Monday, March 26, 2007

'eklavya:the royal guard'

it is an ensemble cast of amitabh bachchan, sharmila tagore,saif ali khan,vidya balan,jackie shroff,jimmy shergill, raima sen,parikshit sahni and last but not the least boman irani.but then the real star is natarajan subramanian, the cinematographer.

shot almost entirely in rajasthan,raghavendra rathore designed the costumes worn by the various characters.the film was shot in the palace of the royal family of jaipur.nitin desai created the cottage of eklavya.and it looked so authentic that it was seen as an extension of the fort itself.the killing of the rana in the desert in the midst of a moving train with the camels on a run was spectacular.this was shot in a location about 100kms from bikaner.and while shooting, big b got kicked in the head by a camel.he did not suffer any injury because he had a thick turban around his head.

ekalavya,the royal guard lives in a timewarp.he lives only to protect the fort,the king and the dynasty.for nine generations,ekalavya's family has been protecting devigarh,hundreds of years he is ageing and also losing his eyesight.

vidhu vinod chopra who embarks on this ambitious story,loses his way somewhere in the middle.a fastpacced film with that ensemble cast,sweeping cinematography and some fantastic performances.yet,the movie fails to deliver.

the pictures starts with the baritone of amitabh narrating the enduring fable of the young archer gives away his thumb to his proxy guru dronacharya as gurudakshina.that is dharma. ethics.righteousness.and this dharma concept permeates the movie throughout.amitabh as eklavya plays a stellar the faithful guard to the erstwhile royal family of devigarh.the story begins with rana jayawardhana reciting the 18th sonnet of shakespeare when the rani is on her deathbed.he stangulates her as she pines for eklavya.their mentally challenged daugther(raima sen) sees it all though giggling all the time.their son the prince harshwardhan(saif ali khan) returns from london for the funeral.rajo(vidya balan) his childhood sweetheart and the royal family's driver's(parikshit sahni) daughter hands over to him a long-kept secret.then follows a string of palace intrigues.steered by the king's younger brother(jackie shroff) and his son(jimmy shergill).the rana's life is under threat from the farmers.they are being stripped of their lands.the rana and his brother exploit the hopeless situation of the peasants.rana gets a death threat over the phone. and the local dsp(sanjay dutt) the son of an untouchable comes in to is too late.then the rana is murdered.who did it? keep guessing.

the picture has a running time of about two hours.there is also just one song.amitabh as usual steals the show with an incredible performance.saif ali khan and vidya bala act well while sharmila tagore is totally wasted.sanjay as the lowercaste cop has a small role but excels.

inspite of the epic sweep and grandiose settings,the pictures fails to touch any chord in you.the priciple of 'dharma' is supposed to be the centre around which the film revolves.if one does not know the chanting of the gayathri mantra, this movie will be a good practising ground.constantly played in the background.

vidhu vinod chopra deserves kudos for a well-directed production which unfortunately is intrinsically flawed to leave a deep impact on you.the body looks beautiful but it lacks a soul.the stunts are expertly executed.sequences like the rana's murder at the railway crossing and the blindfolded eklaya showing off his skills with the knife are visual treats.

go to see the brilliant cinematography,the opulent sets,the fantastic costumes worn by the main actors and some super stunts.paisa would have got your money's worth.don't ask for anything more.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

'sabarimala of women'

women denied permission to sabarimala need not lose heart.the 'pongala' festival held annually at the "attukal bhagavathy" temple at thiruvananthapuram draws record crowds of women.this year it was held between feb 23 and march 4.on the ninth day of the festival about 2.5 million women participated in the festival, thus beating the earlier guiness record of 1.5 million women in 1977.

'pongala' in kerala is 'chakkarapongal' of tamil nadu.sweet rice prepared in earthen pots with jaggery and coconut is offered to the goddess.on the ninth day.irrespective of caste,colour or creed they all attend and gather with their cooking pots to perform the ritual for the health and happiness of their family members.

for a radius of about 10km from the temple,makeshift hearths are placed for devotees to cook the 'pongala'.the chief priest of the temple gives the green signal to light the hearth and this is followed by frentic beating of temple drums.the finale is the sprinkling of holy water by the temple priests.simultaneously,an aerial shower of flowers take place transforming the place into a veritable heaven with devotees becoming almost is an unique facility offered to devotees once a year only,though the priests prepare and offer 'pongala' every day to the goddess.

