Tamatar is the essence of India

Friday, July 12, 2013

Haleem on my mind

Date a girl who likes haleem. Date a girl who...ok enough sorry. I did not know how to begin this post in my excitement to come straight to the point. Here's the tl;dr version of it:


Now the too long, un-capitalized version of it:

There are few things in life that give me as much joy as breakfast, lunch and dinner. In his infinite wisdom, God requires me to give up these very things for one whole month. In case you missed it in my exceptionally secular name, I'm Muslim and this is Ramadan. Every year for about a month, I wake up at 330 am, share a meal with family, and then spend the rest of the day trying to ignore my empty stomach and parched throat. There is a heavy focus on piety as I try to wrap my head around the 'why am I here' and 'am I a good person' internal dialogue with a theological context to it, but, I feel ashamed to say, my dominant thought is that of food. 

The lack of it especially.

So what superhuman resolve is it that gets me through the day? How strong is my willpower? All these questions pale before the magnificence of my answer: Heavenly reward aside, the best part of my day in Ramzan is when I can finally dip a spoon into a bowl full of haleem. This:

If there was a ever a dish made to satisfy every taste bud you were born with, this is it. If there was ever a dish for which the phrase 'silver lining' would be wholly inadequate, this is it. If you have wanted to use the phrase 'nectar of the Gods' and did not know where to, then haleem could step up and be that answer. I'd bet that if there was ever a test for Hyderabadi-ness, identifying the restaurant by the taste of its Haleem would be pretty efficient. 

With every hotel worth its Osmani biscuit telling all and sundry that they offer the best and finest Irani haleem, it can get a little confusing for the Haleem lover. So here's the idea. I'm going to be eating a bowl of haleem every day for the rest of this Ramzan and will review it. If you would like to add you own reviews or places where you would like to get a review of, mention/link to it in the comments!

PS: Also, it's 6pm, I am fasting and right now all I can think of is haleem. I firmly believe that done right, this dish could bring about world peace.

EDIT: I overdosed on haleem and my digestive system rose up in revolt. I have to abandon this journey on the first weekend itself! I am deeply, immeasurably saddened and heart broken. Until next time.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Checklist of The Reformed

how much have you,
earned today?
in happiness, in guilt
or in terms of money, rather?

how much have you,
lived today?
in joy, in sorrow
in between thinking of tomorrow?

how much have you,
lied today?
to those you love, to those you don't
to yourself, others being but little bother?

how do you measure,
the value of your words?
as you manipulate, you twist,
in your quest for perfect order?

how do you name,
the fruits of your efforts?
your identity, your impact,
your gift to generations that follow?

would you rather laugh at fate,
or your lack of self control,
thinking of choices, when
you regret them long after?

Friday, March 25, 2011

India, Pakistan, Mothers, Sisters and Sachin

When in January people said the Cricket World Cup is coming to India, I nodded and said good4uenjoy:) Argentina had been humiliated last year when Germany beat them black and blue in the FIFA world cup and cricket was this irritating game with square legs and short covers. But little by little, as every colleague tuned in to cricinfo to stream the matches and effectively killed the office internet, I got into the game. The point of this post is to declare my love for the wicket, willow and the..er..cherry. Also to tell you of those special things and moments that have made me like this game so much.

Family values:
Never before have mothers and sisters in the subcontinent been shown such admiration and remembered with such gusto. On March 30, 2011, Indians and Pakistanis on both side of the border will partake in a 100 over long discussion about the women in their opponent's families. Familial relationships with the opposite sex, irrespective of age, whether living or dead, will be closely analyzed and the analysis presented before close up cameras that would repeatedly play the loops before news channels take over the job. Commonly used in forms of teri bhen di [respectfully your sister's] or teri ma ki [respectfully your mother's] these words have so far made no impression on the non-Asian cricketing nations. They have all probably decided to assume that screaming "Banjo!" every time Indians get a wicket is simply a way to appease their craving for all things song and dance.

Employee Motivation Research:
One day, inshallah, I will start my own business. Businesses have employees. Employees need motivation. Therefore if one learns how to motivate employees to work when an India vs Australia match is going on then finito. Khatam Baat. Barkhaas Biryani. You will monopolize HR and blitz Payroll. The experiment was thus begun with gusto but quickly forgotten when the subjects all fell sick just before the match started. However, another important point was discovered. When India beat Australia, the sensex went up 430 points. DESPITE NOBODY WORKING. This means our economy is awesome, we screw it up by working. Man was born to laze. Hence proved.

