Saturday, April 29, 2006

How O 'Pal' turned foe!

Last week has been a week of happenings for Kaavya Viswanathan, a Harvard undergraduate, who faced a ripping pall of gloom as her work How Opal Mehta got kissed, got wild and got a life was alleged to be plagiarised from Megan McCafferty's books, Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings. The net result was a total contamination of her reputation that had skyrocketted a couple of years back, thanks to the 500,000$ deal she had made with Little Brown and Crown Company, one of the oldest and prestigious American Publishers. She was caught on the wrong foot with over fifteen passages bearing a striking resemblance to the original works. Her explanations to the ongoing saga has been very conclusive from her evading remarks - she did lift the passages from the original works. Before the book received any sort of review, Dreamworks jumped the gun and bought the rights to turn it into a movie.

No doubt, her name is the keyword that is getting a lot of hits in google, but I am sure that this is not the kind of fame that she would have expected. The news has hit the stands and has evoked considerable response in the internet, what with a multitude of blogs and articles written about her in thousands. Copyright infringement is a strict no in the United States and literary plagiarism is equivalent to robbery, and the authors before writing a book take extra precaution to prevent any accusation being hurled at them over these issues. Kaavya Viswanathan can do nothing now to rectify her situation, as the publishers have found clinching evidence to nail her, comparing the original work to her passages and publishing across the front pages all the leading ezines.

Kaavya Viswanathan has really made a mess of her enviable life, and it would really require a lot of guts and courage for her to face this episode, and though considerable disrespute has been brought to her through her own doings, she will require a mountain of will power to come back to the literary arena with a tarnished reputation.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

News Today

Ta Ta Maran

Seeing the latest reports on rediff, I was in splits. Dayanidhi Maran tyring to find his way through the most respected clan in India. The Tatas have contributed so much to the country that the entire country holds them in awe and wonder. JRD Tata is a legend by himself and the man has been acknowledged by many as a thorough gentleman. Such is the name left behind that even now one talks about the Tatas, it is with a lot of pride. TATA belongs to us is the feeling that one gets when talking about the services they have rendered since the last century. Imagine Dayanidhi Maran, the "Honourable" Minister of Communications and IT threatening Ratan Tata to part with ownership rights and stock options of Tata Indicom to his brother Kalanidhi Maran or else destroy the company completely. Does he think that real life is similar to reel life scenes played on his brother's channel SUN TV? I think it is hight time our ministers think beyond personal gains and contribute something for the welfare of the country.

No Pharmacy, no problem! Go find a Pepsi!

What has one got to do if all the pharmacies are closed, and he has to buy a condom? Go to the nearest shop and get hold of a pepsi and empty its contents. Lo and Behold! you have a condom(not sure whether it is a used one or not) tucked in there. This is what one of the residents of Ujhani village near New Delhi, India found out after consuming one of the two Pepsi bottles he bought in 2003. Pepsi tried its level best to be acquitted from the case, but the court ruled in favour of the customer. The customer is now compensated with one lakh rupees (less than 2000$). Pepsi will soon be coming up with a You never know what you get contest. Buy a pepsi and get something free will be the punchline of Pepsi in the future. What I fail to understand is how people like Shahrukh Khan and Sachin Tendulkar endorse a brand that can be so dangerous to the common man. There are so many people who follow them and it is a shame to see them capitalize so much without any regard to social concerns. We have a million fans running behind them! Such is the state of affairs!

Rai's woes

The media is so fond of Aishwarya Rai that it creates headlines when the news does not deem even columns in the supplementary paper. While she was shooting for Mani Ratnam's latest movie Guru, she fell off from her cycle and suffered minor bruises. Oh my God! This has resulted in national disaster with all the top papers vying for her attention, and even some top people going and meeting her in the hospital (now why hospital for bruises?). It is high time the media knows what to display in the main page rather than worry about trivial issues bearing not even an iota of importance.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What is General Merit?

The hottest topic right now in India is fortunately about education, but unfortunately about reservation in the top technological and management institutions. The IITs and IIMs have bracketed themselves with the elite in the world and it is a student's dream to find a place here. High end ambitions, cherished dreams, endless hours of slogging, physical and mental strength are tested to no limits when a student decides to compete in the entrance exams of these institutions. IIT entrance exam is the toughest exam at that level for a college student to clear and IIM entrance exam is similarly demanding for MBA aspirants.

