Posted in Food Porn

Wrap Up!

Subway vs Wrapit

Are you the Subway guy. I have never been to Subway or Pizzahut in my own hometown . Or perhaps I did some 15 years back when the concept was new (at least in India). I prefer ‘Wrapit’ in Doha to subway. So much i luv wrapit that I wanted to blog on it! Subway is way too boring but I am told, in India you get the indianized version with panneer tikka masala options! Desified to suit the local taste. I did have the best subway footlong in the US and that was phenomenal. I let the kids choose given my vegetarian preferences. I guess they went for veggie Mexican and that was awesome! Wrapit – i am crazy about totally! Here in middle east it comes with 3 options: fried eggplant, baked falafel or fried cauliflower. Of course the first two are local flavours. I am not sure about the meat options but except for me, everyone seems to go for sliced barbequed chicken or lamb. As i don’t have a huge appetite to satiate with falafel filling, I go for eggplant always. I love the bases and breads as well and the toppings too. The bread is mostly Kubboos again the local kneed. In the gulf, there are olives and beans and jalapenos to go for. Plus the proximity to Europe gets us the best Mediterranean cheeses and labnehs (whey). Not a junkie but the Cheese cake factory has always been in my radar. Not been to the Qatar chain but tried the one in Virginia omg out of the world! I left it to my son to choose for me once again and I guess i added upto 800 calories in one hour that day that I however never regretted! Sometimes you just have to live up life! Another irresistible sin is Coldstone. I think in India we have watered down versions, sorry to say this. As I hold the advantage of a comparative study, I know the differences. Coffee shops I give a miss because my first choice is always our own brewed-at-home Madras filter coffee that Starbucks cannot even dream about. This coffee chain is a big disappointment to me really even if I kinda loved their pumpkin spice a bit in the US. Nandos here used to be my son’s favourite when he would visit for vacations. There is one in Chennai now that I haven’t been to. Somehow I get the feeling that the Indian franchises are not the same as their international counterparts. In our country, everything is altered to make it all palatable to locals. However I do wish Wrapit makes it to India. On one condition but: no altering of original formula like switching ingredients. There is really no recipe here as in subway. Just a combination of mixed veggies or meat slices on sauces with bread of your picking. I go for wheat or brown. Garlic bread is what I go for in pizza hut. Potato wedges from KFC. Mashed Potatoes from anywhere. A vegetarian’s options are very limited. But these foodie chains, even if they serve fast food, save my day whenever and wherever I travel. India is heaven to vegetarians. Can’t help squealing squeaking whenever I spot a Tandoor or Udipi or Saravana Bhavan or Bombay chowpathy whenever I am outside India! The latest addition to Indian cuisine in international scene is the Zaffron chain run by the Sanjeev Kapur.

For closing, I guess Wrapit is fairly priced and sumptuous over Subway. Even the choices are great compared the subway. Yummy.

Posted in Women & Family

Tell me your friends, I shall tell you who you are.

the easiest way out is to fake and get into everyone’s good book. so why are some of us not doing that.

I penned a nasty post recently and shared it with my school friend. She was put off by what I wrote and immediately denounced me. She said, I had lowered my standards by blogging that one. I trashed my note the next moment. I realized I needed such friends who will chide me, condemn me, who will dissuade me, discourage me, talk me down, who will point out my mistakes and correct me. I need my friends to chastise me and ridicule me. I need friends who would spank me, who would tick me off, who would set me right if I go wrong, who would steer me to the proper way ahead so that I don’t go astray even unwittingly. I need friends who would ask me NOT TO SHOP. I need friends who share with me their family news first. I need friends who ask me to act my age. I need friends who show me the spiritual path reminding me that what lies ahead is a shorter life for me than what distance I have traveled so far. I don’t require my true friends to sugarcoat bitter truth for me. I want their brutal honesty. We have argued umpteen times, left group etc., but we have always returned to each other: we are not sisters by blood rather we are sisters by heart – we the school friends. My friends give me a hi-five when I say its almost three years since I hit a beauty salon. My friends ask me not to henna my hair. With my friends I have been to most ancient places of worship. We share tips on cooking, puja mantras, kids, home management mostly. We go dutch whenever we dine out. We know each others families from school days. Our parents were friends, we are friends, our spouses are friends, in laws know each other and our kids too sometimes would hang out. If my friends give me a dressing down, I take it with all my heart. They are my well wishers. They wouldn’t want me to lose my integrity, dignity or honour by any means. After all this is the only wealth we middle class behold with such a pride. Our shame is our only treasure. Our self-respect is our protective shield.

