Friday, 16 March 2018

Food, a constant ingredient

It isn't simply an assumption to say, a family that eats together stays together. We can date back associations of food and celebration to time unknown; it brings happiness to the table, literally! Beyond borders and regions or beyond cultures and religions, the human community comes together to have a meaningful celebration over good food.

A modak puts a smile on Lord Ganesha's face. So, who are we to deny the joy food brings to us!  A meaningful Thanksgiving demands Turkey, Eid Mubaraks are followed by a big beautiful bowl of biryani, a joyful Christmas is made of nuts, raisins and a whole lot of rum and the lists are endless. And it is almost always like, we simply take a day off, consume the pleasure of cooking, and simply binge on the dish with the most favourite bunch of folks!

As much as we pair celebrations with food, things take a turn when we decided to celebrate simply because there is a new harvest or a seasonal crop. There comes a need to celebrate food itself! But between all the images of filled plates and surrounded tables, there sure is an early morning ritual of pillow wetting followed by a re-heated pizza. While we happily embrace food, food has always embraced us back!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

People maketh People!

There were packed bags and filled water bottles at the door. And when I asked everybody at home about the bags, “They are for your uncle. He is travelling to Rajasthan for work” said my avva and tucked me in the bed and slept next to me like always.

I was relieved on realising that those bags did not belong to her. Which means she wasn’t going anywhere. With that good feeling, I held onto avva and slept peacefully. The next morning, I woke up to something very heart breaking. I was alone in my bed. Avva had disappeared and so had the bags.

Maybe she went to the railway station to see off my uncle. Maybe she went for a morning walk while my uncle left on his work related trip. I was still unsure. I tried having a discussion with people at home but nobody bothered explaining the 5-year-old.

But by evening, I had clarity. Avva was travelling to Kaashi with her brother and his wife. My heart sank and all I did was have a countdown for the 14 days. I was all eyes for her arrival.

A couple of years later, I identified a trend. She travelled somewhere every October or November. She takes a trip each year! Wow!

And she smartly booked early morning train tickets so she could get away with my crying and “no! you cannot leave me and go!” warnings.

Though this was hard on me, she always made it worth it. She always bought me pretty frocks, dresses and a few extra toys. As the last one of all grand children, I had that privilege.

And as a December born, clothes from Gaya, UP, Kashmir, Darjeeling and Kanyakumari is what I wore on my birthdays.

20 years later, while I pack my bags or sort my tickets, she cannot help but say few things…

“Don’t miss having a meal at the Langar. And eat the halwa too. It’ll be piping hot. The Golden temple is beautiful. I’ve gone there”

“Kasol? What is that? I’ve just gone to Shimla in Himachal. Take a lot of warm clothes and go”

“You remember your red birthday frock with checks? I got it from Darjeeling only. I paid 280 bucks. Go have fun, it’s a nice place”

“I had gone to Pondicherry with your grand father. We sat on the beach and ate chenna. Just 1 rupee back then” she laughs

Her tips are as precious as her.

My grand dad was not a lover of travelling. So she chose to leave him back and go on her own. She travelled with different groups and she has stories to share. Now I know why I love travelling the way I do.

Basically, we are all people made of other people. And I am proudly my avva.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Newer mornings..

The procrastinator in me kept me from writing. And it has all piled up. One blog for the first North-East trip, one for the solo travel, one for the impromptu travel, one for the well planned trip and one more for the one which doesn't take categories.

5 blogs is too much work and every story is huge. So I decided, there will be no elaborate storytelling. Just 4 highlights from each trip and maybe 1 travel tip. I hope this solution is appreciated. (probably this is what studying MBA can do to you. You number everything and then you make lists. And God alone save our spellings. I mean, MS Word alone...)

Calcutta - November 2014

1. The most beautiful thing:

Homes. They are tiny beautiful homes filled with amazingly warm people.

2. Favorite memory:

This is getting Nostalgic. I remember sitting in my friend's apartment and listening to my friend's father talk about Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.

3. The best thing I ate:

The Puchkas. Undoubtedly the best!
The Rasgullas, we got 2 of them for Rs.5 in a khullad. It couldn't get better.
The Misti doiii!

4. The best thing I saw:

I will tell you what I Didn't see - The so called "Most populated" and a "very dirty city."
I saw clean, empty and dimly lit roads with people taking evening strolls.