What happens when politics is mixed with education? The net result is nothing but total chaos. India is definitely a place of unequal proportions. There is a large section of the society which is struggling to cope up with the basic needs. Truly, everybody empathises with this situation. There is an overpowering need to improve the below-poverty section of the society. The government should provide them the facility that will enable them to procure a decent social status in the society. India is known for its cultural diversity. What is the point in dividing the country based on casteism. Is the government looking at increasing the vote bank by introducing quotas to premier education institutions? I am sure that if such is the case, the Congress party will end up losing all its supporters in the next elections. This move of quotas has already generated flak from all sections of the society. India should be looking at long term goals instead of staving off minor obstacles. India is a major player in the global arena and such moves will end up with a negative impact on India's social system. As such there are only 3000 seats in the IITs with more than three lakh students competing every year. The probability of a student getting a seat in IIT is as low as one hundredth which is much lower than some of the world's best schools. When this is the level of toughness associated with these exams, how can the government adopt preferential treatment towards certain section of the society. The reservations currently stand at about 22.3 % in these institutions. Increasing this to 49% means the general merit has only 1500 seats, which is highly ridiculous.

I am sure it is just a matter of time that quota will tend to 100%. The government will face a different problem. How to introduce reservations for general merit category? I am sure we will be seeing headlines of a different sort, 1% reservation for merit students. This will lead to nationwide protests and the governement will withdraw that too to appease the sentiments of the "majority".

Most of them have expressed their criticism against reservations. I got this mail as a forward wherein the writer has expressed his views in a different manner.

I think we should have job reservations in all the fields. I completely support the PM and all the politicians for promoting this. Let's start the reservation with our cricket team. We should have 10 percent reservation for Muslims. 30 percent for OBC, SC/ST like that. Cricket rules should be modified accordingly. The boundary circle should be reduced for an SC/ST player. The four hit by an OBC player should be considered as a six and a six hit by a OBC player should be counted as 8 runs. An OBC player scoring 60 runs should be declared as a century.

We should influence ICC and make rules so that the pace bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar should not bowl fast balls to our OBC player. Bowlers should bowl maximum speed of 80 kilometre per hour to an OBC player. Any delivery above this speed should be made illegal.

Also we should have reservation in Olympics. In the 100 meters race, an OBC player should be given a gold medal if he runs 80 meters.

There can be reservation in Government jobs also. Let's recruit SC/ST and OBC pilots for aircrafts which are carrying the ministers and
politicians (that can really help the country.. )

Ensure that only SC/ST and OBC doctors do the operations for the ministers and other politicians. (Another way of saving the country..)

So, what do you think???

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Vishnu Sahasranamam

Yesterday, I was having a conference with my friends (what did you imagine? some business partners!!!). One is in California (Prasad) and the other(Gopal) is in Kansas City. We were talking about everything under the sun and since we have done our undergraduation together, we have a lot of common friends to talk about. The topic was about how a guy comes from India and changes for the worst here. Believe me, we guys haven't changed a bit! So, the talk was obviously about somebody else about whom I am not going to disclose here. We meandered on and on about various other issues for close to half an hour. It was fun rekindling old memories and talking about the whereabouts of our friends. Suddenly, Gopal out of the blue says, Hey guys, I have to go. Today is a saturday. I have to recite Vishnu Sahasranamam with my TamBrahm friends here. It was nothing surprising though considering the amount of passion we develop towards being Indianised and more Indianised. During any conversation, be it on chat or phone, the topic always is India centric. I was thinking about the days back home when my mother used to recite Vishnu Sahasranamam in the evening. As MSS' voice used to soar with Om! Shuklambharadaram...., it was an indication for us to reduce our television volumes, be it a good movie or a cricket match. Of course, we would do it with a grimace before my mother had the final say!