the authorities are environment-conscious. they auction away the burnt bricks left behind so that it does not cause any pollution.

yet another hindu festival where women of different religions and income-groups participate with enthusiasm and joy de vivre.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


water, it is said. is the elixir of life. our vedic seers have extolled the magical qualities of water and its ability to purify the body and mind.when i read that deepa mehta's third element-titled film 'water' was nominated for the oscar, i was very proud of her achievement and keenly awaited its release in mumbai.i expected a groundbreaking that would exhilarate me and cast a magical spell by the sheer power of the film's theme and some extraordinary acting and direction. what a disappointment! how could it ever be nominated for the oscar,i thought.

excepting for performances from seema biswas of 'bandit queen' notoriety and the fresh,young and talented srilankan eightyears young childactor sarla,almost everything about the movie(save rehman's musical score) was wrong. when your film centres around the plight of widows in benares,you cannot have a srilankan background and makes it very unrealistic.whatever may have been the compulsions,deepa mehta failed to make the setting look realistic. and john abraham,a gandhi ideologist and lisa ray struggling to speak hindi just did not fit into their roles. actually,the film would have collapsed but for seema biswas and the captivating youngster sarla who has oodles of talent.

admittedly,the theme of the movie is strong and compelling.the renunciation of the world by the unfortunate widows who have nothing else other than the widows' home to fall back on. even a child widow has to go through hell! deepa mehta failed to convert an unusual and poignant theme into an unique film both for the indian and foreign audience.

the latest addition to their clan in a widows' home is chuiya(sarala).she has the gumption to tease and taunt the home's fat head madhumati(manorama) and wins the hearts of all the particular, shakuntala( seema biswas) and kalyani(lisa ray).and of course an old widow who pines for sweets and particularly laddoos.chuiya fulfils her dying wish by using the little money she has.narayan,a london-returned lawyer falls in love with kalyani but his mother(waheeda rehman) totally disapproves of marriage to a widow and narayan later realises that kalyani has been prostituted by madhumati to narayan's father(gerson da cunha). kalyani walks into the waters of 'gangamai' and shakuntala takes it on herself to save chuiya from the clutches of hell. even sarla had to spend a night with one of madhumati's customers;the father of the anglicised friend of litereally cry when the innocent sarala tells her customer "main aapke ke saath khelne ke liye aayee hoon".

deepa mehta couldn't resist the temptation of jumping into the gandhi bandwagon and there was absolutely no need for the gandhi angle in the film.a review on this film which i read commented that seema biswas made a huge 'splash' with 'water'. without underestimating her performance,i would say that sarla dived into the depths of acting with her scintillating performance."water', on the whole, failed to leave a lasting impression. neither did it provide any elixir nor did it cast any magic on the viewers.

Friday, March 16, 2007

"cull the cullers"

last week when i was in bengalooru,i read in the newspapers about the mass killings of stray dogs.i was could the local corporation be so unreasonable, insensitive, cruel and shameful? and what was the provocation? the death of two school going children who were bitten to death by some stray dogs.the deaths occurred on jan10 and should never have happened at the first place.

the reaction from the general public was so strong that in a typical kneejerk response,the municipal authorities went on overdrive and ordered the culling of all stray is estimated that there are about 60,000 stray dogs in bengalooru alone.healthy dogs,pregnant dogs and puppies were all picked up indiscrimantely for slaughter.they were thrashed with nailspiked rods,strangulated,electrocuted and attacked with was shocking beyond can an "a" grade city indulge in such barbarious and uncivilised actions? it was butchery of the highest order.there was a huge outcry from the doglovers."cull the cullers" they demanded. finally the authorities decided to stop the culling and take preventive action.

the authorities now propose to intensify a public campaign to raise the awareness of licensing dogs.they have also decided to restart the abc(animal birth control) programme.a special committee has been formed for management of stray dogs.they are going to adopt a humane approach and study why some dogs are ferocious.the karnataka high court has intervened and given the municipal authorities 10 days' time to provide details on the abc programme.'who'(world health organisation) has repeatedly pointed out that stray dogs populations can only be thinned out through successful implementation of the abc programme.

instead of tackling the problem of urban filth at the roots,the authorities have been reacting from time to time in a hamhanded fact, there is evidence that men and women through their rash driving kill more humanbeings than the biting dogs.garbage. when you don't have an efficient disposal mechanism for garbage,the end result is what one saw in bangalooru.the government is resposible for the criminal neglect of garbage clearance.there is no urban hygiene.the filth and refuse on the streets attract mosquitoes,dogs and other insects that spread infections.dengue returns to city regularly and jaundice and typhoid outbreaks are common.all of us know that meat cooked and sold on the streets is the root cause of the dog menace.

