Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Awareness - II

Ramana Maharshi had this to say about thoughts. Ask "To whom did this thought arise?" The answer being always "me", ask yourself again, "who am I?" and that eventually the question will dissolve leaving you with just the answer.

Dissolve into the answer? What did dissolve mean? Pondering over that, I wrote the below hypothetical account of how a question might dissolve into a answer.

Knowledge hinders the path to awareness by introducing beliefs, thoughts and ideas. 

Why learn at all? 

To have a job?

Which is that profession that doesn't harm others in some way or the other? None? Why work at all?

To earn more money?

Money buys happiness? By the kilo? No? So why slog and earn at all?

To eat? To have a roof over one's head?

Why not be content with what one has then? Why be greedy?

To provide for one's kin?

Which person have you got close to and not had misunderstandings? None? So why get close at all?

To love? Do we know what love is? Heady feeling? Intoxicating? Ocean of blah blah? No clue? So why love at all?

cause we think? About what? Love? Love is a thought? That ain't it?

cause it's instinct? Love is a instinct? Oh Feeling? What feeling? of being miserable at separation? Misery is love? That ain't it?

What is it then? It just is? is? is.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


* Might have spoilers - don't read it if you haven't seen the movie *

I have this friend who loves movies but who insists on watching morning shows. I find it tough to get up so early on weekdays when I have to (work!), so why on Earth do I agree to go for a movie at 10:20 on a Sunday morning when I could be cozily tucked in bed?
The answer: I called him for the movie and those were the only tickets available!

I've forgotten how beautiful the mornings are. Today reminded me of that. Sunday mornings especially are a gift. Sleeping on a Sunday is not the luxury (well that too), but getting up on Sunday early and doing everything so leisurely is the real luxury! And even at that leisurely pace, we both landed up at the theater well in advance for a change. Tell me again though, why one has to book tickets online and still stand in a long winding serpentine queue to collect tickets. Beats me.

The movie started quietly. Kamalahaasan's name was quietly displayed without the customary titles that shadow the heros of Tamil cinema like 'world hero', 'superstar', 'padmashri', 'star of the galaxy', 'white-dhoti man', 'smell of the village mud', blah blah
The first 40 minutes were amazing except for one thing, the scene where the gentle dancer turns into the maniac intelligence agent killing all the bad guys in seconds. That was really a brilliant idea of a scene, for it could have filled one immediately with a sense of awe about the main protoganist. Sadly the execution is terrible. First we see the scene. Then we see the same scene again in slow-motion about how it was all done. The only problem is the first time was slow enough for me and when I saw it again in super slow motion, it was almost like insulting the viewers. The concept was brilliant and the execution would have been flawless if they had sped up the first scene to last something like 2 seconds. They could have then spent the next 20 seconds in slow motion, Instead it's more like 12 and 20 seconds I think. The beauty of the idea was lost and for a artist of Kamalahaasan's calibre to err such is well kind of sad.

Once the characters are introduced, the plot moves into Afganistan, where an in-ordinate amount of time was spent. I figured out at the end why they spent so much time in Afganistan building up Rahul Bose's character. It's because there is a vishwaroopam part II coming up where these two characters will try to match wits against each other again. So given the overall context, it might have made some sense to spend so much time in Afganistan, but given the context of just this movie, it became boring. When my friend queried why were they spending so much of the plot in Afganistan, the only straight-faced answer that I could give him was that Afganistan is a big country and they have to cover everything! One only hopes that in Vishwaroopam-II, they don't think of covering the entirety of America as the story moves to New York from Afganistan again.

There are snippets from Nayagan - 'Neenga Nallavara illa keta vara' (Are you a good man or a bad man) as everyone tries to unravel who viswanath a.k.a vishwaroopam is really. At a spiritual level everyone trying to figure out who Kamal is, is downright funny, cause we don't know who we are ourselves! The prime minister has a personal chat with Kamala-haasan to assure us all that he is a good guy after all. Never mind that we are losing faith in democracy and our elected leaders. After all these scenes, my friend was trying to get the right phrase to describe what was happening and I filled it in for him, 'delusions of grandeur'. That's simply what the protoganist suffers from and for all his skilled prowess at being a intelligence agent, the protoganist isn't even well toned.

The villains want to detonate the whole of NY and they want to be air borne in their own private plane with it's own cute air hostess (couldn't resist eh?) just before the detonation, but the protoganist has his own ideas. Miraculously his nuclear oncologist doctorate wife is the one who really saves the situation, even though the intelligence agent, who even the prime minister banked upon was intelligent enough to not want his wife anywhere near the proceedings.
For a movie like this to succeed, one needs a equally powerful enemy and Rahul Bose could have been adept, but he exists only to boost up the grandeur of the hero even further. With a more capable adversarial image for Bose, this movie could have really had something without fizzling into the inevitable comic book triumph of good over evil.