When back in India, I used to listen to MSS reciting the sacred slokas, and my mother used to tag along with her voice. I did attempt learning the verse, but after a point of time, I didn't have time (easiest excuse!!) amidst my busy schedule to learn it completely. Hailing from a conservative family, I had the opportunity to know about all the religious beliefs and appreciate the religious sentiments in others. It is so easy to get misled from the orthodox approach of living. I guess that might be the reason why I don't see a drastic change here in Rolla when I compare my living style back in Bangalore. There is absolutely no need to change the way you live just because you have crossed the shores. Life just cannot get too pompous or bombastic, if that is not the kind of life style one is used to at home.

That doesn't mean people who come from such families stick to a similar kind of life style. There are people who try to become cool dudes after coming here and I don't have any idea what causes the transition. As they say, times change and people do change, and I hope my friend is not reading my blog!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Lok Paritran

I remember the days when we used to sit back and have a discussion on how the current political system can be cleansed. We have so many political parties and each of them have their own ideologies, but how many of them are actually pointing towards the welfare of the system. Every party seems to have a clear idea of how other parties shouldn't be messing up things, but nobody seems to have an idea of how they can improve their party. The general trend is like this - Mess up while in power for four years, come back to normalcy for about two months prior to elections, announce attractive schemes that can lure any voter to vote for them, get involved in active elections campaign, identify areas in the state that can impress even a cartographer, retain leadership or come back to power(if you are in the opposition) and the cycle repeats. If this is what politics is all about, then who in the world would have the interest to join the system and do something good for the society. Obviously, it is a terrific ordeal to float a party amidst a lot of compulsions. Everybody wants a youth icon to project the country's political image, but who is willing to toe the line. Any engineer who graduates from a normal engineering college is assured to get a fat pay cheque every month. This in a short span of time can lead to such an amount that he can live out his remaining days without having to worry about his job prospects.

What about the premier institutions in India? IITs and IIMs have the cream of the technical and management students in India. Imagine a student coming out of one of these institutions. The student has the luxury of multiple offers, bloated pay cheques, terrific job profile, and everything else that can lure him to a job. Obviously, there are some people who think differently. An IIM-A graduate student this year shunned a high paying job to set up a business venture. There are many such cases where the students are not lured by money. But what if you want to set up a political party that comprises of IITians and IIM students. The net result will be nothing short of exemplary. We would have the best minds in the country working on a grass root level. Nothing can get better than this. Yes! The party Lok Paritran comprises of such high profile members who can really bring about a change in the system.

Though it remains to be seen how they perform in the current assembly elections, they must be praised for their short term as well as long term vision. It seems to be a party heading with a specific purpose. This is a right time to launch young and dynamic leaders who can make a difference with their approach. We always picture our leaders as men who are in their forties to sixties. I think this image will hopefully change in a few days' time.

It would be great to see a change in the next generation youth. If educated people willingly take up the responsibility of heading the country, that would herald the beginning of a new chapter in the annals of Indian politics.

Access their profile here and get impressed!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Assembly Elections '06

Five states in India are facing Assembly Polls - Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Kerala, Assam and West Bengal. Call it coincidence or anything, if you look at the profile of these states, they have always been dominated by two parties. In TN and Pondicherry, it has always been one of the two regional parties - AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) or DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), Kerala - CPI(M) (Communist Party of India) or the Congress, West Bengal - CPI (M) all the way and Assam - Congress or the AGP (Asom Gana Parishad). It is strange to see that BJP(Bharatiya Janata Party) doesn't fit in the scheme of things in any of the states.

Tamil Nadu is one place to be during the election time. The campaign level hits new heights with tall promises and party bashing taken to extreme levels, with each party trying to outbid the other through verbal volleys. TN has always been at the center of excitement with unpredictable pre-poll coalitions. Who would have thought that MDMK(Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) would tie up with the AIADMK! After all, it was Jayalalitha who had put the MDMK chief Vaiko behind bars during 2002 under POTA for his fiery allegiance towards the LTTE in his speeches. That took the nation by storm for he was the first Parliamentary member to be meted out with detention under POTA. Three years down the line, the story takes a U-turn with the ADMK and MDMK coming together. Political dreams can turn foes to friends and friends to foes very easily. DMK is contesting the elections with the Congress and the PMK(Pattali Makkal Katchi). If you are not able to read English boards in Tamil Nadu, you can thank the PMK chief Ramadoss for his pro-Tamil affinity. Why? I can't fathom the reason for anything in the world! It is tough to figure out whether it is his love towards the Tamil language or hatred towards English that is forcing him to smash the milestones on National Highways. DMK has been having a tough time leading up to the elections. Sarath Kumar, one of Tamil cinema's leading actors, along with his wife Radhika (another top notch actress) have moved out of the DMK citing indifferent treatment meted out to them by DMK cadres. AIADMK is the new destination for their aspiring political dreams. Simran, once reigning queen in Tamil cinema is putting her weight behind the AIADMK supremo, Jayalalitha. Why is everyone moving out of the DMK? Is DMK a leaderless party after Karunanidhi? Where are the second rung leaders in the DMK?

