Angkor wat

Angkor wat

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nothing day

'Tomorrow is daughter's day!' announced the radio brightly. The dulcet tones continued, 'A daughter is a gift of life, celebrate her a memorable gift at zing mall this evening with our gift coupons..'. The tone indicated that if you were the kind of insensitive whatnot who (incredibly!) had not yet celebrated your daughter, then atleast have the grace to shamefacedly slink to the mall may still be able to prove your love.

In school, I remember feeling v ashamed that I didnt know about 'Mother's day'. An older girl expressed much horror at this ignorance, 'You don't know?! I got my mum a coupon on MG road' she said, with a suitably superior air. Although duly crushed by this 9th std scorn, I remember asking what a 'coupon' was. A friendly classmate enlightened me: 'you can buy whatever you want with a coupon'- it seemed the ideal gift! To someone who could only remember making gifts until then, this coupon seemed an all new sophisticated idea,leaving far behind the poor smudged calendars, inky cards and gummy bookmarks. Much the idea, in fact, that radio jockeys and advertisements strive to convey. And an idea, apparently, that sells, and certainly not just to middle school students! Clearly there is money in this packaging of 'days'. With causes, I can see that some good may come of it, but who benefits from these 'people days', other than the commercial interests behind them? Certainly,we ve all heard people say 'These days are made only for those who dont appreciate their mothers/fathers/friends through the rest of the year, and are obliged to make a show of it on one day and feel better'. I dont know if this is always true, I m sure you can be appreciative both ways if you wanted to- and I for one am a celebrator of say, friendship's day and teacher's day :) but there's no doubt the category of 'special days' is swelling by the day.

I recently heard of a 'Brother-in-law' day, this seemed the most specific category so far :) Of course fathers day, grandparents day, even cousins day, all are constantly celebrated by Archies stores, where its quite a task these days to find the old simple 'happy birthday' or 'get well soon' cards anymore. I mentioned this to a friend's mother recently. She thought for a bit and said, 'I want to start a nothing day'. I thought it was a great idea :) A nothing day. With NO affiliation, no expectation of a gift, no guilt at having forgotten, no buying expensive gifts to make up for something or the other..just a simple normal day. I want to start this..assuming there's still room in the calendar!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Please co-operate!

Some phrases have become so much a part of our life that nobody thinks them odd or out of place anymore. Here are a few that sometimes amuse and sometimes generate murderous tendencies in me-

1st prize - 'Please co-operate'!

This must be the most maligned phrase of our times, atleast in labs. Here is a typical notice for booking a common instrument (for which 10 people are breathing down each other's necks at any typical time)- 'The hood will be booked from 9 am to 5 pm, please co-operate'..nice try..

2nd- 'Paradigm shift'-

Someone please tell me what this means..

3rd- 'Chemistry' or 'Vibes'-

Someone actually told me once that maybe i didnt have 'good vibes with my labspace' which is probably why the lysate was contaminated!! Not that i m ignoring any possibilities, anyone in possession of vibe-restoring charms please pass them on!

4th- 'stay in the loop'

For some reason, this reminds me of those fancy hotel revolving doors that i m always nervous of!!

5th- 'They don't gel' (Maybe you should increase the agarose concentration..)

6th- 'Its all in the game' (which one? i m good at kho kho and bad at volleyball..)

After some days with an overdose of these ( a simple way to get it these days is to watch any newschannel for about 15 minutes) I was delighted to hear someone say 'Kindly adjust'('kindly', of course, gives it an added charm :) at Canara bank, it totally made my day. Its another matter that the consequence was that I had to go back another day, having misguidedly allowed sentiment to take over and let in a perfectly healthy looking young girl before me. but that's no big deal, its all in the game..

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Geeky poem

After the second ligation and third transduction fail, one wonders..

The cell debris that earns a frown
Or P value that gets you down
The ice slurry that melts so fast
That competent cells they float full mast
The Streptococcus so cheery,
That Amp or Kan it makes merry
The enzyme assay that looks all nice
Until the blot satanically dries
The transfer apparatus that stops midway
Even when you remembered to pray
The ligation colony that is not a clone
Transforming ecstatic smile to heartfelt groan
The cells that thrive on a tryptone feast
Except on cross examination they turn out to be yeast
The PCR that only works on alternate weekends,
With prima donna moods that rival fashion trends
I wonder whether all of this, is on ‘entertainment E. coli ’
As a pick me up and comic turn for bored bacilli!

If its being broadcast on some bacterial underground network, I m sure no channel could compete with its TRP's..

