What is Curry?- 2


How do I explain curry to foreigners? Here is an article that does:)

Some relevant quotes:

“The idea of a curry is, in fact, a concept that the Europeans imposed on India’s food culture,” Lizzy Collingham.

“The Indians had specific names for each and every dish of theirs (rasam, korma, rogan josh). Not only did the British call all these unfamiliar dishes “curry,” but once the British went home and had to satisfy their cravings using only the spice mixes prepared by their cooks back in India, they sprinkled these spice powders onto anything and everything and called the dish “curry.”

“British used the term curry to describe dishes from every Indian region. This was a boon as well as a curse in disguise: A curse because they glossed over the regional differences and compressed the staggering heterogeneity and diversity of Indian cooking into a simplistic box;”

“Indians call their dishes curries while referring to them in English, notwithstanding the fact that they are referred to by their individual names in the native language.”

“Curry powder was an attempt by the British to capture all the Indian cuisines into a bottle, a pan-Indian spice mix. “

Indians – Please do not use the word ‘Curry’ to describe Indian dishes to foreigners.

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Landline


Updated on 13 July 2016

It all started last December when I was reading Rainbow Rowell’s Landline. A landline phone features prominently in the plot and it filled me with so much nostalgia. I am not a sentimental person usually and I was surprised by my attraction to the landline. I really wanted a landline!

Here’s why I like landlines:

  1. I have a thing for all things retro including landlines, watches and paper calendars – Things an average person (I know) doesn’t use these days.
  2. Pure nostalgia – the hours spent talking on the landline phone!
  3. Avoid cell phone radiation – While I do not believe in overblown reports of dangers of cellphone radiation, I do believe that there is some truth to it.
  4. My ears hurt when I talk using cell phones for more than a few minutes for real.

I thought that this was a just a fleeting desire due to the book. Two months later, I still wanted a landline! I researched my options and realised that I couldn’t have a landline because

  1. I would have to get a new number and I don’t like clutter – why have 2 numbers?
  2. it was expensive – one can get a free local number with internet connection (depending on the offer) but international calls are expensive.
  3. I was renting. Was it worth getting a landline in my name?
  4. I was in office most of the day.
  5. I would still need to keep my cell phone.

Next I started exploring the options of transferring the calls from cell phones to landlines so that I could use the landline. There wasn’t anything like that.

During my search for landlines, I came across the retro handset which is essentially a speaker microphone which can be connected via the earphones jack in cell phones! This seemed like an ideal solution and I set out to search for it. I didn’t want to spend too much money on it because I was afraid I might get over it in a week or two.

Every single time I wanted to buy a retro handset for the price I wanted, something went wrong.

Try 1  ($8) – The product image showed a person speaking using a normal sized handset and I was sent the tiny version. I became wary of purchasing sets that did not state the measurements clearly.

Try 2 ($12) – I placed an order and later was informed that the item was out of stock.

Try 3 ($20) – Was regularly checking local websites for second hand retro sets. Contacted a seller and the seller kept changing the meeting time/date/ place and it drove me nuts.

Try 4 ($10) – Contacted another seller and asked for dimensions. No reply. I gave up. This was when I told Uncle the whole landline story. He messaged the seller again and they replied. We decided to buy it the next day. This was in May 2016.

It is on my desk!

I keep it in my office as I use my cell phone there mostly. It works great. My voice is clear and no more ear pain! I thought I would stop using it in a week or two after I got it in May but I still love using it :)

Note: My handset stopped working 2 days ago😦  Looks like I will have to get a new one.

On Gone Girl – 2


Contains spoilers.

From the time I was freaked out by the movie ‘Gone Girl‘ and decided against reading the book, I read 2 other novels by Gillian Flynn. As I liked her work, I decided to read Gone Girl but I couldn’t find a good edition in the library. I mostly came across those tiny print books and not the larger hardcover edition for the last few months. The moment I saw the hardcover edition, I picked it up.

So, have my opinions changed since I last wrote about it?

Not really.

For starters, I have become fairly familiar (and not too shocked) with psychopathic characters and their behaviour as I read other novels with similar characters and read other books by Gillian Flynn.

I found the book a bit slow in the first 120 pages and then it was terse and great. I do wish I had read the book before the movie and it is quite rare that I have watched a movie before the book. I have to admit that I would not have seen it coming the way I could in the movie.

I felt the book overall, had an undercurrent of hatred running through it.

  • Nick and his dad – Seem to hate women
  • Amy – Seems to hate her parents and Nick and men and has contempt for everyone.

