Dear “Hindustan”,

The rape & murder of an eight year old child is a tragedy we must all condemn & demand justice for. That an eight year old is subjected to the brutality that the victim in Kathua faced is terrible and we must stand up against it. We must fight to ensure that justice is served.

But we must also realise that rape and sexual abuse are reality for many children 8 years old and even younger all over India. Yes, we have a problem. But not because the statistics say so, not because it happened in a temple, or for whatever other reason but that it happened at all! Even one rape is far too many!

And I would have stood with you if that was the crux of the message that you delivered. Unfortunately you choose to highlight the smaller of the problems. That it happened in a temple, that the perpetrator was Hindu and the victim Muslim. Communal disharmony is not unknown in India but to highlight just that and neglect the victim and the crime, because that is indeed what the debate has moved to, is a crime which you are all guilty of.

It’s disheartening, and perhaps a reflection of why this happens time and again, that your message has completely derailed the conversation. You say you are ashamed, of what? The crime or that it was done in a “devisthan”? You can scream as vociferously as you like that it’s the crime you condemn but your placard says otherwise.

The fact that the rape happened months ago and only got picked up now – after the revelation that the child was kept in the temple again exposes your agenda. If your fight against child sexual abuse were serious, you would’ve been there from the get go!

Yes, we need justice for the Kathua victim but by taking up just her cause you’ve let down millions of other children who are as deserving of justice. The fact that you found just cause to condemn child sexual abuse after only this incident exposes you for the fakes you are. Because children all over India face what the Kathua victim did and much worse. I won’t bring up Unnao or Assam or other incidents quoted in the media but the cases of sexual abuse of children in schools in Bangalore. If any of you reads the papers you will know there have been multiple cases in the past few years. Children of kindergarten age were abused. At school that they attend EVERYDAY! By the very people who are supposed to educate them!

Religious institutions have long been known as places of sexual abuse. The catholic clergy has been and is still guilty of widespread child abuse and yet you choose to highlight that it happened in a temple & paint all Hindus with that brush? Terror has no religion but Saffron terror and Hindu extremists exist! Rape has no religion but Hindus are guilty of raping Muslim children. See the agenda here? Whether they are mosques, churches or now temples, shouldn’t be the point of the debate but that it happened at all! And in highlighting that you have done injustice to the victim and to millions of other victims.

Let’s move on to the most famous of your clan. To all the Bollywood stars who held up the same placards. The power you wield over your fans is most politicians’ wet dream. But as Peter Parker’s uncle said, with great power comes great responsibility. Bollywood, however, has never been great with that. Responsibility and accountability are both something you run from. Case in point Salman Khan and the Blackbuck case. You believe you are above the law and in that way, no different from our politicians. You sit in your ivory towers and when the occasional glance below doesn’t sit well with you, you take to twitter to raise hue and cry.

While all of Hollywood stood up for the #MeToo movement, Bollywood was silent. And anyone who has seen a Bollywood movie knows how deep misogyny runs in the industry. How many of you stood up for Kangana Ranaut when there was controversy raging about her? One movie on sanitary napkins and you assume to speak for all of us! But let’s forgive all that. If you claim to be the social justice warriors that you are, why does that seem to be limited to twitter? With your resources and clout, you could make a real change. Instead you choose to sit on Karan Johar’s coffee couch and bad mouth each other just to make sure you stay in his good books.

So if you’re ashamed, you should be. Because Bollywood is partly responsible for the misogyny in our society. Songs like ‘Inkaar mein jo chupa hai wo ikraar ho’, the portrayal of sexual abuse and stalking as gestures of love and the violation of a women’s dignity through rape are just some of the nonsense you propagate. So get off your high horses and face reality. You are part of the problem!

Now let’s down to the real deal. Rape is rape, irrespective of the place of occurrence or the religious identity of the perpetrator and victim. It’s terrible and has no place in our society. Our children must be protected! Shame doesn’t do shit. Words don’t do shit. Candle light vigils are just that. The placards were probably just to draw attention to the fact that you are ‘aware’ and you moved on a second after you posted a picture on social media. I know many who certainly did!

If you are serious about changing this, then it’s time to take action – read up on POCSO. See how you can make the laws tighter to make sure no person will ever even dream of touching our children. If you live near a school or college, keep an eye out for vehicles or people who don’t have kids but tend to hang out during opening and closing times, these are the perverts who hang out around a 1-2km radius around schools/colleges and flash innocent kids on the way to school or college. Watch out for perverts on public transport who stand unnaturally close to children. Keep an eye on anyone children interact with and who make you uncomfortable. Take children seriously when they don’t want to be with someone!