5. When in Calcutta....

- Live in a Bengali household
- Experience their warm hospitality
- Talk in Hindi and receive replies in Bengali
- Go do some street shopping in New market and take breaks just to eat Jhal muri
- Shop for pretty colorful stoles

Darjeeling - November 2014
(The Gurdum - Sandakphu trek by YHAI )

1. The most beautiful thing:

The sunsets and the sunrises, the shooting stars, villages with just one home or one home that forms a village, the very little water days, the food sharing, the laughter, the trek, Garba with your Gujju friends in a forest.

Shot by Kunal Kabra

2. Favorite memory:

At Tumbling - Looking at a star shoot felt like a dream.
At Darjeeling, Mall road - While a band performed beautiful Nepali songs, people danced, shopped and ate all at a time..
- We took random roads and explored crazy little eating joints

3. The best thing I ate:

The Momos, Tukpa, Doughnuts and every meal at camps during the trek.

4. The best thing I saw:

The beautiful wooden homes, animal friendly people who put sweaters onto dogs that lost fur and the kids who cannot stop playing football on those tiny streets.

5. When in Darjeeling....

I cannot stop talking about Darjeeling.
Darjeeling felt like HOME!

Bombay! - July 2015

1. The most beautiful thing:

They say, "Bombay never sleeps", "Bombay is a city of dreams."
Before I went to Mumbai, I thought to myself - looks like Bombay is an insomniac like me.
But there is so much happening in the city, it cannot afford to sleep. This city dreams with it's eyes open all night and day!

2. Favorite memory:

While I sat on the Marine drive at 3 AM and kept falling in love with Bombay, a family came.
A family of about 20 people. 

While the kids ran around, their fathers or uncles were looking after them and the women unpacked dabbas of Biryani and started serving. 

That is when I realized that its the holy month of Ramadan. They were breking their fast on the Marine drive. Their very own dining table. People make the city.

That picture will last with me, forever.

The Serene view at The Marine Drive

3. The best thing I ate:

The street food at Juhu. Those were the days I ate pani puri for breakfast.
Because, why not?

4. The best thing I saw:

The city was full of life and charm.

5. When in Bombay...

Try and be awake always.

Gujarat (Ahmedabad - Bhuj - Kutch - Vadodara) - December 2015

Edited by: Sumanth Shetty

1. The most beautiful thing:

The Gujjus are funny, wonderful hosts, loving, foodies, amazing chai makers.
Live with one to know what I mean. I was lucky enough to have lived with 3 such hosts in Gujarat.

2. Favorite memory:

- I traveled solo and it was my first time. At the end of it, I felt confident and empowered
- I couch surfed for the first time
- I met a friend's friend's friend's cousin in an unknown town. And she offered to host me. I told you, people and specially the people of GJ are awesome
- I celebrated my Birthday all alone for the first time
- I came back after a long day to my host's house just to see that they really care
- They arranged a little celebration at home with cake, the best brownie ice cream in town, a long night drive on her two wheeler, a girl talk by the lake with the moon over our heads and a shot of vodka. She turned from a stranger to a bestie in a matter of two hours.

The cake and the Lake

3. The best thing I ate:

Chola fali, dhokla's on streets, the Jain pani puri and the lovely home made khana!

4. The best thing I saw:

The sunset at the White desert!

5. During a solo travel....

Travel solo but travel very safe!

Himachal - July 2016
(Kasol - Chalal - Tosh - Dharamsala)

Sketch by Rahul Kustagi

1. The most beautiful thing:

Charas! Period

2. Favorite memory:

The walls filled with Graffiti paintings, the hanging bridges connecting villages, the sound of waves from Parvathi river, the epic sunsets, the never ending treks and the peaceful Parvathi valley.

Shot by Abhijit Satyapalan

3. The best thing I ate:

- The freshly plucked and unwashed apples, pears, apricots and plums
- Shakshuka with Pita bread
- The apple pie, apple crumble, cheese cake, carrot cake at The German Bakery in Kasol or Dharamsala
- The Jolly Maker orange wine
- The unending supply of maggie everywhere
- The amazing momos
- Anythings that a cafe on top of a hill can provide
- Visit the Mcllo cafe in McLeod Ganj

Contribution to the picture by: Ashwin Shetty, Abhijit Satyapalan 

4. The best thing I saw:

The dogs that trek with you up and down the trail. Infact, they start living with you, eating with you and resting with you..

