Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Art and Science of Food Tasting

I face a very unique situation - I absolutely adore my wife and the meals that she cooks; but I am pretty much clueless when asked to point out flaws in them. Why, you may ask? I attribute it to only this - I stayed in hostels for 6 years of my study life. I've tasted food cooked by disinterested folks who were only interested in quantity rather than quality & taste. Therefore, my mentality has adapted itself to one fact - home food is priceless; and thou shalt not criticise it at any cost.

This said, I've noticed that the Mrs. has the innate ability to identify even subtle changes in sweet, salt and sour and whatever other taste exists on this planet earth. This, I must attribute to her having had home food throughout and the education that she has received from her mom.

All said and done, I believe that while my attitude might encourage the chef to innovate, it definitely does not have the means to provide proper feedback which is also essential for a chef's 'kitchen progression'.

I need to develop the taste and talent of a culinary connoisseur :-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Advantage of being a Hindu

Today morning, like every day I prayed to God "Please let my day be good - help me work sincerely". On the way there was a small temple, seeing which I said "Please let the traffic not be as horrible as Monday when I spent 3.5 hours traveling one way"

As I continued to the bus stop I wondered, suppose everyone is restricted to ONE boon with EACH god, depending on your religion, who would gain the most?

Obviously Hindus. I'll pray for a good day to Ganesha, traffic clearance to say Shiva, something else to Krishna etc

Pretty trivial I know, but it helped occupy my thoughts till I reached the bus stop :-D

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thank You Milk Cooker

Doodh Doodh Doodh Doodh
Doodh hai wonderful
Pee Sakte Hain Roz Glassful
Doodh Doodh Doodh Doodh, wonderful Doodh

Remember this song? It used to be troublesome enjoying this milk earlier since I didn't have a milk cooker. Used one for the first time today and was intrigued to explore the funda behind it.

Read the explanation here. Interesting that a Senior Scientific Officer from the IGCAR, DAE has provided the crisp, scientific explanation.

BTW, hear the full song here.

Moonsoon - Attitudes Before, During and After

It's by now common knowledge that the monsoon is the most eagerly awaited season in India. The extent of its importance can be gauged by the fact that ALL the sectors critically depend on it for improvements.

This monsoon was very interesting from the perspective of people's attitude towards it. The word people would include many - myself, friends, relatives, colleagues, random strangers; you get the drift, right? :-)

Till the rains come, the constant gripe is about how hot it is, how severe water cuts are; what a scorching summer our country has; how greenhouse gases are gonna smoke us all out of the earth etc

The first rains are the most welcome - people start describing romance like it has just been discovered, there is a sudden expression of love for the smell of moist earth and getting drenched is treated as the 'Yo' thing. Trips to hill stations like Lonavla, Khandala become the rage; trekking in the rain is considered 'the must do' thing; women in wet sarees & chai-pakora become the rage ;-)

As the monsoon steadily builds up, the initial romantic euphoria leads to spewing of statistics - deficit/excess/normal being the defining adjectives. The meteorologists are on trial everyday to assess if their prediction of the rain is correct or not. A constant watch is kept on the level of the water supply sources.

The next stage in this complex relationship is grumbling - clothes don't dry, i'm constantly drenched, vehicles move slowly, visibility is sometimes poor, the roads are rubbish, so may deaths due to flooding, so many homeless etc

The last stage is an absolute "when will it end" phase - This is where everyone prepares to be Noah about to disembark from his Ark.The irritation with the rains is written clearly on the faces of people.

After that, what? The cycle continues till the end of a scorching summer when the parched earth sighs and gasps and moans for the first drops of rain!

I'll close this with a wonderful kannada couplet

maLe bantu maLe, koDe hiDidu naDe

The rain has arrived; start carrying an umbrella

daariyallli koncha biddu, baTTe ella koLe
Having fallen down on the way, all the clothes are dirty

bisilu bantu dHage, koTu tOpi tege

The sun is out now; remove your coat and cap

baaviyalli neeru sedi, sopu haaki oge
Draw water from the well and wash the clothes with soap


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kalajamoon Theories

The hullabaloo over access to emails routed through Blackberry is consuming more and more newsprint and online space. So thought, "Let me also add my 2 cents (or more) worth" :-D

Firstly, I've never been a fan of the Blackberry. Let me apply the fine print to that point - I'm not a fan of the Blackberry being used for office email. Call me odd, but that's how I am. Use the Blackberry to check your gmail/your facebook - perfecto! But if it comes to your office mail - naah!

