Saturday, May 19, 2007

Real life LOL

This is one photo that makes you smile just by looking at it.Friends sharing a good laugh.Everyone is so happy.They all seem genuniely amused.Just look at Jimson and Eappen.I am in this photo too.Why else is Sean suddenly 7 feet??

Trivandrum eats.. (and so do I)... Pt II

I sometimes think where all i would go when i were to visit TVM in the future.I would probably take a room at the KTDC Chaitram,see Kovalam( everyone does,you come to TVM you see Kovalam,its mandatory),and what else..TVM kinda sucks balls, not much to do, yes there are the beaches and ayurvedic resorts, guess i will spend time there.I know where i will eat.Thats been all decided before hand.The breakfast is inconsequential,but if it has to be,there is an excellent thattu kada near Pazhavangadi.There are also several OK udupi style restaurants, which could serve as Plan B.Dinner has to be at Zam Zam if only for the memories and the good times.And lunch??Now we are talking..
About 2 Km from our college,near technopark lies this little hotel called Ashwathi.Its basically a hole in the wall eatery that has become legendary in the region for its excellent TVM style meals.All the techies( several northies too) from Technopark come here,so do lots of students from my college and then there is the regular stream of locals.There were even talks of shifting the eatery inside of Technopark, its that famous.
The meals consist of rice with four basic curries ie sambar,pullisherry,meen curry, and parripu.You get three side dishes or thooku which has an achaar,a raita type dish and an avial.You also get pappadams,curd and buttermilk.But the clincher,people, is the fish fry and Kappa( Tapioca).The fish is dipped in a secret batter and deep fried to get a crip exterior and a just right inside.The batter crumbs make for an interesting side dish in themselves.Normally there are 2 or 3 fishes a day,but the regulars are matthi,churra,ayilla and kozhiyalla.My favourite is Matthi , which is served in threes.I start of with parripu or pullisherry, and proceed onto kappa,fish fry and meen curry.This combo coupled with a single omelette is a really tantalizing mix.I mix the Kappa with the rice and add meen curry,while the fish fry, batter crumbs and omelette serve as side.I am telling you it is something to be tried.I do, almost everyday.Most people follow it up with sweets from the store opposite to it, a habit i gave up when i put on braces.
Initially there was just this young guy and his son who did the servng,aided by two old men at the counters.The hands behind all this magic are of his invisible wife, to whom he barks orders of parcels at regular intervals.Lately two new waiters have joined the bandwagon.One used to be an auto driver who would do some serving to get a free meal.He soon gave up the other job and joined full time.The food is homely and you know its been made with dedication and care.Another thing that adds to the charm are the servile and efficient waiters, a dying breed in TVM.I first heard of the place from Luke,who told of a hotel that had excellent food at real low prices.I forgot about it later, but the interest was rekindled by some classmates who made a trip there.Soon i set off with Naveen but could not spot the place, and had to contend myself by eating someplace else.Again it was the Jimson-Eappen duo who located it and returned to tell everyone their exploits.Soon the hostel was addicted.
There are people who swear by its meals,myself included.You get the most powerful siestas after eating from here, God knows how many i have had to stifle, sitting in the period after the lunch.

PS: sometimes it worries me how I intimately describe my food habits, and how it fills me with glee.But other times it reassures me of my Gourmet-ness.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Exam time blues

We complain ,we bemoan,cry,curse,deplore, but one thing we don't do is study.We complain how the system is archaic,how the syllabus is outdated and about the lack of time.And its also the time when we promise ourselves to set things straight from the next semester.But its anyone's guess what follows.It really is surprising how you can pass engineering by just studying 2 weeks before the exams!! There is a popular sms, that goes something like this:
A doctor ,a lawyer and an engineer are asked how long would it take them to read a 2000 page book.The doctor says 3 weeks, the lawyer says 2 weeks the engineer says" hmm.. one night.. the night before the exam!!"
Another thing that is strange is how you suddenly realize there are other pressing matters at hand as the exam nears.I have suddenly found many new interesting websites that could provide hours of entertainment( for one).I also go through wikipedia's profile of comic characters.I remember in the school days how i would suddenly find a strong attraction to cooking.My friend Sam says he discovered the importance of keeping his room clean the night before his 10th class boards.There was this guy called Thoma who lived near my mother's house.On the days preceding his 10th class exams he abandoned studying after it struck him how lucrative tomato gardening was.He set to work in his backyard,only to quit two days later, realizing he lacked the green thumb.He now works as vegetable vendor.
This also the time when you discover how precious and sweet the luxury of a good night's sleep is.There are people who list sleeping as their hobbies,but i am not that inclined.But come exam time, i would my give my left kidney for a night's peaceful sleep.
You discover how we take life's small luxuries as granted.You learn life lessons in time management, about learning from past mistakes.The joy of being able to do nothing,sit idle,the beauty of that afternoon siesta,to watch a film and follow it with another,the idle chatter that is quintessential to college life.It's enlightening ,humbling and at the same time scary.It brings out the real you.

