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The Aubergine Lesson

Location and laziness combined with ‘Oor kannu’ resulting from me having a good time travelling around the world, conspired against me and forced me to survive on Pizza, Pasta, their cousin brothers and onnu vitta chittappas every time I come to Italy. Usually, tomato does a Kamalagaasan and takes various forms to accompany the pasta. I was sick and tired of tomato, till yesterday happened.

I decided to try out a new restaurant near my hotel. They had a vegetable accompaniment for pasta and it was not tomato. Aubergine is what they called it. I did not know what it was, but I was assured that it was not tomato. So I ordered pasta with aubergine and basil sauce and while waiting for the dish to make its appearance, I ran a flashback in italics.

When it came to leaves and vegetables, I was pretty much a cow. There are tales in my family about how I would pilfer the ‘Tulasi’ (basil) offered as ‘prasadam’ in temples from everyone else. In my ‘iruvathu anju varusha’ (25 years) service as a vegertarian from the southern part of India, I have been exposed to a variety of edible seeds, roots, stems and tubers and have unashamedly devoured most of them. But there is one vegetable I hate. Brinjal. Yes, that devil in dark purple attire, with a star twig attached to its brainless head. Best efforts of mom have failed to make me eat it. My dad almost succeeded once when he made an exemplary ‘Kathirikkaai deep fry’, oozing with ghee, oil and spices. But even he had to accept defeat when I rejected it after the first two pieces. So in a fit of unbound rage mixed with limitless paasam, my mom made a prediction 

“One day you will eat brinjal willingly, my son

And for neglecting our advice, you will feel like a bison”

Inspite of the gargantuan struggles that I have encountered with food while travelling outside India, I have always been thankful that the damn vegetable is not very popular outside the subcontinent. I was ready to live on tomato for months, but cannot eat brinjal for even a day.  

The pasta with aubergine arrived like the Tamizh Cinema Police, after the flashback was over. I cleaned up the plate within minutes. Today I checked what aubergine was. I am a tomato and Mom is God.

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With ‘Ek Mohabbat’, AR Rahman has come up with another magnificient number, this time for the ‘Vote for Taj’ campaign for the new seven wonders of the world. Rahman is at his best, mixing technology with melody, like only he can and the result is magnificient. As if Rajni not featuring was not an incentive enough for the Mozart from Madras. Heh!

There has been a major lack of awareness about the competition among the general public, which is appalling in this age of internet. The politicians, obviously, can never be blamed, since they are too busy slinging mud for the President elections. Good to see Rahman doing his bit. So much effort for the Campaign to get Taj Mahal elected as one among the new seven wonders of the world. I believe you would have already voted for The Taj. If not, please be a responsible citizen and do vote. If sentimental value does not capture your imagination, being among the seven will unquestionably promote Tourism in India. So there!

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Simplifly – Really?

It was 4 am in the morning. Alarm rings. I pressed the snooze button. Rings again after 10 minutes.

Me: Why the hell should I wake up at 4 in the morning? I just slept an hour and a half back after last night’s party.
Myself: The reason is simple. Else you are in line to miss your flight. That is not new to us, right?
Me: !@#$ you buddy. I am not going to fall for this trick, this time around. See ya in my dreams, u stupid howler.

10 minutes later, I was ready. Half asleep, clad in my favourite jeans, unwashed since 3rd century BC. I was supposed to board the 5.30am flight to Hyderabad. Sounded like a plan, until I remembered that I was travelling by Air Deccan. I frantically searched for my mobile to check if I had got any of the death knell SMSes Air Deccan is famous for. No messages from Deccan. <Sigh of relief> Anyone who is familiar with the airline will know that cancellations and delays in Deccan are as common as a Himesh Reshammiya album release – about 10 every day. I prayed!

I went to the Air Deccan counter and showed my e-ticket. The person manning the table was engaged in an intense conversation in crass Tamizh over his cell phone. He did not bother to look up. So I assumed that he was not aware of an entity standing there expecting him to issue the boarding pass.

I waited. Seconds became minutes and my patience was tested. Inspite of that I was able to take some pleasure from the fact that there were atleast 10 people standing behind me.

Me: Excuse me.
<Man in the counter stares like its my fault and goes back to his call>
Me: <In a sterner tone> Excuse me, Can I have my boarding pass before the flight takes off?
<The stare again. Points index finger to the next counter.>
Me: <Fumes. But has no other option but to join the queue in the adjoining counter>

Suddenly, I was no more the first person in the queue. There were atleast 15 people in front of me. I could imagine them having the same saddistic pleasure that was mine just a few minutes ago. The World is round!

I was lucky enough to get the boarding pass this time around, but did not have much luck with hospitality.

Man in the counter(Mic): <growls> Any check-in luggages?
Me: No
Mic: Please take your baggage tag from the table.
Me: But there are no baggage tags on the table.
Mic: The long rectangular shaped paper that you are resting your arms on, those are what you are looking for.
Me: But these have ‘Madurai’ written on them. And I have no plans of visiting Madurai now.
Mic: It doesn’t matter, sir. These are the only ones that we have.
Me: Hope the ticket is for Hyderabad.
<Mic Stared> I expected it this time.

I proceeded to security check, which went without an incident to quote. I made my way to the aircraft on hearing the call for boarding. On reaching the aircraft, I realised that the Kingfisher deal apparently has not had any impact on the quality of air hostesses in Air Deccan.

Air Hostess: Good Morning sir. Its free seating.
Me: Good Morning.

I went and occupied a seat somewhere in the middle of the ATR.

Air Hostess: Sir, Request you to please occupy the seats in the forward (sic.)
Me: But, that nullifies the advantage of coming by the first bus to the aircraft. And there is no seat number on the ticket.
AH: We cannot do anything about it sir.
Me: I know that. But you cannot call it free seating if you plan to instruct every passenger where to sit.
<The hostess frowns and leaves>

I was extremely dizzy due to the lack of sleep. And the hospitality, or the lack of it, from the Deccan staff did not help my cause. I went off to sleep as soon as the flight took off.

I was woken up from my dreams by the rude jerk the flight made on landing. What an experience! My watch showed 7.30am. The flight had arrived on time. I was safe, in one piece and did not spend a fortune on the fares. Suddenly at that moment, everything seemed ok. Rude folks at the counter, indifferent floor supervisors and air hostesses who cannot be termed as sweet are after all a mandatory price that I needed to pay for a ‘no frills’ airline. Maybe it was just the lack of sleep that was getting on my nerves earlier. The world is round. Heh!

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