Aug 122010

Deepwater Horizon happens. The implications to the environment are huge. The Mexican gulf is polluted. The coastal regions depending on fishing and tourism, are the hardest hit. Oil continues to float on the gulf waters and will continue to affect the marine environment. BP will loose billions in settlement, and it has to rethink its business models if it wants to come back to the top. The world and the media, is projecting this case, so that justice is delivered to the affected.

MSC Chitra happens. Its just another ship that’s listing heavily in the navigation channels of the Mumbai port, after an accident with MV Khalija. The containers from the ship have tumbled overboard, and oil is gushing out from one of its fuel tanks. The containers contains, amongst other items, pesticides, and no one knows whether the containers in water contain it. The attitude of the port authorities and disaster response team(if there is any in the Mumbai port) towards this incident, is lax, if not negligent. It takes two days for the gravity of the situation to sink in. But by than, containers have reached far away coastal villages. People in this regions are running around, salvaging whatever they find in the containers. 500 kg samples of fish are found to be polluted. The fishing activity in this region has been banned, resulting in loss of livelihood to thousands of fishing families living in this area Meanwhile, the authorities find that the port is not equipped to handle the situation well. The port continues to be closed for ship movement in and out. The railways and transport systems are loosing in crores due to unavailability of cargo to transport. Fears loom large that the city will be short of oil and gas, for its power plants and vehicles, if cargo movement if not restored. Basically, MSC Chitra, lying in the navigation channel, has threatened to shut down Mumbai.

Deepwater Horizon incident is a major one. But does that mean that the Mumbai incident is not so damaging to Mumbai? Then why this relaxed attitude. Is it because oil spill in Indian waters is taken for granted? Initial reports said that the authorities were using dispersants to reduce the oil sheen. But few people know how it works. Dispersants do nothing to convert harmful oils, full of those catalysts, in to something that is environment friendly. It just makes it heavy enough to settle to the bottom of the sea. Yes! Even after the application of dispersants, the oil exists at the bottom, which is no quite as deep near the coast. During my shipboard training and tenure, we have been taught that these kind of dispersants are to be used only after go ahead from the concerned port authority. And they will rarely give the go ahead. So why does the Mumbai port consider dispersant as the first choice instead of swinging into action some containment plan. Is it because we compare it with deepwater horizon spewing out millions of barrels of oil from the sea bottom?

Go to any coast in India with a port nearby. There is always a layer of oil washed ashore during high tide. This oil is nothing but the waste oil that is discharged from he ships trading in Indian waters, even after lots of regulations in place by the international convention for prevention of marine pollution(MARPOL). The authorities turn blind eye to this oil discharges, and the shipping companies go scot-free. With our attitude, we are heading towards complete destruction of our vast shoreline and the ecosystem around it.

Jul 232010

It is a welcome move to order a stay on the transactions carried out between CIDCO and Avinash Bhosale. The Times of India’s exposure in their leading newsmedia, lead to this intervention from the maharashtra government. The Times view say that though the decision is a welcome development to this case, they hope that this is a genuine move and not a cosmetic attempt to deflect attention.

Well, TOI, wake up!! By now you should lean that the government takes action only when these type of cases are highlighted through the media. If they really think that there should be an enquiry, then the case has to be pursued and highlighted continuously. If the media settles down on such cases, the government feels at ease and dumps the cases, because they can’t afford to expose themselves!!

The TOI starts its news with the first statement as, ‘acting upon the scam first eposed by the TOI…..’ I don’t say that it’s just the TOI using such beginners for a ‘expose’ news article. Every news group does the same. They expose, they print that action was initiated due to their expose, then they sleep. It feels like a battle won, but they forget to wage a war.

The voice of the common man goes unheard these days. Its the responsibility of the media to act in such situations. For proper functioning of governence, there are many element required to function smoothly. But main elements are, the ruling party, which runs hand in gloves with the scammers, the opposition, which is divided amongst themselves and falling apart, the common man, which goes unheard. So its the media which has to wake up and show their importance in running the country.

Jul 222010

The collision between two trains at Sainthia station was a very bad episode, which took lives of many innocent people and injured many more. But what is more disturbing is the blame game that ensued.

