It’s finally here! Well not that I or anyone I know was waiting eagerly for it but Taco Bell is finally coming to Kochi. It’s the inauguration of the first Taco Bell outlet in Kerala and it’s in Lulu Mall, Edapally – which is a suburb of Kochi. Lulu Mall is largest mall in India (for now anyways as that title will soon be gone) and has KFC, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Burger King & McDonald’s.
Now they have a Taco Bell too. I have never been to a Taco Bell and never had anything from them. They have outlets in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad & Chandigarh – 11 in all and I guess Kochi makes 11. If it’s a success I guess they will have one each in the two Lulu Mall outlets that are being setup in Calicut & Thiruvananthapuram. But since India does not allow national/international food chains to have beef products (local joints in Kerala can have beef but not in most of India) what will they serve? Chicken ofcourse. Let’s look at the menu!
Mexican Paneer? What the fuck??? Tikka Masala Nachos Veg/Chicken? LOL, to be honest the rest of the menu looks interesting and I want to try a bunch of them. No beef ofcourse but lots of chicken option. I hope it’s good.
Thiruvananthapuram: Under the influence of Cyclone Gaja, Kerala state will experience isolated rains and strong winds till Monday. Squally wind speed reaching 35-45 kmph gusting to 55 kmph likely over Southeast Arabian Sea. The sea waves could rise at a height of 2.8 m in Kerala coast and Lakshadweep region till Sunday. Fishermen are advised not to venture into these areThe meteorological department has warned the formation of low pressure in the middle of the southern Bay of Bengal by Sunday.
Landslides, mudslides and other damages were reported on Friday in various parts of Idukki district, where the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) had issued an orange alert for November 16. The heavy rains have largely affected Munnar, one of the main tourist destinations in Idukki. Landslides were reported in Mammal and Edamal areas in Vattavada near Munnar on Friday around 10 am. A home in Vattavda was partially destroyed due to the landslides. The landslides and heavy rain also submerged acres of winter vegetable farms in Vattavada. Traffic was partially disrupted in the Kochi-Dhanushkodi national highway in old Munnar as the roads were submerged in the rainwater. A mudslide was reported near Mattuppetty road in Munnar and the traffic disrupted in the top station route.
Incidentally, the recently rebuilt Periyavara Bridge was also washed out due to heavy rain on Friday. The bridge, which is on the Munnar-Udumalpet interstate route, connects tourists to Rajamala tourist destination and the Eravikulam National Park.
An American businessman goes to India on a business trip, but he hates Indian food, so he asks the concierge at his hotel if there’s any place around where he can get American food. The concierge tells him he’s in luck; there’s a pizza place that just opened, and they deliver.
The concierge gives the businessman the phone number, and he goes back to his room and orders a pizza. Thirty minutes later, the delivery guy shows up to the door with the pizza. The businessman takes the pizza, and starts sneezing uncontrollably.
He asks the delivery man, “What the heck did you put on this pizza?” The delivery man bows deeply and says, “We put on the pizza what you ordered, pepper only.”
An aspiring Yogi wanted to find a Guru. He went to an Ashram and his preceptor told him, “You can stay here but we have one important rule: all students observe Mouna or a vow of silence. You will be allowed to speak in 12 years.”
After practicing for 12 long years, the day came when the student could say his one thing or ask his one question.
He said: “The bed is too hard.”
He kept going for another 12 years of austere discipline, meditation and silence and finally got the opportunity to speak again. He said: “The food is not good.”
Twelve more years of hard work and he got to speak again. Here are his words after 36 years of practice: “I quit.”
His Guru quickly answered: “Good, all you have been doing anyway is complaining.”
Noted singer-violinist Balabhaskar who was seriously injured in a car accident last week in Kerala died at a hospital early in Thiruvananthapuram this morning. His two-year-old daughter was killed when the family’s car hit a tree after the driver lost control. He died at around 1 am after a cardiac arrest, hospital sources said. Balabhaskar’s wife Lakshmi and the driver are recovering in hospital. Balabhaskar, 40, and family were returning from a visit to a temple in Thrissur after thanksgiving prayers for their daughter; little Tejaswini Bala was born after 15 years of marriage, according to sources close to the family.
The car rammed a tree on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram around 4.30 am, the police said. The couple’s daughter was declared dead in hospital. The driver is believed to have dozed off and lost control of the vehicle. Balabhaskar was on ventilator support after being seriously injured and had undergone a surgery. His body was taken to Thiruvananthapuram’s University College, his alma mater, where people from all walks of life queued up to pay their last respects. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Finance Minister Thomas Issac were among those who reached the college.
The last rites would be held on Wednesday in Thiruvananthapuram. The musician shot to fame when, as a 17-year-old, he composed music for a Malayalam film and has scored music for several films. A rising musician, he was was known for his stage performances and concerts in and outside Kerala. His fusion music was popular among his fans. Balabhaskar and Lakshmi were students of the same college.
