What The Fog!

Just when the Great Wall of Fog descended on Delhi, making entire buildings disappear along with flights schedules, Cacofonix makes an appearance on A-Musing after 2 years of hibernation. It seems the fog has finally cleared up his mind.
Image courtesy - IBNlive.com

“Oh, the fog was so heavy I couldn’t see my own ______ “. Words that could fill in the blank are toes, nose and other protruding body parts in between. Thus will the true Delhi-ite go about describing the weather event that descends on the city every year, usually the very morning he or she has a flight to catch. You can’t see anything, driving is dangerous, it’s bloody cold, there’s no sun and all the vitamin D that your pigments were going to synthesize has gone for a toss. You are late to work, your child is late to school, your dad is late to get up and take the dog out, your dog is late to get up and wake up your dad.

I mean, come on, let’s not crib endlessly about something that’s actually a good thing. The fog can be invoked to explain coming late to work, never mind the night before was spent partying hard and gulping down liquids of various hues and ethanol levels leading to a hangover of epic proportions. The fog is also your friend to let your dad know that the massive gash on the side of the car is all its doing. While, in fact, you got it when you couldn’t take your eyes off the PYT swishing by as you were reversing into a slot next to the trash truck.

In fact, if you could carry some fog with you, life could be so easy. Caco’s fog, ordered online, is just the thing for you.

You are interviewing for a job. You have this nervous twitch in your eyes that bugs you. It’s a dead give-away when you try to pull a fast one like, “yeah, Suhel Seth knows me”. Not that such a reference helps, but there is a lilt to his name that is fetching. So, what do you do? Just have a little fog sprayed from your used bottle of L-Áir du Temps, and lo, the twitch is safe behind a curtain of translucence.

Eclairs Diaries

Once upon a time when I had no fear of calories and embraced them with open arms, Eclairs used to be one of my favourites. Not the hard to crack version by Cadbury but the elegant French dessert. This oblong pastry with a coating of chocolate looks pretty innocent till you bite into it and your mouth is filled with sweetened thick cream...orgasmic!

When I got the invite to attend a special event that would explore new perspectives on éclairs with celebrated pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini at Le Meridien, I decided to let my taste buds do the thinking.

As part of the hotel's culinary program, Eclairs Diaries, Chef Iuzinni has been creating eclairs inspired by locations all around the world. From the maple and bacon to Texan honey pecan to the Dulce de leche eclair,Iuzinni fuses local flavours into his unique creations.

It's not everyday you have a good looking, tattooed, motorcycle-riding chef give you a masterclass on how to create the perfect Eclair with blueberry compote and thickened honey cream that filled the pastry shell from end to end. We also got to sample Chef Iuzinni's Indian inspired creations created in partnership with Le Meridien. I especially loved the Ginger Jaggery version - the sharpness of the ginger beautifully complimenting the sweet earthiness of jaggery. Another favourite of mine was the Hazelnut Tamarind Eclair, even though I couldn't taste the tartness of the tamarind, I loved its smooth chocolatey taste infused with the smokiness of hazelnut.

Le Meridien Delhi will now feature Clotted Cream Kalakand, Coconut Jaggery Cardamom and Rose Cardamom to unlock the flavours of Delhi and Kochi respectively.

If this has gotten your tastebuds tickling, you know where to head!

Nightie too naughty, you must be kidding!

This post was also published on Huffington Post India 

Source - Google Images

In what is seen as yet another blow to women’s liberation movement in India, residents of Gothivili of Navi Mumbai imposed a Rs 500 fine on women wandering around in nighties. It’s better to be born a cow in India that can move around in the nude without a care in the world and yet get so much respect that even their shit is considered holy.

Only those who have experienced the untethered pleasure of wearing a nightie on a hot summery day can understand why it’s the preferred garment of so many women who don’t give a damn about what others think of their sartorial choices. Essentially a sack with armholes, it’s the female counterpart of the lungi that’s also a sack but is wrapped around the waist to let the climate in. The lungi does a splendid job of keeping men in heat cool as a cucumber. They say the secret of Gandhi’s Ahimsa movement lay in his dhoti. It’s another matter that the same dhoti turns Khaap taus into imbeciles who never tire of issuing diktats against crafty women for instigating gullible men to rape them.

The nightie as the name suggests was originally meant to be worn at night. But such are its magical abilities to rejuvenate the body after a hectic day - multitasking as the family’s alarm clock, motivational speech giver, conscience keeper and the database of her man’s past mistakes -that women refuse to get out of it. All it requires is a couple of washes to turn as soft and absorbent as a well-used dusting cloth. It’s a forgiving garment that doesn’t hold you back but let’s you spill out in all your paunchy glory.