First, it was the railway minister herself, claiming it to be some kind of conspiracy. Then there were many more theories blaming either the signal system, or the station employees, or the signal man. And now, its the turn of the drivers and the guard, dead or living. Dead more so, than living.

When will Indians learn to keep their mouth shut, if the time is not right? Why do we, unqualified people for this kind of analysis and investigation job, jump to conclusions? Why not instead wait for the investigations to complete and then demand the dispension of justice in a right manner?

You know what my theory behind this mysterious accident it? Maoists hijacked the train at red signal, and killed the driver and the co driver in some way which will not be revealed easily. Then they started the train, and jumped off it while it was picking up speed. That can explain why the brakes were not applied even as it was speeding to ram into the other train. Far-fetched, but possible, isn’t it? But then why should I not go forward and put up this theory? Well, we still have a living guard, who can shed some light maybe.

But all said, how long will this investigation take? Will it take few more accidents of such nature to get to some conclusion as to what is causing them? Also, do we really have the necessary forensic expertise to solve such mysteries? All these questions will go unanswered, so will the question of what caused the accident. The blame will be put on the driver, and the matter will cool down very soon.

I feel sad to remind the very recent accident in aviation industry, when a plane crashed at New Mangalore airport, killing almost all the passengers. The very first reaction by the authorities was to blame the pilot, even before the black box was recovered. The investigating officials were red faced when their preliminary report, after about a month of the accident, marked the site and the runway of the accident, different from the actual location. What can we expect from such investigation teams?

Its easier to blame the dead, because they are not coming back for their self defense.

Jul 132010

Yes, that’s what I am. And that’s only what I am. I wouldn’t say that it helped me to be even a step ahead anyone who learnt from vernacular language schools.

Pope John XXIII High School, was the name of my school. In the days when I joined school people in our neighborhood could just make ends meet. Of course my parents had jobs, so did many other people in our area, but very few thought it necessary to educate their child in english medium schools. A social activist once scolded my parents saying that they seem to have had lots of excess money to waste since they had enrolled me and my brother to John XXIII. The fees were exorbitant(rupees 100 per month which was a huge amount in those days). And the convent run school meant added expenses throughout the school term. We had a uniform with a tie and proper shoes(people living in cities take this things for granted, but where I stayed, we were the best dressed students). We had a different uniform for sports. We were amongst the first to get computer education in our school, which of course, was charged separately. To sum up, it was quite expensive. While our friends in vernacular mediums, studied for about 10 rupees per month, used old uniforms and books passed on by older students. Shoes were made compulsory when they neared the end of their school life. And tie. Why was that required in a school?

When we left school and joined college, it was no longer based on language. The division was by streams. It was either Arts, Commerce, Science, Diploma or ITI. Initially my friends from non english schools did face some difficulty, and till date they recollect that. We considered ourselves lucky because we understood whatever the lecturer said. We were happy that our parents had educated us through english medium. Slowly, they picked up what was being taught. After college we went our ways. We had new friends. We chose our professions. We were dragged into the heavy currents of river of life. In the meantime, we forgot to evaluate the benefits, if any, which we had extracted from our english medium education.

Let me go personal. I studied mechanical engineering. Couldn’t secure a job for around a year and a half. I did manage to clear all the written examinations conducted by various companies. But somehow, my english medium education failed to hone my communication skills. I couldn’t clear interviews. Then I was selected for marine engineering training, and since that seemed to be the only option left at that time, I jumped in. I have served on various ships for around 4 years. Life, as it passed, managed to teach me some complexities it had in store. After leaving merchant navy, and taking up a job on land, I now find it meaningful to evaluate my english medium education against the vernacular medium education which my friends had taken.

I am a marine third engineer. My friend is a second engineer(second engineer is a level above third engineer). He studied in vernacular medium. Another friend sits right next to me and does the same job as I do. He studied in vernacular medium. The topper from my school works with a big IT company. But I think, he is the only one to join that company from our batch. I know few people from our batch who studied in vernacular medium, but joined the same company. Students from non english schools go ahead to become doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, scientist, politicians, writers and other top profession available in the industry. They have not lagged behind us in any sense. So what was it that was different or special in us english medium students, but didn’t fire up?

