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10 evil things that restaurants do

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I am a perfectly reasonable glutton and I hardly fuss about restaurants and their ambiance. Non-AC udipi hotels or fancy pants uber expensive Italian restaurants, I’m game for both, it all ultimately boils down to the food. Also, I always tip. All I’m asking for, dear restaurants, is a little common sense, enough to not do the below.

  1. Fork, knife and no spoon! Some of these sizzler restaurants and the continental food serving places do this behaviour. The minute you see me ordering vegetarian food, please add the spoon to the setting. Maximum I’ll use the knife to cut the long beans, that also sometimes I don’t.
  2. One less starter. Imagine you are a group of 6 and the starter you order ends up having 5 pieces. Nobody wants to share a spring roll, and for that one extra piece we don’t want to order another plate, we might as well order a different starter. Why restaurants don’t get this logic? Seriously, being benevolent and adding that extra piece won’t cost you a fortune right restaurants?
  3. Ketchup sachets. First of all, if you are a place that anyway serves food that needs to be eaten with ketchup, you’re not all that fancy. So invest in some of those hideous red squeeze bottles. This sachet opening is the worst especially if your hands are all buttery after touching the sandwich. Atleast pre-cut them and serve no?
  4. The wait and watch game. If I ask for extra sambhar, I will wait for it till you bring it. If you think I’m gonna get fed up and finish my dosai with just chutneys, that’s not gonna happen. Let’s see who blinks first. Challenge?
  5. Expecting me to order the raita for biryani separately. Hello!!! Most evilest ever.
  6. Non-spicy chillies. Atleast here in India, you have the light green ones and the dark green ones. Now the light green ones are not spicy and pretty much useless. If I am in your restaurant and I ask for green chillies, it is specifically because your food is not spicy enough for me, so please do not give me the bland light green chillies and make me more sad.
  7. Serving hot chocolate in non mugs. I’m not kidding, I’ve actually left this as a feedback in a couple of places. Steamy hot chocolate in a cozy looking large mug is what I’m paying for, else I’d rather have it at home in tumbler itself!
  8. Konjam lighta stronga Filter Kaapi. How can you get this right? Impossible. However hard you try, the way you mix the decoction and milk is never going to be right. So just give the decoction in a separate davara even before we ask for it. It will be much appreciated. Although I don’t drink coffee, as a South Indian I feel it is my responsibility to voice this out.
  9. Not categorising desserts as veg or non-veg to constantly keep me guessing. See, desserts are tempting I agree, but toying around with my weakness is just pure evil. Don’t play the mind game with me. If they aren’t eggless, please add the red circle in a box next to it on the menu.
  10. Weird mouth fresheners. Nooooo…..that’s not the taste I wanted, now I’ll have to call you again to refill my glass with water. Saunf, betel nut, mint are acceptable. Anything else can only be options. Learn from those rajasthani thali places that have a whole gamut of mouth fresheners to choose from.But I must add that all of this will be forgiven and forgotten if the food served is absolutely, lip-smackingly, unforgettably divine!
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Is there a place I can call mine?

 

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Is there a place I can call mine?
A cosy corner that smells like mother,
To seek happiness akin no other,
Where drizzle drops float,
And lives don’t jolt.

Is there a place I can call mine?
A deep, dark cave where heaven meets earth,
And joys know no dearth;
Where trickles of water tickle my cheeks,
And fireflies play hide and seek.

Is there a place I can call mine?
Of infinite space where the moon retires,
And pastel hues even the gods admire;
Where cascading waters erase memories,
For it is time to end the tease.

Is there a place I can call mine?
A place of no return,
For the heart stops to churn;
A place full of hope,
For the mind is free to elope.
Is there a place I can call mine, and mine alone?

Iraivi is a realist movie. Only, the realists happen to be women!

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So we were walking out of the theatre after watching the film Iraivi, and the guy in front of us said to his friend, a girl, “Seri azhadhe ippo” She laughed it off saying, “Naan yen azhanum?!” True. Neither did I cry for the film. Because it’s a film, about women being practical realists.

Your favourite reviewers and friends who have seen the film would have already told you one or many of the following about Iraivi;  a feminist film, power packed performance, SJ Surya at his best, the actors have lived the role, Karthik Subburaj’s genius…. I agree with most part of it, except the feminist part. A tag strong enough to mislead people into thinking it’s not their kind of a movie, or create a misconception that it’s an attention-seeking film, making a hue and cry about the acceptable casual flaws of men. It’s neither! And before you read further, I want to point out that this post is not a review, but just my opinion on why we should view this movie as beyond just a feminist film.

