Saturday, January 26, 2008


three enterprising israelis with three generations of experience in the running of restaurants and having fast food joints at new york,europe and israel have now set up at mumbai at lamington road,gowalia tank and colaba, fast food joints offering falafel.

falafel is an arabic word meaning peppers.these are made out of chickpeas which are ground and deepfried and converted into small balls.the three musketeers call their eating place a hummus house.hummus is a vegetarian puree of chickpeas which is supposed to be very nutritious.many spices and herbs are used which besides adding to the aroma and flavour also have nutritional and digestive values.

i had seen this modern and spanking new restaurant last week while returning from my office and decided to try it out very soon. our daughter l and grandaughter r were visiting us over the weekend and after having had a big brunch we decided to go out for some light snacks later in the day. it was the right time to experiment with falafel's. i must say that it was a very enjoyable experience. i have had falafel several times before in dusseldorf where i visit a greek restaurant for a vegetarian meal. they would always offer me pitta bread,hummus and some vegetables like potato and aubergine and a superb combination of spices and herbs nicely cooked with rice. i was, therefore, quite aware of what was in store.

we liked the pitta bread and falafel combo. like the omnipresent wada pav of mumbai, the falafel was sandwiched between two pieces of pitta bread.the combination had a great taste. while l chose to top the falafel with a cold lemonade,i preferred to have a pepsi. it was the right drink to have after a light lunch. the ambience is excellent. the layout is neat and crisp with high stools and long tables for three persons to sit on either side. on the mezzanine floor there are about a dozen tables laid out but they were full. the service was very courteous.

falafel's is probably one of the latest fast food joints to have come up in south mumbai.non veggies may not be very happy that this colaba joint serves only veg calls itself a veg hummus house.when i asked the manager as to why did they have this as a only veg joint,he replied that they had done a market research and the study indicated that a only veg falafel fast food joint would have very good customer response. i was a bit surprised. colaba is not matunga or mulund having a large south indian or gujerati population. in colaba ,you have a potpourri of people from different communities,cultures and nationalities. there are many foreigners too. i wonder whether the study was off the mark for selecting coloba for a veg falafel place. time alone will tell.

anyway, i am very happy that we have a fastfood falafel joint within walking distance from our home. falafel's also offer home delivery. what more could one ask for? and by the way for the two of us, the combo cost came to rs 190. that was cool.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

ring out the old and ring in the new

that is what we are all supposed to do at the beginning of a new year.put the past behind you and look to the future.don't carry old baggage.take a positive approach and deal with life's problems confidently and energetically to achieve success in life. and isn't the 'bell' a very apppropriate instrument to signify this act of wishing for better things to happen.

the other day,i read an article in a metals magazine about the timelessness of a finely cast tuned bronze said that though the demand in europe was declining,the demand in the USA was quite strong and also in regions like asia and australia.would you think that an ancient communcation system would have a future in the 21st century? today,there is demand for bells one manufacturer said is not that people need them,but because they want them.and demand for bells is driven as much for their beauty and longevity as for their sound.

there are bells and bells.western bells,eastern bells,buddhist bells etc etc. and they vary in composition,shape and size.from small carillon bells to the giant bell which could weigh as much as 20 tonnes.the composition and design give the bells their distinguished sounds.generally the composition is 80% copper and 20% tin.some foundries add zinc and lead too.last year near the mount fuji in japan,the largest swinging cast bell weighing 36 tonnes was installed.its diameter is 13 feet!

bells were used all over the world in the medieval days as a communication system. a loud sound could be heard for miles away. while many go for new bells,the old ones are also getting renovated and restored. unlike in the past when ropes were used to ring bells,an electronic keyboard is used these 2001 when ohio state celebrated its bicentennary year,a new bell was cast for each of the 88 counties by using a portable foundry which travelled in a flatbed truck

bells always fascinate me.their shape, their size,the materials used for making them and the sound that emanates.the feeling of tranquility when you hear the bell chiming is awesome.our house is in in front of the rajabai tower(designed on the lines of the big ben at london) across the oval-maidan at mumbai.the chiming of the tower bell also reminds me of the value of time and that time waits for no man.

the role and function of bells throughout the history of civilisation has ranged from very mundane purposes to the sacred or profane.from mourning to is said that in europe christian peasants were more afraid of swearing falsely by the bells rather than the bible the bible,the sound of bells is called his "voice".it means divine truth.

there are many legends about bells.the great srivaishnavite acharya sri vedanta desika has an interesting epithet-ghantavatara,"incarnation of the temple bell" of tirupati. his mother while on the holy mountain had a dream that she swallows a bell and just as she swallowed this bell in her dream,the temple bell at the shrine of tirupati disappeared.the ritual bell is reborn as the child later known as venkatesa,the lord of tirumala.
the cathedral bell at avignon,france,rang on its own when a pope died and also it is supposed to have tolled nonstop for 24 hours.

the balinese bells are known for their superb purity of tone. the metalworkers in bali,indonesia, belong to a highly respcted caste called the 'pande'! i visit temples quite frequently and the first thing that i do is to ring the temple creates an auspicious sound.the sound from a good bell is uninterrupted,reverberating,deep and hindu temples,bells are hung at the entry and rung to inform the deity of the arrival of the devotee.ringing of bells is supposed to arouse the divinity within deities into which life has been infused.the sound of ringing of the bell matches with the chanting of 'om', the lord's universal name. it helps to drown the the inauspicious noises from outside which spoils the concentration of the devotee. it helps the worshipper to find inner peace. it is also believed to protect the devotee from the harmul effects of problems. according to 'skandapurana',ringing of temple bells absolves man from sins committed over hundred home also the bell is an indispensable article in ritualistic worship. it is sounded even before the actual worship commences,in order to invit the gods to assemble and drive away the evil forces. the body of the bell is supposed to represent the divinity of time,viz.,anantha,and the tongue the goddess of speech,sarasvati;the handle signifies the vital principle(prana) in the form of hanuman,garuda,nandi or chakra.

