Friday, April 28, 2006

2 for 1

yesterday morning when i was quickly going through the 'midday' in my office,a small ad placed on top of the first page caught my attention. two meals for one it said. 2 for 1.' rajdhani' was inviting midday readers with this attractive offer.having been to rajdhani many years ago,and realising that i had no definite plans for lunch,it didn't take long for me to decide.i called my marketing chief on the intercom and suggested that we go out for lunch.he was quite thrilled.

rajdhani is located near crawford market. i had read in the papers about the huge arrivals of alphonso mangoes at crawford market and the drop in their prices.i jogged my memory to recall the name of the fruit vendor whom i had met about 6 months back and also whom i had covered in an article in dna.i had also written about him in my blog.the name came back in a flash.dasarath mane.our stock at home was over and i was going to kill two birds with one stone. 2 in 1.

we set off at 1.30 and within ten minutes of driving we were there. but then there was a huge rush. the owner was apologetic and requested us to hang around for some time. inside it was chocoblock.there was a nice canopy outside which gave us some shade against the strong sun. we waited for about twenty minutes for our call. we were ushered in fast to a twoseater. the thali appeared in no time and then the waiters descended with hot puris,rotis,dokla,bhajiya,kadi,et al. then came khichdi with ghee followed by aamras. the meal was thoroughly enjoyable. fast service,piping hot food,courteous waiters,good ambience,comfortable airconditioning and even a jug and bowl to wash your hands after your meal. all for rs 125/2=rs 62.5. not a bad deal.

good and heavy food has to be followed by a good digester.we had pan.kalkatta meetha from the paanwalla just outside. and it was time to call on dasarath mane.he was overjoyed to see me and quickly took out the best aapoos-four dozens of them and packed them nicely in a wooden caase.i trusted him so much that i didn't have to check the quality was all over in a breeze.the cost rs 700.he gave me a bit of advice.saab,please come again within the next four weeks.till then the quality will remain good and the prices too. come may end and the arrivals will start reducing and once the monsoon sets in it is finito for the year.

i felt elated.i had bought the best of mangoes,ratnagiri aapoos. s loves them too. only one fundamental precaution we take when we eat more than one. drink milk simultaneously .otherwise there could be a storm in the stomach!

arts & crafts exhibition at wtc

last saturday i was to meet l at about 4.30 in the afternoon at leela. we had a houseguest from hyderabad who had taken a stall at the 'times art and design fair 2006' which was being held from april 20th. and sunday was the last day. i decided to spend a few hours at wtc after working hours.being a half day the whole plan fitted in very well.

there is a big advantage in going to these see a plethora of products all in one location.the exhibitors try to showcase their best products and prices are much less than in their showrooms and always negotiable.honestly,i am quite fond of fact,if i have bought any object without bargaining,i find that i have missed out something.but,i had no plans to buy anything this time.s had warned me that if i buy any stuff for the house,something else had to go out.the law of reverse vaccum will have to operate. my only reason for attending this exhibition was to be courteous to our lady-guest and kill a few hours before taking off for leela to meet l.

some of these exhibitions turn into big jamborees.particularly the ones that are held at the bandra-kurla complex.batallions of families visit the stalls,they aimlessly wander,women with babes in their arm and generally overdressed move around as if there is a purpose in their visit. the food stalls attract more people than the exhibit stalls. the crowd is loud and the place gets suffocating. i tend to avoid such places .s likes to go once in a while just on the last day and pick up some artefacts at very good prices.

this time though the crowd was limited,the visitors were generally serious,and the airconditioning was working,which made my short stay very comfortable.there were furniture stalls displaying ancient carved windows,antiques etc,tanjore paintings, bridal wear,crystal ware,crockery and cutlery,bronze and copper figures of gods and goddesses,temples for pooja rooms,designer and ethnic jewellery,designer sarees,kolkata kantha sarees,chandeliers,sculptures,stained glass art, terra cotta,tousseau etc etc. i visited our guest's stall(mystique designs) and i was quite impressed with the products she was marketing. it was flora art. it is an art form where natural flora and fauna are used to create portraits,lampshades,tableware,picture frames a technology called 'potting'. the freshness and originality of the colour are preserved for ever with a resin.

there were framed real flowers,bowls and dinner plates made out of real plaintain leaves, aestheticlly shaped tumblers and a melonshaped iceflask. the technology was developed by a scientist from sri lanka and it continues to remain a secret. the old man is alive and will not part with the technology. the original flowers,leaves,barks of trees remain as they were when they were plucked or removed.there is a chemical process involved to maintain the original colour,an anti fungal treatment and a physical process of creating a vaccum in between two fiber glass plates where the flower or leaf or bark is placed thereby not allowing any oxygen to go in,application of resin under the influence of infrared light and then sealing it to keep the object in its original state for eternity. the resin is manufactured only in germany,fibre glass sheets in belgium and the corse fibre used in the frames in australia .that is called globalisation! i decided to buy a fruit bow,a large plaintainleaf plate,small plates and tumblers.