Its not the medium that ensures future success. It takes hard work to get there. Even after completion of school, my verbal skills in english were not as good as one would expect, because I did not take necessary steps to improve it. Its the commitment to strive towards success ensures it. It doesn’t matter what was the medium in which the school taught. It all depends on how much we want to learn, whatever is to be learned. I wouldn’t say that enrolling me in to english medium was a bad decision by my parents. My failure to make the most out of it, is what I must blame.

Jul 072010

“Come on man!! It’s the last day of our college!!! We will be on our separate ways hereafter. Who knows where life will take us? Its for fate to decide. We may not meet for quite some time after today. So why don’t you have just a glass of beer with us? We know Ravi, that you are not into drinking. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be in to it for life. Its just one glass that we ask you to share with us? Grow up man!!”

“Ok, ok. Stop persuading me. I will raise just one glass with you. But remember, I won’t go for another glass. This is just for our friendship. Also, make sure that if I pass out or something, just take me to your house, not mine.”

“Hahaha!! We are not asking you to empty a pint. Its just a glass. You will be fine. We all will be. Waiter!! Two kingfisher premium please.”


“What will you have Ravi?”

“A quarter of Smirnoff Vodka.”

“Oh! So you are a fan of Smirnoff?”

“Well it soothes my mind. Makes me forget all my sufferings and sorrows.”

“You have a good job at this IT giant. With your own house in a very high class locality, an expensive car, a loving wife and two kids, I don’t understand what’s eating up your mind.”

“Hey man!! Stop the lecture. I was just fooling with you. Its just that I like to get high, and smirnoff doesn’t stink. So my wife won’t know. What about you? What’s your brand?”

“I normally go for a glass of beer. But since there is no one else to share the remaining, I think I can try a shot of smirnoff. Actually I never intoxicated, until after college. Once I was persuaded by my friends during our farewell. It started from there. I hope I will be able to handle the vodka.”

“No worries man. Its just a glass. You know what? I have the exact same introduction to alcohol. But now I am used to it. At 30 years of age, a man should have some form of enjoyment in life.”


“Brought him in about half an hour ago, sir.”

“What’s his name? And what are the charges?”

“His driving license says ‘ Ravi Kumar’. He is charged with reckless drunken driving, disobeying traffic rules, damage to public property, non cooperation with police, causing danger to human life. This guy almost killed a women who was crossing the street. Had it not been for the signal post to which he collided, the women would have been lying under the wheels of his mercedes. He seems to be slosh with alcohol. I found two bottles of Black Label in his car. These rich, rotten people behave as if they own the world and the law.”

“Keep him in the custody tonight. Fill up the FIR and present yourself and the lady as the witness. I hope you have the readings of the speed gun. Also send his urine and blood samples for test. Lets see how much pumped up this rich kid is. And if he doesn’t have liquor license, charge him with possession of liquor in excess quantities.”

“Yes sir. I have even procured the CCTV grab from the nearby shop, which recorded the incident.”

(Ravi Shouting)


“Be quite you fool. You have done enough damage to yourself and others.”


“You have been reporting late to duty lately. Most of the projects allocated to you are incomplete. People complain of you being slosh and stinking of whiskey. We are on the verge of loosing an important client because of your behavior with their representative, few days back. You cannot be sent to offshore assignments because you have to report to the police station every week. You remain shabby in your clothing and your ways. Do you expect the management to glorify your “achievements” and promote you? YOU ARE FIRED!!”

“Sir, I promise to you this won’t happen again. I had been a fool. Please give me just one chance? I will change my behavior. I will stop drinking. I will be a new man. Please sir.”

“If you repent your act, its good. If you want to change, its good. You want to start a new life? I wouldn’t want more from you. But the doors of this firm are closed for you for the final time. Whatever penance you decide for yourself, take your own time to carry it out. I can just wish you all the best for your future.”


“Sir, the person in the overturned mercedes on the expressway, is charred to death, beyond recognition. We have sent his dentures to match with the records. Video footage shows that car was running at excessive speeds and went out of control before flipping over. It caught fire due to petrol leaking from the tank. Registration number indicates that this car belongs to one mr. Ravi Kumar. I wouldn’t be surprised if this person in the car was mr. Ravi Kumar, because he had been booked by the city police few months back for reckless drunken driving. We have found an empty bottle of Black Label near him in the car, indicating that he might be drinking at the moment this accident took place.”


