Sunday, February 24, 2008

The story of Mr Horse

Once it so happened that in a certain farm the laborers started demanding more money. Their masters tried to fend off their demands as long as they could, but finally convened a meeting. This is what happened there.

People present Mr Pig, Mr Dog, Mr Fox, Mr Bat, Mr Grasshopper, Mr Donkey and Mr Horse, labor representative. Mr Pig being the highest authority said, look Mr Horse your demands for more money is completely unfair. We do know that the government has sanctioned more money for laborers but we feel that you and your kind don't deserve any more than what you are getting. Secondly the farm doesn't have any money to be distributed among laborers. We have to take care of the managers and Mr Dog will tell you laborers are our last priority on the welfare list. First the managers, then the low level managers, then the still low level managers, then the workers and then the laborers. At this point Mr Horse interrupted, but sir the government has sanctioned the money for us. Then it has to be given to us, it can't be spent on anything else.

"Shut up! Mr Horse" shouted Mr Fox, "You have no right to tell us how we are going to spend the money we receive from the government."

"We have told you there is no money left for the laborers then you should go back and tell your friends there won't be any money" added Mr Bat, "It is your responsibility to convince your fellow laborers that your demands are unfair and above all where is the proof that government has taken a decision to give you scums more money"

Mr Horse having no proof listened to all the insults showered on him and his kind without a word. But he was determined to get the proof.

After this meeting all other people except Mr Horse again called a meeting to discuss the issue since they new someday Horse is going to get the proof and then they will have to face the music.

Again Mr Pig started "Look people once they have the proof we might have to pay them the money. We all know that the money has been spent on the new constructions in the farm and we all have benefited from it explicitly and implicitly. Now we have to think of ways to put down this rebellion before it blows out of proportion."

At this point Mr Grasshopper said "Look Mr Pig, the market forces are against us. There are more lucrative avenues then working in a farm. We are falling short of good laborers. We must do something about it and money looks to be the most lucrative option"

"What good laborers?" shouted Mr Donkey, "Good laborers means, more brain and more demands, demand for equality, demand for respect, think Mr Hopper, how will we be able to make them our slaves then? Who will butter us day in and day out? The point is we don't need just laborers we need slaves. Even you don't pay much to your privately hired laborers. And I hope you see things the same way I do."

Everybody present in the meeting echoed there support for Mr Donkey. But the fact remained that something needs to be done, the billion dollar question, what exactly? The meeting went on for few more hours over numerous cups of coffee and tea with cutlets and cashew nuts and other dry fruits brought in once Horse had left.

When the people were busy making a strategy Mr Horse wrote to his friend Mr Mule in another farm to get him a copy of the letter from where he saw the government decision. Mr Mule was swift and the next pigeon to the farm brought the required proof and then again Mr Horse went to the council and this time on seeing the proof they had a different song to sing. Mr Pig as usual started and said look Mr Horse we have given a thought to your proposal and we think you scums deserve more money though I should say when I was a laborer I faced lot of hardship.

Mr Horse listened to all this but thought what can I do about your hardship, I or my friends are not responsible we were not even born at that time. He was not even listening to Pig. Horse sat through the grueling session when all the people one by one pointed out how hard it was for them as a laborer and even they laughed on their silly jokes like the fodder in their time were sliced a little larger then it is done today making their meal less tasty. They even pointed out how automated tail wagging machine had to be bought from the market so that they could keep their managers happy all time because for people not accustomed to wagging tail it was really hard to do it all the time. At this time Mr Pig and Mr Hopper had the sympathy of all other people present since Pig's tail is short and twisted which was really unfit for wagging even by automated tail wagger and Hopper had to surgically place a tail at its end which till today keeps wagging. Well lots said about their woes in their labor days Mr Horse waited for them to announce something. Only when the matter of money came up he became attentive. But this time it was Mr Fox talking. Then Mr Fox started "Well Mr Horse we have decided that starting from this month laborers will receive the new rates fixed by the government. You should understand that it is not possible for us to give the new rates as from the day formulated by government as we have already spent all the money in improving the infrastructure of the farm. You should understand that it is the greatness of Mr Pig and this council that you would be receiving the new rates. I think we should consider the matter closed henceforth"

At this point Mr Horse simply said "Ok then the matter is closed for this council I think I should write to Mr Lion about the farm and let him know how things are running here. Even Mr Rabbit and Mr Zebra would be happy to print this matter as to how the council is forcing the best of the laborers to abandon government run farms and go to privately owned farms. I think Mr Fox, government do spend a lot of money to keep this place running and looking at the constructions going on in the farm Mr Hound will be happy to pay a visit and sniff around a little. Anyway good day my good sirs"

Saying this, the horse left quietly and the council was as silent as a grave for the next few minutes. Horse having said this Mr Pig convened a meeting of all laborers the very next day.

