Category Archives: on and off

Sip of Sin : To Coffee or not to Kapi


downloadA week or two back I was part of an entertaining argument on what can be called the better drink – Coffee or Tea?

The entire discussion started in the context of my mother who just does not drink coffee and belongs to Kumbakonam.  For those not aware, Kumbakonam happens to be famous for its degree filter coffee. The situation with my mother and her tea is quite hilarious. Occasionally , we would saunter into a hotel and she would ask for tea , especially if it happens to be an off peak hour and not a big joint then the waiter will almost always return her with a look that says, “hello who drinks tea?” Who does anyway? quite a few, to say the least.

World over tea is the more popular drink . There are  three main reasons for this :

  • Tea happens to be the favorite drink of the most populous nation in this world in China and the second most populated nation, India. It is indeed the drink of masses 
  • Tea is often more broadly classified than Coffee. All forms of coffee are only derived from coffee beans grown for the purpose of harvesting coffee, Tea on the other hand is loosely used to describe any broth of herbs and leaves. Kashmiri tea which happens to be one of my favorites is an example
  • Tea has been there longer almost forever and hence has been adapted more widely across cultures

Tea clearly scores on history, tradition and numbers. Medical myths would also sell you a cup of tea over coffee any day.

Clearly the good boy drinks tea.  The not so good ones smoke the sutta and drink chai. You can also imagine the Queen of England  with a hat and a bow sipping a cup of tea quite regally. So, the drink is both sophisticated , like the old queen taking a slow sip out of the cup held closely with her wrinkled but bejewelled hands and  yet  populist, ask Mani Shanker Iyer, he will tell how.

Coffee alas is for the bad ass hangovers, for the addiction, for the caffeine high, it’s the drink of the wall street or mafia, if you will go no further, its Americano and Hollywood but also Italian , it indicates a ruthlessness, a perverseness and  a sense of decadence in all glory. Coffee in short is for coffee.

The above two interpretations are  generalized and not particularly Indian. In this country if you were then to pick a battle of Tea vs Coffee  – it will have to be the masala chai vs the filter coffee, the two most popular versions respectively. With a PM who has run a campaign  on tea, it would be foolish to say the masala chai is not the winner, and so it shall be crowned  as one ,  Afterall,  its prepared with so much trouble and effort. Cloves, cardamom, ginger, pepper and what nots are added and let to simmer. If you forget to add tea and milk in the water with all these spices  you can probably go ahead and cook your lunch with the broth to make a good gravy. And then finally the poor tea leaves are set to rise above the avalanche of spices pouring in and swim against the thickening milk.You feel a bit sorry on the kind of assault the tea leaves face. Its brutal actually.

The filter coffee is an entirely contrasting affair, its sole focus is only  coffee. So beans are roasted, ground, mixed with the right amount of chicory and brought to a coarseness that is not too fine or too granular. It is then tightly packed into a filter with just the right amount of water at the correct temperature  and allowed to drip over the coffee powder to retain the maximum flavor. It’s an art in itself ,  it’s love and  it’s about coffee.

We may have a PM who sold chai but get me my cup of coffee, filter or not ! Mr. Iyer, hope you find your peace.

-Caffeine Addict/Kapi lover

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Man is a greagarious animal


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We are in an era where everybody knows what others are doing and conversely, most people are doing things just so that everybody else can know.

I am not an exception to this phenomenon and what I write in this blog applies equally to me as it does to countless others I know of. I am writing about social media and Facebook in particular. When I was in engineering second year, I researched on Second Lives to do a piece for an in-house newsletter. The concept was a virtual world where you had a chance to live an alternate second life. Facebook is very much like that. If this were to be a debate and I have to pick sides , I am against the motion. Funnily enough, I am also aware of the fact that I could never get myself to leave fb,  as it is fondly called. Its like those lines from Hotel California – You can log out anytime but never really leave. I know friends who deactivated and then activated their accounts. The blessed ones are those who never had an account.