Click by: Sumanth Shetty

5. When in Any of these places....

- Go with your friends 
- Plan your trip very well. Exploring needs planning too
- Buy the hand made Dream catchers and jewelry
- Buy the crushers and the chillams

So, the fact is that you will come across fantastic people, places and stories. And like the Rajasthan Tourism advertisements say, "Kisko pata kya dikh jaaye?". 
You will never know untill you go there..

This blog is in the hope that we all will travel a little more!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

beacuse, we understand Spirit a little better!

For me, it seems like life is an assortment of different kind of Tequila shots. A few shots that you like, A few that you don't, A few that you fall in love with and a few others that you will hate.

The one's that you hate, blame it on the after effects. Be it throwing up, the crazy hang overs or texting that one ex who is worse of them all.

This bad shot is that which intrigues me. Unlike other shots, you don't simply take it. You take it and look around to see what your best friend, your neighbour or some random person on social media is being served.

Blame illusion or facts, they are all always on the good one. And you heart breaks a little more against your will of wanting to be "happy for them"

But what we all must know is, we are all served the same variety in same numbers. Just that the sequence changes.

But we are helpless humans who continue to be ourselves. We will continue to look around.

But that's absolutely okay as far as you have that one person to give you a tight hug while you wait for your good shot to be served.

Also, you must not forget to go out and give a tight hug while you have your good shot going down.

After all, we all understand Liquor a little better. oh I mean, Spirit!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Angel's Without a Halo!

We humans can unsee what was seen, unhear what was heard. But there are a few who don’t. They are the closest angels to you. The world comes together in helping them.

This story had to be said long ago. 

Story 1:

On a regular day in college when we were discussing about veganism and a lot of other things about animals, my friend mentioned to me about this ill treated Saint Bernard in some place on his way to college. I asked him to click some pictures and then completely unheard what he said. It was only weeks later he reminded me about the dog and this time I hated myself for forgetting someone who so needed help from me. The dog was definitely in need. I asked him to send pictures at any cost that day and it broke my heart to see a dog like that.

Gombe, the way he was heartlessly chained in metal

A small leash. Smaller than his own height. It didn’t even let him lie down when he wanted to. Covered with cow dung and files. I knew only one thing that could be done. That night, I posted the pictures, location and mentioned my lack of knowledge about the whole issue and requested for suggestions on a Dog Lovers group.

I woke up the next day to some beautiful souls. Comments poured in from a number of people with various suggestions and a few members went a step ahead in going to the location and talking to the people who had chained the dog. Happened that they had named her Gombe (meant “Doll” in Kannada). She was a doll but not a happy one. The few members who visited the place discovered that the lady who owned the dog was a breeder and misused the dog. She was warned a number of times to stop. The warnings seemed invain. She continued to chain Gombe outside and nothing changed about what was happening. She looked sick and starved.

Series of discussions followed on the group and a lot of them didn’t know each other. But the want to help Gombe kept everyone together and the group of Angels managed to get gombe out of that cruel house. She was moved to a rescue shelter near Bannerghatta road and later into the wonderful home of an adult dog rescuer and lived happily ever after. She was given the name “Mai” and became a part of the family. :’) and the rest was history.

Gombe at the rescue shelter. She stayed here for about a week

Mai at her home where she is loved!

Story 2:

This tiny looking old lady showed up in front of my home sometime during the beginning of this year. She looked lost/abandoned and very scared of humans. She ran when i gave her food and ran harder when i tried to talk to her. She ran and her little bump shaked with her. My uncle surely said, “she is pregnant”. I unsaw that and she showed up herself a week later and this time hungry. I gave her biscuits and she didn’t like them. She was trying to cross the road and almost got hit by an auto. It was nobody’s fault. She was a little brown Dashuand and sinked with the street lights with no difficulty and it wasn’t easy to guess that she was there. That’s when I realised she was not safe on road. 

The first time Mugsy posed with me!