I have been shuttling in and out of India since 1998. Yes, for almost a quarter century, I have been having one foot in India and one foot abroad. Where I mix overseas, ladies boozing is not uncommon. We are all social drinkers, no denying that. But we are married to very serious minded career professionals who enjoy a stature in the society we have come to belong in. We are well aware of our own responsibilities. I share a healthy relationship with all my acquaintances and friends that I acquired walking this arduous but interesting road holding hands with my spouse. We have never had help whatsoever on our way. We are entirely selfmade. Our earnings are dharmic. We are now a senior couple. Younger people touch our feet for blessings. This promotion in life is god’s blessings.

Imagine at the age of 53 as a grandma, when some friends I acquired at a later age trying to convince me to have casual intimate chat with strange men just for cheap thrills. Telling me I am rigid and inflexible. Telling me its fine to hit the liquor bars. Admitting to me of being alcoholics – addicted. I have always boasted to one and all that none of my friends boozed (regularly) and everyone had an impeccable character. The point is, at one stage you find out that you cannot carry on with this kind of girls any more. We share nothing in common. The discovery was made by me pretty late. I am not the unreliable friend. The fault lies with those who played double games and won our trust hoodwinking all. This is betrayal of highest order. To realize that we have a friend’s husband calling the girls to bed is shocking enough. To see the girls fraternizing the offender’s wife seems ominous to me. Such a compromise on family values of those who I thought were my friends, is dealing a raw blow to my heart and soul. I am still unable to heal because I trusted too much, and now I know too much.

On advice of my school friends I broke up with my friends who I met in my 40s without a second thought. I have no intention of compromising on my principles. I don’t want corruption of my mind and dilution of my upheld standards. I don’t believe in too very liberal way of life after all, I discovered to my own surprise. Their way is ‘bhog’ and mine is ‘yog’ – as simple as that.

I am the normal. I don’t want to regularize and mainstream the abnormal as passable or acceptable in my life. I have since raised my bar even higher up. It is okay, who I have for friends are my fortress. I don’t regret speaking up the truth.

Character and self-respect and dignity and honour are most important virtues to me. There is no way I can tolerate compromise on these ethical and moral principles that I hold dearest to my heart. This is how my parents raised me in their absence. Where would I have been had I traded in my most basic belief system. My spirituality leans on my strong and unwavering principles.

To some of my friends or perhaps ex-friends I am not sure, I would like to say here, you need someone like me to rub in the truth into your shameless skin. Don’t expect me to tell you what you want to hear. I will not do that. I can be cruel and unsparing but having someone like me in your life is for your own good. Never in a million years I will belong with you.

புடத்தில் இட்டால் தான் தங்கமா தகராமான்னு தெரியும், We judge a man by what he becomes in the times of crises. Everyone can play god when all is hunky dory. The acid test of life – I have passed with flying colours like my simple minded sweet school friends who will never sell their soul for naya paisa.

Family, faith and dignity and respect come first for us friends. Blessed to belong with my old girls. We are the duskiest, we sag, we are crowned salt and pepper, we have love handles, we have tummies, we are the bummiest as well, we have BP, sugar, cholesterol what not – but our trophies are our families. Our bodies have taken the worst beating in life and we wear our scars on our shoulders like stars. Our husbands love us the way we are – with our marks. In fact, love us more for what we are, what we have become. We girls don’t have loads of money. We girls don’t live in flashy bungalows. We friends are not decked up in diamonds and rubies. We have hardly stepped into a star hotel. We don’t groom or accessorize well. In fact we are the fashion fax paus. We unwind on red oxide floor and eat heartily in each others’ homes. We laugh and cry together. But we live a genuine life. We live for ourselves. We don’t seek validation from any quarters. We are happy the way we are.

We are today like the lighthouses, showing right direction to seekers. We friends are like the shade giving trees. We girls will never misguide or give wrong encouragement on anything to anyone. We can be the bitches as well. You will see the beauty in us only if you have a beautiful heart.

Posted in Women & Family

Kick Like A Girl.

