Friday

Beneath the horse's hooves: Ferrari


When you view Germany or China or even Singapore, you do with respect? Perhaps tinged with a bit of fear and awe? These nations are not to be taken lightly. Yet when foreigners seek India, come to India- they walk all over us.

Does your blood not curdle? Are we nationalistic and proud enough as a nation? When someone insults India, why don't most Indians hurt and want to lash out? Any insult to our nation cannot be casual & natural no-more!

Being an ardent Formula 1 fan and at that an ardent Ferrari fan it pains me to see Sports making overtures so obvious, into Politics.

Where or why did Ferrari antagonize its fans in India? A couple of months ago 2 Italian navy sailors killed 2 unarmed Indian fishermen in Indian waters (the Italians dispute the jurisdiction). India arrested and charged these 2 marines. The Italian government wants the Indian government to let the Marines free. Perhaps because they know the Italian connection that exists in the ruling party in the Indian govt? The arrogance and the racist undertones in Italy's stance are obvious to me and many others. The subtext rings loud and clear "Our marines killed 2 of your guys by mistake but what's the big deal. We'll pay a couple of crores, the poor fishermen don’t matter either way” seems to be the disregard for India

My question is, do you think, that if the fishermen were Italians, India would have got away with such a sub text? Or if it had been Americans killed off the coast of America, the Italians would dare be this brazenly arrogant? Does Ferrari foolishly believe that Indians will hear and believe Ferrari, more than their own common sense?

The Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix is this weekend. Ferrari has announced it will carry an Italian Navy flag specifically in support of their 2 marines. It's not like Ferrari has been carrying the flag throughout the season. They're doing this only in India. They're not even using the pretext of just supporting the Italian navy in general. Their statements specifically mention support for the murderers. This is akin to a British team carrying the flag of General Dyer's regiment only in India to express solidarity with his actions in Jalianwala Bagh! 

Beneath the horse's hooves, lies a Ferrari with misplaced intentions  Or maybe not. Ferrari is way out of line in supporting their marines who are murderers, whose crime, I repeat, is not even in doubt. Ferrari is espousing the wrong cause and has embroiled itself in unwanted controversy by declaring support to the accused Italian marines. 


As an Indian, I find Ferrari's stance stupid, misplaced and irresponsible. If Ferrari was genuinely concerned for the truth, it would know how insensitive its support for their Marines who were target practising on our unarmed fishermen, is! What a farce being played out this weekend

India needs nationalism more than any lip service today. This is not a regular incidence to be casual about.. I am a huge supporter and fan of Scuderia Ferrari, BUT, I am a bigger patriot of my country! No way should the marines flag be branded on the car. It’s very wrong. Ferrari’s jingoism is misplaced.

Saturday

Sweet sweet tooth


A creamy dreamy crunchy sweet rainy afternoon with a Florentine and my fave brew coffee. Was so inspiring that I am writing about it! Sometimes I wish had a job of being a judge for chocolate…, what a dream job that would be. Sigh.

Florentines are a delicious mixture of toasted nuts and candied fruit that are coated with a sweet sticky mixture of honey and sugar and baked until golden brown and bubbly. The crowning touch is a layer of melted chocolate. These palm-sized rounds of brittle are covered in thinly sliced almonds.




When you hear the name 'Florentine', you instantly think it must be from Florence Italy. Unfortunately, I don’t have the vaguest clue where is its origin from. I know its very popular in Europe and comes in many forms.
My introduction to Florentine was by my brother who absolutely dotes on these, and I think he discovered this sweet delight in London.

One form of a Florentine consists of a layer of pre baked pastry, topped with the nut and candied fruit mixture, and finished with melted chocolate. Another form of Florentine is a cookie, thin caramelized disc of candied fruit and nuts also with a layer of chocolate on one side. And then there is the Florentine La Dolce Vita - a thick layer of caramelized fruit and nuts that is baked in a cake pan and finished with a layer of melted chocolate. Some people here call it “chikki” (??!!)….

