Friday, January 29, 2010

Mad about you

Viv and I were looking at our wedding pictures.

Me - Arre yaar... it was my dupatta! Serious! It was so heavy I could hardly lift my head up. And everyone thought I was being the blushing bride.

(That is actually true. Bhai blush nahin karta. Bhai sirf crush karta hai. Muahahaha.)

Viv - Haha! No one knew the dupatta story. You toh totally looked like... what is the term for it?

Me - Erm, sundar aur susheel?

Viv - Ah yes. Sundar susheel tikau.

Me - Tikau??? What do you mean by tikau???

Viv - Oh sorry. Did I say tikau?

Me - You did!

Viv - Sorry sorry. I meant pakau.

Now why do I get the feeling he didn't mean that as a compliment to my culinary skills? :/


Happy anniversary, you dhakkan. May the madness never end! :D

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Well-rounded employees

You know you have been writing too many appraisals when you look at the nth one and realise what you have typed...

" able to effectively lead his team towards achieving the required golas."


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Retiree diary

Reason #87 why Dad should really get started on his blog.

From: My Dad
To: My sister, bro-in-law, Viv and me
Subject: I Have Become Be-car

Dear all,

I sold off my old car yesterday and now, have become be-car.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hear hear!

I have often wondered if cabbies actively listen to conversations happening inside their cabs. If they do listen, OMG. And if they don't, how do they hear sudden instructions from their passengers?

I had these partly answered during a recent cab ride Viv and I took. We had been talking in the cab about random things and when we got close to our destination, Viv leaned in and said to the cabbie, "Excuse me, could you take a left here, please?" The cabbie just kept on driving straight. Either he had not heard Viv or he thought Viv was asking me to take a left turn (?!). Finally, Viv had to tap him on his shoulder and give him an alternate route because we had missed the turn.


I had a hypothesis: If you're speaking in English throughout the cab ride and then speak to the cabbie, it is highly likely that he would have no idea that you spoke to him, but his ears are tuned to anything said in English if the rest of the conversation is in a language he doesn't know.

(Yes, I realise it's a long hypothesis. Read it a couple of times and erm, hopefully it will make sense.)

So I decided to test my hypothesis. I told Viv about my little experiment and we decided we would talk in Hindi when talking to each other and in English when giving directions to the cabbie. It was quite funny to keep the conversation in cabs to strict Hindi, especially if it involved the cabbie himself. Sample this. "Is vaahan ki gati thodi adhik hai. Kahin yeh vaahan-chaalak madira peekar toh nahin chala raha hai?"

It worked most of the time. We peppered our Hindi conversations with instructions in English and the cabbies heard them all and made no mistakes.

But the best evidence of my hypothesis being true was this.

After an insanely late screening of Avatar, Viv and I were headed home in a cab, discussing the movie. He was asking me to brief him on the parts he had missed because he fell asleep. I was horrified. I'd always known him to be a guy who slept in Bollywood movies. But sleeping in the war scene of a 3D futuristic Hollywood movie which he had been more excited about than me and then asking me to brief him on what he missed??

"Dhikkar hai!" I said. "Aise kaise so gaye yaar? Letdown ho bilkul!" (Erm, I couldn't think of the shuddh Hindi word for 'letdown'.)

The very next second, the cabbie turned and said, "Left turn, ah?"

Hence proved.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Scratch that!

Channel 96.3 plays Bollywood songs from 5 pm to 8 pm, which is just nice as that's when I am cooking dinner and need some good music. It also serves as a good alarm clock to ensure Viv gets home from work at a decent time on the nights we go to the gym. If the Hindi songs are still playing when he gets home, he's in the 'safe zone'. But if the 8 pm Korean songs have started and he's still not home (aka most days), oh boy... let's just say the Korean music would not be the only music he would face.