This group came to the rescue again. I posted her picture and asked for help and mentioned how she is not even letting me touch her. I sat on the road with her for 3 hours and made sure she didn’t get on road until help arrived. At 11pm my family lost it. They knew I had my marketing paper the next day. My brother sat with me on road too and kept giving her different food ranging from glucose biscuits to dog food like drools and pedigree. My neighbour, who was studying veterinary came to talk to her to. But she liked no one. Probably the effect of the bad humans in her life in the past. We sat there while discussions happened on the group about who could come and help her at this time. We also named her Mugsy.(The brown dog in the FB messenger stickers).

The day Mugsy was leaving... while we waited for Rajesh to pick her up..

 It happened that the angel received the message little late. But however, he stayed 4 kilometres away from my home. He came at 11.45pm and we ran with little Mugsy and he finally managed to tie her up to a pole. Then the real magic happened. She ate food that I could least think of. She ate curd rice. Our angel had to rush to a different rescue and promised to come and pick her up the next day. He did so and Mugsy passed a number of beautiful hands to reach the home of a rescuer who even witnessed delivery of her babies. The rest is history. Mugsy became Misty in her new, happier home and she is living happily under a safe shelter. 

Misty and her babies with Rajesh

The strong urge to give up on social media breaks little harder every time something so beautiful happens. Facebook is worth the diversions.

The details that remained untalked about:

Group: Bombat Dagwz

Angels without an Halo: My Family, Ranjith, Rekha, Apoorva, Sushma, Rajesh, Rashmi, Namratha, Keertish, Rajesh’s Friends, Sandeep, Vasudev Murthy sir, Sumanth, Debbie, Gargi and the whole member family of Bombat Dagwz and every other unsung super hero in real life.

PS: My apologies if I’ve missed anybody’s name. You know you are making this world a beautiful place. You are the kind of people the world needs.

PPS: Carry a bottle of water and a water bowl. After your street friend eats biscuits/bun, give him/her water… they need it more than anything else this summer. 

Happy Animal Loving! :)

Sunday, 27 March 2016

My Journey into the beautiful world of Theatre

I can recall childhood memories where I could deliver huge monologues of old Telugu movies. Friends and relatives who came home would be behind my back and made sure I recited them those lines. They all thought it was cute. As and when I grew up, the cuteness was probably gone. Nobody asked me to recite dialogues and I eventually forgot what I did as a child.

But I think theatre was meant to happen to me. 2 years ago, we had something called “Drama day” At Lakshya’s Udaan Home (The NGO I use to work for, then). The kids learnt little 10 minute skits with a social message in them and then they had to face a competition with kids from other organisations. It was fun. We volunteers and caretakers managed to train the kids and put up a small show which was big in terms of kids enthusiasm. The kids had no clue that their trainers didn’t know any theatre/drama themselves. They performed, we were proud, we gave away medals, we danced, we had a good “Drama Day”!

The beatiful performances put up by kids!

For me, it didn’t end there. Maybe that little kid in me who recited monologues wanted to do more. 

Around last year this time, I decided I wanted to learn acting.
That’s when Facebook helped me and Evam’s first rush workshop paved my way towards it.

When we happily Graduated from Evam's First Rush workshop!

 We put up our first show on November 1st 2015 at Atta Galatta. It was intense in terms of practise. Theatre made a “Not at all morning person”, A “very morning person”.
There is nothing like rehearsing in the early hours of morning. 
Theatre made me a new person. I became a person of Art. 
The journey has been beautiful ever since!
And I am so glad I took that decision.

When I was a tied up lobster

When I had to decide between the smart looking guy and the smart thinking guy! 

When i was asked out in style! :P

The people who have been a part of this journey will always be remembered, loved and thanked. 

Happy World Theatre Day!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

God wants you to be high!

There is an intention behind it all...
There is an intention behind all the people you meet,
And every conversation you make..

The conversations are louder than this line,
The people are brighter than this day,
Why else, If not for this high of a kind?
God knew you needed it now!

In his little own ways didn't he already say it?
God wants you to be high!

There is an intention behind it all...
There is an intention behind each road you've touched,
And every journey you've made..

Those clouds will be filled with the best drops,
The roads will be filled with the fog of your favourite kind,
Why else, If not for this high of a kind?
God knew you needed it now!

In his little own ways didn't he already say it?
God wants you to be nothing but high!