Ravi, the star in the eyes of his parents. Ravi, the partner to his wife and the guardian of his children. Ravi, considered to be very intelligent ever since his childhood. What happened to Ravi? Life was not supposed to take a U-turn for him. How did this happen? Was it the fault of his friends who persuaded him to drink that glass? Was it the fault of his parents, who might not have taken him into confidence about the vice, that drinking alcohol is. Was it the fault of his wife who failed to notice that he came home drunk frequently? Was it the fault of his boss who did not give him the final chance to change himself?

No.The blame was fully on Ravi, and that “Just one glass” which he drank.

Jul 012010

Rewind to a few days back. I was at home with nothing much to do. Its a common phenomenon that when you are free at home, you won’t find any music worth listening, your friends will be out at work or busy, and the idiot box will be airing a movie which you have watched many a times and are in no mood to repeat it. All the prime shows are aired when you are most busy. I was experiencing such a day , and when boredom sets in, people try to make themselves more active and productive. Well I am one of these “people”. I was planning to type something pertaining to the state of affair of our country. But then, I felt that many people have written about it, some might be writing, right at that moment, and many more will write about it in future, to no effect. So I decided to constrain to more realistic jobs.

So with nothing much to do, I considered it to be a good time to clean up all the unwanted stuff I had accumulated in the numerous drawers in our house. And the beginning point would be the living room drawer. I pulled out the teak wood drawer, and pushed it back again. Oh!! it was almost overflowing. But I was determined. So I took it out completely and placed it on the floor. One by one I started analyzing the items it contained.

# First lots of papers and some prayer books: The papers, on closer examination, turned out to be numerous bills from all the stock market transactions that my had family lost money into. No, couldn’t throw them, supposing that some day the IT department would decide to raid my house located in an interior village. Those were the proofs of where my all money went. Prayer books. Well, we are a religious family. Anything with the names Jesus, Mary or the holy spirit on it, had to be retained for life.

# Two rolls of insulation tapes and one of cellophane tape: Of course, the second roll of insulation tape was almost finished. But “almost”. These were necessary items after duct tape(which I never store in my house. I have never found myself needy to it anytime). I know there is a fevi quick tube somewhere in there. But couldn’t find it the last time I needed it.

# Two staplers: One has a broken spring, and the other staples correctly 25 out of 100 times. But I can’t do away with any of it. I hope to find the correct spring someday in some broken article, to bring the stapler back to life. Or may be I wake up from this dream and find out that the stapler was not broken in the first place. The second one is one of the very few things(and most expensive amongst them) that company in which my wife works, had given to her along with other stationary items. I wouldn’t dare throw that. At least till I get a good one, next time I go shopping(Each time I go shopping, when I see one, I say,”well, the one at home is working fine enough for me”).

# Lots of staple pins venturing out of their boxes(I have quite a few boxes, for when I see them at the store, I feel I may be running out of them a home.) And lots more separated out from their main strip I suppose(well, those I can surely throw away, the loose separated ones.)

# A big box containing the memento of appreciation given to my brother by he firm he worked with and hated a lot. The glass(or acrylic, I don’t know the material) is bigger than the palm of my hand, and occupies lots of space. But emotions( my brother’s) may come in to play, if I through it away. Oh! here it is. The fevi stick tube, attached to the bottom of this box, with its mouth hardened up and blocked. This I am surely throwing out.

# Another plastic box containing the business cards given to my brother by his former employer, just before he left the firm. I plan to use them someday by printing on the back side and distribute it, thus increasing my blog hits. So they stay.

# Few audio cassettes, ones which I had bought out of my pocket money some 10 years back. All fungus infested, and unusable, if I had a working cassette player. All the songs are available on my PC in mp3 format, and I rarely listen to them. But these cassettes are made of plastic, and we do not have proper waste disposal system for plastics. And lets say I manage to repair that cassette player in future, due to its vintage value, I will require this vintage cassettes.

# Lots of loose screws lying in the corners. These screws are byproduct of any maintenance activities carries out at home. After completion of job, few leftover screws are found, and if the device is working fine, heck! no point in opening it up again to add those screws. So they are tossed in this drawer, and forgotten. Well, we have to do lots of repair activities now and then. Just few days back I had to hang a picture frame on the wall, but couldn’t get this particular size I needed, so I bought it from the hardware store. Aaha!! Here it is!!! But too late. Never mind. No need to throw it away, since I will need it next week, when I have to hang up another frame on the wall.

