Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Much ado about Mushrooms!

A lot of people have this question, Is Mushroom a vegetable?
Some vegetarians even avoid eating mushrooms as they consider it to be a non-vegetarian.
I can understand why the question arises. They are one of the foods, which can be cooked in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian cooking methods. It's one of those fleshy, thick foods, which is very sumptuous and filling, it provides good amount of protein with very less fat.
Why I talk about mushrooms, you may ask. Well, it was supposed to be the build up for the mushroom recipe, am about to write about. So let me jump right in.
I have named it "Mushroom mania" (Just being fancy). It's an Indian style mushroom curry with not much of a twist.

Mushroom Mania

  • Button or portabella mushrooms (Chop each into 4 pieces) – 250 g (about 10-15 mushrooms)
  • Medium onion thinly chopped lengthwise – 1
  • Medium tomato finely chopped– 1
  • Ginger – 1 inch
  • Garlic – 4 pods
For Temper
  • Cinnamon stick – ½ inch
  • Cloves – 2
  • Fennel seeds – ¼ teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds, mustard seeds, urad dhal - ½ teaspoon.
  • Cooking oil - 2 tablespoon

For Flavor/Hotness
  • Curry leaves – 8-10
  • Chili powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Pepper powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Meat masala – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – to taste.
  • Chicken broth – 1 cup
  • Coriander leaves – handful.
  1. Mix the mushrooms with pepper and meat masala and marinate it for 15 minutes.
  2. Set the stove on medium heat. In a saucepan, add all the items listed under "for temper" and sauté a bit until the mustard seeds pop.
  3. Add the curry leaves, Ginger and Garlic and sauté until the garlic smell goes away.
  4. Add the onions and sauté it until it becomes translucent.
  5. Set the stove to low heat and let the onions cook for at least 5 minutes.
  6. Add tomatoes and mix well; let the tomatoes cook for another 5 minutes and observe that tomatoes are in a semi mashed state
  7. Add the chili powder and salt, mix well and let it cook for another 2 minutes.
  8. Add the chicken broth, mix well and set the stove to medium heat and bring to boil and let it boil for 5 minutes
  9. Add the marinated mushrooms, mix well and add coriander leaves on top and boil for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Set the stove on simmer and let it cook for 10 minutes.
  11. The mushroom curry is ready to eat.
Why, what was done:
  • Chicken broth gives it the additional flavor and also makes mushroom texture to be a bit like chicken and juicy.
  • Meat Masala can be substituted with garam masala, if you want it hotter.
  • This Curry can be eaten with Chapatti or Rice.



Friday, August 31, 2012

Etiquette for sharing factual information on Facebook

I had this post in development for quite a long time now. I believe it's high time i get it out and post it. we live in a world of social media now, you could share every bit of information that you find, to a large number of people immediately. people who don't even know you can share that very information to others and it can get spread like wild fire in a matter of hours.Sharing has created viral medias, sensationalized news issues, even triggered revolution in some countries. so that is a great power for a common man and ...

 "With great power comes great responsibility" (Quoted in Spiderman by Stan Lee).

Just because i quoted Spiderman, it doesn't literally mean you need to become a superhero and fight crimes on Facebook.But, Are you being responsible on Facebook while sharing information ? Of course, here i am not talking about your personal information (that's obviously your personal responsibility), I mean a larger level of sharing factual information. information that could be shared and read by many others,and could have an impact on an individual or a society.

Here are a few aspects of shared information which I believe is irresponsible and needs to be addressed.

1. Fake and False Information :
                                         There is an enormous amount of False information being shared everyday by a lot of people in form of picture messages, Links and posts.  A lot of those are fake facts created by users who just want to get attention to their groups or profiles. These messages and posts vary in topics from sports, politics to even religion. Some of the information I've seen look outright fake and completely false, but still there are plenty of people who share it and spread it, like it's a true fact.
Let me give you some examples I've seen. These were shared by plenty of people, each of these posts had thousands of shares. ( You may disprove me, if I have got it wrong)

a. Letter from Swiss bank to Indian Government (fake) : 
                                                                            This is a picture message that lists out the amount of money, a lot of politicians have in their Swiss bank accounts, It even has the Swiss bank seal on it. However, It's a complete fake document.
Why? - Swiss bank corporation's main feature is that it provides "confidentiality, security and discretion" to all it's account holders. It is completely exempt from extradition laws, which means that any country or government cannot demand information of it's clients or their assets from the bank, neither will the bank provide them(1).