Monday, May 7, 2007

My mag article

This is something that i wrote, which got published in the college magazine.. its got a super lame-o title

Strikes: Glory to thee!!

by Angelus

There are innumerable things that I love about CET and college life. But one thing that holds prominence in the list is strikes. I love strikes. Absolutely adore them. No matter what kind. Be it a water strike, strikes due to sparring between rival parties, strikes due to lack of facilities in MH, strikes because the foreign minister of Bolivia was imprisoned, strikes celebrating the victory day of the winning party, strikes celebrating the victory day of the minor party that scraped by with two wins, strikes because a party leader has an incomplete assignment. I love them all.

Imagine this you are sitting in class. Its a boring double hour ,you are off in LaLa Land, when all of a sudden you hear a faint sound, as if there is a fight going on in the distance, it grows clearer, it cant be.. It is.. “On strike ... On strike ... so and so ...On strike….
Your heart leaps with joy. You close your books ,all eager for the teacher to take attendance and let you go.. You know the feeling, everyone in CET does,and admit it you love it.

I fondly remember my first strike, like an initiation ritual it was. Having grown up outside Kerala, I was alien to the concept of strikes. I was awestruck, dumbfounded, baffled and was for lack of words. I mean, we students beg for free periods and for day offs, and here was perfectly legal way to get that.

And over the years we have come across some really memorable strikes. There was the one where two groups decided to call strike on the same day, unbeknown to each other. Then there was the strike started by just one guy. He started in the mech department and gathered a following as he went along. But the most memorable one has to be the one started by LHites, it truly was a sight to see. I believe you can see part of it on youtube.

What’s more I have heard if you have the right contacts and some dough to roll out you can initiate a strike of your own. But all things aside, it is a matter of fact that strikes are a grave matter, something that all of us should take seriously. I for one always, and I mean always vacate the classroom to show my solidarity for the cause. Hey it’s the least I can do….

PS: our college magazine is called maram pezhthappol.. aka "When the trees rained", it basically implies that life,memory and the college years are all like the rain drops which accumulate in the trees, and when you shake them they come down.. i kinda like that..