# Lots of coins. Travelling on buses ensures that the wallet gets all bulgy with coins in it. So me and my family have made this drawer kind of a piggy bank, with withdrawal facility. Whenever in need of loose change, we search this drawer. But coins have this known physical property of being attracted to the farthest corners the drawer, which is often inaccessible. I managed to collect coins equivalent to 20 bus travels on that day. But my wallet would bulge with them in it. So I took just two, and left the rest in the forward most corner.

# A deck of cards. All fluffy with moisture. But this sunday, I plan to play rummy with my brother. And if I throw them today, I might forget to buy a new deck on saturday while going back from office. And on sunday, the shops in our area are closed. So the cards and the jokers stay.

# A reel of thread. Yikeessss!! The needle was just below the reel, and it pricked my finger while lifting the reel.

So, by now I have not thrown away any item, but got myself pricked on the finger.

I remember the last time, a few months back, when I had tried cleaning this same drawer, but ended up not throwing anything of it out. It was turning out to be a futile exercise. I somehow replaced back all the items in the drawer, in much more unorganised way, put he drawer back in and resumed surfing the TV channels. The junk in the house, remains…….

P.S. : The items in the drawer are real, but the post is imaginary. I would never dare to open up that drawer for cleaning, ‘cause I know, I will end up retaining 99% items in it, and the rest 1% may belong to my brother, who will be cross if I throw them away. And my “behind” is quite heavy for this kind of work….

Jun 282010

I am one of the first person to board the maharashtra state transport bus, and in between chitchats with my friend, I look around and observer the interior of the bus. Seats in green, torn at places, do not promise a comfortable ride. Small sliding windows, some jammed in place others cracked, are designed more to block the wind. The bus is very old with nothing worth mentioning except, maybe, the long service it has rendered. Well………Almost nothing. Because as I look on the frame separating two windows, I see something written in marathi. Along with the seat numbers of the respective seats, I could read the designations of the persons to whom these seats were reserved. Of course, in cities, these reservations are rarely followed, except in case of ladies and old people.

The first few seats are reserved for the members of the parliament and the village panchayat head and other “dignitaries”. Then there are seats reserved for various ranks in the government. Around the middle of the bus, I could see seats reserved for women, and though I couldn’t make out on the seats at the very rear, I was sure they were reserved. May be the last, long bench seat, was kept unreserved for anyone to occupy.

Reservations!! How deeply are they rooted into our system!!! I was unaware of this fact until I left my school. Then I found that there was something called as reservations for people without resources, and I didn’t fall in any of those categories. Of course I later found out that people who had joined on reserved seats, rode flashy bikes, and gave treats to friends in fancy restaurants throughout their college life.

During the times of kings in our country, in the pre-colonial era, the society was divided in to different casts. Some, called the Brahmins, were considered the best of us lots, had reserved rights everywhere, and were immune to law. Others were warriors and merchants and were some levels below the upper class. The lowest class was of the shudra, or the untouchables, who didn’t have much rights, weren’t allowed in the society, and were altogether a neglected lot. To do away with this caste system, the leaders of free India, after the British times, framed the constitution, and in a bid to uplift the downtrodden, brought reservations in the system. The people belonging to particular lower castes, were given priority to jobs at government offices, public institutions and also for education. Lots of leeway was given to them in the matter of their selection, so that they could be benefited from this scheme of reservations. All was well, theoretically. In reality the situation was quite different. Very few of the lower class population got any benefit out of it. Actually this scheme were never much advertised to the needy. Their condition remained pathetic as ever. In the mean time, our politicians, judging the huge vote bank this reservation system could generate, passed bills after bills, including lots of other castes and categories. The people, who were covered by this categories, immediately grabbed the chance with both hands and established themselves in their place. More and more people kept on asking for reservation based on caste, language, religion etc. and many were granted. Finally, by the time the government woke up to the ill effects of this system, it was too late, because any change(read reduction) in reservation could topple the government.


