Saturday, December 18, 2010

Visiting the "Fairy Land"-Bali

Visiting Bali was an exceptionally happy experience for me and my wife.We had a three day holiday package with the Ramada Inn Hotel in the weekend of the first week of August. From the time we entered the hotel we felt "at home". Different people have expressed their pleasure after visiting Bali in different ways. For some it is the "fairy land", for others the "happy island" and for some the "last paradise" and for others "the isle of beauty and romance". For us it was the 'eat,pray and love' island.

A lot also has already been written on this beautiful island. Yet I must also record what impressed me most.When we landed at Den Pasar,intuition told me that we were going to have a good time visiting the numerous temples,countryside,forests and beaches in this small island which nourishes a population of several million,80% of whom are Hindus and where life is harmonious and happy. Bali is situated a few degrees south of the Equator and is blessed with a tropical climate.While there is lot of forest area, there are many rice fields in the lowlands and on the sides of mountains. The Balinese are a race who have preserved their original culture and at the same time happily blended it with modernism. They have a very positive attitude towarsds life. They are hardworking and charming. The women are exceptionally beautiful. It is a feast for the eyes to see them carrying baskets of bananas on their heads and flowers in their hands to be offered to their Gods.There is no life without religion for the Balinese.Their temples are dedicated to the spirits of Hindu Gods and to the mountains,lakes and springs.The temples have a distinct architectural style. Their open gates lead to several courtyards. Here one finds pagoda type towers called meru. The Balinese are god-fearing,respectful and celebrate life like happy youngsters hoping for the next day to be still better than the current day.

Our three days were packed with activities.We visited numerous temples.We saw the small village of Batur,which was destroyed in 1926 by a volcano.The stream of lava is supposed to have stopped just in front of the temple doors. We went to a home where the family specialises in wood engravings,then a metal shop and later several shops selling bathik paintings. We watched a lovely cultural programme. It was a short version of the Ramayana. On our last day we went for the traditional Indonesian body massage and face scrub. Ramada Inn had arranged a programme of dance and drama that evening. The dances were classic pieces from Bali's rich dance repertoire. Bali has a wonderful dance heritage. Dance is an integral part of Indonesian culture.Indonesians are literally born, raised and die with art.

We met people of different nationalities and even made some friends. On the last day of our stay,we took an early morning walk on the clean beach. We picked up some seashells for our grandchildren. Sunrise and beauty go hand in hand. As the morning sun's rays embraces the earth, people see the darkness coming to an end. And with that, the beginning of new hope. Once small fishing villages, many of them have been transformed into modern, upscale resort villages. They have boutique hotels,luxurious eateries and avantgarde galleries. Many of these people worship the Sun every morning; what they call Surya Sewana. There are Brahmin priests who conduct the Puja.These mantras wish the well-being of all people and creatures and pray for happiness in the whole universe.

From Benoa to Jimbaran,Tuban,Kuta,Batubulan,Ubud,Waterspring temple in Tampaksiring,volcano,mother temple in Besaki,and then on our return keckak and firedance-it was an exciting holiday. Kecak is a very unique Balinese dance.There is no orchestra but only a choir of hundred men. Then there is the horse(jaran) ritual dance and the dancer is the medium through which the deities and ancestors convey their wishes.There is another dance called Sanghyang Jaran where a boy dances like a horse around a bonfire made from coconut husks. He then enters the fire and dances on the fire.

There are countless Hindu temples in Bali. As per customary law, each village is required to construct and maintain at least three temples.Then there are the nine directional temples located at strategic points across Bali.They are designed in a manner to protect the people from dark and invisible forces.The mother temple of Basakih on the slopes of Mount Agung is the most important of all. Balinese temples dedicated to Hindu Gods and Goddesses have shrines and have a padmasana -the throne of the Supreme Deity.There is a large pavilion which is always left empty to allow the Gods to visit during the ceremonies.You have to be dressed in a sarong and sash to enter the temples.

