Monday, 29 December 2014

"Fooding"- the Indian Invention

Any series on Indian innovation can never be complete without the mention of food - bhojan, khana or annam as it is lovingly called, depending upon which part of the country you are in. If there ever was a league table, or even an indexing of countries who live to eat (rather than eat to live) , we could well be at the top of the list. Unfortunately the peoples (usually staid ecomonimists or other morons) love to rank countries on rather mundane issues like livability, breathability and other such where India stands the poorest chance and inevitably but rather unfortunately ends up at the bottom end of the pile.

Thaali- naan and others. coutesy:
So, while the most premium seems to be placed on routine "roti kapda and makaan (home,cloth and food)" when it comes to these rankings, in her own quirky way, the amblingindian has decided to look at these things with her innovation glasses on. And what do we see here? Wow! Of course India was and still is one of the original gastronomic innovators, without any doubt. With many of the best known foods including icecreams claiming to have originated here and many other yummier delights also known to be so. In fact, I am tempted to cover two of the exotic dishes that may have been invented eons ago, but discovered by me only now - one being "rose petals pudding" and the other a crispy "puffed rice dosa". But, have no fear, by no means is this blog going to be overtaken by food. Even though the thought is delicious enough to get one drooling. For now, I shall relegate the recipes to the kitchen and perhaps make them available to readers on demand if they so desire.

The subject of attention, however, is not just the food, but the language that accompanies it. Much like the chutneys, achars and pickles that no self-respecting Indian meal can do without, the innovative descriptions of the food add a quirky, tangy dimension to it. While in Bombay you could sip "Cutting Chai" (yes, literally tea that has been cut, ostensibly to save cost, but also, perhaps to make it cutting-edge), I also discovered yesterday in Delhi, something called " Running Naan"( Running bread). What the???? Precisely the amblingindian's reaction, dear readers.

 On digging deeper, it appears it had nothing to do with the pace at which it was being dished out by the dilligent cooks and waiters- rapid fire, literally running out of the kitchen, but rather, something about being added to a meal to cover the shortfall of rotis when the curry is continuing but the naan has emm... run out.

And so, innovative indeed is the food lingo, it just beckons and cajoles you to try some. At least touch the palate. What next then for india? Flying fish curry, or buttering chicken?

Some thinking needed, or maybe drooling, to partake of all  this innovative fooding...


Aina Rao
The amblingindian.
follow on twitter @amblingindian

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

"Snow" -another Indian "Innovation"

Beautiful -minus the snow
Here cometh the next post on Indian innovation, after the Blouse piece story. It seems a marvel that a country of a billion plus can only showcase a couple of inventions that strike. It does strike me as odd, so, from all the travels in the recent past, I have been looking for nuggets of undiscovered innovation, convinced as I am , that there is a lot more to be found as i amble
 across this vast, magnificient country.I mean it, you should look for more posts, as I plan to unearth more than you ever thought existed.

And sometimes, it strikes, that innovation happens serendipitiously- right? Discoveries usually do, but so can innovations. That is how i discovered the innovation called "Snow " in Bangalore. Who ever thought that it doesnt snow in Bangalore? Even though fairly close to the equator, it does snow in Bangalore, and that too all the year round. In fact, it snows so brilliantly that one doesnt even feel cold.

Snow on Belandur lake

The snow itself is powdery,fluffy, white and very occassionally dotted with specs of grey. It is an innovation indeed, snow created by waste products . Instead of letting them go to waste, the municipality is actually utilising them well- by allowing them to fester,rot, and ultimately metamorphose into white powdery specs that greet you, flying across so gently, on the wings of the breeze.

If you are still wondering what and where this snow is, it is to be found on a gutter that flows from the Belandur lake.Tons of sewage, some detergent filled muck, finds its way everyday into the dregs of the canal, and blossoms and blooms, with the sheer force of its own self, to form soft ,cottony fluffy balls. And then, all these balls magically converge into one huge powdery mass of fluff- an avalanche of snow that sometimes spills over from the gutter to the streets around. Not a pretty sight, though! An Indian municipal innovation, for sure! Snow from waste! If only it could be put to good use though, to make a snow themed park perhaps... Taking the cue from the "Ugly Indian*", by Arun Pai, transposing ugly to beautiful instantly. Taking innovation to the next level. If anyone had the gumption to enjoy the theme, that is!


Aina Rao
The amblingindian

* ugly indian - An innovative project run by  a former classmate, to transform ugly streets into beautiful ones.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

"Blouse" - an Indian "Innovation"!

Two upcoming weddings in the family mean a lot of preparation. Not just the clothes, but jewellery, comestics, shoes and what have you. And a lot of mixing and matching, for there's only so much you want to lug and airlift all the way to the North of India, the constraints being airline imposed, even though the modern day Shaadi calls for an all out extravaganza of showbaazi and showgiri.