There have been enough studies on social media marketing and its benefits, I am not going to delve into that but what I did realize in the past week is that fb exploits the two fundamental natures of the human being to be social and to display. The latter one is partly a result of the former, We display because we want to fit in, we want to show we are better and we want to climb up the social jungle. That man is a gregarious animal has never been proven so correct till fb invaded our lives. The number of messages or calls I get asking about my marriage plans or discussing the caller’s plans is always on a spike when a wedding invite has been posted. My self-destructive tendency to gloomily retrospect also takes a hike when I see a change in job or an admit cracked as a status update. This I am sure must ring true with a lot of people. Tolstoy’s opening lines of Anna Karenina where he says every happy family is happy in the same way applies here too – every happy picture is happy in the same way, instagrammed !

Facebook is not just a place where only happy faces and photoshopped landscapes are seen, it is also the place where people freely pour out their angst. You can monitor relationships, unravel whole timelines of information and as well construct one. Its amazing the amount of time that goes into fbing, I post a picture, I want it liked . I write a poem I want it read and I check in so others can know. I would like to see the figure on the man productive work hours that are spent on this site . I am sure it would be significant. Man has never been more social than he is now and I am not sure that is a good thing at all.

Angry Bird that pecked at the Pervert’s guide to Cinema


“The virtuous man contents himself with dreaming that which the wicked man does in actual life.”-Freud

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So, today is one of those days where the sheer awesomeness of being angry takes over everything. I mean its not PMS its just one of those days where you cant figure out why or with whom you are angry. So you are bloody pissed at jokes,you swear if your lift doesn’t stop and finally you harass hapless people around you. Its like that rock that sat on a volcano mouth. Just that there’s no vent for the lava to come out.

Much before anger took over approximately a whole day back, I saw an interesting documentary titled -‘A Pervert’s guide to Cinema.’ Much of the content would shock you if you haven’t been exposed to Sigmund Freud. But having been I found it quite mundane. So drawing examples from many cult classics of almost every conceivable genre the narrator ties it up with Freudian philosophy. So, Eyes Wide Shut, The Matrix,Psycho,Fight Club,Exorcist all lend themselves well to the theme of Freudian psycho analysis.

The familiar motifs of incestual tensions,fantasy vs reality,pornographic imagery and why they are ironically conservative,the feminine in the male world et al are explored. If you are a cinephile you must probably watch this one.Its a three part series and yes, be open to what you hear and take it with a pinch of salt.Its a tad different and likely to keep you thinking for awhile.

 

London, Paris and New York


I am kind of bored these days for obvious reasons. I decided to watch London, Paris and New York.Not great but definitely much much better than the Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan starret ekk mein aur ekk tu or something to that effect. So if you mix Chetan Bhagat’s two states of my marriage with before sun rise and throw in bollywood masala ,voila you have London,Paris and NewYork. So you have this uptight tam brahm girl(ok she’s half tam and half marathi brahm) meets the spoilt brat and flirtatious punjabi guy. I would have railed this is stereotyping but much of it rings true. But yeah its time Indian movies tried other geographies out. I mean you understand why the Tam Brahm with Punjabi pairing works – for the sheer contrast but maybe its time we tried a Gujrati girl with a Manipuri boy or something.

The story is trite and passe but there’s an honest effort by the star cast  and its much better than much of the latest fare. I have lost patience and substance to continue this post so signing off 🙂

 