Subraminyam, Almooniyam:
To be honest, it was this ad. Subramaniyam, almooniyum, ye deewar, ye saara sansaar struck a deep chord within me and in order to catch it playing loud and clear I decided to watch the match. In between waiting for the ad to reappear, and in order to keep myself awake during Saurav Ganguly's commentary {a better entertainer with the bat he was} I began to watch the balls being bowled and was hooked. The latent patriotism gene was re-awoken and immediately Yuvraj Singh scored a 100. When God wants you to believe He sends you a sign. Sometimes through an ad for a mobile phone. Thank you Spice. May your phones sell well.

Because, banjo, this one is for Sachin:
1,000,000,000. That's how many Indians are out there. And the rate at which we procreate it must have gone up by a couple hundred mill since. Add another 1/2 billion between the rest of the cricket world. Approx 1,500,000,000. That's how many people know Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. He is making history. We are a small part of it. Watch the show. Ask no questions. Whatever happens, applaud. If you do not understand the scope of the word 'genius' watch him.

Kamran Akmal:
I LOVE this guy. He holds a special place in every Indian heart. Every time he drops a catch we cheer. Evertime he cowers under Shahid bhai's glare a benign smile spreads across the face of the opposition. As soon as he retires, he should be sent on diplomatic missions by Pakistan to countries they really need to set things right with. Read: India. We would love to have him here. If he continues his stellar performance in Foreign Affairs and continues to serve our interests then maybe we will all have peace.

Cricket is a battle between bat and ball, noted Sunil Gavaskar, astonishing Englishmen who had invented it as an excuse to grow mustaches. But heck, the deeper you get into it, the more there is to it.

Game on

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Socialus Insuffrablus

In a shocking incident Balu P. Yadav, Bihari strongman, was found dead in a dairy farm. Early reports claim he poisoned himself by consuming fodder and breathing in too much methane. A note was found in his pocket and the contents, though being held as evidence, have been leaked. The transcript is courtesy yadav4lyf.com.

Dear everyone,

I know this may come as a shock to you, but I have decided to commit suicide. I no longer think it is possible for me to go on living. What I had thought was light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be one of the super fast trains newly announced by Bamta Mannerjee, my bĂȘte noir.

Long have I laboured on this earth doing what I thought I did best, happy with the little I had. Friends, money, some travel, the strength of ten buffaloes, spirituality and quite a few great conversations kept me going, happily for the major part. It all changed and I didn’t even realize it happening.

It began with hi5. Getting back in touch with old friends I thought I’d never meet was among the greatest feelings ever. ‘Aren’t you the girl from Writer’s building? OMG you are so hot!’ type messages were hurriedly exchanged and friends added. Sometimes, such messages were not responded to. Communities were formed and friendships were renewed. It was a slow process but the overall effect was one which drew regular smiles of nostalgia. I hung on to hi5 till a funnily named Google product appeared on the horizon. Eh? Orkut? I wondered and signed up. The ensuing storm of friend requests, scraps, photo albums, testimonials, communities, witty and witless profiles, and innovative names (Tiger’s Goods//**who’s your daddy~~\\) wrapped me in an embrace so tight that I sat hypnotized before the desktop, chanting google..google..google.. and refreshing my scrap book every few seconds. Yes, there were chat messengers, but this was different. It was all public. You could see the 300 friends my profile boasted of and testimonials from ardent admirers to prove that I was evidently a great guy. Now everyone would know how popular I was, and not just in Bihar.

By now I was connected to people from all over India and a few friends sprinkled across the globe. Do, I wondered on Google, firangis Orkut? No, came the prompt answer along with a new URL. They Facebook. Apparently you could ‘tag’ the people in the photo by clicking on their faces, hence the name. Everything else though seemed the same. It seemed dubious and I desisted from joining till I saw a safe number of invitations in my inbox. When I eventually did, it struck me as stale butter in a new packet. Within a few weeks, however, I realized that the world was dealing with a completely different monster. Applications started popping up. Polls claimed I was 3rd most likely to go bald and 389th as the favored dinner companion. Another claimed my soulmate would be revealed if I forwarded invitations to all my friends. My home page, instead of displaying my swashbuckling images, now showed updates of what my friends were farming, fishing, watching, wishing, listening and doing.

AND photos of what they had been up to.

This is when I started to worry. Too many people were doing too many things and here I was feeding non-BT fodder to buffaloes. Buffaloes are camera shy. I decided to screw all that my ‘friends’ were doing and live my life. After all, your friend list and profile page is not a reflection of your personality. So what if everyone else went water rafting, paragliding and mountain climbing? I would uphold my respect and not fall prey to this ridiculous urge.

