Category Archives: Hyderabad

BiRYANi ADAMS

So Bryan Adams was coming to Hyderabad. And Sarthak and me had tickets to the concert. And I was pretty kicked.

You see, I have never been to any real concert. I had been to an Indian Ocean concert, but the experience was spoiled because of some tasteful guys in the audience who interrupted the concert screaming, “Rock on!” and “Jai Ho”, which pissed Rahul Ram a great deal and the concert sank.

We reached the place at six o clock, and the concert was to begin at 1900 hours Indian Stretchable Time. We had got the cheapest tickets and it was pretty much the scene in a local train. People were jostling for space, and giving way to the occasional sandwich seller and Aquafina bootlegger. There was a hostess who was attempting to the entertain the crowd with utterly original questions like,

“Are you guys with me?” and “Are you guys ready?”

Just as we were realising that it is going to be an uncomfortable affair standing here waiting for Mr. Adams to come on stage, the hostess announced that Arshad Warsi was here and had ‘something for us’. What Arshad Warsi had was a cruel joke. He was promoting some film called ‘Faaltu’ and some dancers came on to the stage and started performing to some songs.

You dont mess with a crowd that has been waiting for two hours and Mr. Warsi did just that. He asked the audience to say loudly after him,

“FAAAAL – TUUUUUUU”

“FUUUUUCK YOOOOOUUU”, the crowd went, promptly. This went for about a minute, after which Warsi probably realised the plan had backfired and left the stage reminding us all about how much he loved us all. And then, Bryan Adams came on to the stage.

He hardly looks like a rock singer. His hair was neatly parted at the side and gelled, and he wore a black shirt and jeans, looking more like the head of the Indian arm in a BPO company than a singer. Once he came on stage, we realised why the film stars had bought the more expensive tickets. What we saw was a synchronised show of heads bobbing up and down to the music.

There was a lot of speculation on whether he was lip-syncing or not. “Har show mein wohi hota hai”, the wise guy who was standing in the group in front of us pointed, and after spending five minutes standing on my toes and not being able to figure out if he was in fact lip-syncing, I gave up. Even if he was, there was nothing I could do about it.

There were no long chats between songs and drunk jokes like the kind Mohit Chauhan would crack on stage. He finished one song, smiled, spread his arms out, and went on to the other song. He was egged on by some creative slogans shouted once in a while.

“Once more, once more”

“We know only one song. Play ‘Summer of 69;”

“Give us another song, or give us a separate state” etc etc

But he was a sport. The crowd generally knew a maximum of 2 lines in every song. So the sing-along concert would go like this:

PLEASE FORGIVE ME…

EVERY WORD i abrrrabaah TRUE..

PLEASE FORGIVE ME,

abbaabaabba YOU.

But when the crowd heard the first strains of that one song, that one damn song that everyone knew, it was like the crowd had collectively taken a snort of coke. In unison, they blasted off into how they had bought that guitar at the five and dime, and the dumbass chick who kept standing on her mama’s porch.

I surprised myself by knowing more than just one Bryan Adams song, but I guess that comes with having a girlfriend in the early 2000s. So I crooned along and cheered and ‘once mored’ after every song. He was a sport. He spoke to the audience, joked with them, took pictures, and asked one to come on to the stage and sing with him.

And just like that, before we knew it, the concert was over. Bryan Adams thanked us all and told us that we were the loudest crowd he has seen in India (debatable, considering Adams has never been to an Oriya wedding)

You always know the reaction of the crowd to a show by the way they come walking out of the place. When people came out of the halls watching Rang De Basanti, everyone wanted to change the country. When people came out of Dhoom, even TVS Max 100 were revving like Hayabusas. And when people came out of this concert, everyone had an English song on their lips.

Every one was nodding, or waving, or humming, and looking for the exit.

Kimbo Slice

If you ever visit the University of Hyderabad, go down to Gops and meet Kimbo.

