Thursday, December 2, 2010

Paritala Ravi, Surya Sen, Daisaku Ikeda

Rakta Charitra 2 (Vivek Oberoi, Surya, Mohan Babu, Radhika Apte, Shatrughan Sinha, Priyamani, Subrat Dutta, Ashish Vidhyarthi, Sudeep, Zarina Wahab, Raj Babbar, Ranjeet) a trilingual movie produced and directed by Ram Gopal Varma (RVG), simultaneously made in Telugu and Hindi version. Rakta Charitra 2 movie is based on the true life of Paritala Ravi , a slain factionist and politcal leader from Andhra Pradesh.

The Abhishek starrer, on the other hand, is based on the life of Surya Sen, the legend that every Bengali adolescent idealist grows up on. 

Three weekends this month.  A real gripping run up to the end of a life changing year.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Free VOIP on your smartphone

Worldtech 24 has this to say about the Beatles being on iTunes.  Apple and EMI confirmed this on November 16, 2010, about 50 years after the music was made, and almost a decade after digital rights management became an universal issue.

So it is with Google Voice and Apple.  Google Voice lets people sign up for a new phone number, then route incoming calls out to cell, office or home phones. It also lets users place calls, offering steep discounts on international traffic, and includes voice mail. The free app already has been available for Blackberry phones and devices running on Google's Android operating system.

Google submitted the app to Apple about 16 months ago. In January, while waiting for approval, Google revamped its mobile website to make it easier to use the Voice app on the iPhone. Now the free app can be installed on the device.

You can read my post on The Beatles on iTunes over at opnotes.blogspot.com.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Reading over the durga puja

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid 
A list of writes by a friend

The true meaning of love http://goo.gl/C0v7
You are important and beautiful things will happen to you  http://goo.gl/5EdH
Negative thoughts  http://goo.gl/49n2
The purpose of life http://goo.gl/a8Gn
Free will or fate http://goo.gl/CeeC
Walk the path and live in the moment http://goo.gl/EmGl
Don’t carry the past with you http://goo.gl/KFAM
A difficult dialog http://goo.gl/tScA
What is life http://goo.gl/Oc3I
Why we cannot know the future, or can we? http://goo.gl/KgT6




Friday, October 8, 2010

Care for your Husband

I received this in a forwarded email.  I tried but could not locate the source of this pic.  Please email me if you know the source.  One size fits all.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ayodhya, John Lennon, Common Wealth and Peepli Live


This time around, we, the people, won. Common wealth did fundamentalist politicking in.

Ayodhya was remembered,18 years? no, 60 years?  no, many, many Ramadans later, and on this Shawwal Thursday evening, after the text and the subtext had been pored over, young and old alike gathered, outside places of worship, at addas, on phone and online, and at homes and teashops, with friends, family, neither Christmas nor Easter but surely thanksgiving, some sad, some mad, many afraid, and a good number glad.  A step ahead leaves a lot behind.  

Peepli Live , the Oscar shortlist, and the common wealth were discussed over weekend experiments with the top recipes at Zaiqa's The Hyderabadi Ramadan Food Festival  Season II Roundup.  

Peepli [Live] (Aamir Khan Productions - New Hindi Film / Bollywood Movie / Indian Cinema DVD)

Powerbrokers of religion  / (religions), instead of helping bring about peace have been using the vulnerability of a suffering and growingly questioning people to hard sell (when you feel beaten much any kind of sell works) their wares.  This time round, the people chilled and did not buy.  

And this time, the people won in peace.  To see the bulk sms free weekend's news stories,  click here.

John Lennon turns 70 this October.  Twitters on, he does!! One truly wonders what he would have tweeted today.  The only two people who have never died are John Lennon and Prasad Guha.  Like Elvis’ ghost, they pop up at hours of darkness and in cloudy harvest moon nights.  Lennon managed to not "achieve" what Hendrix, Joplin and Jim Morrison did, but he couldn't not get shot either.  But as luck would have it, he didn't die, he couldn't, and never will.  


For those who never knew Prasad, I cannot be of much help, sorry, and for those who know Lennon a little, here is something that I wrote for his 70th birthday on October 9, 2010.  If you are reading this a long time later, (I know, some ears are longer than some other ears.) and the post is lost somewhere at the bottom of the page, this is a more current link.

I got to watch All That Jazz and Breathless (without subtitles and that was fun too) during the week itself, couldn't keep the files on the disc till later.

I reaffirm not intending to discuss faith healing, charismatic prayer meetings, lucky charms, and exorcism at this point in time.

