Friday, June 30, 2023

Koomam - Movie

 2022. Malayalam.

Interesting film about a police constable who is prone to be super-sensitive and wants to take revenge when slighted. For some reason he gets into a situation where he starts thieving and somehow uncovers a series of suicides that are actually murders. Wanders off here and there but kept me watching.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Bheeshma Parvam - Movie

 2022. Malayalam. Mammootty. Two feuding families, powerful and mafia like, end up with internal and external conflict - mish mash of Godfather and Mahabharatha - but very well done. I could catch myself thirsting for revenge towards the end and realised that there's something in these emotions! Action film so if you like the genre go for it!


Friday, June 23, 2023

Wonderful News from Sahithi Ajjarapu

Sahithi was my student at the Department of Dance, University of Hyderabad where I taught the Arts Management course. Sahithi was always a keen learned and was interested in many of the concepts we discussed on how to manage their careers as artistes. In fact she would tell me that after the class she would discuss the concepts with her husband which meant that she looked for practical applications of the concepts. Sahithi is also among the students who reach out to me every now and then to say hello and share when a particular concept worked. or example she would talk of the way the '2 minute rule' from James Clear's book 'Atomic Habits' helped her in her practice routines.

Now, one session I began in the course was about financial management - just the basics. Practical ways to slowly increase their financial condition - save 10%, invest 20% in long term assets etc. Sahithi shared a message yesterday about how her financial journey in the past few years.

Sahithi Ajjarapu

"I want to share one thing,

I resigned hcl job exactly one year ago, that time my dance income was 6000/-, and I was worried to be stubborn but I decided to be in this, because I came to know I can be only sustainable in dance field, so I was in this field completely and now exactly my income was 60000/- sometimes more than that, which is 3 times higher than my hcl job.😁😁😁

I started RD of 500 now I increased it for 3000/-

And for gold I paid 2000/- per month, then 3000/- and now I am paying 6000/- per month😊😊😊

I gifted iphone 14 pro max, and today I bought 1 gold ring cost of 70000/- to my husband😊😊😊😊

I felt really happy and confident sir 😃😊😃😊

Just want to share this story with you, because not even a day of me will pass without your inspiration."

What a lovely message. So glad that Sahithi has been practicing and focusing on the right processes and getting good results. I asked her to share details of her classes etc so I could also share those for interested parties. Here they are.


The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch - Movie

 Another random pick but turned out well. Based on a novel 'The Awakening of..' is the story of a Jewish by who lives with a domineering mother who wants him to marry a nice Jewish girl. But he falls in love with Laura - who is a shiksa (non Jewish) and all hell breaks out. For Motti it also happens that he gets a visit to Israel where he meets a rather liberated Jewish girl who makes him lose his virginity. Thankfully there are no discourses on loyalty and infidelity and Motti pretty much comes back to Laura who says she needs time ...but in the end calls. In my mind they will all marry other people but hopefully explore their relationships better. Good watch though.


Ayisha - Movie

 It looked interesting - a young lady going to Saudi Arabia to work as a maid. The Saudi life was shown interestingly until we make the discovery that she is actually a well known actress and theatre artiste. People in Saudi recognise her and want to help her out. Ayisha builds a nice connection with Mama (the grand lady of the house) and the rest of the film is a nice slice of family drama. I enjoyed it.


Monday, June 19, 2023

The Best Father's Day Gift I could Get

 So Anjali sent me this message (and also put out a reel on Instagram with 'Honey Honey' by ABBA in the background) and this is simply the best Father's gift I can get ever. Thank you Anjali for making it so beautiful and for making being a father such a cherished experience!


[8:29 am, 18/06/2023] Anjali Paruvu: Dear Nana,

What big words and adjectives will properly describe how very much you mean to me and how you've helped me grow and thrive. You carry yourself with confidence, with humility, with love. You have a way of making people feel sage and understood, they just know they can trust you. You're kind and sensitive, yet put your thoughts across suavely. I don't tend to look at you through the eyes of a stranger, but you are an incredible human being.

For a father, I couldn't ask for anything else. Of course there are those big days, those big gifts, those occasions. But its the everyday things you do that make me so grateful. Picking me up whenever I need you, cranking the music up all the way in my car, the long tear jerking emails on my birthday, the constant proposal of roti Anda, the cut mango on the table, the clean room I come home to, the endless support for whatever new passion I've picked up, the concern in your face when someone treats me not so well, the random hug in the middle of the day, the stopping in front of your office door to try and see what I'm watching on TV so that we can talk, the question of ' Should I cut my hair",  the sit down talks when I feel awful, the lullaby when I cant sleep all night.

You are everything I could ask for and more

I love you so so so so much Nana

And I'm sorry I don't appreciate that enough


Sunday, June 18, 2023

Pleasant Surprise - Post on LinkedIn by Madara Thalduwa

 Nothing much happens on LinkedIn for me so I was pleasantly surprised to see this wonderful post by Madara Thalduwa about '50 Not Out'. Moments like this are when you think that the effort was fully worth it. Thanks Madara. I am so glad you found the book useful.

 'When in line, the batter has a clear line of sight which enable him to deal with the ball appropriately - defend, attack or leave alone. Batters who run away from the ball towards square leg are dead meat. Word gets around. Face hostile situations directly. When you get a clear picture of the situation, you can decide the course of action with more clarity - whether to engage or leave alone'.

Came across this quick read by Harimohan Paruvu at a random visit to the book store. Finding solace in this book, I understood that we tend to underestimate the importance of a relatable medium of communication when giving and seeking advice. Some of the concepts that I could not comprehend though my own efforts or when it was explained to me by someone else, were given a new meaning through the analogies that were made.