And that was how I found myself trawling through dozens of clothes and fancy stores, in search for what one may call " the perfect blouse" if there were ever such a thing. The last time I went blouse shopping, many many years ago was with my mother, again trawling through the stores for the perfect match of "2 by 2" fabric, as it was called then, getting a small piece cut and off to the tailors for the long wait before the "blouse" arrived. Often, to my mother's chagrin, it would just be short of perfect, with a sleeve too loose or too tight, and then it was back again to the tailors for another long wait, for you were completely at his mercy for that perfect fit that concealed everything. Even a sleeveless blouse was quite a "thing" in those days, mind you.

Ever elegant- Saree
Coutesy: Filmfare
An Indian Fashion delight
Well then, years of respite from sarees, having taken the easy way out by adopting the easy-to-wear trousers and tops, (literally pull on and pull off almost, stretchable, lyrca and such convenient stuff) had me completely converted. But then, the weddings on hand, call for some level of dressing up, for one does not really want to stand out as plain or staid, and so- off it was to get the lovely sarees ready. Much to the fashionista's delight, today's sarees are a class apart- graceful, elegant , embroidered, with "work" as they call it- a treat to the wearer and the gazer alike. But alas, like every rose has a thorn, the saree inevitably comes with the torture of getting the "right" blouse, or getting the "blouse" right, if i may call it that.

And so, another set of myriad trips to the shops, this time to get  the blouse. Online shopping being useless here, how could you ever imagine what would actually land up by way of fit and hope to get it right online? Another revelation- You can get fancy, fancier and fanciest blouses (or bold, bolder and boldest maybe) , and that too readymade now. Yipee ! no more trips to the tailors. But, hold your horses, its not that simple. For a blouse to get that perfect a fit- if you have ever worn a saree, you will know how it cannot be loose or tight , it has to fit just right everywhere , is a challenge halfway upto Mount Everest . But , what is more interesting is the kind of "readymade" or tailor made blouses that are to be found now. Necklines, plunging necklines and lack of necklines, I am totally at a loss to describe them. So much so, that it seems these have been designed to reveal , rather than conceal. Whoever said that "western" wear was the cause of deprecation of Indian Culture - maybe some Bapu Shapu out there needs to have another look at these new fangled blouses.  An Indian fashion innovation for sure, for one can't imagine any other country having come up with something so emm... fashionable, sensual, leaving nothing to the imagination,etc, etc all in one. The west may have their Donna Karans' and we our Manish Malhotra's, but these innovations, all by the local Darzi( The tailors) are definitely befitting a place in designer history.

And so, displayed below are some versions of what was to be found in the shops. See the innovation for yourself, will you!
Blouse on a string?

Utsav fashion Blouse Designs 2014 Utsav fashion Blouse Designs 2014|Utsav Blouse Designs Trend
Innovations by local tailors!

Image result for blouse designs
Nothing left to imagination!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Shahrukh khan- what next?

Shahrukh khan- Bollywood Baadshah
A million dollar question. Who, if anyone, is  the next in line after SRK, the King of Bollywood? With no one hero able to come anywhere close to his spectacular success, and the slow uptake of many a  Bollywood hopefuls, who have tried hard and certainly failed to fill the shoes of Big Bacchan and SRK, is it now time for the next one? After a long dark tunnel, a glimmer of hope comes - Randeep Hooda may be the one. 

Having watched two of his recent releases, RangRasiya and Highway, I see a glimpse of the early SRK days. A willingness to do villainish roles, a penchant for passionate moves, and a hero all in one. The first movie, Rangrasiya , a gripping tale of Raja Ravi Verma's life story, brought beautifully to life by Randeep, with some larger than life acting, was indeed a feast. A thrill to watch- it had me mesmerised. And then, in an early SRK style (which the amblingindian also aspires to, with her topics taking quirky twists all the time) a completely different take - Highway, a well portrayed character of the Jat boy , which he is anyway. Proving himself more endearing than the ordinary villain. Notwithstanding the fact that the Highway plot left me yawning and even distressed, so much so that the movie was abandoned. Even so,  the acting was amazing. Looks like this guy might have what it takes, I must say. After the huge lacuna left by SRK and Aamir , both in acting histronics and lover boy images, this fella is coming close. Who else? 
randeep_mwn (1)
Randeep - next in line?
To replace the quartet of Aamir in acting , SRK in glamour and loverboy roles, Manoj Bajpai in villainish ones and Salman in stunts, the top slot  will sure be a tough one to fill. Even then, maybe, he may just get there.  