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Spiderman,Vaisakh and I

I had wanted to see Spiderman 3, ever since ... Spiderman 2 ended, and was really glad the summer season kicked off in Tvm with Spiderman 3 arriving here on time ( ie may 4). So it was decided that I and Eappen would go reserve the tickets and the others would join up later. I set the alarm, woke up at 7:00... Got ready, got Eappen ready... And we set off. Then we stopped had breakfast at Anand and then set off again. We reached there at around 9:15 for the 11:30 show... and were not that surprised to find a small crowd .we parked the bike and got to a comfortable spot near the gate .After 10 mins a guy came and asked if the reservations would be open tomorrow?" what’s wrong with the reservation today" i thought and asked a guy nearby .He pointed to the billboard .there were only 2 shows listed for the day, the first show and second show. Bugger. The first 2 shows were cancelled. The guy at the gate said that the theatre owner's Bro in law passed away, that is why. We drove all this way to the city for nothing. Crap.crap Big time crap. we returned to the hostel with Eappen not wanting to try again in the evening. But i knew I could swing him my way.
After enough cajoling Eappen agreed to come with me in the evening, everyone else was ready too so off we went again .we reached there at 5:00 pm with a medium size crowd waiting for us. I struggled through the crowd, and found a nice spot in front of the gate. Right next to me was a Tvm local who apparently knew the gate keeper. He also knew several people working there as he kept requesting to be let in, referencing their name. He also said that the gate would be opened at 5:45.There were several groups of ppl and also loners. It was the loners I was afraid of, since like me they too had come to reserve for friends. I knew what I had to do; as soon as the gate opened I had to run like hell for the ticket counter. I gave Eappen some tips on running fast, for which he gave me an acerbic look. I told him I had experience, once I went to see “Wanted “with Gaurav and faced a similar situation. When the gate opened, I ran and shoved a guy in front of me, he fell and got run over by other ppl, I was 3rd in . So I knew. The tvm local explained to anyone who would care to listen that there were 390 balcony theaters and 1290 seats overall, so everyone would get tickets. Reassured by that I called the other guys to come on over. But after some time rumors started spreading that the balcony seats were all gone. It was semi confirmed by the gate keeper who asked everyone to proceed to the other gate, nearby, which had a similar crowd but was unmanned by any other gate keeper( [part of the reason I chose this gate, I thought only this one would be opened, that had been the case for 300 and 2 yrs ago for rasikan].I sent Eappen to stand at the other gate whileI held my place in front of the crowd .The gate was opened only for the theatre ppl as they came and left in cars and cycles, we would all huddle in the corners when the cars came. Finally at around 5:45, (the crowd and grown real big, and the pushing was growing.) some ppl jumped the low wall, and the other gate was opened,… we yelled at our gatekeeper to open the gate, he was reluctant but did after a few seconds. I saw that they hadn’t opened the balcony counters, so I quickly diverted to the first class counter, which is like a winding path or tunnel to the ticket booth, I jumped the railing at a point and wriggled myself into the crowd... Lots of other guys were jumping the railing too. After some time Eappen joined me. Whew was it hot .All of us packed into this small space, sweating and mumbling .It was uncomfortable as hell. Soon the Police arrived; you should have seen the mass of humanity swelling in the parking area. Many got thrashed; others ran and stood within the allotted space. You could see the ladies and kids being let in, without any hassles (they had a separate line).The pushing was getting worse it was like being packed in a box. The wagon tragedy and holocaust stories passed through my mind. This was nothing less; we just had more head room. There was a gang of medical college students behind me who kept calling for their friend in the front of the row. Vaisakh .They said shouted his name so many times that everyone in the line picked it up and soon abuses started flying at Vaisakh and his mother. Poor guy. He never returned the shouts. It was so stuffy I was sweating buckets; you had to hold your head high to breathe. And the line was not moving. It was a living hell. Everyone was cursing. On top of that there whisperings that one guy would get only 2 tickets, major bummer, there were 9 of us. After standing there for about 15 minutes the line started moving ever so slowly. After sometime Vaisakh appeared at the side and called out to his friends, brandishing four tickets in his hands. They cheered and the crowd again abused dear old Vaisakh and his mother. Soon the line picked up pace and we now neared the ticket counter, the counter turned into an actual tunnel, closed o all four sides. Eappen was in front of me and it was decided I would get 5 and he would get 4 tickets. All of a sudden I felt something hit the back of my head and there were screams behind me. I looked back and was shocked to see this guy climbing on top of everyone and trying to get into the tunnel. He was literally standing above everyone. It was his foot that hit my head, everyone shouted at him and I too screamed my head off at him, it was surprising that everyone soon stopped yelling and it was just me telling him to get out. I had a good mind to wrestle this stick of a man, but decided against it. Soon I reached the counter, there were guys gesturing me from outside to get them a ticket, I turned my eyes and decided against it. You could liken all this to a concentration camp with us the lucky inmates somehow being let out and the others pleading us to take us with them. Finally we got the tickets and got out. We were semi heroes. We all got in quickly except for Murali who told me wait for a while and totally disappeared. I waited for about ten minutes after which he returned and told me he had gone to the cloak room to deposit his luggage. (he was going home after this).

And the movie? It was Ok. The fight scenes were awe inspiring but there was no flow in the first half. Green goblin is like this uber cool skateboarder, only he is in air. That was nicely done. Venom was awesome, and so was Topher Grace. It also helps that Spiderman has a fantastic rogue gallery that translates very well onto the big screen. My rating 3.5/5. But will have to watch it again once more to finally decide how I feel about it.

Got myself a haircut..

There is this barbershop near my hostel called Bobby's.It recently underwent a renovation and also changed hands.the old barber has now been replaced with 3 youths.It s been renamed malavika's.One specializes in haircutting, one in shaving the other in washing your hair.Thats right you get your hair washed, before a haircut, thats unheard of in these parts.So i waited for half an hour for my turn, flipped through several Malayalam film magazines and was finally called in.The hair washing guy asked me to sit in front of a basin and he washed my hair , shampooed it and even dried it!While he was toweling my head i couldn't help but think what he would do if i went my way after the hair wash.I mean i went in got my hair washed , said thank you and left.That would have been hilarious.i did not ask for my hair to be washed they called me and washed it without even asking.anyway the guys did an ok job.I never seem to get good haircuts.My life is one bad hair day after the other.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Wheelbarrow Warrior

When i saw this i really laughed for a minute or so, it is that funny. The guys expression is hilarious.though its an obvious photoshop, i think its genuinely humorous. now , the effect has worn off, but the first time, i really really laughed..