10/10 would recommend whether you are a player, fan or someone looking for a fun way to understand the game." - Madara Thalduwa on LinkedIn

The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad - Twinkle Khanna

I was desperately in need of some light and fun reading and raided Anjali's bookshelf which has far more interesting books than I have in mine. I picked up Twinkle Khanna's book and it was fun and quick.

'The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad' is the first story - about a young girl who starts a custom of planting fruit trees when a girl child is born so that the fruits can be sold and the proceeds used to educate her etc. 'Salaam, Noni Aapa' is about two aged sisters and an aged yoga master - Noni Aapa and the yoga master defy society and decide to live together and hear the hum in their hearts. 'If the Weather Permits' is an interesting story about a Malayali Christian girl who is hounded by her parents to marry and in the process get her married off to all the wrong people including a madman, until she decides to live for herself - and in the process finds her freedom. 'The Sanitary Man from the Sacred Land' is a fictionalised account of Murugadas, the original Pad Man of India and perhaps the story on which Pad Man the movie was based on.

The effort that Twinkle puts into knowing the world of her characters is commendable - she makes the characters and their world so authentic that I found no false note anywhere. From the hinterlands of Madhya Pradesh to the life of a Malayali Christian to a Muslim family in Bombay she nailed it all. The descriptions of clothes, food, furniture add to the story and the occasional turn of phrase where she turns on her humour and wit is just right. Was the perfect read for the moment.

Great Stories by Nobel Prize Winners - Edited by Leo Hamalian and Edmond L. Volpe

 26 stories by Nobel prize winning authors - a list that includes Kipling, Tagore, Knut Hamsun, Shaw, Hesse, William Faulkner, Camus, Pasternak. I bought the book at the airport due to some hustle and thought it would be an easy read but heck no, they are all dreary and depressing stories.

The one story that I can never forget is 'The Massacre of Innocents' by Maurice Maeterlinck. A group of soldiers attack a village and are rebuffed by the peasants. The army walks in a while later and a general massacre is ordered - namely to murder all children less than two years old. Its a crazy story and one wonders how the mind works and how far the envelope can be pushed. Shaw's story was the one that had some wit and some mischief. 'The Father' by Bjornsen is incredibly sad. Kipling's 'The Man who Was' is about a man who joins the army under a false name or something and is exposed. 'The outlaws' by Selma Lagerlof is about a murderer and a petty thief who share an odd relationship when on the run.

And so on and so forth. It took me a while to complete. Heavy stuff.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

The Golden Key - George Macdonald

 This hard bound book of 78 pages was published in 1967.  We found it in Anjali's grandmother's collection of books and what struck me immediately was that it was a gift from a school girl from Poona to her dear friend Meena (Meenakshi Sachdev). It brought back all the memories of how much thought, care and love would go into our friendships and gifts in those days when it was really difficult to stay in touch unlike these days when you can constantly be in touch on phone or social media. One can feel the emotion in that note Helen has penned to Meena and one only hopes they are well and that their friendship has lived on and got stronger. I can imagine the trouble Helen would have gone to get this book, and it does not look like some cheap book either. Another interesting thing about this book is that it has an Afterword by Auden. How one decides that it should be a 'Foreword' or an 'Afterword' is something I would like to know. Personally I am not a fan of either.

The Golden Key is about a young boy who lives close to a rainbow and who is told by his granny that there is a golden key at the end of the rainbow which leads to many good things. So the young lad sets out and in the course of his journey meets a girl Tangle who also helps him in his search for the thing to unlock with the golden key. They get separated and then join up together in the end and well, alls well and it ends well. During the course of their travels they go under the sea, meet old men of the sea, the earth and the fire and well all sorts of fantastic stuff happens.

Slim at 78 pages. But the real story is of Helen and Meena. Stories everywhere like our friend Vikram Sridhar said. 

Colourless - Abhinay Renny

 And Abhinay launches his fourth book, a collection of poems titled 'Colourless'. Abhinay has never shied away from expressing himself. He has his own way of flowing with life and a really good way if you ask me because he always flows along with it as can be seen by the ease with which he merges harmoniously with people, events, life.  I have known him for close to a decade now and I am always impressed by how he is not hampered by self-doubt (though one of his poems is about that) unlike most of us. I Abhinay wants to do something he will do it - like if he wants to write a book he will write it down, put in the yards and find ways to put his thoughts out in the world. One such effort is 'Colourless', a collection of poems, much of which were written during the COVID lockdowns when he was stuck in Sirohi, Rajasthan.

He shared the process of writing and his desire to publish. Apart from the COVID chronicles, the book also has many poems which are about love. One can feel the love he has for this person, his desire to be with her, to express himself and his feelings to her, and as it happen so often, we find that our biggest strength as the world sees, can also fail us when we need it most. His ease at communicating and mingling seems to take him thus far but the all important question seems to have been held back.

Though each poem has a strong theme and evokes strong images, I loved the poem 'Colourless' the most which is probably about his own journey and we as readers can identify with that journey too. How as children our instincts are sometimes brushed aside and we never go back to them because the adults seem to think they are a waste of time. His colourless palette has now found some colour thanks to his days of ruminations in Sirohi, to the colour that his muse has added to his life.

"I'm the cloth. I'm the colour.
I'm the sentence. I'm the Silk.

You're the sky. You're the light.
You're the reader. You're the muse, my dear.'

