Sunday, February 27, 2005

Omanakutty Chaikadapatti

4 vegetable biryanis, 10 atta parathas (or parottas/barottas), 5 vegetable curries, 3 chicken curries, 1 egg curry, 4 dosas, 11 lime juices, 1 chickoo milk shake and something else I don't remember now. A complete dinner for ten people, a very very satisfying meal. And all for just Rs 234. That's Rs 23.40 per person. Bloody good value for money.

This post is the long overdue one on my recent adventures in God's Own Country. Kerala, not my room.

NIT (formerly REC) Calicut (now Kozhikode) conducted (that's still the same) their cultural extravaganza Ragam '05 about 10 days back. And our college, in a sudden fit of highly fishy generosity, decided to sponsor a team of participants. And particishirts. Oh whatever.

So there we were, ten of us off on a four day release from the humdrum existence we lead in (at home) and around (in college) Chennai. The group included Krishnamurti who, because he is a god-level guitarist, is nicknamed Ishwar. And don't you forget it. (Those who are not in on the politics and machinations of the group would not get it. Tough.)

Seven of the ten were musical chaps, representing us in, as would be obvious to anyone with an IQ greater than 11.3, the musical events. (By the way, I have noticed that I, in the course of typing this post, astonishingly frequently (and sometimes quite irritatingly) use nested commas (and brackets) to construct a sentence. Why, I wonder, why...)

Just for the record, I am as far from being musical as Lalu Prasad Yadav is from being the dean of Oxford University. The non-musical guys - Nandan, Mario and me - were basically entrusted with winning as much as possible of everything else. Which the other two did with great success, but all I have to show, personally, for four days there, is 200 bucks and a name tag that proudly proclaims that I was the team captain. Yahoo, bring out the champagne.

But what I cherish about the trip is not the event itself which fell just a little short of my expectations. It was the experience, the fun and the FOOD! The food consistently rocked throughout. If you're ever there, you must try the pineapple juice at the canteen - it's like an alien. Out of this world. OK, that was sad. But I was happy. There I was, stuffing myself with all this great food and having the college pay for it! The food was not only incredibly delicious, it was also dirt cheap. One could have a really really filling breakfast - multiple dishes - for just 10 bucks.

The canteen, where we were served by our good friend seguppu sattai (which translates to red shirt) - a warm and friendly chap from north-eastern India - is just one of the options available for a sublime culinary experience. The second place we tried was called Hotel Darbar. Nice place, very tasty food, and very cheap. But for some strange reason, the experience of finding a big black bug (which I suspect was of the genus Blattellidae) in my omelette turned me off. So don't go there.

The best place we found there for grub is popularly called Mamachans. OK, it's actually SomethingElse Canteen and Mamachan's Ice Creams, but everyone calls it Mamachans. It's a tiny restaurant hidden near the back of the campus. Quite easy to miss it, as we did at first. The first night we went there, they had a power cut. From afar, it looked like a haunted cottage, eerily (spell check, please) lit by candlelight. The sort of place hot young things in close-to-no clothes simply have to spend a night at in cheesy Hindi horror flicks. Anyways, when we finally found it, it was worth the short tramp. We attacked the poor chap (who was actually done for the night) and cleaned him out completely. From the baleful looks his dog kept giving us, I'm guessing we had the dog's dinner too. Super delicious food, super low pricing. The first paragraph of this helps illustrate my point.

There's more to our trip than just food. The roommate forced on us ("Can I schmock in the room?"), our conversations in Hindi (a sanskrit scholar among us ordered "ekaha plate-aha vadaha"!), butter naan vs butter chicken... but that's food again. The girls hitting on Mario, the indepth knowledge of all things carnal required for JAM, the #$%^@ daily quiz with no prize money, the late night music practice sessions, antakshari in the train, deciding how much we could flick from the college without appearing to be indecently greedy, the lush greenery, the friendly people and the repeated references to Omanakutty Chaikadapatti... so much to say, so little energy.

Gonna go watch Jurassic Park dubbed into Malayalam on Asianet. Ciao.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Two things happened today. I know 'things' isn't a particularly beautiful word to use, but I'm apparently the Lord of the Things, so what the heck. Without further ado, here they are.

Thing 1

I was standing at a busy road when I suddenly saw this girl on the other side. She wasn't a stunning beauty - most would probably not even call her just a beauty - but she was definitely cute. And don't ask me why, but I felt she was a fun sort of person. The kind I might like to get to know better. So there we were, separated by two lanes of crazy traffic...

She was walking to and fro, obviously waiting for someone. She was wearing blue, my favourite colour, and had a high ponytail that bounced about captivatingly. She had beautiful hair. When she turned around (as she shifted from 'to' mode to 'fro' mode and vice versa), I noticed the two soft strands of hair cascading on either side of her face, framing it to perfection. So I was looking at her (not ogling) when, suddenly, she looked straight at me.

