Thursday, October 02, 2008

Aloo Phataphat

Serves: 2 normal, or 1 very hungry person.
What you will need:
  1. 4 medium-sized potatoes.
  2. 1 onion.
  3. 1 tsp each of coriander powder, kitchen king, chhole masala, haldi.
  4. A pinch of heeng.
  5. Salt to taste (I put in about three quarters of a tsp.).
  6. Jeera for frying.
  7. 4 tbsp oil.
  8. Chopped fresh coriander OR Kasuri methi.

What will happen:

What you gotta do:

  1. Finely chop the onion to a paste, preferably in a grinder.
  2. Boil the potatoes till they're soft.
  3. Peel off the skin and cut into pieces about an inch thick.
  4. Heat the oil in a saucepan till it starts to let out smoke.
  5. Add the jeera, stir till they turn dark.
  6. Add the onion paste. Keep stirring till they turn brown.
  7. Add all the masalas.
  8. Add the peeled potatoes and keep stirring so that they are uniformly fried, for about 5 minutes.
  9. Garnish with Kasuri methi or fresh cut coriander and serve hot.

What you don't want happening, but will happen anyway:

That's all, folks. Making aloo is simpler than "easy as pie".

Experiment #AP07X

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blame it on Cupid

I wish I were a monkey still, climbin' up a tree
And life was fruit and sweet and bliss, instead of you and me.
If only I could close my eyes and will to turn back time,
I'd bring it to a point where evolution's best was slime.

It's been six years, four months, three days, and we were man and wife
And all that life has been rife with is misery and strife.
I rue the day I asked you - "Honey, will you marry me?"
Cuz I had no idea what your reaction would be.

I was so stupid
Blame it on Cupid
I should've been lucid
And asked you to lose it

And you said:
"You remember the time we spent in the mountains on the grass?
That was the time, you moron, when you should have made the pass.
I've always thought of you as sincere but lacking class
Ah fuck it, what the hell, at least you had the balls to ask.

My answer, my romeo, is an affirmative yes
I know your heart's in doldrums, now it doesn't have to guess
Come let us sign the papers, and our love we'll formalize
And the lawyer I've been cheating with can take off his disguise."

I don't know why I said "I do", why happened that mistake?
I guess I thought the chef was asking if I wanted cake.
How could I be so blind, I should have hid the wedding ring
But I didn't - now we're married, and so, all I do is sing:

I was so stupid
Blame it on Cupid
I should've been lucid
And asked you to lose it

Now we are one, but you are two, or three, or sometimes four
The postman never seems to enter in through our front door
At least he brings the mail, and of that I am so glad
Since the milk boy never brings milk, he just shows up with his dad

I love all of our children, and you know I try my best
To be a good role model, hope they'll figure out the rest
But it bothers me sometimes when li'l Jon asks me with a frown
When he's coming back from juvi, after jailtime spent downtown.

"How is it motherfucker, that I'm black and you are brown?"
It's times like this that make me feel so confused and so down.
I think I'd have been happier, if only I were gay
But I wasn't, and we're married, this's all I have to say:

I was so stupid
Blame it on Cupid
I should've been lucid
And asked you to lose it

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I woke in a grey room with grey flooring and a grey ceiling. There was a table to my side and a porthole in front, which I looked out of, and saw a vast expanse of blue-black with an occasional white, slowly moving and wispy. Beyond the translucence, I could make out ruins of cities. It took me a while to comprehend. I was on an airship flying high above the clouds. As soon as the realization dawned, I felt sickness in my stomach, and I laid down again amidst the crumpled sheet on the uncomfortable bed.

This was when he came, the man with no features. His demeanor was calm and gentlemanly; his nose, or at least the flatness of the face where his nose should have been, was definitely upturned, I’d have mistaken him for a butler.

“Go find a room for yourself!” he commanded.