Ramapada Chowdhury won an International Award. That link is an ad, Don't click it.  I intend to find something that's better than that listing of his work.  Readers' help welcome.  A curious hat off to him for an amazing life. 

What maddeningly kind skill can we learn this week?

Waste time.  Just not your own.

Something like a sitemap.  (zero timewaste.  so here.)

Music.  
Food.  
Being.  
Work.  
Fun.   


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jimi Hendrix, Mutton Dalcha, and Small People's Feminism

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This one is for small men.  Small, not in physical size, or organ length, but in relevance, or significance, as in common, lay menfolk, who have no claims to greatness either by their lineage, or their doings in this lifetime.  Small and insignificant in the eyes of the establishment. Small like Kafka.  Like Pratip Guha of Kolkata who committed suicide at age 71 protesting the misuse of gender biased laws.  Small, sometimes, like me.

Today is the 40th death anniversary of Jimi Hendrix.  Many of the people I meet and work with these days have grown up on music that is Metallica onwards, and know little about Hendrix beyond the fact that he was a legendary guitarist, much like I know about Wes Montgomery or Blind Willie Mctell (I am lying, but only to lend perspective,and also, the Metallica link is for those who know about Hendrix, Morisson, Joplin and Lennon, but have not heard the brilliance of metal).  I am not alone in my belief that he was the first heavy metal guitarist, many of his songs bordering on thrash and shred. You can read my post on The Operative Notes blog on this occasion by clicking here.  Though a legend of all times and a tall person, he ended his life without feeling any of the largeness that we attribute to him.  He died a small man.

Hendrix died at the age of 27 from a drug and alcohol overdose that caused him to choke on his own vomit.  His last years were bereft of happiness, personal success, or creative satisfaction.  This was what drugs and alcohol did to one of the most (if not the most) influential figures of modern music.

This year saw a slew of new releases from the posthumous Hendrix vaults, some compilations and re-engineers, but some with new unreleased material, like the Valleys of Neptune (you can read my review here), and the anthology of unreleased versions, covers and alternate takes of his best from across his career, West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology.

We have a party on the weekend, and Sabitha is going to do the chicken.  After inspecting our stores, she declared our spices to be unfit, since "they have neither the color nor the heat," and will use her own.  My humble offer of a tested dalcha recipe flew out the window like a softly muttered cuss word, and into the room the women came and went, looking up so that they didn't need to look down.  Faced with this humiliating indifference, I decided to reproduce the dalcha recipe on this blog.  Thank god for the internet, the last refuge from feminism, especially for small men!!

You will need
Chana Dal 300 g (the original recipe that we worked from called for 500 g)
Diced lamb 250 g
Ginger 1 inch piece chopped fine
Garlic 6 cloves chopped fine
Green chili 2 chopped
Cinnamon 1 inch stick powdered
Green cardamom 2 powdered
Onion 2 medium size, sliced fine, fried crisp
Onion 1 medium chopped fine
Juice of 1 lime
Coriander powder 1 tsp
Red Chili powder 1 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Oil (groundnut or olive oil) 3 tbsp
Salt to taste

1. Wash the dal in several changes of water. Soak it for at least 30 minutes. Add a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of sugar (skip if not to taste), and pressure cook for three whistles. Mash once cool and keep aside.
2. Clean the lamb. Do not wash in water, use a damp towel to wipe clean. Pat dry
3. Heat oil in a pressure cooker, add the chopped onion, fry till brown, add the ginger, followed by garlic, followed by green chili, followed by mutton. Stir frequently till mutton browns and oil separates. Add remaining turmeric powder, chili powder and coriander powder. Stir for another 2 minutes.
4. Add 1 cup of water or enough to just cover the mutton, and pressure cook for 3 whistles.
5. Once cooled, add the dal, the fried sliced onions, cinnamon and cardamom powder, lime juice and salt. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Serve hot.

Click here for the complete Mutton Dalcha post.  I had the good fortune of having this rudimentary urban singleton recipe featured by Mona over at the blog event this year for Bakr Eid, a host of really yummy entries for the festive season, all speaking Hyderabadi!!  You can find the page here.

Feminism is not about putting men in aprons and making them cook dalcha by themselves.  It is about achieving gender equality in a world where the status quo is masculinity or patriarchy (I like the word virism, since it smacks of the male obsession with virility as a value, and also rings of the sanskrit veera and virya).  Having been a close spectator (victim, victim, boley kabeera) to the misuse of gender specific empowerment, I have had occasion to reflect on this matter and have come to recognize it as a major factor in strife and inequity in our society.  How profound.