there are temples and churches all over the world famous for their of the oldest and largest bells in the world is from korea.made in 771 ad,it is 9ft tall and is 5 times the weight of big ben.the 500 year old chenna kesava temple at nandigrama generates the 'om' sound. made of copper during the kakatiya dynasty and weighing 25 kg,it has never been orissa,in the district of dhankanal,the mahimadharma temple has a giant size temple bell weighing 120 is made of eight metals,has a height of 5 feet,a radius of 14 feet and when harped it can be heard 25 km away. and then there is a giant 36 tonne swinging bellin gotenba city,japan,which is supposed to be the world's largest swinging has a diameter of about 12 feet and height of about 11 feet!

among roman catholics,the tolling of bells happens usuually during a funeral and before a marriage.on a regular basis bells are rung every day to announce the commencement of buddhist temples,it is rung 108 times;eight times in the old year and 100 times in the new ringing the bell you are supposed to have driven away 108 worldly desires.

our body is a living entity of vibrations and sound wavelengths.ringing of bell and chanting of mantras cause the mind to quieten and the body feels supremely relaxed.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

eroticism and obscenity

recently the division bench of the bombay high court was seized of a matter involving the representation of nude figures on cigarette lighters.the manufacturer was arrested by the police and the matter was being argued in the high court.the defense was that it was a piece of art and that there was nothing obscene about it.reference was made to pictures on condoms which are being sold and the court was informed that if they could be marketed without any confiscation, why was the defendent being targeted. the prosecution was left with the rather unenviable task of explaining to the bench the subtle difference between artistic nudity and obcenity.

in early december,i had visited khajuraho temples which is famous the world over for the erotic motifs in the temple carvings.after taj mahal,it is the most popular destination for tourists and honeymooners.there are many theories explaining the abundance of these carvings in the lies in the beholder's eyes. what is art to one can be obscene to another. one man's meat can be another man's poison.

according to tantrik belief,the female principle of voluptuous activity is the motive force that sustains the universe,because without it the male principle of static potentiality would remain in a passive mode. the images of mithuna(embracing couples) illustrate spiritual union with the divine.this tantric trend became powerful in the 5th century a.d. during the golden age of the gupta is diametrically opposite to the ascetic stream in indian tradition.they are opposite poles of the human approach to existence.both vishnuite and shaivite temples adorned with such celebrations of human unity with nature and divine were built in khajuraho a millenium ago.

the erotic sculptures,according to experts on this subject, are made in order to convey that one must rid oneself of kama,krodha,lobha and moha before entering the sanctum sanctorum.our guide explained that the eternal khajuraho female had vital stats of 36-24-34.the stunningly explicit sexual sculptures to me just conveyed pure beauty and i could see no perversion or obscenity in the temple erotica.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

taare zameen par ( stars on the ground )

an outstanding movie.aamir khan has shown that he is not only a good actor but he can be a good director and producer as well.the story is about an eight-year old schoolgoing boy,ishaan awasthi(darsheel safary) who suffers from learning disabilities.he is under constant pressure from his parents to excel in studies like his elder brother. due to the handicap that he suffers, his marks are lowest in the class.he is means a person who has difficulty with words.a person suffering from dyslexia has difficulty in reading,spelling and understanding language.ishaan's world is one of colours,fishes,kites etc.neither the parents of ishaan nor the school teachers understand the child's problems. unable to see his son performing so badly in studies,the father decides to send the boy to a boarding school where he will get 'straightened'.ishaan's mother(tisca chopra) is shocked at her husband's decision.the dominating husband has his way. ishaan pleads with his parents not to send him to boarding school and promises to do better in his studies. he is traumatised. the father is insistent. the boarding school has a reputation for reforming the worst of kids.strict rules and strict teachers to enforce them.the principal claims that their methodology has turned duffers into good students.

luckily for ishaan, enters ram shanker nikumbh(aamir khan) into the scene as a new class teacher. a different type of teacher.he does a root cause analysis.finds out the problem which the boy faces and with guidance, encouragement and understanding brings about a sea change in ishaan's self-confidence. after all wasn't albert einstein dyslexic,he asks. and leonardo da vinci,thomas edison,pablo picasso,walt disney, agatha christie and abhishek bacchan. and when i surfed the internet, i found many more illustrious persons who suffered in their earlier years from dyslexia. richard branson,tom cruise,anthony hopkins and keira knightley. and many more.the climax is when ishaan is declared the winner of a painting competition held for students and staff of the boarding school under the initiative of ram shanker nikumbh.ishaan's reading and writing abilities also improve remarkably.

the movie makes you sit up and empathise with the kid.the movie should not be is not often that you get such movies.the trio of shankar ehsaan loy provide the music.some of the songs are very hummable.aamir passionately enacts his role.tisca chopra as ishaan's mother is very convincing.cinematography by setu is superb.the cash counters were not ringing that furiously immediately after the release.but now it is a different story.