Monday, November 29, 2010
Went for Gay Pride yesterday, was fun. Gay parties in Delhi are awfully boring compared to Bombay. Seriously. Compare Olive to Bollywood Mischief. At Olive, you kiss the air and you pretend to touch.
Also, of great interest to me is the number of fancy sounding restaurants that open in Delhi every now and then. It's About Us wanted Utthapam to marry Lasagne. Ambrosia had Greek Curry. Chalchitra had a trying so hard to be funny Bollywood theme. All of the above are foodwise extremely mediocre.
The thing is if you promise to serve world food and have Paneer Shashlik or Rocket Salad on your menu, it doesn't really mean anything. I recently went to this place called Banyan GRill tucked away behind the grime, dirt and asbestos opposite select city walk. Under a banyan tree, white walls, quaint cabinets and flower pots hanging like it is the South of France. (the visitor comments claimed this place transported them to
above mentioned coveted corner of the world.) Thing is I don't fit this profile of well travelled Indian. All my knowledge of food comes from spending too much time with well travelled people. So judge my opinions keeping that in mind. Total country bumpkin.
So yesterday , we went to Poppadum. As soon as I entered, they enquired if I actually wanted to go to Thai High. I assured them that I actually wanted to thulp one proper Andhra Thali and not pick at Phad Thai.
The place was completely empty and apparently my friend was asked the same question last time around.
Anyway Poppadum with its new temple bells and paintings of babas by Israeli travellers in Pushkar was a far cry from the Andhra Mess of my dreams. I was determined to hate the food and offended when the waiters said things like Baingan Pulusu or Pumpkin Kadi.The food didn't disappoint. Sure, it was spicy like
the war won't end. The dal was slightly thinner than preferable. The pacchadis were gorgeous- beetroot, peanut, spicy-sourthing. And also, the cabbage peanuty dry vegetable was notable.The diversity of flavours, the sour faintly spicy gongura , all of this was heady. Overall, each piece was a gem. But in order for me to taste anything I had to isolate each ingredient and eat it with the strong, neutral and ever loved curd rice. An assault of too many flavours.
So, yeah the point is why doesn't this restaurant work. Is the food too spicy for a Delhi audience? Andhra Food too new? Fine Dining and South Indian very niche?
Well, atleast the food is good. Which I can't say about any of the other ambitious places I listed above.
(I am so screwed right now, I almost ended this mail with (and am now)..
Friday, November 26, 2010
You can sleep all you want but the day is still there waiting and the bed is not another country.
A young, unnamed Romanian seamstress living in Nicolae Ceauescu’s regime is constantly summoned. Her crime is having sewed ‘’marry me’’ notes into the Italy bound trouser pockets in the factory where she works . The hope is to escape the country. Women could apply to get married. It was all about Italy. It was nothing about him(the potential husband). It was about going from being bare assed poor to having a marble vase on your table.
There is of course always a battle between content and form.Here the content is unnerving. You are invited as voyeur into this woman’s mind, as she takes a tram ride from her home to meet General Albu for an interrogation.The prose is like thought process , especially as it would be in a totalitarian system- disjointed, scattered, wretched, random, hopeful. You end up reading in rhythm,this happened , that happened, her best friend died, her body splattered red like a bed of poppies , the nut, it always helps to eat a nut to face the summons.
And so, the form is not friendly, not conducive and you feel like an outsider visiting neurosis. You understand how terror’s largest presence is not in the
fire of bombs or the drums of gunfire but in the rhythm of the mind trying to retain sanity, the mind that occasionally tips over, scrambles back to an uncertain balance.
The first and the best: don’t get summoned and don’t go mad, like most people. The second possibility: don’t get summoned, but do lose your mind.. The third: do get summoned and do go mad. Or else the fourth: get summoned but don’t go mad like Paul (her lover) and myself….or to be young, and unbelievably beautiful and not insane, but dead.
Her tram journey was supposed to take her to the interrogation but
she misses her stop and where she goes is worse, by far.
