gourmet. Now was the difficult time for the judges. Could see the panic on their face, trying out dishes of the amateur cooks, many of whom had even forgotten to wash the raw food!

The result surprised the makers and the takers alike. A fruit-juice that was popularly nick-named 'quinine' by the junta had won, but then it literally qualified for a 'health drink' :) And even though we couldn't brag a prize, our hour-long effort was gulped and wiped within a minute by the audience. Twas our only claim to fame :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

PEST Analysis of V-day :)

‘Paralysis by Analysis’, well this is what can be expected with an MBA degree flowing in the veins!

Political: ‘All the world's a stage!’ not just Shakespeare believed that, but indeed the global political arena abounds with stories of love scandals rehearsed throughout history - JFK & Monroe, FDR & Mercer, Monicagate etc. And our own government is not way behind – from the early Edwina-Nehru controversy, to the latest news of ministerial involvement in the Bhanwari Devi episode. For some conservative religious groups, V-day provides a golden chance to play a few political stunts. And one can only imagine the extent to which some fundamentalist or terrorist organizations can go.

Economical: ‘Money can’t buy love, but it improves the bargaining position’, so said the Elizabethan tragedian. So much - for buying Tanishq jewelry, Archies gifts, Hallmark cards or Ferns N Petals’ roses. Commercial planters become pricey too, not because of increase in the production costs but because of the ruling law of demand vs. supply. During times of recession, Cupid defies the economy, providing the much-needed consumer spending on merchandise, movies and restaurants. Forbes India has estimated the average V-day costs to be a whopping Rs 3,600. With inflation in mind, some may think it’s pretty good to stay single.

Social: ‘For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird comyth there to choose his mate’. Blame Chaucer (Parliament of Fowls) for associating this day with romantic love, that now it’s largely not seen as a day for platonic love or friendship. Glorifications of Lord Kamadeva, sculptures of Khajuraho temples, demonstrate that in the archaic times the Indian culture embodied the importance of love. With the passage of time, some began to see V-day as cultural contamination. If that ‘chubby winged boy’ carries the bow and arrow, the goons carry the lathis and guns. Despite this, the youths fancy this pseudo-western tradition; that many a times it also gets converted into a phony, pretentious, commercialized day. For unoccupied people, there is 24x7 media & entertainment, sensationalizing the lovey-dovey crap.

Technological: ‘Lord, I wonder what fool it was that first invented kissing?’, that may be Jonathan Swift’s opinion. Since then volumes have been written to demystify this science. Bio-physicists dissecting the anatomy of cheek-bones to discover the driving current, chemists testing the sucrose level of relationships and mathematicians propounding the associative law of V-day 14-02-12 = zero. Not to forget the evergreen engineers and their wealth of knowledge: from 'Why I Will Never Have a Girlfriend': an empirical AI research paper on the problems in securing a companion, to 'Cyberlover': the hackers designing robo-lovers phishing for information. And for those who simply and only want to increase their connections, there’s always ‘The Social Network’ to rely on.

Then some management gurus added another dimension to it:

Legal: ‘Once bitten, twice shy’, the idiom sounds a warning bell not to ignore the lawful power of love and be careful the first instance. At school people diligently swap the valentines, but at office it could be seen as a violation of the discrimination laws. In some places, the liquor laws can make the V-day blue for some. Then there’s betrayal or black-mail in various forms – MMS scandals, honor killings, sting operations. Further there’s the whole gamut of family laws covering everything from prenuptial agreement to alimony. And this march for fairness and equality culminated in legalizing marriages for LGBT community in some foreign countries.

To sum up, PEST (L) or SLEPT is the question: make V-day terrific with family and friends and enjoy a peaceful sleep; or do the reverse and make it terrible with hostility and detest a pestiferous world!
Further Readings:  
Slideshare: IEEE Paper - Why I don't have a girlfriend

(V-day wishes for my near n dear ones)

PS: Picture courtesy Google. 

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Festivities Galore :)

PS: Picture courtesy Google. 
May the New Year bring peace n leisure,
Fun, love, happiness n moments to treasure.
With each passing month, festivities galore,
Family, friends and new places to explore!

When the Sun transcends to Capricorn,
Fly kites, dance o’r bonfire n blow the horn.
Adorn in yellow on the very fifth day of spring,
Worship Saraswati for the knowledge she brings.

Wait for February, when Cupid strikes,
Shower ur Valentine with gifts n likes.
And those who are left aloof this season,
Pray on Shivratri for this mighty reason!

When festival of colors carries all in jolly mood,
Choose mud n bhang or gujiya n yummy food.
Rejoice the lunar year with your customs, ethnicity -
Gudipadwa, Navreh, Vishu, Bihu, Ugadi or Vaisakhi!

Jagran, bhajan, kirtans so soulful,
Make the Navratras so mirthful!
Friday is welcomed, this one's specially Good,
To try buns, berry, bakes, bacon or Easter food.

Again, May marks the month of Labor,
It’s time to work, and work with ardor.
The hot summers just pass in forlorn,
Except one day, when I was born :)

Before tying a Rakhi, claim your sweets n gift,
Breaking Dahi Handi? Beware or you go adrift!
Watch flag hoisting, to fill you with national fervor,
Florals, float-races, feasting make-up Onam festival.

In September, give your teachers the reverence,
And use your learning, to dazzle with brilliance.
Then comes Ganpati, bringing wisdom and good fortune,
Accompanied with modaks, processions, fanfare, festoon.

For the coming fortnight, Bengal comes alive for Pujo,
Like life’s only shopping, pandals, culturals, roshogullo!
And to witness the deity, in absolute glory n gaiety,
Must visit Mysore Dussehra in its beauty n majesty.

On Karvachauth, watch women fasting under full moon,
Come festival of lights, pray to Laxmi to grant you a boon.
Honor Sun God on Chhath, for bestowing bounties on earth,
Recite the hymns, relish the langar n rejoice Nanak’s birth.

December has come, when you hear jingle bells,
Decorate ur tree with candy cane, tinsel, jewels.
If you feel Indian festivals weren’t just enough,
Attend Winter Carnival on some foreign turf.

And for all the wonderful days in between,
There is picnic, parties, movies to be seen.
Finally, when all the celebration is done,
You’ll realize next year has already begun!
(My New Year Wishes) - Tanima