So back to the Bollywood channel. I especially like this section called 'Time machine' where they play oldies from the 90s and before. The other day, they were playing 'Dil deewana' from 'Maine Pyaar Kiya'. I had not heard that song in at least a decade. To my utter surprise, I found myself singing along not only to the mukhda but the antara as well! I was amazed that I remembered every single word! (By the way, "Jee yeh chaahe banaake aanchal tumko lapetun tann pe" just sounds WRONG.)

So impressed was I with my own memory that I decided I would sing along to whatever they played that evening. I just hoped there wouldn't be songs I didn't know. (Oh the horror!)

To my utter delight, I heard the sounds of "Oye oye! Oye-o-o-aa!"

"I know the lyrics to this song too! Yeay!" I thought as I waited for the music to get over so I could start singing.

The song started. And guess what I found myself singing? Really loudly and confidently at that?

"Khujli karne waale! O-o-o-o-o-o! B-Tex lagaa le!"


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Whose year? Results show

The bewdas have voted. The verdict about whom 2010 will belong to is out.

Sharing third place are.... four dudes. Actually, all places have been taken up by the dudes. Where are the women, I ask.

Image courtesy
Of course, King Khan has elbowed his way through. My Name is Khan had better be good. I forgave Karan for KANK, but if MNIK is anything like that... SUPARI! :/

Image courtesy
Aamir will probably roll in the success of 3 Idiots for a year or so before we get to see him again. No Ghajini-kind, please.

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Last I heard, Hrithik was flying Kites with Barbara Mori. Apun ticket counter par kab se baithela hai, Hrithik, teri patang kab udegi re?

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Abhay, please please please, do another movie with Imtiaz Ali. He's falling apart. We need a Socha Na Tha, not a Love Aaj Kal!

At second place is our very own Chikna Kapoor. I didn't like Kaminay *ducks to avoid public ki chappal* but I hope for another Jab We Met.

Image courtesy

And leading the pack is... yet another Chikna Kapoor! I can't wait for Rajneeti. Or whatever else he has for us. It's all pure gold.

Image courtesy

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Whose year?

It's been a while since we had a Bollywood poll at the bar. Let's kick off the 2010 polls with something apt for the month:

In Bollywood, the year 2010 will belong to __________________. [name a Bollywood personality]

Do drop your vote in the comments box. Feel free to give your reasons if you like. Only one vote is allowed per bewda/bewdi.

PS: Comment moderation will stay on till the results are revealed in the next post. So you won't be able to see your (or others') comments until then.

Monday, January 11, 2010



Sample this conversation between two small children -- my niece baby Aish who is three and a half, and... my Mom!

Mom - O grasshopper!

Baby Aish - You called me a grasshopper???

Mom - Yes, you are a grasshopper!

Baby Aish - No! I am not a grasshopper! You are a grasshopper!

Mom - Okay, you are a small monkey!

Baby Aish - No! I am not a small monkey! You are a small monkey!!

Mom - You are a tiny mouse.

Baby Aish - No! I am not a tiny mouse. You are a tiny mouse!!!

Mom (grinning wickedly) - Okay, you are prachanda sundari ("the supreme beauty").

Baby Aish - NO! I am NOT panchan... YOU are PACHANDA SUNDARI!!!

Mom (grinning still) - OK, agreed! Hehehehe...

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The fun funda

Very cool stuff.

Video courtesy Rolighetsteorin

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A world apart

So we finally watched Avatar in 3D last night. In a fit of insanity, we had booked tickets for a 9:30 pm show, completely forgetting that it was a three-hour movie and the next day was not only a work day, it was a day when I had an early morning teleconference with the US office. (Redbull saw me through.)