Now, I would never mind a pretty girl looking at me, but I'm not a pretty girl and she wasn't me. Her eyebrows shot up in obvious, indignant surprise. I was incredibly embarassed, and shifted my gaze downwards to perform a searching examination of my toes. I looked up a few seconds later and she was still looking at me. But there no longer seemed to be any indignation in her look; she seemed more amused than angry. We stared at each other for what seemed like a couple of hours, but was probably 3 seconds. A girl in a car drew up in front of her...

And then, out of the blue, she flashed me a smile, dimpling beautifully. I was stunned, and didn't know how to react. I smiled back in reflex. I'm pretty sure that she would have found it a rather dopey grin. She, my staring-partner who I'd seen for only a minute or two, climbed into the car and was driven away...

I'll probably never see her again. But this short meeting filled me with a kind of indescribably light happiness, a joi de vivre... I proceeded with a spring in my step and song in my heart.

Thing 2

My college, like many others across India, has a system of OD. OD stands for 'On Duty', the funda being that if you miss a day of college because you want to represent the beloved institution of higher education at some competition, you get an OD from the concerned faculty and you will be given attendance for the day. And given the stringent attendance requirements of the University, attendance matters a hell of a lot. To further clarify matters, let me unambiguously state that one takes OD if one is missing a working day of college.

This semester, my class works only two days a week - Thursday and Friday. (I have a lot to say about life in the 8th semester and the disease that is destroying my mind and body - FinalSemesteritis. But that'll have to wait for a later post.) Having gone through three and a half years of an engineering education, we (my classmates and I) are naturally incredibly intelligent, especially when it comes to avoiding college. So it has become a ritual to take OD for every Thursday and Friday, quoting some super-arbit symposium that one absolutely has to attend.

"So where is all this leading? Get on with it!" you cry. Well, the folks who run the college are on to us. A new rule introduced today states that we will not be given OD on Thursdays and Fridays, because they are working days. A conversation between Confused Student (CS) and Officious College Official (ASS) might run like this:

CS: Can I get OD on Thursday?
ASS: No, it's a working day.
CS: That's why I want OD.
ASS: That's why I won't give it to you. I'll give you OD on Monday through Wednesday.
CS: But those aren't working days!
ASS: That's why I'll give you OD.

and so on. You get the point. It's very very reminiscent (is that spelt right?) of the classic dialogue from Catch 22, still one of my all time favourite reads. Here's the original conversation - a masterpiece!

Yossarian looked at him soberly and tried another approach. "Is Orr crazy?"

"He sure is," Doc Daneeka said.

"Can you ground him?"

"I sure can but first he has to ask me to. That's part of the rule."

"Then why doesn't he ask you to?"

"Because he's crazy," Doc Daneeka said. "He has to be crazy to keep flying combat missions after all the close calls he's had. Sure I can ground Orr. But first he has to ask me to."

"That's all he has to do to be grounded?"

"That's all. Let him ask me."

"And then you can ground him?" Yossarian asked.

"No, then I can't ground him."

"You mean there's a catch?"

"Sure there is a catch," Doc Daneeka replied. "Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy."

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, that specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of the clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka replied.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


I got a call from a friend today, and I was asked to give my answers to the following questions. The answers could be either straightforward/honest or wacky/witty. I've added a few Qs of my own.

Who this was, and why I had to answer them, fall under the category of top-secret classified information, and the answers will be released sometime in the near future. Or maybe not.

Q01. If you could change your name to anything else, what would it be?
A01. Zaphod Beeblebrox

Q02. Describe yourself in one word/ phrase/ sentence...
A02. Weird. Period.

Q03. If you had one billion dollars, what would you buy?
A03. A sleek, black car. And a ghatam.

Q04. If you were to be abducted by aliens and could take any one material possession with you, what would it be?
A04. First thing that came to mind was a toothpaste and tooth brush. Else, my mobile. Or aforementioned ghatam.

Q05. One line about college...
A05. Waste of time.

Q06. If you were dying and had 30 seconds to say something to any one person, what would it be?
A06. I'd tell my brother to destroy the CDs on my table.

Q07. One word you love...
A07. Draakjum!

Q08. What would you give your Valentine on V-Day?
A08. Maybe a CD of old, romantic Hindi songs.

Q09. What do you think is the most useful use of paper?
A09. Toilet paper...

Q10. Which language do you think is the coolest, and why?
A10. Russian. Names end with -vich or -ova 98% of the time, and every third word sounds like vodka!

Q11. What's the zaniest thing you've done in your life?
A11. The first thing that came to mind was the 'Crow' thing I did (maybe performed is a better word!) in Ooty, which I mentioned in my previous post... and no, I'm not going to go into further detail!

Let me know what your answers to these Qs are!