Monthly Archives: September 2011

Food for Soul week

The Lovedale Foundation sent me a mail about an initiative called Food for Soul Week, which they’re organising in association with several restaurants across Bangalore (list below) as part of the Joy of Giving week, from the 2nd – 8th October. Details from their Facebook Page -

The objective of this event is to create awareness and raise funds for Lovedale Foundation, an NGO which provides holistic education to under-privileged children from granite quarries in suburban Bangalore. In this initiative, all the participating restaurants are reserving a table ‘Food for Soul Table’ for Lovedale Foundation. Proceeds from that table will be donated by the restaurant towards supporting Lovedale Foundation. The funds raised through this event will be used to procure a school bus for the children of Lovedale Foundation. 

When you are thinking about where to lunch or dine during this week (2nd-8th October), think about the children who will benefit from your decision. Head straight to one of the participating restaurants and do not forget to ask for the special ‘Food for Soul’ table.

Enjoy a sumptuous meal and experience the little joys of life, the ‘Joy of Giving’!

List of participating restaurants and hotels: 
• Fava (UB City – 22117444) 
• Mocha (Lavelle Road – 42110094/95) 
• Mocha (Koramangala – 41570437)
• Mast Kalandar (all 25 outlets across Bangalore) 
• The Biere Club (42124383/84/86)
• Opus (23442580)
• The Gateway Hotel, Residency Road (66604545)

Do spread the word and if possible, take part.

Update: Autumn-Winter 2011

The last few weeks have kept me busy, thanks to a career crossroad. I had a few options, each of which presented its own share of pros and cons. At a larger level, there was a dilemma on whether to stay as a consultant or get back to a job. This tussle is something I’d like to document in depth, so that’s a story for later.

It was made even more difficult because the major consultancy option was with an organisation whose work I respect and whose domain is a personal interest area. I also had a couple of ‘smaller’ consultancy options, which offered work in interesting domains, in addition to my regular Bangalore Mirror columns. There was also a job option which would allow me to work with a couple of people whom I’d gotten to know through Twitter, and whom I like and admire for their perspectives.

After much consideration and with a little help from invaluable friends over DMs and chats, the update on the LinkedIn profile now reads ‘Head -Social’ at Myntra. In addition to various personal priorities, I chose to go with this opportunity because it gave me the maximum scope to implement the concepts I frequently write about on the blog. The organisation is at that rapid growth stage where I can work towards making ‘social’ inherent in processes across domains. In addition to the ‘social’ piece, I’ll also be working on a couple of other domains.

So, in addition to the regular kind of posts here, I’ll hope to share the experiences of creating a ‘social’ strategy and implementing it on the client side. The mandate is to embed social in fashion, not be social after a fashion, and so, I think we’re in for a lot of fun. :)

until next time, job 2.011

Character’s Objective

There are some movies I watch multiple times – whenever they show up on TV. One of them happens to be the 2010 version of The Karate Kid, featuring Jackie Chan (as Mr.Han) and Jaden Smith ( as Dre Parker). And the fact that one of my favourite scenes is the ‘snake woman’ is only a coincidence, and nothing to do with my alleged (by Cyn) affection for snake scenes in movies. :D Actually the part that interests me is the conversation after. (do not quote  this line out of context)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inZWX5ipBZU&feature=related

Dre: “She was doing the Cobra thing.   She was like…(makes movements)… copying the snake. And it was like…  right here, and she was like…”
Han: “You did not watch closely enough, Xiao Dre… It was the snake that was copying the woman.”
Dre: “What? I don’t get it.”
Han: “Look.” (points at pool of drinking water) What do you see?”
Dre:“Me, well my reflection.”
Han:“Yes. (whirls water). Now, what do you see?”
Dre:“It’s blurry.”
Han:“Yes. That woman was like still water. Quiet and calm. In here (puts hand on the head) and in here (puts hand on the heart) .
Dre: “So, the snake reflects her action like still water. Like a mirror?”
Han: “Yes.”
Dre: “So, she controlled the snake by doing nothing?”
Han: “Being still and doing nothing…  are two very different things.

(via)

The conversation interests me because the snake’s behaviour is typically the way I react to events and people that life throws at me. The aspiration is to have the clear and calm mind that will allow me to change the relationship equation. It’s an extremely difficult task, thanks to stimuli received from all around, especially social platforms. The real time knee jerk reactions characteristic of ‘social media’ also start influencing the way I make decisions even when they are not involved.

It’ would probably be easy if I just closed myself to these stimuli, but that’s not really practical, or the best way. The better, and more difficult way, is to be there, and yet, not allow it to affect what I am and do. As John Wooden said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” That’s something I am trying not to forget, even as I try to make the character as objective as possible. It’s ironic that the platforms which started out (for me) as places to express myself are now trying to ‘force’ me to conform, to become part of cliques, or maybe that’s just the way it’s supposed to work when networks become media.

until next time, character limits :)

Weekly Top 5

This week’s updates include Foursquare and Gowalla updates, Twitter photo-sharing on SMS and acquisition of Julpan, Zynga’s addition of Indiana Jones to Adventure World, the Lighthouse Cove expansion of Farmville, Angry Birds theme park in China, Rovio’s tie up with Starbucks, Facebook Newsfeed and Timeline updates and tie-ups with Spotify and Yahoo, Google’s Chrome Store expansion, Google+ and Hangouts API, launch of Google Wallet, acquisition of DailyDeal and shutting down of Boutiques.com.