not all stray dogs are ferocious.many are in fact friendly and are effective night watchdogs.indian stray dogs are known to be protective towards children and kolkata,recently, a newborn baby abandoned near a dustbin was guarded by three stray dogs throughout the night.they left only after the child was taken to a orphanage.and a stray dog saved a child during the tragic tsunami which hit the southern coast of india in 2004 december.

what then is the solution?

first, we have to get rational.not all dogs bite.
second,don't run or tease a dog.they sense fear or threat.
respect will see the difference.
third,government and municipality must adopt a scientific approach.a mass streilisation programme must be undertaken.neutering should be done before breeding cycle begins.
fourth, lifelongshelters must be provided where these dogs can be kept.
fifth,regular clearance of garbage from street corners. sixth, meat stalls to be shifted and seventh, roadside meatcooking must be stopped.

while karnataka was fretting and fuming on the dogbite deaths issue,in neighbouring maharashtra a stray dog quietly entered the legislative assembly at mumbai when the session was going on.and that caused a furore.the opposition took the deputy chief minister to task.they said it could bite anyone and must be immediately stopped from roaming around the premises. the minister dismissed the oppositon's fears and said that dogs are harmless creatures and that there is no danger.however if the opposition insists then he would order a high level inquiry into the matter.

there are many good samaritans too. take the case of filmstar of yesteryears jeetendra's children; ekta and tusshar kapoor who are also stars in their own right.for years now, they have been adopting stray pups and abandoned dogs.they have fourteen of them. they become very touchy when stray dogs are branded as a menace.they say that this issue must be handled sensitively.their family regularly contributes towards strerilisation of stray dogs.and there are many more such examples.

give the stray dog a him/her like you love your pet.he or she will reciprocate in greater measure.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

breakfast "phataphat"

a few days back i was working very late into the night.i was burning the proverbial midnight oil.and then due to sheer fatigue,i slept off and woke up rather late.clearly, i was running behind schedule and our cook gb was at a loss not knowing my preference for breakfast.when it was about time to leave for office and when i asked her whether breakfast was ready she said that as i had not indicated my choice,she hadn't prepared anything.normally,i place my order first thing in the home,we have a limited'a la carte'for breakfast.each one of us wants something different and poor gb is generally at her wits' there i was at a loss.a tad hungry,wondering what i should ask for. with the prospect of losing another half an hour or so,i was about to skip the breakfast and run.then a brilliant idea struck gb. she said in marathi,"saab,mee maggie banaun deto". i asked her how long it will take.her answer was crisp."phataphat".which meant immediately.

within no time hot steaming maggie noodles arrived on the dining table with carrot and beans thrown in as say the least,i was very is generally very slow.but this time she acted with lightning speed.helped no doubt by the sheer convenience and speed with which maggie noodles can be wonder it sells phenomenally and india is its largest consumer."tasty bhi hai,healthy bhi hai".

maggie noodles are generally made out of wheat flour(aatta)and has good quantities of protein and fibre.derived from the latin word nodus(knot),the chinese,italians and arabians- all of them claim to have been the first to create this string-like is generally believed that marco polo brought noodles to italy from also get them in various flavours like masala,dal,sambhar,cheese,pizza,tomato and chatpata. maggie is a runaway success and has been there for about 25 years.surprisingly there has hardly been any major do have wai wai,top ramen etc but they pose no threat to the dominant market share of maggie noodles.

carlo donati,ceo, must be chuckling in his nescafe headquarters in switzerland.noodles which originated in china landed up in india thanks to a swiss firm and has been totallyindianised.yet another example of globalisation and local mcdonald's or kentucky fry or pizza hut.maggie noodles is a superhit and nescafe cash counters are continuously ringing.

now i know what to tell gb when i am hungry and want something fast."gb, mujhe gazab ki bhook lagi hai,mujhe chahiye maggie".a filmy dialogue,but surely it will work.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


the times of india kitab festival brought writers from india and britain to ran for three days,from feb 23 to feb 25.and the man(or shall we say boy?) behind this impressive event was 23 year young pablo ganguli.he is passionate about bringing people together so that they can then talk about their visions and ideas.pablo organises international festivals that are eclectic.they focus on a wide variety of subjects.his compnay 'liberatum' works on sponsorship which they receive from corporate bodies to conduct their festivals.this year's kitab was the second one. last year it was held in delhi.