A large part of the feminist movement is focused about what is perceived to be different needs of women compared to men, a line of thinking that is itself entrenched in gender specific roles and functions, one that presupposes and establishes their weaker and smaller physical stature, and the inherent vulnerability of women.

To cut it short, I would like to proclaim that I am a feminist too, albeit a small one, and am all in favor of equal rights for men and women, provided the women don't mind.  While on the subject of refuge from feminism, for those who can read Bengali, here is an interesting editorial from the Kolkata daily, Sakalbela, on the same subject. 

If you liked this, you may also like my posts on the life and/or work of

Janis Joplin
John Lennon
Bob Dylan
Paul McCartney
Melody Gardot
Joan Baez 

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lend humanity your voice!!

(title unknown): "Fahrenheit 451

I am as apolitical and a-religious as one can be living in society, which is as good as saying nothing, since policy governs each and every breath we take, whether we acknowledge it or not. Religion, patriotism, passion, beliefs are nothing but expressions of our own politics, and as we interface with the rest of existence, these give birth to a complex new animal. Even close relationships are ultimately governed by politics, perhaps very personal ones, but politics all the same.

What happened with WTC on 9/11 is deplorable and is universally condemned by all sane people. The why's and the wherefore's can be debated endlessly and are best left to those who have nothing better to do. What we can do is to determine that we learn from what happened and never let it repeat. We don't have the luxury of adding to our woes as a civilization facing the threats posed by an environment we ourselves have ravaged to the point of being dealt merciless retribution.

Men of God have repeatedly proven themselves to be more desirous of being Gods of Men rather than seeking the divine will (or whatever it is called in your neck of the woods), that of harmonious and creative coexistence. Most Men of God who have not done so have also repeatedly refused to identify themselves as Men of God, choosing instead to do what they perceived to be their task in an intelligent design.

The movement to burn the Quran violates everything that 9/11 violated. It is a classic instance of being compelled to repeat history if we do not learn from it. May the God of these people show them that all of us need to heal and not hurt any one any more. It is sad that an entire community has to carry the shame brought upon it by a few misguided members, just as the perpetrators of 9/11 did for their community.

Let us join our voices to let sanity prevail. You can sign an online petition by clicking here.
"

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rural Tech Bio?

Love, the longing for beauty, the thirst for religion, the yearning for truth: these are all eminently human energies, and through the expression and manifestation of these energies great changes are brought about in the human environment.

(Daisaku Ikeda, contemporary thinker)


Green, lean, alive, and creating wholeness. CFLs, carbon credits, LCD monitors, timed devices. This would sum up the traditional paradigm of the man-environment matrix. Translate it to governance or a corporate-financial framework and we can still work within this paradigm. It is a very comforting one. We can, today, trade environment.

Doctus, a group of ITES/BPO units based in Hyderabad, set out in 2006 to redefine this understanding of the environment and to rethink what we can do to create the future we want . At the heart of this endeavor was the conviction that the environment, whether it be in administration of the land, education, business, or at the more simplistic level, in the fields of green and gold that embody the richness of our country, is but a reflection of our selves. Our actions create the environment we receive and are part of. In a person’s journey of morality and understanding, the simplistic self and not-self model of man and environment always evolves to a higher non-dualistic model.

After setting out with a simple agenda of imparting BPO and Medical Transcription training with the motto of "learning to get better," Doctus put its feet on the soil of Kavur, Andhra Pradesh, in 2007 and set up a 100-seater ITES/BPO unit in compliance with international norms in a location that had questionable-to-absent power and internet, a good 40 km from the nearest railhead, and with almost no supporting infrastructure to run a business out of. Two very challenging but successful years down the line, this humble beginning has to a great extent changed the life of the ordinary Tenali-Bapatla graduate to where he no longer needs to truck his bedding to the city to make the livelihood he aspires for. Doctus has taken the city ITES/BPO job and translocated it to the village (tier V), revolutionizing the entire village economy, in what we humbly call the hinterland of Kavur.

Ramakrishna Tummala, whose brainchild the Kavur Rural BPO project was, considers this a step towards building the environment. From a haunted village where empty houses gathered dust over furniture belonging to deceased elders of grown men in cities with 5 digit zip codes, Kavur today bustles with young men and women who are sometimes shunning the glamor of a city job (in the AP marriage market, you are nobody if you are an insurance claims adjudicator for the worlds largest but working over satellite lines from Kavur). An entire league of new economy ancillaries has sprung up. From 1 rupee shampoo sachets replacing 50 paisa ones (we are sorry, you no longer get them here in Kavur, you could try Vijaywada though) to typing institutes and computer training centers rattling with the sound of keyboards and change in the till, villages and towns around Kavur are creating a new and different environment.

