Archive for the ‘India’ Category


The Road to Taste of India

April 10, 2013

I recently saw Road, Movie and it proved to be a quite an interesting watch. A movie about a mobile cinema being transported through a desolated desert, with just a handful of characters and no song-dance routines – a tough task for a director to keep an audience interested. But a compact and tight script with good actors and a brilliant background score had me engrossed.

There was an very interesting scene in the middle of the movie, where Satish Kaushik brings Abhay Deol and gang to a place in the middle of nowhere, expecting a mela of some sorts to be going on where they could show their movie. Disappointed, Abhay starts venting his frustration, but Satish confidently tells Abhay to setup his cinema. “Cinema hoga toh mela bhi hoga. Khana hoga, paani hoga, log bhi aayenge.” And guess what, thats what happened. The movie of course was a disaster at the box office. No song and dance. Come on. But then, that is not the point I am trying to make.

AID Penn State had its fifteenth annual food festival, The Taste of India on Saturday and as always the event turned out to be a sublime blend of various cultures coming together to make the evening very special. I have been a part of the volunteering team for this event for a few years now, and every time I try to imagine how someone could have conjured up this idea back then, to cook food for over 500 people. That too, Indian food; for the culinary complexities differ depending on which part of the country one comes from. To someone from Gujarat, Kadak would be an evening snack, while to someone like me, it would rather refer to a special kind of tea. I once remember being an audience to a conversation between two friends who were arguing as to how Idilees should be made – both guys were from different states. I ended up  having a sandwich for dinner that night. But I digress.

So to conceive this idea of cooking Indian food – that too vegetarian food in a predominantly meat-eating country – for such a huge gathering and then, expect people to show up for it is like expecting Sachin and Ponting to bat for the same team. Oh wait, isn’t that happening this year in the IPL.

So while this idea was bold and out of the box back in the day, it worked, because it was a good idea. Indian food is tasty, there are no two ways about it. And once a recipe is fixed upon, then the execution is straight forward. Heat oil, throw in cummin seeds, fry the onions, add turmeric powder … you get the gist. And then, when you have a strong student-community bonding to top it off, then to make an idea like this to work is like asking Shahrukh Khan to overact in a scene.

ToI has slowly evolved with time. As students come and go, new logistics are thrown in. Some stick, some are forgotten. But it really is endearing to see a lot of alumni make it a point to come for this event and make it an evening to remember.

Here’s to the hope that ToI gets tastier with every passing year.


You-Waah We-Waah

April 5, 2011


It was the year 2000. We were at Moogie’s place. Abhijeet Nehra had just made his presence felt by answering a tricky probability question and Moogie had looked up curiously to know who was this ‘phata-poster-nikla-hero’ who had answered. From that day onwards Nehra was called ‘King of Probability.’

I echoed Moogie’s question when Dhoni pulled a rabbit out of the hat by opting for Ashish Nehra over R. Ashwin in the India vs Pak semifinal World Cup clash on 30th Mar 2011.  For the lanky bowler picked up 2 wickets for a meager 33 runs in a high-pressure game and was instrumental in India’s victory. I don’t think anyone, not even the experts, were expecting this sort of a performance from him after the hiding he received at the hands, or should I say the bats of the South African tail. While the South African tail wagged against the Indian bowling, it drooped against a ‘nothing-to-loose-everything-to-gain-New Zealand’ team. In a very sadistic way, I was happy that South Africa continued their choking streak in this World Cup too. It meant that the law of averages would continue to favor India to maintain its winning streak against Pakistan in World Cups.  But lets leave the Maths for another blog. We beat Pakistan. Period.

Back to Nehra – the cricketer. He got injured during the semifinal and ended up sitting out on the sidelines for the final against Sri Lanka. Enter Sreesanth. Enough fun has been derived from Sreesanth and his antics. Right from The Fake IPL Player to Sidin everyone has enjoyed their share of mirth. So I shall not indulge. Or should I? All I can say is this,

Sreesanth does dance well,

Off and on the field as well,

Especially for Andre Nel.

Now does that ring a bell?

The final was truly worthy of being a WC final. It was a twister. The Indians bowled well to begin with. But the Lankans then came back to set us a stiff target. They then got rid of the fiery pair of Sachin-Sehwag. But the Lankan fairytale ended just there. The Indian middle order played to its potential and got to the their target in fine style. After the fun-tastic finish by Captain Cool, my FB status message read. “MS Dhoni is now a self-acclaimed Ph.D.” For I truly felt he was candid, comprehensive and he defended well. Wink, wink. Grad School joke.

On that note, wish you a Happy New Year. A new era of Indian cricket has begun. Savor the moment for as long as you can. And God or no God, Sachin, please continue to play.

Update: According to TOI Dhoni is actually being honored with a Ph.D. So will he be called Dr. M.S. Dhoni? Okay enough of Grad School jokes.



November 15, 2010

I can’t believe the weather in State College is what it is. Sunday evening,  mid-November and a half- sleeves T-shirt is all I had on. (I had my Jeans on obviously). Needless to say preparing for the 8K run has become the cry of the hour for the last Coupleofwix. Many must be thinking that I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon Justforkix. But that’s not true. The State College Run-for-India team is dedicated towards its cause, and, as my manager would say, ‘is pushing beyond the boundaries’ of State College. I guess, one of our team-members, who is preparing for the full 26 mile marathon, would have to peregrinate [Barrons et al.] well beyond SC into the neighbouring towns.

