The soldier that is caught and is stoic is a hero. The soldier that complained about runny dal is booted out.   The soldier’s wife that stood strongly by the dead body is a hero. The soldier’s daughter that called for peace got rape threats.   The soldiers that are blown up and can never talk are heroes. The soldiers that demanded pension are enemies of the state.   The only ones that make money off soldiers are politicians and ‘defence analysts’.   The only…Continue Reading “Good soldier, Bad soldier”

Okay, the universe wants me to write this. Second consecutive day that I am part of a conversation about sadhguru. Both the times I am told that he speaks well. I am also told even if he killed his wife, he has inspired so many that his contribution outruns his crime. And, then the person goes on to say it must have been an accident. I asked if the person also supports Asaram Bapu? So I am told rape is a heinous crime. Murder is…Continue Reading “The criminally innocent elitism of Sadhguru fans”

tasting india symposium

When you explore or explain a new concept, it is a simple practice to eliminate what the object of study is not. It is an effective practice but only in the beginning. Once you have eliminated what it is not, you need to start defining what it is. When it comes to Indian food, it is easiest for people to say what it is not. Whether it is a resident Indian food writer or a non-resident Indian chef, everyone has a clear list of what…Continue Reading “Process of Elimination and Indian Cuisines”

siddheshwari pice hotel kolkata

Streetfood is the sign of a city’s body and mind. Streetfood tells you how safe and active a city is. It also tells you what the intentions of the city are and how it wants its citizens to behave. Let me explain. Two years back, while walking back from the promenade in Pondicherry to our hotel, I and my wife were a little worried as it was well past midnight. Though there were people on the road, the streets were dark. And, then we saw…Continue Reading “Kolkata: Of streetfood, pice hotels and access to protein”

Okay. This week is having a horrible start. But I have to say this. Yesterday, Chef Ashish Bhasin from Leela Gurgaon posted a video about an Odia biryani that has curry leaves and mustard seeds. He called it the singature biryani of Odisha. As per facts, Odisha does not have a biryani of its own. He called it a Koli biryani. There are no kolis in Odisha. Biryani with mustard seeds is a horrible idea and thank god it does not exist outside of his kitchen….Continue Reading “Don’t be lazy, Chef.”

In this series, I will talk to people who have taken a leap of faith, pursued their passion at a great cost or are balancing their passions with a life that makes it extremely hard to follow those passions. These people should not be seen as heroes or ideals. But they establish that more is possible, alternatives are worthwhile and there is no single lens to look at people and measure them. The series starts with Shivendra Sharma who quit his job at World Bank…Continue Reading “Passion Parade: Shivendra Sharma, Chalung House”

Woke up to quite a few wishes of happy ratha jatra. I did not even know it was today. Was never a big fan of the god or the ritual. The jatra, specifically, is a terrible reiteration of caste and religious exclusivity that the temple stands for today. I don’t know much about the temple or the rituals as I was never interested. But top of my mind, here are a few things that is wrong with the whole institution: 1. The King is a…Continue Reading “Why ratha yatra is a celebration of caste and religious exclusion”

Had a debate with a few friends about death and if we can wish it on others, especially parents. I said we can wish it on anyone. When someone is terminally ill, many of us wish death than prolonged suffering. I have so many friends who have been releived when parents passed away. The sort of moral hegemony that nooooo, i will never wish death for anyone is idiotic and very un-Hindu. Of all religions, it is Hinduism that not just tells you to be…Continue Reading “Wishing death”

You can’t miss Jurassic. I loved it not because I love dinos, I do. I have never missed one. 3 was bad. 4 was ok. But this one is phenomenal. And, it is 2D. You see, 3D is not a technology. It is a tech in transition. Like Bluetooth. Never perfected, never less than a pain. And, given what they have done in this with 2D, I wonder why we need 3D. And, this movie packs so many screams, hugs and high fives, go with…Continue Reading “The latest Jurassic movie in 2D tells us that 3D is shit.”

ode to safeda

There are snobs who say there is nothing called a veg biryani. There are rebels against paneer because it tastes like styrofoam. There are jihadists against chicken because only red meat is meat. Last few days, I i have come across many mango terrorists. Safeda is an impostor, it does not deserve being called a mango, safeda is bleh, safeda is thuuuu, safeda is tatti. I love safeda or Banganapalle or baiganapalei as we call it in Odisha. Baigana means brinjal in Odia and I…Continue Reading “An ode to safeda”

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”