We are a country of myriad problems. Our diversity is what both makes and breaks us. It is our duty as citizens that we don’t let the differences break us but find ways to bridge gaps and understanding beyond difference. By maligning or painting one community for a crime will not change/stop the crime. It will only add more problems to our already long laundry list. Realise there is an agenda when religion, caste, colour or race is involved in a narrative. Think beyond the headline and read between the story lines. See where the stories are coming from and how truthful reports are. Be someone who mends rather than someone who destroys. And here is what sets me and many like me apart from the likes of you:

I am India.

I am angry.

I will not let agenda get in the way of justice!

I will do everything I can to ensure this doesn’t happen again!


Someone who is serious about fighting child sexual abuse


The other side of ‘Happy Women’s Day’

On March 8th my FB Timeline, Twitterfeed, Instagram, Whatsapp and Email were followed with Happy Women’s day messages. I received a plethora of sale and discount offers from various brands and others extolling the virtues of women and the advantages of being one.  My uniqueness was praised and used to sell me more garbage than I need, which I was told I deserve. It is just another way of patriarchy telling us you get one day, shut up and take it. Because on the other side of March 8th is radio silence. Back to the past we go.

International women’s day started as a day of observance and awareness of the injustices a woman faces in everyday life. Today it has become a charade with brands offering discounts to women or celebrating her! Case in point, the email I received from Etihad. It features discounts for women’s day and the featured items include makeup, hair dryers, epilators, etc. Throw back to about two weeks ago when they had another sale in their shop where the featured items included headphones, battery banks, etc. This is in itself an indicator of a woman’s place in our society. We exist as eye candy.

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On the other side of Women’s day, is the reality of what it means to be a woman. The objectification, fear of assault, conundrum of existence, fight for equality,…. Every day of a woman’s life is a fight and for many women every second of every day is one. The fight begins even before we enter this world for many girls who never find their way out. Even at birth the odds are not stacked in our favour. But making your way out is just the beginning, then comes the real challenge – the constant fight for resources and to prove we deserve to be where we are every single step of the way.

Patriarchy is suffused in every breath we take in our everyday lives. It manifests itself in the most inconspicuous ways – being asked to organise parties/events at the workplace because as a woman you are more capable of it than a man – and on more horrendous levels which makes newspaper headlines – female infanticide, rape, FGM, etc. The list is endless. The average woman has gotten so used to being snubbed for the woman she is, that she hardly notices it anymore. She has relegated herself to the treatment she begets. Content with fighting her way through the barriers put in place just for her benefit.

Even today men are told to respect us for being someone’s mother, sister, wife, aunt, grandmother and sundry. We are not people. We are always spoken about in reference to a man. Even women who have fought their way up are relegated to being someone’s wife or daughter. Our humanity, or peoplehood as Mr. Trudeau would call it, is never acknowledged because it has never existed. We continue to be treated as property. A fringe group despite being half of the population.

Every woman has a story to tell about some injustice she has faced in life. Many times they are the victims of their own gender. Our mother, grandmothers, aunts constantly tell us to toe the line, to remember our place. Not because they don’t want us to succeed but because they have themselves paid the price of trying to do otherwise. They do it to protect us from the pain they themselves have faced, unaware that in doing this they are further perpetrating the same crimes that we accuse the other gender of. We have internalised the patriarchy thanks to how we have grown up with. So the struggle is always twofold. An internal struggle to over the internal patriarchy and the external against the world to get somewhere.

We are slowly beginning to lift the veil on the misogyny that is so pervasive in our everyday lives. Hollywood’s Time’s Up and #MeToo movements are just the tip of iceberg. If some of the most popular women have been victims of patriarchy, just imagine the lot of the rest of us. The amount of time that has elapsed since the incidents to the actual reporting of the same and the grieveousness of it all should give you a picture of just how much women tolerate.

We can’t afford to shut our brains off for even a second. What to wear, to where we go, how we travel, with whom we move, what time of day, what we say, how we move,…. because all it takes is one ‘wrong’ move. She was out too late, her dress was too short, she touched my arm, she smiled at me, she didn’t respond,… Everything we do or don’t, say or don’t, wear or don’t can and will be used against us. We can’t catch a break.

So no! It’s not great being a woman! It’s a nightmare! This hyper-awareness is exhausting! It’s insulting! It’s degrading! We aren’t asking for much. We don’t need any special treatment. All we ask is that you look at us as people. People with opinions, aspirations, desires, just as you would a man. Don’t respect us for being the giver of life, respect us for our actions when we are deserving of it, like you would any man.

And the next women’s day, don’t give me shit about –

To strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

I thought that way for a long time too. But then I realised, why should women alone be strong? Why can men be more sensitive, create an environment where women don’t have to be strong. Where we can just be ourselves.

The next women’s day, give me reason to believe we won’t need one anymore. Give me –

To equality. May we know it, may we live it, may we work for it.

