Saturday, December 20, 2008

Everyone finds bread in Mumbai…

This time I decided to come up with something that can possibly bring some mouth watering thoughts to the readers.

Recently I was running from pillar-to-post looking for what I can find about Chennai that instantly connects with the locals. Though I got answers running from filter coffee in a steel container, idli and dosa on a banana leaf, pongal, rassam and much more; nothing was coming in as the thing you would say originated from Chennai.

It out me back to my desk to think if I can’t think Chennai- can I do the same for Mumbai??? And as if by some divine intervention, a light dawned on my head saying… “How about Pav???”

Oh yes…. Pav, baked bread made from white baker’s flour and yeast to make it soft and fluffy. This is not an Indian bread from its origination. But this sure is the thing that Mumbai has accepted, like all its migrant population, and created a whole new range of Mumbai food specialities; a category comprising of the unhealthiest fast food in India today. (I will advocate every fast food in my own way in person some other day)
Now when I say Pav; its not counting the Pizza base, slice bread or the gourmet breads into account as this is definitely alien to anyone in India. The Pav under discussion is the laadi-pav which comes together in a bunch of 6,8,12,16 or the 24- the maximum I have seen so far.

So where has this Pav come from and why is it called so???? I am pretty sure this Pav is another thing that came from the Parsis. The only reason I feel so is because this is the main item on any Irani restaurant. So even if the brun-maska, Irani paani-kum Chai, and Istanbul tea are the selling points, Pav is the item most prevalent on the menu. Besides since yeast is believed to be used in bread that was from Egypt, the Parsee Community from Persia might have got the first taste of the Pav. So I’m not actually finding the answer to whether the name has come from “pav” meaning a quarter in Marathi or it was “pau” or feet in Hindi.( yes there have been report where the dough was being kneaded by feet)

What ever may be the origins, Pav is an integral part of Mumbai. Even a beggar on the streets of Mumbai craves for a Chai-Pav in the morning and a Vada-pav at the end of his day. In fact it has been so much into the social food system that if the prices of pav are to go high, there are agitations outside the bakeries.

Pav also seems to have been one thing that has broken the barriers of caste, creed and religion in Mumbai. Every Mumbaikar has dug his teeth deep into a Vada-Pav, Bhajji-Pav, Missal Pav some or the other time. If you are into some fusion, well patties- pav and samosa-pav (my staple diet in my engineering days for lunch) will be suiting your taste buds the most. Go to Mohammed Ali Road and you will get Kabab-Pav, kheema-pav, kalegee-pav; just about anything you want. The double omelette- pav or just simply maska-pav with sugar from a Kayani or BastaniAnd don’t you forget how fantastic is Sorpatel-pav from any place in Bandra or Orlem? Mumbai will never be the same without its favourite- Pav.

So if its time for me to now end this topic and I say, I believe- everyone come to Mumbai with a dream; more often than not, always finds the bread before he goes asleep!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Is this India, Bharat or still just a Union of States?

This month, Indian celebrated 61 years into being recognised as an Independent country. As per the constitution, we are a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic of India and a Union of States. Yes that’s the “Officially ” how India is expected to be known to the people around the World.

If we just take a ride back into the past, it was the grit of Sardar Patel to bind land once broken up into countless number of princely states, territorial rulers and European colonies into one single identity. The Government then came in though as many possible channels to encourage the feeling of being one nation that drove away the Colonial powers, the last being the Portuguese in 1961. We have been fine tuned to say that we are diverse in terms of culture, religions, languages and social stratifications; end of the day, its Unity in Diversity that is the essence of India.

But does that mean that regionalism is non existent in India?

For starters, regionalism is a political ideology that focuses on the interests of a particular region or group of regions. In India, we do claim of putting India first, region- may be some other place. But I some how managed to see how this ideology is seen differently under different situations.

Some recent events have made me question if we still believe that it is still sometimes regional pride that overruns National pride. This is with regards to RJ Dheena of the Chennai station of BIG 92.7 FM. More than 135 hours continuously on the radio and a new Guinness Record for India. I regard it as a superhuman feat because 5 days on radio can be chaotic and claustrophobic for any normal person. Plus on a media where the freshness of your voice can hold an audience, its an amazing feat.

But I was surprised when I saw the statement made by the Cluster Director for Tamil Nadu of BIG 92.7 FM, Mr. P B Ramaswamy come out saying, ‘It is certainly a proud moment for all the Tamilians across the globe.’

I’m sorry, but did I read it right? “…proud moment for Tamilians … “

This is outrageous. I can understand the appreciation from all quarters, the channel using the feat it to boast about its people and culture. But where has the Tamilian angle come in? And since I can see this on two sites, this is more like a Press Release that went to all.

Even if I take no notice of why Hindi is not spoken in Southern India, or past discriminations against linguistic minorities in these states, this is a complete new angle. Does this also imply that you disown Abhinav Bindra, Vijay Kumar or Sushil Kumar as they non Tamilians?