The meeting started around 10 in the morning and Mr Pig went up to the elevated platform to address the crowd. And thus began a well rehearsed symphony of lies and deceits. The meeting ended with Mr Pig being showered with rotten egg and tomatoes. He was escorted out by his faithful guards led by one Mr Mole. That very day Horse met Mr Lion and told him the about the going ons of the place.

The day after Mr Lion himself came to the place and met Mr Pig. They were closeted in the meet for several hours and then Mr Lion came out and made the announcement that he was convinced with Mr Pig and his friends that laborers are scums and they don't deserve more money. Hence the government withdraws its order for increment. Now you scums of this blessed lace go back to work or you will face my music. Everybody looked around but could not understand this sudden change.

"But Sir you had said you will fix the issue" said Mr Horse to Mr Lion

"Shut up Horse! Or I will have you skinned alive" shouted Mr Lion to Mr Horse.

Few days after this event Mr Horse and his friends disappeared from the farm. Rumor has it that they were taken and skinned alive as said by Mr Lion. The visit of Mr Lion still remains a mystery, rumormongers say that probably Mr Pig was not sending the Lion's share at the proper place.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


In my past few years of existence I have seen numerous cinemas. Cinema as it is defined a series of frames put together with some background score and dialogues. The definition above is as crude as to say that a painting is few grams of different color put together on a canvas to suit the maker’s ideas. Cinema is art form full of celebration, desire, love, hate and all other forms of human emotions. Its different issue all together how we define what is a good or bad film. A good film for me may be utterly boring for somebody else. But that is not the point I want to convey. I have only seen a few good movies among the endless collection of good ones. I would tell you story as to how I got interested in it.
In my initial years of higher education cinema halls were the only source of my cinema viewing. Every friday night a new release and I would be there to view the late night show. Constraints on my pocket would force me to go for the cheapest tickets where in you would have to sit on the first two rows of the hall. By the end of the show your neck would be really tired moving around from right to left and vice verse. Well, on the first row the screen would be so close sometimes that you can't whole of it in one go. Then there were theatres which were not so costly and I would take up a seat in the back and watch the movie without bothering about my neck. In those days I would mostly watch hindi movies. They were sometimes good but somehow it was not fulfilling.
Then few years later I got my own desktop and it opened numerous options for me. This is when my real love with cinema began. Then I realized what was missing from the cinema I was viewing. What exactly got me fixed to the chair was a movie named "The Shawshank Redemption". No singing around trees like the regular hindi stuff. A plain narrative starring Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman and others. That particular movie made me think what life is worth. There I got the word "hope". Though it may sound hope is sometimes misleading but sometimes it may be the only thing we have. Hope is everything.
I watched many more in between and then there were a few Satyajit Ray ones. "Goopi Gayan Bagha Bayan", "Apur Sansar", "Pather Panchali". Goopi Gayan Bagha Bayan made in the days when special effect was absent but would have beaten hands down many western movies on special effects. For one of his movies Stayajit Ray had to wait one year because the kind of flower field he wanted for a shot was completely destroyed by a hard of cattles and then they had to come back next year for that shot. It is just not these facts which make those movies great but the composition. The amount of human feelings these movies are filled with and the extent of attachment the viewer feels with the protagonist makes them great.
Then came some westerners, really nail biting ones. "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", "For a Few Dollars More". I really don't know what to say about them. They were simply superb, made to perfection with mind boggling background score. And watching these movies childhood memories of watching hindi westerners become very vivid and then you feel how hollow most of those movies are. Then came the gangster ones, "The Godfather", you watch it and straight away you add Al Pacino to your fav actor list. Well did I mention Morgan Freeman was already there? Anyway he was on my list with Shawshank. The list of such movies which had influence on me will be endless but here I would talk about two more movies which I would like to share with you.
The first one "Forrest Gump". This movie forced me to think about the very human nature of hero worship. Forrest just wanted to run a long way and the world started saying is he running for peace, is he running for this or that, it asked the basic question on the face of human civilization as to why there should always be a cause for any action. Why it can't be just that I run a few extra miles on my own or why is it that I can't do something without thinking of the fame and money I will gain out of it? Is it to too difficult to realize that some things are just for the sake that I feel happy doing it?
The second one would be "Nuovo Cinema Paradiso". To me it was celebration of cinema. Me and my friends even formed a group named on this cinema. Well about the movie you better watch it. I am too poor with words to say anything about this one in this piece. Watching all those good movies made me realize it is possible to make movies without any dance numbers or love songs with dancing around trees. What makes a good cinema is its ability to make viewers make a part of the story, absorb him and force him to think and ask questions freely. It is more or less a mirror to the society we live in. Where on earth do you find that a boy is declaring his love for a girl dancing around trees? Well these are my experiences and feelings and I can keep on writing endlessly but I would prefer to stop here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bon Voyage Friend!!!!!!