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I was in Bombay for a whirlwind two and a half days visiting a friend, a combination of Madhu's enterprise and advance plans helped us exploit the time fully though! :)

I thought a photo collagey thing would be a better expression of the trip than anything I could write :) I cant seem to fit it into the blog post space so its just above this, as the main blog pic. So this has the sunset from Juhu beach, the rocky seafront at Bandra, bangles at Colaba causeway, the awessome chocolate brownie at Theobromas (apparently they deliver all over now, note!!),the posters at Prithvi theatre, the Bombay symphony orchestra at NCPA and the amazingly skilled elderly man at Prithvi's cafe who made(is making, in the pic) cheese pav bhaji :), the Einstein head from the National gallery of Modern art, the famous wall to wall Hussain frescoe at TIFR, and of course, us, at Bandra seaface cum mysterious fort..the writing was long gone so no idea what the fort is :)

I came away with the feeling of having stepped into a kaleidoscope..The bits of Bombay I met were friendly and efficient. And in the relatively upmarket areas, very aesthetic..cobbled lanes and houses as restaurants in every gully..Like a friend pointed out, probably Indranagar in disguise :)Of course the starkest contrasts between rich and poor are still probably here..the slums reside side by side with Ambani's bungalow..but I certainly felt that the eateries (damn expensive, thats definitely a downside :( score very high..amazing Parsi, Iranian and Italian fare that I can vouch for! They should have a Mumbai Michelin :)

And..I now know how much a glass of tea costs at the Taj- for those who dont- believe or not- its 400 rs. I mean, at that price I'd want the tea plant so generations could thrive on it!! We were so shocked (or I was:) and discussed leaving quietly in such an obvious way that I suspect thats what got us free chocolate cookies :))

Monday, April 18, 2011

food books

I think almost all food tastes better if had with the right book in hand. Of course the right company makes it very, if not more, enjoyable, but now I think about it, the taste buds get a raw deal. You re too busy composing the next answer or listening to soak in the food (assuming its worth soaking in of course- all beetroot and papaya related things excluded right now). But books are more passive, you can read, put them down, chew,savour, think and pick them up again. If you like some section you can saunter down that part, guess what comes next, and then do it all over again. As a side angle, eating with a book also draws far more attention than eating with any live person does. I dont know whether out of sympathy (paapa she doesn't have any friends) or curiosity, but everyone wants to know more about you the moment you re caught eating with a book in hand. In short, although vetoed as a bad food practice, I think theres something to be said in favour of book- eating too :)

So what are your favourite food books? Here is my list:

THE BEST: Wodehouse: I think the easygoing and mad happenings of Wodehouses stimulate gastric juices or something, I always eat more and feel happier with them!

Agatha Christie: Non gory, very gossipy and such a skilled character sketcher! great with food

Enid Blytons: Fabulous!Her food descriptions alone were enough to sustain a meal (fresh farm tomatoes, hot bread from the oven, and hot many other things I didn't even know the meaning of, but it didn't matter)

Harry Potter: The coolest,ALL Of them :)

Gerald Durrell: Feel good independently and with food, always

Also William, Rex Stout, Tintin but not Asterix (dont know why), Edith Nesbit. Don Camillo. Roald dahl- the non scary ones ONLY. Triveni (not the sad ones, again)

specific books : All Mma Ramotswe stories, Raga n josh, The microbe hunters. City of djinns.

THE WORST- P.D. James (the goriest murders ever, and you ll just sink into a dark mood)

the so so ones-

Ngaio marsh, Calvin (too restless I think?), actually comics in general are not great, except Tintin somehow..Frank o connor, Somerset maugham, Kuvempu (I think guilt. he s so scholarly and polished that you feel it cant be taken so lightly..feels like sacrilege).

Palace walk (too much detail to absorb) and The Kiterunner (too sad).

The WORST ever- Analytical chemistry- the Bangalore university prescribed one. I tried it once,obviously when in dire straits, and it put me off lunch AND dinner. It just gave me a hopeless feeling. Even the cover is especially unappealing, and am sure also unappetising, for poor foraging paper mites :(

Of course you cant insult the best books by reading them with sidey food..that wont give you any sort of good feeling. It needs quite a mix and match perrsonallized standardization..good luck :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

food for the soul and stomach :)

1) The most spirited rendering of the old favourite 'bhagyada lakshmi baramma' that I have heard. I re-heard it after years and cant stop..WHAT a voice, and what a simple powerful rendition of this simple classic!! I really felt like anyone would feel like granting wishes or coming instantly (lakshmi baramma!)hearing this !!

2) A guaranteed feel good full meal combination recipe

Cheese chapati with pickle, and cauliflower something rice (i havent decided what to christen it :)

Simplest way to make a cheese chapati-

Make two chapatis, grate cheese, sprinkle (liberally) on one, add the other on top, pat gently and put on the tava. don't try rolling it again though, if it doesn't break, it ll definitely push the cheese somewhere in the dough and the taste is quite different. Eat hot, and with lemon pickle for best mood lifting :)

The cauliflower something rice:

Cut cauliflower florets, keep soaked in salt water for half hour. Cook them with minimal oil, add just a pinch of asofateida ('ingu'- i can never spell the asof-..) and karben soppu/ kadi patta for taste (remove it later) also add haldi liberally, keep it covered and let it cook for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile saute finely chopped onions on the pan in minimal oil. Cut tomatoes in quarters and cut away the pulp so that only the dry seedless part remains.Take near-fully cooked rice (i used the regular, but basmati will be great), add a little oil in pan and toss around the rice till it browns. keep aside. mix the rice, cauli-tomatoes and onions, keep in pan and cook for maybe 5 minutes. if you like herbs, sprinkle basil on top (namdharis!) . i actually ate it with kadi patta chutney pudi..i dont want to boast but oh god it was delicious!! :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

the new year new age questionnaire :)