The reservation system should have been introduces with some foresight to its ill effects. It should have been time bound. Say for example, how many generations does it take for upliftment of a community? If a particular generation is given some benefits to improve their living conditions, then that generation would we capable enough to support the next generation, which could do much better in terms of finances when it grows older. At this point, the third generations should not be allowed to avail any benefits. This kind of system would have forced the first and second generation to work towards the betterment of their future generation. But, since this benefits are never taken away, all the generations have taken it for granted, and have tried least for their upliftment. Secondly, lots of castes and communities have been included in the reservation system. There is no consideration to the financial status of the people benefiting from it. How can any facility be reserved for a person who is black or white or brown or who speaks a particular language and follows a particular religion? What is the base for this system? Why isn’t the scheme of reservations based solely on the basis of the financial condition of the person benefiting from it? Isn’t that the right criteria for upliftment of an individual in this world ruled by money? If a person is rich enough to support himself and his family, then why not give him his basic right, which everyone else gets, and leave him to “maintain” himself? Why pamper a rich person, and waste the resources of our country?

The scheme of reservations was brought about to wipe out the gap between different castes. How can the caste system be abolished, if we create categories in terms of reservations? It has added to the divide amongst the people, by favoring some and neglecting others. And those neglected, bid their time and ensure that they get special treatment in some other way.The divide between Brahmins and shudras isn’t of any value any more. The divide between the rich and the poor has evolved which needs to be addressed.

Above all this, the government is mulling the women’s reservation bill. This bill will help bring out more involvement by women in active politics. That’s a pretty messed up thought. What do we expect from the advocates of this bill. Will the go in to interior of the villages and train women in to politics, so that they participate in to the political matters actively? That’s not what I think. Women’s reservation bill will further aggravate the dynasty rule problem faced by India at this moment. A women, who is interested in making a career in politics, should start from scratch, proving herself to the voters if she has to win. The seat should not be dished out to any particular candidate, male or female, without proving themselves. We do not want any more Rabri Devis ruling us.


Where does reservations take us? I belong to general category, and though I do not regret that I am not on the better side of this affair, it would have been good if I would at least get my worth. I know few people who have abused this scheme of reservations, since they fall under reserved category. A close friend of mine scored very less marks, but got admission to a very reputed college. He was later barred from appearing for the exams for three years due to some malpractice that he followed in the examination.

I even know at least one person who did not avail of this reservation just for the sake of availing it. This friend of mine scored very low marks in physics, chemistry and biology, the three main subjects considered during medical entrance. He could have easily got admission in to a very reputed college, even with this poor marks due to his reserved status. But he opted out of it. He said that medical education was not his cup of tea, and he was better off studying something that he can manage to complete.

There are lots of schemes for the welfare of the people, but it all depends on the implementation of these schemes in proper way. The way in which the reservations scheme is abused, there is no end to it, and we might just end up leaving nothing for the people who are worth their value. The politicians will keep on abusing this scheme to generate more votes. The reserved category people abuse to better their already well to do lives. But we still have millions of beggars on the roads. We still have uneducated folks, who have never seen a 100 rupee currency note throughout their life. We still have people who do not know that life exists outside their domain.

And I will not be surprised if the people in the open category are finally found fighting for some reservations for themselves.

Jun 202010

Predominently cooked in Kerala, the southern state of India, Aviyal, classified as the vegetable stew, is a regular diet of the mallu population. It is unfailingly served at their festivals, the Onam and the Vishu. Being a fan of south Indian cuisine by heart, I decided to tryout this dish at home myself, with some tips from my colleague, Madhukumar.

Reminiscing, I see that it had been a very strange introduction to this dish for me. The year I was at the cochin shipyard for my marine training, I was fed upon, with this cuisine, almost every third day. The cook always kept the vegetables raw, and the ingredients, especially the coconut, were less in quantity, not enough to bring out the actual taste of this dish. Most of the trainees hated it, and we even joked that eating this food was a kind of training, to prepare us for the food during our sea life. We actually experienced the true taste of this cuisine on the day of Onam, when the cook, put all his hearts, and the required ingredients in it. Later I was served it on my honeymoon in cochin, and became a fan of it.

Here is Madhu’s method without further delay by my boring stories.

You Require :

Yam, Bottle Gourd, Raw Banana.

These three are the important ingredients. For rest, well it’s a stew, so anything goes.