- The Muse

Full marks for putting your heart out Abhinay and for doing what Rajamouli does so well - believe in your ideas and thoughts and get them out there for people to read. So glad you followed up and completed this project. Now please promote it so many can read it. Well done, congratulations and wishing you many more books to come in the future.

Now Abhinay, for a poetry reading the next time you visit home!      

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Pachuvum Adbhutha Villakum - Movie

 2023. Malayalam. Fahaad Faasil. Lovely movie. Absolutely feel good and with the most incredible bunch of characters that keep popping in and out. Just watch!

Discovered this Message from the Universe Today

 So the universe sends its messages in different ways and here was this message today on my forearm

- love is in the hair!

Friday, June 9, 2023

Footprints - Dr B. L. Maheshwari

 This book is a compilations of articles on Organisational Development that Dr Maheshwari had written and each article has has some great wisdom that is relevant to every organisation. 

In this article on 'leadership for change' he writes that 'organisation change and learning are two facets of the same notion. A learning organisation has enhanced capacity to change and transform.Change requires new knowledge skills, attitude and converting this learning into new behaviors. It's important to ensure that the rate of learning is higher than the rate of change. Learn form both success and failure.'

Good leadership is the key to successful change and learning. Leadership initiates, implements and sustains change.  Among the factors of change are business cycles, people and culture.

Companies fail because of ineffective top teams, top down or laissez faire senior management style, unclear strategy and priorities, poor vertical communication, poor coordination across functions and businesses, inadequate down the line leadership skills, poor quality of  implementation.

Low performing organisations display learning disabilities such as 

- they are reactive and not proactive
- have short term orientation
- see no evil - the enemy is out there
- have the boiled frog syndrome
- not invented here
-Group think - no dissent

Key factors in growth
Reward system
Use of consultants

To implement change
- Focus on vital few
- achieve short term results to demonstrate success
- expect resistance
- change mindset from 'why' to 'how'
- ensure that early success does not produce complacence and initial failure does not demoralise

Leadership training
- Feedback
Personal growth
-Skill building
-Conceptual awareness   

Five levels of leadership (Jim Collins)

Level 1 - Highly capable individual - makes productive contributions using talent and work ethics 
Level 2 - Contributing Team member - - contributes to team results
Level 3 - Competent Manager - organises people and resources for success to predetermined objectives
Level 4 - Effective leader - vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision for achieving superior performance
Level 5 - Executive - Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical combination of personal humility and professional will

Effective leadership potential is based on the following attributes
1. Track record
2. Ambition to achieve significant results in future and belief that everything is possible
3. Ability to articulate a vision of future and values to guide actions and to engage others to create a shared meaning
4. Adaptive ability and humility to learn new skills and behaviors
5. Ability to communicate and inspire followers

Six Rules of Jack Welch
1. Control your destiny or someone else will
2. Face reality as it is, not as you wish it were
3. Be candid with everyone
4. Don't manage, lead
5. Change, before you have to
6. If you don't have a competitive advantage, don't compete

Leadership prepare an agenda for change and develop an implementation plan. Top leadership must set the direction, articulate vision and values, inspire people to move on path to the future. They ask questions and set priorities.

For successful transformation into a learning organisation leaders must establish a strong sense of urgency and create dissatisfaction with the existing reality. Leaders known that learning and change are a journey and set milestones in this process. A good culture, reward system helps.

Credibility is the cornerstone of effective leadership.  Leaders of learning organisations are humble, learn from all including followers, customers, collaborators, competitors.   

Anjali - And Anjali Takes Off

 One of the things we decided to do was teach Anjali how to ride the scooter and we finally got down to it. Luckily she knows how to ride a bicycle and has now picked up enough strength to handle a bike and we decided to take off. When we began her worry was - how can i take another person on the bike? First we thought we should worry about taking herself on the bike.

Off the go - Jai and Veeru

So Daddy Long Legs joined her in the first few small rides on the road next to our house and she slowly got a hang of the accelerator and the brake - how to go forward and how to stop. I helped her turn around and then handed her the handle. She did pretty good and after day one said - That was pretty easy!

On Day 2, considering that she was doing a fairly good job on her own, I decided to let her ride on her own on the longer road in front of our house. She did a good job of that - some five or six rounds by herself. Of course,from day 1, Akela was at her side, encouraging her, looking after her mistress,bounding along in her joy and excitement at what she knew was something momentous for her mistress. Anjali was pretty thrilled with Day 2.

On Day 3, Mansi came and Anjali upped the ante. 'Nanna, can I take Mansi on a ride?'. Give her an inch and she will take a mile - which i like. I said, sure and so they did, both friends riding around on the road. I made them sing 'Yeh dosti..' and tried to record it but the audio was pretty bad. Anyway, good progress day on day and soon I am sure she will be confident enough to take the bike to the shop near the colony etc.

Good one Anjali. You learned the basics pretty quick and can surely ride off on the road with a little more practice. You are way better than a lot of riders I have seen on the road so good going.  

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Mezcalomania - Krishna Prasad Nukala

 (Krishna Prasad Nukala is a dear friend of mine - a fine cricketer, lover of life and all the fine things in it and more importantly a Malt Maniac. A brief about him in his own words.

Krishna Nukala (b 1955) lives in Hyderabad. After working 35 years in banking and a Multinational Company, Krishna is now retired and spends time in pursuit of QAVP (Questio Aqua Vitae Perfectum). Besides whisky being his passion, his chief mission also is to spread the message of Malt Whisky in India. He frequently contributes whisky related articles in various Magazines and also does consultation on investments in Rare and Collectible whiskies, cognacs, rums and mezcal.  Krishna has been in the judging panel of whiskies for the famous Malt Maniacs Awards since 2003.