This (my altered version of the story) is inspired by a whatsapp share. A young boy goes to play football for the first time. His teammate, an older boy, teases him not to kick the ball feebly like a girl but with gusto like a boy. The boy’s dad assures him that he must kick (the ball with force) like a girl. What a way to parent our children. We women are always on the defensive, at the receiving end, rarely mustering courage to rise up to the occasion to kick an offending man right in his groin. It is time we girls go offensive to score a point! It felt good to read up the post that was a forward. Ironically, it is the men who preach equality of sexes who seem to hold least respect for women’s honour. My logic is simple: treat women the way you may want your mother/sister/wife/daughter to be treated. Or else let me PUNCH, KICK, KNOCK YOU OUT for the girl I am!

Posted in Pictures Foreign

Against The Ice.

Watched this impossible picture and wanted to review it. Next best thing to the Reverent (that i have watched at least a dozen times but missed reviewing) or probably better. True life story of Denmark expeditioner Mikkelson who with unlikely explorer Iverson trudges through the hostile terrain and inhospitable climate of the northernmost Greenland with a pack of sledge dogs. The mission is for disproving the American claim whatsoever over the Arctic as proof emerges that there existed no Pearl channel that could legitimize the Yankee bid to the the north pole of planet Earth. The duo lose their sledges and the canines, and are forced to spend at least two grueling Christmases waiting for a ship to pick them up, losing their sanity at times. Finally they are rescued and thanks to them, Greenland now belongs with Denmark as it always has had. Perhaps a milestone in the history of Denmark. Interesting to note how documentation is accorded highest priority even a hundred years back, thanks to which we now can ascertain actual facts. A royal salute to the adventurous spirit of the Homo sapiens! Forever a fan of the bravery, heroism and courage of the Caucasian male for who the sky has been the limit (at least until the twentieth century)!

Posted in Pictures Foreign

Review: A beautiful mind.

As always, got to catch up with ‘a beautiful mind’ pretty late. As the curtains downed, couldn’t help crying! Not only for the mathematician that John Nash was but also for his award speech on receiving the Nobel prize for Mathematics in 1994, at Stockholm, Sweden, where he says, ‘what is logic, what is the reason. what is imaginary, what is rational, what is delusional? you are all that is real and today i am here because of you’ (not in exact words) to his wife who believes in him completely as he fights schizophrenia through his research and teaching years in Princeton. What fine picture. I just checked wiki. The director-scriptwriter must have taken some artistic liberties to bend the story a bit, but still this is fine. Basically being a math grad, my interest in the subject is natural although today after decades i cannot recount anything other than Pythagoras theorem from school days. Married to an engineer who also did his basic degree in math, it is a grand coincidence that now our only son is married into a family of mathematicians as well! Math was very much on my mind for years as I gave away also math tuitions at home for higher secondary girls and under grads in their first and second years who majored in math. I guess, the long retention of math in my mind is primarily due to this reason. I revised my school and univ syllabus everyday with my girls after my office hours! Differential equations could be the most interesting part of calculus in my memory, correct me if I am wrong! Game theory – we did have a paper in Econometrics (that was my masters). Although I cannot recall much, I can say what in math excited me the most. I approached my final year in undergrad with trepidation, because I knew all my five papers were abstract. The toughest Real analysis became a cakewalk once you decoded it. Yah got a centum in that paper as well as in Complex analysis. Remember how in those days some friends used to ask, how could math ever be like that! Countless theorems in abstract running to pages that needed to be proven! I don’t have that scientific temper now but I did once upon a time. So I guess I can understand the preoccupation of a math wizard with numbers and theorems better. Science and math are real. However and whatever others may ridicule about the math/science people, they continue to stay real, unaffected. There is this goodness about academics that is pure and precious. The value is absolute and not exaggerated or faked. ‘A beautiful mind’ is all about this authenticity in my opinion. John Nash played by Russel Crowe comes across as a decent human being, supported in every step by his dedicated wife Alicia (played by Jennifer Connelly). Extraordinarily intelligent men with highest IQ do exhibit some freakish traits as they say, the variance between genius and autism is a very miniscule percentage. I have come across kids under autism spectrum display high level of mathematical understanding. Its really a case of cat on the wall. Its the luck of the parents in my opinion. Inspiring watch. Wonderfully enacted by Russel Crowe. A couple of my friends kids (from India) are/were into Princeton/Harvard. Very proud of my friends who made it possible for their children to reach onto here. Family is the pillar of strength.