Dear Swara Bhasker,

Let me start off my open letter by saying I haven’t watched Padmaavat and I only know you from having watched your movie Anarkali of Aarah on a flight. I must say, I was impressed by your performance and even the movie itself which is unlike mainstream Hindi movies. But just like you have taken offence to Mr. Bhansali’s portrayal of women in Padmaavat/glorification of Jauhar, I have to take offence to your ‘upholding of the feminist cause through your open letter’.

Let me explain that this is not in support of Mr. Bhansali. I don’t claim to be a big fan of his but I have enjoyed a number of his movies. Like you I find his attention to detail compelling. Whether Paro’s house in Devdas, the Shanivarvada in Bajirao or even just the backgroud of his battefields, every frame of Mr. Bhansali’s movies is a piece of art. And it is for this beauty that I look forward to watching Padmaavat.

I’m also not a movie buff. While I support everyone’s right to freedom of expression, I’m not doing this because I’m a die-hard fan of Bollywood. Far from it! While I have watched Bollywood movies ever since I can remember, I have never gone in expecting a moral lesson or to be blown away. In fact, more often than not, I’ve come out disgusted and regretting the money and time I wasted.

I don’t even have a problem with how many times you have used the word vagina. I just have a problem with how you have dragged it into this mess considering how until now the only people who this movie bothered was the Karni Sena. By dragging vaginas into the mix, you have reduced them to the level of people who have endangered children just to make their voices heard. And that for me is unforgivable because the vaginas in this country have borne, and still bare, inexplicable atrocities to stand proud only to now be vilified by one of our own.

I find your offence a little disingenuous considering the fact that out of a plethora of Bollywood movies that objectify and vilify women you choose Padmaavat to take offence to. Just in the recent past I was horrified to see the trailer of a movie in which a man is told he will get what he wants if he ‘gives’ his wife to his boss(?) for a night. And this movie is set in the 21st century. Isn’t this objectification of women? Us being reduced to ‘just’ vaginas? With such glorious contenders for outrage you pick Padmaavat? Can you understand why I’m annoyed?

Have a look at the serials that Ms. Ekta Kapoor produces and tell me you’re okay with how women are portrayed sitting at home with pallus on their heads plotting against one another. So your brand of feminism is okay with this and not with the fact that a fictitious queen in the 12/13th century decided to choose death over rape?

Bollywood has never been the measure of how progressive our country is but I’ve always found the women in Mr. Bhansali’s movies to be compelling. They know what they want and do what they have to achieve their goal. Whether Paro’s mother, Mastani or even Kashi Bai who finds the strength in herself to send her husband to protect her rival. How does that even compare with most Bollywood movies where the woman is just there as a love interest? And if we started out with using the Bechdel test in Bollywood, god save our vaginas!!

Feminism is about equality. It’s about having a choice and respecting it. Your letter doesn’t question Mr. Bhansali but the choice made by a woman. It’s unfortunate that feminism today is hijacked by the likes of you who make a hungama about a movie but sit silent when it comes to real issues. Where were you when Kangana was vilified a couple of months ago or when Deepika’s cleavage was the headline a couple of years ago?

But as I write this and re-read the rant that is your open letter, I wonder… rather believe that this letter was not so much to pull Mr. Bhansali up for failing the feminist cause as it was to steal the spotlight for yourself. After all, in Bollywood any publicity is good publicity. Because what stands out in your letter after multiple reads is your desire to prove the ‘righteousness’ of your cause and how ‘righteous’ you yourself are. Why else is the need to explicitly mention that you took your cook along with your family or about how you fought trolls on Twitter. You talk about how you are a fan of Mr. Bhansali’s work and would love to be his heroine before you embark on a farce. It’s absolutely despicable how you have used feminism to further your own goals!

Here we are fighting for the chance to be the women we want to be. Raising issues of marital rape, domestic violence, female infanticide, female genital mutilation and even the right to just live! Fighting to remind ourselves how to be a feminist while trying to forget the patriarchy imbibed in us. And you lower the bar to how you felt ‘reduced’ to a vagina watching a movie? With your letter you have proved that all Bollywood is capable of is taking a cause and making money off of it.

Unlike you, I do not end this letter in peace. I end with the promise to fight and reclaim feminism from opportunists like you. To fight people like you who hijack a cause to promote yourself and further your interests. Who derail who conversations and set us back as we strive to push ahead. I write this letter to remind the world that feminism is a cause worth fighting for. For the women who have been denied and for the men who have been mocked.


Manasa Manjunath

A feminist in development

My Everest

I remember the night before my 6th standard maths test. The first time I felt a terror so deep, I felt paralysed. That same dread has revisited me at various points in my life. The night before my 10th Biology boards exams, the moment I learned that the ICSE 10th standard results were out, the night before my first exam in Germany and the first couple of seconds of my very first job interview. Dread for what was to come next, of the unknown.

