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Scarcity

Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir

On a relative scale, we probably are in the most abundant era of civilisation. And yet, we struggle to manage with less than what we need. Sometimes it’s money, in other cases time or health, and then there are emotional needs like love and affection. But there’s a common thread that connects all of these – the scarcity mindset. A feeling of having less than what one needs. And scarcity, as the authors repeat many a time in the first few sections captures the mind.

This framing suddenly brings up patterns that are common across vegetable sellers in India and the authors of this book, two sets of people vastly separated by geography and lifestyles. It then allows the formation of concepts and constructs – bandwidth, focusing and tunneling, choking, slack are a few examples – that offers explanations on how scarcity is created, how it forms its own vicious cycles, and how far reaching its consequences are. Complicated as the subject may seem (and it is!) the fantastic use of examples (tests, experiments and real life scenarios) explains things in a way that the reader can easily grasp. More

Bloomsbury’s

Sometime back, we were super happy to see gastronomic progress happening in a building near the BMTC Depot in Whitefield. (map) Galito’s and Cold Stone Creamery were quick to start reperations, and we now regularly make up excuses to visit the latter! Bloomsbury’s looked very promising but had been holding out, until we began seeing lights inside around April. Side note – I think the same folks are behind all three, because it can’t be a coincidence that outside of Bangalore, all of them operate only in Kerala’s tourism hot spot – Lulu Mall. Though all three seem to be international franchises, I’m guessing that like most good things in life, these ones too have some Kerala connection. ūüėÄ

Bloomsbury’s proposition is a boutique cafe and artisan bakery, but let’s just say that from a menu perspective, you will have enough to choose from. In fact, that is quite a problem because you’ll find it difficult to preserve appetite for desserts. But we’ll come to that in a bit, because the decor is worth a shout out. Spread over two floors, the brick walls with chalkboard and illustrations,¬†the cute teapot lights, the plant holder bulbs, ¬†graffiti and the plush seating, all lend a lively yet cozy feel to the place. The staff do their best to make you comfortable too. For instance, when we asked to sit upstairs, we were told that it wasn’t open yet. Later, one of the other service staff¬†let another party sit upstairs, followed by my cold glares. That last item was caught and they were nice enough to let us take a little tour upstairs, and move our food there if we wanted to. But we liked the area downstairs better.

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Dhaba by Claridges

We had spotted the place during our visit to Sly Granny, and liked the look of it, so at the very next opportunity – which happened to be our anniversary – we decided to drop in. (map) It was also the first day of my new job, so it turned out to be a double celebration. At 7 PM on a Monday we had the place all to ourselves, at least for a while. In fact, I think we disturbed their prep meeting! We really liked what they have done with the decor – it’s bright and has classic Dhaba signs and messages, some of the seating is inspired by classic vehicle interiors, the music is absolute Bollywood, and even the loo continues the Dhaba messaging. The thing though, is that it is all done classily – Dhaba fine dining all the way.

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Nasi and Mee (Whitefield)

Our visits to the black box VR mall have been predominantly for the happy hours at Irish House. On one such visit, we were super thrilled to see a Nasi and Mee ‘coming soon’ sign right next door. We’d been really happy with its¬†Koramangala version. But for the longest while, the sign was all there was, and we had given up! On the 1st of April, we decided that it was as good a day as any to check if we’d continue to get fooled. But voila, it was open, with the familiar Edison lamps (though every restaurant now sees it as the passport to coolth!) no-nonsense seating, and those shutters that remind me of a place from long, long ago.

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Since we were early, we easily found a seat, especially since we chose to sit in the alfresco section. I don’t think they’ve publicised the place much, since it wasn’t really fully occupied even when we left around 9. A far cry from the Koramangala version, which would’ve had a crowd waiting outside for a table!¬† More

Sapiens : A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari

“Just six million years ago, a single female ape had two daughters. One became the ancestor of all chimpanzees, the other is our own grandmother.” That appears on page 5, and somehow it convinced me that I was going to enjoy this book. Actually, even before that, the framing of the massive exercise of universe creation, and evolution, neatly into physics, then chemistry, and biology is itself a fantastic beginning. This elegance in framing, which extends to the analogies used as well, played a huge role in me recommending this book to pretty much everyone I met, even while I was still reading it.

To continue, after biology, which is the study of organisms, we come to the study of something developed by humans – culture, and that study is history. From as many as six other human species that existed until 100,000 years ago, we were the chosen ones. How did that happen, and how did we get here, that is what the book explores. More

The Shadow Lines

Amitav Ghosh

‚ÄúPeople assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.‚ÄĚ ~ Steven Moffat. This probably best describes the narrative structure of the book – it moves forward and backward in time, sometimes seeking parallels, and sometimes closure, it would seem.