The similarities are striking- a Delhi boy with a theatrical but no no filmy background or connections, owns a polo team named Royal Rooster, wants to promote equestrian sports in the country a la SRK who promoted women's hockey- albeit breifly, a smart and witty fellow to boot ( a recent interview needs to be seen) and all of that. Will he make it to the Top- the King Khan slot next ? Maybe he will .. Maybe he wont. But if he does get there.. don''t forget the amblingindian prophesied it first..

Aina Rao
the amblingindian

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The " Innovative" in "India, IIT& IIM...."

Pic Courtesy: Facebook group
We IITians and IIMites (hallowed passouts from the Indian Institutes of Technology and Management) must be the one of the most ingenious of all. After all, there is an "I" in both, right , " I" for ingenious and " I" for innovative. Last week, I may have discovered how.
A chance look at all the linked in email subscriptions for daily digests, weekly digests, hourly updates , minute by minute podcasts and what have you, and some futile attempts to clean up the bulk mail (futile as discovered  much later, for these mails are as abundant as cockroaches. Get rid of one and two more magically appear), led  to the long list that is now proudly displayed below. By the way, this, is only the " linked-in " truncated list- by no means can the original, anacondaic one be reproduced here without the post being eaten up. And this does not  even include Facebook and others. Therefore, only a taster of facebook groups appears below.
Linked in groups:

  • Facebook groups:
    Women Of IIT Delhi.
    IIT Delhi- Kailash hostel
    IIT Delhi- batch
    IIT Delhi- reunion
    IIMB alumni
    IIM etc etc. and the list goes on.
    So, you see, dear readers- this certainly begets the question :How many PANIIT and Pan IIM associations are there? And this is on top of individual IIM associations. IIMAhmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow and God knows what else. Not to forget IITs and the individual IIT Bombay ,Delhi ,Kanpur, Madras ( not yet christended IITC - even though Madras is now officially Chennai), the list goes on and on. By the last count there are some 12- 13 IITs now, pardon my poor General knowledge quotient (GKQ).
    Wow ! I got tired of just counting. Well, well, linked in. Bet you are having a hard time too, just getting all the newly formed pan- whatever whatever to find new names. And each one goading me to join, some asking for hard-earned cash, and some others cajoling me to " just give them an email Address".. all in all, i'm spoilt for choice now.. the next best thing, ask them to give some cash in return for MY esteemed membership.. Ha ha what says? I for ingenious, I for innovative, I for inimitable (but imitated anyway) and I for India. The Indian Institutes of Innovation, i say..
    Aina Rao
    The amblingindian.

     This post is dedicated to IIT Delhi, the alma mater. You rock- Love you always!!

    Aina at the IITD reunion

    Friday, 31 October 2014

    Some Sartorial sense prevails!

    It is return of the poster boys this time. After a swashbuckling Shashi Tharoor stole the hearts of many an Indian damsels, the PM Mr Narendra Modi added another fan to his ever growing list of admirers. And the fan was none other than "Tommy Hilfiger", the king of style, who was so full of praise for Mr Modi's dress sense that he even turned somewhat unpatriotic claiming that Mr Modi was more fashionable than Barack Obamaji.

    Many hues of Modi

    To quote Tommy ji "Modi is quite fashionable while Obama dresses safe: Tommy Hilfiger" 

    Wah wah Mr Modi. To be praised for good governance, change, politics is one thing. But, to be respected for your sartorial sense is totally out of the box and out of this world, isnt it? And that too, by one of the iconic fashion makers himself.

    Shashi Tharoor- tricolour glory


    And so, sartorial sense is definitely centre stage this time. With Devendra Fadnavis, another young , fashionable un (young meaning on the right side of 40 and fashionable meaning he has done modelling stints) taking charge of the CM seat in Maharashtra, it looks like the staid ol' white kurta pajama and dhoti kurta of yore, donned by most politicians has reached end of life . Much like Shah Rukh Khan with his Gap sweatshirts and Nike pants that spelt the deathknell of the Jitendra style bellbottom pants and white shirts in Bollywood, looks like Devendra Fadnavis, the model turned CM, Narendra Modi and Shashi Tharoor are going to rewrite the future of Indian politics. At least the sartorial future that is. So we can look forward to some new colours and styles from our new age politicians, and hopefully new age thinking too. Ringing in the change now, its an Indian delight coming up!

    Fashionable CM - Devendra Fadnavis

    Aina Rao
    The amblingindian.

    Sunday, 26 October 2014

    Return of the broomsticks!

    "Return of the Jhadoo (Broom)".

    The jhadoo has cast its magic, its "jadu". Its casting a magic spell of sorts, much like a witches broomstick. And is now making a comeback, as a style statement. As fads and fashions go, this one had met its pinnacle around two years ago, when chosen as the star symbol of purity, by none other than the Aam aadmi party ( AAP) itself.  