We Met & Materialized @NITK


-The M&M tale

The story starts three and a half years ago on a day that none of us can now remember. Thirty of us brave, IIT flunked-AIEEE screwed -almost 18 some things stepped onto the hallowed portals of NITK united in the cluelessness we shared about our branch .Three years witnessed some of us leave seeking greener pastures, a few just staged an act of disappearance and only 25 metamorphosed to speak of a journey that defined the meta batch of 2005-09.
Third semester: Fledglings
Saw us enter the department .Pramod finally found his place in geek haven ECE and Darshan left us for Chemical. The rest of us were force- initiated into the system of compulsory electives and less credits for more hour concept that would remain our branch’s USP till the end. The first grand event of the semester, a fiercely fought CR election was won by Shatman where he managed all the 7 votes from the girls. He showed his loyalty by ‘CR sitting’ only them leaving the rest of us, not-so –lucky ones to fend for ourselves. Machine design and its imported instructor Abraham John came along with a dose of factor of safety 75 and “You will not see this in any textbook” refrain. His abstract leanings and weird absenting patterns resulted in the junta struggling to pass the course. Hebbar tried teaching us BMS and Udupa regaled us with thermodynamics and temp zones in cigarette butts. And, both the professors competed with each other in setting papers we could not complete. The rest of the courses were pretty harmless. Meanwhile a much paid for branch freshers took place and the side effects featured a faculty boycott, a ‘cat’walk malfunction and a Kaptaan in depression. Rumors flew high when an ‘accidental rendezvous’ between KoSu, Hill Gal & Chintu in the loo was discovered. Speculation was soon laid to rest however, when the girls insisted that they had absolutely not seen a thing leaving behind an already much relieved Chintu and a disappointed class. The semester rolled on fast, resulting in a last minute rush to make the deadlines for workshop diary and assignment submissions. With Pramod gone and Kaptaan in what he believed was emotional turbulence , his ‘good’ friend took over the topper’s reins and held onto it till the last sem.The semester ended on a high note with all of us escaping machine design unscathed.
Fourth semester: Lost in Transition
Fresh from a month of winter break we were pushed headlong into PPR’s physical metallurgy. By far one of the courses meriting a ‘YES’ to ‘is it one of the five best courses you have had?’, question in the feedback form, it would make sure we are never able to escape dislocation loops for the rest of our B.Tech lives. Jaggu followed suit with an equally good course in XEM and affected us with his genuine warmth. However the semester shall be remembered for featuring the first of the two infamous run-ins with UBK. His phase diagrams became a dreaded affair with people being robbed of sleep and grades equally over it. The sem also saw ‘Abhishek’ Tutorials and its co-concern ‘Brindha Tutorials’ in the GB , firmly established saving us stationary and note taking for the next 2 years. These two shall be the reason why the rest of us shall inch towards a B.Tech degree. Reddy made all the effort into mass bunking truly worth by conjuring a grading system that did not curve below a BB. However, Chintu and Verma for some Reddy known mystique were tricked out of it despite a word to word micro reproduction of Ray, Sridhar & Abraham. Not the one to be left behind, Verma discovered life at ISTE and took up metallurgy as a recreational course.
This semester is special because Akhil & Anil still made celebrity appearances, Rahul still remembered the way to the department and the first benches actually had people occupying them.
Memorable Moments
Satya, every time he saw a girl in class, “Can I have some water plz?”
AbJohn to KoSu, “You are just like my daughter!” Replying to a doubt on rivets.
Srini to Chintu,” You do not know Chitragupta, What a Vichitra Gupta I say!”

Fifth semester: Dog Days
A summer later and a year less wise we entered by far the toughest semester in three years. We were introduced to daily questions, ppts, leave letters and AOS. The junta faithfully turned up for his classes preferring to tackle polymer bonds than leave of absence excuses.KNP finally debunked the credit for hour myth with seven hour long marathon sessions. However his penchant for black clothing and teeth flashing seemed to mesmerize the girls with side effects ranging from temporary memory loss to motion freezing. Srini’s much anticipated re-entry turned out to be a dud when he set us on reproduce-whole book assignment sprees. Nesargi won the CR elections by popular vote and led us onto the glorious path of postponing every test, assignment and record submission. Satya put that to the ultimate test by bunking Srini’s end sem paper. An attempt to save the plummeting grades saw us celebrate teacher’s day. The desired outcome is yet to be witnessed.AOS redeemed himself with good grades and we pushed ourselves into another semester.

