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Showing posts from January, 2008

Nair, Curry, Bose and Mohanlal

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Things have come a long way since 1949, when Nair's was the first authentic Indian eatery to open in Japan -- in its present location in Ginza, Tokyo. However, it made a slow start, possibly because Japan already had its own curry dish called kare raisu (curry rice). This gravy-like sludge said to have been introduced more than 100 years ago, is especially popular with children for its sometimes sweet flavor. The Japanese Curry rice, thicker sweeter & milder than the Indian version, is a very popular fast food. Although introduced earlier, the dish became popular and available for purchase in supermarkets and restaurants, in the late sixties.

To a large extent, the curry became popular in Japan due to Ayappan Pillai Madhavan Nair, who founded the Ginza Nair’s restaurant. I have not been there, but well, some day if and when I visit Tokyo I surely will and would ask to meet Ayappan’s son who runs the place now. Ginza Nair have their website, but it is all in Japanese (covering a…

‘Londonstani’ – An electrifying read

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When I started with the first page of text brilliantly and ruthlessly compiled by Gautam Malkani in his book ‘Londonstani’, I was wondering what I was upto and why I was taking myself through the very process of reading those pages… The publisher has hailed the book as “a filthy, unflinching and politically incorrect take on modern Britain”. So why did I go on??

The book intro goes thus - Set close to the Heathrow feed roads of Hounslow, Malkani shows us the lives of a gang of four young men: Hardjit the ring leader, a Sikh, violent, determined his caste stay pure; Ravi, determinedly tactless, a sheep following the herd; Amit, whose brother Arun is struggling to win the approval of his mother for the Hindu girl he has chosen to marry; and Jas, who tells us of his journey with these three, desperate to win their approval, desperate too for Samira, a Muslim girl, which in this story can only have bad consequences. Together they cruise the streets in Amit’s enhanced Beemer, making a litt…

Guarding the borders

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I stood in utter exasperation at the transit immigration counter. Not definitely from the days when armour clad, sword brandishing giants secured the borders, but here was a grim looking aurat looking me down through her eye glasses, through the bullet proof windows. The lady had still not finished deciding whether my passport was genuine and if I was a terrorist or not. This was the immigration counter at the Stockholm departure terminal. She turned the well worn blue passport with visas from so many countries in it, back and forth, she consulted her companion manning the next window, she looked at me, she looked at the computer terminal, she showed the passport under her UV lamp, she tapped more keys and she looked at me again for the 5th time. Then she said lamely ’you know, the computers are so slow’…I am sure she entered my name into some terrorist database and was waiting to see if bells rang & red lights came on! Why? Because I was brown and had black hair and a moustache??…

Home cooking – Soon a historical activity?

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At an altitude of 30,000 feet with the seat belt sign illuminated and grim looking airline stewardesses policing the aisles and helping increase the pressure in my bladder, I had just about enough of gazing at the various types of clouds that we passed. I tried to recall the numerous types that were taught once upon a long time ago by teachers who assumed that this specific knowledge would prove useful some day - cirrus, cumulus, nimbus, stratus…..

I dozed for a while, waking up, I picked up my book, but found the small text heavy going, on that day. Looking around was the next thing to do. The kids in the front row were making a racket, their seat backs rattling my deteriorating knees. The old man across the aisle was eyeing me suspiciously, looking to see if the brown man with a moustache (i.e. me) would jump out with a box cutter or something like that. A couple of colored hair teens were busy musically necking (listening to their Ipods at the same time), a lady was knitting with he…

Enterprising Malayalees

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It is joked today that every corner of the world or even the moon has a Malayali tea shop to welcome you. You will find Nair messes or tea stalls all over India, you will even find a Nair hotel in Ginza Tokyo, you will find many of them in the Middle East, but by and far the other Malayalis you encounter around the world, many still maintaining their unique spoken accent, are employed in diverse trades or disciplines, it could be engineering, Nano technology, advanced rocket sciences like ramjet applications, cutting edge medicine or even as suave diplomats and peace keepers.

We keep the ever unhappy neighborhood Kerala store owner busy, by buying plantains, Puttu podi, Chinese yam, Pappadams etc and it is also because of this nomadic lot that companies which make Parachute Coconut oil or Chandrika soaps continue to flourish…

The first Malayali who took up a short job in Greece dates back perhaps to the days of Ptolemy (115BC). Half dead, he was washed up on the Red Sea shores after a …

On the border

I am sure most of you in India would have watched this Bharati Airtel advert. Personally I do not know anything about Airtel other than the fact that it is a mobile telephone company in India, but this ad is far out…

Set in the Middle East (Morocco as I understand), it has music, I believe, scored by AR Rahman. Watch it, turn up the volume and you will realize the beauty and warmth of the ad.




Which takes you back to the famous award winning 16 minute short movie ‘The Little Terrorist” that came out some time back..If you have not seen it, watch it, better still check out the full quality DVD that is available in stores ...




Broken projector provides a detailed review and a synopsis.

Little Terrorist tells the moving story of a Pakistani Muslim boy who accidentally crosses the Pakistani-Indian border which is riddled with landmines. He ends up in a strange country that regards him as a terrorist. The old orthodox Hindu Bhola takes him in and hides him from the Indian soldiers. However, trad…