This is an article he wrote about an interesting spirit called Mezcal. Read it and savour it.)

The national drink of Mexico is Taquila. Perhaps no other drink of any nation evokes such emotion and passion in its people than Tequila. But what are Tequila and Mezcal? Well, they are similar to blood brothers evolving from same lineage of arid shrubs and botanists put them under family of Asparagaceae**.But what is the difference between Tequila and Mezcal? All Mezcal is Tequila but not all Tequila is not Mezcal. Confused? Well, let me put in simple terms by delving into some history and geography!

Templo de Santo Domingo Guzman

There are over 250 varieties of agave in the world and in Mexico alone you get more than 200 of them. Of all the varieties of Agave, Tequila can be made ONLY from Blue Agave (Agave Azul or Agave Tequilana) and not any other agave. But Mezcal can be made from any Agave plant that is locally grown or available. And what is so special about Mezcal?For this one has to go back to Zapotec history of southern Mexico! Historically Mexico had four major civilizations. The Olmecs, Aztecs, Mayans and the Zapotecs. Zapotecs inhabited the valley of Oaxaca (pronounced Ohaka). Remember the movie Apocalypto? Mel Gibson shot much of his movie here. Oaxaca borderswith Guatemala in the south and stretches as far as up to Pacific in the west. It is amazing to know that while almost of all the other civilizations have been wiped out, the Zapotecs still follow the traditions and retained their language even today which is widely spoken in place of Spanish.

The name Mezcal has an Aztec origin “Nahuatl Mexcalli” which means overcooked Agave and the Zapotecs considered the plant very auspicious and used it extensively during all religious occasions. The Spanish in 1500s brought distillation to Mexico and viola, the Zapotecs immediately found a better usage of the plant! The spirit became a household item and center to all kinds of religious and social occasions, the most famous being the Dia de Los Muertos, (the day of the dead), a festival celebrated in memory of all near and dear ones.


The Plant and the Process

The life of agave various between 10 to 25 years, the most common being 10 to 15 years and those of wild and exoticbeing 15 to 25 years. It is a tall, greenish, spiky plant and has to be handled carefully. The juice is extracted from very heavy, bulbous stems (called pinas) often weighing up to 40 kg. Once the stem is harvested, the plant dies. Hence one can understand why good Tequila and Mezcal are in short supply and there are more spurious/duplicate tequilas and mezcals around the world.

Agave Plantation

San Pablo Mitla, a tiny village in Oaxaca

The matured stem is uprooted from the ground and transported to the mezcalaria. Here the pinas are pit roasted.  A large pit is dug where the cut agave is dumped along with fire wood (often the dried parts of various agave plants), stones, earth and the whole pit is covered with tarpaulin or some cloth and the agave is left to cook in the slow fire lasting three to seven days. The result is slow caramelization of the pinas which is called maguey and is soft and juicy. When it is squeezed the syrup that oozes out of it is smoky and is as sweet as any maple syrup or honey.

Agave with flowers 

Tiny Mezcal unit

The next process is fermentation of the cooked agave. To ferment the maguey, it has to be crushed into pulp. In order to crush the cooked agave, a one-ton wheeled stone is slowly pulled by a horse or a donkey and the resulting juices are transferred into large tanks for fermentation. The Oaxacans call this process a Tahona

The crushed pulp along with agave juices is rich in naturally occurring yeast and most often the artisanal mezcalarias do not use outside yeast for fermentation. The resulting vats are musty and smell intoxicatingly sweet. Fermentation takes place for a period varying between 24 to 48 hours depending upon the house style of the Mezcalaria. The yeast and bacteria eat up the sugars to convert it into ethanol and CO2. Once the fermentation is over the resultant liquid is sent for distillation.

Cooked agave (mague)

Distillation is the most romantic part in the spirits industry. The chief aim of distillation is to get higher strength of alcohol from the ferment which is low in alcohol strength. Unlike the Scottish industry where the stills are gigantic holding tens of thousands of liters of spirit, the stills in Mezcalarias are tiny. Most of them do not even hold 100 liters at a time. Traditionally the Oaxacans distilled the must in clay pots and after the Spanish conquest, copper pot distillation was introduced. Distillation is twice. The first distillation yields about 30% to 35% abv (alcohol by volume) and the second distillation takes it to 70%. The final spirit is collected in big glass jars or bottles which hold up to 10 to 50 liters per batch.

Storage and aging

Unlike whisky industry where the spirit has to aged for a minimum of three years, there is no restrictions in aging Tequila or Mezcal. However, there are different styles of Mezcals that are bottled nowadays.

Young Mezcal stored in bottles

1)      Completely new. Just bottled right after distillation

2)      Mezcal that is aged in large glass bottles for few months and kept in dark warehouses

3)      Mezcals aged in wooded barrels for a period up to one year

4)      Mezcal that is aged more than a year in wooden barrels

Types of Agave plants in Oaxaca

There are several agaves from which Mezcal is produced. But the most complex and sought after are Tepextate, Tobala, Espadin, Cuishe, Arroqueno etc. which are wild varieties that take from 20 to 25 years to mature and fit for harvesting.

Cut agave from the field

Tasting a Mezcal

Mezcal is traditionally enjoyed in small rounded shallow clay bowls at around 40% strength. Just as in tasting any spirits, you have to determine yourself where you want to stand in tasting; enjoyment or appreciation? If you want to enjoy a mezcal go ahead and enjoy with ice, orange, lemonade or even cola. But if you are in a typical Oaxacan bar sitting Infront of a chivalrous bar tender, he would offer you a neat mezcal with a traditional accompaniment called- Gusano (means a worm in Spanish). This is a mix of salt with dried and crushed worm of the agave plant and it is said to enhance the flavors. Apart from this the bar tender can come out withseveral cocktails using any Mezcal.