Here are some random thoughts on the movie:

  • The first things we noticed when we entered the theatre were flashes from mobile phones and cameras. This was even before the ads and trailers. And then we realised why people were excitedly taking pictures of each other --- everyone was looking like a dork in the ridiculous 3D glasses!
  • Viv, of course, tried to wear them upside down, sideways and what not, and came up with some geeky theories which I didn't couldn't listen to.
  • The very first shot of Pandora reminded me of New Zealand. The ending credits confirmed it was New Zealand indeed. Truly the most beautiful country in the world I have seen.
  • I nearly fell off my chair when Neytiri started speaking. I could swear that the first few lines she spoke were in Singlish. The only one I can remember at this point is "Cannot do that!" or something like that.
  • I am not a huge fan of 3D movies, but this one, oh boy! I actually dodged a piece of shrapnel that came flying towards me. Sheesh. Embarrassing as hell, but hopefully no one noticed.
  • My friend Aathira had told me that the movie was very Bollywood-ish and when I watched it, I realised how right she was. Starting from the three-hour duration, the outsider entering a tribe, the angry father, the falling in love with chief's daughter, the jealous fiance who becomes an ally when adversity strikes, the tribal song and dance, the lambi choti (hehe!), the magical healing, the betrayal, I half expected Jake to say something extremely Bollywood-ish like, "Mujhe kya pata tha mujhe sach mein tumse pyaar ho jaayega?" and Neytiri to say "Hamara pyaar pavitra hai!" when her parents questioned her on the mating (that too in front of ancestors! Sheesh!) Anyway, Viv said that it would have been cool if they had used the fusing braid-fibres to mate. I was horrified. "Dude, he did that with the horse thingie and the dragon thingie!"
  • We stayed till the ending credits even though it was past midnight. I was really amazed to see that they had got a PhD guy to come up with the Na'vi language. The level of detail that went into the movie is truly stupendous.
  • Loved the not-so-subtle references to the US and middle-east. "When someone's sitting on shit that you want, you make them your enemy." Hear hear.
  • Normally, I hate war scenes, but in this movie, I was lapping up every second of the three-hour spectacle. I do wish we had chosen a saner time though. Viv actually dozed off for a few minutes!
  • I wondered if they intentionally called the mineral 'unobtanium' because they couldn't obtain it?
  • Even though the concept of the Avatar was very similar to what we have seen in The Matrix and The 13th floor, the execution was the killer, no pun intended.
  • The movie is incredibly powerful, and it's not just because of the stunning visuals. I always tell Viv that you should never watch back-to-back movies or even movies on consecutive days because you need the next day to let the movie sink in without diluting its effect. Only the movies that play and stay in the head a day after you have watched them mean something. Everything else is trash.
  • I totally loved the ending. Not just because it took me by surprise (I had kind of expected Jake to go back to Earth and try and make that a better place), but also because of the way the last shot was done, with his Avatar's eyes opening suddenly. Simply beautiful.
  • Lastly, I loved what Raja Sen said in his review, "James Cameron, living up to his initials, has delivered a miracle."

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Chilli garlic babycorn

So Viv had a cricket meeting tonight, meaning I was in the extremely undesirable position of having to cook for one. Making dough for two chapatis was so not worth it, and then I would have to make a sabzi to go with it. There were no fresh vegetables in the fridge but when I raided the cupboard, I found a can of baby corn.


I decided that this was the best opportunity to try out something new because even if it backfired, poor Viv wouldn't have to suffer the consequences (Bhai in pativrata mode, eh? Hota hai. Kabhi kabhi.)

So here it is, the recipe for the chilli garlic babycorn that I just made and am chomping down as I type.


  • 1 can of babycorn

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 10 green chillis (please control this as per your taste; mine's a bit insane), finely chopped

  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated (I hate biting on garlic pieces so I always grate it instead of chopping it. No matter how finely I chop it, I still end up biting on a piece and going "Bleeaaah!")

  • Green chilli sauce (I used Ching's, available everywhere in India and now, FINALLY, in Mustafa in Singapore! Yipeee!)

  • Red chilli sauce (Ching's again, though Maggi may work too)

  • Soya sauce (If you live in Singapore, use no brand other than Kikkoman! Others will ruin your dish!)