I don't know how to begin, but I will begin anyway. Today I met a real life Andy Dufresne. Well he is the protagonist of the movie "The Shawshank Redemption". He was wrongly accused of killing his wife and her lover and sentenced to two life imprisonments back to back. He served nineteen out of his fifty year sentence and then tunneled through the walls of the prison to his freedom. He used a rock hammer to dig a hole in the wall. A geologist will tell you what it takes is pressure and time. I feel sometimes how remarkable it is for us human beings that we decide when to cry out with a full heart "freedom". Freedom though a very remarkable word but has its interpretation fraught with ambiguities.

Well coming back to the subject of real Andy, our Andy or rather my Andy today said no to something which I feel he should have done long ago. Well then he wouldn't have been Andy and surprised us all other inmates with his act. He will be gone soon and we will be talking about him, he did this, he did that, even he scared the other fellow etc etc. Our Andy is a small guy, probably one of the last ones whom anyone would be afraid off.

Now you must be asking what exactly happened. To be frank a mouse belled the cat. But this is not important but what is important is to understand how it happened and how I see it. Well our Andy is making a new beginning, some or most will say its a five years of your prime time wasted, but I see it differently, I see it as his declaration to say "I won't breathe this damp air anymore. I want to breathe fresh air." I don't want to pass a judgment as to whether the decision is good or bad but its definitely a decision worth noting. Even though we say life is small but the impact of a decision made in our early life can have good or bad effects later. If I have to see it in today's context it is a bad decision but on the long run it may be so it is one of the best he ever took.

It is one thing to sail in the ocean with a pack or the known seas but to go where no one has gone or to challenge whom no one has challenged takes courage which no words can describe. To begin with my Andy came to seek the truth and scientific truth it was. Science as always is full of surprises and it comes only when you think freely and with an open heart, than you once in a million time see the new light, a light which no one had ever seen before and ecstasy of seeing the unknown is beyond my comprehension. But it cannot be felt when the air you breathe is black at the core. I live in such an environment, I have never felt the ecstasy of seeing one such light but breathing the black air within I have read countless stories of people seeing the light. I have also read of millions who went to seek the light but were drowned in the ocean of time. It is true that only one in a million who try will see the light that you seek but how do you know you are not the one unless you jump in the race. My Andy jumped in the race. I wish him all the luck in his endeavor to seek the new light but he has to maintain his course and speed. I salute him for his determination to seek the light. I truly wish he breathes clean and free air which is nothing but a distant dream for me. Bon voyage Andy!!!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

My experience with Restaurants in Kanpur

Well I have spent around six and half years in this city, Kanpur. I felt like I should write something about its restaurants. Well I will be writing about only those that I have visited. Their may be some better ones that I have missed. Since I live in IIT campus, I will start my journey from our very own Campus restaurant and then move into the city.