Kimbo is the right creature in the wrong species. Brown, slim, with long legs and brown eyes that are as deep as the sea, Kimbo would have been a total stud if he was a sapien (using the word Homo for Kimbo seems criminal). He is Casanova the Lover meets Alexander the Great meets Chenghis Khan the Horny.

Kimbo was brought to the University as a puppy by a few seniors. Since then, he has been pampered so much that within 6 months, he became the undisputed king of Gops, the largest canteen area in the University. I have been close to a lot of dogs in my life, but I am yet to meet someone with as much character as Kimbo.

I guess what makes him different is that he is not very nice. Dogs are essentially nice creatures, and that’s why they get bullied, chained and petted by humans (cats are a different story altogether). We are always used to dogs sticking around with their owners through thick or thin, faithful as ever. Doesn’t work that way with Kimbo.

To befriend him, you treat him as a friend, as an equal. He does not eat vegetarian food. Only chicken, mutton, or fish. And no aaltu-faaltu biscuits either. Tiger biscuits only, thank you very much. He doesn’t respond to names like ‘Cheeku’, ‘Chiklu’ or other crap. The name is Kimbo and you only call him that. And he doesn’t like people smoking around him, so if you want to smoke, please walk away. Follow these simple rules and you have Kimbo as your friend.

Kimbo doesn’t suck up to you for food by wagging his tail. He will approach you, size you up, wait for a few seconds, and then move. And once Kimbo has approved of your company, you cannot cheat on him with some other dog. He does not let any other dog come close to you. Fiercely possessive about his friends, many dogs have realised it the hard way. Especially 50.

50 is Kimbo’s archrival, and the favourite of some people in the university, but they are a minority. Named after the rapper 50 Cent, 50 is black, cool and a total badass. He is the only one who stands up to Kimbo in a fight. But he is unwell and aging and I think all the other dogs realize that too, and so have anointed Kimbo as their leader. When there is a group of dogs and Kimbo approaches, they all duly stand up and wag their tails. And he has the prettiest girl in the group, a beautiful white bitch who is sometimes allowed to walk with him, and never allowed to mingle with any of the others. I think Kimbo has male ego issues.

You see, Kimbo has been castrated. But that doesn’t in any way mean he doesn’t have balls. There are legendary stories about Kimbo’s fighting prowess. Says Ditti, a 2nd year Literature student and a fan of 50. “The other day we were going from Gops to ShopCom, and Kimbo was following us. He seemed to be in a pissed off mood from the beginning, but we had no idea what was in store. When he reached ShopCom, he saw four local dogs and decided to vent his anger on them. He took on three of them, beat their asses hollow, and shooed away the fourth. Kimbo is a fighter, I have to admit”.

Another remarkable quality about Kimbo is that he attends classes. He sits in the front of the classroom in the Literature department, and does not disturb the class. The professors are used to him now, and I suspect his name might be on the attendance roll in a few years.

And he is also with us when we hang out within the university. There have been nights when I had to walk alone from Gops to my hostel (which is 4 kms away). I just called out to him, and he walked with me to my hostel, saw me off to my room, and came back. There are lots of rocks in the university where students hang out, and he comes along with us, sits quietly next to us, and barks if he senses anyone approaching.

Kimbo’s only enemy, however, is RGPB Old Man. He is a sweeper at Gops. The initials RGPB is because of the Rapist Glasses and Pedophile Beard he wears. While he never does his primary work of keeping Gops clean, he takes great pleasure in whacking the hell out of dogs. So even if Kimbo is the Goddog among his peers, he is but a meek, whining dog when RGPB Old Man approaches with his broom and basket. However, Kimbo’s slowly increasing fan base has begun putting up a fight and asking him to shove his broom somewhere within himself.

Now that the holidays are going on, I can’t stop thinking of dear old Kimbo. Who would be feeding him his daily quota of Tiger biscuits and chicken? And who would he come running to when he hears a whistle? I can’t wait to get back to the University, to the sight of Kimbo running to me, with that ‘Where the fuck were you?’ look on his face.

