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Food, memories, Uncategorized

Delicacies without borders

 

Bengal has been granted the GI (Geographical Indication) for Rasgulla, by the Indian Government and the mercurial Chief Minister is ecstatic. Bengal’s gain is Orissa’s loss.

It all started in 2015 when Orissa celebrated the “Rasgulla divas” with huge fanfare but all hell broke lose in Bengal. It was as if a calamity had fallen on Bengali Bhadralok. After all it was their culinary symbol.

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And like it happens for all things Indian, a committee was appointed to look into each state’s claim. And contrary to any other such committee, a decision was arrived at, within a short span of 2 years.

 

What about its equally mouth watering cousin, the Gulab Jamun. If Rasgulla is the fair and demure bride, then the Gulab Jamun is the dusky seductress. You eat one, you feel like eating all. Which state, you ask? Whichever it is, eat first, debate later.

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And where Indian sweets are concerned, how can one forget the Jalebi. Known to originate in Persia, where it was known as Zolbia, Indians just love this exquisitely sweet delicacy.

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Poha or Pohe, flattened and dried rice flakes, is another such delicacy, which is eaten across most Indian states. But it enjoys a pride of place on a Maharashtrian or Malwa breakfast plate. How can you grant it a GI status and to which state?

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Same is the case with idli, Wada and dosa. Though popular as a South Indian breakfast, they became famous across India due to proliferation of Udupi restaurants everywhere. In North India, idli became famous as idli chaat and idli fry. Then somebody added ginger and garlic to the fried idli, and Lo and behold! A Chinese idli was born.

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Next comes Batata wada and Misal, I already see a few readers making a rush towards the nearest eatery serving these. Both have the ability to make your mouth water and your stomach run. If South India had the breakfast food, Maharashtra had these fast food. GI is not required to stress their Maharashtrian origins. It can be safely said, the common man survives on this staple diet in all cities of Maharashtra.

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Indians love the samosa too. Again, it originated in the Middle East. Known as samusaj in Arabia and Sanbosag in Persia, it is a fried dish with filling of meat, onion, ghee, lentils but its vegetarian avatar was what enticed the Indian populace.

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The kachori is a similar stuffed delicacy, and many local varieties are enjoyed in the North Indian states, especially Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and the western state of Gujarat. In Maharashtra, the Shegaon Kachori is ISO Certified!

Then there are so many chaats like sev puri, sev batata puri, ragda patis, et al; why bother about the origin when the destination is the human stomach, via the taste buds of the tongue.

Yatindra Tawde

humour, Uncategorized

A Ticket to Mars

Over a lakh Indians have registered themselves for the first human mission to Mars. And I was shocked that number of Indians thronging for this path breaking journey are lagging behind the Americans and the Chinese. Then I came to know that the mission has been initiated by NASA. And the American numbers surged after the recent elections, I don’t know why. Hopefully they won’t be allowed to carry their guns on the flight. After all they have proved to be very fragile in the mental department, losing their marbles for the slightest of reasons. This mission is bound to test humans to their limits, first in making the long journey and then spending time on the harsh planet, however cocooned they may be from the elements.

The Chinese are second, next only to the Americans. Hopefully they won’t be allowed to manufacture any part of the spaceship nor the Mars adobe. Made in China has a good brand recall…er…product recall. But it won’t be so easy to recall from space neither can the product be use and throw. We don’t want to add to the debris floating around in space. Already lot of junk is going around the earth in various degrees of orbit. Similar thing cannot be allowed to circle around Mars. Another thing which the Chinese should be barred from, is to provide the food to the would-be astronauts. Indian Chinese food is one thing and reasonably tasty but one cannot say the same thing about Chinese Chinese food. We don’t want to further endanger the insect life on Mother Earth.

And how are the Indians lagging behind? It is said that a Chettan is found in all parts of a globe. But perhaps the people from that particular state have not heard about this mission.

A gregarious , fun loving and a foodie person from one north-western Indian state doesn’t have the patience required for making this long journey, without his shuddh ghee soaked food. And he is more interested in going to Canada.
And a jalebi phafda person will always miss his pure veg food. He will stand in long queues outside the American Embassy for a visa, since he can very well carry his gathiyas to the new country but all this will not be possible in the controlled atmosphere of the spaceship. Hence he has opted out.

The desperate reputation of hormonal males from one well known North Indian city precede them, hence NASA has banned them from the flight.

All of this leaves very few Indians who have opted to go. Mars is going to miss them and it is its loss. After all only Indians can come up with jugaadu solutions, which will be very much required to survive on the red planet.

My jugaad is ready. I am used to the green surroundings on our Earth so I am carrying my goggles with green filters. I am sure to see greenery everywhere on that red Planet.