Three days is a very short period to see and marvel at this wonderful eat pray and love island. Tourism in Ubud revolves around scenic rice-fields, small villages, art and craft communities, ancient temples, palaces and rivers. You see a cornucopia of colours. We will have to come again to Bali to soak in the Balinese warmth while seeing many beautiful spots which we missed during this short holiday.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Who is this Sparrow man?

Have you heard of Mohammed Dilawar? I had not.Till I read about him recently. He is a young birdwatcher from Nashik. He is a friend of the sparrows. One of Time's Hero of Environment 2008 awardees, he is critical about the way urbanisation is taking place in our country leaving hardly any room for trees and birds. According to Dilawar, sparrows are the best bio-indicators of urban life and environment. If we can't take care of these humble creatures, we are doomed says Dilawar.

In his opinion, sparrows are disappearing fast. There are a host of reasons. Cities are becoming concrete jungles.Tress are being felled. Cellphone towers are emitting radiation. All these and many more reasons have contributed to the steep fall in the sparrow population. Our conservation policy pays too much attention to the "fat cats" in the jungles and ignores the humble birds and other species, says Dilawar. Sparrows have been put on the Red List category by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Is it possible to reverse the trend? Dilawar feels that it can be done. Plant hedges, protect trees, ban catapults and ensure availability of grains. They will be back. He has launched an NGO called Nature Forever Society. He is creating awareness among bird lovers through his website.He is also distributing nest boxes for the sparrows. Environment must become central to our lives, says Dilawar. Then we can save our cities and our country.

Good to know that someone is taking cudgels on behalf of the poor,silent and hapless sparrows. They are charming,cheerful and gregarious.While surfing the internet yesterday about house sparrows, I came across a beautiful poem by the famous American poet, William Carlos Williams which I quote below:

"At that, his small size, keen eyes, serviceable beak and general truculence assure his survival –

to say nothing of his innumerable brood. Even the Japanese know him and have painted him

sympathetically, with profound insight into his minor characteristics.

Practical to the end it is the poem of his existence that triumphed finally; a wisp of feathers

flattened to the pavement, wings spread symetrically as if in flight, the head gone,

the black escutcheon of the breast undecipherable,

the effigy of sparrow, a dried wafer only, left to say and it says it without offense, beautifully;

This was I, a sparrow. I did my best; farewell."

Couldn't have been a better epitaph to the humble house sparrow.

May there be more Dilawars to save and bring back more sparrows to our cities. After all don't they like to live around human habitations?

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I don't visit restaurants very often. When I do, I am very choosy. Recently I visited the same restaurant twice in quick succession. Last Friday night, I took my cousin from the US out for dinner to an Italian restaurant in the heart of busy Mumbai. Called 'Bellagio Bistro', after a famous district in North Italy, the restaurant provides authentic Italian food. Located in Boatawala Building which is a heritage structure near the Asiatic Library in Fort area, the external facade of the restaurant is impressive.There is a ground and a mezzanine floor too. The internal decor is simplistic. Where it scores is its food and service. It has a transparent kitchen where you can see the cooks stirring up your dishes in very neat and hygienic conditions. What you get is fresh,fragrant and fulfilling stuff. Basil leaves dominate many of the dishes.The wine repertoire is quite wide ranging.On Friday, we chose to have French Bordeaux wine while on Sunday when I took my wife,I had a glass of red wine distilled by Sula. Pastas,Pizzas,Risottos,Ravioli-you name it and they have it all. We tried their three-grain rissotto and loved it. The rates are on the higher side but the best thing to do is to order three or four dishes and split it into two or three as the case may be.They have there own bakery too.You get fresh bread literally out of the oven. I loved the clear vegetable soup with lemon grass.They have a good variety of desserts and coffee. We had the crunchy chocolate cake and coffee latte which we enjoyed.

Run by a Jain family,the waiters attended to details when we placed the order. We said we were ok with onions but garlic was a no-no.The chef complied with our request and gave us some delectable stuff. I strongly recommend this place for those who want to taste genuine Italian food.The best time would be in the night when the traffic is less on the road.During daytime,presumably,there would be a rush from the senior executives working in the vicinity. They have a special lunch pack too for office-goers. We took a window seat on the ground floor on Sunday afternoon while we sat on the mezzanine floor on my earlier visit.The view was perfect and the experience pleasing.