the participants included,actress goldie hawn,william dalrymple,shashi tharoor, deborah moggach,amit chaudhuri,kiran nagarkar,shekar kapoor,farukkh dhondy,javed akhtar,muneeza shamsie and many many others.kitab according to pablo is not a literary is a festival of interviews,debates and ideas.screenwriters,artists,actors and even political figures are invited to participate in debates and readings on a smorgasbord of subjects.pablo would like them to connect the masses with stimulating ideas that great thinkers and icons create.there were movies and music videos too.deborrah of pride and prejudice fame let you in to some secrets of screenwriting and amit chaudhuri put on his musician hat and played with his band 'this is not fusion'.

shobha de and other british authors dicussed the depiction of sexuality in fiction,deborrah moggach on 'how do you turn a book into a film',a discussion on women's clothing,poetry reading,book reading,conversation and porn talk.gregory david roberts of 'shantaram' fame spoke about human rights and a teenager jyoti guptara spoke about his best selling fantasy novel 'conspiracy of calaspia'.curries and spices and bland english food were discussed and about the future of indian food in britain. the finale was the readings on mumbai city by ranjit hoskote,sonia faleiro,jerry pinto and a few others.

earlier in february there was a litfest at jaipur as well.and it made quire a bang.there were the gliterrati mingling with the literrati,and large audiences and readers from all over the world.salman rushdie and kiran desai surely were big crowdpullers.enthused by the success the organisers hope to bring amartya sen or orhan pamuk next year.

looking by the success of jaipur and kitab,these litfests are here to the delight of book readers who can see their heroes in flesh and blood and interact with them and up and coming writers like say baby halder whose book 'a life less ordinary' literally flew off the bookshelves and has gone into several reprints since then.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

jhaal(hot) muri-the iconic snack food of bengal

just like bhel is to mumbai, so is jhaal muri to kolkata. i cannot imagine returning to mumbai from kolkata without having jhaal muri. it is 'de rigouer' in my office. as a snack in the evening when you need something sharp and spicy and tangy to keep you going for a couple of hours more.

jhaal muri is puffed rice mixed with sliced onions,cucumbers,tomatoes,and boiled potatoes,peanuts,green chillies and shaken up with mustard oil. and topped with sweetened tamarind chutney.(when you heat sand in a pot and then add grains of rice you get puffed rice).you will find muriwallas all over the city dishing out muri to their clients in paper cones. i have been having jhaal muri from childhood in my kolkata days and miss the daily dose in mumbai. bhel is a desirable option no doubt. it is not that i love bhel less but that i love jhaal muri more.

read jhumpa lahiri's first page in "the namesake" and you will get the recipe. "combining rice Krispies and Planters peanuts and chopped red onion in a bowl.add salt,lemon juice,thin slices of green chilli pepper and( wishing there were) mustard oil to pour into the mix". mira nair was amused when while watching the release of "the namesake" and the scene where pregnant, ashima who craves for jhaal muri is preparing it in her boston kitchen she overheard a gujerati senior citizen telling his wife "chevda banaave che".

you may be a mamma's boy but this is one area where you have to admit that the muriwallah beats her hands down.try as she might,mamma just cannot come up to the muriwala's magic. you will be licking your fingers and enjoying the savoury bites till you reach home.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

kaffee with me-coffee( by) day and coffee by night

this has nothing to do with the popular tv talk show,'kaffee with karan' . in fact, i don't think that has anything to do with coffee. this posting is all about coffee.

recently in kolkata while i was on my way to dum dum airport, i decided to have a cappucinno in the 'cafe coffee day' at ballygunge circular was a very enjoyable experience. swanky setting,young crowd,amiable waiters and excellent coffee and snacks. the bill for a veg puff and a cup of cappucinno came to about rs 70/- only. even though it was about four in the afternoon,the (coffee?) bean counters were working quite feverishly!

'cafe coffee day' has a successful business model. its business spans the entire value chain of coffee consumption in the country. it has 'fresh n ground' division, coffee day 'kiosks', coffee day 'take away'(vending machines) and coffee day 'perfect'(fmcg packaged coffee). it has about 400 coffee bars spread across 70 cities and the plan is to double it in three years' time. it is critical for coffee day cafes to make money just in six months' time. else the cafe is closed down. it has cafes in vienna and has plans to set up cafes in eastern europe,egypt,south east asia,pakistan and the us.