Posted in Environment


The Doha Metro has given some of us women who are home birds who do not drive, an excellent opportunity to explore the cityscape like never before. The fares are too very modest. The metro stations are at strategic locations. From any point in the city, there are shuttle services operating that pick up and drop commuters at the metro stations for no extra charge. The metro network, just like in my hometown in Chennai, is part underground and part overhead. I guess, I have commuted more by Doha metro than by Chennai metro up until now, even if I live within a kilometer of my nearest underground CMRL station in Chennai. I have used Chennai metro for commuting to domestic airport with just my hand baggage. The connectivity is too good, saves time and energy and is economic. Some use the metro even for international terminal if they travel light. To put it in a capsule, the airport link and the city central bus terminal link and the central railway link are the highlights of the Chennai metro. However, I don’t think Doha metro plies to airport.

Although I love Doha Metro, I have been given tour of the Chennai metro when the project (phase 1) was underway. The men in my family witnessed the tunnel boring etc (for their interest in execution). In Chennai, we have the Coovum river flowing underground in some sections. In the junction at Central, Chennai Metro is operational at three levels – one is the MRTS from Velachery, the second is from the suburban from Tambaram with the third level being the Metro. We have to note that not all the three are metro. The first two are from the older railways networks of the city that have been conveniently merged with the Metro with options for interchangeability. The beauty is, at this point at Central and upto Egmore, the levels are above and under the Coovum river under terrain! The engineer in charge beautifully explained the technicality of this and the engineering precision to achieve this aspect! The course of the river stream is left untouched apparently! My only concern is, to make the route underground waterproof, how much moisture has been permanently sucked out of Chennai earth. How many downstream currents and water channels have been blocked. Some even blame the metro network (underground) for the city going under deluge in recent monsoons. Overhead metro is preferable for this reason. As Chennai metro is expanding nonstop adding more and more kilometers to serve far flung suburbs, the city is shrinking no doubt. The common man stands to benefit. Hopefully the new connections will be overhead. Mass transport is the only way ahead for metropolitan cities like Chennai.

Doha unlike Chennai need not have to be concerned with unprecedented monsoons or rivers and streams. It must have been that much easier to establish the network here.

Quality of service in both cities is impeccable. In Doha I noticed the ‘gold’ carriage for discerning commuters. I am delightfully the ‘aam aadmi’ but I do prefer traveling in the family coach.

Qatar national library is easily accessible with metro. And so are other landmarks. Shopping is far more convenient. Most of all, I am independent finally!

Interestingly, both Doha metro and Chennai metro were feared to be non viable commercially in the initial stages. However, they now register impressive gross breaking even since long.

The driverless metros that are automatic, are not merely engineering marvel, but are also pollution free. One good reason to expand the metro network.

Its not just about the connectivity. Metros are more about catering to the masses. World class facilities that are made affordable and accessible to the general janata of our nation finally. This can work wonders for economies.

I am seeing school kids and college goers and service staff and sales people and bosses rubbing shoulders here in Doha metro. Never do you feel on equal footing with everyone around you as you do when you ride the metro. A great equalizer. A big decongestant of city traffic. Life saver I must say!

Doha metro maintenance is par excellence. Would it be too much to expect the metro networks in India to maintain their standards sans dilution? Tolerance for vandalism must be zero.

Posted in Lateral Thinking

The STEM Life.

Celebrating STEM LIFE….

The STEM guys are our life source.

STEM is indispensable. Art is NOT.

STEM is tech. Brain mapping. Art is skill that is practicable and masterable.

You never see the STEM guys go down on their knees.

Indian parents notoriously come across as tyrants for pushing Science-Technology-Engineering-Medicine (STEM) down the throat of their children, and their stand has been vindicated in the current pandemic we have around the globe. The unscathed winners in the situation seem to be the STEM grads employed gainfully in their respective areas. No excesses here. Lean cut. Yet they are doing extremely well under the duress and need a pat for their surviving skills. After all the old STEM wisdom has stood them in good stead when everyone else around them, especially the artistes of various hues, are flopping miserably. Indian parents bear the blame for ‘conditioning’ their children’s lives, trying to live their dreams through their children, etc., etc. But the time tested truth is that, the parents ensure that their children have their heads above troubled waters in difficult times. The STEM grads are hardly in limelight. They are the builders of the society. They never go about preening, ‘I saved a life today, i am the architect of that highrise, I was there working the oil rig which is fueling your car, I built that microchip.’ But they are everywhere and nowhere. They keep innovating pushing borders. Their tireless zest sees to that the rest of the community enjoy a better quality of life. The STEM professionals are the true makers of this world – they lift up their families with pride and joy. They uphold lofty principles with their work ethics. But for them, what is this world. They are the hardworking population of India and of this entire universe. The earth spins on its axis thanks to them. Without them, we will be plunged in darkness eternally, immobilized and rooted to the spot, diseased and disheartened. We will have NOTHING BUT CHAOS. But we are okay, alive and kicking, because the STEM guys are working behind the scenes. Our STEM guys shoulder immense responsibilities that cowards and zombies will never. The STEM heroes deserve a standing ovation. Crisis Management is breeze as planning and strategy are everyday program of the STEM workforce. The STEM guys make for the best sons, husbands, fathers viz-a-viz best daughters, wives and mothers. The STEM people fly the plane. Connect the wires. Put through the calls. Design our dreams. Our STEM guys are the forgotten heroes of our real lives. They make our lives meaningful and worth living. Silent achievers. We love our STEM guys who make it possible for the ART to survive. GIFT YOUR CHILDREN A STEM FUTURE. Give your children DIGNITY so that they will stay busy and have no time for ANY nonsense. STEM families are HAPPY FAMILIES. There may be work stress but never useless headaches.

