This ain't no MacDonald

This ain't no MacDonalds

Dhabas are rustic places to eat, a roadside cafe for everyone in India. Perhaps, more close to the heart of majority of India for dining out or a quick bite.

Notice the cooking-gas cylinders for home delivery on the left.

This ain't no MacDonald but tastier. Dhabas are not swanky places one would find in New Delhi or NYC. They are also not for faint "vestern" stomach.

The counter for this dhaba says "Pure Vaishava*** (Hindu stream/ thought/ school/ style) Punjabi Dhaba" in devanagari.

*** They are referring to ingredients and style of cooking, something akin to kosher cooking.

Will you have my girlfriend?

At Delhi airport on my way back to US of A, an Australian bloke was chatting with a lady. At some point, I also joined in the conversation. He was quite an animated fella and seemed to have loved India. He was in India for a month.

Somewhere in the conversation, he told us that a rickshawallah in Delhi offered him his girlfriend. The rickshawallah was married but also had a mistress.

I forgot to ask whether it was a manual or scooter rickshawallah. I guess details like that do not matter for a story like this.

I asked, "That is a fairly complicated offer. Did he convey all this to you in English?"

The Aussie answered, "Oh, Yes. If you know English in India, you can charge double for everything from tourists."

Mick Jagger has mojo

B000000W6L.01._AA240_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgHere is a news from The New York Times:

RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb. 18 -- It takes audacity to come into the city that is home to the world's most famous Carnival just one week before that bacchanalia begins and play any style of music other than samba. But the Rolling Stones have never lacked for swagger, and on Saturday night about one and a half million people, according to the police and other authorities, flocked to Copacabana Beach for a free concert starring Mick Jagger and company. [Link]

Damn right, Mick Jagger has mojo. I saw Rolling Stones at Superdome, New Orleans for the Voodoo Lounge Tour in 1994.

Love Is Strong, Sparks Will Fly, I Go Wild, Baby Break It Down,Thru and Thru.*

*Please note these are titles of Rolling Stones songs.

This ain’t easy

Badmash tagged me for Four Fings. I wish he knew this ain't easy for someone who described himself like "Forrest Gump" on his former PhD advisor's web page. Anyhow, I will try with special notes attached:

4 Jobs that have left me demented or influenced
1) Graduate Student: I was a graduate student for so long that it was a "tenured" job for me at one point of my life...collecting degrees from different Universities on different continents.
2) Oil Man: I had been briefly an oil man, and therefore, my obsession with energy politics.
3) Seafarer: In 1995, I spent 2 months in the Alboran Sea (Western Mediterranean) on a drill ship. I have crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, and the fearsome North Sea (it was surprisingly calm during our underway). I still remember the sea storm of May, 18, 1995 in the Tyrrhenian Sea (Mediterranean).
4) Academic Rat: Between Visiting Assistant Professor and various Research Positions, I feel comfort in the Ivory Tower, and at coffee houses. Coffee houses like Beanery are special. Keeps me young, and alert - nothing wrong with that.

4 Movies I could recommend to anyone
1) Lawrence of Arabia (Hollywood)
2) Breaker Morant (non-Hollywood)
3) Millennium Actress (Japanese-Anime)
4) Kaagaz Ka Phool (Indian)

4 Places, I've lived and also linger in my memory
1) Roorkee, India (hometown)
2) Ithaca, NY, USA
3) Baton Rouge, LA, USA
4) Austin, TX, USA
Note: They have been other places too. Cannot include Corvallis, OR, USA as I live there currently.

4 TV Shows, I may remember
1) X-files
2) HBO
3) History Channel
4) Discovery Channel
Note: I have not had TV/ cable since 2000, therefore I am outdated. I foucs on channels rather than programs. How about that?

4 Vacations, I will always remember
1) Rajasthan, India
2) Edinburgh, Scotland
3) Andalucia, Southern Spain
4) Okavango Delta, Botswana

4 Foods, I enjoy
1) Sushi
2) Ethiopian
3) North Indian, home-cooked
4) Cajun

4 Place I'd rather be
1) Himalayas - where earth meets the sky
2) in the Bush in Southern Africa zening with the lions and wild dogs
3) Andalucia, Southern Spain
4) Edinburgh, Scotland

4 Sites, I can always vouch for other than Playboy
1) The New York Times (I have been reading their site since the earliest days of the net, even when I am in India or anywhere on the earth)
2) Asian Writing Club (I have been part of them for a while. They are a real, grassroots level but a personal, small-scale effort)
3) (I just joined them very recently)
4) Sepia Mutiny (Gotta keep track of Michael Jacksonification of South Asian Diaspora. Lively discussion always with lot of passion and cultural angst)

4 Bloggers to whom I'm giving some homework (do the same Four Fings)
1) Ms. Aranyi
2) Ms. Evenstar
3) Ms. Jinal Shah
4) Anyone..........anyone who visits this blog and wants to take up the challenge. Please let me know through comments.