This morning at around 10:45 am, having had just bread and mayo at 8 am for breakfast, I was craving a hot coffee and a snack to eat. I called on one my colleagues and we went to the cafeteria’s tea/coffee counter and got a tea for him and a coffee for me and we ordered some eggs puffs. Flaky, warm (not hot but warm enough to know that it was freshly made just an hour or so ago). Delicious and it satisfies the hunger.
How do you make it? Heat oil in a wide pan and add sliced onions. Cook till the onion becomes golden brown. Once the onion becomes golden brown, add crushed ginger and garlic and cook for 2-3 mins. Add 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder, 1.5 tsp Chilli powder, 1/2 – 1 tsp Coriander powder, 1/2 tsp Pepper powder, 1/2 tsp Garam masala / meat masala , all masala powders and salt. Cook till the oil appears, around 2-3 mins. Add 1 – 2 tbsp hot water to bring everything together. Add ketchup, curry leaves and mix well.
Beat 1 egg with 1-2 tsp water for egg wash. Apply this egg mixture on four sides of the puff pastry. Place about 1 tbsp of masala on each puff pastry, followed by half a slice of egg. Put some masala on top of the egg as well. Bring together the diagonally opposite sides and seal. Apply the egg wash all over the sealed puffs. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins or until the puff pastry is golden in colour.
Serve with some ketchup and drink hot coffee or tea. On a rainy day in Kerala, this evening snack has few rival.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Indian politician who thrice served as the Prime Minister of India, first for a term of 13 days in 1996, for a period of eleven months from 1998 to 1999, and then for a full term from 1999 to 2004, passed away today. He was 93 years old. Apart from politician with great oratory skills, Vajpayee was also an acclaimed writer who wrote several poems.
He was a member of the Indian Parliament for over four decades, being elected to the Lok Sabha, the lower house, ten times, and twice to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house. He served as the Member of Parliament for Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh until 2009 when he retired from active politics due to health concerns. Vajpayee was among the founding members of the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh which he also headed from 1968 to 1972. He was the Minister of External Affairs in the cabinet of Prime Minister Morarji Desai.
When the Janata government collapsed, Vajpayee restructured the Jana Sangh into the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980. He was the first Indian prime minister who was not a member of the Indian National Congress party to have served a full five-year term in office. He was conferred India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, by the President of India in 2015. Vajpayee remained unmarried. He adopted Namita Bhattacharya, the daughter of BN Kaul and Rajkumari Kaul.
Days of incessant rain have led to raging floods across Kerala. Buildings and infrastructure have collapsed, leaving over 54,000 people homeless. Dams, reservoirs and rivers have overflowed, roads have caved in, sections of highways collapsed, and homes swept away in ferocious floods. People are homeless, tourists are stranded, and wildlife is in danger as more than half of Kerala is dealing with severe flooding due to the unforgiving rain. Opening of all five gates of one of the dams of the Idukki water reservoir have only added misery to the already-dire situation.
29 people have died and tens-of-thousands have been evacuated from affected areas. Rescue operations are being carried out round-the-clock, and around 500 relief camps have been set up so far. Over 50 tourists stranded at a resort in the popular hill station of Munnar in Idukki, have been rescued by the army. The army, navy, air force, coast guard, and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have joined hands, by coordinating on a massive scale to carry out evacuations and relief operations. A fourth red alert has been issued for the Idukki reservoir, the gates of which were opened yesterday after 26 years.
The water level at the Idukki reservoir went down from 2,401.60 feet yesterday to 2,400.72 feet today. The maximum capacity of the reservoir is 2,403 feet. Northern and central Kerala have been battered by heavy rains resulting from the southwest monsoon since August 8. Of the 29 people who died, 25 were killed in landslides, while four people drowned. Officials said that over 54,000 people are now housed in around 500 relief camps across the state. The situation however, eased somewhat on Saturday afternoon, with the intensity of rain reducing considerably.
Write about a TV show or documentary you’d love to see get made.
I’d like to see a big production documentary or a large scale tv show about a minority in India, a minority of which I am a part of. I am talking about atheists in India. Yes, in the land of 8000 gods plus Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism and a few others – we exist!
So how about a documentary about the history of atheism in India, from the time and possibly before the Vedas and onto modern days. Interview prominent atheists, public figures who happen to be atheists, meet and talk with atheists groups and see what their views on life are and how they go about their daily lives in India.
That is what I would want to see get made.
Prompt from 52 Writing Prompts to Inspire Your Next Blog Post
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.
This year’s heavy and consistent rainfall has caused such floods as in Pala in Kottayam district in Kerala.
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.
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!
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.
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