Tasting Mezcal neat

This is where you get to know the stuff. You do not add anything- no water ice or anything. You need to taste in a nice copita or a distiller’s tasting glass to get the maximum of flavors. Artisanal Tepextate, Tobala and Cuishe Mezcals are all earthy and smoky. They are deliciously sweet and amazingly smooth despite being a nascent spirit just out of stills. This is where Mezcals would blow you out when compared to whiskies. Whiskies need several years to smoothen the rough edges of spirit, but Mezcal doesn’t need to age at all. The Mezcals offer lot of vanilla, butterscotch and mint flavors with an unmistakable smoky finish.

Viva Oaxaca!










**Agave is an arid plant that grows abundantly in dry and non-aqueous regions. You can find this in our own country sides growing in the wild and along road sides. In Hindi it is called Rambaas and in Telugu it is called Narajemudu. It is widely known in almost all states of India and has significant medicinal references in Ayurveda).

Monday, June 5, 2023

Blast from the Past - The McDowell Six-A-Side Tournament 1992-93

This was sometime in 1992-93 I guess, after I had stopped playing competitive cricket and was mostly restricted to club cricket (as can be seen by my girth). Charu Sharma came with this idea of hosting a 6-a-side cricket tournament. Uncle Jai was the guiding force for him and they invited some 6-8 clubs. Secunderabad Club, Nizam Club, Riding Club, New Club, Deccan Club etc and one side called the McDowell's side. I was included in the team which was led by my Under 25 skipper Manohar. Sanjay, Ramakrishna, R Sridhar, who later went on to coach the Indian team successfully were there along with a young wicket keeper.

Ram, me, Wicket keeper, Uncle Jai, Manohar (skipper), Sanjay, Sharma (Manager), R Sridhar, one other youngster

We sailed through to the finals despite me conceding a six off the last ball of a match and losing that game but we met the star studded Secunderabad Club in the final - Vivek Jaisimha, Vidyuth Jaisimha, Ranga Raj, Keerti - cannot remember the other names - but pretty solid.

We tied the scores at 52 each and we had a bowl out. Five players except the wicket keeper would bowl at three stumps and whoever hits the stumps more, will win. Guess what, in the nine players who bowled including many first class cricketers (Vicks, Manu, R, Ranga, Vidyuth), no one hit the stumps. Out steps the hero - me - the tenth bowler with no pressure to hit. I pitched it up sensibly to avoid any lateral movement and hit middle and off!

What a finish!

We celebrated big time at Secunderabad Club that evening. The best comment I got was from VK Ramaswamy the Test umpire who was the umpire for that game. 'From now on only Hari gets LBW decisions from me,' he declared. 'Only he is getting the stumps'. And of course meeting Uncle Jai at the club, i received a 'well bowled Harry.' I quipped - 'finally all my years of hard work is paying off Uncle.' He just shook his head and laughed. Junie Aunty (who shared this pic today after meeting Manu in New Zealand yesterday) made the mistake of asking me to get her an ice cream and I could not get it until Vicks rescued me and got one for her. Lovely days. 

Sagar's Poetry Corner - Kalam (Time)

This on time - on various parts of his life, beautiful! 


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రంగులు పూసుకుని


ఉనికిలా ఉంది


తలలో వెతలు



చుక్కచంద్రుళ్లు నా పక్క పైకొచ్చి


కన్న కల్ల

చెరిగితే బావుణ్ణు



కలలా ఉంది


వెతకడం మొదలెట్టా


ముందే తెలుసా?





చీకట్లో ప్రశ్నకి

చీకటి ప్రశ్నకి

నడుమ దాక్కోని

అన్నీ చూస్తుండే,

అందరిలా ఉండే

ఖాళీలా ఉంది


కోలుకునే సరికి

కిర్రు శబ్దాలు

మేకుల రాతలు

తొడపై చరుపులు

చెవిలో పిలుపులు

'చాలా మంచోడురా'

చనువు తీసుకుని అనేశాడు ఒకడు

దూరం నించే చూస్తూ

తలమీద ఎవరో కొట్టారు

ఏ తల్లి కర్మో

ఏడుస్తూ లేచాను.

వేసవి అయిపోయింది

హెడ్ మాస్టార్రూంలో



తెల్లగా మెరుస్తూ ఉంది


దుమ్ము గురించి తెలియక




Sagar's Poetry Corner - Devudu (God)

This one - on his relationship with God!


సెలవా జగదాంబ


సెలవా బాలాంబా


ఓ చివరిసారి గట్టిగా మోగి



భక్తి పీరియడ్ బెల్లు కొట్టేసి.

మెల్లగా కబుర్లు

కాసేపట్లో గుడి ఖాళీ అయ్యింది.

నేనూ, దేవుడూ మిగిలాం.


ఈ ఆలోచన వచ్చుంటే బావుండేది

అసలీ దేవుడెవరు?


ఇల్లు ఊరి చివర

ఇరుకు సందు

చివరి గుడిసె

ఎప్పుడూ చీకటి

‘వాళ్ళింట్లో దేవుడు లేడేమో!’

'యశోదమ్మా వెతన పడకూ

నందరాజా చింత పడకూ

కాళింది మడుగులోనా

కాలసర్పం పడగనెక్కి

తాండవమే ఆడెనా'

వాళ్ళ వెర్షన్ 

భాగవతం భలే పాడాడు.