Really, you should meet him sometime. The dog is a dude.

Kadai Paalak Matar Paneer

Cooking has always been among the sexiest things to do according to me. I have told a lot of girls that I love cooking. Its a white lie. Truth is, while I love it, my knowledge of cooking is marginally more than my knowledge of the Uruguayan economy.

Its not as if I haven’t tried. I did volunteer to help at home in the kitchen. I tried making rotis but they ended up looking like diligently made briefs. My attempts at Gajar halwa resulted in flying colours, most of which were hitherto unknown to mankind. So, I gradually gave up, and reconciled to honing my skills at Maggi and ready to eat soups.

Yesterday, Sarthak got one of his impulses to cook. He is a supermarket owner’s wet dream, and there is no stopping him when he goes shopping. We made a few phone calls and got all the ingredients required. We decided that since we were making rice anyway, we should make it from the best quality. We were shocked to find that a packet of Basmati rice costs 153 rupees. I opine the government should start selling Basmati rice at a subsidised price too.

Around 8 o clock, we began. First, cut the palak. I did my best, but the instructions were to cut them to really small shreds. After wrestling with the palak for half an hour, we decided to shred it with our bare hands. Meanwhile, the rice should be cooked.

Sarthak set up the rice. Problem was, we have an induction stove, and were not sure if pressure cookers work on induction stoves. So we borrowed Raj’s cooker, put in the rice and water, set it on the stove and prayed to God. We were told one whistle will do. We waited for 20 minutes, and were expecting a whistle like Rajesh Khanna’s from ‘Yeh Shaam Mastani’. It was nearly half an hour now, and there was no sign of a whimper, leave alone a whistle. We opened the cooker anyway and tasted the rice, to see that it was alright. Our friend Raj later informed us that the whistle might have been spoilt.

Now, for the curry. We had shredded the palak and were on the call with Aunty.

Aunty: Now add some oil, wait till it is heated and then add the palak.
Me: Wait till the oil is heated, or boiled?
Aunty: Heated.
Me: But it has started boiling.
Aunty: Then add the palak, and then add the salt. Be careful how much salt you add.

Sarthak took this advice with two large pinches of salt.

Sarthak: Will this much salt do?
Aunty(who was clearly getting put off with our inquisitiveness): Can I see from here how much you have added?
Sarthak: Oh, ok ok .
Aunty: Now put the lid on and leave it for five minutes.

After five minutes, we saw that the palak, which looked quite a lot in the beginning, had shrunk to the size of a dark green version of flubber. This was clearly not going to be enough for three of us. What to do?

Sarthak: Let’s add green peas to it.
Me: Aren’t we making palak paneer?
(Awkward silence for a few seconds, and we begin soaking the peas in water)

Following which, Raj walks in and nonchalantly informs us that he is quite a good cook. He has sarcastic timing, this guy! He took over and we were mere side-cooks. “Cut the onions now.”

Me: “Horizontally or in rings?”
Raj: “Leave it, I’ll do it. You add the paneers in the oil.”
Me: “Till they become brown, or reddish” (Angry stare, followed by Raj doing it himself)

Somewhere in between, we realised the quantity seemed on the lesser side. What to do? No problem! Lets make it a gravy-rich curry. I promptly added two glasses of water to it.

To pass time, me and Sarthak helped ourselves to three glasses of lemonade and one each of Jaljeera.

After an hour of going from the drawing room to the kitchen, taking the lid off and stirring th curry, getting fingers burnt, and trying to act busy, it was ready.

It was a two hour ordeal. We finally sat down to eat.

We were hungry as horses, the curry was giving off an enchanting smell, and England were kicking Australia’s ass in the final. Perfect!

When we launched into the curry, we had mixed feelings. It seemed a trifle salty, the colour was somewhere in between dark green and dark brown, and Raj and Sarthak seemed to have got more curry than me (even after switching the bowls after careful consideration)

But it was the best damn Kadai Paalak Matar Paneer I have ever had.