Onto other things, Harbhajan scored his third successive fifty* against NZ. With due respects to Bhaji, the undercover agents within the NZ team seem to be Uptonoendoftrix. India tours SA next month. That would be the ultimate litmus ‘Test’ on our already-much-debated-about Test cricket ranking. It would be interesting to see who calls the shots there. (Too many puns na…)

2011 is around the corner and people who are looking to purchase their set of annual calenders do check out this link. The calendars cost 200 rupees each and the money is directed towards an NGO in Pune. Hopeitclix for them.

* Bhaji went on to score a century …



November 4, 2010

Paanch… My fifth blog of the year and what better an occasion than Diwali to get back to blogging.

Looking forward to the 5th of Nov and the weekend leading up after it.

In the mean-time, AID Penn State is again participating in Run for India this year. So signed up for the Philadelphia 8K run happening on the 20th Nov. The world’s fastest timing for a 8K run is something like 22 minutes. I am clocking close to 50 min now. Not too good me thinks. Need to pull up my socks (hehe). I’ll be posting my latest timings on my ‘Run for India‘ webpage. Please do visit the site and donations are more than welcome. All for a good cause. As the saying goes, “Neki kar neki paa…”

Addendum: Just to go with the flow of the whole  ‘Paanch’ punchline, here’s an advertisement that hit off pretty well a few years ago.


Miss Calling

June 12, 2010

It was a hot summer afternoon. Monsoon had yet not set in. Class was going on – Engineering Maths II. Half the class was wondering what the other half was upto and vice versa. Maama, on the other hand, was sitting on the first desk, and trying hard to concentrate. Suddenly, his cell-phone began to ring.

“Dil kabootar khana hai…”

And then Sonu’s voice melted into silence.

Missed call.

Our Math’s professor, Nikam turned around with chalk in hand just like James Bond would have turned with a gun in hand.

“Yes, you. Stand up. Get outch”

“But, Sir…”


Our cat-sound-emanating specialist beckoned towards his call of duty.


Distracted, Nikam turned to where the noise came from.

“Yes…  Anyone  else wants to get outch.”


Nikam continued, “Aise hi aate ho aap class mein?”

Andy quipped from one of the back-benches, “Nahi Sir, tiffin leke aate hai.”

The whole class erupted in laughter and giggles.

Amongst the pandemonium, poor Maama was left standing, cursing himself as to why he had not kept his cell on silent.

How I miss those days of missed calls. Pranks played in class like calling up a person who had forgotten to switch his cell-phone off.

Another cell-phone prank that became very common was to switch phone numbers in the contact list of another guy.

Girlfriend’s number – xyz to abc

Girlfriend’s brother’s number – abc to xyz

Not tough to hazard a guess what happened next.

The one prank that yours truly is still remembered for is, while playing the annual department cricket tournament, every guy who won the man of the match award received a message from an unknown number signed “Secret Admirer” saying how wonderful his performance was and whether he would be willing to meet up over coffee.

I evidently found most parts of me bruised once my team-mates found out that I was their “Secret Admirer”.

But there were times when missed calls came really handy too. When you have Rs.2 balance on your pre-paid card and you desperately need to talk to your friend. Time for Mr. missed-call. Or when you need to inform your parents that you reached your friend’s place safely. Missed call.

Well, onto things of the present. World Cup fever has begun. Shakira is singing Waka Waka and K’naan urges all to Wave their Flag.

May the best team win.

And by that I mean Argentina.

P.S: People, do visit the site A noble cause to spread cheer through handmade postcard greetings.


Go Green

March 22, 2009
When I initially came to the US in Fall 2007, I came across a very interesting documentary on YouTube describing the effect that outsourcing was having on the Indian (yes, Indian) economy. And guess what, the narrator was an American journalist named Thomas Friedman.

Intrigued, I later found that this guy had actually written a book called The World Is Flat: A Brief History of The Twenty-first Century (2005; expanded edition 2006; revised edition 2007) and in one of his interviews he was asked how did he come to think of the mentioned title. And he goes on to describe a discussion he had with Nandan Nilekani while making the said documentary, which triggered off a thought process and the consequence was the book mentioned. Below is a brief overview of what the book is about, straight from the horse’s mouth.

A few days ago, I ventured to find out what Mr. Friedman was writing these days. His latest book is called Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—And How It Can Renew America (2008)

This sounded interesting. I needed more information. Once again YouTube to the rescue. As I watched this brilliant presentation yesterday, my mind trotted back to my visit back to India last December. It was a short visit, after a gap of 16 months. And as I roamed around in the city where I had spent most of my life, I slowly began to have this scary notion that if and when I plan to come back to Pune, there may be no place left for me.

For, the city seemed like it was going to burst any minute. Malls at every nook and corner. Traffic sense that dint seem to have any sense at all. Where was my green Pune that I left a few years ago? In 2006, I remember on my trips back from Hyderabad, I used to complain about the condition of the roads in Pune. There used to be more craters than roads. Well, the roads have definitely improved, but there seems to be no place on those roads to walk, let alone drive.

This presentation drives home that very point, that a whole new class of people is slowly emerging, all who can afford to live the same lifestyle that normal Americans do. And its about time we start worrying about the burden that we are imposing on this planet.

I was so glad when I came across this campaign this morning and I hope that we all slowly but surely move towards a green revolution. In Mr. Friedman’s own words, “We have exactly enough time, starting now.”

Go Green !!!


A few years ago…

March 15, 2009