Cafe Malabari

(This review was first published in Bangalore Mirror)

Malabar is the northern part of God’s Own Country, lying between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. For those not familiar with Koramangala’s official language, ‘Malabar’ is derived from the word ‘mala’ meaning hill in Malayalam and ‘bar’ has nothing to do with Kerala’s increasing alcohol consumption of late. Until the middle of June, the premises were occupied by what keen observers of the cuisine would identify as one of the last bastions of authentic Malayali food in this part of Bangalore – Kairali. That awesome Beef Roast may now exist only in fond memories, but otherwise, with daily specials beefing up the regular menu, Cafe Malabari does promise to be a worthy successor.

Cafe Malabari is just a couple of buildings after GK Vale and underneath Krishna Cafe, on the same road as Yana Sizzlers, ‘Flambe‘, China Pearl, Vicky’s Tava Lounge, Oye Amritsar, The Esplanade etc. (map) Park as soon as you enter the road, and walk up.

The regular menu does not acknowledge the existence of starters, so make sure you ask for the week’s special menu.

There were six starters available the week we visited, with the Gobi/ Mushroom/ Paneer 65 being the sole vegetarian representative. The ‘Prawns Kombail Korthuthu’ is a specialty and quite deserves the tag. It’s satay-like in presentation, but has a crisp exterior and succulent inside, flavoured with a spicy masala. The Kunthal (squid) Varuval wasn’t as much a favourite as the masala hadn’t quite seeped in, but it was reasonably tasty. The Travancore Chicken Dry Fry is just another name for the item that’s commonly found in menus across Kerala – Poricha Kozhi. Purists might frown at the presentation, since the dish is not famous for garnishing, but it did make a pretty picture. The chicken was crisp on the outside and tender inside, just the way it should be done.

In the main course, the Cafe Malabari Chicken Curry, a signature dish, has an onion-based, mildly spicy gravy that  works well with the excellent Kerala Porotta – crisp, yet not flaky, on the outside and soft inside. And you must Meat Kappa Roast, well boiled tapioca mashed together with a spicy and thick meat gravy. For the vegetarians who would like to get a taste of this eternal favourite of Malayalis, try the Kappa Ularthu. We were given an excellent red chillies and onion-based chutney along with the starters. It goes  very well with the kappa, so make sure you ask for it. The Kurumulagu Peralan Mutton had only a subtle  pepper flavour, but did prove a good combination with the appam, though the latter was reheated and was of the flat variety as opposed to the more favoured appachatti version. The spicy tomato-based Egg Roast was also a good side dish for the appams. The Puttu (steamed rice cake) hit that exact mid spot between pasty and powdery, and had just the right amount of grated coconut, though its trusted combination – the Kadala curry – was rather insipid. The Chilly Gobi, which is waging a battle along with its Manchurian cousin for the title of Kerala’s most preferred dish, was moderately spicy and a tad too colourful. The Chicken “Ishtew” got the coconut milk flavoured gravy right, but the country chicken was bent on putting up a good fight in its afterlife. The ‘Cafe Malabari Special Gift’ is meant to be a meal in itself with Kappa, Fish Vattichathu, Appam and Avoli (pomfret) fry but except for the spicy second item, which went well with the Kappa, it was a bad show. Another mala-barb was the Meen (fish) Varutharacha curry, in which we could find no trace of the fried coconut flavour that makes it special. Ghee Rice it was called, but only the rice could make it for dinner. But the biggest heartache turned out to be the non availability of the Pathiri (a thin ‘pancake’) and the Moplah Mutton Biriyani, the latter being a favourite wedding dish in Malabar.

Payasams for dessert, a different one every day. I dreamt up Ada Pradhaman, Semiya, Palada, and received a reality check for my efforts when I was told they had run out of it. Meat frenzy has its drawbacks. You win some, you lose payasam.

An average meal for two would cost Rs.400-500. The service is cheerful, and obviously, you get a free smile if you order in Malayalam. Cafe Malabari sets the Malabar high by doing a good job on quite a few traditional Kerala dishes. You’d do well to make an early start to your dinner though, just so that you don’t miss out on the specialties.

Cafe Malabari, No: 143, 5th Block, Munireddy Kalyana Mandapa Road, Next to Anand Sweets, Koramangala Ph: 25507373

Memories Unlimited

I was thinking about memories one day, and suddenly decided to figure out my earliest memory. I was dismayed to find that the earliest one I could remember was 1st Standard, the colour of the round badge I wore on my tie and the bus I went to school in.