At the end of the day, as our lives change and shine, as the tarnished bronze of our inner self is polished, the environment not only looks and gets better, it starts insisting on getting better and better. "Take this model," says Ramakrishna, "and apply it to any aspect of life, corporate governance, or any form of creation of value, or take it to the next village, and it will always result in the right course of action. One can learn from the organic life-force of nature and coexist and cooperate, or we can carry on doing what we have done so well for so long and destroy mankind. The choice,” emphasizes Ramakrishna, “lies with the individual.”

There are downsides, of course. Rentals are expected to turn four figure any time in the next few years. Women no longer depend on their father, brother, husband, son for their needs. In many an instance, the daughters of Kavur earn more than the rest of the family put together. Pollution and ecofriendly are becoming Telugu words in Tenali and Ponnur as vendors start putting out baskets to throw plastic and other waste into. A haircut costs more, and the barber's son is sending his son to learn computers and typing so that he can get a job in the village BPO. Neighboring village elders want a Kavur to happen closer to home. Yes, there are downsides.

We live in times where the words "environment" and "meltdown" have taken on a frightening synonymy. We, as a planet, clamor for the two degrees of our rightful coolness in the face of indifference and arrogance at the highest levels and of the highest order. We owe it to all the lives and efforts that have gone into creating this present, to our selves, and to our future to take steps to green minds, to green lives, to create leaders for tomorrow who will not blindly follow the destructive legacies that litter our history books, and to let our children know what a sparrow really looks like.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Storm Brewing

What do you call the tea timer chats that answer profound questions, solve dilemmas and produce serenity? 

On another note, as far as tearfree cutting of onion, I strongly favor the pulling out the enzyme filled root as far as possible.  It becomes progressively more difficult to pull the root out with smaller onions, and with larger ones, a mellow evening can really result in a lot of waste but no tears.

Here is the Wiki How for tear free cutting of onion.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hotter than Hell

It is one of the "warmest" Mays ever recorded across the country.  I really agree, it is so warm that the TV weatherpeople have forgotten that this warm is called hot.  It is so warm that I would get a zero if I were writing an essay that were to be evaluated for expression and organization.

It was very hot in 1966 too.  I was less than a year old (there goes!!) when the Beatles claimed they were more popular than Jesus Christ, and it took the Catholic church this long to forgive them for it.  The Church (and I dont mean just the Roman Catholic church or the christian church, I mean all religious organizations) has some kind of karmic debt of apologizing for things that could have been avoided getting het up about in the first place.  Funny that if it (the fact that the beatles didnt know then that "jesus christ" throws up 34 million results on a google search today, compared to 27 million for "the beatles") was forgivable in 2008, which meant it was forgivable in 1966, wasnt it a real huge burden of resentment and hatred for the community to be carrying for these long years, passing it on from one generation to another? 
Abbey Road (Remastered)
Funny how human beings can hold on to their ego and pride, their insistence on winning and their stubbornness, even when it means the denial of the happiness that life invites us to.  The Beatles, that same year, also had to backtrack on the Yesterday and Today album cover art.  And all of this was at a time when the Beatles were on the verge of breaking up.  The Beatles, through their work and their lives, made all of us think real hard about everything, to question everything, to disagree with what was incorrect even when faced with the harshest of opposition for doing so.  We really need to compare notes about The Beatles some day.  But back to 1966 now.
Beatles Yesterday and Today Butcher Cover 18x23 Poster
It was very hot in 1966.  There was no Nobel Prize for peace awarded.  The world was in a lot of turmoil and a lot of people the world over were protesting against war and violence.  The 60s are known for the peace movement, the anti war protests, for the hippies, and of course, for Woodstock.  Billy Joel's We didnt start the fire talks about this time in a nice way.
An American Prayer

In India, Indira Gandhi came to power in January that year, setting in motion an era that was marked by immense development and global eminence for our young republic.  She was the only woman Prime Minister we have had, and her life is as tragic as it is one replete with heroic achievements.  Of course, she is (and perhaps will for ever be) better known for the dark days of the emergency, 1975 to 1977, when in her greed for power she chose to suppress the spirit of dissent among the people, and inflicted the most horrific measures to deny the democratic process.  While India emerged as a superpower and a global leader under her prime ministership, we also saw the darkest days under her rule.  One of the voices that gave a lot of us hope during those dark days was that of Jayprakash Narain, whom Sensei Ikeda met when he visited India.