So, Wish me Bon Voyage, friends…

 

humour, Uncategorized

Wrong number

This term makes me nostalgic. Recently an astronaut on the space station, ISS, tried to call his home from the ISS, and uttered the famous words, “Hello, is this planet earth” , and put the fear of aliens in the lady, who happened to be at the other end of the wrong number. At the end of the day, he did apologise to the lady saying it was a wrong number, that too, by posting the apology on Twitter. This episode made me wonder about the huge progress made by the human race in, first putting a permanent space station in an orbit around the earth, and then establishing communication between the space station and earth, where an astronaut can easily reach out to his parents by just picking up the phone and calling them. But alas! The humans have not been able to resolve the age old problem of wrong numbers. And this is what made me nostalgic.
Just remember the black phone which was a permanent fixture in almost all homes, once upon a time. In the time, before the introduction of mobiles in the 90’s, and many years after that too, black phone with the circular dial, was the preferred instrument for communication between families and friends. And the wrong numbers during that era were unbelievable. Once a man, who had gone to Nainital for the first time, excitedly called his parents from there and exclaimed over the phone, “Mom, I have now reached. It feels like heaven and I am literally walking through the clouds”. Now, it so happened that, the call was wrongly placed to a family, who had recently lost their son and were grieving. When the mother heard this message, she fainted. These type of dramas played out many times during those days, all thanks to the telephone and the telephone operators, who literally had the strings of fate of many people, in their hands.
The telephone department was very important, or rather, the demand for the telephone was so great, and the supply was so poor, that the people in the department had a superior air about them, since people used to give them that importance. I have seen people begging for a telephone line to be allotted to their home.
Another common ritual was placing of a trunk call. You gave a call to the telephone operator, told the city name and the phone number, where the call was to be placed and were invariably told that the lines are very busy, and the waiting time will be high, and you were given a trunk call code number. Once a trunk call was placed, you could not then go out, since you never knew when you’re call would get connected. I remember, once we waited for 1 and a half day for the call to be connected to our aunt, who used to stay in Indore. Of course, there were options available, where, if you placed an emergency call, the connection time was shortened, but such calls also used to take at least 2-3 hours to get connected, and were comparatively expensive. Another service was ‘PP’ , where you had the option of calling a particular person only. In which case, the operator would call the number, call for the particular person, and once that person came on line, then only the operator connected the two calls.
And in spite of so many hurdles, the businesses were conducted successfully and relationships became stronger. Today, when any person is just a call away, the relationships suffer, since no one wants to talk, in this age of WhatsApp and Facebook.
Those were the days!!

humour, Uncategorized

Vada Pav – The Indian Burger

I read different versions of eating vada pav today and was reminded about one unforgettable episode when I ate vada pav. It was unforgettable because it had nothing to do with the satiation one feels after eating a vada pav but something which makes me remember it even though almost 5-6 years have passed.
Once myself and my better half had gone to Dadar to my parents residence. With nothing particular to do I suggested that we go to Dadar west, near Chabildas school and have vada pav at Shree Krishna vada pav centre. As you know, previously I used to stay in Dadar and lot of fond memories are associated with the place. And one of the strong memories are of my 11th and 12th std., when I had my tuition classes in Dadar west, where I used to go regularly. Well, I don’t exactly remember what I gained from those classes but I strongly remember going to the same Shree Krishna vada pav centre, which was the first stop before entering the classes. And I must tell you that the vada pav served there was mouth watering, to say the least. It was served hot and melted in the mouth. we used to eat it, the hot vada pav scalding the mouth.
It was these memories which prompted me to suggest to my wife to accompany me to have the vada pav once again to refresh the mouth watering taste. So we went walking and got down from the iconic Tilak bridge and reached the vada pav centre. This vada pav centre continues to be a centre of attraction for all the denizens who still flock to Dadar for work propose as well as shopping propose. Thus there was a big line and we joined the line patiently awaiting our turn. As we progressed closer to the counter, my mouth started watering in anticipation. My wife is not a foodie at all, and she was just humouring me by accompanying me to eat the vada pav. Finally we had paid, the rate now being almost 10 times what I used to pay during my teens but who cared… The hot piping vada pav was in my hands. Myself and wife moved to the side of the road so that we can have the vada pav at our leisure without getting disturbed by the milling crowds. So there I was, indulging in my foodie delight. Now most of you know that green chillies are also served along with vada pavs and I was enticed to eat one… And that decision resulted in lot of chaos… for me…i don’t know what happened or how it happened but the chillie burst in my hand and the next moment my eyes 👀 were burning…a piercing scream escaping my mouth, my wife totally confused on what had happened… Later on she told me that all people on that street were looking quizically at me. There I was forgetting all about the vada pav in the paper plate with the only concern being to bring fast relief to my eyes. I tried hard to open my eyes but in vain since the pain was just too over powering. At that very moment my wife bought a packaged water bottle and then the attempts to douse the fire burning in my eyes , started. Finally after almost emptying the bottle on my eyes, was I again able to see the world, albeit through watering slit eyes. In all this confusion myself and my wife had all but forgotten about mouth watering vada pavs and instead of indulging my taste buds, I was more concerned about saving my vision. Thus one of my five senses took precedence over another and I had to forego the pleasure of eating a mouth watering vada pav.
Yatin

Uncategorized

A.I.