Common sense question - why would all the politicians hide their black money in Swiss bank if it's going to let out all the details to the government agencies?

b. "imitinef mercilet" - The cure for blood cancer(misleading) :
                                                                            The message that says this 'cure for cancer' drug is available in Adyar Cancer Institute in Chennai, it's free and contact them for details. False misleading information, It's not a cure for blood cancer, rather a drug (also called Imatinib mesylate) to treat blood cancer and It's not Free. It costs $32,000 for a year(2).
Why? Cancer research is going on in full scale all around the globe, there are drugs to treat blood cancer, not completely cure it. However, there are certain forms of cancer for which cure has been found, but they have all been a global level news feature. Trust me, when an actual cure for blood cancer comes you'd definitely come to know.

Common sense - Isn't it very obvious, a cure for cancer is found & it's not in news but it's being spread in form of messages on Facebook?
This is a very sensitive bit of information, by sharing it, you are increasing the hopes of many cancer patients and their relatives. not only that, you are giving unnecessary headache to the cancer institute receptionist.

c. The Rama Sethu (false) :
                               The highly controversial but also a highly false information that's being shared on Facebook. it's a picture message that says "1750000 (1.75 million) year old man made bridge between India and Srilanka built by Lord Rama"
I agree, the bridge does exist. there are satellite images of that particular stretch of Land between the two countries, It's also called "Adam's Bridge". however, the other information that it's 1.75 million years old is totally false.
Why ? the radio carbon dating and thermoluminescence dating done by Bharatidasan university and GSI(geological survey of India) determined that it ages about 4000 years(3). Secondly, the first ape (Homo erectus) evolved only about 1.2 million years ago, and Humans evolved from apes only about 400,000 years ago. so, It's definitely not man made.

Common sense - I've went to school, college and even have a masters degree, so I can only believe in facts, I have a completely different perspective about Ramayana and i cannot see this in a religious view, but there are a lot of people who share this based on their blind religious faith, which is a lot more powerful than common sense.

This are just 3 of the obvious examples from a whole lot. There are hundreds of fake,false and misleading information shared on Facebook, in fact there are websites, dedicated to tell the truth about this bad information.

2."Like/share this pic, Facebook will donate 1 cent for each share"
                                                                         I am sure you might have come across 1 or 2 posts like this especially with extremely graphic pictures of babies or animals. this is not only a hoax, you might know Facebook has 950 Million users, they are definitely not going to donate money for every share, they will go bankrupt in hours. Also, the graphic pictures are very uncomfortable to see. Remember you are sharing in a public platform, not everyone has the same level of comfort as you do. many might find it gruesome and disgusting, be courteous to others.

3. Glorifying Celebrities (read actors):
                                                      This is quite a new trend, mainly focused in a smaller region of South India.However, it's a menace. There are tons of pictures and messages shared about certain actors and their so called achievements, and thrashes his competition with vulgar slang/imagery. It is fine, if you are a fan of certain actor and are showing your love for them, but why talk about trash the other actors? they both do the same job of entertaining people. if you don't like his movies, don't watch them or talk about how bad they were. but do not use vulgarity in portraying someone bad.

Same is true for Sports persons, if you are a fan of one athlete and you think he's better than the other.. show the statistics, records say he's better than him in this aspect. It's Sportive and gives added respect instead of  slandering them based on a bias. it's not a mature thing to do.

So what can you share ?
                              There are millions of true, interesting and informative articles,blogs, videos and picture facts of extremely diverse fields available on the Internet. Articles from any legitimate news organizations like CNN, Reuters, TIME, Huffington posts are all fair game. they have a direct reference, which are genuine. even Wikipedia is fine as most articles do contain references.           
Lot of people share Internet memes, Quotes, " if you had this in childhood, you were awesome" pics, movie clips, music videos etc... There's nothing wrong in sharing those pics or messages, as long as it's not hurting anyone. Of course, you cannot satisfy everyone, but at least think about your immediate surroundings before sharing stuff.
If you find any interesting facts of information, you want to share it, There are plenty of sites such as hoax slayer, hoaxorfact etc.. that do tell if the fact is true or fake.
If you are even lazier to do it, there's a simpler tool called 'Google'( I am sure you must have noticed it in the Internet).

So i request my fellow friends and Facebook users... To SHARE Responsibly.

Do you Agree with me? please share this blog, Promote responsible sharing. (you can even comment, nothing wrong in it)

Disagree with me ? Please leave a comment about your views.

References :
1.Swiss bank document - a hoax
2. FDA approves imatinib
3. Rama Sethu is only 4000 years old

Friday, August 24, 2012

Why do Indian Super Heroes Fail ?

I am a big fan of Comic book characters and superhero movies. I have watched pretty much all the superhero movies from 'Superman 1' to the latest 'The Dark Knight Rises' and for a long time wondered, if Indian cinema could come up with a good superhero movie, but it has been quite a disappointment.

