Monday, October 06, 2008

Sips of fancy........पानी पानी रे .....

When its a question of spherical/circular/cyclic vs flat/linear, I notice that I tend to lean (in a very linear way) towards the former. Time and again life throws up instances which keep on reminding us of something that has happened before. Nothing changes permanently. But things keep changing, only to reappear in a cyclic manner.

Sometimes in a very high-end,pseudo-posh manner. For simple things, like drinking water.....

This introspective outburst has been inspired by a blog post that I read, (which had me absolutely seething in disgust, at the contents):

Claridge’s, London has one of the most extensive water menus. Prices range from US$ 10 to 21 a bottle….. Sommelier Pierre Legrandois of Pierre at Mandarin Oriental blind-tasted more than 60 varieties of water before choosing nine. In Singapore, French Restaurant Jaan, in Swissotel, The Stamford is launching a water menu with 17 varieties.

First, the guy who is trained to drink wine, inexplicably, drinks water. For a fee. He calls himself a Sommelier, and calls the stuff a "water menu". All this supercilious tasting of various "bottled" waters, swishing it around in your mouth and spitting it out (Hmmm), and then passing opinions , which raise the cost of the bottle of water to , say $21. All this as vast amounts of so called hankering, sophisticated followers struggle to hear the verdict.

Airlines that should know better , get taken in by all this and announce that we get it if we pay for first class. Well, never was economy more welcome.

French or not, its still H20. Please.

So what else can we look forward to?

Say its the summer of 2020.

French and German people hoarding up sugarcane wine, after Moet fought with Chandon , people diversified , and started marketing limited edition sugarcane wine under the Ganna Cooperative label. Mrs Sarkozy introduced it to the swish set in Paris as an accompaniment to a thorny snack called Chakli, which is imported. Of course , a blogger by the same name sued them for Intellectual Property Rights and so the price of Chakli has doubled.

Oscar de al Renta introduces this year's hot item, Purti; most people in India identify the material as that used to mop floors. Or Potu as it is called. Trust the French to convert it into Purti's, organic tops , which come with a smell of phenol built in. Little holes here and there for authentic ventilation. Gives you a real clean feeling, as you move around in all those auto emissions.....

And guess what. Safety Pins are IN ! (I can only think of all those times I was singled out in the school assembly line, for having a safety pin holding my uniform belt together. But then we weren't the fashion capital of the world. And even if we were , I am not sure Mrs Dawson would have heard.)

Buttons , zips and hooks are passe. Dow, after taking a beating for hobnobbing with Union carbide, has now started making polymer safety pins in various colors. Some folks who might have been called square 20 years ago, still use metal safety pins in various colors. The Beckham children model for the safety pins, ever since S Man Khan , who was earlier chosen because of his over-ripped jeans, refused to turn up.

Levi's are into promoting their latest Baniya brand. Trousers are now made of flowy material, which kind of gathers around, tapering towards the ankle. Some trousers are kind of wrapped instead of stepped into. And sometimes one trouser side is higher than the other. The inspiration is supposed to be the Dhoti worn by shop keepers . The style is being sold as the "Dotty", ever since Prince Charles wore it for his son's Coronation.

And did you know that they have introduced a new liqueur, which tastes similar to the ginger and lemon concentrate that my mother used to make me drink when I had a nauseous stomach situation ? Its called "A la Limbu" and has become the rage in Paris, ever since Bedekar Fils started exporting it in their little lemon size glass shakers. Galleries Lafayette ran out of stock in 4 hours on the opening day.

Rumor has it that lady chefs from India are being flown over to make the original foodstuff called Bhakri. Ever since the Italians declared cooking a performing art, these ladies have been completely booked for the next 3 years.

Renowned for their percussion abilities as they tap on the bhakri dough on the Pol Pat, (nothing to do with Cambodia), with their unmanicured rough fingers, the bhakri magically, grows radially, and is then delicately put on a gridle , an expert hand smears water lovingly on one surface , much like wiping a babies cheek with a wet hand.

A few turns, and the final fling on to the open fire, the bhakri blooms, is cut, partitioned, and served in what has become known as Cordon Lalu style : with a dollop of butter, tangy greens , slit hot green chillies, pickled garlic, and a piece of onion , mashed by a single blow of the fist......

Ouch. What a thud ! Back to 2008............

All this amazing stuff has parched my throat .

Water ? Positively , no. The tap isn't working.

Chai? I used to love it till Amazon and Starbucks entered the fray.

Maybe I'll just have a nice, milky, ginger and pudina(mint) boiled Rajawadi tea.........

(before some tea taster , slurping tea into the back of the mouth at 125 miles per hour, lands up and upgrades the beverage to vague unattainable levels .........


  1. Hi Ugich, I loved this post. Why do we tend to take something we can all afford and turn it into something unatainable by promoting it in such a fashion that wealthy people and insecure people think they have to pay large amounts to buy a brand name or designer name.
    Most of the time the product is inferior we just pay for the name.

  2. aaah Bhakri......i miss it so much. Ajji makes the best ones. Mala tar yetnahin. The pic that you have put there of the bhakri.....did u make that?

  3. Judy,

    Thank you for the comments.