చిందులేశాడు కూడా.

వాళ్ళ జీవితాల్లో కూడా


మన దేవుడే.

అప్పటికీ ఈ ప్రశ రాలేదు బుర్రలోకి.

ఎవరీ దేవుడు?



పొద్దున్నే గుళ్లో వెన్న ముద్దలు,

బాదం ఆకులో

అందరి కంచాలూ అవే 

ఊరంతా అక్కడే ఉండేది

నాది శివాలయం!

నా చూపు


అందరికీ ఒకేలా పెట్టేవారు

డాక్టర్ తాతగారు.

రోజు వెళ్ళేవాణ్ణి

ఏ ఒక్కరోజూ

దేవుణ్ణి చూసిన

పాపాన పోలేదు.

చూసుంటే దేవుడు


బ్రాహ్మీ ముహూర్తం కదా!

రెండు పనిచేసే రేడియోలున్న


దేవుడు ఉండే అవకాశమే లేదు.

వాళ్ళమ్మ చేసే సున్నుండలో

నెయ్యి ఎక్కువేసేది

వాడికి భలే ఇష్టం.

అలా ఉంటే గానీ తినేవాడు కాదు.

మీరు 'మా ఇంట్లో' తింటారా!!??

అని వీళ్లెప్పుడూ


వెల్లటూరు తిరనాళ్ళలో సందడి. వెతకటం కుదర్లేదు.

కృష్ణా పుష్కరాల్లో ఈత, స్నానంతో సరిపోయేది.

శ్రీశైలంలో ఎండ. 

కానీ, పులిహోర అంటే గుళ్లోనే తినాలి. ఇంట్లో ఆ రుచి రాదు.

వారణాసి వెళ్ళినప్పుడు మరీ చిన్నవాణ్ణి.

దసరాల్లో రోజూ అమ్మవారి దర్శనం.

గుడి మనదేగా.

మెట్లు ఎవరు ఫాస్ట్ గా ఎక్కుతారు?

పోటీ లో మా కాంతి గాడే గెలిచేవాడు.

కాంతి 73 నేను 72

ఒక రోజు

కాంతిగాడు పదైనా

ఇంటికి రాలేదు.



బాగా గుర్తు,



పాత శివాలయం గోపురం



వైపు చూస్తూ

బాల్య స్నేహితుడి లాగా



ఆసరా అడిగాను.

‘కాంతి అంటే నాకు ప్రాణం’

అని చెప్పా.

మాటల్లోనే కాంతి ఇంటికొచ్చేశాడు.

చూపుడు వేలుకి ముద్దుపెట్టా.

కష్టాల్లో హెల్ప్ చేసే దేవుడికీ

కాస్త టచ్ లో ఉండడం


ఏడేళ్ల క్రితం


కాంతి పోయాడు.

నాకూ దేవుడికీ మధ్య నిశ్శబ్దం.

ఆయనికి మాటలు రాలేదనుకుంటా.

నాకూ మాట్లాడానికి ఏమీ లేదు.

కార్యక్రమాలన్నీ అయిపోయాయి.

అమ్మా, నేను కూడా పెద్దగా మాట్లాడుకోవట్లేదు.

కొడుకు గురించి

ఆవిడ దుఃఖం ఆవిడదీ.

తమ్ముడు గురించి

నా దుఃఖం నాదీ

ఉన్నట్టుండి ఆలోచన మొదలైంది.

అసలీ దేవుడెవరు?


ఓ సారి కలిస్తే బావుణ్ణు.

ఎలాగైనా తెలుసుకోవాలి.



Sagar's Poetry Corner - Aayu Aahu

Sagar writes brilliant poetry and I asked him if I could share it on my blog. Here's what he wrote after the recent visit from his niece and nephew from Chennai - Aayush and Aahana. Brilliant!

 ఆయూ ఆహూ

(ఆయుష్, ఆహనా)

ఇల్లెంత నిశ్శబ్దంగా ఉందంటే...

ఇల్లూడుస్తున్న అమ్మ చేతిలో

చీపురూ, నేల చెప్పుకునే కబుర్లు  స్పష్టంగా వినిపిస్తున్నాయి


వందరూపాయలకే నాలుక్కిలోలు,

యాభైకి రెండు కిలోలు,

ఓ అస్పష్టమైన

దేవుడి పాట

మైకులో కింద నించీ వినిపిస్తున్నాయి.

ఇంటికేదో అయ్యింది!

ఎవరో ఇచ్చిన శుభలేఖ మీద ఒలికిన కాఫీ నల్ల రంగుకి మారిపోయింది.

మంచం కింద

ఓ రెండు గ్లాసులు,

కొన్ని చెంచాలు,

విరిగిపోయిన రూబిక్స్ క్యూబూ


వీణ తీగొకటి తెగింది,

అమ్మ కళ్ళజోడు కలబడట్లేదు


సగం తాగిన కూల్ డ్రింక్స్

మిగిలిన రెండు పూతరేకులు

ఎక్సర్సైజ్ సైకిల్ కాస్త దెబ్బతింది

Desktop slow అయ్యింది

అక్కడా ఇక్కడా పడున్న

ఓ పదమూడున్నర పెన్నులూ

వేప్పుల్లలా కొరకబడిన  

ఓ పెన్సిలూ

ఇది మా ఇల్లేనా!?

పొద్దున్నే ఫోన్లో...

‘సాగర్ మామా, 

ఆయూ గాడు రాత్రంతా ఏడుస్తూనే ఉన్నాడు!