About my title question, Why do i ask this question now ?

Well, there's yet another Indian superhero movie coming up in a short while. This time in Tamil called "Mugamoodi" (tamil for Mask) with Jeeva (spelled as Jiiva) as the lead. so i thought i'll talk about the Indian superheros and reasons for their miserable failure in the past. I thought i'll explain this in a comprehensive manner like a origin story ( you know with the intro, background, villains etc).

First of all, you may ask, why Indian cinema should even care about superheroes. It's simple. cos, we literally created the damn thing... with our epics, the larger than life heroes with actual super powers. The Pandavas are quite similar to the Avengers in some ways... Krishna = Thor, Bheema = Hulk, Arjuna = Hawkeye, Draupathi = black widow??
Ok jokes apart. we still are a culture who have a lot of fantasy,magic and out of world stuff in our literature over a 1000 years, so this superhero thing should be a piece of cake for our movie makers. isn't it? Yet, they Fail miserably.
Let me first introduce you to our Indigenous superheros..
1. Indian Superman - yes, to my wonder.. there was an Indian superman played by Puneet issar (same guy who played bheema in mahabharata tv series)
2. Toofan - Big B's first movie about an Indian superhero.
3. Shahenshah - Another Amitabh bachchan movie about a Batman style vigilante.
4. Ajooba - the Big B's third take on an Indian superhero. Even after his two failures, he really gave it a shot at it.
5. Shaktimaan - Indian Television's First and only Superhero.
6. Drona - It was now time for the Small B to take a stab at the superhero genre.
7. Krrish - Hrithik roshan's masked vigilante, was the Odd one out, why, cos it was a super hit.
8. Ra.One - SRK's incredibly horrible self proclaimed superhero movie (there are many reasons why it should not be one).

Although, many said Rajnikanth's Endhiran (robot) was a superhero blockbuster. i wouldn't agree. Endhiran was a science fiction, not a superhero movie.!

Out of 8 Superhero characters only 2 managed to get some name and fame. Shaktimaan was very famous at the time it aired, but it looks like a hilarious spoof of the superhero genre, if you watch it now. (I found it the same way as a kid as well, never liked him) but the other one, Krrish managed to score good points with a fantastic casting and a original character with some decent script(the movie was a bit ripped off from 'Paycheck').

I used to think, Indian cinema didnt have the money and technology to create good superhero movies, but after movies like Endhiran and Ra.One, which were far technologically advanced i knew things have changed, we have the resources and budget to produce a superhero blockbuster. so that's not the problem here. then what could possibly be stopping Indian Cinema from producing a decent superhero character?

There are 3 possible reasons, i would like to put forward.

1. Conviction:
                     In the Movie, 'The Avengers'. Agent Coulson says to Loki before his death that he'd never win because he lacked Conviction. This fits perfectly for our Indian superheroes. they lack conviction, a sense of purpose like their American counterparts. Batman fights against street crime since his parents were killed by it. Superman has lost his home planet, so he tries to save his foster home from being destroyed by evil, Spiderman realizes that 'with great power comes great responsibility' and fights crime than earning money with it in spite of being a poor college student.

Our Indian superheroes on the other hand, Lack it. the sense of purpose for becoming a greater power. Our superheroes merely seek revenge for their personal sufferings. Toofan takes revenge on his father's killers. Krisshh fights the bad guy cos his father was held hostage by him. Shahenshah is a Cop who cannot handle the responsibility of being a cop, yet fight crime in disguise and is a Video game character (enough said).

Batman, Spiderman Iron man etc, get their Conviction from personal sufferings, but it turns into a larger purpose where as our Indegenous ones fail to convert the revenge into a larger purpose of saving the world.

2. Larger than Life Average Heroes:
                                          Our Indian movies always portray a larger than life hero who can Fight without any prior learning experience, smash 10-15 baddies in a single punch, speak punch dialogues, which is a non violent way of killing bad guys or even make a Train behave like your pet puppy (this scene from a telugu movie is epic, if you haven't seen it yet, it's a shame; search "balakrishna train scene" in youtube and watch epic awesomeness)
Even the greatest superheroes can't do the things an average day to day life hero does in Indian movies. So when a average hero can do it in civilian clothes, why need a costume, fancy name and powers. that's just unnecessary expense rite?