The trick is not to go mad.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Monday, November 08, 2010
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
This assignment falls under the Promotions team of Condé Nast India. The primary role is to create advertorials / promotional articles for brands that advertise with us. This translates into a major revenue stream for the company. Since the magazines caters to luxury and life style readers, a lot of brands would rather have us create something in the Vogue/GQ/Conde Nast Traveller style for their brand than simply placing an ad, because no one in India understands this set of Audience better than we do. The advertorials follow the editorial style to ensure that the promotional article looks like an editorial point of view and not a paid promotion. The role also encompasses developing all marketing and advertising collaterals across all 3 brands – billboards, print ads, emailers and any other collateral needed. The designation and salary will depend entirely on the years of experience of the candidate. The biggest benefit of working on this team is that it allows a writer to fill his / her portfolio with three genres of writing – Travel, lifestyle and fashion. Moreover, the writer is given the chance to work on some the best, most well-known brands across the world.
Apply to all of journalism.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
The best piece that Nadeem has ever written, says editor John Freeman of Leila and the Wilderness, which is also one of the longest pieces ever commissioned by Granta.
“I was on a panel in Edinburgh with him almost two years ago. It was all about the short story. I asked him, do you ever write stories? And he said no, but I have a story I think I want to write. I’ll send it to you. He did, only 9 months later, which is much longer than most people wait when they say something like that. It has such thematic depth and story-telling muscle – so much of what this issue ended up being about: love, family, the pull of extremism, tradition and honour, the feeling that Pakistan is becoming someone else’s place…all that’s in this story. So it was really a no-brainer putting it first.”
Past its minarets from where Allah was pleaded with to send the monsoon rains…..its snow blind mountains and sunburned deserts… past the boy sending a text message to the girl he loved…past the crossroads decorated with fibreglass replicas of the mountain under which Pakistan’s nuclear bombs are tested...past the six year olds selling Made in China prayer mats at traffic lights… in this immense homeland of heartbreaking beauty…
Nadeem Aslam, who was born in Gujranwala and lives in England, had Leila in the Wilderness in his mind for 15 years. In the two months that he took to write it, writing for 12 or 13 hours a day, not leaving his house, not seeing any one, not celebrating Christmas till the novella was done and sent to Granta, which accepted it immediately without any editorial cuts. What it does is that it distils the purest form of truth in prose, sprinkled with a surreal magic and an inhuman brutality, the politics of this moment - Guantanamo Bay and Jihad and love, all at once, in a sweeping fable. Leila is a young woman separated from her lover Qes and married into a family that kills all her just-born daughters and despises her for an inability to produce a son.
“I was introduced to a man – an educated man – who asked me whether I was married and had children. When I told him that I had no children and that I thought of my books as my children, he said, in utter seriousness, ‘Yes. Your successful novels will be your sons, and your unsuccessful ones your daughters.’ That was when I began to think seriously about writing the novella.”
“But I do love thinking about religion and how it attempts to put something other than money and sex at the centre of human discourse – it puts love there. As Borges said: I give thanks…for love, which lets us see others as God sees them.”
“It has always been the case. I remember being a student and buying Bruno Schulz’s Street of Crocodiles for 50 pence in a second-hand bookshop after reading the first paragraph. No one told me it was a great book, that he was a great writer. I knew it instinctively. When the real thing comes along you don’t need anyone to tell you: something inside you tells you. That is how I wish the readers to come to my work.” (Nadeem has never had a reader in mind while writing.)
“That sentence (the one-and-a-half page one) is the only occasion in the story when I let my subconscious speak. It was like a word-association game – I asked myself: What do you think of when you think of Pakistan? Give me the answer as fast as you can. I took less than ten minutes to write, one thought led to another – and it all feels like a train journey, sometimes the rhythm is uniform, sometimes broken, sometimes a wide and deep vista is seen out of the window, sometimes the back of a building looms up just two yards away. And all the while the wheels on the track keep up a steady beat – ‘past the…past the…past the…past the…’”
“Reality (referring to the many worlds in this book) is like that – it is made up of many layers, and our mind is quite capable of perceiving them simultaneously. We try to keep this aspect of existence out of art, out of stories, because we wish to see order in art, not chaos; we wish to sense rhythm and pattern, as opposed to confusion.”
“Pakistan is a country with immense problems and huge moral dilemmas - so it calls for minds that have to be sharp. It's not up to writers to do PR for Pakistan or Islam, or America, or India.”
The italics in the first paragraph are deeply unintentional but the calm, serene ,slow moving nature of my internet makes sure I make no ammends.