Saturday, June 23, 2012

Arjun - the quintessence of companionship

I do wonder every now and then, if my life would be any different, had I known this young man personally.
I do not know Arjun, I have not spoken to him, yet; I have this insatiable wish that I did. Arjun was not just another kid in the block, who went to school, played the guitar and had a bunch of friends. He was all that and more. Arjun – a kid, a brother, a musician, a friend, a son and a great guy!!

Ever felt the after-taste of a tea that lingers hours after drinking a cup? To me, Arjun is that sweet after-taste that has been lingering in my mind years after his passing. He is this distant actuality that persuades me to love and live this life in a certain way – the Arjun way! We can all but hope to be loved and respected by people around us. But this guy, simply by being himself, has managed to win over thousands of friends / fans / followers who confide in him, swear by him and more than anything; BE THERE FOR HIM!
I, in this lifetime, could not reach half as far as he has even with twice as much effort.

A humble but confident young man who taught himself to play the guitar and transcended into becoming this amazing guitarist / musician has stolen many hearts and inspired many more. Be it the Blues of Clapton, or solos of Petrucci; Arjun was thoroughly MAGICAL. In my opinion, Arjun and his band (ESION then, TWKC now and forever) were successful in bringing about a paradigm shift in perspectives of rock music and bands. They were just a group of boys who were extremely talented and irrepressibly music loving.

His passion for art, dance, theatre and paintings conformed to the myriad of interests this talented young man had. On 27th of March 2009, at 19 Arjun passed away in a road accident leaving behind an enormous vacuum that was profoundly numbing and utterly devastating. I can only imagine what people he knew, he loved would have felt like. A sense of irreplaceable void and perpetual turmoil surmounts my mind when I think about the many instances my path has crossed Arjun’s and how close I was to befriend a magnificent man. Sigh.

After this dreadful incident, what I have learnt from the plethora of news articles, blog posts and facebook feeds is that, there aren’t many people around in this world like Arjun and hence they become very dearer to our hearts. To keep his energy, his compassion and the man himself ALIVE, family and friends joined together to have an annual musical event as a tribute to Arjun and all that he believes in. On the 14th of July, the stage is set for the fourth consecutive year where we hope to raise funds to sponsor an ambulance that is manned 24x7 and is available for all emergencies on road.

This apart, through the trust in the name of Arjun, we’ve been involved in some earnest charitable activities and scholarships for young students to pursue their dreams in the field of art.

The thought of Arjun, is as close to my heart as the hope of being by his side and seeing the world the way he sees it. Tranquil. I only hope I have done justice in my attempt to express my admiration for my little brother. Walk by his side and experience his companionship albeit intellectually and hope this lasts for eternity.

Arjun, you are to me, what music was for you.

And in Sharad’s own words - To yesterday's companionship and tomorrow's reunion, Salut!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mahamudra - The Maha disappointing Sunday evening!

Sunday morning seemed a bit unwelcoming as I was feeling a bit under the weather, thanks to I-don't-know-what-I-ate-last-night's meal I was not looking forward to the day at all. We had already planned a dinner outing as an excuse to celebrating my birthday that went by 3 days ago! Owing to this ill health, I was hoping not to experiment with anything  pertaining to food. As luck would have it, this outing had to be done or I would disappoint a whole bunch of people so I resorted to the just-go-with-the-flow attitude!

My brother had been to a restaurant sometime in the past month and he could not help but mention about the kinda food they served and how delicious it was; too many times to miss! So quite comfortably we decided we would visit this restaurant in Mylapore called Mahamudra and see if it is really worth all the praise from my brother.

I have always had a problem with restaurants / antique shops etc. that claim to have "self proclaimed idiosyncrasies" of selling 'authentic-indian' or 'ethnic' or 'earthy' or 'traditional' COME ON!! You surely can do better than that! What is so 'Indian' about you when you sell a penny worth material at the cost of an unaffordable / unfounded currency with all these histrionic taglines attached to it, I deeply wonder. You won't see me buy from what's name such as "FAB INDIA", "DAKSHIN CHITRA" "KALPASTREE" and all those shenanagans, that's for sure!