Now that the pre-poll exit polls are having a tough time in predicting who will come to power, there is a small glitch for both the parties through reel life hero who might turn the tables - Vijayakanth (big name in Tamil Cinema) who has launched his party DMDK (Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam). He has done a smart thing by not aligning with both the parties. He is fielding candidates in all the constituencies without the aid of the big guns. Even the BJP should be appreciated in this regard, as they have experienced both of them in different elections.

West Bengal might once again see the CPI back in power. After all, things haven't changed here in the last 30 years (why?). So, why now? Kerala will be wrestling with Congress and CPI for the next 100 years. Things will not change here either. Assam follows the same path, except that Congress will be fighting with AGP.

So, let's see who turns the corner in these five states? Can the BJP strike inroads in these areas which are heavily dominated by the regional parties? I hope good sense prevails and the educated masses atleast vote in the elections. Things can really improve if there is a good number of people going to the poll booths to vote for their new leader!

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Last week has been really a disastrous week as far as Karnataka is concerned. We lost the biggest celebrity in the state, Dr. Rajkumar and what should really have been a peaceful procession kicked off a series of events that dent the image of the city in a terrible way. He was the perfect embodiment of Kannada cinema with not a trace of vulgarity and obscenity in his films, which used to be typical family entertainers. I still remember those days when Kannada films used to be played on Doordarshan, the solitary channel of the early eighties and according to me, the golden period of the television world. Initially, the Kannada movies were played on Saturday evenings and would continue after a brief interruption for news(which used to be the dinner break for us!). Later, it was moved on to Sunday evenings. It used to be an assembly of my family members waiting for a good Kannada movie and if it was Annavaru's movie, I could see the relief on my parents' face. Oh! This will definitely be a good movie was the expression that used to adorn their face. Such was the aura of the man. The masses had a lot of faith in him and he used to live upto their expectations.


People from other states might wonder what the fuss is all about. Why is the whole state mourning for the sake of a single person? But, it is only the people of Karnataka who can really fathom what he really means to the state. He single handedly represented the entire Kannada filmdom, and his love for Kannada was very much visible. He made it a point to stress the importance of the language at any given opportunity. He was definitely a man of principles with a very high moralistic standard. Such was the stature of the man and no wonder everyone in Karnataka could attribute his death as a personal loss.

The spate of events that followed after his death can in no way be justified. The riots that sprang out in many parts of the city was not the kind of response that such a man should receive. People should realise that birth and death are a part and parcel of man's life and after all everyone is mortal. I am sure that whoever was involved in such unruly activities cannot consider themselves to be a fan of the great legend. It was more of a personal vendetta where people took this as an opportunity to settle personal scores. Truly shameful! I felt really sad to read the reports from all the websites about the tense situation prevailing in Bangalore due to his death. Now, I don't understand why people can't see him off in the way he deserves, instead of disrupting normal day to day activities. I am sure even Rajkumar would have been petrified if he had got to see the aftermaths of his death. People should really grow up!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Malleswaram...My Life!

A writeup on the place where I have spent more than 20 years ( I will be spending more time when I get back) is not easy to start off. Malleswaram is the oldest residential area in Bangalore North, and together with Basavanagudi in Bangalore South, forms what can be hailed as the most conservative part of this cosmopolitan city. Malleswaram is more than just an area, it is a part of the family for a few thousands inhabiting the area. There is an aura about Malleswaram that prevents me from reaching out to the other parts of the city for a living. The perfect combination of conservative outlook tinged with not too modern and sophisticated way of living makes it a perfect place for a typical middle class family to settle here.