Monday, November 22, 2010


There is a popular expression to describe the mad love between a boy and a girl.It is said that "they are head over heels in love".
But this post is about heels over head. Today's youngsters particularly the young women take to wearing high heels basically for two reasons. First to appear ultra fashionable and second to look taller than what they really are.Everyone knows that wearing high heels can wrought havoc to one's spine besides the constant danger of tripping and falling while walking and hurting one's bones.Yet, the young lasses and also some older ones too insist on making this style statement.The high heels dominate over their heads in these cases.

A recent study done in the US by a Master's student of the University of Iowa State has found that prolonged usage of high heels is one of the factors contributing to degeneration of joints and osteoarthritis of the knees. Assisted by her Professor Phil Martin, Danielle Barkema studied the effects of walking with high heeled shoes on the lower joints in the body. Barkema selected heels of three different height. Flat, two inches, and three and half inches. She had each of the 15 women in her study complete walking trials. Using a wide range of sophisticated instruments, she was able to measure and quantify the shockwaves that travel up the body. She concluded that over time, continued usage of high heeled shoes contributes to joint degeneration and knee osteoarthiritis. Greater the heel, greater the risk.

Oh, Young women! Why wait till your back and knees break. See the writing on the wall and be your natural self. It will do you tons of good in the long run. And it will also give you peace of mind.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Panda- An Endangered Species Too

The population of pandas in the whole wide world is supposed to be less than 1000; most of them live at an altitude of about 11,000 feet in the cold forests of the eastern rim of the Tibetan plateau. Pandas are China's national treasure. Pandas are large mammals and are almost the same size as that of a black bear.Their numbers are decreasing and they might soon become extinct. WWF has put pandas on the endangered list. The bamboo-eating pandas are also intelligent. After Paul the octopus who shot to fame rightly predicting outcomes in the last World Cup soccer matches,pandas are now predicting the results of events in the Asian Games at Guangzhou.And most of the times,they are right!

In the devastating earthquake that hit Sichuan province in Southwest China in 2008,pandas living in the Wolong Nature Reserve which is the world's largest and well-known conservation area for pandas narrowly escaped though lot of buildings were destroyed and many people lost their lives. Pandas are extremely lonely animals and breed only a few times in a year. That is another reason why their population is not growing.Their average age expectancy is only 20-25. Also they are being poached for their soft fur, driven out of their habitat by the ever-increasing human population and deforestation leaving hardly any bamboos for their sustenance.

China will have to take up the challenge of saving the pandas on a war-footing. Else, one more species will disappear from planet earth soon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Olive Ridley Turtles - Another Endangered Species

Thanks to our callousness, yet another world-famous species is gradually facing extinction. A massive deep water port is being constructed at the mouth of Dhamra river, north of the world famous Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in Orissa. Every year, Olive Ridley turtles come in heaps to the sandy beaches of Rushikulya river mouth off Orissa's Ganjam coast at the mouth of Dhamra rivercoast. There is a spread of about 3 km from Purunabandh to Gokharakuda which is the second biggest rookery in the world. The wellknown Gahirmatha is the biggest rookery in the world to lay eggs. Thousands of turtles wait in the sea for their turn for nesting in the sandy beaches.

This year for some unknown reason the mass nesting has started much earlier. About 2 lakhs Olive Ridleys had nested in the first fortnight of March last year. Some guess that it could be due to the sudden increase in temperature accompanied by wind from the southern direction. Wildlife officials are doing their bit by clearing the beach to help the turtles in their annual ritual.Olive Ridley turtles also lay their eggs in the west coast of India.

The turtles come every year and mate on the calm ocean waters. The females thereafter make it alone to the beach and scoop a big hole in the sand to accomodate 50 to 100 eggs.Once the eggs have been laid,they cover them with sand with their legs and return to the sea.It takes about a month for the eggs to hatch. The little ones then emerge out of the nest. They then start their lonely journey into the sea without their mothers. Nature's miracles are inexplicable.