  • Vinegar

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • 2 tablespoons cornflour

  • Spring onion


1. Wash the babycorn pieces and slice them horizontally.

2. Add a dash of soya sauce and red chilli sauce.

3. Sprinkle the cornflour and a little salt. Mix well.

4. Let it marinate for about 20 minutes. (I chopped the vegetables while it marinated.)

5. Heat sufficient oil to shallow fry the babycorn. (I had just given darshan at the gym yesterday and didn't want to deep-fry, though I suspect deep-frying would make it tastier. Oh well.)

6. Fish out the babycorn pieces from the marinade and shallow fry them for about 5-10 minutes till reddish-golden. There will be some marinade left but don't throw it -- we'll use it later for the sauce.

7. Remove and place on a piece of kitchen towel. Place another piece of kitchen towel on top and press lightly to absorb the extra oil.

8. Heat about 1-2 tablespoons of oil. (Fortunately, the oil left over after shallow frying was just enough to make the sauce. You may want to use a suitable amount of oil to achieve this, it saves the jhanjhat of reusing the once-fried oil for other stuff.)

9. Add the chopped green chillies, grated garlic and chopped onions and fry for a while.

10. Add some vinegar, some soya sauce and some green chilli sauce (all quantities andaaz se). Don't ask why red chilli sauce to marinate the babycorn and green to make the sauce. Ainwain. Mann kiya.

11. Add a little salt and pepper.

12. Add the leftover marinade and stir well. You may have to add a little water to get the right consistency.

13. Toss in the babycorn and mix well.

14. Garnish with spring onion and serve immediately. Yum!

PS: Yeah, I saved a little (only a little) for Viv. :P

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Starting the new year on a good note

"Sonu Nigam is coming to town!"

This was my Christmas song for 2009. The moment I had heard about his concert on the radio, I got my hands on the tickets. It was a dream come true. SONU NIGAM LIVE! (Yes, Nigam it is. I still can't get myself to use his new Ekta-Kapoorised surname 'Niigaam'.)

I was counting down the days leading to 2nd Jan, and finally, it happened. We were at the Suntec City convention centre as part of the 2500-strong crowd that had turned up to see the musical genius in action.

The concert was supposed to start at 7 pm, and we were seated by then. However, nothing happened for like half an hour. We were wondering if it was just badly organised or they were going to start at IST or Sonu was simply late. Grrrr... we know what happens when someone is late without reason (something explodes in my head).

At about 7.30 pm, out came the host, henceforth known as Diagonal Glitter Dress Girl or DGSquare. Did poor DGSquare have a tough task or what. No sooner than she had uttered the killer words, "Now let me tell you something about the organisers SPICE..." that the entire crowd went "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Poor girl, but seriously, we were there for Sonu and he had made us wait half an hour. So everyone cut her off and started clapping and chanting, "Sonu! Sonu! Sonu!" She meekly retreated and passed the microphone to this guy who came out and started talking about -- get this -- how talented Sonu is. Sheesh!!

It was obvious they were playing for time and he didn't get much favour from the audience. In fact, we got more irritated. I wanted to yell out, "Dude, we know how talented Sonu is. That's why we are here!" The crowd cut him off too. The hall was filled with chants of "We want Sonu!", "Sonu, come out!", and "Sooonuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!" (Maybe that's why he changed his surname? Maybe someone in a crowd called out to him and said "Niiiiiiiigaaaaaaaaam!" and he decided to add in the extra 'i's and 'a's.) The guy in front of me said, "Sonu bolne se kuchh nahin ho raha hai. Let's yell out Monu instead. Maybe he'll come out?" I wanted to stand on my chair and yell in capital letters, "SONU! AGAR MAA KA DOODH PIYA HAI TOH BAAHAR NIKAL!"