Malleswaram is characterized by two main roads connecting it to the rest of the city - Margosa Road and Sampige Road. Margosa Road derives its name from the entire stretch of Neem(Margosa) trees lined up on either side of the road. This part of the city follows the Main and Cross structure for representing an address. All roads parallel to these main roads are refered to as Mains and the ones perpendicular to them are the crosses. If you are new to the place, it is very easy to lose your way in the array of mains and crosses. Most of them who visit the city for the first time say Every road looks the same! But once you get adjusted to the area, it is easy to find your way through every nook and corner.

There are many things about Malleswaram that makes me nostalgic and gives me the drive to return back to Bangalore as soon as possible. There are a few things in life not of much significance, but can have a big impact in life. So, where do I start to take you for a brief tour of the place I love so much! I live in the 8th Main Road(one of the busy roads) off 9th Cross very close to the Malleswaram Railway Station. This railway station is a great place and the setting is such that it looks as if it has been lifted directly from Malgudi Days of RK Narayan. By the way, RK Narayan was so impressed with Malleswaram and Basavanagudi that Malgudi was derived from these two names. The railway station has two entrances just like any other railway station, with two tracks separating the junctions on either side. The area is flanked by a number of trees with benches lined on the platforms in neat fashion. This serves as a meeting point for the many elders in the area, a perfect place for an early morning or a late evening walk, a place for some people to come and read books, a romantic hangout for young couples on the steps that form a sort of sidewalk from an overhanging bridge to the reservation counter, and for some young kids to have a peek at the not so many trains that whizz past the station during the day. For some people like me, it serves as a perfect hangout to meet with friends. How can I forget those days when all of us in the group used to meet here for hours together and discuss about everything in the world ranging from girls, future, placements, life, philosophy, religion, politics, family, wealth, controversies, college, education, bigwigs and what not! This used to be over a jhola(corn) with a lot of Khara(hot chilly paste) or a plate of bhel puri. It is amazing even today to think about the amount of time I have spent here with my friends. Just by the side of the Railway Station is the Anjaneya temple, which provides solace to the residents in the area. I used to make it a point to visit this temple almost everyday with my mother. A visit to the temple was a definite must before taking any decision. It used to provide me the comfort, warmth and confidence like never felt before. Anjaneya was(and is) a part of daily life and I can still hear my mother's voice ringing in my ears, Anjaneyara innikki parthuttu vandhaya (Did you meet Anjaneya today?) Such is the faith in the Lord not just of my mother, but all the residents in the area. On the other side of the railway station is a small shop which sells very good idlies and vadas. Four or five rupees for a plate of idly-vada. Heaven!

On the 5th main Road is the school where I studied, BP Indian Public School, from the first grade upto the tenth grade. Just beside the school is the famous Kanchi Mutt and the serene composed face of Kanchi Kamakshi is truly comforting. Though the main Mutt in Kanchipuram is in the news for all the wrong reasons, this is one of those places which can really fill your void. There were a lot of young kids learning Vedas from the main priest and it was truly a wonderfuly sight to see them with the washtee (dhoti) and pattai (sacred ash on the forehead).

The busiest street in Malleswaram is the 8th Cross. This is the main shopping street for the residents. It has everything here - clothes, vegetables, fruits, utensils, chats and what not! This street is always crowded and is the lifeline of Malleswaram. During the festive season, the street used to be packed not with vehicles but of people. There never used to be an inch of space to move, but that was never a cause to lose motivation to shop on this street. This was the best time for the vendors to make business and they never left a stone unturned to attract customers. The price of the essential commodities always used to go up during this part of the time, because whatever maybe the cost, people used to end up buying it. Whenever I used to pass through this street, I used to come across a known face. The charm and joy one finds in shopping at such places can never be compared to the sophisticated and gloss associated with the big malls. This is truly a different kind of experience.