Sixth Semester: Pre-Placement Glory

Began with two weeks of meager attendance, portending the days to come. Our second of the humanities elective in common with Chem handled by a first time cute-in 3 yrs-AL seemed to make all the writing and first hours worth it. Verma went as far as learning the only piece of paper he did in college-her bio data. We also went on a MEA trip to Pilikula and KIOCL.The class had mass transitioned to the back benches much to the irritation of its faithful and privileged occupants-Baba, Sudhir, Sam and Rahul. Shatman by now added ‘U stare, I punch’ title to his name and Chintu all together changed his to VJ. Time hand outs, Vocab cards and Barron’s were whipped out.Kini smashed GATE at AIR 20 making us all proud. Nesargi & James became the PCs. We departed anxiously conscious of the placement season to come. Little did we know….
Memorable Moments
Srini’s take on American all gender dormitory system, “these guys think they can conquer biology, I say! If we follow that in NITK we must build a separate hostel.”
Srini again to a beleaguered Kaptaan,” Whats the use of preface…aaaa? Whats the use of your face?”
AOS to Harsh, “That line in your ppt is wrong.”Harsh slowly in reply, “It can be like that also or how you say also, it depends.”
Sam while filling eco feedback forms,”Whats the best part of the course? It’s her da… the lecturer.”
Seventh Semester: When Recession hit hard
The placements lead to a wardrobe change with the emergence of young men in washed-pressed & shared in rotation basis formals and that helped Madhav finally look in place. This semester taught us the meaning of recession, lay off and no vacancy clearly if ever there had been any doubt. With the placements bleak throughout, TSu & Brindha managed IOCL, Basava & Madhav NMPD, Harsh & Bapin JSW, Shatman landed ZS and MuSigma got Nesargi. KoSu, Kaptaan, Satya, Nandu & Hill Gal, all got Accenture and James IGate. Foundry Lab sought to enliven our sagging spirits by requiring us to wallow in dirt and model with mud and submit records. With a lab so wonderful KNP was perplexed why students periodically disappeared .UBK came and finished the semester with literally a shattering effect when his window revealed a long crack. An outpouring of final year sentiment saw us head towards a class treat for the first time in three years leading to a Basava’s day out. He made full use of the opportunity by taking us to the cleaners and short fusing Kaptaan. Every one stuck to the binary system of attendance faithfully and life moved on .Harsh truly made us proud when in an attempt to placate the SE lady he prostrated to postpone a five mark test. However the episode had an anti-climatic ending when Sam came, smiled and ShE relented. The semester ended and brought us to the last three and a half months of college.
The curious case of the eighth semester
Finally electives dropped their compulsory tag and we heaved a long in due sigh of relief. With companies having completely disappeared there was nothing left to do than bask in the final days of college life. This materialized into a class trip to Coorg. The trip while special for a lot of reasons shall be remembered for Rahul’s wonderful hospitality, Dips’ larger-than-life enthusiasm, Harsh’s crooning skills and Basava’s parting ability. Kadbu almost lost us the bus over a cup of coffee and lava braved the mighty Kodavu Hills on bare foot. Meanwhile Engi euphoria spilled onto our department too with Kaptaan wriggling out to be the Con and Verma lived his dream by becoming the face of Engi.
The rest of us chug along appearing for seminars or an occasional class. With less than a month to go, a few of us await admits, some gate ranks and others better jobs. The four years in college have been special. In retro we are grateful to the Khaitan standing fan that was the cynosure of all our attention and made the classes bearable. The batch of 2005-09 shall also be known as the batch of deliberations. We knew the art of it well, the reason why we churned out one Verma, one Kaptaan, a hundred discussions and along the way managed to earn ourselves a B.Tech degree. The above diary is an account of the journey we shared as a class of 27 -2 , sometimes we took it with a pinch of salt, other times polished till our hands ached and yet all along the way were part of a one memorable journey that we started together but end on 25 different notes.
The Players
Shatman-Shamanth, KoSu-Sudarshna, Hil Gal-Isha, Chintu a.k.a VJ-Vikram, Rahul Raj, Rahul Nesargi , Harsh, Satya, Verma, Kaptaan-Abhishek, ‘good’ friend-Brindha,Tsu-Suhani,Kadbu-Jeevitha,Lava-Lavanya,Dips-Deepa,Sam-Sameer,Nandu-Nandwana,Aditya Joseph James, Madhav, Sunny, Baba-Anil Babu, Sudhir Pawsakar, Anoop Kini, Bapin, Basava-Bharath