Here, I must warn you, that if you are a novice, stick to known vegetables. In the novel, Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome, the author describes a situation, wherein he, along with his friends George and Harris on a river trip, were preparing scrambled eggs, and being their first times at it, they ended up introducing all sorts of food items in it. Seeing this, their dog Timothy, brought a dead rat as his contribution, which they almost wanted to try, but decided against it, since they had never heard that being done before. That was the funny side, but stick to basics if you can’t imagine how the vegetable will contribute to the taste of the Aviyal.

So here’s what I used(to feed my family of five, which include 4 voracious eaters):

I didn’t have Yam, so had to do without it, but would have gone for 1/4 a portion of Yam.

1/4 portion of bottle gourd

2 medium sized Raw Bananas

1 good, ripe red tomato

1 Potato(I used two due to lack of Yam)

4-5 French bean sticks

1/2 carrot

Fistful of green peas

2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

2 stem of curry leaves

2 green chillies

1 coconut

2 teaspoon of cumming seeds

2 tablespoons of coconut oil or vegetable oil( Coconut oil can be avoided if you don’t like it in food, but believe me, it adds good flavour to this dish)

Stems of Cilantro for green texture and the aroma

Salt as per taste

Drumsticks if you like( I avoided them since I feel that they give out fibres in to the dish, which almost messes up the looks and feel)

How you go about it :

1. Peel off the skin from potatos, carrot, bottle gourd, yam and bananas.

2. Cut the carrot, bottle gourd, french beans and bananas in to juliens.

3. Cut potatos and yam in to cubes, to give the fill to the dish.

4.  Cut the tomato, whichever way you want. Why should I constrian you when it’s your dish.

5. Take a deep bottom pan, and heat it. Remember to cook the entire dish on medium flame. Put about a cup full of water in the pan before adding vegetables, to avoid burning the vegetables. Add the potatos, tomato, peas(can be introduced later if you want them full in the serving dish), yam ,bottle gourd, french beans, carrot and bananas. Cover the pan and keep on medium heat.

6. While it cooks, grate the coconut. Add curry leaves, cummin seeds, chillies cut into small pieces and cilantro leaves. Grind the ingredients adding some water to make smooth paste. Keep aside while the vegetables cook.

7. After about 5-7 minutes of steaming the vegetables, add turmeric powder(and the green peas, if not added before) on the top of vegetables and cover it up for further cooking. Allow the vegetables to be medium cooked before mixing the turmeric. Yam and potatoes take longer to cook, so keep them as the measure for properly cooked vegetables. Doesn’t matter if the tomatos melt away.

8. Once the potatoes and yam are properly cooked, add the coconut paste prepared earlier, and mix it well. If the outcome feels dry, add little water to get the creamy texture.

9. Pour the oil on top of it all, and allow it to cook further, covered  and on medium heat.

10. Add salt as per taste and mix well.

11. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve hot with appam, iddi appam, dosa or even with steam rice.

Here’s how mine turned out

Enjoy your Aviyal!!

Jun 192010

We all in India know how the private transport operators hold us to ransom, time and again, to increase their fares. The most recent incident being that of autorickshaw(hereafter referred to as auto) drivers in mumbai threatening to go on strike, if base fares are not increased from rs. 9 to rs. 15. This is been in the backdrop of the governments decision to hike the CNG prices by rs. 6. I, along with many other commuters, feel that this demand is very steep, even though I do not require to use their service often. Lets analyse the situation.

1.  It a commonly known fact that CNG, as against petrol, is a very efficient and clean fuel. The government has pushed for this fuel owing to its low cost and cleaner exhaust. The cost of running a vehicle, especially a transport vehicle, is very less on CNG as compared to petrol and diesel. Even then the base fares for auto drivers running on CNG are same as those running on petrol. An increase in CNG price translates to very few paisa additional running cost per kilometer.

2.  While I was discussing this topic with my brother, he informed me about a particular conversation he had with an auto driver. As per the figures that the driver gave out, the returns on running an auto on petrol were about 125 rs. per litre of petrol(petrol costs rs. 50 in Mumbai). Compared to that the returns on running an auto on CNG are rs. 175 on an average per kg of CNG(CNG costs rs. 25 per kg). So clearly there are huge margins in operating an auto on CNG. But the auto driver revealed that one of their “leaders” was pushing for this hike, even though others were against. Infact, one member of the union has suggested that the base fares, instead of being increased, be reduced to rs. 6, so that more commuters would be attracted to auto. But the member was silenced then and there, reminding of his state of origin(this proves how deeply this state divide is rooted even in the “united” union).  Though I cannot vouch for the statements made by the auto driver, I feel these calculations are quite accurate.