    Pic Courtesy: Indiopines
    The broomstick, with the rise of the AAP, as its mascot, never touched before, had a stellar debut then, with such a fearful presence that eminent congress leaders had banned it from their homes, and resorted to the hiterto dust gathering vacuum cleaners. With strict instructions to the homehelps not to ever use the word or the broomstick.

    But then, somewhat magically and somewhat tragically, it lost its sheen, and turned to collect dust, as its torchbearers the "AAP" were relegated to the sidelines too.

    But, stoic that it was, it has made a huge comeback. Thus the "return of the jhadu", this sequel has caught on, like a house on fire.With the fashion conscious Modi and his unique sartorial style labelling it the much needed "fashion accessory" and the swashbuckling "Shashi Tharoor" taking on the cue, like a house on fire, it is back in the limelight. And why not? Since the eminent Mr Tharoor has already swept a lot of countrymen and countrywomen off their feet with his controversial tweets and inimitable style, it remains to be seen what else he can sweep away with a swish of the broom. The beaches of Thiruvanthupuram ? Yes, maybe, but equally hopefully, much of the muck that's built in the country, by way of bribery, corruption, fraud and you name it.

    Thus comes power to the Jhadu.May it live long. Notwithstanding the sour-faced detractors, a la Mayawati*, who claimed that our leaders needed to graduate from the old-fashioned jhadu to new age machines now. Good thought, Madam Mayawati. Progress is all good. But, as far as the Jhadu goes, it shall remain for long, having firmly entrenched itself in the houses of all Indians, from Hyderabad  to Harrow and Haiti, and now in the seat of power too, detractors and defectors notwithstanding. And maybe straighten out some warped notions about men, modern machines, and Mr Modi's clean up drive. It is the "return of the Jhadu " indeed. Now, lets wait and watch, shall we?

    Aina Rao,
    The amblingindian.

    * Mayawati- erstwhile minister, now in the Opposition

    Tuesday, 7 October 2014

    Clean- the new Mantra!

    Clean is the new buzzword, It is indeed the time to change to clean. All change to clean please, all change . This time with a broom! Show the world that India means business. Call the shots, with a magical swish of the broom, lets clean up all the garbage that has piled up on our roads, cities, villages, towns and what have you. Thank you Prime Minister Mr Modi, for reminding ourselves that we owe ourselves a clean place to live in, and for roping in the charismatic Shashi Tharoor too, to further your campaign. For what sells better than a combination of poster boys, girls and  "Cleanliness is Godliness"?

    "Swach Bharat Abhiyaan ( Clean India Campaign)". Another round of cleaning, by newly awakened citizens. My own complex, with all of 500 apartment residents managed to clean the streets ahead and fill up with no less than 25 garbage bags with garbage. Notwithstanding the fact that the ugly gutters and shanty towns next door, happily watched them with some wonder and lots of awe. What is it that these hippy, new-gen, denim clad folks are upto? Ha.Ha . Lets see if it lasts till tomorrow. Obviously it won't. By itself, it just can't, can it, unless someone can prove me wrong? 

    For one cleanliness drive, once in a month, can be very good for our souls for sure, but can't do much more. What do we do now that 25 garbage bags are piled up? Is there any manner of civic authority coming forward to collect and more importantly, dispose of it? Even the lovely garbage trucks that so lovingly come to collect our muck, happily strew some more as they pass, overflowing as they are with all manner of junk, unable to collect much more than a fraction of it ultimately. So, the rest must stay where it rightfully belongs, on the street that is. A large, rotten stinky mass being chewed away by the ubiquitous cows and stray dogs, another fixture of modern India. 

    And the sewerage systems. Non, or only partially existent they are. For some, so called elitist complexes of any  more than a 100 residents must have their own sewerage treatment and disposal, by the local government dictat. Notwithstanding the fact that the residents may have paid for the sewerage connections at least seven years back, with the futile hope that it will sometime materialise. But, is the blasted sewerage connection anywhere in sight? One would have gained hope, each time they dug up another set of roads, ostensibly to lay a pipe here or there, but all is in vain, it seems.

    Maybe the government officials just didn't have the time then. And maybe they have even less now,  as they appear to be busy participating in the Swach Bharat Abhiyan- wielding their mighty broomsticks like swords, on the roads. Some garbage for thought Mr Modi. 

    At least it is a step in the right direction.But, will it all stop here, with citizens being left to their own resources, or can it go further, to its natural conclusion, with proper sanitation, sewerage connections, garbage collection and disposal being actually arranged and managed by the Govt and the civic authorities? One certainly hopes so. Here's to a Swatcha Bharat, the new and shining India!

    Aina Rao, 
    The amblingindian.