Many books in one, that’s a way to describe this work. It is Tridib’s life and relationships, seen through the eyes of the narrator. It is the narrator’s own story – in Calcutta where he grew up, in Delhi where he studied and then in London. It is his view of the world he lives in, the people who inhabit it and his changing relationships with them. It is also the relationships within the Datta Chaudhari family and with their friends – the Prices. But across these, I could see at least a couple of common threads. One, the aspect that gives the book its title (I assume). Places, events and people have lines connecting, and sometimes disconnecting them, but these lines exist only in some perspectives. Hence, shadow lines. In this book, I felt the focus is largely on places – the boundaries between nations are lines, and the connection between Calcutta and Khulna seems much stronger than between Kolkata and Srinagar though the latter pair exist in the same country. The second aspect that offers a connection is the end of the story, it is something that brings closure of sorts to all the three narratives I mentioned earlier. More

Flying Spaghetti Monster

First published in Bangalore Mirror

In a world where zealots prescribe diets instead of deities, the Flying Spaghetti Monster appears in the skyline as a beacon of hope. For those unfamiliar with the subject, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the deity of the ‚ÄúChurch of the Flying Spaghetti Monster‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúPastafarianism‚ÄĚ, a legally recognised religion in at least three countries, in addition to being an internet phenomenon! 100 feet Road, Indiranagar, (map) has now been blessed by its presence, (rather, a restaurant inspired by it) and if there‚Äôs a deity that can reduce the traffic on that road (which happened the day we visited) it must indeed be a powerful one. This was manifested once again during our dinner ‚Äď we had the place to ourselves when we got in, but by the time we left, the faithful had filled up every seat available. This, on a Friday night, without the influence of alcohol! Glory be to FSM!

The ambiance is in keeping with the soberness that a faith requires ‚Äď no fancy use of colours, just wood, well placed lighting, and comfortable seating that allows one to reflect on the menu, take a note of the insatiable desires of one‚Äôs appetite, and humbly appeal to a higher power to satisfy those cravings. The menu however, revealed the playful nature of the deity ‚Äď ‚Äúsubstitute bacon with bacon. ha!‚ÄĚ (Pasta D:33), even as it strengthened one‚Äôs faith ‚Äď ‚ÄúVegetables are interesting, but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat‚ÄĚ. By now, all we wanted to do was partake!

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The Open Box

It’s not often that we venture so far away from our native country – Whitefield – but the visuals of The Open Box, and its fusion menu, were enticing enough to drag us all the way to St.Marks Road. On reaching there, we realised that it was the same place that Spiga used to occupy. We were big fans of Spiga when it used to be in a house on Vittal Mallya Road, but the second version really didn’t live up.

We walked in close to 1 on a Sunday afternoon, and easily found a place. But if we had been late by half an hour, I think we’d have had some trouble getting a table. The space is separated into about 3-4 sections. The lower floor has some seating near the entrance itself, and the bar separates the remaining area into two.There’s also some seating upstairs, but it didn’t seem open. The furniture is functional-cool – I particularly liked the swivel chair I was seated on. There are some fun decor elements, and that extends to the plating devices too. Not to mention the goofy ‘Nintendo joystick’ posters in the loo! A pool table and a gigantic world map (made with artificial turf) add to the character. We found quite a mixed crowd there – at least two sets of older people having a get together of some sort, and many groups of much younger folk as well!

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Gone Girl

Gillian Flynn

I probably wouldn’t have picked up the book if everyone and their everyone else had not raved so much about the movie. I am glad I did. (I need to add a few thrillers to the reading list occasionally) One of the indicators of how much I enjoyed a book is the number of days I take to finish it. This one was completed in half the time that had been allocated for it.

“You two are the most f*cked-up people I have ever met, and I specialize in f*cked-up people.” says Tanner Bolt somewhere in the last fifty pages of the book. That, arguably, is the best description of this book. From the time you wonder, just like Nick, what happened to Amy on their fifth anniversary, you’re hooked. That is the beginning of a roller-coaster ride, which keeps you on the edge pretty much all through the 400-odd pages. More

Toast & Tonic

Monkeys thankfully evolve, such is the nature of things, and one such has now done exactly that to become¬†Toast & Tonic: East Village Style. (map) Our East Village experiences have been limited to¬†a couple of trips around Shillong and Gangtok (no need to get technical about directions, now!) and we’ve never actually been inside a barn, so back in March, we decided to broaden our perspectives on both counts and celebrate D’s birthday there. ¬†It was meant to be a surprise for her, and since I’d heard that it was usually packed, I reserved a table a day before. But we got delayed a bit thanks to our neighbour-friends surprising us both with a cake. While on our way, I wondered whether I should call and request them to hold the table. Before I could do that though, I received a call from them confirming our visit. They also asked whether they should arrange a cake for D because they wouldn’t allow food from outside.¬†Very classy, and professional. Impressed even before I got there.

From the very second visit, the front door of Monkey has given me a “TARDIS feeling”. Partly because of the door panel shape, but mostly because the space inside is much larger than what I’d have imagined from outside. T&T feels even bigger – the chipped wood ceiling seems higher, and somehow the overall place is roomier. It could partly be because only a couple of tables were occupied when we got in, but even when fully packed (which was the situation by the time we finished lunch) it doesn’t really feel congested. Everything from the bar and decor to tableware exudes a casual elegance, making it a perfect spot for a lazy Sunday lunch, which was what we were there for.

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