The construction of the deep water port will add to the woes of the turtles who already suffer from illegal netting.Movement of ships,probable oil spills and other environmental factors pose a severe challenge to their existence. Wonder whether Jairam Ramesh,our Minister for Environment, is aware of the imminent danger to the turtles.

The local villagers at Rushikulya treat the turtles as God's incarnation.Neither do they eat their eggs nor their meat. On the contrary they go all out to protect them. Wildlife officials have set transmitters on some of the turtles to record their movements.

We owe it to our future generations to protect these turtles from extinction. In the scale of conservation status, these turtles are currently ranked in the vulnerable category. Do visit the website and look for Olive Ridley turtles. Do your bit to save these turtles.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Owls-the endangered species

I am blogging again after a long hiatus.In the interegnum. I learnt a foreign language. German. For four months almost every Saturday and Sunday,I was in MMI(Max Mueller Institute) learning Deutsch. Our teachers gave us a lot of hausaufgabe (homework). There was just no time to blog. But now I am happy that I can read, write and speak a foreign language.My German friends will be thrilled.

Those who read these lines might wonder as to why I chose this topic. Not an auspicious way to restart,they would say. Aren't owls associated with bad luck,many would wonder. Indeed now they are having a bad patch. Bad luck has fallen on these very birds once considered to be wise. Somewhere along time they lost that reputation. And they became associated with doom and destruction. And today their numbers are dwindling. Our Minister for Environment is concerned. He has accused the Harry Potter fans for capturing owls to tickle their fancies. They are being bought by parents as pets for their children who read Harry Potter books. Also thousands of them are being caught to be eventually used for black magic and rural medicine and for village performances. What a fall! From being considered as a wise bird by the Greeks, they have now fallen on bad times and are fighting for survival.

So is human life.Men too have their ups and downs.History is littered with examples of the powerful and famous who have fallen and collapsed like a house of cards.What is the moral in this? Everything is transient. Nothing is permanent.Be balanced in life.You never know when good or bad times will befall you.Develop equanimity. You will then be a happy person.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


the world cup soccer which was over last month did keep me glued to the tv during several matches.normally, i avoid the tv. i don't watch any serial because they are all trash. i occasionally watch the news and sometimes one-day cricket matches. but the fifa football event was one of a kind. which i certainly did not want to miss.

hats off to the organisers who seem to have made the event a great success.south africa is notorious for its crime rate. and the continent is infamous for its poverty and AIDS. but there was hardly any crime during the event. the entire africa, proud of the event being held in their continent behaved in the most responsible and dignified manner. the people deserve full kudos for their exemplary behaviour. they wildly cheered their 'bafana bafana' and were disappointed that the team did not go far ahead.

what fascinated me besides the football matches was the vuvuzela, a trumpet like instrument about one meter long. you blow into it and you can blow off somebody's ears with its high decibel noise. and imagine thousands of spectators blowing into them continuously. what a cacophony it must have created. though many teams complained about the distraction the vuvuzelas caused and their teams' consequent failure to concentrate, fifa did not stop its usage as it was considered to be a part of 'african culture'. wonder what our fans will blow during the forthcoming CWG. and just compare how we are going about the CWG and how a fledgling democracy embroiled in bitter and racially tinged ethnic violence did a spectacular job of managing this megaevent. the UAE issued a 'fatwa' that they are 'haraam'. that did not deter the vuvuzela fans.manufacturers of vuvuzelas did roaring business.they sold earplugs too.that was a marketing coup.

three cheers to vuvuzela and 'waka waka' performed by columbian singer shakira and alongwith south african band 'freshly ground' who created a sensation.

a friend of mine showed me a vuvuzela which his friend had brought from capetown.i blew it and felt transported to africa. and the hummable 'waka waka',i downloaded into my ipod hoping that we will also put up a good show.'chak de india'.

Friday, August 13, 2010

a 'britannic' lunch - berry berry good

"he may live without books-what is knowledge but grieving?
he may live without hope- what is hope by deceiving?
he may live without love-what is passion but pinning?
but where is the man that can live without dining?"
owen meredith.

this blog is about mouth watering food and service par excellence from a simple restaurant. hence the above quotation.