This dread that has only visited me a half dozen times in my life, has come to rule my evenings for the last 1 year. All my years of schooling, at the Uni and all the years of my mother nagging me and there’s one thing that I still cannot do – keeping a house. I can model components, write code, make presentations, spreadsheets, all while speaking german but I can’t keep a house.

The mornings are great! I hop out of bed! Me! The morning zombie! Who has loathed waking up early for all 20 something years of my life! I hop out of bed and cannot wait to get to work. It’s the evenings that I dread. Those couple of seconds that it takes to turn the key in the lock fills me with a fear, that was hitherto unknown. Every fibre of my body screaming to me to just the turn back in the lock and run back. You would think, just what awaits me behind those closed doors. An abusive husband? a demanding one? an alcoholic one?

I happen to be one of those lucky few who has a husband who actually does all the cooking and most of the cleaning. But after a long day, neither he nor I, have the patience or the energy to cook up something. Let alone do the cleaning up after. Because of this, most of our dinners last year have been out-sourced to restaurants or deliveries. Unhealthy, expensive junk! Needless to say we both fill out our clothes much better than we used to. After some serious decisions we decided to cook more this year and so far, it’s been working. But I continue to question myself – how long is this to last?

The prospect of thinking up dinner, rounding up the ingredients and the cooking in itself drain more than whatever little energy I have left in me. With the weekend come more chores – vacuuming, dusting, grocery shopping, laundry…… and the list goes on and on! My life seems to have become an endless stream of folding clothes, doing the dishes, making shopping lists,… No matter how much I get done, there is always something left to do. It’s no wonder that its only last weekend, a year after moving in, that we finally finished furnishing our living room. Okay, so may be it’s not completely done. But we have a couch, couch table and a cupboard for books and knick-knacks. That counts right?

I want to come back to a nice and clean house everyday. I want to enjoy my time at home. I want to be able to write a little and find time for other pursuits when I’m at home. I want to eat healthy meals and I want to go for a run or exercise but I can’t bring myself to do all this when the house is not how I want it to be. And no matter how badly I want it, I am not the  domestic goddess I need to make my house nice and clean. This is my undoing!

So if you have any tips or tricks for this nerve-wracked 20 something who is at her wits end when it comes to keeping house, do write in.

The little things

I’m all about the little things in life. Whether it’s the small talk with the cashier/server at the canteen, the daily phone calls with my mum and sister, or some stupid joke I manage to crack in German over lunch with my colleagues, I derive enormous pleasure from tiny everyday things. They ensure my routine never bores me and that a smile is permanently plastered on my face.

While in my head these instances seem like the treasure trove of anecdotes to share with friends and family, my audiences are usually trying to figure out what exactly is so special about the fact that someone I greet at work every morning had a conversation with me about how moody our lift is. Then again, as I write this, I guess I can understand their apathy. It’s true. I talk just for the sake of talking.

While my life is graced daily with innumerable such simple daily pleasures, there are still some small ones that I’ve pursued all my life but have continued to elude me to date.

It all started last week. I was sat at a meeting wondering why time passes so slowly when you’re attending one. I glanced at my watch, my laptop screen, the projector screen, at the colleagues who were discussing some work that had to be done and back at my laptop. As my eye roved over the entire room, it happened to fall on the pen in my hand. A second glance confirmed what attracted the first one. It was happening! Finally! After months and months of using the same pen, the ink in the refill was finally getting over.

Now while this should count as a daily pleasure, I have never, in all my life, in 19 years as a student and the last 1.5 as an employee, seen the refill in my pen empty just as I have never used a pencil/eraser until it’s so tiny, it can’t be used anymore. Because somewhere along the way I lose them. ALWAYS!!

So as I sat there in the meeting, the biggest of balloons swelled up in my heart. The day I waited for my entire life, just a few days away. I’d done the impossible. I’d managed to use the same pen until the ink in the refill had come down to just a few pages of writing. So every day I came to work looked at the pen and tried to estimate exactly when the party would be.

And yesterday, with the day ahead of me filled with meetings, I was especially excited. So as the day wore on, I made meticulous notes at every meeting. Making sure I brought it back with me at the end of every meeting. It was going great. The ink was emptying itself out of the refill on to the pages before me. And then it was time for the last meeting of the day. We drove to the meeting centre and I sat down for what would be an hour of new information to me. The new subject matter required more concentration than usual but no note taking. So I sat at the back and followed the topic. Sorting out all the information in my head. At the end of the meeting we headed back to our office. Listening to my colleagues as they discussed what tasks they had ahead of them.

Back at my desk, I pulled out my diary to update my to-do list before I left for the day. I reached for the pen but my fingers grasped at thin air. Without too much thought, I dove under my desk, where I normally find a lot of my stationery disappears to. But I re-surfaced empty-handed. When my bag also yielded nothing, I sat back slowly and let the disappointment sink in. I’d left the pen at the other office. There was no way of getting it back. It was not to be.