Talk of fast food joints and Malleswaram is the place. Let me list my favourite places:
  • As I told you before, the idly shop next to the railway station is too good.
  • CTR (Central Tiffin Room) or Shree Sagar (if you are going by the new name) is the best place where I have had Masala Dosai. This place is also good for the vadas, pooris, chow chow bath, idlies, but Dosai it is that is unbeatable here.
  • Sahyadri, another place too good for Dosais, and one of my favourites. This is on the Margosa Road at the 8th Cross Bus Stop. Such a place is called as Darshini (fast food joint) and these are the kind of places one should stop by to have superb South Indian delicacies.
  • Janata Hotel on the 8th Cross and this too is very famous for the dosais.
  • Veena Stores on 16th cross right opposite the Telephone exchange and this place is terrific for idlies and chutney.
  • Crunchy Munchy ulundu(uddin) vadai, masala vadai, bondas, Mensinkai(Chilly) bajjis in a shop diagonally opposite the Sai Baba temple on 15th cross, Sampige Road. This is a very small shop but that shouldn't deter anyone from going there. There is also a juice center beside the Sai Baba temple that serves refreshing fresh fruit juice.
  • My favourite North Indian food joint is the Sai Shakthi Hotel on the 8th cross which is just a walk away from Margosa Road
  • There is a place in 18th Cross in the corner on 8th Main road which serves very good parotas with Channa Masala for ten rupees. I can't recollect the name but it is really good.
  • The chat wala who used to park his gaadi just in front of MES College. This guy serves the best Tomato puri, chips masala, cucumber masala and bhel puri in the area.
  • Amrith Ice Cream Parlour in the street adjacent to my school serves authentic home made ice cream.
  • How can I forget New Krishna Bhavan (NKB as it is fondly called) located opposite the Sampige Theater. This place serves very good south Indian dishes with a lot of new varieties, apart from the conventional items. To supplement this with the North Indian dishes is the attached restaurant Gopika and I like the place mainly for its ambience along with good food!
There are a lot of temples in Malleswaram: Ganesha Temple near 8th cross, Raghavendra Swamy Temple near 8th Cross, Sai Baba temple on 15th Cross, Narasimha Swamy Temple on Temple Street, Kannika Parameswari temple on 8th Cross, Kadu Malleshwara temple (It is because of this temple that Malleswaram gets its name) andVenugopala Swamy temple on 11th Cross. These temples reflect the relgious sentiments of the population here.

Malleswaram also is home to IISc (Indian Institute of Science), the best Research school in India and one of the best in the world. It was established way back in 1909 by J.N. Tata and has built up a terrific reputation over a long period. One of the reputed Pre-University Colleges in the state MES College of arts, science and commerce is situated in Malleswaram.

All in all, Malleswaram is truly complete in every sense. I am always filled with passion to talk about this place. It took me about three to four days(couldn't do this continuously) to compose this writeup and I realise how much I love this place. Malleswaram brings a lot of emotions flooding within me and I am sure all those peope who have spent their time here will agree with me on this. It was really difficult for me to write up this piece, as I used to go back to time and recollect all those things that I loved doing here. Though off late it has resulted in a spate of apartments and heavy traffic in many parts, it is the most cherished place for me to spend my future.

I am sure there are many things I might have missed out, and it would be wonderful if you could post your comments on the parts where I have failed to cover. Next time I go to Bangalore, I am updating this writeup with pictures.

Update: Please click on this link to visit the updated blog with pictures. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


On a lazy afternoon, as I was getting ready to do something in my research, I got this forward from Deepak Challa. Post your answers in the comments.

The question reads thus:

You are on a game show.

The host tells you, ‘I want you to open one of these three doors. Behind two of the doors is a bale of hay. Behind one of the doors is a million dollars. Choose a door’.

You choose door number one.

The host, who knows what is behind each door, says, ‘Before I open door number one for you, let me show you what is behind door number two’.

He opens door number two, revealing a bale of hay and then says, "Now I can open door number one for you, or if you want, you can switch doors and choose door number three, what do you want to do?"

What should you do, and why? Or does it even matter what you do?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Pitlai today...slurp!Slurp!