"you can call me bemoom or boman or bomi or behuvan or benaan. these are the names by which i am called." thus spoke the octogenarian owner of a south mumbai iconic restaurant when i walked in for the first time early this year with my british customer. i am referring to 'britannia' restaurant situated on the ground floor of wakefield house, ballard estate. my office is on the top floor. the restaurant is always packed at lunch time. and there are always people sitting outside eagerly awaiting for their turn to arrive.

the old man,his brother,the second generation all understand one thing. courtesy. the moment you arrive,they make you feel comfortable. they are all cheerful and enquire what you would like to have. 'britannia' is famous for its berry pulao and the parsee dhansak. when boman irani came to us and asked what we wanted to have,i answered the obvious.i wanted my british friend to have their signature dish. "but you must beat the heat sir first with a cold drink ", he said with a broad smile on his face and then went about taking the order. he was delighted to meet my english customer. boman has a great partiality for the british as the name of his restaurant suggests. he enquired about the queen of england and added "may she live long". i told him that i am a vegetarian. he said he would serve me the "best veg biriyani i would have ever eaten". true to his word,the biryani was delectable.

the iranis as the name suggests are from iran. they still have connections out there. after migrating to india they have become iraninan parsis (zorastrians). they speak in gujerati. they are modest and a bit self-effacing. 'britannia' is neat and clean. furniture is minimal with the old-fashioned square table placed in an angle with four chairs. the table cloth is british gingham. the servers are liveried and speak good english and hindi and are well-mannered.when you are there you feel good.they close shop around 4pm.

when we were about to leave, i asked the old man the secret of his success. i told him that i knew that he imported some ingredients like the berry from iran. "sorry sir, i can't disclose that. that is our trade secret", he said with a chuckle. then he asked my friend to convey his best wishes to the queen. when the cheque arrived and i settled the bill he said "do come again, sir". a friendly person,very affectionate and in peace with himself and his surroundings. a petite cat rests on the reception counter. he encourages children to pet the cat. and they laugh and he laughs with them too.

"there is no love greater than the love of eating". this is the 'britannia' tagline alongwith a hen as their logo.

next time you have some work in fort area, drop in at 'britannia' and enjoy the food and service.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

panruti selvam (wealth of panruti)

i was born in a village not very far off from panruti. the only thing i knew about this small town was that one of my mother's cousins lived there for many years.i was astonished to read recently that it is now referred to as the 'jackfruit paradise'. i love jackfruits and therefore i read this article running into many pages without dropping the magazine even for a second. the fruit is available in panruti throughout the year and it is supposed to be the best of its kind in the country. in bali island last week,i had tasted its jackfruits and heard about its durians. indian jackfruits are fatter and sweeter.

known as kathal (bihar/up), palaa pazham (tamil nadu), chekka (kerala),halsu (karnataka),panasa (telugu) and phansi (maharashtra), this delectable fruit when sliced and taken with honey gives you an ecstasy beyond words. while in kerala and karnataka growing jackfruits is infradig,it is clearly not so in this sleepy town. people are proud to grow jackfruits and prouder that they are making a big profit in doing so.

why are panruti jackfruits so sweet? it is perhaps the soil condition and climate. panruti has a long stretch of dry weather and it is a low rainfall area. the biggest pala pazham from panruti recently weighed as much as 70 kgs and has gained a probable place in the 'guiness book of world records'.

kerala state has taken the initiataive to spread the awareness of jackfruit and it organised the first jackfruit festival about four years ago.more and more fairs are being held and its awareness as a terrific fruit is on the increase. it also pays to grow jackfruit. estimated to earn the farmer Rs 60,000 an acre, it is clearly a money spinner. it is resistant to helps in recharging is very nutritious and its leaves are eaten by goats and used to wrap steamed idlis.the tree after about 25 years has a good saleable value. the soft wood is used for making musical instruments like veena and mridangam and furniture as well. what more can you ask for from this kalpataru?