Iraivi is simply a movie which shows that women being practical is a totally acceptable quality, that warrants neither admiration nor criticism. It’s human; to be practical and move on in life. To not give a damn, to know when to cut the long rope. To say, “Let’s just f***”, unabashedly. A movie with a man saying the same thing wouldn’t be considered a men’s liberation movie no? 🙂

In one of the later scenes, the filmmaker shows Arul (SJ Surya) reasoning out his mistakes…. Thappudhan, pannama irundhirkalam, avanum summa poyirkalam….. In real life, this happens to both genders. Both men and women make mistakes they can’t time travel and rectify. What matters is what lies ahead. And the characters in the movie make their own practical decisions, in their own style. After all, it’s never too late to turn around your life. It’s never too late to get wet in the rain. But here the characters making the decision to move on are realists who happen to be women! why not? while the ones who choose to get caught up in the chaos are men. Again, why not?

I don’t think I’ve seen any Tamil movie in recent times portraying a grey character so well. The seemingly good Jagan (Bobby Simha). The man who wants to protect and look after his girl. The fallacy of being idealistic. The scene where he rests his head on Vadivukarasu and his expression reminded me of Norman Bates. Wouldn’t hurt a fly and yet! Just that in his case the girl took a realistic decision that didn’t quite go down too well! In a way, this film reminded me of one my other favourite yet an underrated film, Aaranya Kaandam, and the scene where one of the characters walks away saying, “the best thing about being a woman is, it’s a man’s world.” A realist who again happened to be a woman who knew how to play to her strengths.

In that sense, Iraivi is a movie about how characters get so intertwined through their relationships and that each of their actions affects the other. Of course going ahead the film had to be about what happens when the men go berserk without considering this. Realistically speaking women going that berserk would definitely seem far fetched in the society we live in no? And that is why the women characters here happen to make realistic choices.

So beyond just calling it a feminist movie, can we look at it objectively as a realist movie? Perhaps that would register the collections that Aaranya Kaandam failed to make. The only way more people will understand that women too can be realists with the ability to make strong decisions 🙂 Problem much?

 

Translations:

Iraivi – Goddess

Seri azhadhe ippo – Ok don’t cry now
Naan yen azhanum?! – why should I cry?

Thappudhan, pannama irundhirkalam, avanum summa poyirkalam…
It was a mistake, (I) needn’t have done it, he could have ignored and moved on too…

 

 

In Death I Become.


c5c249bb69a8254b65a865a51cb1c81bDear Death,

I am not sure if you remember of my existence. I know not if you are to seek me soon either. But I am well aware of you.

This world is a strange place. It portrays you to be dark and gloomy. Some fear you, some shun you while some others are in a hurry to meet you. Some are at war to thwart your advances with all their life’s savings. But I, I believe you are beautiful.

My doctor dad once told me. “What is more beautiful than a force that can, in a single breath, put physical pain to rest?” To me, you revealed your prowess of putting even the wearying turbulence of the mind to rest.

In you, I found a companion. Over time, you grew to be a friend. I often spoke to you, just like how I speak to God. Have you heard me from up there? Yes, I believe you too reside up there like Him, descending upon us only when there’s a soul waiting to bid farewell.

Make an exception for me. I would love to have dinner with you some day. For once it would be a pleasant tête-à-tête; me telling you about my day, and you telling me about yours. It would be fun and light hearted, nothing like the memories we carry. Maybe I will finally make it up to you for all my sad monologues punctuated with the tears rolling down my cheeks. I’m sorry, it must have been really awkward for you.

Is that why you were always invisible? Despite which I knew you were so near. The cold heavy air reeked of your omnipotence. You were right there and I just needed to figure out a way to reach you. Oh! The many ways I imagined I could. Neither did I have the guts to make the move, nor could I get rid of the nagging need to do so.  

Sometimes you visited me during the day, and sometimes during the night. But you always had the uncanny ability to sense it when I needed you. It helped that you were always alone. You should know that your undivided attention kept me sane.

Your visits turned frequent, and I became so used to having you around. It felt like we were seamless; my dark thoughts lost in your dark demeanor. My melancholy camouflaged by yours. The more I disappeared in you, the closer I got to myself.