Taste one if you haven’t, and then tell me, how awesome was it really…have it with a latte or a black coffee, the combine is delicious.

A heads up to all coffee lovers who read this post: Italians eat very well, and quite rightly take great pride in their cuisine. Possibly one of the most offensive ways of ending a meal is by asking for a cappuccino ( especially when with the Italiano’s). Coffee to them is really a snack –  a large cup of warm milk, and very filling. Ending your meal with a cappuccino (apart from constituting a violent assault on your digestive system!) implies that you have not eaten well or sufficiently. If you cannot manage an espresso then try learning this phrase: “Un caffè americano con tantissima acqua calda, e un po’ di latte freddo a parte.”  (An espresso coffee with lots of hot water, and some cold milk on the side)!!! Any Italian waiter worth his salt will call this “dishwater” once out of your hearing...or perhaps even well within your hearing!  But you will get something approaching an Anglo-Saxon watery coffee that you can drink, and that doesn’t (drastically) upset the cook or the hosts! J

Thursday

India or abroad?


Lately I have been in an apocalyptic mood. Watching the scenario in Political, Social India I feel depressed, wondering why such an optimistic story (about a nation called India) has suddenly, gone sour, fraught with negative sentiments? It is times such as current – when the economy is not galloping ahead, when inflation is at an all-time high, when scams seem to crawl out of the woodwork with no reprieve, when hallowed Institutions like the Armed forces and Judiciary seem under a cloud, when the young seem vacant and goalless, when the value system seems nonexistent and beaten severely…I shrivel up inside, too afraid to live in India…  


On the heels of such an apocalyptic mood, the thought of living elsewhere makes the brain hyper active.

My thinking

# We are an emotive people. We like to spend time with family. It is this same family (who at times we want to run away from) that gives us a sense of calm, a feeling of belonging, a deep sense of being wanted and loved  


# We are used to our festivals, customs and holidays. Sure, celebrating Xmas and Eid is fun, but not engaging directly in the rituals of Ganesh Chaturthi, Mahashivratri or Gokul Ashtami  - makes me feel detached, rootless, wasted


#  It can be argued that by living abroad one learns new cultures, foreign languages…Then again I say, look at my country, do I even know all the various distinct languages, cultures, and people of India? Such diversity right here in my backyard, why abandon it  to seek it elsewhere?


# Varieties help create and transform. Absorb the rich diversity of this land we are born in, the ease with which we live the pluralism called India. Which other nation, even remotely, promises such a rich texture of existence?


# The weather. It is next to impossible for someone like me to adapt to a land which is dull, grey, and rainy, with little or no sunshine. I don’t like extreme climates. India affords me bright sunshine, balmy days, cool evenings, 4 seasons of the calendar in the right doses!


# Immigrants are regarded with suspicion, no matter how rich or poor, in foreign countries. It is a social problem and we all know the fall out of such ailments (hostility, racism)  


# Perhaps one shouldn’t over obsess over other’s opinions about India - obsessing over contrarian opinions won’t make our opinion any more credible. But then again India and its fabric of life is like no other, right?. Why compare and be distraught?


# Look at our own behaviour in the most clinical way. One nation thinks sleeping with your child is a crime. Westerners think eating with your fingers is uncool. Another nation distrusts us in every aspect of our entrepreneurial qualities. Lets face it, we are an idiosyncratic nation. Will we be able to do all of what we do inside India, elsewhere, in the outside world?


# And last but not the least - If you are remotely even fond of India, I don’t think you need to think about living elsewhere. Stay put, enjoy your life, improve things in your immediate life, give the world more reasons to look at us.


For now this reasoning will see me through and keep me happy, In India

Monday

Fear



I like animals…I really do. Okay, I like MOST animals. Let me break this down.


I like dogs.

