The Magic Of Coffee

Caffeine is defined as ‘an alkaloid compound which is found especially in tea and coffee plants and is a stimulant of the central nervous system.’
I, on the other hand, would call it the life-giving and life-sustaining elixir which enables me to tolerate my fellow man, open my eyes in the morning without wishing a piano fell on people around me; basically not putting a hit out on people who keep me from my coffee.


Take this morning’s scenario- TO has trouble getting up in the mornings. So do I but I have been given the divine duty of getting my kid off to school ergo sleep can be sacrificed for the joy of knowing he’s boarding the yellow bus. Anyhoo, after what seems like eons in getting him to get out of bed and the zombie-walk to the loo where he can brush, he decided that *now* was the best time to lie down flat on a skateboard and S-L-O-W-L-Y roll his way to the dining table that was maybe 5 feet away.

Why, one might be tempted to ask. Well apparently the flesh and blood wanted to have his morning milk ‘on the go’ as it were.

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In such moments, coffee is the most glorious of gifts. It prevents you from turning into a banshee, dumping said cup of milk onto otherwise lovable offspring’s head and as the caffeine enters your system, you feel calm and barely-there tolerance pervade the space around you.

I do agree, I might have a wee addiction towards the bean. It has been my constant support for more than 26 years now. It has got me through many a thing. Kept me from throwing things at odious people and throwing odious people off other places.

A few weeks ago I was asked to cut back on milk and caffeine as a part of a “diet”. That it didn’t work out is a given. I took to lingering in the kitchen gazing at the cupboard where the coffee is kept. I sniffed the coffee powder a few times a day and wished I could mainline it. Yup…total junkie.

But all jokes aside, we all have our crutches in life. Some worse than others. Of all the things I could be doing, coffee seems to be the most benign.

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A Bit Of Silver And Grey

In the last couple of years my reading material has been fairly unchanging. It’s been the likes of John Sandford (love his work), Carl Hiaasen (cannot get enough of it) and some new authors I came across courtesy the Kindle store. Amongst them Jana DeLeon stood out because while her work wasn’t “hardcore literature” it wasn’t silly fluff either. It was a humorous and quite likely an accurate look into the lives of people in a small town on the bayou in Louisiana.

Each character is well-fleshed out without cutting corners and being lumped into a group of hicks and rednecks who keep chewing tobacco and spitting on the ground. I mean stereotypes only take you so far after all.

The chief amongst them are two old ladies who were counterintelligence back in ‘Nam and came back home without anyone having cottoned onto their true colors. Over the years they’ve become older, more idiosyncratic but are still sharp as tacks and quick on their feet…most of the times.

I’m mentioning the old people here because in the books I’ve grown up reading, old people are relegated to a secondary status. It’s the cheerful grandma who bakes cookies or the grumpy grandpa who eventually gets the sulky teen to realize some truths about life. But these characters are not always flesh and blood. They are bit players. They add flavor but in a restrained manner.

The other series of books which recently caught my attention are by Amanda M. Lee about a family of witches who live in a small town in Michigan. Notice the small town motif? They have a great aunt at the helm of the family and while she’s not an evil witch, she isn’t above bewitching things to punish others or to get her own way. Whether it’s selling her home made hooch (again something in common with the old ladies of the bayou) or growing “glaucoma medicine” aka pot, under the eyes of the law, or wanting a pet pig she’s a character all by herself and rightly so.

The eccentricities that the old people can lay claim to because they’ve seen their share of things in life are nothing short of mindboggling to banging your head against the wall in frustration-types. And you just can’t make them back down and play ball with the rest of the lot. Not in real life and not in stories either.

Am glad that this segment of people have found their representation in books because we’ve had enough of rosy cheeked grandmas and fairy godmothers. We haven’t had enough of crocodile-walking, bike-riding, dentured women who can’t read without their bifocals and can down moonshine with the best of them!

Go silver!

The Changing Face Of Things

I belong to the Wren&Martin generation. It was ground up, chopped, blended, diced and shoved down our throats till the knee jerk reaction for anything pertaining to grammar and syntax meant reaching for our copy of W&M to confirm its accuracy.