Finally it seemed like something was happening because the musicians started to play, but next thing we know they're playing and singing (!) songs from 'Rock On'. COME ON, MAN! They played 'Rock on' and 'Socha hai'. Then the male host came back (AAAARGH!) and started talking about some girl called Gunjan, who came out singing "Raat baaki baat baaki". DOUBLE AAAAARGH!!! Where the heck was Sonu and who the heck was this girl? I seriously thought someone would throw a shoe or something at the stage. Fortunately for Gunjan, firstly, she sang well she was hot, and secondly, she sang well. She went on to sing three songs, and even though she sounded good, we yelled out "Sonuuuuu!" whenever she paused.

Finally she made her exit, but it was followed by a slideshow about Sonu, which had statistics about his performances, one of which talked about how he had burnt 1 million calories during his stage shows. Huh?! We were so annoyed we were not sure even if that was supposed to be a joke.

And finally, finally, finally, at 8 pm, Sonu's voice filled the hall. "This had better be the real Sonu and not some recording!" I was grinding my teeth and thinking.

And then it happened. Sonu Nigam, the god of Bollywood music, came out, dressed in white pants, a light blue full-sleeved shirt and a white waistcoat. He had realised that the only way to calm us down was "no talk only sing" and he did exactly that. He sang a medley of his popular songs before getting down to talking.

We were seated about slightly more than 50 metres from the stage and could see him very clearly. He sang 'Falak dekhoon', followed by the remix version of 'Chak de saare gham' (remix version meaning he sang too fast and there were too many beats), and then 'Dil dooba'. "Come on man, bring out the real Sonu songs!" I yelled in my head.

And finally, it seemed like the real show started. Sonu sang all his famous songs and he did variations to every single one of them. Actually it would have been nice if he had sung at least some of the songs the way we knew them (the slow soulful Sonu-ish melodies) but he was still good and we were hooting and clapping like crazy. Some girl yelled out "SONU, I LOVE YOU!" (no, it wasn't me) and he responded with a "I LOVE YOU TOO!", driving her and her friends mad of course. Next thing we know, a guy in the audience yells out, "SONU, I LOVE YOU!". Erm, Sonu said nothing.

He spoke about how the Singapore audience had changed from the first time he had performed here, from clapping politely to raising their hands and clapping to the insanity he was witnessing.

I was hoping Sonu would also make time for some mimicry. (If you didn't know, he rocks at mimicking other Bollywood singers. Check this video out.) He didn't do exactly that, but he did something very interesting and unique. He was talking about how people react when they bump into him at airports or when they are seated next to him in the plane. Some guy asked him, "Woh John aur Bipasha ka abhi tak chal raha hai kya?" and when Sonu said he didn't know, the guy asked, "Suna hai Aishwarya Rai... sach hai kya?" and then made a pregnant tummy gesture.

One of the questions he said he gets a lot is "Sonu ji, gana kaise banta hai?" So he has now started including this item in all his concerts to show how a song is composed. "We start with the lyrics. Let's make some lyrics now. How about vegetable names? Give me some vegetable names." We started yelling, "Aloo! Bhindi! Baingan! Mooli! Gobhi!" His guitarist yelled out, "Matar paneer!" "Arre yaar, matar paneer toh bani banaayi sabzi hai, I'm looking for raw vegetable names. Okay never mind, let's take aloo, mooli, gobhi and matar paneer." Next, he got his percussionist to give him the beats and then composed a whole song of it. Luckily, Viv captured part of it on his phone (if I'd known they'd allow cameras in, I'd have taken mine. We had to make do with mobile phones). Check out the aloo gobhi song in the video below!

Sonu also gave demonstrations of how the song would go if composed by different music directors. He started with Nadeem-Shravan and did the aloo gobhi song with the typical dholak beats and a Nadeem-Shravan-ish tune. Next was Anu Malik's style. "Who else?" He asked us. I patted myself on the back as I was one of the first to yell out "HIMESH!" Many others followed suit. "Himesh?" he asked, and shook his head at us in disapproval. Suddenly he broke into a Himesh-style rendition of the song, "Alooooooooooonnnnn! Matar-paneeeer-matar-matar-matar!" leaving us howling with laughter.