3. Originality:
                     G.One (from Ra.One) is a video game character who's sole purpose is to protect a kid from evil villain.. It's 'Terminator 2' without the futuristic feel and Arnie's style. Toofan is basically batman someone who takes revenge on the people who kill his father. Shaktimaan is a complete ripoff of Superman except he's that not an alien. Heck, i dont even know what Drona's story is. it's that bad.
 It's probably the main reason for the failures. Lack of a genuine script. The Ripoffs in the name of so called Inspirations are just ruining the essence of being a superhero. why can't they come up with a fresh script and origins instead of being a mere ripoff of the american comic book characters in a silly way.

It's not as hard as it seems to create an Indigenous superhero. we have a plethora of mythological characters, stories, and ideas, which could be adapted to make a bad ass superhero. yet, we fail to do so.

Lack of Creativity?
Movie Makers Addicted to ripping off from originals?

I don't know, I wonder if we can even get any justification for that from our film fraternity. I just hope at least Mysskin and Jiiva give us a Good Indian Superhero with the upcoming movie "Mugamoodi" !

Do you agree with my post? or have something else to say? either way, please leave your comments below !

Saturday, June 23, 2012

20 Days and it's Experiences.

I went on a vacation for 20 days to India. It's a pity that visiting home should be called a vacation, when you now live in far off land of the United States. It was a short and sweet vacation to my home - Chennai. The 20 days flew as fast as it could, but I managed to enjoy and savor a lot of experiences in that brief period. 

I would like to share some of those experiences with you. Here are 20 experiences in those beautiful 20 days in India in no particular order!

1.      Zyoptix Laser surgery - It's a surgery done on the eye to correct refractive powers; basically you do not need to wear power glasses to see after this surgery. I had this procedure done for the same reason, I wanted to wear sunglasses. A fascination that started in childhood watching Rajnikanth use them in style. So No more power glasses for me. I can show off with sun glasses and have already got a Ray Ban to start with. (p.s. the operation was super scary)

2.      Air Tickets solve Dilemma - A few months back, my mom and sis moved to Bangalore from Chennai. Dad got promoted and moved to Ahmadabad. So I was confused on where to have the family meet, whether in Chennai, Bangalore or Ahmadabad. The air tickets solved the question; Chennai had the cheapest tickets and well, rightfully so. 

3.       London Dreams - During my flight to India, I had a 10 hour transit at London Heathrow. Online research said that I could go out into the city with a 24 hour visa, if I had a transit of 6+ hours. So I was all excited to visit London as well... Unfortunately, it didn't happen. so I ended up sitting for 10 hours in Heathrow, it didn't help my case that even Chennai Super kings lost the IPL final that day.. A Day of broken dreams... :(

4.       A surprise welcome - We had a new member in our family about a year back, a Dog named "Sugar". A Fierce and daunting hunter dog, who was once small, cute and cuddly. He had grown into this gigantic form, which’s feared by everyone. I was visiting after 2 years and we hadn't met at all. I was a bit scared about the meet as I had heard a lot of him over phone from mom and sis that he's very fierce and uncontrollable but it was completely the opposite when I met him. He behaved as if he knew me since his birth that was the friendliest welcome from a big beast. 

5.      College Friends - I met my college friends on two occasions. A hand full of them only could make it to the meet, but it was a very nice short meet. It has been 5 years since we parted ways from college; everyone is in a different walk of life now. No one is really doing what we expected, we would achieve after college but it was interesting to see that the same old friendship remained pretty fresh. And yes, it's been five years and still people wouldn't stop talking about certain things... :P

6.       School Buddies - If college seemed a long time ago, School is ancient times. Yet, I managed to meet 3 of my school friends, 3 very close friends. Prem, Harshal and Raj mohan. The meet with each of them was short, we didn't really have time to talk about all those lost years but it was really nice catching up with them and their lives without having to use facebook!

7.       A Friendship through comments - Sinduja. A fellow Left Hander and a dear friend! She got introduced to me through a mutual friend. Our friendship and communication is only through comments in our blogs and on Facebook, yet she's a friend with whom I share a high level of Intellectual compatibility (yes, we are very smart!), both online and in person. Even though I knew her for more than 2 years, I had met her only once before this trip. (This time I met her twice! so it's in increments with every India visit!)

When we met for the first time, she was going to start her studies in journalism; I was almost done with my masters and was in verge of starting my job search. I told her that, "the next time we meet, we'd both have completed what we are starting now, and would be in good jobs". Guess what... It came true!  When I met her this time, she completed her studies and started a job, and I had worked almost 1 year in my current job.

8.      Fights that will be missed - My Sister 'Sasi' and I share a close bond. Our sibling fights make it a lot stronger. During those 20 days, we had so many of those fights, some silly, some serious ones too. I really regret that the fighting opportunities have become very scarce since I left to USA. I do advise her occasionally (as I am the elder responsible one you see...) but it ends up in a fight. I even tried to advise her about her Masters studies before I left for my flight, and it did end up in a fight... What else do you expect?