'starbucks'.the world's largest coffee chain has set its eyes on india. its first store is likely to open in december this year. it plans to make this a model for its future expansion. it buys coffee seeds from indian growers too; though in their overall requirements this quantitiy is negligble.indian coffee is uniquely sweet and light and blended with other flavours it is extremely popular in europe. at the same time 'starbucks' is acutely aware that its chain is watering down the 'starbucks' brand by opening too many "sterile cookie cutters". cafes that lack a soul and genuineness. in the last ten years starbucks has expanded from 1000 stores to 13000 stores,an expansion which according to its ceo has come at a heavy cost. after having commoditised the brand,it now wants to get back to the old 'starbucks' experience.

'lavazza',the italian king of expresso,is all set to jump-start our memory,first thing in the morning. it is likely to take over 'barista'. 'barista' has a strong brand equity but had a tough time fighting 'cafe coffee day'. tata coffee has also jumped into the profitable coffee is putting up a plant in uganda,and also it plans to push its coffee into china.the rising income levels in india and china has resulted in an increase in coffee consumption among the youth even in traditionally strong tea markets. "mr bean junction",the tata coffee retail outlet in kochi is the first one and many more are in the offing.

the largest coffee producing country in the world is brazil.the demand is outstripping the supply and a big deficit is expected.prices therefore will go up further. our coffee board is busy with plans to rejuvenate thousands of hectares of coffee plantations and improving yield in and around chickmagalur in karnataka,the bastion of indian coffee. bababudan,a sufi saint,was the first person to have brought seven coffee seeds from yemen some 336 years ago. he settled down in dattatreya peetha village and raised coffee seedlings. in his 'darga', pooja is conducted and prasadam distributed in traditional hindu style! and the spread of coffee now is far and wide. coffee also is very secular.

sunalini menon is the first woman coffeetaster and coffeesmeller in india.she tastes about 100 cups every day at her coffeelab in bangalore.she coordinated a workshop last month in the india international coffee festival 2007 at bangalore.delegates were taught how to cook with coffee.not just the dessert but in the main course and salads, coffee was an ingredient. and for the coffee buffs how to prepare a cup of espresso and cappucinno were shown by faina moreno of 'trieste's' 'universita del caffe'. coffee growers were explained by her and her colleagues as to how beans are to be cultivated to provide a quality cup of coffee. 'illycaffe',the world leader in espresso will be setting up a branch of its coffee university in bangalore jointly with coffee will teach students the finer aspects of harvesting,curing,processing and packaging coffee.six million cups of 'illycafe's' expresso coffee are consumed every day across 144 countires worldwide.'illycafe' is one of the biggest buyers of indian coffee.while probat werke from emmerich,deutschland,explained to the delegates the art and science of roasting and grinding, the italian company 'susegana' showed the cafe owners how coffee brewing machines should be maintained(in portugese susegad means relaxing!) .not to be outdone, our own(nammavaru) dr basavraj,quality director of coffee board, showed the delegates how 'amma' prepared the south indian filter coffee.

poab estates in kerala has bagged the equivalent of the nobel prize in the world of coffee cultivation. the "speciality coffee association of america" sustainability award. speciality coffee of a unique and consistent quality. after buying an abandoned farm of 1500 acres in palghat,kerala,the jacob family converted it into a beautiful estate of organic coffee cultivation. they now grow and export 300 tonnes of organic coffee every year with a workforce of 500 men and women. it is in a very unique and a socially-committed way that they run their estate.

in the old days my mom used to roast the beans and grind them herself. i remember how our flat would get full-up with smoke emanating from the kitchen when coffee was being roasted to the required degree of blackness. and then when it was ground to fine powder in a compact contraption,the aroma that filled the room was awesome.

"let no man grumble when his friends fall off ;as they will do like leaves at the first breeze; when your affairs come round,one way or the other,go to the coffee-house and take another". those were byron's famous lines. coffee is your best friend.

coffee in india has come a long way since the time of sufi saint bababudan. and with it a way of life . as supertaster and supersmeller sunalini would say, coffee is a way of life which is aromatic,rewarding,meaningful and passionate.

come have kaffee with me.