For a guy nearing 40, he not only looks young, he's super energetic too. He rocked the stage with his dance moves and variations which showed off the amazing range he can do. Awesome awesome awesome. The only downside was that he didn't sing Tanhaayee.

They had an interval around 10 pm, and we were once again ready to howl in dismay because the male host came out again. However, this time, he really redeemed himself. First, he told us that Sonu had been very unwell the last few days and had been hospitalised, and that's why the delays had occurred. Next, he did impressions of Bollywood actors at a Navraatri puja and what they said to Durga Ma. He did an especially great job as Amol Palekar (who said in his typical calm way "Excuse me Durga Mata..."), Sunil Shetty ("Ayee Durga Mata!"), Amrish Puri and Nana Patekar. The audience howled in laughter when he had Vinod Khanna saying "Durga Ma, tuney mere sar par sattavan ki umar mein bhi itne baal rakhe, lekin mere bete ke sar se sattaais mein hi chheen liye?")

Gunjan came out again and sang a few more songs, including the Pussycat Dolls' version of 'Jai ho!', 'Dance pe chance' and 'Yeh ishq haaye'. She didn't sound all that great this time, possibly because she wasn't all that prepared and was just trying to play for time. In fact, she finished singing and went back, and then came out again to sing another song because Sonu wasn't ready. DGSquare came out next, and this time she somehow managed to finish her SPICE speech which we had not let her complete earlier. She also announced something unexpected -- that Anil Kapoor was on his way up! A few minutes passed and nothing happened, and I feared for her life again. The mimicking guy came out to save her ass and told us that Anil Kapoor had been held up by security, because his entry was unexpected and they didn't know who he was. After a long wait, finally Anil Kapoor did make his entrance to loud cheers. Okay, for a guy of his age, he sure looks GOOOOD!

The chairman of the SPICE group, introduced to us as Dr. Modi, was there too. In fact, it was his birthday. Everyone (including Anil Kapoor) sang 'Happy birthday' for him, and because no one gave us his first name, we ended up singing, "Happy birthday to Modi!"

Sonu came back in a while, dressed in jeans, a maroon shirt and a red scarf this time. He sang some slow numbers and then asked us what we wanted to hear next. "Bijuria!" Someone yelled. "Bijuria? I don't know the song. Is it this one?" He said, and broke into an aadivasi-style rendition of 'Bijuria'. "NOOOOOOOOOOO" We yelled out. He did it again, singing it in a different way. "This one?" He asked. "NOOOOOOOOOOO" We yelled again. "Okay, someone needs to tell me which one then. Who knows the song?" A guy in the audience raised his hand. He was asked to go up to shake hands with Sonu and sing 'Bijuria'. I thought he sang quite well, considering he has Sonu Nigam at his side, and thousands of people looking at him. Sonu then sang the correct 'Bijuria'.

He also sang 'Tumse milke dil ka yeh hai haal' and added a funny twist to it. Just before the word "hai!" in the song, he'd pause and wave to someone and say "Hiii!" instead, and then go back to singing the 'hai!" Every now and then, he also held the mike out to the audience to sing (especially parts like 'Just chill chill, just chill'), and quite surprisingly, we all sounded quite in tune. Even Sonu seemed surprised at that. He had several other playful things up his sleeve. When he was singing 'Sooraj hua madhyam', he actually sang, "Kya yeh mera pehla... doosra... teesra... saatwan... unteeswan...teeswan pyaar hai, sajnaaaaaaaaa....'

Towards the end, he sang his latest hit song 'Aal izz well'. Finally, he wrapped up the show, apologising for any mistakes in his singing and told us about his hospitalisation. We came back and looked it up, and it looks like he really was in a bad state.

Thanks for a great concert, Sonu, and hope aaaal izzz well with you soon!