హీ మిస్సెస్ యూ’

మరి నువ్వు?

నేను కూడా

ఇందాక మౌక్తిక ఫోన్ చేసింది

అంటూ తన ప్రపంచంలోకి

వెళ్ళిపోయింది ఆహన.

అమ్మమ్మింట్లో వేసవి సెలవలు అయిపోయాయి.




చాలా రోజుల తర్వాత,

అలసిపోయిన ఇల్లు



నేల ఆదమరిచి నిద్రపోతోంది

దసరా సెలవలకి పంపిస్తాడా?

పొద్దున్నే ఆరింటికి

కాఫీ తాగుతూ అమ్మ -



కాఫీ అయిపోయింది.

పిల్లల కబుర్లే నెమరేసుకుంటూ,

మళ్లీ summer హాలిడేస్ దాకా

అమ్మా, నేనూ...

Sunday, June 4, 2023

People and Restaurants Galore

 In many ways this summer has been about food - different types of food and many new places visited. So let's start at the beginning.

Sadiccha, Bandra

This is a cute Gomantak restaurant next to the Bandra Cricket Club ground (MCG?). Serves great ea food thalis. Miskil knows this part well so she ordered for all of six us - there's thalis with all sorts of fish (pomfret, bombil etc), even tisrichya (clams I think or mussels), prawns, chicken and mutton of course but who eats that when in a Gomantak restaurant (though Satish and Raja did I think keeping gout in mind). Such meals are quiet, no sounds but those of appreciation. 500  bucks a head which I think is well worth it.  

Cafe Mondegar, Colaba

We were wondering, Miskil and I, should we hit the Irani restaurant near Churchgate, the Kerala food joint and then it struck me - Mondegar. Off we went (Satish and Raja went to do an interview with CNBC), with the promise of Kabir joining us. So there's this little section they had carved out which was AC and when I asked the steward if there wasplace in the AC room he said the whole place was AC - which it was. Now the lunch was made that much sweeter thanks to Anjali's marks coming out and she did quite well so we let loose. Beef chilly, king prawns for Anjali, all sorts of expensive dishes, Hoegaarden beer and well - the mood was expansive and we had a driver so we had enough to drink and eat. Someone played lovely music on the jukebox - don't even remember what it was. Except that we had a great time and Kabir very generously and surreptitiously went and paid the bill. But that was supposed to be my party for Anjali's success! Anyway we spent the next hour rummaging through the street shops for clothes and stuff for Anjali before heading home. 

Kabir, Anjali, Miskil and me

One O Eight Lifestyle, Pingle Farms

Malay's birthday treat and he invited us all. Now Malay has this brilliant way of picking the best places in town, figuring out exactly what to order etc. I have seen his talent when he picked one in Bangalore many moons ago. And once again he picked this brilliant place - minimalistic architecture, no booze, no non-veg either, some lovely food to eat and drinks to drink. He ordered some salads, starters, farm pizza, dessert and well we had a great time chatting and catching. There was Prakash and Gauri, theirtwo sons Malay and Kalpak, Shraddha, Raja, Satish, Shobha, Anjali and me. Good fun it was! 

Barometer, Kothrud

Next afternoon we hurried to Barometer in Kothrud for a lunch that Jyo had promised us. Gauri drove us all - Raja said he would join directly. Now this Barometer is a place where you cannot get a place easily so Jyo made reservations. The food is brilliant, starting with the perfect English breakfast in the morning. But since we went for lunch it was beer and all sorts of exotic stuff. Topping it all was a pork dish we tried which was delectable. Beer, good food, good company and the summer heat meant we were all knocked out for hours after. Thanks Jyo1!  

Shobhs, Gauri, Jyo, Satish, me and Raja (A must be behind the camera) 

Durga Cafe, Dahanukar Colony

The moment we went to Kothrud Anjali started dreaming about Durga Cafe in Dahanukar colony (and its cold coffee which is astonishingly priced at 40 bucks for what it offers). So we walked over there and well cold coffee is a must just as all the finger foods it offers. Its a  nice place on the road and we slide in and order our stuff and get out when you feel like it.  I guess we made more than 3-4 trips to Durga during our stay there and each was a rewarding experience. This one was one where these two went off I guess. 

Satish and A

Prithvi Hotel, Kothrud

Our very own breakfast savior when we want idli, vada, dosa etc. Prithvi makes decent sambar and chutney and does not mess up the simple South Indian items like most others do. So we slid into Prithvi one morning and ordered our idli, vada and dosa stuff. Always a saviour when we need this kind of food.

Touche the Sizzler Place, Camp

Now, in the early 90s Chhaya had introduced us to this joint which served great sizzlers, steaks. We invited Malay to drop in and he joined us for lunch - so it was me, Satish, Anjali, Shobhs and Malay - and the steaks. Anjali smartly ordered herself a kobe while I messed up my order again. When you go here, order only a kobe sizzler. I tried some fine dessert after that, really nice, but I forget the name now. Good conversation over lunch, some road side shopping at MG Road and off we went back home. Touche also had this weird practice then in the 90s of accepting only Amex cards and guess what, in a world where they were giving away credit cards free, Amex was the only one that charged, and on top of that wanted to be exclusive. So very few had Amex cards and it made no sense to go to Touche with a card, Then they changed their policy I think.      

Konkan Express, Kothrud

Konkan is a constant and always serves reliable sea food so we always hop in there (or at the new Fish Curry and Rice next to it). This time we ordered seafood from Konkan and added to a fine meal Satish made - rice, daal and sabzi. Knkan also hs various fish thalis - pomfret, bombil, prawns - and we always order some sol kadi to go with it. Heaven. 