i then picked up two sets of foldable wooden chairs and stools from a furniture stall.they were cute.i sat on them and found them comfortable,lifted them to see whether they were very heavy and keeping 'dignity homes' in mind decided to buy two sets of chairs and stools.they are space savers and will come in handy in the living rooms.

it was time to leave and when i was approaching the exit my eyes fell on some waist-high flowerpot stands beautifully hand and colour painted with rajasthani rural images. i lifted one piece to see how heavy it was. earlier when i was living in goa,i had bought many of these heavy objects which were made of terracotta and painted black. i was amazed as this one was very light. it was made of fibreglass. i decided to buy a pair.

l and s say i am a compulsive buyer.actually i never planned to buy anything in this exhibition. how is it then that i did so much of shopping? i was minus by about 20k. you need tremendous will power to resist from buying in these exhibitions.the sheer ease of buying and the competitive prices almost compel you to buy.i must admit that carrying a plastic credit card also does the trick.even if you go without any plan to buy,the convenience of having a large sum of money available in your pocket tempts you to indulge. but then a confluence of artisans,fashion designers,interior decor designers,sculptors from kashmir to kanyakumari and kolkata to kutch all under one roof can take place only in exhiibitions like these. and you fall a sucker.

in hindsight, i didn't do a bad job. i got full marks for all the items i purchased.the chairs and stools and the colour-painted flowerpot stands have been despatched to neral. and the flora and fauna stay with us . for eternity.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


'code name god' by mani bhaumik. the spiritual odyssey of a man of science. it is not a book on religion. it is not a da vinci code type of book. it is a gripping reallife story of the author from rags to riches. dr mani bhaumik,a ph.d from iit kharagpur in physics and a post doctorate from UCLA and a co-patenter of the laser technology that has revolutionised eye correction by LASIK has seen it all.

he owns a bungalow and lives in beverly hills,and has four more. he led a fasttrack life when he made a huge fortune from his patent. he featured in the 'lifestyles of the rich and famous' serial. he had a romantic linkup with eva gabor. and then when the relationship broke up,he went into a long period of depression. his spiritual tool-kit enabled him to pull himself out from the vortex he was swirling in.

born in a a village in west bengal on a mud floor and son of a school teacher,mani bhaumik was a bright student. his father was a freedom fighter and mani spent some time in a mahatma gandhi camp. that left a deep impression on him. his family was religious and his parents and grandparents inculcated our traditional religious and cultural values into him. he listened to the translations of the vedas and upanishads and was struck with the saying "aham brahmasmi". i am part of brahman,the supreme power.

when there was a severe famine in west bengal,his family had hardly any food to eat. his grandmother gave away the little food that she received so that her grandson may live. that act left a lasting impression on the young mani. he realised during his personal crisis that happiness is an "inside job" and he began a serious study of the connection and complementarity between science and religion. the integration of mind and matter. the outcome of that study is the book that was released on monday 24th at crossword,kemps corner,mumbai.

dr bhaumik,76, is the founder of mani bhaumik educational foundation providing scholarships for the study of science and medicine to the poor and meritorious students. he continues to receive international recognition and he has rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty. he has successfully attempted to find a common platform between eastern mysticism and spirituality and western science. advances in quantum physics and cosmology are bringing science and religion closer to each other than ever before. as albert einstein said "science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind".

it is only 222 pages of easy reading. i recommend it strongly. it is published by penguin and is a 'los angeles times' best- seller.

Friday, April 14, 2006


yoga,the ancient indian practice of breathing,meditation and aasanaas has gained a lot of attention from the western world.americans are growing out of the crunchy stage of yoga to the starbucks stage.they are pursuing this market with a vengeance.asics yoga shoes,eileen fisher apparell and even ford motor company advertise in a big way in 'yoga journal'.and there is competition for hugger mugger and gaiam for yoga mats,incense,fancy accoutrements like eye pillows and yoga bags.trendy yoga pants and even tops to wear to class are increasingly getting snapped up .lulu lemon(?) and yoga works have 14 locations in southern california and new york.americans spend about 3 billion $ a year on yoga classes and associated products.while some say it is a labour of love others feel that while adhering to the yoga's healing principles they are also turning a profit. and when americans have taken to yoga,16.5 million of them,can you leave their pets behind?

am quite sure you have not heard of this word before.neither did i.till recently.'man's best friend is at last getting all the recognition he/she deserves.