My biggest question- how is this different from encouraging regionalism on the basis of language?

Now not in a mood of rebuttal, I saw another story which does evoke uproar. BMC or the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation gave a month for shop owners to host boards with Devnagri script- the same in which Hindi or Sanskrit or Marathi are written. Boards in Dual languages i.e. English and Devnagri are also welcome.The ruling Congress-NCP coalition has no objections, the Shiv Sena in the BMC imposes the proceedings and the MNS makes it fodder for propaganda. End result- people refuse to oblige making it appear more like an extension of MNS Anti-North Indian protest.

Frankly, if sign boards in Kolkata can be in Bengali and English, Amritsar can have them in Punjabi, what’s the big deal about using Devnagri? If all political parties in Mumbai are promoting regionalism, how come their rallies start with “Vande Mataram” and sign off with “Jai Hind, Jai Maharashtra”??

I’m in no mood to draw any conclusions…rather this is not something I intend to do. What I’m out to seek is what exactly Regionalism is? Is India or Bharat still one country or now just a Union of States?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Awakening....

It seems I have decided back to go on to talk some of my points on the Socio-Political and Economic India…not sure why this topic interests me.

A generation awakens

Yes, that’s what the tag line was for Rang De Basanti, a movie which reflected as to how lives of some college student of today changed when they came face to face with the morals and virtues of some people of the same age a few generations ago. At the same time, another movie “Lage Raho Munnabhai” got back the Gandhian philosophy in a refreshing way to us.

The result, well- candle marches became popular and a new way of revolt called “Gandhigiri” caught the winds. (Gandhigiri became so popular in 2006 that Mid-Day released a special issue on it on the occasion of Gandhi’s birth anniversary that year). As an individual, I’m not really sure of how much of it was a trend that will stand the test of times. My reason, this generation has woken up to so many new mornings that a new awakening beckons its doorstep almost everyday. And that is the big question I am seeking an answer to…. Do we need to go back and revisit the ideas that are almost half a century old?

I believe that my generation; which means anyone in the age group of 25 to 35, has seen India in a manner few others might have ever lived through. People born during 1975 to 1985 might have been a generation that was a witness India in a manner that can be rarely possible again. The Social, Political, Economical systems underwent so many changes that we might now say; “Ok… what we have is good…How long will it last?”

To begin with, the Politics in India has turned into something very different from what it was before. Every generation does go through its own set of political tamasha. But the National Pride that was infused from the freedom struggle carried on till the 70’s. The effects slowly fizzled out and a new political fabric was being woven. I would be a big fat liar if I said that I was a witness to the Emergency, the Janta Party rule or that the assassination of Indira Gandhi had a direct impact on me in any way. But these things did make some changes in the system that had a bearing in some ways: like the insurgency in Punjab made it mandatory for children to be told that any unattended article on a bus or train was to be left alone or a chocolate from a man you don’t know is a danger bell.

Having spent life in an area where I had rich Gujrati’s on one side, Partition camps of Sikh’s- Sindhi’s and Muslim’s on other two and a vast land of migrant populations in Dharavi to complete the siege, growing up through the Riots of 92-93, the Mumbai Blasts were not the easiest of times. (For the record, I was amongst the 5 Marathi speaking kids in my class of 44 with me the only guy). To just sum it up, I believe that this generation has yet to find the right balance between tolerance and fundamental values.

The economic developments have also been something that I feel is some thing unparallels to anything before or after. I grew up in a family that had a car ever since the 60’s; thanks to my grandfather’s stable job and privileges. By the time I was born, we had an identity only glorified by the Ambassador Mark 4 and the Bajaj Super 150; the only luxuries that the License raj offered. But we also saw the birth of the Maruti 800 and Hero Honda CD 100 in India. From Campa Cola to Tiger Beer, somehow we might be the last generation to have had the best of both worlds. We also welcomed the entry of Pepsi in 1991 and Coke in 1995. My fingers have traded 5 paise for a lemon drop and 5000 rupees on a fun filled evening. We have been on the fore front when We seen the stock markets start in India, the loop holes exploited by Harshad Metha and the day the sensex reached the 18000 mark.

The Social development we seen is one of the most remarkable on for any generation so far. The change has come due to technology. I have seen “Swimmy” on Doordarshan as a kid, Becker win his Wimbledon on a Sony Tinitron Colour TV (thanks to the Asian Games in 82). Today I’m picking the movie I want to see off a remote and deciding as to when I want to watch it. From the dumb bell-like black dial fone, to the sleek mobile handset, we saw it all. If I listened to a Mill workers special as a kid, carried a pocket FM radio in college and now listen to the World Space satellite today. Writing on paper has become passé for the generation next. I might be more in contact with my friends in US than my next door neighbor.