However, its not just been the personal vs office mails angle that I've thought of. I've also been thinking in a quite serious manner on the topic too. What I have understood is this -

Blackberry provides 2 types of services to clients - enterprise (large corporations having their own servers on their premises protected by their own encryption keys) and individual (those who get their Blackberry services via some service provider like Airtel/Vodafone etc

If, as Blackberry claims they cannot provide the encryption keys for enterprises; still what is the big deal? In any case in India lots of business is done via the crony capitalism route. So, how much time will it take the Home Minister to call up these enterprises and ask them to covertly share their keys with the IB or RAW?

That would solve the problem of enterprise users, and for individuals - call a meeting of the telecom head honchos and ask them to share. I know snooping is a debatable topic, with shades of gray; but is there ANYTHING that we can do to prevent snooping by the intelligence agencies AND avoid misuse of Blackberry services by troublemakers?

There are more serious and better thinkers & analysts on this topic. The Economist is one of them. What they are basically saying in the article is that either RIM will be forced to accede to the government's diktat or the government's will find a way out. Have a read it's a good article

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dreams vs Reality

Many times events that we dream about while sleeping have an occurrence in the real world.

1. In an earlier post I spoke about how I dreamt about Vadivelu standing in front of 5-6 simultaneously ringing phones - cue to real life - the simultaneous ringing of many alarms that I had set

2. During the days of nightfall (ahem ahem) dreams were the trigger to the first faltering steps towards manhood ;)

3. Recently during a train journey I found myself shivering violently in a dream when I was trying to do something. Turned out that I was actually shivering in the chill of the night, not having wrapped myself properly.

This got me thinking about what an awesome tool the human body is. If the sensory organs wish to convey something during inactive periods such as sleep, they convey it through dreams.

Can't think of any parallel in the world of the machines. "What up!!!!!!!!!!"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

3-G, 4-G.... The Arithmetic Progression

The dust raised by the 3 G bids in India has just settled!

Now, what do we have here? 4G bids in Germany :)

Can we skip 3G and directly go to 4G?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Indian Writers - I: Jahnavi Barua

It has been pretty long since I wrote and indeed, its been long since I read any Indian author's offering. A few audacious choices and the vagaries of the book queue at the British council has left me with an assortment of philosophical books to read.

I'm absolutely in no mood to read philosophy - specially after the energy sapping "What is good?" or something to that effect. Hence, I decided to rummage through my cupboard for the books that I had bought but not read, and out came "Next Door" a set of short stories by Jahnavi Barua.

The stories breathe Assam; not surprising since the author is from there. The stories are also nice and heart tugging, with lot of focus on the extremist movement, the way the people lead their lives and most important, the references to the Brahmaputra - the more you read the more you want to go to Assam.

Thanks Jahnavi - I've never been to the North East, will commence with your state sometime :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Comments on Indian Railways - 'Then and Thenner'

A story of the Indian Railways

In 1909 Gandhi said about the railways that they -

“accentuate the evil nature of man. Bad men fulfil their designs with greater rapidity.”
This changed in 1947 to

“Trains cannot be run for charity,”
This report also delightfully speaks about the subsidy culture -

Indian politicians are addicted to a tax-and-subsidy regime of bewildering complexity, and deterred from tampering with it by a crowded electoral timetable. The Mohan report, for example, estimated that 15% of Indian railway passengers, many of them railway workers, were enjoying discounted fares. Among the 42 categories of people listed as eligible for concessions are students, boy scouts, the elderly, the very poor, war widows, nurses, journalists and some “persons taking part in mountaineering expeditions”. Even some sorts of freight—fruit and vegetables and salt, for example—are subsidised.
What concessions have you used in rail travel? अपुन has used only इश्तुदेंट concession :)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The day... the music died...

Big blow for music listeners all over India; The End of Worldspace

Just when it was gaining in popularity.........

Hard to take; I'm going to be depressed :(

Even harder to understand is the logic of the new buyers, Liberty Media. They say,

Media reports on the internet speculate that Liberty Media sees better opportunities in Latin America and other markets and would therefore like to deploy the WorldSpace satellites to target those markets rather than in India.

C'mon guys, your revenues from Telugu/Tamil/Malayalam/Kannada/Carnatic/Hindustani/Hindi channel listeners is going to be profitable. I do not know what the assumptions of your business model were before you arrived at this decision.

Review, reconsider, rewind; PLEASE

PS: But, what Worldspace did to many of its customers - the suppression of information and renewal of subscriptions at a time like this is plain vanilla cheating!