9.       Cousins who are not Kids anymore - I am the eldest grandson on both sides of my family, so I am used to seeing all younger cousins as small kids. Only this time, I realized that the kids have grown up a lot and were not actually kids but are in their late teens. All but one of my cousins on both sides of my family are done with school and are in college now. (one more reason to feel old at 26)

10.   Anna Nagar Destroyed - my hometown of Anna Nagar was not the way I am used to know. It had changed so much due to the metro rail project and flyover constructions. The Anna nagar main road and shanthi colony road have become one ways. there's no thirumangalam signal and commuting from my house had become a complicated thing as I had to travel extra 2 kms in and out  of small streets to reach the main road... am little satisfied that I got to see the famous Anna Arch before it's being demolished to make way for a flyover there.

11.   Weddings Attended - I managed to attend 2 weddings out of 4 that I was invited to. One of those was in Chennai and the other all the way far in Nagpur. The one in Chennai was a bit of surprise, as I came to know of the wedding only a few days before I left to India. the wedding itself was a surprise as the bridegroom, my college friend had a unique talent to become a God man (aka swami selvananda) but who knew, he'd marry the same athai ponnu (aunt's daughter) he used to talk about in college several years ago.

The other wedding in Nagpur was for my Friend from UConn, one of the reasons he left America was to get married to his longtime girlfriend, and I was glad I could make it to his wedding and represent our UConn group from USA.

12.  Weddings that I couldn't attend - Unfortunately, I couldn't attend 2 weddings for which I was invited. Due to some unexpected family commitments and lack of time. I apologize to Karthik S, I wish I could have attended his wedding, as I knew about it for a long time and planned for it, but couldn’t make it at last moment. I also couldn't make it to my good friend Jerlin's wedding as well as it was close to my last days in Chennai, so I couldn’t find time to go for it.

13.  Mumbai - Nagpur Adventure  and Trichy trip- It was quite a travel adventure as I had gone on this trip after my eye surgery, I had a bit blurred vision and was wearing a thick black glasses all the time(so nearly blind). It was quite a miracle that I went so far and came back without getting in harm’s way. 

A Short trip in Car to Trichy and back to visit my Grandma, and families of my dad's siblings. It was sweet that all were overjoyed to see me. As I’ve said before. I really wish I had more time to spend there as well.

14.  Mrs. Anuja  Mani- A  very dear friend and well wisher whom I known for a long time now... this lady has become so busy that I had to wait 3 hours sitting alone in a Cafe below her office to get her appointment for a lunch... was it worth ? Yes, of course. This girl's dynamite, she says things to me, that no one else will even dare. I wish I had spent more time with her, but as I said before, she's too busy and on top of it, she's married now. [Aah... I couldn't make it to her wedding as well... :(]

15.  The American side of me - I found that I had become a bit more Americanized than before. Not that I’ve got any American attitude. I was bothered that a doctor’s appointment at 9 am, was not on time and I had to wait one and half hours to meet the doctor. I stopped correctly at the stop line at red light, when everyone around me sped away. I waited in line for my turn where people did not bother about a line being there.  The above things are not bad; they are good manners, yet in India. It’s ridiculed. I noticed that I had consciously changed; I couldn't change to my Indian ways, unless I tried hard. It felt quite weird not being able to act Indian in India.

16.   Dude Where's my Flight? - This funny incident happened in the London airport during my return to US. I had a transit and had to go from terminal 4 to terminal 3 to catch my flight to Chicago. The Airline which will not be named, made a funny mess, they couldn't track where the flight was parked for about 45 minutes, then later found out where it was. So they boarded all the passengers in buses and took us to the airplane... Guess what, the flight was parked in Terminal 4. So it was not a big deal when the Airline lost one of my Checked in Luggage, as they seem to lose their airplanes. !

17.   Driving in Chennai - During my earlier visits to Chennai, I did not find it much difficult to drive the car, as I had not driven a car in USA, this time though was really different, as I have been driving in USA for a while now. I had a tough time operating the indicators as it's on the right side in India. I kept switching on the wipers, whenever I had to make a turn. Otherwise, I had a great thrill driving in Indian roads. After coming back, American roads seem to be boring and routine.

18.   Parents - It's very true that no matter how old you become, you are still a child to your parents. I saw that with mine as well. They were very caring and protecting me like a child. When we were having a leisure discussion regarding my wedding and my parents were quite unprepared on how to go about it as they didn't really come to realize it. Well, I know they will soon learn the tactics of it and move forward. It’s only a matter of time.