Devanagari script and avant-garde

Hindi is written in Devanagari script. My name in Devanagari script is कुश (first name). I cannot get the translator to spell my last (family) name correctly. Man, this blog has writings, drawings, and now is bilingual. I will now write bilingual stories and drawings. It will be an avant-garde blog that likes to talk about oil and gas politics and earthquakes from time to time. Sometimes, I showcase USA to rest of the world. Sometimes, I showcase India. Sometimes, I showcase myself.

Maybe, I will also write blasphemous stuff now. Already, writing Hindi using a roman alphabet keyboard is a riot. Let's start with....

अक लढहि, अक लद्का। तू मैर्य हो (One girl, one boy. You are mine)। बहूत बूरा (Very bad). Very bad indeed, the phonetic translator is not working for me right नओ (now), so humor yourself if you know Hindi and English. There is already a start for a Bollywood script. My written Hindi is coming out as though some colonial like Tom Alter would sound anglicized in a bollywood movie. Hindi is my mother tongue but I am just being dyslexic. Trust me, I speak chaste Hindi.


 ind10e.jpgNike $43 million contract with Indian cricketers has an interesting marketing "sharing" strategy.

"If a player is a right handed batsman, his uniform will carry a Nike logo on the right arm, and not the left arm that faces the bowler and the camera most of the time, Shetty said. On the left arm, he will have a logo of the Sahara Group, an Indian company that remains the team’s main sponsor. Similarly, a left-handed batsman will sport a Nike log on the left arm, he said. "[Link]

Above quote is from Daily Timesand the image is from

 I guess Nike knows what they are doing.

Thoughts of the Day-4 & Greetings too !

50m.jpgQuotes from Time Bandits

Kevin: I'll never get the chance to meet Robin Hood again.
Randall: Oh, stop moaning. He's obviously a dangerous man, unbalanced if you ask me. Giving away what isn't even his!
Kevin: That's what Robin Hood always did. Even I know that.
Randall: Of course, you know it all.
Kevin: He was one of my heroes.
Randall: Heroes! Heroes! What do they know about a day's work?

 Ain't we all heroes? Season Greetings and Happy New Year. 

Supreme Being: Dead? No excuse for laying off work.

 And holidays too.

Thoughts of the Day-3

12AM.jpg.jpgJuror #8: It's very hard to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And no matter where you run into it, prejudice obscures the truth. Well, I don't think any real damage has been done here. Because I don't really know what the truth is. No one ever will, I suppose. Nine of us now seem to feel that the defendant is innocent, but we're just gambling on probabilities. We may be wrong. We may be trying to return a guilty man to the community. No one can really know. But we have a reasonable doubt, and this is a safeguard which has enormous value to our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it's SURE. We nine can't understand how you three are still so sure. Maybe you can tell us.

The above quote is from a classic movie "12 Angry Men". Quite often, I put "Thoughts of the Day" - they maybe a profound idea, a political comment, or pure humor -on something that connects to me at that moment. Older thoughts of the day are here, and here. These are my thoughts or me presenting someone else's in a creative journey - no preaching.

Thoughts of the Day-2

bfdvds131.jpgAlfredo: Living here day by day, you think it's the center of the world. You believe nothing will ever change. Then you leave: a year, two years. When you come back, everything's changed. The thread's broken. What you came to find isn't there. What was yours is gone. You have to go away for a long time... many years... before you can come back and find your people. The land where you were born. But now, no. It's not possible. Right now you're blinder than I am.
Salvatore: Who said that? Gary Cooper? James Stewart? Henry Fonda? Eh?
Alfredo: No, Toto. Nobody said it. This time it's all me. Life isn't like in the movies. Life... is much harder.

[Above quote is from Nuovo Cinema Paradiso]

Sojourner, why you do go long distances? Why? Have you lost you way. Didn't you know that. Why do I always return but always little too late? Why I long to return? Why are we all Alfredo?