Posted in Mylapore Musings

Sandy beach and soaring flight.

Its eons since we have lounged on sandy beach. We do go to the souqs but today, got to unwind on Wakra souq beach. No thenga manga pattani sundal here. Only the absolute stillness. The beauty of the arab countries is their elusive silence without the street ruckus that is common in India or elsewhere. We just sat back by the backwaters wherefrom some mounds of salt pans showed belly up. I saw flights leave and flights home in. One flight was losing altitude steadily in the same spot. No I don’t think this one was landing. I guess, this is one of the crossover flights to yet another gulf airport flying through the airspace. As a frequent air traveler I always pay specific attention when flights lose height in one spot or climb up gradually in the same spot or arch their wing, tilt up and take a turn. I don’t have to watch out through my cabin window. I just know how it feels like. I guess I know every sensation that is carried with every single motion of an aircraft. In silence, I unwound my legs in the sand with my hands pushed back behind me watching the spectacular show of the planes every few minutes.. A couple of camels rested afar. Children were playing noiselessly in the distance. Even the sidewalk cafes with their guests dining on club chairs on cobblestoned paths stood quiet. This kind of silence is golden, something again unthinkable in India. The unpolluted clean environs can do something to your heart that it may want to sing. To savour such an unspoilt moment, I have to get out of Chennai city limits, to ECR.

Beach sands and airplanes brought once more memories of growing up in Mylapore. Our house was the tallest in the street when I was in the primary school. I guess I have blogged on this, but we always went to bed after a darshan of Kapali temple tower from our kitchen window and Kesava Perumal temple tower (near Chitrakulam) from the balcony. We enjoyed this special privilege until my mom’s time – that is 1982. Buildings that later came up robbed us of our glorious daily darshan on dawn.

Our terrace on second floor carried with it loads of awesome memories.

From here, I have watched once the Kapaleeshwara temple Kumbabishegam with binoculars. Even the temple Car could be seen moving – it so happens that we are having the Panguni festival now. Two spires vied with each other for our views in the open ‘mottaimadi.’ One was of course Kapali temple tower, 1 km afar. The other magnificent one at a distance was the Santhome church steeple itself.

The crowning glory would be the rotating lighthouse beam that would pass through our terrace – at a distance of over 3 km at least, every few minutes. This light would be visible only when it would be completely dark. For me, the act of catching the light beam on my arm or face for a micro fraction of a second from the light house was like winning a gold medal in Olympics. I and my friends used to count the number of times we could catch the light beam that would pass within a moment like mirage before you knew it.

How many flights we used to count. Rare sightings were the jet. Kok kok paalaadai every single evening. Walk to the Santhome beach almost every single day in summer vacations. (Mornings were always reserved for Kapali & His Missus). The beach was still accessible with radio playing from the small circular structure situated in the middle of the sands.

Slowpaced life with all its goodness. I miss that kind of heaven terribly now. The small happiness of Panneer soda and Rose milk from Kalathi kadai. Mottaimadi. Everything.

Did I ever dream that some day in future I would be flying in and out so much. And I am the CEO of my Home Corporation hahaha!

Once upon a time in my life, I looked up at the airplane wide-eyed. Now flights tire me.

I am stepping back to take a close look at the little girl who would try to catch as many light beams as possible within her outstretched palms. It must have felt like ‘oru koodai sunlight oru koodai moonlight’ totally!