Monday, January 30, 2006

blogorrhoea spreads!!

Ad peddler, smoke freak, dreamer. That’s what he thinks the world thinks he is. A real thinker, he is. Think not? Think too! But at the end of the day, i think he’s just dear ol’ dinesh a.k.a. F1Speak. After having been progressively de-humanitised by the (w)art of copywriting for the last 12 years, he’s decided it’s time he got real. And Smoke Canopy, a real blog, is the result. Check it out. Don’t miss the part about his brain trembling with the orgasmic experience. Plus, there's almost 10 years' worth of his musings and miscellany on the way. the Bekku says "yay!"

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Fork off!! – DOs and DON’Ts when eating from a banana leaf

So eating from a banana leaf is back in fashion, not that it ever went out of fashion in my village/home and million others like that in the south. Every traditional marriage ends with it, at least as far as the guests are concerned. We’ve all heard about the whole etiquette thing when it comes to eating off a plate – knife in the right hand, fork on the left (what about lefties?) – and such like. But what about the humble banana leaf? While a banana leaf is not conducive to a buffet system, it has a lot of advantages and some etiquette that goes with it. Here it is then, a quick (meaning not comprehensive) and interesting (meaning full of stories) guide to the banana leaf.

Eating off a banana leaf is not just convenient and time saving – no washing dishes and you can be sure that nobody has eaten from your leaf before. Eating form a banana leaf also adds to the taste and to the flavour of the food, no matter what cuisine you are having.

Firstly, the placing of the leaf. This is by far the most important. The tapering end of the leaf should always be to the left of the eater. This is the default position of the leaf, and the most ideal. Ask me not why this is, it just is.

An alternate way of placing the leaf would be in the vertical fashion, in which case the tapering end would be on the top and the widest portion nearest to you. But this is only in extreme cases.

Next is the serving. Very important: Rice should never, I repeat, never be served on an otherwise empty leaf. There’s a reason for this. During a death ceremony, or any funerary rite associated with the dead, it has been our custom to use pindas (balls made of rice) which represent the dead person and the two generations that came before him/her (and trust me, I know). And a banana leaf is used for this purpose, and the rice from which the pandas are to be made served on to it (an empty leaf). So unless you are performing a death ceremony, make sure that you never serve rice on am empty leaf. Even some sambar/ little bit of pickle should be on the leaf before serving rice.

On an interesting side note, the death ceremony also affects yet another aspect of eating from a banana leaf, namely the number of times you can put rice on the leaf during one serving. This number must never be three times. It can be one big portion served once, two smaller portions or four. If the person you are serving only says “enough” after the third portion of you have served, make sure you sprinkle some more rice so as to make it four times. So why not three? As you saw above, during the death ceremony, we make three pandas, and when putting rice on the leaf prior to making the pindas, it is always done three times (once for each panda). That’s why.

If you’ve eaten from a banana leaf at restaurants or at your house, you would’ve noticed that the playa, chutney, vegetables, etc. is always on the top half of the leaf, while the bottom half is reserved for rice and rasam, and this is how it should be. It not only makes for good common sense – eating your rice from the top half would be darned inconvenient as you would have to reach out more – it also has an interesting story behind it.

Once apparently, after Rama returned triumphant into Ayodha, a pooja was organised. Rama had to go away for a while, so he was missing when the food was being served. The people/guests waited for a while, and when Rama did not come back and hunger got the better of them, they started to have their food, leaving one leaf for Rama. All except Hanuman. Rama came back after a while and saw everybody was enjoying the food, all except Hanuman. Touched by his devotion, Rama invited Hanuman to at him, off his leaf. So Rama sat on one side of the leaf, while Hanuman sat on the opposite side. Now Hanuman, being a monkey, a vanara, had no use for such things as rice or roti. He wanted the fruits and the vegetables. So one side of the leaf had rice, while the other had the vegetables. And that’s how it’s been for ages.

Food tastes better when eaten with your own hands. So while cutlery is not a strict no-no, it should be avoided to the maximum extent possible. Cutlery could also tear the leaf, and you’ll have to eat off the floor. Also, eating using cutlery, especially when you’re sitting on the floor and eating from a banana leaf is difficult. Just you try!

Again, food should preferable only be eaten with your right hand, they say. This is not just because a overwhelming majority of the world’s population is right-handed, but also because we use our left hand to clean up after we’re done downloading. But if you’re comfortable, eating your food with the same hand you use to wash your arse, go right ahead.

Now that we’re done with the food and had a hearty meal, it’s time to leave. This where the question arises whether to fold the leaf or not. Take no risk. Leaf the leaf as it is. Some say that you should fold the leaf towards you to signify you like the food or to signify you would be coming back again. Conversely, folding the leaf away from you signifies you are not thoroughly satisfied with the food. But these are not universally accepted guidelines or etiquette, so you could just leave the leaf as it is, after you’re done eating.

That’s all folks! Out of time. But there it is – a handy guide to banana leaf etiquette. Bon appetite!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Have a drink with Hitler, Churchill, Lenin and Che

Get high on hitler. Yes, our dear fuehrer now has his own line of wine. And it’s brought to you by Lunardelli. And of course it’s banned in Germany. There’s also Himmler, Hess, Sepp Dietrich, Rommel and other luminaries to choose from. You can also get your own ‘seductive Eva’. The wine’s all the same, but the bottle is not.

Ok. So you have a thing against Hitler (oh-he-killed-jews). No bother! Choose from the other Axis figurehead – The Duce. They also offer you Napoleon, if you so wish. And for those with allied sympathies, you can get your own Churchill. Or maybe you prefer the communist spirit? Choose from Stalin, Lenin and Marx. For the revolutionarily spirited, we present Che. Drink to the revolution!!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

music with teeth

It's got everything – nice guitar riffs and groovy bass lines, basically good use of instruments, nifty distortions in all the right places, intelligent arrangement and other such dhinchak that makes for a great song, nay great music, topped up as it is with the vocal virtuosity of Pankaj Awasthi. It's called Khuda ka Wasta. Oops! sorry. Yes! it is a hindi track. So those of you who are prejudiced against anything that has Hindi lyrics, stop reading, and get back to your Ironmaiden. But those of you who love music, read on.

Not wanting to spend the rest of his life staring down mouths of people, this dentist gave up dentistry and decided to get into music. And this is, i guess, the most significant landmark of his so far. This album called Nine. Even the fact that certain illiterate entities insist on erroneously calling it sufi music does not take away anything from this song. You might remember the song 'tera hi karam' from the John Abraham starrer Karam. The vocalist on that is not Kailash Kher as many think, but Pankaj Awasthi. Even if his vocals were underused, the potential just shone through and it culminates in this song called Khuda ka Wasta. So just right click on this, and do a 'save target as'. And once it's safely ensconced in your hardisk, listen at your leisure and for your pleasure. As Uppi saar would say, "yella wokay, aironmaydehn yaake?"

Friday, January 06, 2006

Every time I read the story, in my heart of hearts, I wish against hope, that it has a different ending. But it always ends the same way.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

say miaow

Meet the official Bekku.
For now at least.

smoke more cigarettes!

And make sure they’re ITC’s brands. Because if they put even some of their money into great stuff like this, our cancer will be worth a little something.