19.   Lost in thoughts - a recent obsession of mine, I observe the dynamics in an organized work place. How people go about in their work, the system, how the work flows within it and maybe how it can be improved. I had a really good time analyzing each detail in a variety of public systems such as airports, airline crews, buses, police, traffic, hotels... etc... I can see in plain sight that there's a lot of scope for improvement in efficiency and labor in all of those systems, alas I wonder what's stopping them from making those changes and I wish I could be in such power authority to make changes.

20.   Identity crisis - I still have an Identity crisis within me, a dilemma whether to stay in USA or go back to India. The India trip doesn't really help much. It increases the crisis in me. I am on a balanced pedestal now; I wish I find an anchor on one side which would pull one of the sides strongly, so that I can decide. I wish I find that anchor soon.

That's a Long list of Experiences, even though my trip's a pretty short one. I hope my next trip has much better experiences to talk about... :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


yes, this is a small, humble tribute to the musical genius, isaigiani Ilayaraja. I know it's not something new. this man has die hard fans all over the world and has mesmerized millions of people all around the world. There are many sites and blogs that praise his work in music.

before going into the post, I'd like to say this. - I have not learnt any form of music or instrument. my view on music is only by the way, the music or song makes me feel at that moment. I have written this post based on such observations only. if you do not agree with any of my comments , please pardon me.

So I am going to present this post in form of different emotions i felt while listening to Raja sir's music and how i could relate to each one of them. most of the music, I've chosen are either BGM's or instrumentals, just to make a small point that when music is so powerful, lyrics is not even needed.

so here it is.

1. Happiness - The Background score from the Movie 'Johnny' starring Rajnikanth is the best to illustrate this emotion. the music is highly mesmerizing that it brings a smile on your face, irrespective of what your mood was at that time. it's a brilliant use of the classical western violin and piano. the tempo of the score increases and decreases in such smooth pattern that your mind also sways to it without control.

Listen to it below.

2. Celebration - The music i chose was the theme music from movie 'Punnagai Mannan', the music is performed with a feel of 80s Techno, but it brings out the mood perfectly. Especially, the last piece of the score, where the Violin takes over, it's magnificent. Some would say, this piece personifies love, yes, it does, but it's a celebration of love. I'd say, play this music when ever you feel like celebrating. it's worth it.
Listen to it

3. Passion - if you have to choose a song to play in the background while making love to someone, this would probably be on the very top. the music even comes in such a situation in the movie, 'Hey Ram'. the song is a beautiful soothing song, just listening to the piano music makes your mind relax and gives a pleasant feeling. the instrumental version of the song can be used as a meditation music or a piece of music to listen before sleep, it will give you a relaxed mind before a good sleep. such is the power of this masterpiece.

tit-bit : the movie's music was already composed by another music director,scenes were shot, later due to fall out between the director and music director, the songs had to be recomposed, Ilayaraja stepped in and composed a new set of songs without the need of the songs being re shot. he made a masterpiece to match the movie scenes that were shot already.. only Raja can do it.

4. Lust - I would not actually call it lust, but it's a bit between sensuality and Lust. you decide which way it falls. the song from the lesser known Rajni movie "Valli" has a very beautiful instrumental beginning, the music starts with a beautiful guitar solo, which drags you into the song and then binds you with the music to go along with swarnalatha's voice, you stay within the song's bounds as it lingers in your mind for a long time after. Ilayaraja is the only person in Indian cinema who knows to use the violin to it's best. listen to the violin piece in this song, it's smooth and used with accurate precision at various points of the song.

5.Sadness - there's a general notion that 'sadness' is the easiest to touch of human emotions, almost every human can relate themselves to some kind of sadness, but if done wrong, it will end up being a comedy. Ilayaraja has created one such masterpiece, which can affect people deeply with sadness. anyone who listens to this piece of music will have some sort of sad memory creep into their mind. the music affects our senses so sharply, that shedding tears for this music isn't a quality of faint hearts.
this music masterpiece is also a very good example of Ilayaraja's mastery with Violin. none of the Indian music greats have used violin as perfectly as this maestro.


6. Euphoria - This piece of music is another master piece with excellent use of the Violin, but in a completely different situation. the music here is full of excitement, ecstatic jumping bundle of joy. the pace of the violin in this situation gives a heart pumping tune, you can't just listen to this music without getting a little bit of adrenaline rush. Compare both violin music, see the diversity of music by the same instrument.
P.S. this piece was used by yuvan shankar raja in one of his movies and became Ring tone in a lot of phones.

