About manu prasad

Posts by manu prasad:

Bitter/sweet

My “nostalgia analysis” post had an excellent comment – “I have noticed that nostalgia happens for certain things when you are satisfied with how things turned out. And then there is bitterness…” I am not really convinced by the first sentence, and think it’s a little more nuanced. Broadly yes, when everything turns out well, nostalgia is ‘easy’. But as I mentioned in the post, I think the mind also reconstructs and reconciles what it can. In a way, taking memories into dreams territory. A vision of near-perfectness. Probably a device used by evolution to help the organism cope, survive and thrive. Ok, that sounded cold. Moving on. It is the second sentence that really caught my attention.

..And then there is bitterness..” Bitterness. I can remember many brushes with that phenomenon. It has made me miss several years with people, though thankfully, sanity prevailed in most cases. I reached out, and time healed. It has happened in the recent past as well. The only difference these days is that I am not blind to it, and have tried to understand it, so I can try to minimise the damage it causes. But maybe I was missing something. More

Shaap

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Over the years, the Kerala toddy shop menu has rapidly grown in stature from being mere ‘touching’ partners during drinks to a whole cuisine in itself. Hence you can imagine our delight on seeing an outlet that promises “authentic Kerala shaap cuisine”, especially when it unabashedly calls itself Shaap! Before we go further, let’s get the linguistics out of the way. ‘Shaap’ in this context does not mean a curse, it’s just the way ‘shop’ is pronounced. To be noted that after a trip the ‘shaap’, people are prone to cursing and swearing! The outlet, we realised when we got there, has been refurbished – from its previous café avatar. However, it’s a job that has been reasonably well done. From the signboard that has been done in the toddy shop style, and the thatched coconut leaves on the walls, to the posters (movie quotes and pop culture), the Balarama comics (not Hindu mythology, it’s a popular kids magazine) on the shelf and the use of a non-Malayali labour force, it was absolute Kerala! An entire blackboard-finish wall has been dedicated to the menu, and we couldn’t wait to start!

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Global Mood Swings!

Recently, at a meet-up of Twitter folks, a couple of people asked me whether I had retired from Twitter. They had a point. Sure, I still shared links, but not only were they few in number, I also mostly stayed away from conversation. My reasons were that I had seen people and their agenda on Twitter change  (from the first time I had encountered them on the platform) – the vanity numbers affecting the ego, the loss of humility, the perceived slights and the overall nature of conversations that are more to convince and score points, than to understand and gain perspectives. From discuss to diss and cuss, as bad wordplay would go. :)

Yes, there are some great folks around with whom I have conversations, funnily enough more over DM, phone, other networks and offline meetings! One could also prune the feed to maximise this, but one could also read a book!

I had alluded to this in a previous post – Binary Code – the increasing disappearance of nuance in our consumption. Obviously, this is also happening in creation. In less than a couple of decades, we have moved from being in bubbles formed from having only a few information sources to ones made from having too many. We aren’t used to having a microphone in the hand, and it’s showing. Making things binary in consumption and reasoning is a way of coping with unbridled creation. It’s also not being helped by search engine and social algorithms accentuating and reinforcing pre existing notions and showing us the kind of things we’d like. Sanitised for our unique taste buds. More

Possession

Kamala Markandaya

Kamala Markandaya’s writings have always intrigued me largely because of the times she lived in and the socio-cultural themes they therefore brought out. In this book, for instance, there were at least two themes I could make out.

The first is obvious enough, and also stems from the title – a battle between the spiritual and the material. The story begins with Anasuya, a writer, becoming the inadvertent connector of two lives – Caroline Bell, a rich, divorced, beautiful English lady with an iron will, and Valmiki, a poor peasant boy who is also a gifted artist. Valmiki’s parents have a very dim view of him, and the only person who sees his talent is Swamy, an ascetic who lives a solitary life in the hills near Valmiki’s village. Valmiki is swept away by Caroline to London, where she introduces him to her society and culture and tries to help him develop his talent. But it isn’t all altruistic – even as Val’s talent ensures his popularity, Caroline extends their relationship and ensures that he feels beholden to her. She goes to every extent to destroy any competition that arises, and succeeds. In a sense, it is difficult to say who possesses and who is possessed. Swamy’s mostly invisible hand brings out the battle between spirituality and material success. More

The Kabali Experience

Kabali had to be watched in the movie hall, I had decided as soon as I saw the first trailer. The hype that followed all but ensured that polarisation would happen, but I honestly didn’t care what the reviews said. Rajini’s “Kabali daa” in the trailer, to me, felt like a guarantee.