So it went on till this new fellow I once sat beside told me about Titter. It affronted me that someone of his age and position would be party to an adult site. No, no, explained he, it is Twitter. Why don’t you join and follow me? I’m @shtaroor. How? I asked. He logged in through a snazzy phone and showed me his home page. I was immediately hit between the eyes by the 140 character capacity of the status bar. That’s all one could do? I asked. That’s all one can do, he echoed. I held on to my dhoti lest it drop in astonishment. This was it. No photos. No farms. No quizzes. Just what you want to say. In 140 characters or less. You see how well I got hold of it?

So began my twitter journey. At regular intervals I would update my status and let people know what I was doing. I got myself a Chinese made Blackbarry and tweeted away to glory. The guy who had told me about this said something demeaning about cattle which made me yank him up in Parliament, so I realized twitter was actually useful. A few days ago, my phone stopped working. Frustrated I logged on through a desktop and was hit between the eyes by a set of numbers. 145 following. 3 followers: shtaroor, Amul, Bihar dairy. No RTs. 5 months on twitter. No RTs. 3 followers. Bad eyesight had prevented me from seeing these numbers on the Barry. It depressed me no end. The overwhelming feeling of how little my thoughts were valued by the rest of humankind brought me down like a wagon load of belligerent didis. Which is why I am taking this extreme step. Take care of the cows. There’s fodder to keep them happy for the next century. And for God’s sake, atleast RT this!

Balu P. Yadav

Ex-Railway minister
Ex-Chief minister
Ex-Scam artist
Ex-Social media strategist #fml :(

Some names have been changed to protect identities.

{Yes, this is a post about the worrisome aspects of social media. In the good old days one would accuse others with corrupted characters of sleeping around. Now one accuses them of smoring around. Is there any respite to be had from this bombardment of information about 'me' from all of us?}

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


While studying for GMAT, I ask myself a lot of questions. It would help if they were part of the americanised vocabulary i am still trying to master but unfortunately they are of the who are we, what are we doing, are we supposed to be here kinds. Random topics like extinction and hospitality pop into my head and give no peace. Take, for instance, philosophy. As a direct result of a chain of recent events, I've met quite a few people who drop quotes and prophecies like theres no tomorrow. I never realized the extent to which we human beings fall back on the wisdom of greats like Confucius and Kurt Cobain to help us in sticky situations. In fact, I never realized how much i quote these guys. Why do we do it?

It seems to me like a check against, well, almost anything. Give a guy too much happiness and after 5 seconds of elation, his brow wrinkles and staring into the future he will mutter, 'it will pass.' Ditto in a sad scenario, with sulking thrown in for good measure. The gems I have come across have raised even more questions, to further detriment of my GMAT prep. Is it that people are facing so many difficult situations that they see no other alternative other than accepting fate with a smile or a shrug? Have we stopped fighting and trying to change the way things are, instead adopting a hermitic approach to all balance-upsetting scenarios we face? Makes you wonder, have we been designed to worry?

(God: What is this? Angel: Humans, Master. God: Throw some misery in will ya. And send Aristotle down there)

If so, then it brings me to another point. Have you ever heard anyone look at a red Profit statement (red=loss) and say 'it will pass'? You end up thinking about HOW you will make it pass. You do accept that P&L statement, but you go a step ahead and act. How hard is it to do the same in all other situations? Have we been designed as closet hypocrites too?

I'm waiting for Ratan Tata's biography. I'd like to know whether the people who inspire these quotes/sayings actually use them.

PS: If you read this and don’t like it, too bad. Can’t keep everyone happy :-)

Friday, December 11, 2009


From gully to city
To states anew
We begin today
With roots a-strewn
With roots a-strewn

How long is a fast
Has been proven of late
30 days to be noted
Just a passing phase
A passing phase.

There is violence
There is shock
There are no metaphors to be conveniently forgot.

Have you taken your drag of
Unity, today?

Monday, December 7, 2009

What? Where?

An MBA: Masters in Business Administration. Generally 2 years long and quite expensive. Clearing this is supposed to grant you easy entry to the world of the highflying executive and suitably line your pockets. Very competitive. Usually requires genius level scores in tests called GMAT, CAT, MAT, XAT, SNAP, CRAP etc.

A Masters: Can be in anything! For the sake of money, consider Masters in Management. Half the cost, duration, future salary of an MBA. Generally has no truck with prospective inlaws (Ye engineering ka hai? someone i know got asked). Quite competitive. May or may not require genius level scores in aforementioned tests.

Groundwork laid, what should one prefer? Apparently MIM has lesser opportunity cost whereas MBA has greater monetary value. Eitherways, i will be heading for GMAT prep pretty soon so in the forthcoming months this dilemma shall hopefully be solved.