It took me another confused moment to analyze the situation. Then dazed, I ran for my life, out of the room, out from the door, slamming it shut behind me. It made a dull thud and I found myself standing in a seemingly endless hall, with two rows on either side, all with identical grey doors with nameplates hanging on them. One by one, lights switched themselves on before me, first near and then far so that the furthest ones blended into the grey of the background. I couldn’t read the names – they all seemed be etched in eerie squiggly curves, and I was deathly scared of no-face following me, so I just darted into one. And then, I bumped into her. Thankfully, she looked just as she had looked always. She looked up from the book she was reading, folding the page to follow it later, and her fingers unknotted themselves from her hair.

“Do you want something to eat? I made you something.”

My tongue seemed to be momentarily paralysed, and before I could utter a word, she pointed to the bed.

There were huge red ants crawling all over the room. On the floor, on the ceiling. My hand involuntarily went to the doorknob, but they were there too. Pile upon pile of red ants, all marching around the bed, under it, even on it, marking territory except for a small silhouette, like a living chalk mark from a homicide. I untied my tongue and looked back to ask her: “What in the name of…”

She had disappeared.

Instead on the bed, lay a maggot-infested, barely recognisable, rotting corpse, now home to a civilization of red ants, holding its hands a grey plastic tiffin box, slowly slipping out from its rigor mortis. Ants ate fiercely away at maggots and larvae crawled out, half gnawed and dying, twisting and wriggling through the eye sockets. Ligaments, bone and sinew transformed into one another and then decayed away, and for a moment the carcass seemed strangely alive, as if giving me a wink. One by one, its fingers lost contact with the tiffin box, and as I leapt to catch it, the grey box fell to the ground and shattered into glass pieces. Out came a swarm of flying ants, buzzing and crowding over me, stinging me in a thousand places on my hands. I felt a swelling, throbbing pain and utter horror. I threw myself towards the door as the lights turned to darkness, and the cadaver arose.

I was frozen in mid-air. Everything seemed in stasis, except the ants which were blowing away into clouds of grey smoke. I tried to turn to the door and failed. I couldn’t turn back either. But then, I didn’t have to. I recognised her voice.

“Why did you have to do it? Why did you have to go away? Why? Why, why, why?”

And as I felt her icy touch on the nape of my neck, I kicked and flailed and screamed and twisted and wriggled, until the grey clouds of darkness turned to pitch black, muffling my cries but somehow making hers louder, surrounding us completely and forever.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Two emotions

It was a Thursday.
You were coming back.
I had covered my injuries.
Worn a shirt to conceal my wounds.
And I waited patiently,
Waited, and waited, and waited.
Longing, dreaming.
Ignoring the pain.

Then I saw you.
Tingle up my spine, I sighed.
Ecstasy colored my face
Like a child finding their favorite sweets.
And you smiled.
It was but for an instant
But in it, I saw
The reflections of a lifetime ahead.
And I knew we were one.

It was a Thursday.
You were coming back.
I had covered my injuries.
Worn a mask to conceal my feelings.
And I waited, confused,
Waited, and waited, and waited.
Chewing my lower lip nervously.
Ignoring the pain.

Then I saw you.
Tingle up my spine, I sighed.
Agony shadowed my face
Like a leper dying in the desert.
And you smiled.
It was but for an instant
But in it, I saw
The reflections of a lifetime ahead.
And I knew it was all over.

Funny how a simple smile
Can express so contrasting
Two emotions.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Damsel in distress

So we went river rafting the other day.

Lots of people do it. We've done it before. I mean it's no mean feat really.

As far as I can remember from the last time, six people get into a fat rubber raft with a guide. Each one has a paddle, and easy access to some piece of rope fixed into the boat. Then:
  1. Guide says "Left!" - people on the left paddle.
  2. Guide says "Right!" - right side paddles.
  3. Guide says "Down!" - people scramble helplessly for the nearest piece of rope and hold on for dear life, while guide rows people straight into the heart of the approaching rapid and everyone gets kicks and lives happily ever after.

Bitter from experience, I can now tell you that this is how rafting is done for corporate offsites, and Real Life(TM) can be a little different sometimes.

Starting point: Cache Canyon River

This is where the Cache Canyon River Rafting starts off. The bottom left corner is the departing point, and the brown pixels are all rocks. Craggy, pointy, ugly rocks of houselike dimensions.