Friday, March 02, 2007

chic accomodation on the cheap

add spices to hospitality and you get a smart,chic,elegant and modern,no-frills,convenient and comfortable hotel room for rs 999 plus taxes.having heard about this new budget hotel of the 'tatas', i decided to experience staying in 'ginger' during my last trip to bangalooru. i had a very satisfying stay for two nights.

located at whitefield in the 'IT' corridor and close to the information technology park, it is an ideal place to stay for those who have their work around this area. just about twenty minutes' drive from the airport and you are in a hip hotel using the latest technology to give you a bang for your bucks. you get a sizeable room with all modern amenities-room airconditioner,mini-refrigerator,worktable and a comfortable bed. an electric kettle for making your own tea(tetley,of course) and flatscreen tv with wifi connection .linen is maintained clean and changed every day.round the clock hot and cold water in the bathroom.

the multicuisine restaurant called the"square meal" serves only breakfast,lunch and dinner.the service is"diy" from the table. but then there are a few boys available to serve you if costs you rs 75 for breakfast and rs 165 for lunch/dinner. i happened to be there on 'valentine's day'. they had set up a lovely shamiana and a delectable buffet dinner with a wide spread. there is also a 'dial-a-meal' service,whereby you can order special meals by phone from selected restaurants who will then deliver it to the you enjoy best of both worlds. there is a kiosk for internet surfing, an atm machine,a conference room and even a small gym. for rs 999 plus taxes that was one helluva good deal. at a lower price point you get the features of a more upscale hotel.

the brand 'ginger' was created by landor associates who are headquartered in san fransisco.'ginger' is supposed to convey contemporariness,freshness and zest.and a hip urban attitude.the uniquely organic lettering is a visual treat.

this new concept has been hailed as an innovative thrust by indian hotels of the tata that has given birth to a low-cost,high quality business model.entirely different in its way of hospitality. services like concierge,laundry pick-up and room service are all eliminated. it is all "IT". auto check-in kiosks,internet reservation,touch screen feedback panels,wifi,etc. all giving you delight and value for money. there is also a doctor on call. with frequent load shedding in bangalooru,you would wonder whether you may have to suffer the trauma of darkness and summer heat. no,there is a cent percent power backup. the hotel has about 100 rooms and enjoys a high occupancy rate.

so next time you are in bangalooru, cut your accomodation costs and save money. this is an alternative way of hospitality from the 'tatas' which can be appreciated only when you stay in 'ginger'. it is not only hot and a garam masala. it is also coooooooool.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

'nolen gur'(new jaggery)

undoubtedly, the most important and biggest religious cum social festival for the bengalis is durga puja. but for the food buffs there is a lot of excitement and anticipation in the nolen gur (new jaggery) festival held in late winter during february which is also celebrated with a lot of bonhomie and fervour.

i was very lucky to be in kolkata during this month.rosogollas and sandeshes made out of the new jaggery are absolutely heavenly . and i had them for breakfast,lunch and dinner. admittedly,i have a great weakness for bengali sweets but this time i just went overboard.

in the winter season,earthen pots are tied to date trees and cuts are made in the tree through the night through which the liquid drops and fills the pots.these are then carefully brought down in the early hours of the morning.the liquid is then set on a fire in a 'karai' and allowed to boil. after the top layer or slag is removed what is left is voila!,new jaggery.the slag is converted into solid pieces of date palm jaggery.

as the shelf life of the liquid form is very short, a variety of sweets are made out of this. you have the 'jhol bara','patisapta','nolen gurer rosogolla' and 'nolen gurer sandesh'. these are all made with cow's milk.

one can even directly drink the 'khejur ras' staight on tap i.e. from the tree. in fact,in villages that is what many younsters do.they climb up the tree and merrily drink the 'ras' and tie the pot back. the date palm is a shorter version of the tall coconut tree. it however produces its best sap during winter.interestingly, though the trunk when tapped provides a deliciously sweet syrup,the actual dates are not that tasty at all.

the 'nalen gur' sandesh has a brownish pink colour. the liquid syrup (jhola gur) sells like hot cakes and when had with with hot 'luchis'(puris made out of maida), it is delightful. the poor in the rural areas even use the fermented gur to make cheap liquor. the solid cakes which can be preserved are called 'patali gur' and can be kept for a few months though the taste of sandesh or rosogolla with older cakes is not the same as with the new one .It is used mainly for payesh in bengali homes.

i brought back home a dozen of each-rosogollas and sandesh.little did i realise then that it would not receive that much of welcome as the normal rosogollas and sandesh do. one man's meat need not be the same for another person.