jackfruit is a great energizer. it has vitamin A,beta-carotene and lutein,vitamin B complex,vitamin C,potassium,magnesium, manganese and iron. its flesh has dietary fibre. a variety of sweet dishes can be made and there is tremendous scope for the entrepreneur for value added jackfruit products like jackfruit jam, papad etc. for me palaa pazham paysam with jaggery and coconut milk is something to die for. its seeds can be boiled like beans and added to sambhar and make it tastier!

what more versatality can you ask for in this humble fruit? mango,banana and jackfruits are the three fruits considered to be sacred by hindus.

i just now realized that in june 2007 i had posted three articles in series on this jack of all fruits. if you are interested, please go to my archives.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Mani, the Singaporean parakeet and a celebrity in Singapore's Little India, predicted a victory for the Netherlands in the 2010 FIFA finals. Paul the Octopus, forecasted a Spanish victory. In my last blog, I had mentioned that should the soothsayer octopus's prediction come true,he will go up in my estimation. Surely, he now has gone up several notches with a clean record of correct forecasts. I hope that German fans will now cool down and not threaten the poor Paul with dire consequences. After all sometimes truth is bitter.

But South African President Jacob Zuma laughed away at the octopus's prediction and said that in South Africa they listen to the scattered bones of dead animals. Witch doctors do that to foretell the future. Obviously, he wished to remain neutral and did not want to provoke either side. What he said was interesting. That opens up a Pandora's box.

Watch out human soothsayers. There is hot competition. At this rate,you may run out of business.

Thursday, July 08, 2010


I hadn't thought much of octopuses till the recent 2010 FIFA World Cup football matches started. They are innocuous invertebrates to me. Yes,in a way they are special. They have eight legs, three hearts and they are supposed to be very intelligent and sadly both sexes have very short life span.

But suddenly like the inanimate Vuvuzela, Paul the octopus has shot into the limelight. Thanks to its accurate predictions on the match results involving Germany, Paul,the octopus, has become the most loved and hatred invertebrate of those who have won or lost their matches. So far all the psychic mussel eater's six predictions have come true. Cent percent as they say. Paul's total track record is awesome. 11 out of 12. It is higher than the 'flipping coin' probability. Something that will put our astrologers to shame.

The Argentinians are seething with anger when it predicted their loss to Germany and recently Germany's unexpected defeat to Spain has left the Germans shell-shocked and boiling with rage. Some want to kill it, some want to fry its brains in hot oil. Some want it to be fried in garlic butter or barbecued or turned into a seafood salad. Will the sensational fortune-teller and global superstar forecast the correct World Cup winner?

Its psychic powers will surely be put into severe test as world-wide expectaions on its forecasting abilities have gone up beyond imagination. Paul has also become every bookie's envy.If Paul predicts the World Cup winner correctly, in my esteem surely he would go up many notches. Because, here is one field where the octopus has outsmarted us human beings.

The two year-old cephalopod was born in England and lives in Oberhaussen in Germany. It chooses a mussel from a glass tank marked with the opposing country's flags. Before the Germany-Spain clash,it ignored the tank with the colour of the German flag and it chose the Spanish flag.The number of anti-'oktopus' songs is increasing day by day in Germany.Paul has achieved an amazing 2.6million hiits on Google so far and he is one of the "Top Ten" trends in Twitter. The famous mollusk has to better watch out. For the first time, he will be predicting the result of a non-German match.He will have to swim away fast to the FIFA winner's shores and seek asylum before the death threats materialise and the famous German knives are out.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

jai maharashtra !

i have been wanting to blog on the 50th anniversary of the state of maharashtra for quite sometime. other preoccupations came in the way. finally,i decided to put my thoughts down.