1. Campus Restaurant: Well on scale of 1-10 I will give 4. Food is cheap, service ok. Its like if you don't want to eat in your mess and you don't want to travel even to IIT gate welcome to this place. Well my favs would be fried chicken, mewa aloo, keema muttor and plain nan. In my initial years I had visited this place so frequently that half of its menu is on my finger tips.

2. China Town: We move a little towards the city, frankly to say IIT gate. There you can find this nice place. It is strictly non vegetarian, in that too only preparations of chicken are available and reasonably priced. Place cannot to be said to be clean. Service is good and the food yummy. One can also have liquor at this place, but he will have to bring it on his own. One can go for kali mirch, chicken biryani, chicken tikka and many other stuff like that. But my fav would be kadhai chicken with thick gravy and rumali roti with a bottle of Haywards black. One has to specially order the thick gravy for which nothing extra is charged. I will give this place 6 points.

3. Kerala Cafe: If you are not non vegetarian and you like south Indian food, just across the street from China town you can find this place. Service is good, food also yummy by my standards. You can get an assortment of dosas, vadas, idli and so an so forth. Liquor not allowed on this road side restaurant. And my fav would be onion masala dosa (a little crispy) with a bottle of fanta. I will give this place 6points.

4. Food Court at Rave Moti: Now we travel a little into the city and arrive at Rawatpur. Here we have the newly opened mall Rave@moti. You can shop at an assortment of shops for apparels and other stuff, but the main point of this article is food. On the ground floor there is Barista the regular coffee shop and then there is Kwality with its assortment of ice creams and mouth watering pastries. My fav would be the chocolate pastry at Kwality's. Then shop around and move to second floor. There you can find the food court with variety of small shops around it. Don't miss the choclate fountain near the escalators. There you can see shops like One chinese shop(I forgot the name), Masala county, Dominos, NJP, Nawabi Kebab, Berger shop, stalls for hot dogs and dumplings etc. Lets start from the hot dog shop. It serves both veg and non veg hot dogs. I had only tried the non veg type and hence can say that the non veg once are damn good. The dumplings are superb too. Next come the Chinese shop. An assortment of Chinese preparations. But my fav from this shop would be shredded lamb and shanghai chow mien off course non veg. Prices are reasonable in most of the shops. Next to the Chinese guy would be masala county. Gives 5% discount to IIT people. One can find most north Indian recipes here. Since most of the time I eat North Indian stuff in my hostel I give this one a skip. Next to it is the Domino's. Pizza guy, little overpriced but yummy. I don't go for the non veg ones since I find them unreasonably over priced. But in the veggie ones I would go for Farm house. Then there are shops like NJP which I am yet to try and then comes the Kebab guy. Try the biryani. A must if you are a non veggie. Ghost dum biryani more precisely. Reasonable priced, its too good to resist. I am yet to try its complete menu, but along with biryani I would recommend kakori kebab. That more or less sums up the food court. The best thing about this place is you can order parathas or roti from one shop and curry from another. Service is self service and I would give this place 8 points.

5. Hukka: Move a little in the city and you arrive at Swarup nagar on your way to parade. Here you will find quite a few restaurants. Let me start with this place. As the name suggest they do serve hukka at this place. It is on the roof of the building so kind of open air. They have put a few water fall type fountains here. So while eating you will enjoy the music from one of Kanpur's FM station combined with the sound of flowing water. But if you are looking for the original hukka you will be disappointed. They serve flavored hukka. The safest or closest to the original thing would be the mint flavored. The place is little costly but the food once served will make you feel money well spent. To start with they have an assortment of soups. You can pick anyone according to your taste and for starters don't forget to try the chicken stick they serve with some sweet tasting black sauce. For veggies the paneer tikka is equally good. Coming to food again an assortment of stuff. My fav would be muglai paratha with some chicken curry and pineapple raita. Well the name muglai paratha is misleading for people from bengal. This is not the one most bongs are familiar with, it is basically paratha stuffed with keema. 15% discount to IIT students the last time I visited. To get the discount you have to produce a valid I-card. Well these places make me feel that IIT I-card has great value. Anyway this place deserves 8.5 points.