Mirch Masala, Kothrud

This is a popular joint in Kothrud and though we never tried the restaurant we felt brave enough to order stuff like biryani and chicken tikka etc which was to satisfaction. No complaints.  

Tien, Model Colony

Now, we all met at Model Colony for a session and after the session Malay said he would take us down to a nice sushi place nearby. We walked down, a good ten minute walk, to Tien, a cute little place on the road right opposite a popular Ganesh temple it looked like. The sushi was brilliant though - many different types and I enjoyed the whole experience. Once again, some fine desserts were tried thanks to Malay's expertise.

Me and Malay at Tien

Green Park, Hyderabad

Anjali and I picked up Satish at the Begumpet Railway station and we decided to indulge ourselves with a biryani at Green Park. Now during the haleem season i had ordered a biryani from Green Park and it was brilliant so we decided to try the biryani there. The restaurant was slightly understaffed - tables not cleaned, waiters not present - but we finally got them to get us biryani. Anjali managed a stunt while serving herself where the biryani bowl fell on her plate, caused a huge clatter, but nothing happened except that he plate broke a bit. The biryani was pretty good.

Nimrah Cafe, Charminar

Part of our plan was to visit Charminar where Anajli could use her newly learned skills on her newly gifted DSLR camera from Satish. So we drove to Charminar, parked in our regular place despite one mischievous fellow telling us that we cannot park anywhere and walked to Charminar. Pictures taken we went to Nimrah, ate tie biscuits (filling), had chai and sped back. The idea was to stop at Kamath Hotel for breakfast. 

Kamath Hotel, Saifabad

This one had memories from my childhood. Our family visits to Hyderabad would culminate in Kamath where we would eat dosas and idlis and meals perhpas but what I cannot forget is the slab of chocolate ice cream my father would order. I don't remember how he would order for so many of us but he did and we managed to gobble it all up. After many years I went there recently and loved the ambiance and the dosa and declared it the best dosa (Anjali says Taj beats it). So we went for breakfast, ordered our ildi, dosa stuff, had coffee and headed out.

Minerva Coffee Shop, Somajiguda

An early morning photo shoot outing to Tank Bund resulted in breakfast at Minerva. I was disappointed at the pongal and despite the vada there was no salvaging it. I should have stuck to the pesarattu which they make quite well (they used to make a decent pongal as well before). 

Golconda, Masab Tank

Raja came and was in an expansive mood and suggested we head out for biryani. Now Golconda Hotel has some nice biryani and we decided to drop in at the Jewel of Nizam for some biryani. After a waiting list of 20 minutes we filed in and ordered a simple biryani which was complicated by Anjali who saw some exotic Machli Noorani dish and ordered that. Turns out to be a machli with some egg foil on it and it took a while to make. Interesting dish, biryanis were decent but nothing to rave about. I suggested they try the famous Anokhi Kheer and they all liked it until i told the what it was made of and then they went Ahhh!

10 Downing Street, Lifestyle, Begumpet

We decided to do one visit to 10 D which is fast becoming Anjali's haunt and well it was a pretty nice meals they offered us - some mid day combos with some beer etc. Anjali stayed with her regular stuff, some pasta and turned out that was the best order. Some shopping before at Lifestyle and well it turned out to be a decent outing for all concerned!   

Soda Bottle Openerwala, Jubilee Hills

Ruby and I went there for lunch. He tried fish and chips and I tried some sandwiches. Before that we had some Greek salad which was ok. Long conversation that went on well past the time I thought it would. But it was productive so it was good.


Thursday, June 1, 2023

Ramoji Film City

 I had been to RFC some 15 years ago. Anjali had never been there so since we were all together we decided to check it out. It was hot so we booked ourselves in some AC package which costs some 3k per head - but in retrospect it was fully worth it. Anyway, since the IPL final was later that evening we decided to get in early and get out early. Off we went at 830 am - and reached RFC at 945 am or later.

The AC chaps get into whats called the premium lounge and we were given some booklets and tickets and stickers to stick on our shirts or arms and we did so obediently. I did not ask what the booklets were for (apparently they are coupons for food, tea and small packs of fruit juice). Good thing I did not throw them away. They also gave us bottles of water and a box of chocolates each which are not the best. Anyway, we waited in the lounge and were told that we had to get into the second bus. From then on we were called as the Yellow Stickers and we had to follow the quietly efficient and charming Ms Ayushi Deshpande who was our guide for the day. Ayushi did a fine job.

Off we went in our bus and first headed to some place where they demonstrated how movies are made to the heart thumping number 'magiccc. moviee magiccc'. Of course before that Mr Ramoji Rao came on screen and told us about how he fell in love with movies and how he wanted us to share his passion and love. Then some song and dance by some slightly preoccupied dancers and then a bunch of Chinese stunt men fighting in a wild west scenario. By this time we were hungry and were let into a restaurant which had some decent food. One thing in favour of RFC - despite the crowds, the unruly chaps, the loos were brilliantly maintained.

After lunch we were shown around the studios and waled along the European street and then we went to some gardens with butterflies, exotic birds, ducks and geese. The exotic birds were something and I wondered if its a good thing if one pays so much in a film city to be impressed by exotic birds. Anyways gardens done, Kripalu cave done, we headed back and begged off the last two items. Instead we went to the hotel, drank tea and took the first AC bus out to the parking. An hour and a half later we were home and since the IPL final got washed out, chilled off with some beer and some songs.

Ticked off.