in may 1960, i first set my foot in bombay ( mumbai). i had finished my school final examination in calcutta (kolkata). my late father who was working for an insurance company was transferred and we all siblings eagerly looked forward to our stay in bombay.i must stay i was absolutely fascinated.i enjoyed the monsoon seasons-it would rain continuously for days together.something i had never experienced college was st xavier's which was just 15 minutes' walk from our home.i liked the crispy masala dosas at the udipi restaurants and me and my classmates would walk all the way to a hotel near metro cinema for some tongue tickling puri bhaaji.the occasional movies that i saw were in 'capitol' cinema which has now been shut down. i would go with my mom to the byculla vegetable market which i very much enjoyed.phanaswadi temple and matunga were our other favourite visiting places.we used to see some marathi and gujerati dramas and watch some dance performances mother used to wear a nine-yard saree. and i liked the way maharashtrian women wrapped the navvari around themselves. drama and classical sangeet was at its zenith then.

it is difficult to believe that 50 years have passed since then, lot of changes have taken place in this city, besides bombay being rechristened mumbai. from what was a beautiful city with cleanliness,organised traffic,beautiful buildings and unpolluted air all around, the maximum city has now become overcrowded,dirty and very polluted. and a concrete jungle.

there are many problems that the state of maharashtra now faces. a power surplus state has become power deficit. farmers are committing suicide unable to repay the loans that they have taken. lot of workers have been thrown out of there jobs and many now live in penury. divisive forces are trying to split the state further.i wonder what the average maharashtrian feels. is he happy about the economic growth that has taken place or does he feel that people from other states have taken the lion's share of jobs and left the crumbs to the local populace.economic growth must be balanced and reforms must percolate down to the masses. if that doesn't happen,tensions are bound to take place.economic prosperity cannot be the privilege of a few. prosperity has to be distributed. no doubt there will always be the rich and poor; but the gap in incomes should not be huge. everone deserves a good living.

if all of us can put our acts together and learn living with others in peace and harmony, maharashtra can again become the No 1 state. it lost its prime position some fifteen years ago. dabbawallahs, dalal street, ganesh utsav and bollywood are now known internationally. that makes every mumbaikar and marathi manoos proud. though dharavi is the world's largest slum, the enterprise over there is unbelievable.

traditional maharashtrian delicacies have now become hugely it puran poli or ukadiche modak.zunka-bhakar,wada-paav,thalipeeth,misal paav or usal. and last but not the least, the mouth watering shrikand.restaurants offering maharashtrian cuisine have become a preferred destination for many. i am sure these ethnic dishes will find their place in menu cards in restaurants abroad soon.

in sum,great achievements have been made in the last fifty years.outstanding sportsmen and artists have brought fame and prestige to maharashtra. just like great farmers,entrepreneurs and industrialists who have put mumbai and maharashtra on the international map. but we must remember that mumbai is not maharashtra. it is only a part of maharashtra. let us just not look at what is happening in mumbai alone. significant improvements in the standard of living,health care and education must take place all over this great state.politicians will have to learn to serve the people and ensure that roti kapda aur makan spreads to all sections of people across the state.every child must be provided with free education and health benefits must be extended to one and all. the fruits of economic growth must each every nook and corner of maharashtra. only then the sacrifices of those who laid down their lives for separate statehood would not have gone in vain.

i love mumbai. i can speak the lingo and i am proud to be a mumbai manoos.i am sure maharashtra will recapture the number 1 state position soon.

jai shivaji maharaj!.jai maharashtra!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

how sweeeeeeeeeet!

a recent on-line survey conducted by UNESCO has revealed that Bengali is the world's sweetest language.Spanish and Dutch languages take the second and third positions respectively. having lived continuously in kolkata for fourteen years after my birth and continuing to visit kolkata eight to ten times a year, i consider it like almost my second home. i speak the language and enjoy the companionship of bengalis.i was therefore thrilled to read on the net about this well-deserved recognition.
not only is the language the sweetest in the world,the sweets like rosogolla,sandesh and mishti-doi can be considered the best sweets in the world. three cheers to kolkata and kolkattans!
aami tomake bhalo bhashi!( i like/love you!)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

palladium-will it be mumbai's ultimate luxury mall?

palladium is a rare and lustrous silvery white metal and is very is an element belonging to the platinum group of metals and has extensive and varied applications. the new super luxury mall at the phoenix mill compound at lower parel has been quite appropriately named.

