Category Archives: food

Which School are you from?

I am a Syrian Christian and being one exposes you to rituals and customs which are very typical to the church. One such ritual, called the Hoosoyo, is associated with the ‘Holy Communion’. The Holy Communion is a sacrament where the ‘body and blood of Christ’ (bread and wine/water) is shared with believers who see it as eternal life being bestowed upon them through the union with Jesus Christ.

In the Syrian Christian tradition, one must have not had food or water for at least 6 hours prior to receiving the communion and it is mandatory to undertake Hoosoyo to be able to partake in the Holy Communion. Though the term sounds complicated it involves the priest touching your forehead, saying a prayer of forgiveness on your behalf and making the sign of the cross. The entire process takes 5-10 seconds. The process of handing out the Holy Communion, on the other hand, is a more elaborate process with the Church curtains opening and ‘Achen’ coming down the ‘madbaha’ (altar) to give out bread and water to the believers who are standing in a line with there hands folded in prayer and reverence

As a 4 year old, the elaborate process of communion never ceased to amaze me. The entire church joining together in singing praises while Achen (the vicar), would pick a piece of the brown bread and toss it into the receiver’s mouth. The receiver would then go onto have water and gulp the bread down. (It is believed that not even a single morsel of the ‘body of Christ’ should remain in the mouth). What intrigued me more was that everybody I knew seemed to get a chance to taste that seemingly delicious bread (I didn’t know it was bread at that time) while I would stare and gape at them, puzzled.

A few Sundays of gaping helped me make up my mind. I had to have that elusive bread and it seemed easy to obtain it. I just needed to stand in the line, fold my hands in prayer and open my mouth in front of Achen. My parents did not need to know of this covert operation and everyone would go home happy.

And so the day came when it was to be my turn. the curtains parted and Achen came down the stairs. Looking around and seeing none of my folks around, I slipped into the line, unnoticed. As the line progressed, I became increasingly nervous of facing Achen. Achen knew me and my family quite well and I hoped that he would stick to the business of tossing the bread into my open mouth rather than ask me questions in front of the entire church.

That was not to be. As I arrived in front of Achen, I saw a glint of suspicion in his eyes. He proceeded to ask me ” Have You taken Hoosoyo?”. The Key senses activate their own defense mechanism when they feel that the subject is incapable of handling a situation. My ears refused to hear that question and instead, interpreted the question as ‘Which School are you From?”, a question with the ready answer ‘St. Columba’s School’.

Achen wanted to say more but eventually had to succumb to the pressure of feeding many more needy, open mouths and I made a dash for the safety of the church crowd….A great escape indeed.

ps: The incident was eventually conveyed to my parents, who being responsible Sunday School teachers themselves, ensured a sound scolding followed by a strict warning was implemented.

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Striving to live the patient life

It’s been a month since I ever attempted to feed my blog. In a self imposed exile of sorts, I decided to do away with the privilege of being ‘always connected’ for a month. The experience has left me saner and in control of a habit that was threatening to drive my very being.

A host of factors contributed to me being off the net all this while. While office errands were chewing their way right into valuable personal time at home, my reliable Dell Inspiron was also slowly succumbing to the pressure of exploitation. It’s hard disk soon crashed, never to recover again. Currently, it lies by the side of the study table, usually in service as an arm rest.

My impatience, as the new Airtel 16 mbps ad suggests, was seeing me spend hours at home on the web, idly signing in and out of my mailbox, sifting through an umpteen social sites and mulling in deep thought as to why some clients behave the way they do.

And so with the hard disk crashing, the net connection was also done away with, leaving me at the mercy of books and family and friends to go out with. Not having a tv only accentuated the situation, giving me even more time.I started looking for chores to do around the house and soon felt some responsibilities sinking in.

A day for me has many more fuller elements to it now. It involves 8 hours of sleep, Fuller and healthier meals and a lot of time to read and explore

I now realize the wisdom of our elders in maintaining that balance. It is important : to live your life but not to abuse it.

Impatience is not my new life!!