Our idols have been the 1983 Kapil’s Devils, child prodigies like Sachin and Sania. Of what space was left in our minds, the voids were filled of what came from the television screens of MTV. Clothing was no longer for just covering the body; it became the site for Brands to put their labels. Puri’s and Paratha have been replaced by Pizza and Pasta. India became a nuclear power, but so did the Indian families.

We seen the Mandal commission come in with its reservations, but also have undergone the Brain Drain syndrome. From an agrarian country to an IT-ITES superpower it has all happened; and all this in a span of 20 years.

I believe there can be just so many things that have changed for this generation, that I really am confused. So back to the original question…Does this generation need awakening?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Super Heroes of the reel life

Superman, Superman……underwear over his pants. So now you know why the super heroes dress different; because basically… they are. And since they are so exclusive, everyone wants to be one.

But that’s so far fetched for the mere mortals like you and me. So what come closest to a superhuman and a mere mortal? Yes; the hero from a film. So after all the slightly controversial statements I made the last time (and I hope they created no controversy), lets talk abut something most of us can be in agreement. Now again the best acts is not something that can have consensus; but worst actors….might just work.

Ok… so who is my object of contempt??? Sunny Deol is my top contender. To being with, yes I have appreciated his roles and acting in his earlier movies like Sunny, Betaab and Arjun. I guess he was tolerable in Tridev (possibly so as the film has worse actors). I feel Ghayal was the turning point where his vocal chords found a natural amplifier whose volume control was a manufacturing defect. I seriously believe so coz no person can shout for 18 years after that.

What has made a mark for him are some of his typical dialogues. “Ye dhai kilo ka haath…”(idiot…if u weight an average 70kgs, your hand can be at least 5% of that…so 3.5 kg ho gaya beta). Add to it his single un-modulated tone …guess that’s why his movies are monotonous.

But his legendary status was glorified by something much more intense…. his greatest offering to the world. How do you crush an ant hill and kill all the ants?? Very simple… follow the “Steps” from “Yaara-o-yaara” from his movie Jeet. I have never seen the kind of efficiency demonstrated as by Sunny Paaji during his ‘Earth shattering’ dance performance.

But on a very frank note, Sunny does all that you expect from a Superhero; that too wearing his briefs under his pants and with no cape. I recently saw one of his exploits from a movie called “Teesri Aankh” (and though the name may suggest, NO-Sunny did not have an extra eye)….a stunning display of strength and ability. He held two bikes by their front tyres in opposing direction, flapped them in the air along with their riders. If that was too much, he pushed a car sideways to crush the bad guys.

Ok, that may sound a little too mild for some Southern Superstar fans. But if you felt the action from Sivaji was an insult to intelligence at times, well Sunny had done a boomerang from a pistol in this one.

I feel we can pick some or the other fault in many actors and write enough about them to make Mahabharat a distant competitor. But now since I’m the Boss out here, I shall give the verdict: 25+ years in the industry, no dancing ability, no acting skills but only a hefty bicep and an over amplified voice…..Sunny Deol…take a bow!!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In a Man's World

Its’ a Man’s world… I really wonder what made me take that as a name for my blog. I feel it was that generally talking we tend to use this term very often and I thought it would ultimately make me famous (though I’m confident it is never gonna be so).

Well to begin with, who so ever made this statement (I’m still trying to find the originator) was possibly out of his mind or was still living in the dark ages. Who said it’s a Man’s world??? The bloody place is run by male puppets whose strings are in the hands of Women.

I’ll tell you how….

In a place like India, high school education is free for girls unless you happen to be the fourth child in a family. Yes I agree that the social structure of the country is archaic and girl’s education has not been a priority. But this subsidy was valid even in college.

If that wasn’t enough, it came about even in our Engineering College, this time in the form of reservations. For the first time there were 8 girls in the Production engineering class. The whole department had not seen a total of 8 girls till that year.

Ok….now let me not enrage the girls by talking about reservations here. I feel my generation has made its peace that we are going to be subject to social minority status soon. In fact people have never realized the problems we guys face- the number of girls is smaller than guys. So basically, it’s a smaller pool to pick from. “Pick from”, well even the people who make the choice is different now.

And this is coming without some 300 years of slavery or anything of that sort. In fact that reminds me, India has adopted liberal views towards social equality quicker than France or US (The “egal” in the Egalitarian society is French for “equal” and first adopted in the American Declaration of Independence). We have had Women as head of state, Minister and bureaucrats much before anyone else. I believe it is only a submarine, where women are not allowed so far.

Alright so after rambling for so long, I feel its time to finish it off. I really am not sure whose world it is, a Man or a Woman or both. But there is one thing I am not confused about. We all are educated (or so we feel); all we need to do now is to behave in the same way.

(Fish; this is sounding like I have become a social activist or something….koi baat nahi… I’ll start up something a little more amusing next time)