THE INSIDER OUTSIDER SYNDROME

THE INSIDER OUTSIDER SYNDROME

Good morning my country.

I have marveled at the consistency of nature. The sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, season’s struggle to give us symmetry against all odds, the tides turns and the earth faithfully spins on its axis. There is a comfort in the planet we inhabit and often abuse…there is a sense of belonging. Everything is predictable, even with the human race. They never fail to show their bias and dominance and will always choose confrontation over harmony and dialogue. It is in our nature to dominate or avoid domination. We hide behind masks of civility and education hoping against hope that when unmasked, we can melt into a sea of unpalatable justification.

I am rather shocked at the sheer level of intolerance. I am a product of a mixed marriage and my family gene pool is mixed and varied. I am proud to be an army brat (we called ourselves that to nullify the pain and insecurity we felt when our parents were out defending our borders). We had no bias and no one asked if our fathers belonged to a majority or minority. We were Indians and that was undeniable. We were educated in different schools and colleges all over the country, struggling to make new friends and be accepted into different peer groups. But were we pliable little doozies with no opinion? Most certainly not! We questioned, argued, had different points of view, but we always had a dialogue. We spoke and listened. We didn’t always agree but we never foisted our opinions with force or otherwise…that is the India we grew up in.

Then why am I so afraid now?  Afraid of what my country is metamorphosing into and so afraid of my countrymen. I am a performing artiste, public speaker, writer and columnist. Does that make me ‘the press’? If I don’t toe the line and have a different view point will I be given an abhorrent label? If there is a cacophony all over the civilized world, why won’t somebody listen to our children? Why are they beaten, bruised, arrested and disregarded? If it ‘true’ that they are misguided and incited by so called ‘vested’ interests, then where is the voice of sanity? Why must they be beaten into submission? Must all voices of dissension be decimated? Haven’t we learned anything from history?

Bangalore was a relatively peaceful cantonment town which was dominated by the Armed Forces. We manufactured defense equipment and aircrafts. My father was the founder/director of one such establishment. We were a mixed bag of people of different religions and ideas and we were never subjected to the ‘insider’ or ‘outsider’ propaganda. As a new democracy, no one either questioned our credentials or loyalty. My parents, and many of my friends parents I’m sure, lost a lot when our country was divided. But, even as a child I have never heard any simmering discontent. They were large-hearted people who went about re-building their country with courage and conviction. Perhaps we always lived in a secure bubble in ‘namma ooru’. We believed in harmony and co-existence.

So my heart burst with pride when our own home grown girl Deepika Padukone stood silently in solidarity with the students of JNU. Didn’t she know the repercussions especially before the release of her movie where she is also the producer? Of course! She knew she would be mercilessly trolled and threatened with a totally un-constitutional ban of her movie. But she didn’t care now did she?

History tells us that there are a couple of warning signs when governments turn fascist. Some of them are:

  1. A disdain for Intellectuals, Centre’s of Education and the Arts.
  2. Religion and Government are intertwined.
  3. Powerful and continuing nationalism (constantly making use of slogans, symbols, mottos etc)
  4. Disdain for Human Rights.
  5. Controlled Mass Media.

If any of these signs resonate…then speak up.

Hanukkah – Festival of Lights @The Den Hotel, Whitefield, Bengaluru.

Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting candles for 8 days in a unique Diya with 8 wicks, called Hanukkiyah.

The lighting on the 8th and last day of the “Festival of Lights” was followed by a cocktail dinner and an Israeli movie “Zero Motivation” at The Den” Hotel, Whitefield, Bengaluru on 29th December 2019 by Ms. Dana Kursh, Consul General of Israel to South India.

The Times Food and Nightlife Awards 2020

A starry starry night! Giving away the award for the best newcomer Pan Asian restaurant Bo tai and best newcomer vegetarian Street Storyss at the prestigious Times Food Guide Awards. It was wonderful meeting up with the glitterati and fliterati…old friends and new and I was quite chuffed that I was called upon to give the award to Bo-tai. Rekha Ghosh their diminutive VP operations was fervently wishing that it would be me to give her the well deserved plaque. Well wishes were horses tonight!!

Cheers Mate!

We traveled across time…across continents…
From the Old World of Europe….to the New World of Australia…
As we discovered Old World varietals grown in a New World terroir…
We discovered Clovely Wines from Queensland, Australia along with Aaron Stephan, Clovely’s export manager…

The Bangalore Wine Club evening that started at the contemporary and vibrant Hype @ The Shangri la Hotel, Bangalore…

We sauntered down to Caprese Al Fresco….to the aroma of freshly prepared risotto…interacted with Chef Lorenzo Stelzar from Trento, Italy, our Chef for the evening…

Then…

We stepped into the elegant Caprese…a world of fine dining…graciousness…
As we allowed ourselves to gently blend into these two worlds…
Australian Wines….Italian Cuisine…
Cheers Mate!