two lakhs square feet of floor space covered with italian marble and a sheer delight to watch for its magnificence is the palladium mall. covered on top with a lovely glass domed atrium, it has four levels housing shops of international power brands like the 'body shop', 'zara'(yet to arrive).' the fashion store'. 'movenpick' the famous swiss icecream chain. 'the manchester united cafe bar','burberry','emperio armani','hugo boss','estee lauder','tommy hilfiger' and a host of other international brands with a foodcourt at every level. and for the desi food lovers there is 'rajdhani' and the 'punjab grill''s very popular 'comedy store' is likely to open soon.

we took our grandkids the other day to have a look at this awesome upscale shopping centre and to dine at the 'punjab grill' about which we had heard a lot. it was a fantastic experience. very importantly,it was children-friendly.

on the whole it was a wonderful and entertaining experience. i guess that at least for many years the 'palladium' mall will remain mumbai's ultimate luxury mall. if you have an itch for phoren shopping, you don't have have to go to dubai or singapore. lower parel is nearer home.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

karthik calling karthik

it's not a run of the mill movie. it's diferent. it's about a schizoprhenic guy (farhan akthar) who suffers from hallucination. the death of an imaginary brother keeps coming to his mind. in the imaginary scenario the overzealous brother tries to push him in to a well. but the protogonist escapes and the bad brother trips and falls into the well and dies. this picture keeps coming to karthik (farhan akthar) as he is over-ridden with guilt for an incident which did not occur in reality but only in the mind.

karthik is a hardworking fellow in a builder's office. because he can never say no, work is thrust on him by everyone. there is a charming woman (deepika padukone) who has not had any interaction with karthik ever since she joined this builder's office. he is besotted with her and secretlly loves her. he writes emails to her everyday which he saves as he is too scared to send it to her.he can see her in her office-room from his office and is pretty mesmerised by her looks and panache. but then sonali (deepika padukone) has a lover in a colleague who is married with a kid but has not disclosed that to her. karthik's boss (ram kapoor) is overbearing and one day thrusts a hugeworkload on him. he demands that he goes through all the contracts and have them ready by next morning. karthik works throughout the night, completes his job and keeps it on the boss's table. the boss on seeing the incomplete output is livid. karthik has missed checking some other important contracts. an altercation follows and karthik is fired.

karthik is totally dejected and is about to committ suicide when the phone in his room is then that he starts getting a mysterious call every morning at 5. the caller calls himself karthik and advises him how to get along in office and in his private life. it is a motivational pep talk. karthik follows the caller's advice. he becomes self-confident, ticks off his boss, gets a huge salary hike and a great cabin and even sonali falls for him. the one proviso the caller has laid down is that karthik should not tell anyone about the caller lest they think that kartik is insane.he promises not to divulge the secret. but as he and sonali decide to keep no secrets between them he discloses to her about the caller.

then all hell breaks loose. the caller is very angry and decides to finish him. sonali is upset with karthik's strange behaviour and walks out of his life. karthik's boss reprimand's him for letting out some company secrets and fires him again. karthik,unable to bear the loss of his sweetheart and his job leaves his room and city and just decides to go somewhere. he lands in cochin, takes up a room and lives all by himself. he works for a law company and his new boss is happy with his performance. the boss insists that he keeps a landline and a mobile phone so that they can remain connected .he was in a state of mental peace all theese days without the phone. now once he gets a new landline, the early morning call restarts.the caller vows to finish karthik as he has broken his promise. sonali meanwhile leaves mumbai and comes to cochin in search of karthik. she takes him back to mumbai and they consult a psychologist (shefali shah). there is an improvement .

greatly talented farhan akthar does a brilliant job in a role suited to his personality.he puts in an award-winning performance. deepika is sizzling and does a good job too.ram kapoor as the overbearing boss puts in some fine piece of acting.first time director vijay lalwani treads an unbeaten path but falls short of covering his tracks well.the movie gets lost before reaching its finale. music is just ok. the song 'uff teri ada' is very hummable,though. the magic of farhan akthar is there all the way. see it for that and nothing more.