There was Harshi, Gaurav, Gaurav's friends Benjy and Jen and I, and a large bunch of other randoms from Stanford. It was a longish 100-mile journey to the campsite, and I arrived in the midst of stunning beauty, eager to hit the water and start paddling ahoy.

Instead what followed can be best described by: I wet myself.

The temperate water on that cold day (it was raining!) was so damn frigid it made my skin want to jump out back onto dry land, leaving my skeleton stranded on the water. The boats were freakishly small versions of the ones I'd seen before, and seated just 2 people. The instructor (note: instructor, not guide) gave a lengthy elocution that could have been titled "What not to do in 21 easy steps" and then gave a toothy grin. This is what he said:

"Try not to fall into the water. If you manage to somehow, hold your body straight and point your feet downstream. It's called bodysurfing (the bastard smirked here). Heaven knows what alternate forms of swimming you'll do today, but hopefully you shouldn't have to. All right, everyone into the water."

I feel I must add here that Harshi doesn't know how to swim. Needless to say, she was quite afraid of going forward with this whole thing.

Now of course, being the man of the boat, I easily convinced her, that no matter what I'd save her if anything untoward chanced to happen - after all I know how to swim and how! I've swum before in the finest swimming pools of the finest schools in Delhi back in my days. I've swum in Olympic sized pools with diving boards at fourteen feet! So all would be hunky-dory, there was no reason to worry.

I would be her charming knight if she ever became the proverbial damsel in distress.

So Harshi and I climbed onto the raft, paddles and all and rowed into the current. The first rapid was not a hundred yards away. The paddles are about as much help as a fork with soup, and your ass feels like those mushroom rocks just outside Hyderabad that one wonders how nature manages to balance.

With a lot of screaming, fighting (You row left. No, you row left!), clinging onto ropes, ass-gymnastics and paddling waving, we managed to get through the first few rapids.

Then we saw this:
108 metres of sheer terror

To the observer, it's just a bunch of rocks to be avoided by steering due right into the water channel. However, when helpless, nervous, wet, fighting, i-didn't-wanna-come-you-did people try and row away from it, it's a whole other story. Our efforts at steering due right ended up with the rubber boat going backwards directly into the rocks, and I got the shove of my life.

Plop! I was in the water. If you're too lazy to click on the picture, it says "108.51 metres". That's the length of the rapid. X-axis.

I shouted. Harshi shouted. I remember trying to do something with my paddle. Then the raft, following the laws of motion dutifully, gushed into the water below with a whooshing sound.

When the dark dark image of the instructor's smirk finally cleared my mind, there was water in my nose, no boat and the emasculating realization of me being the damsel in distress. The realization turned darker when I further realized that my knight in shining a(r)mour did not know how to swim.

108.51 metres, 42 seconds, one eye-glass-lens and numerous breaths later, I reached the end of the rapid. I cannot describe how exhilarating / horrifying the feeling of going down a rapid feet first, beating against rocks, and just hanging on, is.

And then I saw a beacon of hope. Harshi had somehow managed to stop (how the f*** do you stop a f***ing boat?! With one paddle, when you don't know how to swim!) and was clinging to a branch to make sure she stood her ground. I swam slowly to safety over the cries of "you have to pick up your partner!" and "I can't!! I'm holding the tree!" and climbed tiredly into the boat.

My knight in shining armor had come back to embrace me with open arms, and picked me up on her horse with a tug on the reins. No man has ever felt so much gratitude at the same time as so much shattered ego.

The worst seemed to be over.

Then I fell right back in again, twice!

Practice makes Perfect, as they say. So by the time we reached the biggest rapid, it was plain sailing. It's called "Mother Mary" because it skips the reminds-you-of-God part and directly reminds you of His mother. This is what it looks like.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your rapid flow?

See the waterfall? There.

Three and a half hours later, our raft reached dry ground. And in a curious twist, everyone lived happily ever after.

UPDATE: The map starts here:,-122.328563&spn=0.003977,0.008261&z=18