Your cold and persistent silence in refusing to take me along pushed me to another tomorrow. My haste in wanting to have you crumbled under the might of your patience. You forced me to live with myself, to understand and accept myself. And for this, I shall forever be grateful to you.

I thank you for the time you took off from your busy routine just for me. I like to believe that during our stolen moments, not a single soul passed away from this world. Maybe that’s why you visited me, to take a break from your routine, to disrupt the monotony of your tough job.

Being in the business of picking up souls is not so easy. I salute you for the service. Your dedication taught me a thing or two about life; Do what you must, never look back, never look forward and never worry about what the others have to say. This made me brave, strong and self-oriented enough to survive.

You removed my instability, helping me accept the rights and the wrongs of the world. You helped me see the beauty of both the light and the shadows of life. Your monochrome presence added colour to my thoughts. Your disruptive presence made me appreciate the uninterrupted memories I was fortunate to make thus far. You prepared me to let go, of the anxiety, of the fear, of the insecurities, of all the times I put someone else ahead of me and of, above all, the many troubling questions about existence, and eventually of you even.

All along you were my teacher, of being truly alive. And now I trust you enough to wait for my turn. We shall meet again, only when it’s truly meant to be.

Dedicated to the all the brave ones pushing to live another day despite the depressed self. Please don’t deprive the world of your beauty, love, strength and creativity. Hang in there and be the best you can. For all you know, you could be the change mankind has been waiting for all along.

 

 

Let’s get naked.

 

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Ever since we’ve known each other I’ve yearned to get you naked. I’m thinking about it right now, I can’t deny. Should we do it within these four walls? Or should we head down to the seashore? Or we could hike up to this great spot I know in the woods. It has been too long and I can wait no more.No, I don’t want you yanking off your shirt just as yet! I am only too familiar with the gleam in your eyes and the moves in your head.

It’s gotten increasingly easier to get our bodies naked I agree, but today I want something more. I want your naked soul.

 

I crave for the stories that run beneath the skin, like the one that makes you flinch at 2 a.m. Is it a nightmare? Is it a dream? Or is it a memory scented heavily of childhood?

Introduce me to that child, let me say hello. Take me back to the time you were a small fellow. Show me the path through which you the rode the bicycle to school. Or better still, take me to the place where you learnt riding one. Was it your mother or your father who had your back? Do you remember the number of falls it took? It took me a hundred before I soared into my first memory of freedom.

Tell me about your first tryst with freedom. Was it one of curiosity with you sneaking up to the terrace at night to see the stars? Or was it one of naughtiness where you tried running away from home?

Introduce me to your first friend ever; boy, girl or imaginary. I want to see the joy reflect through your eyes when you see him, her or it, after so many years.

What was the favourite game you played with the neighbourhood kids? Did you hide or did you seek? Did you win? Or did you lose to get into your first fight? Did you all keep in touch or over time fall apart?

Did you really enjoy going to school or did you make a fuss? Did you ever pretend sick just to skip a math test? Show me your classroom; Show me the trophy room; Show me your lunch spot; Show me all.

Show me the hallway where you saw your first crush. Do you remember your first words to her? Tell me how you asked her out, I want to see you break into your boyish smile.

I’ve heard you were a hot pair even through college. We share a common friend if you do remember. He’s told me a few stories here and there. There’s one that caught my fancy, the one with a bottle and a bear. Do you want to climb up the roof and narrate it to me? The evening breeze has been waiting so long to ruffle up your hair!

So which was your first drink? Vodka, Scotch or good old Rum? I know you drink them all. Tell me about those short party nights. More importantly, tell me about the long sober ones when your inner demons stayed awake. Reveal them to me and we shall fight them off, I’m Wonder Woman in disguise!

What has made you the man you are? Confident and thoughtful. Silent and sincere. Did it just happen overnight? Or was it a long lesson of plight. I know I ask the difficult questions, but look me in the eye and you will know why.

There’s more in store but let us put them away for now, until the next time we take a plunge into each other’s naked souls.