Disappointment quickly made place for anger. At my carelessness, at my absent-mindedness. After months and months of using the same pen, I lost it when it mattered most. It’ll take months and months to get back to where I was. So I sit at meetings now, with inky hands holding a new full refill pen with leaks ink profusely, back to square one.


Another day, another attack, another hashtag.

In my 27 short years and even shorter 25-20 that I’ve been aware of the world and been able to understand it, I can count on my fingers the number of times Kashmir has not been in the news for a terror attack. Bombs, guns, terrorists, people dying, newspaper article, Indian politicians making speeches against Pakistan and the next day silence. Rinse, repeat for the next time.

For the longest time, I thought of terror attacks as a norm. As something that happened everywhere in the world and something that you could do nothing about. It was a reality of life, I thought, just like diesease and death. And then 9/11 happened, there was outrage and uproar and the usual condemnation. But it wasn’t forgotten the next day. Suddenly there were plans to tackle terrorism, to bring justice to the victims and all these things that to my 10 year old self, were unheard of. I was puzzled but I moved on. Shelving it in the back of my mind, and concentrated on more important things like Harry Potter and Pokemon.

And then London happened and it was the same as 9/11. In the meantime, the attacks in Kashmir continued with all the motions of a daily routine. To my slightly older & more aware brain, there was something slightly off. Sure, the people killed in London on that one day is a lot more than those in Kashmir on a single day but if you took the sum total, surely the number of Kashmiris we’d lost to terrorism was much more than in London or New York?

With this gnawing at my brain, I moved on with my life. Then Mumbai happened. At this point I was more than a little aware of this thing we call international relations and diplomacy. The war on terror was on but that this war was on terror that killed white people was not lost on me. With this, the cynic in me was born.

Since then there has been Boston, Kenya, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, France, Turkey and a million other places. But the pattern was the same. Attack, death, outrage but international sympathy and action only if white people are involved. For someone born in the 20th century and grown up in the 21st, apartheid, race and class were a thing of the past. The colour of your skin was just that. Nothing more. How naive!!

Today everyone is Nice. But yesterday when Burhan Wani was killed, everyone spoke about extra judicial killings. Pakistan expressed shock and concern at how India was handling things in Kashmir. Pakistan! Pakistan that gives birth to terrorists with the sole intent of creating terror in India , Pakistan whose terror policies led to the massacre of a hundred of its own children. And the world just stood by and watched. No talk of fighting terror here. Kashmiris have been dying for ages, there’s nothing new about that.

So today, I’m not going to condemn the attacks because condemnation is not going to stop them from happening again. Today, I’m not going to pray for the victims because it is the same sadistic God who let those people die. Today, I am not Nice. What I am is outraged. I am disgusted. I am appalled. I am frustrated. I am helpless….. I am human. I am hurt.  I am sad. I am scared. I am terrified.

I am certain this will happen again. My feelings won’t change that. My prays won’t. Because as long as terror is identified with as good or bad, as long as dealt with based on the colour of the skin of the victims, innocent people will continue to die. Kashmir is perhaps the saddest example of that. But it won’t be long before the entire world is.

My Bangalore food bucket list

Inspiration has struck at last dear readers! I have found my elusive muse, she captures all my senses and always leaves me asking for a second helping. It’s time we meet another true love of mine – food! They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well gentlemen, the way to my heart is also through my stomach. So if you’re looking to win my heart, all you need is some rad culinary skills or the dough to afford one with said skills.

Coming from a khaata peetha khandaan (translation: eating-drinking family i.e. a family which loves food and eating), I don’t just love eating, I live to eat. Spicy, savoury, salty, sweet, you name it and I like it. Food is the biggest reason why I can’t wait to rush back home every year. My mum is an excellent cook but since I can’t invite you all home for dinner, here’s my list of favourite places to stuff my face in my hometown.

I find the best food to be associated with memories. It always takes you back to a place, incident or person. It doesn’t just leave you with a warm and full tummy but also a very warm and full heart. These are the places closest to my heart. I’ve been a loyal customer in most of these places for the better part of my life and in some cases, even before. This is food I grew up with and which laid the base for my love of food.

Sri Sagar: Or what most people in Malleshwaram know it as CTR aka Central Tiffin Room, is always packed! I remember going here as a kid, back then it was much smaller than it is now and it used to be packed. Fast forward twenty years and the crowd remains the same. All that has changed is the size of the masala dosa and of course the price. Inflation Sir! It doesn’t matter when you turn up, you will never find a place free. Trust me, I have tried. I live about 800 metres away and I’ve tried different times of the day. You will have to wait. And the trick to getting a seat? Stand around the tables and gaze hungrily at their food. Don’t bother with families with small kids, you’ll just earn ugly looks instead, go for the mid-aged groups. They are most likely to be sympathetic to your stomachs cravings. Bonus points for tummy rumble! Order while you stand so that your hot benne masale (butter masala dosa) greets you as you finally get to park your backside. The Mangaluru bajjies are another speciality here.