I looked at old photographs of mine, and tried to figure out if I could remember what was happening while the picture was being taken. I saw the badge and the uniform, and wondered if my mind was playing a trick on me by ‘creating’ a memory from the raw material available. ( since I must have seen this photo earlier many times) As the photos became more recent, I could remember more and more, and recent photos, especially the travel ones, still seem fresh. But for how long? I began to wonder if all those vacation photos and the lifestreaming is a wasted effort. Thankfully, I document a lot of things, creating as many memory aids as possible. Videos help too, and yet…

A relative is traveling to the Czech Republic. A couple of decades ago, the currency and capital would’ve been ‘delivered’ (in my mind) without prompting, or being asked for. Now I probably have to google for that data. But I remember the prayers I used to say daily then, and from the order in which I can chant them, I can even remember the way the deity pictures were hung in the room, though I haven’t said those prayers regularly in years. Ditto for certain Carnatic music kirtanams.  Practice may or may not make perfect, but it certainly fixes it to memory, along with a ton of associated memories from another age. :)

I wanted to augment this post with something Anu had shared a while ago on Twitter – a post titled ‘The unaugmented mind‘, which is on the same topic. The irony was that I remembered that she had shared it, but had no idea on the source itself. Thanks to my own twitter backup and a third party search tool, that was remedied soon. When she shared this, I remarked that I remember weird things I mostly found unnecessary and said I wished we could choose the things we wanted to store in our memory, like virtual world filing systems. Sometime soon, I hope, but I doubt whether even the perfect documentation would capture the way we felt then, because we will have changed. But maybe the augmented human will change that too.

until next time, what’s your earliest memory? :)

Four Steps from Paradise

Timeri N Murari

In the years immediately following India’s independence, the Naidu family retains its glory and wealth, and the traditional joint family ways of living. The narrator is Krishna Naidu, the youngest member of the clan, eight years old and the darling of everyone in the family. Having lost his mother at an early age, his father means everything to him, though he is very loyal to his siblings and grandparents too.

The story begins with his father introducing Krishna, his favourite, to his, and his siblings’ new governess – an Englishwoman, Victoria Greene. Krishna’s father Bharat is an Oxford returned Indian bureaucrat, whose years in England have made him more British than Indian in his lifestyle and outlook.

The entry of Victoria into the traditional Indian family serves as an allegory on the impact of the British. Victoria’s status change from governess to stepmother, much to the disapproval of the rest of the family and even the eldest of Krishna’s siblings – Anjali, also marks the first sign of dissension in the family as it is seen as a failure on the part of the head of the family- Krishna’s maternal grandfather, to maintain control over the family’s affairs.

What follows is a sea change in Krishna’s conditions and within a few years he is forced to leave his ancestral home, his cousins and aunts and uncles, and live in conditions totally unfamiliar and uncomfortable to him. With age also comes the understanding that not all relationships last forever, and not all perspectives last the test of time. As he watches everything that he held sacred crumble before his eyes, he realises that even his gods have clay feet. Laying more emphasis on the early part of his life, the novel ends in 1993, when Krishna is 50.

The novel also shows us glimpses of the conditions that probably broke the fragile bonds of large families, and forced the disintegration of a traditional joint family structure, which had survived despite the jealousies and intrigues, for generations. It is an enjoyable read, especially since it captures a range of human conditions and personalities and keeps a few tiny secrets till the end.

A Brand’s new story

Brands have always been storytellers, but new platforms bring with them opportunities and complexities that warrant a tweaking of the craft. Welcome to transmedia storytelling. And you can read the rest of my article on afaqs.  (Just this once, don’t mind) :)

 

Teary I

I’ve been told that I used to bawl when I was very young. One oft told story is how I used to be especially crabby during powercuts, which, before television serials, was how Kerala got its families to sit together. But, back to my serial rage. Apparently, hand held fans were beneath me, and to shut me up, dad had to take a room in the nearby hotel, which had a generator!!

I think I redeemed myself fairly well in later childhood by becoming non-fussy and reducing the volume (in terms of sound) of my teary escapades, until I had a silent sobbing mechanism. Pain was the only thing that overrode this, but I remember that in college, during a particularly painful accident, with a half broken jaw and a doctor literally pushing back four of my front teeth  into the gums, I figuratively gritted my teeth and didn’t cry out loud. But I think, instinctively I might still cry out if I am not prepared.

What made me think of all this? My observations of how adults and children had different crying habits. My recent trips to Kerala mostly meant a lot of time in hospitals, which, because of an atmosphere of fear and pain, are unfortunately ‘crying catalysts’. I thought of the last time that I had cried, not counting the random poignant moments (music, movies, books, thoughts) that bring unconscious tears. It was about a year back, when one rain induced skid at night was the last straw in making me feel that the cosmos was playing out a terrible conspiracy against me. The tears would have fallen for less than a minute, mixing freely with the rain pouring down my face. Maybe I was giving myself the option of believing that I really hadn’t cried at all. Heh. :)

But what actually sparked even those observations were the words I read in Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver

Some say that crying is childish…. Crying loudly is childish, in that it reflects a belief, on the cryer’s part, that someone is around to hear the noise, and come a-running to make it all better. Crying in absolute silence..is the mark of a mature sufferer who no longer nurses, nor is nursed by any such comfortable delusions.

Do you still cry, silently, when no one’s watching? What’s your delusion? :)

until next time, the blog’s name has a ‘cry’ in it. sigh.