I liked how the book explored additional things like how Nick felt when Amy came back, thoughts running through their minds and the additional people Amy had harmed. One thing I could not get, was how 2 psychologists could not see the psychopathic tendencies of their own daughter. Also, I felt Nick should have walked away citing (publicly) that he was not good enough for Amazing Amy, the moment, he found and destroyed her vomit jar and not have informed her that he threw it away. His reasons for staying pre-baby seem unsatisfactory to me.

This book paints a very depressing and creepy picture of Missouri.

Did I feel it was a portrait of a marriage after reading the book?

Not at all.

The section that seemed like a commentary on marriage was the first part with Amy’s diary entries but clearly it was engineered and written by a psychopath after studying people and other media (books, movies etc.). Psychopaths are great at studying others and make it seem like they get it but they really don’t and they can be highly intelligent and never get caught for all their lives. These mundane things like normal relationships bore them. They love playing and challenging people, both of which Amy did. I think it is pointless to try to understand the mentality of a psychopath because we never can. They are great at manipulating by mixing what triggers us at the raw emotional level with what they want. At the time of the book, Amy wanted a perfect marriage.

  • Amy pretends to be a ‘cool girl.’
  • Then, some guy (Nick) likes her.
  • Nick with a huge need for approval from everyone was also pretending to be this likeable guy .
  • All seems normal till now because many people are pretending while dating.
  • However, she is a perfectionist and has contempt for every human fallibility (another psychopathic tendency).
  • Everyone and everything has to be perfect.
  • They stop pretending after marriage.
  • She fills with hate when she realises that he doesn’t like her the way she is and when he is not perfect either.
  • Of course, the guy is a total douche bag and deserves to be dumped.
  • She plans for an entire year and works hard to frame him for murder.
  • He plays her and makes her come back.
  • He is shit scared of her.
  • He stays because he can’t settle for the normal girl anymore.
  • She gets pregnant by her own scheming.
  • He stays to protect the baby.

If marriage with a psychopath and a crazy jerk is the portrait of a marriage, then Gillian Flynn’s other books should equally freak us out about trusting our own parents and siblings. So, should Angela Marsons’s books. Because, everybody is out to kill you by that token.

Was this book feminist or misogynistic (one of the critiques to the author)?

Neither. Nick’s dad was misogynistic. Nick was afraid of turning into him. Amy zooms in on everything that can go wrong in marriages and wants her marriage to be perfect. Additionally, she goes on ‘feminist’ rants when men seem to like the woman she pretends to be and not what she really truly is and how she has to pretend. To me, this comes of as this man-hating anger and full of resentment and not really feminism. Amy has contempt for everything that is not perfect, so there’s nothing surprising there.

It also makes me wonder how when a guy is a psychopath, he is just a psychopath. When a woman is a psychopath, she becomes a representative of all crazy bitches women and cannot be just viewed as a psychopath.

 

What I’m Into – May + June 2016


Books

You can follow me on Goodreads here. Books I really enjoyed reading in the last 2 months are:

  1. Habits of a Happy Brain – Interesting take on modern Neurobiology and helped me connect several of my ideas.
  2. Reclaiming Conversation – I thought this book would be boring but  I liked it a lot! It is about talking in today’s age of emails and avoiding face-to-face conversations
  3. Gut – I really liked this. I miss scientific books put in a fun way. I got so many ideas from reading this.
  4. A man called Ove 
  5. D.I Kim Stone Series – I really loved this and can’t wait to read book #3

TV Series

  1. Game of Thrones – This week’s episode was one of the best this season!
  2. Full House – I love it!

Movies

  1. The Conjuring 2 – Was a good horror movie

It is summer time and I have lots of books to read. So, I have cut down on my movies and TV series!

If I am not Having It


If I am not having it, you can’t have it either. 

I find this attitude ridiculous but it is quite common. The underlying principle for this attitude is “I paid for it and I have no use for it but I would rather let it go to waste than let someone use it for free/cheaper cost because they did not pay (the full price) for it – I mean, why should they enjoy it for free/discounts when I paid full price for it?”

  • Today morning I saw a dustbin placed in the middle of a parking lot where my boss usually parks the car. Boss is on leave and that parking lot will be empty this week. My colleague must have done that because they do not want anybody else parking in that lot because it belongs to our office! Our lane is a very high traffic area with narrow lanes and people end up parking on the side of the lanes blocking other vehicles. If the parking lot is going to be empty, what is wrong if other people park there temporarily?
  • Same with a supermarket here. They give discounts for food that is going to expire soon but the price is so high even after the discount and I know nobody will buy it for that price.  Why not slash the price to $3 instead of keeping it at $8/$14 when the milk or salami is going to expire in 3 days?! When we provided feedback to the manager, they come up with their lame standard reply: ‘If we slash the price too much, people will wait for us to cut the price rather than pay full price.’ The unsold expired food is thrown away. To me it seems criminal that perfectly good food is flown all the way from USA or EU and then thrown away because the management is unwilling to provide proper discounts. Why would anyone pay that much for about to expire stuff when I can get fresher food for $1-2 more?
  • Another example from my office: We had perfectly good samples packs of scientific reagents from redundant brands which could have been used to perform 3-4 experiments. As we got it for free and even though the brands were no longer relevant to us, I did not see why we could not give it away to some customer who might put it to use. Instead, it was not given away and all the stuff expired and we still have it in our office – It was neither used nor thrown away. To me, it is just a waste of plastic and reagents which could have been used by someone.

