Saturday, July 24, 2010

Manoj: Telemarketer Elite - Short Film

This is hilarious! How many of us here in the United States get calls from a "Matt" who sounds more like a "Manoj"....I got this from my friend Lotus. I couldn't stop laughing. Next time someone from my country calls you...this clip will provide you some comic relief. Instead of getting annoyed you might just smile!

Like we say, "Vee are like this onnly...absolutely and pproximately!"

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Salads

This pic was taken by K.

We absolutely love seafood. Until I came to the United States, I had not had squid (calamari) and until I moved to Jersey I had not had Italian seafood salad. There is an Italian restaurant, delicatessen and market near my workplace where they sell the most delectable Italiano fare. The other plus point is the eye candy at the store. Nothing is easy on the eye than a tall, good looking Italian guy and I don't mean the New Jersey kind but the ones from the old country. If anyone is offended, I can only flex my non-existent muscles and respond like any self respecting person from Jersey would... "ehh you got a problem with that?"

Anyway I digress, so this particular place serves the most amazing soups and sea food salad. I love to eat but there are certain foods that I consider "comfort food." Most of them are Indian ones like samosa, vada pav, jalebi etc. Apart from the Indian fare, I would consider pasta fagioli soup and Italian sea food salad as my two other comfort foods. So my favorite Italian restaurant makes the most delectable seafood salad.

Contrary to what my Indian palate would dictate, I love cold soups and salads in the summer. Therefore I ignore the layer of oil and bravely order the seafood salad. Whole foods serves this salad as well but it is not as good as the one that I like. Anyway I tried to discern the flavors and came up with the following recipe, which closely mimics the one from my deli. I am pleased with the outcome and therefore will like to share it on this blog. Of course now that I have nailed the flavor, the deli hold no attraction for me except for the eye candy (just kidding!). Besides I can achieve this in a comparatively low fat fashion.



3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound cleaned calamari rings and tentacles
1 pound cooked shrimp (I cooked and cleaned it at home instead of getting the frozen one to retain the flavor)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
1/4 cup chopped oregano
1 rib finely chopped celery
1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced green bell pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar


Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil with the garlic and in a large skillet over medium heat until the garlic begins to lightly brown. Increase the heat to high and add calamari rings (you can add the tentacles but that grosses me out) to the hot skillet and cook until tender and opaque, about three (3) minutes. Set a timer to 3 minutes because anything beyond that and the calamari will turn chewy! Transfer to a bowl and season the calamari with half of the salt and pepper.

While the calamari is still warm, mix in the remaining olive oil and salt and pepper along with the cooked and cooled shrimp, celery, oregano, peppers, onions and lemon juice, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Toss together well.

Although the salad can be served immediately, I would recommend refrigerating it for at least an hour as the flavors develop as it sits. Therefore if not serving right away, cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Tip to cook shrimp

I recommend deveining the shrimp, while the shell is on. For that I made a small cut on the shell with a sharp knife and deveined it. I prefer retaining the shell along with the head, to maximize the flavor.

In large pot add water, salt to taste and juice of one lemon. Bring your water(4-6 cups of water per pound of shrimp) to a full boil. Once your water has come to a full rolling boil, add your shrimp (with the shell on) and stir to separate them. Cover with lid. The shrimp should cook in 6 to 8 minutes (for large variety). Turn off your stove burner and let sit. When cooked remove from the stove and drain in a colander, then dump your shrimp into ice water to stop the cooking. Stir the shrimp around in the ice water to make sure they all get cooled. Then remove the shells, while retaining a portion at the tail for aesthetics and flavor.


After almost 17 years since its publication, I got a copy of Vikram Seth's "A suitable boy" and will start reading it soon. I had put a hold on it at my library. This evening I went to get it. The woman at the checkout counter reminded me of the librarian in that famous Seinfeld episode of the lost book and George getting a wedgie. Anyway she looked at the book and said, "Did you know this is a great book and a best seller?" I looked at her incredulously and replied, "Really I had no idea, I just love to read books that exceed 1,400 pages." I know...I can be quite a biyatch sometimes!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Is ethnicity an essential ingredient in successful relationships?