For close to ten months now, I was aching to have Pitlai, made from Pavakka/agalkai/karela/bitter gourd. After a long wait, Yadu got agalkai from St. Louis. As today was my cooking turn, I experimented with this dish. Treating agalkai is a pretty tough job since the bitterness from the vegetable has to be removed. So, the vegetable has to be boiled in tamarind water for close to 15-20 minutes and then washed in ordinary water before draining the water completely. The actual preparation of the dish has to be started then. Though there are a number of recipes available on the internet to make pitlai, can it beat the home made recipe. So, I called up back home in India to find out the actual mode of preparation. Lo! My mother was spontaneous with her response. Obviously, she has been cooking for ages, while I am just a starter. But then, I guess even I can tell you how to do this in a jiffy. You see, even I have the experience now in cooking! It took me about an hour and a half to make the dish and to be honest with you, it came out just like the way it comes out at home. I was really happy with my Pitlai!

Who said agalkai is bitter? Learn it from me to make it the way it has to be made!!! Now, am I getting complacent?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Lake of Ozarks - First Trip Together

It was almost ten months since we came to Rolla. The residents of Apt No. 7 had been to many places but none together. So, we decided that we would go for a trip together with just the four of us. The place was the Ozark Lake. As the name suggests there is a lake, but more importantly there is a huge shopping mall with about 150 factory outlets. Yadu had in mind to shop for about 300$, but I guess he was a touch disappointed when he came out as he fell short by two pairs of jeans. Yes, finally it was the four of us early in the morning (atleast that was what was planned originally) at 10 am on a trip to the Ozark Lake.

Yadu - The man who speaks less and blushes at what?
Rama - That's the way I am? So!!!
Venkatesh - Accent oriented shopping freak
Me (Praveen) - Idealist!!!(Hahahaha..I can write what I want right! My Blog!!)

It was not an early morning rise and it was not a surprise. Off we went, on US 63 state highway in the hired Ford Taurus.

AR Rahman engulfed the car with his music from Boys, Yuva and Kangalal Kaidhu Sei. Our first stop was near a overhanging bridge and this was a diversion from the main highway.

It was a beautiful sight, not because it was a tourist spot, but because it was away from people. It was nice to see a place which was not inhabited by the masses. It was slightly tough to find our feet on the bridge because they were like wooden planks, and the gaps on the plank made us find our feet with care. We spent a few minutes there and then we went to the Caverns. On reaching the caverns, we were told that the cavern was closed on the weekends. So, we decided to take a walk down hill at a lethargic pace. We were admiring the beauty of the place around us. Though it was just the beginning of spring, and though the trees were leafless, the sparkling sun added a charm to the place. We were talking about everything under the sun, obviously nobody was there to hear what we spoke. It was peaceful and the place was full of tranquil. I was reminded of my trips back in India. Then, we headed to the Ozark Lake. It was very picturesque and refreshing.

From there, we headed to the shopping complex. But, on the way we had to have something. We were starving. So, Pizza Hut it was for lunch. All of us devoured the large pizza, save for Venkatesh, and then headed to the factory outlets. The area is huge with all the top brands having their outlet here. It is always tough to decide what you want when you have so many choices, but thankfully, since Venkatesh was there, who is an expert in shopping, it was not a problem for the shoppers. All the outlets were explored and it was five hours of intense shopping. Luckily in the midst of shopping, I made a phone call to my college buddy and we chatted exactly for 1 hr 07 minutes (Correct me if I am wrong!!). The talk traversed all topics - about US, school, subjects, research, living style, Vedas and religion. Such is always the intensity of talk of old timers.

Finally, we decided to head back to Rolla. We thought of taking a different route and so we called up one of our friends to guide our way back. He told us to take Junction BB at a particular point. But, by sheer coincidence, there was a junction VV on the way. For a second, all of us were wondering whether it was Junction BB or junction VV. We went two miles ahead, turned back and took the Junction VV. We went on and on till we reached the dead end. It was an eerie location with darkness all around and obviously no network coverage on our mobile. We turned back and reached the main road again, decided to go further ahead. It was about three miles on the road and we caught sight of Junction BB. From there, things were fine. But, that particular spot where all of us were stranded on Junction VV will be an unforgettable time for a long time.

And, by about 11:30 all of us reached Rolla and ready to get back to sleep. Daylight saving time with one hour to lose would not in any way hamper our sleep! By the way, I forgot an important information : Rama and I secured the driving permit the day before and all through the trip, it was Rama who was travelling while yadu was relaxing for next day's expedition! I also drove for the first time in life, albeit for a short distance!