Of course, there are cases when I have something I do not need but cannot find takers for it or don’t know where to look.

In my opinion, if one has something that is going to expire or not of use to them, it is best to give it away or sell it to someone who has some use for it rather than selfishly hoard it. In the end, one doesn’t use it and neither do others. It is just a waste of resources. 

How To Take Care of Books


Updated on June 8, 2016

Dear Book Readers,

Try as I might, I cannot forget the trauma I endured today, when I was reading a book and feel the urge to say this for the common good of mankind and all library users.

DO NOT pick your nose and stick the boogey with your thick black nose hairs on the pages of the book. Doing it even on a page is not okay but doing that on every page from page 15 to 60 is unacceptable. Makes me wonder, how hairy your nose is!

Pointers on how to take care of a book

  1. Do not pick your nose while reading a book.
  2. If you do, wash your hands.
  3. Stick the hair and boogey in a tissue and wash your hands.
  4. Do not stick the boogey with hairs onto every page you read. A book is not the place to stick your nose hair you plucked with your fingers.
  5. If  you do, clean the shit up! With alcohol. Just don’t do it, please.
  6. If you want, do this with your own books not borrowed library books. Because nobody wants to discover your hair stuck on every page for 2 chapters.

Besides, the book was meant for medical students and people with advanced science degrees, not 3 year old kids. God help me, if you are a doctor.

P.S: I cannot bring myself to read the book now but I diligently cleaned the pages with a sanitizer. Don’t ask me why.

Updates: I went to the library and showed the book to the librarian. I had missed out on cleaning 3 pages which was good because I could show the librarian the condition of the book. I told them to create some educational poster telling people not to do that! Phew!

5 Ways My Eating Habits Have Changed


After I wrote about my decision to stop drinking tea with lunch, it reinforced the fact that we pick up habits that are convenient and easy in our environment.One of the easier ways to make habits stick is to make it convenient (Better than before by Gretchen Rubin is a great book for habits). I was at the food court today and I had to tell myself at least 5 times not to order a drink phew! On the other hand, I felt that living in east Asia had also changed some of my eating habits for the better – at least the ones I observed and chose to follow.

3 Ways my eating habits changed for the better here

Note- A lot of these are gross generalizations but these are some of my observations and they do hold true to some extent in my sample pool. Of course, things are changing lately, but observing people over 30, many of who have traditional eating habits helps. Applicable to adults only.

  1. Early Dinners – Most Indians I know here have dinner after 8PM while many east Asians usually eat around 6-7PM. I felt this was a great habit and now try to eat dinner earlier. Having a partner who also likes to have dinner before 8 helps:)
  2. No snacking – This is a very bad habit a lot of Indians have. I don’t get why people have to lay out snacks like biscuits, mixture, sweets for eating 30 minutes after/before lunch. Having bajjis, samosas, chips around tea time aka 5PM is why many people can’t have dinner earlier. I notice that not many people here snack outside meal times.
  3. Less sweet – Most people will find east Asian desserts extremely bland and not sweet enough while east Asians find other desserts ‘too sweet’. This made me come up with my unscientific theory that if  I were to train my taste buds (& my future kid’s) to accept less sugar, I would not enjoy ‘too sweet’ foods overall. Uncle doesn’t agree with this theory and feels people should be taught to eat sweets moderately. This was easy for me because I do not like to eat too much sweet stuff.

2 ways my eating habits changed post Uncle

  1. More veggies – I sometimes used to skimp on veggies because it was acceptable (Ex: Sambar + Rice + Appalam) but uncle insists that a lunch is incomplete without veggies. So, I make an effort to eat more and cook more veggies.
  2. No food after 10PM – I don’t remember anyone voicing out this rule consistently in my life until Uncle. I have seen many people snack late in the night while chatting away.

I am not perfect and there are times I do not follow these rules. However, I am the sort of person who prefers having clear guidelines (even if I set them for myself) and functions better under them. Breaking these means I have to spend time debating with myself and thus am less likely to do it.

Another gem from Better than before – Decide once and you don’t have to decide again.