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Ludhiana: Plums,Pepsi and Butter Chicken

I frequently survive on weird diets, often leading to mouth ulcers, currently one of which has been tormenting me for the past 4 days. Pepsi and Namkeen, half a glass of juice, no fruits …the entire diet plan is vague and rarely effective in helping me maintain my health. An over heated body only adds to the misery.

There have however, been situations where I’ve had to survive on a diet because there were no options. One such situation presented itself during my MBA summer internship. I had been placed with Taegu Tec – a leader in making cutting tools for engineering purposes. A part of the Berkshire Hathway group now, this company is based out Daegu in Korea and hence the name.

I was assigned to do some market research for the firm and understand opportunities and flaws in terms of its business. My region was north and it meant travelling all across the industrial belts of Delhi, Noida, Manesar, Daruhera, Haridwar, Ludhiana and Chandigarh.

It was also a time when my parents and my sister had gone off to Kerala and as such, I was left to fend life on my own with a house to take care off. The start wasnt very auspicious though and after a short trip to Haridwar, on coming back, I realized that I had forgotten to put the fish back in the freezer. The house had a stench which was unbearable and I was only glad that the neighbours hadnt bothered to call the police for enquiry, thereby saving me from embarrasment and a bruised ego. 

I had received an initial advance of Rs. 10,000/- from the company for my travel and accomodation.Ideally, for a college student, this should be more than sufficient. However, money was disappearing fast and in my extravagent avtaar of travelling only by Shatabdis and staying in slightly expensive hotels, I soon realized that I might just not be able to make it back to Delhi.

I was in Ludhiana when this realization hit me.After an initial bout of panic attacks, I finally sat down and budgeted the left over amount, assigning cash to each meal I was to have and the hotel and travel expenses for each day. I realized that I could pay off the hotel bills and the travel expenses and for the trip back to Delhi but I would have to compromise on food.As fate would have it, Ludhiana, the land of chicken and kebabs was to lose a foodphile to the one challenge that affects all: cash.

And so the next 7 meals across 3 days comprised of a bottle of Pepsi(500 ml) and 3 plums. I loved plums and the Pepsi helped in achieving a full stomach and the optimism of being able to make it back to Delhi( where I could borrow from my aunt) kept me going .

On the third into the diet and my last day in Ludhiana, I reassessed my situation and to my utter relief, realized I had saved more than intended which meant I had just enough to splurge on one last good non veg meal in Ludhiana.

Sitting in my hotel room, I ordered for a plate of butter chicken and naan and felt my taste buds watering in excitement and anticipation.With my stomach growling and my eyes shifting constantly from the TV to the door, I knew this was going to be well worth the wait.

After a long 20 minutes the food was in, a thickly orange gravied chicken, rich and appealing served with soft, buttery naan. My senses approved it and my mouth was eager to take big, meaty bites and chew to satisfaction.

The excitement was, however, short lived. Somehow, my stomach had adapted to my meagre diet of plums and pepsi and was now refusing to accept the flavours of the wonderfully prepared chicken.

5 minutes later I retched, spewing forth all I had eaten. Lunch, despite the butter chicken, comprised of 2 leftover plums and half a bottle of pepsi.

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Kerala: God’s own Country

Been in the country of coconuts for the past 15 odd days and its been a delighful experience…from my wedding to our treks across the hills of Munnar, the backwaters of Alleppey and the forests of Thekkady.

I am a Malayali (Mallu as defined by non keralites) but this was my first foray into my land as a tourist and the experience has only added to my respect for the land, the people and the food.

In the course of my next few posts I shall be showcasing the beauty and the heritage of God’s own Country

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Did you Know?

Nescafe Ad

Nescafe Ad

Nescafe, by Nestle was researched at the bequest of the Brazillian Government in 1930. 7 long years later, Max Morgenthaler and his team came up with a coffee that could be stirred by simply adding hot water and milk to it. The first release happened in Switzerland ( Nestle head quarters) in 1938.

Since then it has grown to be a worldwide brand

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The ‘loose’ call of nature

Ever since coming to Mumbai, today was a day that was filled with rumbles in my otherwise dormant stomach. I still recall telling my friend and room mate: Prosenjit at breakfast ” This is the kind of breakfast we should ideally have”. I was referring to the George Washington Breakfast at Crepe Station. One chicken sausage, a bulls eye egg preperation, boiled corn and fried potatoes with a glass of Water Melon juice and bread was enough to get the mouth munching in delight.