The news did not miss my attention, though it was on the inside pages of the newspaper. The Scientists at Facebook switched off the robots they were developing, since the robots started communicating between themselves in a entirely new language which was gibberish to the humans developing them. Initially the Scientists were under the impression that something had gone wrong since the robots stopped talking in English and though they were still using English words, the sentences were totally gibberish. However as the days went by, they were able to make out that a pattern was emerging in their communication between themselves, which really alarmed them. So to stop a Frankenstein moment, the Scientists shut down the robots.

There are many who play video games and become quite proficient in particular games. Nowadays there are multi-million dollars prize money tournaments especially for such gamers, mostly in USA, Europe and Japan. Tesla recently created a robot, which managed to defeat the top gamers quite easily. And instead of being proud of the creation, Elon Musk is alarmed. In fact he went on to say that AI poses a greater risk to human society than nuclear warheads.

With AI on one side and Genetic Engineering on the other, the day is not far, when a Human and a Robot will be merged, and believe me, the future will not be so romanticised, as shown in futuristic Hollywood movies.

Yatindra Tawde

humour, Uncategorized

The Ig Nobel Prizee

As you all must be knowing, in agricultural fields across India, cattle manure is used as a fertiliser. Till recently, the cost of one truck manure was about Rs. 1500/-, which today costs about Rs. 7000/-. Why did this happen? What caused this steep increase? Is the cattle population going down? Or the reason is something else?

The Chief Minister of one state of India has decided to get to the root of the problem. He has instructed all his babus in his state to feed him data. And what is the data? Conduct census of all the cattle population in the state. Though a difficult task, the babus got down to business. They made all the plans to visit each village household, each Tabela, et al to get the number of cattle and update their boss. But the next instruction of their boss, made them sweat. And smell!! Why? They were expected to not only count the cattle but also to measure their valued dung, discharged by the Cattle! The reason, allegedly, was that the boss, wanted to know whether the supply has gone dry or whether the middle men were hoarding the dung. Though I fail to understand, in which smelly room, was the dung being hoarded. The babus were really stumped with this quixotic requirement.

Let me try to help the babus in achieving their aim, which is to measure the valuable discharge. Here goes…

1) Give data sheets to owners of cattle to do the dirty measurement, which should be submitted in government offices, every week. And as a motivation to the owners, dole out free gloves and weighing scales…
2) Entrepreneurs to manufacture intelligently designed diapers for the cattle. The diapers to be very spacious to hold the valuable contents, which can then be weighed easily. Won’t be surprised if the entrepreneurs turn out to be part of the family of the babus.
3) But if no one doesn’t want to touch the discharge, here’s another solution- weigh the cattle before and after their discharge. The difference in weight, is the weight of the discharge.

So there, I have finished with my contribution to a noble cause. I am sure, the Indian agriculturist will be greatly benefited by my contribution and I am nominated for the next Ig Nobel prize.

With tongue firmly in cheek.

Yatindra Tawde,Nobel,n

humour, memories, Uncategorized

A “Pot” of Gold

Someone sitting on a pot of gold has suddenly got a literal meaning. There is a good story about a pot of gold.

Once a man loses everything and defeated he goes to another village and takes shelter under a tree outside a temple. Since his appearance is quite run down and his clothes are tattered, the villagers visiting the temple take pity on him and offer him some money and food. Many villagers do this and the man decides to stay there. He gets used to this charity from the villagers and he slips into the role of a beggar. The villagers don’t like beggars outside their temple but being humane, they continue their charity towards him. Many years pass with these state of affairs and one day, the man dies. After cremating him, the villagers decide that there will be no more beggars outside their village temple. They start cleaning up the surroundings, where the man had made his dwelling, and stumble upon a pot of gold, when they try to level the ground to beautify it. Moral of the story – the man was always sitting on a pot of gold but he had become lazy and could never realise his potential.

But the current story has no such morals. Recently in America (where else), in a New York Museum, the connoisseurs are given a chance to sit on a Golden Throne. Yes, in America, a golden potty becomes a golden throne. It is an installation by Italian artist, Cattelan, fully usable. And people are eating beyond their capacities, to get a chance to use the golden throne and earn some bragging rights on social media. And no, selfies are not allowed when using the golden throne. Otherwise it would have broken the Internet. So, the people are scampering to sit (with the ‘h’ silent), literally on a pot of gold. I did not know the art market in the west is so advanced that people are involved with all their guts and glory.

Yatindra Tawde