6. Anaicha: This is another place in Swarup Nagar itself. Place is costly but the food is equally superb. Fully air conditioned, has small space for kids where they can enjoy sliding and stuff like that. Service is excellent, ambiance marvelous and so an so forth. To start with one can have an assortment of soups. My fav would be dumpling soup, off course the non veg variant. In starters the best I would say is fish and chips but there are many more like hariyali kebab which one can try. Moving to the main course its menu is quite large and one can order anything from north Indian to Chinese to continental. But some notable as far as I am concerned would be fish bengali, kadhai chicken, baked fish, prawn schezwan, kashmiri nan, pudina paratha, Russian salad etc. The vegetarian menu is equally good. 10% discount to IIT students on producing your I -card. I would give this place 9 points.

7. Flames: Staying at Swarup Nagar itself this is a place worth mentioning. Pricing is at par with Anaicha. Fully air conditioned with a small space for kids to play around. Food superb, place superb and what more it is next to a liquor shop where you can sit and drink. Let me first say something about the liquor shop then we will come to Flames. Well the liquor shop has most premium brands on its shelves. If you love wine probably it is one of the few shops in Kanpur where you can find wine. If you want beer chilled beer is always ready to be served. They also serve eatables like peanuts, papad which you can have with your drink. The peanut served with onions and coriander leaves is really good. But this place is not like the swanky bars you see in mega cities, so preferably if you have a lady friend accompanying you, give this place a skip. Now coming to Flames, to start with have some soup. Somehow I found their cream laced soups the best, like cream of chicken or Italian zuppa. Try Italian zuppa if you like cream with pepper and salt. Starters can vary from person to person nothing special. Main course has some favorites here as well. The Russian salad, myanoise chicken are my favs. You may be tempted to try Hyderabadi biryani but it can be disappointing. It is spicy and is generously laced with dry fruits. One peculiar thing, in some of the menu items they would place a small candle inside a hollowed tomato.
10% discount to IIT students on producing your I -card. I would give this place 9.5 out of ten.

8. Shahi Darbar: Time to move on to Parade and a cheaper place where the bill won't make you sweat. Well this place is strictly non veggie. Great kebabs, great parathas and the cheapest. The place is not clean again, best would be to pack your stuff and eat at your home. You can have boti, kebab, chaap, kali mirch, biryani and many more stuff like that. They sell stuff like kebebs, boti and chaap by weight. For one person 100gm kebab and 100gm boti would be more then sufficient. Have it with rumali roti or their regular parathas which is equally yummy. I would give this place 7 out of ten. But considering the amount of money they charge one can easily overlook the untidy place. You can say they are probably selling sub standard stuff hence so cheap, but I would say, I have been to this place a zillion times and am still maintaining my health.

9. Treat: If you want to enjoy an evening with fast food this is the place. All types of fast food like berger, chow mien, spring rolls, pastries, ice creams etc etc are available. You can try their basket chat as well its really good. But to fill your belly try chilly chicken chow mien with some gravy of your choice. If you are a professional ice cream eater as my friends call me try the rainbow. The place is reasonably priced and clean. You have self service and advance payment. I would give this place 8 points.

10. Host: I visited this place only once and found it overpriced. It is the regular food section of Treat. The food is ok. The best would be reshmi kebab. Otherwise if don't mind the money you can visit this place. But at the end of all you might feel money not well spent. 6points for this place.

11. Cafe coffee day: Not exactly a restaurant but you can spend some time in a hot summer day. Fully air conditioned. I found their coffee to be overpriced but for coffee lovers they might find the money well spent. I prefer to have one of their cold coffees with ice cream. If you feel like you can choose from their numerous light snacks which many a times doesn't turn out to be light. This place also has a book shop attached with it but they don't give discount. Book shops without any discount is like no shop to me. Anyway the cafe deserves a 7 out of ten.

12. Shanghai: To begin with I will give 10 out of 10 to this place. My favorite in Kanpur so far. Probably the only place where you can get nicely cooked pork. Located near phulbag adjacent to nath opticians, you will probably miss if you don't look carefully. Its a small shop which can accommodate probably 20 people at any given time but this is the best place to have Chinese cuisines. To start with you can order a soup which can be anything from talumien to sweet corn or you can start with a me-fan. Well my personal fav would be me-fan. The main course should definitely have pork roast with chicken chow chow and some chow mien possibly mixed chow mien. The price is reasonable, service prompt. The lighting inside is little dull and the music can be custom. The owner has an assortment of english and hindi numbers which he is happy to play on customers request. All in all the best. Well no discount is given in this place.