The Benne Masale at CTR

Sri Raghavendra stores: Or Railway station idli as my sister and I know it. Why? because it’s right in front of the Malleswaram Railway Station. Despite my mother’s aforementioned cooking skills, she makes the most awful idlis. I love the woman but not those idlis. They’re dry, crumbly and everything else that will make you hate idlis. To compensate for it, we get a treat some Sundays in the form of hot, melt in your mouth soft idlis. They are like little cloud pillows. Especially if you are eating at the store and get some butter on top. I usually get 2 idlis, 2 vadas and a kesari baath to go now-a-days. I call it my 1 euro breakfast because it all adds up to about a euro.

My 1 Euro breakfast

Koshy’s: This is yet another of the old school places around Bangalore. I’ve just realised that I’ve only ever been to Koshy’s for lunch. Strange! Anyway, Koshy’s is known for it’s continental and malabar cuisine. Strange mix, I know. Their breakfast spread has rave reviews but unfortunately, 25 years and I’ve never tried it. Like I said before, only Lunch. What I can recommend is their fish and chips but my absolute favourite has to be their Biryani. Unlike most biryanis which are spicy and heavy this is the Malabar version. It is light, aromatic and flavourful while not being overwhelming. That is an achievement!

Sri Sai Ram Chats: Also known as Rams. Please note, I’m not talking about the one near MES college. This is the original and now relocated onto Temple Road. I’ve been going to Rams since I was in 9th standard and Rams was in a Garage. My friends and I used to order almost everything on the menu (back then it was not as long) and chocolate milk shake. We all used to eat at least 2 plates of chaats per person on a daily basis. Mahesh uncle, who runs the store, is someone I know since then and who still recognises me even though I now go only once a year. There are a lot of things to recommend in Rams – from the chips masala to the Sai Ram special, a lot of Rams chaats are store specialities which can’t be found anywhere else. I order based on my mood but my staple is a grape juice with less sugar and more salt and pepper. Yes! Loyalty gets you customised orders.

Sweet Chariot: Another Bangalore staple, Sweet Chariot is known for their pastries, birthday cakes and other snacks in general. You can find outlets all over Bangalore, if not there are always smaller bakeries which get their food. Unfortunately, the closest Sweet Chariot is on MG Road and going their often is not exactly an option. However, there was a small bakery close to where my mum worked which got stuff from Sweet Chariot. Now, my absolute favourite form Sweet Chariot is their Japanese cake. I have no idea why it’s called that, it has nothing to do with Japan, believe me I’ve done my research. But it’s so hard to resist that cream filling sandwiched between two crunchy layers. This small bakery received freshly baked japanese cakes every Thursday and without fail, I would call my mum to get me one just before she left work for home. These days, I always eat one and pick up another to go whenever I am in MG Road. Another favourite of mine here is the plum cake you get during Christmas. Rich, moist and just so so good!! I can’t wait for December and it’s only May now!

The yummy japanese cake

Lakeview Milkbar: Most Bangaloreans will swear by Corner house ice cream. Now in all fairness I do like corner house, but when I’m miles away like I am right now, it’s the ice cream at Lakeview that I miss. Lake view Milkbar is one of the oldest eateries you can find in Bangalore. Today they occupy a blink and you’ll miss place on MG Road. But if you’re in MG Road after a night out you are sure to see the Lakeview waiters standing outside, by the road, menus in hand. Having been a loyal customer longer than my life, I recognise a couple of the staff. One uncle (I’ve known them forever so it feels weird to call them waiters) even remembers my order – Veg cutlet and chocolate ice cream with cream and nuts. Having tired almost everything on the menu, these are my favourites. The veg cutlet is one of the best I have ever eaten and the ice cream is just something else. You will be hard pressed to find something like it anywhere else.

Chocolate ice cream with cream and nuts

Tandoor: Another place on MG Road that I absolutely love. This is a restaurant that my dad used to bring any guests we had on any special occasions. Everything from the decour to the cutlery in Tandoor is old school. The chandelier and the painting on the walls is from another era. The food is every bit as luxurious as the ambience. I sincerely recommend their seekh kabab. I’ve tried other restaurants that serve north indian/Mughal cuisine but I am yet to find one that stands up to Tandoor. The kebabs are exquisite! The meat is tender and every single mouthful is filled with rich flavour – try it with the chutney it is served with and I challenge you to get to the main course! Another Tandoor staple I miss is the garlic naan. You will never again eat a garlic naan in any other place once you’ve had it here! Even when you do, it’ll just feel so wrong!!