7. Love - Imagine a situation where two people who are romantically attracted to each other but haven't told each other about their feelings, Meet. during that time, Play this song by the time, the song's intro music hits a brief pause before the lyrics start, either one of them will confess their feelings to the other. this song has such impact with it's music, in fact, it's used as BGM in lot of movies these days for love references. the entire song has good flow of music, combined with good singing, it's a delight to listen, every single time.

There are a lot of songs and music, i have left out many of them, as a lot of music by ilayaraja falls under good emotional music, In fact, i could illustrate 2-3 songs per emotion listed her. it's a vast variety from the Raja of music.! some of the honorable mentions - 'kanmani anbodu' - guna, 'thenpandi cheemayile' - nayagan, ' thalapathy title theme' , 'mouna ragam title theme', 'Potu vacha oru vatta nila' - Idhayam, 'en iniya pon nilave' - moodu pani.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Indian TV shows back in the day.. (90s)

The Indian television media in recent times has become very pathetic. They are focused only on making money in the easy and fast way. No preference given to shows which could impart knowledge and provide a pleasant viewing experience.  I went through a listing through some regional and national TV channels to see what kind of good innovative programs they offer and it was not at all surprising that almost entire line up was a spin off of the American or European version of the same show. American idol is Indian Idol, Who wants to be a millionaire is Kaun banega crorepathi, big brother is big boss etc…
If national TV was like this, the regional language channels are even worse. All the Suns, geminis , vijays.. all channels are so engrossed in telecasting Mega serials with story lines about illicit relationships and revenge within families. None of the serials have a positive outlook at all.
Where has the creativity gone? Why are there no genuinely Indian made shows which are good, where are our creative minds... Why do we have to wait for USA to make a innovative show and then copy it ?
There used to be some genuinely creative shows back in the day. Everything got lost somewhere down the line.  

Here’s some of the awesome shows I’ve seen on Indian television.
It would contain a lot of regional shows as well.

11.      Aalif Laila
It was a show based on the stories of the Arabian nights. It was a Sunday morning treat. The show had a very simple premise of story telling and it was executed very well with limited technology and simple graphics. The show might seem funny now, when you see all ancient graphics, but it was quite the sensation to watch in my childhood.

22.       Chandrakantha
This was an ancient king time show with sorcery, magic and romance. This show also was a Sunday morning extravaganza for me. There was a time when I could sing the entire title song of chandrakantha. I hardly remember the synopsis of the show but it was a creative one for sure.

33.       Maharabaratha
It’s probably one of the most run TV shows in Indian history. The creators of the show were geniuses. Converting an epic into a television show is not a simple task. they also had the best intro for any show during that time. The old sage’s voice over with a outline of his body and a spinning chakra, that time was a breathtaking shot in Television.
The plot is a big one..the Indian Epic by the same name was it’s plot, enough said.

44.       Ramany vs Ramany
A Tamil comedy based on a newly married couple and the problems they face in day to day life with their parents, relatives and work. It was one of the most hilarious tamil comedies in tv. Simple, sweet and funny is how I’d describe this show.

55.       Kaialavu manasu
A emotional drama featuring a middle class family and their lives after a tragedy. I remember it being a start off for many of the current stars in cinema such as Prakash raj. I remember a scene from this show where the youngest daughter of the family is given up for adoption and she’s asked to sing a song, the daughter doesn’t know she’s going to go and she sings beautifully, the mother who watches it cries uncontrollably and refuses the adoption.

66.       Surabhi
An Indian cultural show, which featured different artists and musicians from all around India. The show also showcased a lot of Indian arts, customs and cultures which were largely unknown to the world. It was a good video magazine to know about Indian cultural influences.

77.       Marma Desam
The best Tamil TV show I’ve seen by far. The show was a brilliant thriller.  It featured good characters who brought the mysterious feel to the show all through it. Each episode used to have a startling intro and a even more gripping end. The title song gave quite the scare to me, when ever I watched the show. I used to avoid watching the title for a while, as the dog in it, came in my dreams.
P.s. the video clip is from the Telugu version of the same show, i couldn't a working Tamil version clip.

The marma desam later evolved into a series and it had about 6 seasons with different themes. One of the marma desam series, “vidathu Karupu” deserves a special mention.

The show had the horror thriller feel to it, it was also one of the most viewed TV show of that time. It used to be very mysterious, everyone in my family used to try predicting the turn of events in the show. My dad guessed it all correctly. I didn’t get much chance.

8. Jungle book
this was just a cartoon series not a TV show, but it was one of my childhood favorites, so it gets a spot.
if you didn't watch jungle book in 1990s as a Kid, you really have missed something in your life.

This is just the shows that came to my mind from top of my head. there were a plenty more.  I might post some of the others in later posts.