George Best: When a real great man dies, we all mourn

26best.1841.jpgWhile I was working today, I listened to BBC Radio Player - Sport on Five: George Best tribute. It is very heart warming tribute by his family, friends, and himself for a gentle soul, a genius - yes, a pure genius, and a foolish genius. Please go there and listen, I urge you. His peer from Republic of Ireland and Leeds midfielder Johnny Giles described Best as "the most naturally gifted player I have ever seen."

"He had the lot: balance, pace, two good feet, he was brave, strong and a good header of the ball."

"Pele wasn't as gifted as George Best and I would definitely put George above Johan Cruyff because he had more heart," said Giles.[Link]

And from a common man: "I cried when he left United and I cried again today,'' said supporter Lawrence Chapple-Gill.  "I have supported United since I was four or five when my dad gave me a poster of George Best and told me all about him.'' [Link]

He was not only a genius. He was a fantastic bloke. However, in his words: "I spent a lot of my money on booze (alcohol), birds (women) and fast cars. The rest I just squandered,'' he once wryly observed. [Link]


''Pele called me the greatest footballer in the world,'' Best once said. ''That is the ultimate salute to my life.'' [Link]

Quite a few thought he was the greatest with a great heart. A quote from BBC Five Live - People like George Best never die - how often does anyone get such a tribute? El Beatle.

Ground's eye view - Raw and clear, and not ordinary

smiths-meat.jpgQuite often, I wonder that my reading blogs in addition to newspapers, and books - what purpose does it really serve other than? - is voyeurism or massaging the self-absorbed or subjecting yourself to just plain bad writing. However, amidst the deafening noise I have always thought there is a poetry and honesty in unedited thoughts in people's expression formed day-to-day and when their ideas are still in flux. Then you come across a blog that makes you validate in reading a man's view - raw and clear, and not ordinary.

Let me please introduce you CBFTW, a soldier in the Stryker Brigade in Iraq from San Francisco, has a blog called MY WAR - Killing Time in Iraq through Chris Vallance from BBC-Radio Five Live and ourMedia.

CBFTW describes his blog as "This website is privately operated and is designed to provide personal information, views and commentary about the authors experiences in Iraq and elsewhere..."

And from Kurt Vonnegut :

"My War by Colby Buzzell is nothing less than the soul of an extremely interesting human being at war on our behalf in Iraq."

Here is a man who has something in common with Ernest Hemingway.

Stephen Hawking and I

051117_hawking_hmed.hmedium.jpgFollowing the news from MSNBC , some excerpts presented  here ………….
"They had to resuscitate, and that panicked a few people," Bristol told the audience. "But he's been there before."
Part of Hawking's appeal has to do with his sheer ability to carry on despite his disability. [Link]

Brought back some memories. It is spring of 2003, Texas A & M University.
Stephen Hawking is at Texas A & M University campus on a sabbatical. I have been to his over-packed, all-sold out campus talk that had a standing ovation towards the end even classical and rock musicians would envy. I only understand half of it . He presented the talk quite well. It is just beyond my wisdom but I enjoy and admire his genius, clarity, humor, and courage.

A few days later, I am headed for lunch on a bright, sunny day on the campus. I see Stephen Hawking and a woman (could be his wife) on the sidewalk. I decide that I will not disturb them at all. However, as we pass, the lady makes an eye contact, and she says hi. I say hi too. Stephen Hawking raises his eyes, and I say hi to him deferentially - that is it. We did not write any papers, or discuss cosmology, or wager. For next 3-4 days, I jump around like a giddy high-school girl telling everyone my story.

Some of his quotes do crack me up:

* What did he think of "The Simpsons" TV show, which has had Hawking as an animated guest star? "It's the best thing on American TV."

* What was his view of the Bush administration's limits on human embryonic stem-cell research: "America will be left behind if it doesn't change policy."

* What did he think of the program to send American astronauts back to the moon? "Stupid," he answered. "Sending politicians would be much cheaper, because you don't have to bring them back."

* How high is Hawking's IQ? The physicist replied that he didn't know. "People who boast about their IQ are losers," he said.

* Which late personage would he rather meet, Isaac Newton or Marilyn Monroe? "Marilyn," Hawking said. "Newton seems to have been an unpleasant character."