The last straw of insulting the viewers was to indicate at the end of the movie that a part II was coming up. Was it coming up immediately that we can't even get out of our seats? Did they really think they had to advertise that fact as otherwise, ... otherwise we would have just missed it totally?

Frankly I don't think we needed a vishwaroopam to un-detonate the situation, a chemisty grad might have been just enough.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Kara Kulambu (You have been warned spicy kulambu!)

In the last post I talked about how washing dishes was turning out to be fun. What about cooking then?

Been suffering from a bout of bad cold, cough and sore throat this week. Could hardly speak without sounding like a minimalistic gruff-voiced villain, somewhat like Raghuvaran, though I don't have his persona. So as a result felt like having some really spicy food - I guess primarily to serve the cold with notice papers and eviction orders from my system.

Now what could be more spicier than tasty kara kulambu? The way my mom used to make kara kulambu, we mostly used it as a side-dish! Fancy that! You top rice normally with some kind of podi, eg: thenga podi and then use kara kulambu alongside. If you are adventurous, you could also eat it directly with rice and spend the next 45 minutes gasping for icy cold water.

So how does one make Kara kulambu? So from what my mom explained, here's what I actually did. Turned out quite well though. The first instruction was to take a lime size of tamarind (Tamil: Puli). How do I know what I picked up is lime sized? Simple enough - you roll it up and visualize a lime momentarily replacing that dark tamarind mound in your palm with that of a lime. If the size agrees, proceed to the next step.
Note: If at anytime during this stage while you were rolling that mound of tamarind in your palm, and you happened to think of the Ferrero Rocher chocolate, then muster all that you can to resist the urge completely and totally to put the tamarind ball in your mouth! ok?

Take about a dosa batter spreading spoon (I think approx 5-7 tea spoons) full of cooking oil and spread it in a nonstick container. Even a tawa would do I guess. sprinkle mustard and wait until they start cracking. I always add the Jeera only after the mustard has shown some signs of life for I believe they can then enjoy each other's company. Plus Jeera and oil don't exactly have a great relationship and if you leave them together too long, Jeera gets a blackened face from Mr oil's front jab punches. Put some curry leaves and some garlic whole pieces. Add about a table spoon of toor dal (yes raw just like that. Don't ask.) Add one big sized onion and if you don't have any other vegetable, add more onion if possible and fry until the onion turns golden brown. Add any vegetable that goes well with Kara Kulambu. I had only ladies finger - so in it went.

Note to self: Need to make a list of all vegetables that work well with this kulambu. I have a faint suspicion that mushrooms won't. I remember once adding mushrooms to sambar and my sis-in-law spoke against my culinary skills for a entire week!. Oh! You think I should'nt have brought that up while you were diligently following my instructions till this point?

The moment you add ladies finger, sprinkle some salt. From a friend, I've found that if you don't follow this salt sprinkling diligently, you better be prepared for one really messy ladies finger web that spider-man might relish, but not us mere mortals.

Fry the mixture for some time on a low flame. While all this happens you have already made the tamarind paste with about 500ml of water right? You haven't? You better hurry up then and add to this! And then finally before increasing the flame to high, add three table spoon mounds of sambar powder. Be sure to add before the whole thing is boiling, as the powder won't dissolve well otherwise. I think it's kinda analogous to staying away from people who are boiling with rage! Philosophy aside, leave the mixture to boil on a low flame or a high flame as you desire until you see a thick mixture. If you don't see a thick mixture, somewhere you didn't follow these instructions to the letter, so your case against me doesn't have much of a stand in a formal court-room.

And you did add some salt in between all those steps right? The good part about salt is it can be added anytime! If it's thick and if it tastes well, then it's done. Refrigerate and use as side for all sorts of rice - coconut rice, thenga-thool rice, curd rice, blah blah...

Update: I think as a last step we need to add a tea spoon of sugar too, but I forgot while preparing the above. So it's ok if you forgot too!

A good friend of mine remarked some time back that he found cooking very therapeutic! I agree heartily! I think my cold disagrees though!

 Salt and Pepper having a dreamy dinner with Kara Kulambu in Romantic Paris. 
I think the yellow streak could be oil. It could also be a technical lighting issue. You do need some oil for it to stay without being spoiled (like a pickle) for some time, but probably not too much.