It was very hot in 1966.  It touched 45.5 degrees in Hyderabad in 1966, and to date it has never gotten that hot ever.  This year, it is close to 45 days now that the temperature has stayed over (or just under) 40 degrees.  The last couple of days it has been playing with 44 degrees.  You know the rules, they haven't changed, but they are getting more important to follow with the year-on-year rise in summer temperatures. 

And in a week that was hot and depressing, what better task can we master than how to cut a pineapple.  I thought this was a good one from this master food writer, and it did inflict deep injuries to my pineapple cutting theory.


Hotter Than Hell

Read earlier posts
How to
Make Harissa
Make Sriracha
Make Marmalade

Friday, April 16, 2010

Grateful Dead, Iceland Volcano, Kochi IPL Franchise

Air travel in Europe is severely disrupted with volcanic ash all over the skies above and east of Iceland.  Each passing hour tales of woe are being reported as airlines call off flights and routes.  An interesting take on passenger rights out here.

Back at home, the franchise for the Kochi IPL team was auctioned to a firm called Rendezvous Sports for over $330 million. This was soon followed by a scandal that had Lalit Modi, Shashi Tharoor, a friend of Shashi Tharoor, Narendra Modi, Harshad Mehta, and the Income Tax Department of the Govt of India popping up all over the media.

At such times, one can only look forward to the release of the 1989 JFK Stadium Grateful Dead concert.  Read a review here.

 On the weekend, plan to try making some sriracha or harissa.  A good sriracha recipe is here.  Harissa is simpler to make, and this is one of the better recipes I came across.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hendrix, Indian Ocean, Madonna, Lucky Ali!!

Before you can say Stieg Larsson, the weekend is over.  This week was all about Hendrix and Valleys of Neptune, Madonna and Sweet and Sticky, and Lucky Ali's newest unpronounceable album.

Last Sunday I got to watch a real cool film called Leaving Home, about the 19 years of the band Indian Ocean.  It was inspiring to see this group of musicians' faith in themselves and insistence on doing what they believed is right.

Writing a review of Valleys of Neptune proved a nightmare and I ended up slobbering like a lovestruck teenager.  Have been driving the neighbors nuts with the fuzz and the offkey vocals blasting at all hours.

The structuring of Madonna's sweet and sticky is almost classical in its precision.  Like vintage wine, she crafts a performance that provokes and stimulates, challenges and soothes.  Lucky Ali remains his dopey mellow self, and there is nothing in Xsuie that is significantly different from his other beautiful wallflower music.

Sticky & Sweet Tour [Blu-ray]

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ahem!

Really tired of being nice and proper, of speaking and writing nice professional politically correct gender neutral etiquette laden nonsense.  Even April 1 has become a sacred crow, no one pulls a nasty one any more.  Been holding my neck in for nearly 200 weeks.  Now that the knives are out, decided to write and speak and be the way I was meant to be.  Music it any way you like.

Of course, this means I cease from this point to have significant others or family or home, since the moment anyone significant other enough to me reads this, they will rush to disown me, being fully aware of the consequences of me being me, even if only in a flogpost.

Hyderabad continues to sizzle, not just from the hottest March of decades and poorest retail quarter, but also from the manufactured communal disturbance that has caused a good part of the old (read real) city to be placed under curfew.  The spirit of the city is obvious in the older citizens who ride their scooters out past the armed forces, waving to them, and mumbling a back in five through a mouthful of pan.  It all started with a squabble over saffron flags and green flags.  Wonder if they could make out from the blood on the streets if it was saffron blood or green.

The IT/ITES segment got into their process best and got the government to issue passes to BPO and IT workers.  Not very sure if I should have told the cabbie to take out his pass when he drove into an angry crowd of brick throwing youth at the end of a narrow lane.  The fact that he just reversed like a stuntman and got us out alive was good enough reason to spend the rest of the shift trembling in beer.

At work, going bonkers trying to get in warm bodies (little brain added bonus) to join a training program for a career that takes time and patience to build, and doesn't pay the bucks that a call center or even a hotel receptionist's job does.  Don't know if I should laugh or cry when I am faced with comments like, "And how much do you pay an office boy in that case?"

A recent conversation with a friend who is trying to make a living from writing revolved around the fact that people should have a take away from reading what you write.  A take away, a return gift for coming to your little adult party!  What is your take away from this interaction?  The three big take aways from the training program were... dah dah dah.  I guess you are waiting for your take away for having read till here.  Okay, here it comes, from Bodhisattva Never Begrudging, a simple and easy guide to making your own marmalade

Beat that if you can!  I know I will!

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