    Despite so many folks feeling the way you and I do about this, inexplicably, the number of people giving in to this brand conscious behavior seems to be increasing...


    No, I didnt make that Bhakri. Got it on Google :-)

    But I must tell you, that if you can get your hands on a Mexican flour called Masa Harina , it makes great Bhakris. 38 years ago I was at grad school at UCI , and someone's mother was visiting in LA, and they asked me what I hankered for on a visit to see them. Of course I shamelessly said Bhakri and Pithla, and Ajji there made it from this Masa Harina flour. (I dont want to go further into the delicious details of bhakri, and white butter and lasoon chatni , out of consideration for you :-)

  4. Dear U K,
    Wonderful. Enjoyed reading this post!

  5. a water menu? i never knew that...that's sad too, the way brand mentality works...

    there's a place in delhi which was a kind of a tea-cafe with a huge variety of teas...

    and i love bhakri..was introduced to it only after marriage by my mom inlaw..yummy..

  6. I've never heard of a Water Menu before. Good grief! And 21.00 dollars for ... water... ? My city is surrounded by it, we live in a soup bowl during hurricane season, nobody could convince me to pay that kind of money for water.

    That said, I do own one of those contraptions that goes on the sink faucet to purify the water.

    And as for the bottled water, have you ever looked at the "ingredients?" I was at a convention one time where the speaker was talking up the water product. When asked for questions, I raised my hand, "Why does it have SALT as an ingredient?" I was given the NASTY look in return!

  7. I guess in the world of fancy shmancy, some things will endure. One such is the ability to hold on to sanity in the midst of such offerings !

    Quite liked your time travel weaving ! Give me adhrak chai ! Anyday !!

  8. I loved this Orwellian take on the topsy-turvy future! You have a knack for satire (among other things)!

    safety pins could also have Liz Hurley as the brand ambassador. Do you remember the safety-pinned haute couture dress she wore way back in her Hugh Grant days?

  9. Vivek Patwardhan : Thank you.

    Suma: Thank you. Maybe you can try Bhakri where the dough is made with milk( in lieu of water)... Its then called Dashmi. Its even better the next day...ideal breakfast with lemon pickle...

    Aleta : Thank you. I suppose we cant avoid these "branded" folks , no matter where we go, in the world...

    kavi : Thank you. Adrak Chai, coming up in a jiffy....with some cloves , maybe ?

    Sucharita Thanks for reminding about Liz Hurley and her Safety Pin stuff. She lends herself to so much satire....and disgust.

  10. Had read the original post but you have given it such a wonderful
    treatment! Great Read!

  11. Dear Madam,

    This seems a bit unfair. I mean your post about my favourite Maharashtrian delicacies. The problem is that I'm sitting a place 1200 kms away from Mumbai with no kind of access to any restaurant which will provide me with Jhunka-Bhakar, Thalipeeth, Vada pav, etc. This post makes me long more for my home town and all those delicious dishes.

    You might find a bit odd that I'm complaining. The thing is that I'm a Tamilian born and brought up in the Maharashtrian dominated locality of Dombvili in the early 70's-80's. I have been in more Maharashtrian homes than my own, therefore this attachment towards Maharashtrian dishes. Unfortunately my wife though being from Dombivli is also a Tamilian who can't cook these dishes, hence this rant.

    Anyways thanks for giving me a few minutes of reminder about those good old days.

  12. Today, just do a fancy packing, give it a fancier name and advertise it with a filmstar.....and u r onto a big thing, forget about the product:), that is very inconsequential.
    BTW I liked Bhaker vadi and sambhar vadi a lot from Chitle..s in Pune.
    and u have been tagged.

  13. Babu Bhaskaran : Thank you.

    Ganesh There is a solution to your food pangs. Next time someone comes visiting from Mumbai to your place 1200 kms away, have them bring you packets of Bedekar Thalipeeth Bhajani (available everywhere). Instructions, very simple on the packet.

    Thalipeeths are not to be eaten in restaurants. You can even make some for your wife, with onions, and chopped methi etc.....

  14. Renu: Actually, the Chitale Bakarwadi doesnt have anything to do with Bhakri. But , I agree, its great. But I never hear of Sambar vadi at Chitale's . Hmm. Time for a visit to Pune....

    (Have been tagged by 3 folks. Currently suffering from tag-lag.... :-). Pliss to excuse

  15. Hello! Finally figured out how to upload the "Brillante" logo on my finally put it up..Thank you very much!!

  16. Good post.
    Not only have Starbucks ruined coffee Suranga - but did you hear this one?
    'As part of a company policy aimed at preventing germ buildup in its taps, Starbucks stores are directed to keep water running constantly into a sink, called a dipper well, to clean utensils and wash away food residue.
    'As a result of running water all day, every day at each of the company's 10,000 worldwide coffee emporiums, Starbucks wastes water in an amount estimated to be "enough daily water for the entire 2 million strong population of drought-hit Namibia in Africa or fill an Olympic pool every 83 minutes."' - Australian Herald Sun quoting an article in Britain's Sun newspaper.
    This created a furore this week in Australia where much of the nation is parched by drought, and we have many Starbucks stores.
    June in Oz

  17. rajk. You are most welcome.

    June Thank you. And I am so disgusted with Starbucks....