Yesterday I had dinner with one of my very dear friends; let’s call her “A.” A is of Indian descent but was born and raised here in the United States. Her parents moved to the United States in the 60s, so left behind an image or their idea of India. India, however, has progressed by leaps and bounds since the 1960s; therefore their idea of the subcontinent seems so obsolete today. She is very fluent in Marathi but her speech is more reflective of her parents’ generation than hers! Her parents are her connection to India and all things Indian. She speaks chaste Marathi and it is comical when she uses words that are so reflective of my parent’s generation in her very American accent!

She has an MBA in Finance from one of the top business schools in the US. She lives on the West Coast and was here for two business meetings, one in Philly and the other in NYC. In between those meetings she found time to have dinner with yours truly. There is nothing like hanging out with your girlfriends and having great conversations. She is still single, which is quite a huge deal in the Indian community. Now no matter how liberal ones parents are and no matter how independent one is, they still want their children to get married within the set parameters. Risking broad generalization I would like to add that with Indian parents it is usually a “nice Indian boy or a girl” in their twenties. This then transforms to pleas of “please get married” when the children cross into their mid thirties.

Yesterday she mentioned to me about how her parents tried to set her up with some friend’s son and she was regaling me with stories of their very disastrous first date! She was complaining about not meeting the right kind of a guy. She was on the various Indian dating websites and she was thoroughly disappointed with the kind of men she was meeting. Her biggest peeve was most of the American born Indian men that she met were so bloody confused about their identity that it annoyed her to no end. According to her they try too hard to not associate with anything related to their parents culture. Additionally, quite a few of them were looking for action while she is looking for commitment. The Indian born and raised men, especially in her field of finance, are incredibly smart but socially retarded! I couldn’t but laugh at her broad generalization and told her so.

She then told me about how her mother took her to one of the social gatherings during this business trip in the hope that she could “arrange” a match for my friend. She relayed her mother's exact words while introducing her to the group. The words reflected the so called subservience that was traditionally expected from a girl child’s parents in a patriarchal society. It took me to the time when I had just finished architecture and my mother wanted to get me married. This was the time before I met and fell in love with K. My mother had a very different tone when she would try to set me up. When I used to protest, my mother said that she has to play this game and that I will never understand. I used to always get annoyed because I felt that I was as smart and educated as the guys she was trying to set me up with. If a guy as smart as I is considered a “catch” then why am I not the same? Today I am far more independent than I was then and I still don’t understand the logic. It is inconceivable for me to be subjected to something like my friend.

My friend is a very successful professional. In fact her earnings alone must have qualified her for the special tax breaks during the Bush era. Now if she were a man, then she would be considered a “catch." Perhaps many women would have wanted to be the trophy wife! Why is that rule not applicable to successful men? She is extremely bright, very attractive and very nice person but most men get intimidated by her success.

She has dated American guys in the past but she always felt that they never quite understood the Indian culture. Therefore she wants to marry someone who is from India or whose parents are from India. She is well traveled and very cosmopolitan in her outlook that this really surprised me. What is her idea of Indian culture? I never viewed her as an Indian but as my American friend because that is who she is. Apart from the United States, she has lived in London and Zurich; therefore she has never lived in India. Her idea of India is based upon her childhood summers in the country. The last time she was in India was three years ago. What is Indian about her except her name and skin tone? In fact a few of my friends from India have American spouses and very successful relationships. Therefore I do not agree that ethnicity is a necessary ingredient to make the perfect relationship dish!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tinariwen, Assouf

One of my very dear friends introduced me to this track. The first time I heard it, it completely captivated me. I was transformed to a world far removed from my reality or what my understanding of the world is. Luckily the video has english subtitles so I could understand the lyrics. I am not sure but I am guessing that this is a Sufi song, where love could be the love of divinity. The strings are heavenly, I have downloaded this from iTunes.