annan and hidu

They say opposites attract, when you see these two you realize its partly true.They make a gr8 team always fighting and cursing the other,but still always together.Annan aka Jantok aka Joseph Anto K is an ernakulam resident who happened to share rooms with Arun B aka Hidumbi aka Umbesh kumar C P in the first year.However when it came to blows with the landlord(who happened to be one of our teachers) over the ever escalating rent, they decided to vacate and found themselves at the gates of Bethany, a students hostel.They have been roommates since and also stayed put for the last 3 years.they are both fun guys with a pronounced flair for appearing in campus stories.Annan is said to be the protector of the LHites, always lurking around the LH.While hidu is known for his blank expressions and dumb antics.Once when he was in school, in Malayalam class, the lesson was Mahabharata.The teacher read aloud something about Hidumbi the Asura, our boy hidu (who was dozing) thought the teacher called out his name(Hidumbi-Arun.B get it?) he stood up and said "Present".The class roared with laughter and the name stuck.
I find them to be decent guys , who always hang around our hostel,and to be frank better of the lot who treat lords as a govt guest house.Joseph is very particular abt his afternoon siesta and uses my roomie Rahul's bed almost regularly.Hidu also has penchant for making stories and his usual targets are me and could say we three are constantly thinking up ways to show the others down.
I wrote this cause i saw them the other day on Annans bike, and i couldn't help noticing how these two are always together ,and i know they are gonna be best friends for life.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Trivandrum eats.. (and so do I)... Pt 1

When i came to Trivandrum 4 years ago, i was disappointed with a lot of things (i did not protest much those days, but this is how i would like to it to be remembered, so retconned).The saving grace was theatres- Rs 30 for a balcony seat is a good idea- And then there was shawai( more on theatres later)

The menu all over Trivandrum is uniform, its the same thing everywhere with even the prices more or less the same. There’s chicken biriyani for 30/-, chicken fry/chilli chicken/chicken curry for 30/-, veg fried rice for 25/-,chapathi and parotta for 2.5/- you get the gist. And it’s the same everywhere. Hotels change hands, they are renamed, cooks fired but this... This stagnant menu has not changed. The only change was that the chicken biriyani shot up to 35 after 2 yrs and now it recently got increased to 40.Well why would you change something that works so well rt??It can get to you at times... Eating the same thing day in and day out. But around the end of the first year i started hearing rumors.. There were talks of a place that actually had something different. This something actually changed lives and eating habits in our hostel.. While once we survived on 40-50 Rs a day, that amount seemed trivial with the new developments.

It began with 2 of my hostel mates-Jimson and Eappen-spotting a fancy restaurant near there church in the city and deciding to experiment. They saw whole chickens rotating behind a glass case, it intrigued them, and like children they were drawn to this new sight.
" what wonderful delicacy is this, my good man, do pray tell" they asked the waiter.
The waiter looked back at them, with an unsurprised expression.
He replied" this, you silly fellows, is... SHAWAI CHICKEN"

That incident really changed our lives that coupled with the arrival of several bikes in our hostel, making no distance short for us. We became regular frequenters of this “fancy restaurant" called Zam Zam-the well of satiating waters. Shawai chicken was nothing but grilled chicken, something i had seen in Delhi several times but never bothered to try. It’s an Arabian dish brought to the Malabar Coast by the migrant keralite. Its served with a bread similar to a thick naan called kuboos and a katori of mayonnaise. And i must say it is divine. There are few words to describe the taste of a mouthful of chicken, wrapped in a piece of kuboos, with a dash of mayonnaise. As i said it’s divine. and beautiful and godly and heavenly.mesmerising.delicious.delectable.scrumptuous.

We now spend ridiculous amounts of money at this place, which also has a great range of ice creams- they call them ice fruits- and almost everything on the menu is excellent, though priced a bit high, but you will never hear anyone in Trivandrum saying Zam Zam is expensive. That would be blasphemous. Zam Zam stands along side 4 other restaurants- another restaurant called Zam Zam , noor Mahal and sindhoor palace. The others all basically suck. But recently the old Zam Zam got renovated and has a better ambience than the previous one. So we shifted base, it’s the same menu (it’s owned by the same people) so no guilty feelings there. Now that my eyes have opened I see shawai counters here and there... I have experimented, but none matches the splendor and charm of ol’ zam, zam.. Except...

Except Kazhakootam shawai. Which actually is a bakery called Bake World (welcome to the world of yummy delicacies!!). This too was discovered by Jimson- it’s near his bike service centre. And apart from the really brilliant shawais, you get unlimited refills of mayo... That really was a drawing factor as recently Zam Zam had started charging for extra mayonnaise. And it was nearer to home… so we added this to our regular haunts..

Jimson has to be the most active shawai gulper in our group. He is without doubt the reigning champ. I guess the second place would be tied between me and Eappen. And the rest of the guys behind us.we have had lots of memorable times in Zam Zam, many treats have been given here, birthdays celebrated, and bad days forgotten.I have always thought to myself when I come back to Trivandrum some time later in life where all will I go and eat?? This is on top of my list... this and one more place...(Wait for part 2)