dog food is now a billion dollar industry.there is dog soup,dog butter and even dog soaps,dog shampoos,dog talcum powder,dog toothbrush and toothpaste,,dog perfume etc etc .the list is endless.several boutiques are mushrooming in mumbai selling only dog products.when raveena tandon's dog got lost in mumbai sometime back, it was headline news.police swung into action immediately and the missing dog was clinics are also coming up in upmarket residential areas for dogs.they go for pedicure and massage. dogs are really on a roll. in japan,a retirement home has been set up for aged dogs.

last week there was a pet convention in japan.about 20000 people attended.called 'Pet show' 2006,it was held in chiba,east of tokyo.there was a stall where 'doga', yoga for dogs was demonstrated.when i read this newsitem out to a friend he jokingly said "yoga has now really gone to the dogs!".

and this summer between april 29 and 30,pooja sathe,24 years,is conducting an action packed summer canine camp at nagathane on the pune- mumbai express highway.most pet owners don't travel as a family and generally one person stays behind to look after the dogs.pooja figured out that if their pets could accompany them dog owners would be happy and everyone will have a nice time together. a win-win situation.cost is rs 500 for the dog and an extra rs 1500 per person.including stay for one night at the kamath residency.

and what's in it for the dogs? dogs are walked,trained to overcome hurdles,crawl through tunnels,play on fly ball machines,do frisbee and ball throwing and trekking and racing.a vet will be in attendance.and additional attractions thrown in are a swimming pool for dogs and lectures on pet photography for the escorts. bow wow!

i should call pooja sathe and suggest she enlists the services of a yoga teacher too. for dog yoga. doga.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


he is the owner and ceo(chef executive officer) of cafe spice namaste restaurant group wellknown for its original and novel approach to indian cuisine.six years ago,cyrus was awarded the mbe for his outstanding contribution to the restaurant and catering 1998 he had written a runaway successful book titled 'cafe spice namaste'.cyrus is a strong environmentalist and cooks with organic products as far as possible.considered to be the most creative chef working in indian cuisine today,cyrus has developed his own brand of blending ageold culinary techniques of india with surprisingly new and exotic ingredients.his restaurant in the uk has won numerous awards.he is a strong believer in people performance and believes in learning throughout life and considers training in restaurants like a religion.

he has come up with with innovative recipes for his cafe spice namaste in london."scallops with ginger and garlic" and "thoran with dahi bhaath" to maintain the balance.englishmen whose food is bland anyway,have gone ga-ga over cyrus and his hot and low fat curries.incorporating principles of ayurveda to make eating indian food a rich and rewarding experience.cyrus,who regularly features in bbc shows is a bit sceptical though of ayurvedic practioners "who will grab your wrist,check your pulse and tell you what to have for dinner".those who want to experience a 'khana mein twist',flock to his restaurants."if there is a god,the canteen in heaven will be run by Cyrus Todiwala."

british food enthusiasts have been recceiving dollops of advice from cyrus. they love his 'thought for food'.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Being Cyrus

homi adjania must have drawn inspiration from spike jonez.'being john malkovich' with john cusack in the leading role and 'being cyrus' share similar sounding titles and a story that is off the beaten track.stark and at times weird.parsis are not a normal lot.i believe that they all have some kink in them.and who would know better than homi himself.the debutante director,tells us a morbid story of a disjointed parsi family.

saif ali khan(cyrus mistry) had a terrible childhood.both he and his sister too.the trauma has remained and manifests itself at a later stage in the most unexpected and gruesome manner.cold blooded double murder.killing an unsuspecting old man who was getting fond of the killer was a shocker.and then taking the gun and shooting the headlights out of boman irani(farokh) with vengeance.

sculptor naseeruddin shah(dinshaw sethna) and wife dimple kapadia(katy) live in a huge bungalow they have inherited.naseer is hooked on to charas.and lives in a world of his own.his wife has an ongoing affair with her own brother-in-law boman irani(farokh) who lives in mumbai with her father-in-law(honey chhaya).enters saif(cyrus) into their lives.and thereafter their lives are turned upside down.he comes from jamshedpur and ostensibly wants to learn pottery from the sculptor guru but his attention is always drifting to the curvaceous dimple who wants the young man to explore her without any inhibitions.boman,simone singh and honey chhaya live in a parsi colony and the parsi culture and their eccentricities have all been brilliantly photographed by jehangir choudhury.the old man has pots of money,but is very parsi-monius and is confined to the four walls of his room by the son,and 'pappa' is abused by boman physically and verbally.honey is terrorised by boman to the extent that when saif is sent by dimple to hand over some gifts to the father-in-law,he refuses to open the door to let him in.gradually saif wins his confidence.he gives him chocolates which the old man is dying to have and which boman and simone hate because he overeats them and then suffers from dysentry and they have to clean up the mess.boman and saif start hating each other instantaneously.during his next visit cyrus gets a bottle of scotch for the old man.they enjoy each other's company.and then the shock.cyrus kills the old man in cold blood.jabbing a knife into the stomach of a kind and unsuspecting victim.