Courtesy :  All clips are from YouTube. I do not own any of the clips featured in this blog. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

chef-d'oeuvre of Food !

I have been an avid foodie for my entire life and it's really surprising that i am writing my first post on food only now. I am a "Live to Eat" person, although for a long time, i looked like i could "Eat more to live". we can't really put a time stamp on how long we have been eating food, since it's the only way our body gets nutrition, but the variety of foods that we consume has evolved a lot over years. In fact, we first start consuming food directly to our stomach and later, start with our mouths.

so talking about evolution of food, I've had so much diversity in foods, from mother's milk as a tiny baby to the egg omelet i ate for breakfast today morning. there's a enormous variety of foods i have come across, I've even learnt to cook for myself (that's been about 8 years now !!), and enjoyed a lot of different cuisines back home and in USA. here are some of my food favorites, in order of the time they are eaten in a day.

  1. Coffee and Milk go together best, when made with Indian coffee powder. All other coffee powders from places like Brazil, Colombia are good only as black coffee.(chicory does the trick)
  2. During school and college days, when i had idli, dosa ready for breakfast, i used to skip it most times. but now, when you have to stick to a bread and omelet or pancakes, you end up craving for such good foods in the morning.
  3. Pongal, is probably the best breakfast to have, closely followed by Dosa. esp. with sambar and coconut chutney.
  4. The only thing i miss about attending Indian weddings, is the umpteen number of items on a enormous banana leaf.A normal hindu wedding, a complete vegetarian bliss has a list like this... pickle, sweet, avial, poriyal, applam, vadai, kootu,pulav, plain rice, sambar, kara-kulambu,  rasam, curd( i skip it), payasam. A typical Indian christian marriage is a mixed combination and would have item list that goes like pickle, sweet, poriyal, karthrika kootu,thayir pachadi,  appalam, dry chicken curry, lamb biryani, plain rice, chicken kulambu, payasam.A Muslim marriage is a complete meat fest with list like chicken drumstick, thayir pachadi chicken fry, chicken biryani, lamb biryani, plain rice, chicken kulambu, lamb gravy, lamb soup, and occasional sweet. (writing about all these dishes makes me drool, I want to attend a wedding somewhere soon).
  5. Dhal/Sambar has a potent magic in it, you hate the food first when it's eaten in a routinely manner. but after a lot of meat for quite a long time, one day you have sambar. it feels like the greatest food ever.
  6. Sea foods are hands down, the  best of Non-Vegetarian items. best of sea foods is the Fish. a well made fish is excellent in any type of cuisine. best fish is the Vanjaram (not able to find it in USA till now, sad face) closely followed by salmon. Shrimps, prawns and scallops make the united 2nd place.
  7. Sushi is probably my least preferred option of eating fish, but i had a rare occasion where i ate a lot of different types of sushi for almost 1.5 hours at a sushi bar.
  8. Indo-Chinese food (Indian way of making Chinese food) is tastes much better than the actual Chinese food. 
  9. The best of American cuisine is the Steak. if you eat Beef, then you'd definitely agree. I've had the opportunity only to try the sirloin and T-bone Steak, but would like to try them all. 
  10. Mexican foods like burritos, tacos and chalupas have become a staple of my weekly foods, they are cheap to get and taste very good. 
  11. most of the times, i get confused between French and Italian cuisine. for some reason, i find both to be similar, when they are not. french cuisine has really fancy names, their sweet dishes seemed great, not the same with the savory. whereas Italian, has really good savory dishes. I hope you know about pizza and pasta.
  12. I found Middle eastern cuisine to be the small brother of Indian cuisine with pretty similar taste and spices. some of the best Road side Diner foods are shwarma, gyros and kebabs.
  13. Traditional Indian sweets never had Chocolate as one of their ingredients, i wonder how sweets would have been, if chocolate was introduced a lot earlier in India.
  14. speaking of Indian sweets, each state has a unique variety of sweets, each and every single one tastes of heaven. my favorite is the Mysore pak (esp. hot, right of the cooking vessel)and gulab jamun.
  15. Western Desserts are not so far behind, and heavily indulge on chocolate for me. cos, i hate strawberries(which is the predominant fruit in desserts here). Chocolate delicacies includes Cakes, puddings, donuts, ice cream, milk shakes etc...
  16. Butterscotch is the only flavor of ice cream, i might choose if there's no chocolate flavor available.
  17. A good meal is not complete without a drink. I've been a quite a aesthete of global drinks, the french wines, Russian vodka, Scottish whiskey, Mexican tequila and German beers. I am not a big fan of wine, but certainly can manage the other global commodities.