I have to stop here before I make gluttons out of you all and before I burst into tears thinking about all my favourite dishes that I have to wait for another seven months to eat. It is 2:30 in the night on a working night as I type this. So never question my dedication to food!!

Have you eaten at any of the places mentioned? Do you have any stories associated with them? Drop a line below!

Way too much nonsense!!

The last time I published a post was 3 months ago. Not good. Not good at all! The last time this happened 3 months become 6 and that became more than a year. I’d promised myself to write more. Please note, it was a promise to myself, not a new year’s resolution I make just to break it the next day.

Anyway, here we are. 3 months and no post. So what have I been up to? Have I been travelling a lot and having exciting adventures? No. Have I been super busy at my job with a bossy boss? No, my boss is actually really cool! Have I at least been without Internet? Nope! I’ve come to a point where I can’t imagine my life without the world wide web but that’s a story for another day. Or is it? Can you even trust me anymore? Actually, have you ever trusted me to stick to my word? I hope not. Then I’d have to add to the already long list of people I’m disappointing.

Now that all that beating around the bush is done, let’s get to the elephant in the room. What exactly have I been up to? The answer is nothing.  A big fat, lazy, good for nothing NOTHING. I thought I would have more time now to blog than ever. I thought I’d be super-productive and churning out blogs every week until you all got tired and begged me to stop or something equally dramatic happened. But that’s what I thought. Didn’t really translate into action.

I do actually have a lot more time on my hands now than ever. Except for maybe summer holidays during school. I don’t have to worry about exams, or reports or anything. So I don’t have any excuse, let alone a valid one. I’ve been lazy.

The truth is, I’ve always blogged when I’ve had other stuff to do. I’ve blogged when I should’ve been doing other things. I blogged about the other things. Now, without school and exams and due dates, my life is a lot less dramatic than it used to be. Less drama means less ranting, less ranting translates to no blog. So basically I’m now a big old bore and need new challenges.

I always thought I’d be set once I started working. That’s everyone’s dream isn’t it? To have a secure job with money entering your account every month. It’s what we work towards from the time we’re 6. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job! I’m doing the things what I’ve always dreamed of doing but it’s not something I can blog about.

So, to surmount this new challenge, I turn to you my dear readers. You know how I write, and also what you like to read. How about we try a collaboration. You suggest and I write. I can’t promise that it will  be very good but I do promise to try.

An ode to my one true love

As a woman in the automotive industry I’m often greeted with surprise and sometimes scepticism. Why cars? I’m asked. Why is a difficult question to answer. It’s like asking someone why they like their favourite colour. There’s just no answer to the question why. The heart wants what it wants. How did I come to realise I love cars, however, is an excellent question.

We never had a car at home while I was growing up. We didn’t get one until I was studying engineering. My only access to cars were three different instances over the year. My aunt visited us from the USA once every year and without fail we would go to pick her up and drop her back to the airport. Now as I said, we didn’t have a car, so it was always a taxi, in fact, it was always an ambassador. It was big, heavy and loud. But what a car! They just don’t make them like that anymore!! (pun intended)

Summer vacations spent at another aunt’s place meant one hour drives to pick up my aunt from her bank. This car was another Indian classic. A white ’95 Maruti 800. This was also to be the car I was to learn to drive in, clean, face a breakdown and come to love as dearly as my friends.

My uncle took us out to dinner at least once when he was in Bangalore. More often than not, we were picked up for these dinners. Now, these cars were no Ambassadors or Maruti 800s. They were Lancers, Cielos and sometimes even a Mercedes. For someone who had only been in Ambassadors and Marutis, I was endlessly fascinated by the powered windows, soft seats and air conditioning.

I lived through most of these experiences passively. Although I enjoyed the car rides, I never understood why I so looked forward to them. Until, I had an epiphany. On rainy evening in Bangalore, I was getting to dance class from school by auto (rickshaw) when the 2 minute ride was halted by a blocked road thanks to a fallen tree. And as the auto driver tried to manoeuvre the auto out of the cacophony of vehicles, there it was, a vision in metallic blue, as if the heavens themselves had opened up just to remind us of its majesty. That’s the day I discovered just how beautiful cars are. Beautiful, mobile pieces of art.

Few people appreciate the detail, furore and care that goes into making a car. The challenges they face and how they emerge victorious. To give us something new yet familiar, dynamic yet comfortable, all metal and technology and yet so gorgeous. And I don’t mean just the Ferraris, Lamborghinis or Maseratis. I mean all cars (except maybe the Zen Estilo. I don’t know what they were thinking!! ).