Deepak Does Huffington

Deepak Chopra, a spiritual guru and a marketing genius has a team blog, intentBlog which is the Asian and Indian version of The Huffington Post. The man has the finger on the pulse...........with the line-up of the 20-30 bloggers are the South Asian who's who. Notable bloggers are: Shekhar Kapur,Nandita Das, and the usual A-list. He is tapping into South Asian celebrity talent but they are casting a much wider net on topics and readership pool beyond South Asia. The posts are well-written and topical. I only read a piece or two by Shekhar Kapur and Nandita Das and they are pretty good and bold. Here is a sample from Shekhar Kapur. I do not know enough about their blog to say whether they are just touchy-feely or will continue to make thought provoking posts. They describe themselves as:

"The goal of is to present original voices on and from Asia and India to inspire, stimulate and engage a dialogue about new paradigms of creativity, communication, and fulfillment. World renowned author, Deepak Chopra MD, and internationally acclaimed film maker, Shekhar Kapur, are the founders of INTENT[About]."

Then they are also the lone voices - a lots and lots of them, equally eloquent and powerful. At some level, individual bloggers are more creative with more freedom to experiment and express.

I have been scooped on their link to The Huffington Post by Deepak himself, and others too. Am slow. Do not credit me, but DesiPundit.

The Times of India - Absolutely No Vetting


The Times of India (TOI) was once considered a veritable national institution in India, but it seems recently they cannot even tie their shoe laces. The list goes on......... lack of common sense during Mumbai Floods coverage(originally written by Uma), Aishwarya Rai and Jerry Springer from The Spoof, and others, and others.

Now, if they want to be a tabloid like "New York Post" for business reasons, that is perfectly OK. But at least get the basics right. Every publication makes honest mistakes but not so often and then not promptly correct it. How can you trust their reporting anymore?  You can surely ask me why was I reading The Times of India. I must be bored. I feel really sorry and sad because I grew up as a child with this newspaper, reading serious editorials about India, and rest of the world, and R K Laxman's  common man in "You Said it". During the pre-MOSAIC days, in graduate school, I would go to Cornell and LSU library during the weekends to read TOI. Back home, my parents still subscribe to TOI's paper copy. I still visit TOI's online site every day, even for few minutes. Whenever, I am in India, I read a news or two from TOI's paper copy. How did they get so sloppy? Here is their latest faux pas:When did Seinfeld's Jason Alexander marry Britney Spears? Apparently, he was Britney's first husband according to TOI

From Times of India, Thursday, August 18, 2005.

Britney's ex hubby speaks out

Britney Spears' first husband Jason Alexander, has confessed that "being married to her was shit". The latter claims his shock Las Vegas wedding to the pop princess, which lasted just 55 hours, has ruined his life. He insists he was serious about marrying the sexy singer, and says he didn't receive any money from her, but everyone slates him for cashing in on the marriage, reports an American magazine. He said, "I never thought the wedding was a joke. I was serious about everything I said. But being married to Britney Spears was shit." [Directly from The Times of India article along with the photo]

Note: I noticed the mistake more than a day after the publication. How simple can we get? I think they need a Public Editor like The New York Times. Or, just use Wikipedia often. It is not the mistakes that bother me more, it is the lack of checks and balances mechanism shown consistently in TOI, contrary to what is expected from a massive, national level newspaper.  New York Times in past have published erroneous obituaries too. Any high volume, time constrained, 24/7 publishing business is quite vulnerable to slip-ups.

Such an obvious, silly, mega-pop culture blunder illustrates that there is no vigilant process for constant check, reporting errors, and publishing quick addendum, errata in place and that is really serious and telling. This is definitely no Jayson Blair fiasco but does display being clueless as a whole. You just cannot pass the blame only to a cub reporter, provide no mentorship, punish him or her, and walk away. This is absolutely the last thing I want my post to cause.  Maybe, this careless reporting culture holds true for some other Indian newspapers too - that I do not know at all that much. I would definitely not put India Todayin that category. India Today is a world class publication.

There is always a room for improvement where national newspapers of any country develops a robust means to detect errors through their own staff and from outside (readers and bloggers), and take corrective measures instantly. Maybe all it takes is an online, easily visible email address that gives everyone access to tip the newspaper researchers. I think a policy of corrections added on a regular basis will just do perfectly.


on 2005-11-16 07:54 by Kush Tandon

Sepia Mutiny's take.

What would have happened if Britney Spears was really married to John "George Costanza" Alexander?  Read Predominantly Prosaic Prose.