A slightly mushy friendship post from a socially awkward, semi-introvert!

voZTT1mThere’s a word my family often uses – manusha dwesha. It pretty much translates to People-hater! Though I like the ring of it, I’ve always felt it’s too strong  a word to be used. Well, just because you avoid people doesn’t mean you hate them. Probably it could just be that it takes a bit of energy to be polite and nice especially to people you barely know, and maybe you don’t have that kind of energy just then. This happens when you are a socially awkward, semi-introverted over-thinker. When I step into a room, I want to shove myself into a corner and just be; faking a smile to avoid conversations, dreading small talk, being invisible. Naturally making friends is not a forte.

I believe that friendships aren’t forced, and they just happen. But when the self-conscious, social awkwardness seeps in, friendships sure don’t just happen. When people tell me, “go out, make friends”, I am caught wondering if it has worked for them, where do they go? what do they do? and how do they make friends? To be very honest, the ones I consider friends for life today are the ones I never imagined getting along with when I first met them. Looking back I can say that all my friendships have followed a pattern.

Stage 1: I don’t think you are my type.

Where do most of us end up making friends? School, college, work and pretty much anywhere else we are bound to spend uncomfortable amounts of time with a bunch of people we barely know.  So did I. I had newly joined a workplace, and was as lost as a chicken crossing the road. Weeks passed yet that gnawing feeling to finish work and disappear remained. And then kaboom, I heard a voice, “So you actually don’t talk is it?” Uh oh! Searching frantically for a clearing on the floor to stick my head in like an ostrich, I smiled and gave a half-swallowed reply, “Yea, not so much.” I now saw a smiling face that continued talking. My self-defensive mechanism was kicked open and I was looking high and low for reasons to not to like this person  – body odour, pretentiousness, 666 on the head – something, anything, just an excuse. I would like to point out that the said person is one of my good friends now!

Stage 2: You might not be my type, but I appreciate your sass.

Having warmed up to the person, I start to notice the little details about the other person – their attitude, the way they speak, the sass, the sarcasm or probably the way they pronounce a particular word wrong. All of this, defines them and makes them whole and real.  That’s when the introvert in me reaches out to them.  Not in a ‘you are my favourite around here’ kind of a way, but in a ‘polite good morning every morning’ kind of a way.

Stage 3: Can we hate the world together, please?

What typically follows stage 2 is is a second layer of discovery, one of mutual hatred – to a particular kind of food spice, capitalism, or just the soaring summer temperatures. Sometimes all it takes is a simple comment, “I don’t understand women who call other women babes.”  When one of my colleagues from another workplace said this to me, it cracked me up. It was my two peas in a pod moment. A sudden discovery of a fellow human being who thinks the way I do. This changes everything. The ostrich would now love to remove its head from the ground and go jaywalking across the grasslands with the friend. Today, the colleague is a friend and one of the most inspiring women I know.

Stage 4: Comfortably awkward, no questions asked.

Jaywalking will soon be followed by me turning comfortably awkward around the new friend. The best part is, the friend sees nothing, says nothing. It makes me wonder if I am awkward at all. I start to think I am actually normal around this person. I could eat a sub sandwich in front of this person and not feel messy and awkward. The deal is sealed. Perhaps I will even share my potato chips crumbles with this person now.

The ones who’ve survived me would know this only too well and here’s a toast to you all. Thank you for putting up with me and you’re welcome for the times I’ve put up with you as well 😉 I’ve loved you all with all of your quirks, even though I don’t say it enough.

To read more, to write more.

As a kid, Saraswathi Pooja was about stacking my school books in the pooja room and procrastinating holiday homework with zero guilt. Vijayadasami, as mom would say, was a nalla naal for new beginnings, “pudusa edhadhu katthuko”. Back then it really meant opening the textbooks and reading through a new chapter. The non-detail text book was the winner every year, introducing me to new worlds and new characters. Tom Sawyer, Taming of the Shrew, Silas Marner, Black Tulip, Scarlet Pimpernel. Imaginative. Exciting. Unforgettable.

Today, supposedly grown up, and doing the pooja by myself, the subject of reminiscence led me to opening a new book. Daniel DeFoes’s A Journal of the Plague Year, transporting me to London of the 1600’s. 28 pages down and counting. So that’s my new beginning this Vijayadasami. English Classics.

Grateful for the old bookstore I bumped into a couple of weeks back where I got my hands on a few classics. Have a recommendation? Do leave a comment below. TIA 🙂 Needless to say, today I sure had to write too and here I am.


Translations:
nalla naal – auspicious day
“pudusa edhadhu katthuko” – learn something new