That was Sunday morning. Sunday evening, however was a different story. After watching “The Dark Knight” , the experience made all the more fulfilling by a hot dog and a glass of Pepsi, my stomach was geared up for more.

And so after a short auto ride we reached Alfredo’s near Prithvi theatre…In a mood to try a new bistro, we chose the Gringo,right next to Alfredo’s and owned by the same group as Alfredo’s,Four Season’s hotel

The ambience was fine and the place advertised itself to be the place for sizzlers and so we ordered the same little knowing that this was to be the cause of all my woes today.

We ordered 3 sizzlers ( one veg and two non veg:lamb and prawns). They were ok and enough to fill a moderately hungry stomach. The prawns were a little burnt while the lamb had a soapy taste to it.Fortunately Lamb wasn’t what I had ordered.

A Rs. 70 cab ride back to Mahim and we were back home, looking forward to the next weekend.

The morning was when the symptoms started showing up. The stomach felt like an ocean, the waves swirling and violently crashing against the walls of my intestine, signalling the doom to come.

I managed to reach office without the usual hurry accompanying an upset stomach but as I readied myself for the first round, I was informed that there was no water. “No water!!!” ,my emotions only disturbed an already active volcano. After managing to keep myself preoccupied for the next 30 minutes, I was informed that the water truck had arrived and refilled the empty tanks. I was ready and the first round was completed with ease…but that was not all…as the day progressed I was able to deeply familiarize myself with the white floor tiles, the red walls, the white wash basin and the almost empty liquid dettol soap…not once not twice…but three times!!!

As I write this I am exhausted but glad to have survived the ordeal. I have been able to rebuild the fort and the waves have subsided….I live to eat another day

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Lethargy, milk and rolls

Once in Delhi, Lethargy rules. Its something to do with the climate or maybe its just home. Whatever be the reason, it is with great effort that I managed to wake up and pen this post.

While working in Delhi, in my previous stint, my daily route involved traveling roughly 20 kms from Janakpuri to East of Kailash. Fortunately for me,Vineet.another colleague( and now a close friend) used to come from Nangloi, which is further away. I thus used to get a lift from home till office.

For all those who thought that the drive would be smooth due to Delhi’s broad roads, here’s an eye opener. In the mornings and evenings, the roads are so congested,vehicles can barely move. it used to take us roughly 1.5 hours either way.

Now 1.5 hours is a lot of time and with our inclination to food, we inevitably used to make a pit stop at Satya Niketan.

Satya Niketan is to South Campus what Kamla Market is to North Campus. An epicenter of activity and campus gossip, you’ll find a lot of college students hanging out,gossipping and eating. Our interest as “the corporate executives”, was however limited only to eating. OK,I’ll admit grudgingly to a bit of gossip as well.

Satya Niketan is host to some really good eating outlets and our favourite was Keventers.
Now Keventer’s is ingrained deeply in Delhi’s heritage. Every Delhiite is expected to know what Keventer’s is. Flavoured milk is their strength and the servings in 400 ml milk bottles adds to the charm.
Keventer’s has quite a few outlets in Delhi, the more popular ones being in CP, Karol Bagh and Kamla Nagar. Satya Niketan: well now you know. In addition to milk Keventers also stocks some delectables like puffs(patties), Cream rolls, sandwiches and pastries. Cheap and acceptable to the taste buds, Keventer’s used to be an ideal eat stop for us.

One of our other favourite spots was 34, Chowringee Lane. Simply mouth watering rolls.A small outlet, this is probably the most frequented food joint by students.The quest for a roll may not,however, always end up with a roll in your hand owing to the crowd and an even greater waiting time!!. So many rolls to make and only one tawa can be a great mismatch and many a time we have had to return to the car defeated and fuming.

Now to come to the point, my only escape from lethargy, yesterday came with us(Vineet and me) going to Satya Niketan and having a double egg mutton roll from 34,Chowringhee Lane and a  chilled bottle of Butterscotch milk from Keventers. The waiting time at Chowringhee lane hasnt got any better.

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