3. While discussing this issue, the subject of transport in singapore came up, and my brother informed me that the government has levied heavy taxes on private vehicles, so that the commuters opt for MRT(mass rapid transit) or public buses. I would suggest that the India government goes ahead and agrees with the demands of the auto union. But they should also control the number of autos plying on the roads. Also the government should do something to the number of autos stationary at their designated stands, which normally are located just outside the suburban railways. A control in their population can very easily make some road for public buses which the commuters will prefer to autos, due to less cost and easy availibility.

4. Let me recite the problems we had at our place with transportation. We had a very good state transport bus service plying in our area, which is around 5 km from suburban train station. But around 10 years back, people started getting restless waiting for a bus, which started getting delayed time and again. Many times there were incidents of buses being cancelled due to one reason or the other and people got fed up. Then one by one, commuters started to opt for the auto service, which was rare initially. But seeing the growing demand in our area, more and more auto service was given to us. The fares were kept exactly same as the bus fares, and people, with a blind on their eyes, were attracted to it. Within few years, the buses has very few patrons, and ultimately many services were stopped, citing non feasibility. Our social leaders, went just short of kneeling in front of the commuters, in request to continue using buses. But ultimately, all the buses to our routes were stopped. Now was the chance for auto drivers to get their wishes. First of all the fares were increased for day journey, with and additional charge for night drive. Drivers started taking 5 passengers( three on the back seat, and two on both sides of the driver) to start the journey. Then came the six seater autos, which we call Dum Dum, which ran on diesel. The drivers wouldn’t start if the auto was not filled with 10 passangers(8 in the seats meant for 6 and 2 on the left of the driver). People with broader bottoms, and even pregnant ladies were made to sit in very small and uncomfortable seats. There was no use complaining, else the driver would ask the commuter to get down, and make seat for some one who would not complain. All this while, the RTO chose to turn blinds eye to these broken rules, with a wet hand for the traffic police stationed near the junctions. Finally again after years of struggle by our social activists, the buses, though limited in number, have started plying in our area. Men, who had opted for motor bikes, due to harrasement at the hands of auto drivers, have stopped using this costly transport and chose the red and yellow bus, provided by the government of maharashtra. We expect higher number of commuters this monsoon.

Though this story diverted me from the original point, I feel that its important for commuters to use public transport, hence I narrated it. All in all, the fare hike demand is irrational. A question to the union leaders. If you demand for a hike in fares, when fuel prices are hiked, do you reduce the fares when the fuel prices go down? I don’t know. I didn’t see the fares going down, when the petrol prices went down from the high of rs. 51 per lire to rs. 46 per litre.

Jun 132010

I was enquiring my colleague a couple of days back why he had not updated his blog for quite some time, and his answer was that he was going through writer’s block phase. That left me pondering. Was that the case with me? It seemed to me that few of my recent posts were not from the heart. There weren’t much efforts. I now feel I could have improved upon the one on legalising betting in India. And the ones with all the videos inserted, merely seemed like fillers. I could have done away with those. And why did I even announce to the world about Nadals fifth win at the french open? It is not as if I am the only source of news and the first thing my readers do is log on to the internet to check my updates before having breakfast.

Yes, it seems I am definately going through a writer’s block, or a blogger’s blog in this case. Though calling myself a writer would be a bit of an overstatement. I have been neglecting my blog for quite some time now, citing one reason or the other to myself. Sometimes it was that I had not composed myself enough to publish. Or may be the problems with my internet. Sometimes I feel I am diversifying to much, while at other times I seems to be concentrating to my region. Sometimes the lack of subject or even plain old lazinesss is the reason.

There are lots of drafts in my blog at this moment which can be updated. But calling them a draft would be a change in its defination entirely, because these drafts contain only the titles. No body. The thoughts are in my head. But am unable to phrase them in correct sequence to justify the subject. I have been determining, and procrastinating, to finish these “drafts” to publish meaningful posts which might help me release myself from this mental block. But……

…..even as I compose this post, the writer’s bock really blocks me from going ahead.

%d bloggers like this: