Pot Hole City

It’s been cold for several days. It’s been raining almost every day and on some days it’s been raining almost non-stop. My last post was about floods in the town of Pala in Kerala but it’s bad everywhere. Kottayam, Kozhikode and even Cochin. The railways stations in Eranakulam North Junction and in South Junction are both flooded and people are even using boats to float on the waters above the railway tracks.

Worst parts are the roads! Cochin is famous for having potholes that the local government take their own sweet time to address and when they do get to fixing it, they do a barely minimum job which they either ruin by having pipe work done on the sides immediately after or they fix the roads just before the monsoon season. All this ensures that the contractors get their contracts signed every year regularly and the corrupt politicians gets to steal money.

Yesterday the cab I was in had to use two diversions because of huge pot holes on two side roads onroute to my office in the evening as the waters were deep and sedans as well as smaller cars and bikes won’t get through without damages. I lost a lot of time, almost 30 minutes because of this.

How I Am Viewing The World Cup

I’ve been streaming the live matches of the World Cup from the comfort of my bedroom using the Sony Liv website, which is amazing by the way. I had signed up earlier this year to Hotstar for their really cheap Rs.299 a year for the Sports Package but Star network, their parent company, do not have the rights to broadcast the World Cup.

I was checking out other streaming options before signing up two weeks ago with Sony Liv for their monthly rent of just Rs.99 a month to watch the football games. I am loving this so much that I just might continue using it for a year or so. It’s easy to sign up and pay and then go to the website and select the game you want to watch. My 10mbps unlimited plan with Asianet is coming in really handy for this.

This weekend has been spent indoors, enjoying nice cool weather, with the exception of a quick Uber ride to and fro the self-service Bevco in Gandhinagar for a few beers – six in all, 2 each of Hunter, Black Fort & British Empire – and a 600ml bottle of Smirnoff Apple. I have to try to find another outlet though; this one doesn’t seem to have the brands I want.

ChicKing India VS KFC India

So, off the bat let me tell you that this is a comparison or atleast this post is only about the Indian versions of both these franchises. KFC is an American giant which has a global franchise and reach while Chicking is an Indian owned, Dubai based company that has outlets in India and the UAE but no where else that I know off. They also outgun KFC in the number of outlets in Kochi & Kerala overall. I think KFC has four franchisees in Kochi while ChicKing may have 5 to 6.

Now what matters is the taste. Head to head having had their flagship style batter fried chicken buckets in the last 2 weeks – Chicking two weekends ago and KFC last weekend – I must say that taste wise and even option wise, Chicking seems to be the outright winner. Along with the various options for buckets, they also give you buns, coleslaw, garlic sauce dips and buns. KFC will give you buns & French fries but neither of the other two. Both will give you packets of ketchup. I just feel like as a meal, KFC have to start getting you sauces and coleslaw to make it a real meal especially for family size buckets.

And taste wise Chicking seems to have the edge too. KFC has a bit of a metallic taste in their meat; not too pronounced but just there. Chicking’s chicken meat feels more juicy and fresher compared to KFC. I think they are clear winners!

RIP Sridevi Kapoor

Veteran actress Sridevi died in Dubai on Saturday after a cardiac arrest. She was 54. Popularly hailed as the first female superstar of Hindi cinema, the actor was in Dubai with her husband Boney Kapoor and younger daughter Khushi to attend nephew and actor Mohit Marwah’s wedding. The actor had married film producer Boney Kapoor with whom she had two daughters. Sridevi, who made her acting debut at the age of four, had many big hits like “Chandni” and was especially noted for her impeccable timing as a comedienne.

She took a 15-year-long break from movies in 1997, a year after her marriage. She returned in 2012’s “English Vinglish”. Sridevi stunned fans with her performance as a villainous queen in “Puli”, which also marked her comeback to Tamil cinema after a gap of more than two decades.

Sridevi started her career as a child artist in M.A. Thirumugham’s devotional Thunaivan at the age of four, and continued to act as a child artist in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada films. She made her Bollywood debut as a child artist in the hit Julie (1975) and played her first adult role at age 13 with the Tamil film Moondru Mudichu (1976). Subsequently, Sridevi established herself as one of the leading actresses of Tamil and Telugu cinema, with roles such as 16 Vayathinile (1977), Sigappu Rojakkal (1978 ), Varumayin Niram Sivappu (1980 ) Meendum Kokila (1981), Premabhishekam (1981), Moondram Pirai (1982), Aakhari Poratam (1988 ), Jagadeka Veerudu Atiloka Sundari (1990) and Kshana Kshanam (1991).

In Bollywood, she made her debut as a lead actress in Solva Sawan (1978 ) and gained wide public attention with the movie Himmatwala (1983). She appeared in a string of commercially successful movies such as Mawaali (1983), Tohfa (1984), Naya Kadam (1984), Maqsad (1984), Masterji (1985), Nazrana (1987), Mr. India (1987), Waqt Ki Awaz (1988 ) and Chandni (1989). She also received critical acclaim for commercially successful movies such as Sadma (1983), Nagina (1986), ChaalBaaz (1989), Lamhe (1991), Khuda Gawah (1992), Gumrah (1993), Laadla (1994) and Judaai (1997). Sridevi has won five Filmfare Awards and has been nominated ten times.

IndiBlogger’s Blogger Q&A On Twitter

Recently I’ve been participating in what I’d like to call mini-blogging or mini Q&As on Twitter that Indiblogger has been conducting. It’s been fun participating in it and reading other bloggers answers. Here are 6 (in two tweets) that I answered:

1. Tell us about yourself and your blog.

A. I blog from a personal perspective; anything that I like, love, hate, experienced and have a passion for.

2. What was the most challenging moment in your blogging journey so far? 3. Which of your strengths really helped you to #blog?

A. Nothing much: Once I started my blog (started in 2002, regularly blogging since 2007) it became a part of me.

3. Imagination and ideas

4. What language do you prefer to blog in and why?

A. English only. I wish I knew French, Latin or Klingon. English is my first language.

5. English being a foreign language, how did you learn it? Were there challenges?

A. I grew up in Kuwait and the community I was in spoke mostly in English.

6. To be a grammar nazi or not to be and why?

A. Occassionally a Grammar Nazi but I write casually so I don’t mind it too much. #language #Blogging #indiBlogger

Creator Of Old Monk Rum Passes Away

The man behind the most iconic alcoholic beverage of India passed away. Brigadier (retd.) Kapil Mohan, former Chairman and MD of Mohan Meakin Ltd and the man behind the rum Old Monk, passed away on January 6. He was 88 years old.

Old Monk Rum was the very first alcoholic drink that I ever drank, other than beer ofcourse. I was 19 and my much older cousin brother gave me two tall glasses of rum+cokes on ice (or was it rum+coke+lime) and I loved the taste. And ofcourse I got tipsy after the 1st glass. After that first taste, I started drinking rum on a weekly or bi weekly basis and Old Monk was my rum of choice.

The choice of most guys in my age group in Kerala (and it seems a lot other Indians agreed too) was Old Monk rum. Rum was cheaper than most other alcoholic beverages. So many evenings or afternoons spent in a bar drinking 3-4 rum+cokes on ice and deep fried beef. Oh those were the days when drinking out didn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Good memories! Cheers to the life of Brigadier (retd.) Kapil Mohan. Thank you, sir.

RIP Shashi Kapoor

Veteran Hindi film actor Shashi Kapoor passed away on Monday after prolonged illness. He was 79. The actor-producer took his last breath at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai. He appeared in a large number of Hindi films as well as in various English-language films, notably the films produced by Merchant-Ivory. He was also a film director and assistant director in the Hindi film industry. Born as Balbir Prithviraj Kapoor; 18 March 1938 Kapoor was a member of the Kapoor family, a film dynasty in India’s Bollywood cinema. Kapoor was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) during the British Raj. He was the third and youngest son of Prithviraj Kapoor, the younger brother of Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor, the widower of Jennifer Kendal (sister of actress Felicity Kendal), and the father of Karan Kapoor, Kunal Kapoor, and Sanjana Kapoor.

In 2011, he was honoured with the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India for his contributions to Art-Cinema. In 2015, he was awarded the 2014 Dadasaheb Phalke Award, making him the third member of his family to receive the highest award in Indian Cinema after Prithviraj Kapoor and Raj Kapoor. He was admitted for a reported chest infection at Kokilaben Hospital, Mumbai on 3 December 2017 and died on 4 December 2017 due to prolonged liver cirrhosis. He made his debut as a leading man in the 1961 film “Dharmputra” and went on to appear in more than 116 films during the ’70s and until the mid ’80s. The veteran actor is well-known for his roles in films like ‘Deewaar’ (1975 ), ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ (1978 ), ‘Junoon’ (1978 ), ‘Shaan’ (1980 ), and ‘Namak Halaal’ (1982).

McDonald’s India Has Some Dumb Menu Items

Went into McDonald’s (Vennala) this evening on the way back from work and saw that they had new stuff on the menu. Sweet! thought I. But nay….I was disappointed soon.

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The Cheesy Italiano Chicken – it is enough for Italy to declare war on India. A dry chicken patty with some melted mozzarella and what looks like Italian dry powdered herbs. Or McD’s stole some oregano and chilli flake packets from Dominos and powered them even further and put it on this patty with a couple of small pieces of onions. Voila – instant Italian classic…NOT!

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It was kinda bland and disappointing. Bun was multigrain or multiseasame or something stolen from Subway. It totally felt like something from Subway without all the options for toppings and sauces. This is part of McDonald’s India’s new “Flavours without Borders” menu – More like Borders without Flavours!! They describe the burger as – “juicy chicken patty, sprinkled with aromatic Italian herbs, layered with a rich and creamy onion-cheese sauce and shredded onions in a square toasted bun.” Seriously??? The preparation looks more like some guy in Bombay who was smoking some fine weed and coming up what he thought was “Italian”.

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They also had a new McFlurry – Phirni McFlurry a rice pudding dessert prepared to perfection with delicate flavours of rich condensed milk along with rice bits. It was ok but not as good as the others that they have!

RIP Tom Alter

Veteran Indian film, television and theatre actor and Padma Shri Tom Alter has died aged 67. The renowned actor and one-time sports writer and author had been battling stage four skin cancer. Alter acted in over 300 movies apart from numerous TV shows, most famously as the gangster Keshav Kalsi in the hit soap opera Junoon which ran for a record five years during the 1990s. In addition to acting, Alter also ventured into direction and was a sports journalist in the 80s and 90s.  Alter has written three books, one non-fiction and two fiction, and in 2008 was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri by the Indian government in recognition for his services to the field of arts and cinema.

Born in the hill station of Mussoorie in 1950, Alter was a third-generation American in India who studied at Woodstock School in the Himalayas and then briefly at Yale University in the USA, before returning to India in the early 70s. In 1972, he was one of three men – the others being Benjamin Gilani and Phunsok Ladakhi – chosen from over 800 applicants across north India to be enrolled in at the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, where two years later he graduated with a gold medal diploma in acting. Among his notable roles during the first decade of his acting career were Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977), Shyam Benega’s Junoon (1979), Manoj Kumar’s magnum opus Kranti (1981) and Raj Kapoor’s Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985).

Other notable directors he worked with during the 70s and 80s were V Shantaram, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Manmohan Desai, Subhash Ghai, Chetan Anand – who gave him his first break in the Dev Anand-starrer Saheb Bahadur – and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who gave him the pivotal role of the gangster Musa in the critically acclaimed hit Parinda. n the 90s, Alter was seen in many films, prominent among them Mahesh Bhatt’s Aashiqui, Junoon and Gumrah, Ketan Mehta’s Sardar and Priyadarshan’s Kala Pani. During this time, he also acted in regional cinema – Bengali, Assamese, Telegu, Tamil and Kumaoni films. Among his foreign films are Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi and One Night with the King, in which he acted opposite his idol, the legendary Peter O’Toole.

On TV, Alter’s leading work came in Junoon, Zabaan Sambhalke, Jugalbandi, Bharat EK Khoj, Ghutan, Shaktimaan, Captain Vyom, Mere Ghar Aana Zindagi and Yahaan Ke Hum Sikandar. Most recently, he was seen in a pivotal role in the ongoing serial Rishton Ka Chakravyuh on Star Plus. At the time of his death, Alter had approximately 16 unreleased films lined up as well as a web series by Eros Now titled Smoke. He is survived by his wife Carol, son Jamie, and daughter Afshaan.

New (For Me) Chips Brand

Have you guys tried these? This is a new brand for me; Kettle Studio gourmet chips. I bought them off Amazon.in and selected the Cheddar & Red Onion as well as the Sharp Jalapenos & Cream Cheese. Lighter and crispier than most brands I have had. The chips did get a bit crumbled in the trip to me but it was alright. The Jalapenos and Cream Cheese ones are really additive.

Beware Parents Of The Blue Whale Game

Just came to know about this online game called Blue Whale challenge. What an uproar on this! Parents, do some damage control and talk to your kids! This seems ridiculous to me that a teenager could actually do this but I forget that the teenaged years are filled with a rollercoaster of emotions and hormones. They are also easily influenced. I would say parents also have a part to play in this – teach your kids right versus wrong. School teachers also take heed. Let your friends, neighbours and relatives know that their kids can reach out to talk to anyone rather than get absorbed in completing the ridiculous challenges and tasks that the game gives you and then commit suicide at the end.

The list of 50 challenges has been translated from Russian and can be found here. Please be safe, please do not attempt anything from this. Parents and other adults, if you have teens and young adults in your family please ensure that you are approchable and that they can come and talk to you about anything. You could prevent more unnecessary and meaningless deaths.

RIP Vinod Khanna

Veteran actor and Gurudaspur MP Vinod Khanna passed away on Thursday in Mumbai after battling cancer. The actor had been ailing for long recently. Vinod Khanna acted in lead roles in many superhit films and is best remembered for his performance in films like Mere Apne, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Gaddaar (1973 film), Jail Yatra, Imitihaan, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Inkaar, Kuchhe Dhaage, Amar Akbar Anthony, Rajput, Qurbani, Kudrat, Dayavan, Kaarnama,Suryaa: An Awakening and Jurm. After making his debut in 1968, Khanna first acted in small second lead roles or negative roles. His angry young man role in the superhit movie Mere Apne, his negative role as the main villain in the superhit movie Mera Gaon Mera Desh and his role in the crtically acclaimed movie Achanak as the military officer turned fugitive received tremendous applause from both- the film industry and his fans.

Khanna was born in a Punjabi family to Kamla and Kishanchand Khanna, a textiles, dyes and chemicals businessman, on 6 October 1946, in Peshawar, British India (now in Pakistan). He has three sisters and one brother. Shortly after his birth, India was partitioned and the family left Peshawar and reached Mumbai. In 1982, at the peak of his film career, Khanna temporarily quit the film industry to follow his spiritual guru Osho Rajneesh. After a 5 year hiatus, he returned to the Hindi film industry giving two back to back hit films Insaaf and Satyamev Jayate. Khanna is popularly hailed as one of the most handsome lead actors ever in Bollywood, along with Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna and Shammi Kapoor.

Between 1973 and 1982, Khanna played the lead role in solo hero movies which include Farebi and Hatyara with Moushumi Chatterjee; Qaid in 1975 and Zalim in 1980, both with Leena Chandavarkar; and Inkaar in 1978 opposite Vidya Sinha. He did successful movies like Gaddaar with Yogita Bali, Aap Ki Khatir and Raajmahal opposite Rekha, Main Tulsi Tere Angan Ki with Neeta Mehta, Khoon Ki Pukar , Shaque and Adha Din Aadhi Raat with Shabana Azmi,Aarop with Saira Banu, Taaqat with Rakhee and Parveen Babi, Jail Yatra opposite Reena Roy, Daulat with Zeenat Aman, The Burning Train with Praveen Babi. In 1980, he starred in Feroz Khan’s Qurbani (1980) which became the highest-grossing film of that year. He accepted supporting roles in films with Rajesh Khanna as the lead hero through out his career – Aan Milo Sajna had Vinod in antagonist role, Sachcha Jhoota, Kudrat, Rajput and Prem Kahani had Vinod in character roles.

Vinod also starred in 47 multi hero films. In Shankar Shambhu, Chor Sipahee and Ek Aur Ek Gyarah he co-starred with Shashi Kapoor, in Hera Pheri, Khoon Pasina, Amar Akbar Anthony, Zameer, Parvarish and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar Khanna appeared with Amitabh Bacchan; and in Haath Ki Safai and Aakhri Daku he co-starred with Randhir Kapoor. He appeared with Sunil Dutt in Daku Aur Jawan.He acted with Jeetendra in Ek Haseena Do Diwane, Ek Bechara, Parichay,Insaan, Anokhi Ada and Janam Kundali. He did Rakhwala,Paththar Aur Payal, The Burning Train, Batwara and Farishtey with Dharmendra.

In period 1974-1982 Vinod Khanna was paid more than Jeetendra in the film Insaan and more than Amitabh Bachchan in 4 films like Parvarish, Hera Pheri, Khoon Pasina, Amar Akbar Anthony. In post 1987 period, Vinod Khanna was paid more than Rishi Kapoor, Govinda, Sanjay Dutt, Rajnikanth, Salman Khan in the films he did with them from 1987-1995. Only in the films he co-starred with Shashi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Sunil Dutt, Raajkumar and Randhir Kapoor in period 1968-1982, Vinod was paid lesser than them.