Fast forward a couple of years when colloquialisms rule the roost. There are differences in the way English is spoken all over the world and idiomatic speech is how people prefer to express themselves. Well most people barring Mr.Tharoor because once he starts tweeting or talking, the crusty old Brit vanguards of the language are left scrambling for their copies of W&M and the Oxford dictionaries to unravel the mysteries of his verbosity.

Adages too have undergone a change. The majority of the essays written by middle and high schoolers about women usually had the cliche- ‘the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world’. In the last couple of years I’ve realized that the ‘hand that wields the ladle, rules the roost’. And let’s admit, you might as well get control the home and hearth before heading out for world domination.

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Having control over the ladle means a lot. Essentially it means whose taste buds get precedence over the others, how spicy or how bland will your food be, can you switch it up food wise from time to time or do you stay old school, tried and tested. Who has the ladle also plays out in how the kitchen looks and where the “essentials” are placed for the cook.

Sharing a kitchen is often harder than sharing clothes or even a home. Important stuff happens in a kitchen. There’s a power play of spice placement, the cutting boards even right down to the size of the blade and kind of knife that’s going to be used.

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I have been raised by 2 VERY particular people. My mother taught me to keep a separate knife for fruits. She also has a separate paring knife for those things which need paring (Duh!). She uses a rather biggish cleaver for the meat and small knives for everything else. There is no ‘one size fits all’ in her kitchen. And that is something I’ve imbibed as well.

But if person who views all knives the same way and essentially looks at functionality and nothing more, your carefully pigeonholed knife arrangement goes for a toss; bringing waves of discomfort not akin to a bout of OCD. Because there’s been a break in the order of how things are done, how you feel they ought to be and the fruit knife ends up reeking of garlic is not what you need when you’ve reached for the musk melon for a mid morning snack. Before you know it, you want to draw a line down the kitchen and divvy up the space so you’re not sighing in frustration about the other cooks who (mis)use spatulas and leave the wooden spoons soaking in water for hours.

Let’s face it, food is important. How it’s cooked is even more so, where the ingredients are kept; all that matters. I don’t want to go all Patrick Bergin on things but even then it’s only natural that there can be only one Queen (or King) Of The Kitchen. And that is me!

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Movie Review: Gully Boy

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For everyone who’s been told something’s impossible, unattainable and to get their head out of the clouds because reality bites; Gully Boy is the answer.

Zoya Akhtar’s latest offering takes us deep into Dharavi, without any of the gore and gristle but without adding any glitter either. Ranveer Singh (Murad) shows how deeply he can get under the skin of a character and make it his own. From Simmba to Gully Boy, he peels off layer after layer and shows us how well honed his craft truly is.

Synopsis: Murad, a college-going young man from Dharavi, makes space in his cramped tenement for his mother, younger brother, grandmother and father (Vijay Raaz) and his father’s new, younger wife along with his dreams, hopes and burning desire to be someone. Being a rapper is as alien a concept to the people of Dharavi as are aliens themselves. You either lie and cheat to get ahead or you keep your head down, work hard and join the rat race because money, food in the belly and a roof over your head cancels out having dreams and aspirations over everything else.

His childhood love, Safina (Alia Bhatt),is spirited, unapologetic and unabashedly in love with him and his dreams. Their chemistry is spot on and very real.

How Murad tries toeing the line, doing what is expected out of him and still tries to be true to himself and acknowledge that having a passion is life is not only ok but essential, forms the crux of the movie.

The lingo, the people are all perfectly typecast although there are times when the movie seems to  move slower than one would like. Friendships, loyalty and dreaming the impossible and achieving it are all the takeaways at the end of the reel.

The music: is middling between mediocre to decent. The tunes are catchy, the lyrics are worth pondering on and the acting seamless and without much of histrionics.

One may not like rap as a genre, or even the rappers with their yo-yoing all over the place and hoodie pants, but Gully Boy shows the poets that live within.

Rating: 3/5