13. Chung-fa: Move a little further to Mall road and you will arrive at chung fa. This also has a bar near by, again not a swanky mega city bar but its shelves are stalked with most premium brands. Here you can find both Chinese and Thai food. Start with any of the Chinese or Thai soups. I prefer the tom kha kya soup. For starters the menu has quite a few items but I would prefer the golden fried prawns. The main course can be chow mien with roast lamb in black mushroom sauce and prawn shaoxing. The menu in the restaurant is quite extensive. It is fully air conditioned and prices are little on the higher side but its worth spending the money.
10% discount to IIT students on producing your I -card. I would give the place 8 points.

14. Antarang: Well so far I have covered restaurants on route 22 that is the route taken by bus no. 22. But there are a few places off routs which are worth mentioning. Notable among them is antarang at Rave 3 in Parwati Bagla road. The place is fully air conditioned but over priced. The place has a bar which serves most premium brands. Beer is also available but the price charged is double that of printed price. Drinks too can range from 150 a peg to god knows where. The food is good but not worth the money charged. I had gone to this place only couple of times so no favs as such. One good thing about this place is they organize gazal nights once in a while where you can request the singer to sing your favorite gazal which he will happily oblige.
10% discount to IIT students on producing your I -card. Though this place counts as one of the better restaurants of Kanpur I would give it only 6 points.

15: Chinmi: Another restaurant at Rave 3. Like all other things in that place its overpriced. There you can have an assortment of Chinese and Indian stuff. It has a bar with most premium brands being served. One of the few places where they will serve you momos. I have visited this place only once so no favorites but I liked the momos a lot.
10% discount to IIT students on producing your I -card. I would give this place 7 points.

16. Mehfil: A good family restaurant at Chowk. The menu doesn't have many items so you won't get confused as to what to eat. I haven't been to this place for quite a long time so any opinion on this place will be based on my past experience. I would prefer to go to some other place if given a choice then go to mehfil.

17. Bhikharam: Not exactly a restaurant, more like a sweet shop but they do serve some Indian fast foods which are yummy. Cooked in pure desi ghee they are like a heavenly treat. Its basically a sweet shop but you can order puri sabjee which is the best I ever had. Apart from that you can have dosa, chow mien which I never tried at that place. I would give that place 8 points.

Well apart from these places inside Kanpur I have been to few places a little far off from the city but well within reach by bikes or four wheeler. They are mostly dhabas on GT road. The first you will encounter when going towards Delhi will be Bhatia's dhaba.

18. Bhatia's Dhaba: Well visited this place couple of times. The non veg prep is pretty good. On the veg side its ok. Reasonable priced its good place to eat.

19. Bijee Ka dhaba: I won't call this a dhaba. The owner had tried to convert the place into a open air restaurant. The result its neither a restaurant nor a dhaba. The food is also not good. I visited this place once and rejected it the very day.

20. Bajpai dhaba: Going a little further you cross Mandhana and come across the new Rama hospital campus. Right in front of it is bajpai dhaba. The best dhaba I would say. You can also have liquor there. The owner keeps couple of lager beer brands. The dhaba used to serve non veg but now its completely vegetarian. You can start with paneer bhujia which is really superb. It has a variety of North Indian dishes. But above all one should have its kheer which is the icing on the cake. I dinner without the kheer at that place is incomplete. I will give this place a 9 points.

21. Palate: I placed this place in the end since this is a new place which has come up at Rave moti in Rawatpur. It is exorbitantly priced but its menu has some exotic items which I didn't try for obvious reasons. May be just the names are like that and they turn out to be our regular food items. I could have the soup only which I found not at par with the price they are charging. Then to avoid any kill-bill I walked out of the place. So you are free to visit the place and let me know the result.

These are mostly the places I have been to in last 6-7 years of my stay in Kanpur. The views expressed above are mine and they may not reflect the general standard of the place. In matters where food is concerned favorites will vary from person to person. While arriving at the ratings of a place I have taken into account the quality of food, the cleanliness of the place, the pricing, the promptness of service and off course availability of items I like most.