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(via)

It isn’t a typical Rajini film, most people seem to agree on that. For instance, here I was, ready to jump up, whoop in joy, and throw a coin during the entry scene, and in an underwhelming introductory shot, he appears, the embodiment of calm in what’s touted as a gangster movie! And yet, in a few seconds, the movie started delivering on what I’d come for – the spellbinding swag that only Rajinikanth can pull off on screen! (“Koodave poranthathu, ennikkum pogadhu” 😀 #youremember) There are enough of those scenes in the movie to have kept the fan in me very contented. More

The Permit Room

My Instagram feed had been abuzz for a while with some very appealing photos of The Permit Room dishes, but travel (vacation, not the one from Whitefield to MG Road) meant that it took us a while to get there. Despite the TOIT pedigree, the concept and therefore the food, ambiance and decor all are completely different. No craft beer, ok?

The name is a throwback to the days of Prohibition, and the food takes absolute liberties with good old South Indian cuisine. Spread across three floors, the decor is unabashedly kitsch – posters, quotes, art, matchbox collages, and the satirical take on taxidermy – all chuckle-worthy stuff.  We sat on the first floor, with a view of Garuda Mall.

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“Both sides”

A few months ago, when I wrote Hope Trope during what on hindsight seems like a particularly low phase of my mind’s wax and wane cycles, a relative wrote to me. She said the post almost made her cry, and as a person who has been reading my posts for a while, she felt that my tone was increasingly becoming personal and despondent. The first description was right, and I was conscious of it. The second I attributed to the struggle – when creating one’s own worldview and life that treads outside of the accepted standards, in things as diverse as work, progeny (or the lack of it) and faith. Teething troubles of a stoic outlook. (which I still strive for)

I now realise that maybe she saw something I couldn’t because despite the best efforts, it is very difficult to remain objective about one’s own feelings. I cannot remember when I began to spend an inordinate amount of time on introspection. From experience, it is a double edged sword, it’s great to be conscious of one’s actions and words, but horrible when one judges the self as ruthlessly as I do, especially if the past gets dredged up. The amazing Book of Life has an excellent read on the subject using the folk tale of Androcles & the Lion as an allegory. I think I made all the mistakes the article points out – a wrong diagnosis, numbing the pain, and to a certain extent, applying the wrong medicine.  More

The Palace of Illusions

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Like I’ve said before, what does it say of a story when countless people, centuries later, can continue to render it in their unique way? It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who’s completely enthralled by the phenomenon that is The Mahabharata. It’s even more heartening when renditions are such that they do justice to the epic.

This is the Mahabharata told from the viewpoint of Draupadi, and as a reader, I could easily believe this to be indeed her autobiography. I could sense the changes in Draupadi with time, not just in her behaviour, but also in her perspectives and even the words she uses. It is almost as though the author walked in her shoes! It is difficult to bring anything new to the table with regards to the basic story itself, but the author manages it with the help of at least three devices – the role of Karna in Draupadi’s life, the perspectives of a female protagonist and finally, the interpretations Draupadi draws of and from the events that happen around her. There is a fourth too, that lends a uniqueness to this retelling – the Palace of Illusions, and what it does to Draupadi’s own perspectives. More

Binary Code

Facebook is in the process of updating its Newsfeed algo again so that we see more posts from friends and family, and less from ‘Pages’. Great news, except that when every person is media, and there is a limit to the pruning one can do, the feed will still consist of biases, prejudices, hoaxes, paid endorsements without disclosure, and yes, cat videos, Lincoln’s quotes on self driving cars, click bait and baby pics. My point above is less about filter failure and more about the continuing explosion of content and its distribution to set the context.

But now let’s talk about filters. The sheer volume of content means that (in general) the reader will want quickly digestible information before he/she moves on to the highly entertaining video waiting in line. Absolutely connected to ‘the demise of the middle ground in the attention economy‘. The article talks about nuance in political debate getting lost, but I think its reach extends beyond that. As this fantastic Guardian article “How technology disrupted the truth” states, “..everyone has their own facts“. But why do this happen? More

The Workshop

First published in Bangalore Mirror

The new restaurants that open on 100 feet Road, Indiranagar seem to be giving a hat tip to the traffic by having an automobile connection in their names. At least, that’s what struck me when I saw our destination – The Workshop – exactly opposite a restaurant called Horn OK Please. The restaurant has outdoor seating, which, if you can get over the blaring horns, does look like a comfortable place to watch the world go by. We chose to sit inside, where, on comfortable sofas or functional but aesthetically pleasing chairs, you can watch the IPL season go by. The wall graphics continue the theme (of the name) by creating a workshop impression out of kitchen utensils and the cooking process. The overall effect is bright and cheerful, and does a decent job of creating a relaxed, casual dining ambiance. The menu offers a mix of café fare and more elaborate dishes from Continental, Italian and North Indian cuisines. With the background of pop from the earlier part of this decade, we decided to begin.   More