luchi bhaji in guwahati

Close to the Apsara theater in Guwahati was this guy who came around seven and was gone before twelve in the noon. Luchi ( lusee ) bhaji seemed like the national breakfast dish of Assam. So, every cart and dhaba had their own version. Even the hospital that my mom in law was admitted in did horrible parody of this beautiful dish. Anyway, this here was the best of the lot. The luchis were spotless, the curry was chana dal and alu. Many make this…Continue Reading “Luchi bhaji in Guwahati”

I don’t understand how Flipkart buyout is being seen as a Indian success story. One of the Bansals earlier said they want to become a global entity and also wanted to exit if the ever came to sell Flipkart off. If acquisition was the goal, Flipkart could have done that long back. There was no shortage of lovers. If valuation was the goal, that has been achieved, partly. The share market does not think it’s a good deal and the Walmart shares took a hit….Continue Reading “Is Flipkart buyout a win for Indian startups?”

kulhads in kolkata

Kulhads. They are a rarity in Delhi tea shops. There is one guy in CR Park market one who gives chai in kulhads for 15 rupees and in plastic cups for 10. So, every time we land there, I get one Kulhad and then ask for refills. So, if there are 3 people, it is not 3 cups of tea at one go. It is one cup (15) plus two refills (20). That effectively saves 20 rupees, plays foul with the teaman’s economics and gives…Continue Reading “Kulhads in Kolkata”

migrant workers in tea estates

Met two Odia boys at the heritage property we were staying at. One knew he was from Cuttack but never had been there. He was a Patnaik. He spoke a language that was neither Odia nor Assamese. But he plans to visit Odisha once he has enough money and leaves. He was a second generation migrant worker. The other one had a surname that I had never heard before. He could not speak even the bastard Odia. A third generation migrant, he knew he was…Continue Reading “Odias in a tea estate”

Let’s talk about stool samples. Not potty but academic ones. I passed out Delhi School of Economics some 15 years back. Did my masters in a lowly sociology and not the uply economics. But I learnt a lot and lot more than jargons. I dropped using words such as liminal a decade back. I remember the parts about Dramaturgy and can quote parts from my most favorite book- The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. But I gave up on the language because I was…Continue Reading “Academic stool samples”

Jorabagan Police Station

How I became the ultimate authority on Kolkata is a matter of serendipity. We were informed that Jorasanko is closed on Sundays and open on Mondays. That was incorrect. But it led us on a journey that needs telling. We discovered the truth while were well on our way and had to quickly reroute. Thankfully, the cab we had hailed had an amazing bade chacha in the driver’s seat. He smoked bidi, sipped water from the first plastic bottle ever made, talked shyly and did…Continue Reading “The Kolkata heritage tour that you must do”

jack daniels masterclass Jeff Arnett

Jeff Arnett is the Master Distiller at Jack Daniel’s. He is only the 7th Master Distiller of Jack Daniel’s in over 150 years of the brand’s existence, the first one being Jack Daniel himself. So, attending the masterclass was a serious matter for me. Here are the notes:   • Jack Daniels is made from corn and grains. Earlier all whiskey was made from rye, so having a large component of corn was a novelty during the early years of JD. • Rye tastes of pepper…Continue Reading “Notes from Masterclass by Jeff Arnett, Master Distiller, Jack Daniel’s”

If the movie is an ambassador of black power and brotherhood, it communicated all of that wrong. I am giving you just 10 reasons, there are tons of them in the movie: 1. Blacks can’t stick together. Movie starts with the Jabari falling out and ends with border tribe falling out. And, then a brother kills another. Point: Blacks are trademark leaders at infighting. 2. The kingship is apparently based on merit. Here merit is brute physical strength. But when T’Challa is humiliatingly defeated, he…Continue Reading “8 things Black Panther got totally wrong about black power”

Zaika e Nizamuddin

When people talk of passion, I go ‘huh, who stole my bag when I was coming down on the earth train?” However, the good part about being bored is you walk into the most interesting stuff from time to time. Let me tell you the story. Aga Khan Foundation set out with their community outreach program in Nizamuddin basti. The first thing they noticed is the malnutrition among the basti children. A little more research showed that a major reason for it was the fast…Continue Reading “Nizamuddin Eleven and Zaika-e-Nizamuddin pop up”

kalsang AMA cafe non veg platter

Okay, the rule is pretty simple. If the name has a Kalsang in it, enter. We went to the restaurant upstairs the night before and wished to try the cafe for lunch. It was one of the best decisions taken in the two day trip. The cafe is massive, has a great feel and view of the city and hills too. Coming to food, we started with the fries. After a lot of confusion, we ordered the fries with bacon. And, this bacon was better…Continue Reading “Kalsang AMA Cafe, Dehradun”

aapsosh sivsagar assam

This sweet is called aapsosh, meaning regret. That’s absosh, I know, but you know how the bongs turn every a into aa and b to p and all that. This is from Sivsagar, a small but historically critical city in upper Assam. It was the capital of Ahom kingdom and is one of the most important sites, globally, for shiva worshipers. The only other site that comes close is Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar. Anyway, back to aabsosh. It is half chhena and half khoya. Some…Continue Reading “Tasted Aapsosh yet?”