the comedy part of the film is in the incident when boman's neighbour,a fat parsi lady,finds her dog kicked by typical parsi style,they trade charges with all the expletives and finally the lady throws a stone at boman's car smashing his windshield glass.boman irani's acting is superb and the unknown and unheard parsi lady did a good job too.

simone singh is under shackles due to a tyrannical husband boman.she feels liberated once boman steps out for office and she undresses and has a gala time in privacy smoking and drinking.and generally relaxing which would be taboo with boman irani around.she takes boman to a parsi bonesetter after the smashoff with the parsi neighbour results in some muscle in line for the bonesetter's attention is the police inspector manoj pahwa and a subtle warmth develops between the two.little does one know that this police inspector was ultimately going to solve the murder least in his own way.the real murderer goes scot free and the panchgani couple are on the block.when questioned by the crude police inspector, naseer doesn't seem to know what on earth was going on.dimple's histrionics are a bit excessive but it doesn't convince the police inspector.he has already solved the murder mystery.nasseer and dimple have killed the old man and the brother-in-law.all evidences left behind cleverly manipulated by saif point the finger squarely at the couple.

human mind it is said is like a monkey' it is shown like a monster's.childhood memories of hunger and deprivation and abuse manifest in the most gruesome acts later in life.why did cyrus kill the old man? did katy really give him all that cash to finish him off? or did cyrus find the abuse by farokh too much for the old man.anyway he would not live long in such conditions and so why not put an end to his misery.some euthanasia.and why did he bludgeon farokh.because he was unfaithful to his wife simone singh who, i suspect is cyrus's sister,which does not come out clearly in the movie.what did cyrus really accomplish? besides wiping out the sethna family.nothing.simone has advertised in the newspaper for a life partner.that pisses him off. he leaves.and that is the end.

saif matures as a star.dimple,a granny in real life,shows that bobby was not a flash in the pan.talented naseeruddin acts effortlessly.manoj pahwa's humour is a bit crass.honey who plays the role of the senior sethna detested by both his sons,speaks english with a marathi accent.his acting was brilliant but his pronounciation was,i thought,unparsilike.

homi adjania has exhibited some of his special skills.homi is an expert scuba diver and that he used to great effect in the water scenes.he has targetted a niche audience.the investment on the film has been about rs 2.5 crores.i am told that the box office has already registered a collection of rs 2 unusual film,no songs,no dishum-dishum.story line-complicated,complex,convoluted.but then here is a parsi making a picture on a parsi family.he has done it in a most unconventional has made an impact on the audience and it has had the desired effect.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sunshine in the Dark

our friend g has been involved with a school for the handicapped for many years now.on 31st of last month, the school called S P J Sadhana School for the developmentally handicapped put up a fine fundraising show at the Taj Ballroom.31 years old,the school has 125 children on its rolls.principal ms gaitonde and her staff are doing extraordinary work in trying to bring these children into the mainstream.the sponsors of this glittering show were tata steel and indian hotels.

top tata honchos were all present including ratan tata and dr jamshed irani.ratan tata released a book titled 'sunshine in the dark'. the programme was a roaring success.the hall was jam packed with the creme de la creme of mumbai with their spouses in tow.there was a band in attendance and the psychedelic lighting with drinks flowing like water created a frolic ambience.the programme began with a musical number composed by g and she was also the leading actor and singer accompanied by three mentally challenged children.i never realised that she has such a good voice.she sang and danced like a professional.the audience was very appreciative and gave her a loud applause at the completion of her songdance.

then while the extravaganza choreographed unleashed by shiamak davar began, the 'starters' started arriving with everyone hoping for a good hearty meal and hailing 'bon appetit' with all the 'joy de vivre'.we all sat in predetermined places chosen by g around circular dining tables named after different herbal plants.i was given the 'oregano' table while i watched quite amused at the adjoining table aptly named 'ginger'.with ratan and doc along with g's hubby gopalakrishnan was western and i got a rissotto pasta and spinach followed by a nice bowl of was an evening enjoyably spent.there must have been about 500 people or 2000rs per head,g must have made a neat collection for her school and their cause.with everything under the sunshine being sponsored there was no room for any darkness.practically the entire collection must have gone to the corpus.fundraising is an art.s can learn a few lessons.