So we find a place and start off with the infamous vadai and go with their top two choices as suggested by the waiter!

I have tasted better Vadais at home. In fact my mother had made the exact version of Vazhaipoo Vadai (Picture 2) which I thought was yumm and found the Mahamudra version of it to be dry and not so jaw-friendly! The first one was, again, dry and impeccably STIFF!!^&*!@#$.. I don't recommend it at all.

Next we moved to the main course, the one I was looking forward to as I had ordered 'Pesarattu' and I hadn't had it in a long time. In line with my health status the Pesarattu was also very bland; it seriously lacked life. For starters it had not a hint of salt and was served cold. So far my evening seemed to have shaped very well I thought. So shamelessly I ogled at the other dishes on the table hoping I'd accumulate a fair share and get away with not having mine at all.

My mum had ordered Mahamudra special which is "two dosas, one stuffed with a medley of vegetables and the other slathered with old-fashioned spicy ‘gun-powder' perked up with well-roasted cashew nuts.".. as you would have read from Shonali's article. This was by far the tastiest of all food items we had ordered. PS- It did not have cashew nuts.

By now my brother's face had started to sulk because I could no longer pretend to like my dish and had eaten up half of my mum's. In that very instant I checked on what he had ordered and that was the 'Red rice appam' which looked curiously appetising.

It was a decent dish, it didn't blow me away! Although I must admit it's cost did. For a dish that costs INR 225 simply because its made from red rice, I was gutted. The ishtew was scanty and could have been warmer.
And the other dishes we ordered were Topi Uttapam and Ulundu Paniyaram. They were, again, so so. The Paniyaram needed a wee bit of steam on the insides as they were visually doughy.
After having ransacked the menu for some more time we did a bit of trial-error choosing certain dishes; half of them were not available and the rest we didn't particularly like. So we made our final move to the infamous dessert. I had mentioned before that my brother could not stop saying how awesome the dishes were, well, he was particularly talking about just one of the dishes; the Carrot Halwa. And Carrot Halwa was what we ordered.
Apologies for the blur. I was split between clicking the photo and eating it. As I was hoping this would be THE DISH we were all waiting for. As i was just about finishing the Paniyaram, my brother had started eating it already and I looked at him with such excitement thinking 'after all the fiasco, its all justified at the end.' Apparently NOT! The Halwa didn't taste half as good as last time, said my brother. And it must be true as he barely has anything good to say about food items he orders in restaurants and needless to say that his unprecedented memory is not very helpful in this regard either. So on the whole, it was a bad call to go to Mahamudra.

A few observations at the restaurant:

1) The waiter who served us had a very 'jumpy' attitude about himself that he would recommend ALL the dishes from the menu and mean it!
2) He also was not so gentlemanly as he brushed past the ladies in my table including myself when there was sufficient space around us.
3) He would offer to place the plates in front of my brother not by standing beside him but by standing beside me stretching in a hope to get a bit of contact perhaps? #SHAME ON HIM.
4) We had ordered 3 seasonal juices costing INR 120 each and my mum was the chosen one to find a hair strand in her glass!! *APPLAUSE EVERYONE* The waiter offered to exchange it for us with with an additional request from us to add some ice cubes in it. (The drink was called "SUMMER COOL" they atleast got the summer part of it right!) Ha!!

5) After all this, we had asked for finger bowls to which the waiter said, "No hot water Sir, sorry!" and gave all of us but my brother a bowl of cold water with a piece of lemon in it. After a while when my brother asked for his bowl to ANOTHER waiter, he offered him a perfect finger bowl :-)
Maybe, our waiter was gutted that we didn't go with his choice of ordering the entire menu card. Or perhaps he thought we didn't deserve to wash our hands in warm water :-)
6) A dish in the menu card that I found funny

7) They seemed to take pride in their 'food from the backyard' cuisine and lived up to serving most of them. The price leaves one skeptical though.

THE BILL: I rest my case.

Will I visit / recommend this place to anyone? Ha! Whaddya think!???