1) What do you have a natural gift for? (not a talent, just a character trait)

i) Guilting myself:

:) i was damn good at this even at the age of 8, when an (evil! grr..) cousin convinced me that my grandfather was going to be arrested because i had laughed so loudly..although way better now, i can still spend completely unnecessary guilted times, provided the guilter does a good logical job :)

ii)Seeing the lighter side of things:

this is a plus for me, but am sure can be dampening for others at times! it also means very little scope for reverence or belief about things without tangible proof of them. come to think of it, that can be damn irritating if stretched to its maximum. like my mother often says as a favourite exasperated statement 'for you everyone else is right' :) just the irritating habit of seeing all points of view leading to the conclusion that nobody is wrong..but luckily i take sides nonetheless, on principle :) also luckily, things like seas, books, mountains, children,music and rainbows exist, and can generate quite enough reverence to keep me in touch with the sentiment! :)

iii) Paranoia:

i still look under the bed every night..if i m not allowed i would sit up with a torch and get bleary eyed.

and any smart would be murderer would just have to lock me in a room alone with 'the ring' or its equivalent on autoplay...

iv) sensing emotion

I dont know how to describe this!:) but i could always tell even in school if the teacher'd had a fight at home in the first 10 minutes..and it always bothered me that nobody cared to be gentler with her that day :(

2) Do you like self help and 'designed to inspire' kind of books?

No. as to why..I think because I don't learn anything from them, and they don't evoke any feeling from me! like someone said, touches neither mind nor heart :) atleast the few i ve read i ve found either pretentious (meaning fairly obvious truths cloaked in fancy terms) or just plain uninteresting :(..i cant say a thing to anyone raving about the book 'jonathan livingstone seagull', for example! (though what a lovely name :) But i believe the category has expanded so i may be generalizing unintentionally. there are apparently more concrete ones written now, for instance with people's life stories..i havent tried them but atleast i can see that they must have some content, so should try..

3) What do you respect in people around you?

well of course thats a long list! But I think it d boil down to strength of character and a sort of tenacity. Strength of character sounds like a conveniently loose term :) but I mean it as some mix of sincerity, passion,interest,conviction and hard work. I think its a poor way to spend a life if done with a half hearted interest in what you do and in people and things around you. I m also among those who can unfortunately admire some facets of people, even if i dont like them (damn :) :)

4) What bothers you in people?

Lack of tolerance bothers me very much. Both at the personal and at the larger..for instance in evidence right now, country level. Maybe it partly stems of working in a field where variety is admired and is the basis for everything else.. I find it incredible that one cAN object to people doing things differently, instead of being happy to learn that there is one more way of doing it!

so does lack of sensitivity.

so does a sense of extra bhaav ( i prefer it to 'ego' :)..even the merited kind can be hard to take, the unmerited generates sand-pit ducking impulses in me!!

5) What are you bad at?

i) drawing

ii) accepting a compliment

iii) pretending

iv) Going to a bank or office and not fighting with a lady

v) Convincing the IISc security that i m a legitimate student here..

i would have added waiting in a queue but thats not true anymore! yay i ve learnt tons of patience :)

6) What are you bad at understanding?

i) An inability to laugh at oneself:

Somehow I think the rigidity born of this attitude diminishes anyone's personality :(

ii) Politicians and businessmen donating to temples in crores while letting schools and hospitals languish:

I have nothing against it being both, but in a country like ours I find it really sad that people with money to give often choose to soothe their own consciences apparently to wash away sin, while someone's life can be changed drastically with it. Thankfully I believe many places run associated charities, i hope they expand.

iii) Imposing your views or preferences on others:

Not happening!though a healthy argument is very much happening :)

iv) Many society driven 'ushoo's :) :

must be plenty such taboos, and some that i agree with by virtue of my own personality or upbringing or inhibitions, but a taboo that has no basis other than that someone has decided its 'bad' or immoral or whatever, carries no conviction with me..unless of course its proven harmful

8) What do you think is essential to growth (as a person)?

i) Travel! :)

ii) Interacting with people (like R.K.Narayan and Miss Marple have pointed out in two v different cultures, a village can provide as much scope as the world if rightly tapped :)

iii) A general willingness and effort to explore and accept

9) Are you good at forgiving people and yourself?

Yes! :) and no :(

10) Do you get enough exercise?

No.But am getting better in small doses!

11) Would you enjoy working in industry?

I doubt it v much..but I might like it for a short time, just for the experience. On the whole I m all for academics or any private freelancey thing for a sane balance of things in life :) not to say you cant get madly involved and slavedriving academics, of course you do! but if you re calling the shots you can arrange it your way in a quiet non madly competitive place, and have time to call your own :)

well thats a longish list..happy new year everyone! :)