After seeing Happy Feet, I kinda like penguins too ( so long as they can tap dance)


The one’s I don’t like are the one’s that are the killer variety. You know, like the sharks for instance – since I was small Jaws has mortified me, I really wish sharks…cough…water welling up in the eyes…didn’t exist. (Yeah, I said it - all you “Shark” fanatics, you are all crra-ay-zee). I think sharks are as terrifying (ok maybe a wee bit less) compared to the stories of the paranormal kinds! Worst fears of my life.


I run miles away (mentally) from anything ‘paranormal’ in definition, even a hint of it, I can evaporate! Unfortunately Hollywood has used so many animals and birds and cats and bats and stuff in its ‘scary’ movies, that now I am not only severely allergic to ghosts, spirits, in a throat closes, eyes swell shut, heart stops beating , turn into a zombie kind of way, but am also scared of bats, cats, roaches, and what have you! Its safe to assume this is a no go zone for me. Never can be.


Other than that, as long as a pet isn’t rubbing its butt on me, and your bird isn’t pooping on me or trying to peck my eyeballs out, I can deal with most animals…


Tuesday

Love and Marriage not forever nomore?


Do you believe in fairy tales. Were you reared on happy endings and forever after? Do you believe in eternity? Did you read only those books that promised joy and happiness despite the lows of life? Do you believe there is that one special someone there for everyone?  Who may come into your life perhaps when you turn 60 or have one foot in the grave?

Today's reality pushes all these romantic notions on its head. It compels you to think otherwise. Today's reality forces you to 'transact' at various points of your life with love. Todays reality reflects that love is transactional, the 'forever' script is at best foolish and naive.

Our parents lived happily ever after. So you hope you will too. But our parents lived in a generation where one's dependency over the other was complete. Our generation is way too independent. In-fact the dependency is very feeble and at best transactional too.

Love is today a distraction from the supposedly important things in life- money and status? Sure, many myths get shattered. A reality check.

Many people in the known realm today marry not for love, but for settling down. A predicament? Not sure. Seems more like a happy compromise that people have come to terms with. It  may stun some of us, but then again, when you speak to those who are separated or divorced within a year of their marriage, this reality, of settling down (not for love) but for other vital reasons, becomes, logical too (?)

And right here I come face to face with another reality. Assuming you settle down to such a situation or even at best a business transaction relationship. Which, comes to an end, inside a year or so? How do you rationalize this reality? After all marriage isn't a passion-fest, its more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring non profit business.

Yea, my last resort, "sarcasm" the best defense when reality is so different from the happy endings one wishes for! The only thing that allows you to hold on to your balance. Just about.

Where are we headed? If no forevers, if no love, then what? Variety? Sure. For how long? Forever? IS this a new paradigm in our Digital age?

IS it time to redefine the institution of Marriage and perhaps define 'a successful marriage' as a 1 or 2 year contractual agreement? Or will it give way to an experimental phase once again with the 'live -in relationship' becoming a reality?  (May not fly in India..). Or then maybe here's the dawning of yet another reality, the reality of single-hood. Today more and more friends are opting for this alternative, as compromises and business transactions in a relationship are unacceptable to them. They don't wear their heart on their sleeves, they are supremely confident of their earning capabilities to secure a stable future for themselves, they are willing to be there for their parents and their pets unconditionally, till the very end. Life come a full circle?

The more I speak to my friends, the more I look around, the more I seek answers the more marriage and forever seem like an elusive reality. Friends are willing to bet, only on themselves. Marriage is ok but not enough to sustain. Marriage is dated, because you don't want to give all yourself to anyone anymore.One should not be over involved says a very close friend. Wise words huh? After all, as she says, its not worth it if there is no quid pro quo.

Maybe the morning light will make me want to add or delete some stuff from here, but for now, it seems the writing on the wall is  "Don't fall in love. Don't get married. Fall off a bridge, it hurts less"