It’s the closest a Sanskari woman can get to a dress. Since buying a nightie is a usually a choice between “grandma don’t give a shit” and “the porn star (available in blood orange, traffic light yellow and all shades of “ewww”)”, most women end up choosing the former so as to not offend others with the suggestion of a body underneath the garment. It is a known fact that men get agitated at the mere hint of boobs and butt and the grandma nightie does a perfect cover job of it. Coupled with a dupatta or a towel slung over the shoulders, nobody can even make out that you’re a woman.

Women in public spaces, Uber unsafe

This post was also published on Huffington Post India 

There’s something about Delhi December that brings out the beast in certain men. Especially at nightfall, when the air becomes chilly, the roads desolate, the city gets enveloped in fog, giving men with criminal intent a cloak of invisibility. In a country where everybody’s business is everybody else’s business, for some strange reason, when we see a fellow citizen in distress, we drive a little faster, look the other way with a ‘tennu-kee-mennu-kee’ nonchalance.

The Uber Cab incident was yet another glaring example of how unsafe our women are. Only this time the city happened to be Delhi. Too bad that a few chose to take ‘what else can you expect from the rape capital of India’ stance. The thing is, cities do not rape, people do. Not all men, but certain rotten specimens who use their out of control libido to teach women a lesson! Too bad that all Indian men, including the ones who go out of their way to make us feel safe and cherished get tarnished in the process.

We may go hoarse shouting from rooftops that modern women are independent beings who don’t need men to look out for them but the fact remains that a woman on her own is easy target unless she’s walking around with a Kalashnikov is her hand.

But does it mean we ask our girls to pursue their dreams from home because they might be sexually exploited at their workplaces? Do we stop sending our children to school out of fear of assault by sexual predators? Do we adopt a Khap like attitude and insist they be married off early to keep them safe? Of course, we don’t, yet all of us inadvertently end up telling our girls to stay within their limits. Despite telling our girls to conquer the world without fear stalking their minds, we refuse to leave them alone with manservants, male relatives, warn them against staying out late and if they do, make sure they have someone to chaperone them home. We teach our girls to live in fear or put up with consequences.

With a police to people ratio: 3 cops for every VIP but just 1 for 761 commoners, we have no option but to rely on God and our good fortune to be safe.

Gurgaon On Foot? Broom Through It!

This article was first published in Gurgaon Times dated 30 November, 2014

In Gurgaon, if you'd rather walk short distances than drive, people assume that you're either poor or mad. After all, the millennium city is India’s very own America where the majority prefers taking out their car, even if it’s a five minute walk to drop their child at the school bus stop. Little wonder the city’s roads during weekdays with bumper to bumper traffic resembles a very long parking lot where motorists honk and swear at each other for entertainment.

Sadly, the number of parking spots in Gurgaon has not kept pace with the number of vehicles that has been growing in leaps and bounds unlike our country’s GDP. Getting a decent space to park during rush hour is like winning a lottery. One vacant spot and at least 5 cars rush towards it gladiator style, unmindful of basic courtesy or consideration for the unfortunate soul who was the first to sight the bounty. If you’re not aggressive, chances are you’ll keep circling like a planet in its orbit.

It doesn’t help that the city’s transport system is a wonderful opportunity to get groped and to exchange sweat and BO with random strangers. The autowallahs think you’re Ambani’s twice removed cousin and quote such exorbitant rates that you’re forced to stage a walkout, much like our revered Rajya Sabha MPs.

So, when you move to a neighbourhood with wide, tree-lined avenues, with markets within walking distance, the air just the right kind of nippy, you give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back, bid adieu to parking woes and take out your walking shoes.

History repeats itself when you’re not paying attention the first time. Your memory loss aided by the few years you’ve lived in a quiet city in Australia with shaded walkways, where pedestrians enjoy the right of the way and cars don’t try to knock them over for daring to cross the road. When you move back home, you’re optimistic that the good times will last, unlike Kingfisher. You’ve conveniently erased from your memory the times you’d decided to embark on a Padyatra to your local market and got cat-called by idle Romeos, knocked over by playful piglets and feral canines, hopped, skipped and jumped over potholes filled with foul water and narrowly missed getting run over by vehicles that mistook your locality’s alleyways for the Buddh Circuit.