karada homestay coorg

First at the homestay in Coorg. I ask for hot water as a perfect city bred asshole and also because the temperate was really low. Half an hour later Mr. Fixit shows up. He works in the fields, there is a cook and there is a caretaker. All three are from Bengal. Like Indian and Pakistanis in England, we became friends. He shows me how to heat water. Next day morning, we had to drive to Bangalore and to catch the flight back. So, I…Continue Reading “Of hot water and burnt hair”

empires of the indus

Some books take you on a journey and drop you right at the starting point. Some others have no such noble intentions. They take you through narrow lanes, open fields and lonely stretches from which there is no way back. This book is one of the latter sort. When I read love in the times of cholera in college, I had fever, like real fever. Before that it was Chandrara Mryutu, an Odia fiction titled death of the moon. This book is about a lone…Continue Reading “The book to read on Hinduism is not on Hinduism”

The Mumbai spirit is they go to office and carry on as usual even when the city is under 3 feet of sewage water. The Chennai spirit is they will take a boat and give food to some old person who has gone hungry for three days in due to flood. The Bangalore spirit they can drive past toxic foam from lakes, take photos and upload on Facebook and carry on as usual. The Delhi spirit is when the air is poison at 999, children…Continue Reading “Hoping Delhi does not have the Mumbai spirit”

Some days before my food writing rant yesterday, something went wrong in the kitchen, a short crust fell apart. I was telling Tanu how she needs to share these stories of failure, of things going wrong, how eventually we picked up the crumbs and it still tasted good. The suggestion seemed original at the time, it seems it has been said and written a gazillion times. Just that social media has made us too embarrassed about sharing our failures. I followed a few food photography…Continue Reading “You are a human, not a toothpaste”

ziu delhi

Once I quit restaurant reviews and to some extent food blogging, many things changed. Now, I have the liberty to go to well reviewed restaurants and not be first one on scene. The one to photograph every bite banned photography when we started our pop ups. We will photograph every dish and mail, we said. I strated writing about food in 2011. Times were different then. There were few, there were no perks or rewards. Like the programmers from 80’s, the first movers were there…Continue Reading “Ziu, Delhi for thai food. And, about quitting restaurant reviews”

I was talking to this startup owner. The signal was bad. So, we did the “can you hear me, shifted in our chairs, can you hear me now, walked ten paces, can you hear me now, yaaa, much better now” routine and then talked work. He runs a solution that uses satellite imaging for crop monitoring. He recounted how he was on a webex call with his this other guy in Singapore and they did the same can you hear me, can you hear me…Continue Reading “Launching 5G before fixing 3G”

hotel folksy madikeri

This is a really small place in the small town of Madikeri. It is run by a couple, we never saw the wife who cooks. Food for two including chicken, mutton, pork and a veg thali that had sambhar and rasam and a bean coconut fry was 360 rupees. The rice portions were massive, we returned a bowl and got a discount too. Now, all the three curries tasted different. The gravies had nothing similar. The pork was the most alien flavour – it was…Continue Reading “Hotel Folksy Food, Madikeri”

sindoor tree

Nature is not a story of peace or co-living. Every time someone says finding peace and love in nature, I am like bro, have you seen nature? And, then start pushing Natgeo videos. Anyway, this time I saw trees that are being murdered by trees. Like this tree, apparently fruit is used to make sindoor, was being colonised by another one. From root upwards, it is one tree. Then you see these massive tree boil sort of thing where another tree has grafted itself onto…Continue Reading “Trees are bad people”

I hated Diwali as a child. There were very few things that I was not scared of. Crackers, were scary. I would generally hide in a corner or lock myself in a room if anyone tried to drag me out. I would weep and pee a little every time a loud one went off. The only part of diwali I enjoyed then is go out with the group of child scavengers at night, collect all the un-burst ones, out them in the apartment’s garbage bin…Continue Reading “Aadhar based diwali?”