I learnt to drive in a ’95 Maruti 800 in 2007. It’s as simple as they come. 3 cylinder carburettor engine, no power steering, powered windows, brake booster or AC. The car broke down on me a couple of times but even in such situations it was considerate enough to break down in front of a garage or in a parking lot. I learnt to drive it, clean it and slowly but surely came to love it. I have many fond memories in this car. The first time I took it out into the city, I had my very first accident. I was terrified and upset but drove back because my mum was with me and she didn’t know how to drive then :D. I ferried my classmates to college in my final year, drove all the way to Bommasandra from Malleshwaram during my final semester, hit 100 km/h on the outer ring road, ….. And when I moved to Germany to pursue my Masters, it moved on too, to make memories with someone new. Shiro Chan he was called. He was no Ferrari or BMW and yet he would win hands down when it came to claiming that little place in my heart. I’m sure I’ll own and drive a lot of cars in my life but Shiro Chan shall remain my first love.


The thing you need to understand about cars is that they too have a personality. Each and every one of them are unique. Even when they are the same model from the same year, they will be and feel different. You have to connect with them. Sometimes it’s instantaneous and at others it’s cultivated over time. The important thing is to respect them. They don’t just get you where you need to be but they do it safely. Like any person or relationship in your life, cars need to be maintained. I don’t mean the routine checks at the service stations. I mean filling them with a good quality fuel, making sure the air pressure in all your tyres are right, checking if the engine oil level is right, if you have enough coolant. It’s not hard, it takes maybe about 5 minutes to do everything I said and yet most people don’t take out that time to do it and complain about how their car is behaving. Treat your car well, and by this I don’t mean don’t push it, by all means see what your car can do. But remember to toe the line and not cross it.

So this Valentine’s day, take the time to get to know your car. Give it a good scrub, a little bit of pampering, take it out for a drive, just the two of you and try giving a listen to what it’s saying and I’m sure you’ll find yourself falling in love too.

Bangalore in a nutshell!

It’s been a week since I got back from home-sweet-home aka Bangalore. Now, as my stockpile of food from home starts to come down, the blues steadily rise. So of course, there’s a rant about Bangalore waiting to happen. Let there be no doubt that I do think Bangalore is the most awesome place in the world to live in, Bangalore traffic and pollution included. Now when you make statements like this people are always tempted to argue otherwise or expect you to prove the same. A friend of mine who happened to visit Bangalore for three days, especially had a bone to pick with me over this issue. And ever since then I’ve thought long and hard about how to explain to him the awesomeness that is Bangalore. It wasn’t until this time that it finally dawned on me what was going on.

You see, every big and famous city in the world is associated with something that makes it famous. New York has Times square, Agra the Taj Mahal, Vegas it’s casinos, Venice the canals. These places have come to symbolise these cities and are what you look forward to most when you travel there. Then there’s Bangalore. Now, we have Lalbagh, Cubbon park, Vidhan Soudha, the Bangalore palace and many other places but in the end none of these places individually or even collectively symbolise or stand for Bangalore. Bangalore doesn’t have the fast paced life of New York/Mumbai. At the same time it isn’t quiet and slow like a small village tucked away in the Himalayas/Alps. Bangalore is like a river, with ebbs and flows and you would do well to let the flow take you where it will.

Bangalore is not a traveller’s city. You will never be able to “see” Bangalore. Not because there’s nothing to see but because Bangalore is not just meant to be seen. Bangalore needs to be heard, savoured, felt, and above all, lived! You can’t put Bangalore in any mould. It will not fit. It’s not a rebellious teenager or an experimental twenty-something, a mid-life crisis waiting to happen or even a pensioner who’s seen and done it all. You can’t go looking for Bangalore in just one street, building or corner. It is all around you. It is as much UB city and Phoenix market city as it is Malleshwaram 8th cross and K R market. It is as much ITPL and Manyatha tech park as it is Lalbagh and Cubbon Park. It is as much 100 feet road Indiranagar as it is the food street in VV Puram. It is Chitra santhe, soul santhe, Kadalekai parishe and Bengaluru habba.

Bangalore is the silence and stillness in Lalbagh/Sankey tank within the chaos and traffic that surround it. It is the Benne dosa at CTR, the fish and chips at Koshys, the beer in Pecos and the Hamburger in The Only Place. It is the misty chill mornings in December and the hot sunny afternoons in May. It’s the random 5-10 minute long showers in July and the cool breeze in October.

You will be hard pressed to try to figure out Bangalore if you come as a traveller. I go back home every year for a month and I still find it hard to visit all my favourite hang outs, let alone try the new ones. Bangalore is always changing. Just as you are. And yet, it’s also the same. It finds a way to take the new and make it a part of itself without getting rid of the old. Bangalore is limitless. It cannot be confined. Believe me, they’ve tried. The first road around the city is now called the inner ring road while the city continues to expand beyond the newer outer ring road.

The truth is, you can’t put Bangalore in a nutshell. It is not the place you go to for 3 days and 2 nights and come away with a fridge magnet or a scaled model of a monument as a souvenir. You don’t come to Bangalore for a vacation, you come for life.