Under the Tuscan Moon @The Oberoi, Bangalore

The Oberoi, Bengaluru had La Cave present the legendary Ferruccio Ferragamo, Il Borro Estate from Tuscany. The Asia Pacific Brand Head, Dario Muliino unveiled three spectacular wines this evening, complemented wit a gourmet grazing menu and vibrant live music. It was an experience that made one feel over the moon!

Sunday Brunch @The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore

The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore, has really upped its ante at the Sunday brunches at their all day diner, The Market. Imi and I trotted over to have brunch on a dry day Sunday (it rhymes!) and we were relieved to do a detox Sunday brunch even though they have a formidable choices of fresh liquor infused cocktails! This gave us ample opportunity to taste, smell and devour their vast selection on the menu.

It was great catching up with the very charming Hotel Manager, Tusch Daroga who regaled us with stories of his sojourns in many cities as well his total passion for food. As a fellow food sybarite, I was all ears. The lovely Upasna Madan, PR extraordinaire was a very integral part of the foodie foursome with her familiarity of the extensive menu that The Market had to offer.

The USP of the ‘new’ menu at The Market is quite brilliant in its simplicity! Not only do they include all the dishes from their different restaurants they have an evolving menu that changes every week for 5 weeks. So, instead of getting stodgy sauces simmering for hours on the fire, one can order from the menu and have it served fresh from pan to plate. A sit down experience with buffet prices!

Of course, the eye boggling array of salads, dimsums, chat counters and tava dishes abound for the eye to savour as well, but all other dishes usually available in the buffet are prepared fresh by their chefs and brought to ones table eliminating the frequent trips to the buffet zone.

I had a in depth conversation with their new executive sous chef Dawa Lama, and their Jordanian pastry chef Hamzh Al Durdangi. Both Hamzh and Dawa were a delight to talk to what with Chef Dawa and me connecting with our eastern roots which resulted in a portion of streaming succulent Tangda Pork being brought straight to my table! Tangda is a legendary area in Kolkata where the Cantonese Chinese settled to escape persecution in their home country and happily for us, now boasts of the best Cantonese Chinese food in India!

Hamzh is a jewel! His tables laden with ‘sweet nothings’from all over the world whispered in my ear for sure! His simple and light carrot cake layered with nuts served with a berry compote just blew me away.

As they rightly say; The proof is in the pudding…I am definitely going back for more of that pudding!

Peshwa Pavallion @ITC Maratha Mumbai

What a fabulous lunch at ITC Maratha Mumbai for the opening of their brand new ‘Millennial Culinary Oyster’ Peshwa Pavallion where I ran into so many friends. It was such fun afternoon what with all the back slapping and squeals of delight as I ran into the dapper Virender Razdan and the lovely Sheeba. Good pal Zubin was at his hospitable best and introduced me to his friends as ‘Ms Bangalore’ which brought a smile to India’s first and only Master of Wine, Sonal Holland’s lips.

Bangalore girl Monisha Songadwala and I caught up with the Bangalore diaries in between partaking on the most fabulous spread of Indian and SE Asian cuisine topped with deadly doses of Champagne and very potent gin and fresh mosambi cocktails!

I came home laden with chocolate from Fabelle. Sigh! I shall miss you Mumbai meri jaan!

Back in Mumbai!

Back in Mumbai and things are hectic from day 1! Settling in, getting the warmest ‘welcome home’ from my Bobo (he’s stuck to me like glue esp; since I bought all his designer treats with me). After a lot of effusive welcomes from Lishu, Neesu Bo and the maid, we had the important task on settling where to go for dinner!

Eating out in Mumbai is a treat. From the fancy bistros, restaurants, hole in the wall or from the street vendors,they are all uniformly superb!

Yesterday we we went to House of Mandarin. Not a fancy smanchy place but what we call comfort ‘Indchin’ food. But, hoo boy! Was I surprised!

The food had gentle nuances, was rip roaringly fresh, quite elegant and sophisticated and superbly tasty…whew! I have exhausted all my adjectives.

The Chicken & Prawn Shu Mai Dumpling was plump soft and delicious, as was the very elegant Salmon nigiri! As for the Pan fried chicken Gyoza…just yum! No just ‘flied lice’ and ‘noodlees,’ this meal was terrific!

I’m looking forward to my stay in my ‘home away from home’…eating my way through everything…from different restaurants to family homes to my friends homes…I suspect I’ll need a new wardrobe soon.