Saturday, May 26, 2012

Public Urination (Yes, you read that right)

If you’re from Delhi, it means you’re feeling unbelievably hot right now. The weather is at a merciless high and my capacity to endure the outdoors is at an all time low. When I do muster the strength, however, the outdoors of the Capital are no great reward for my efforts.

If you’re from Delhi, and have ventured outdoors, you’ve probably experienced the State animal of Delhi, the Roadside Pee-er (Sci: Urinatus Unabashus). For those of you wondering why it isn’t the Roadside Rapist, that’s the state animal of Haryana, found primarily in the Shaded Highlands of Gurgaon. It’s a common mix-up, don’t worry about it.

The Roadside Urinator, however, has been known to flock primarily in the Scorching Concrete jungle of Delhi, though he is known to be spread across the Suburban section of the Indian Subcontinent. In this article, we will attempt to classify this most peculiar creature into a few broad categories.

Author’s note: If you are easily disgusted OR have a low capacity for crude, bordering-on-vile, humor OR are looking for enriching literary experiences, I suggest you redirect your attention to something better, possibly something with less Urine. I’ll take my business elsewhere, you prude. If you still wish to read on, I feel bad for you.
Let’s get to it then. Starting us off, indisputably, is……

1.       The Proud-as-hell Urinator:
Of the many variants of public relievers, none is as prevalent or as easily noticed as this one. This horrible excuse for a human being is, to put it gently, the reason for Delhi’s flourishing tourism.
This variant is found most commonly on neighbourhood streets. Unlike the other taxonomic brethren it has, The PAHU isn’t warded off by unrelenting gazes, offended stares or even the omnipresent “Dekho Gadhha M*** Raha Hai” graffiti (seriously, that shit is everywhere. Who paints those anyway? If you know someone who does, introduce me). In fact, he seems to take some sort of sick pleasure in it.
If you try staring at this person, he will stare right back (I understand that using ‘He’ as an assumed gender role is a little sexist, but I’ll go ahead and make that assumption anyway).
Though he seems to stray safe of Panchsheel or Greater Kailash, the lanes of West, East and North Delhi are ripe with these miscreants.
To emphasize on the pride and joy with which this animal decorates the wall of the city with his bodily fluids, he accompanies his act with a song (Think “Samundar mein naha ke” or “Aaj Mausam Badha Beymaan Hai”)

2.       The Shy One:
Unlike the PAHU, The Shy Urinator choose places of much less conspicuity. More commonly spotted on Highways and abandoned in-lanes, they prefer to keep their excretory activities to themselves and detest being confronted by someone who may have any sort of objection whatsoever.
As far as possible, this type of Pee-er prefers to keep his ‘activities’ as unnoticed as possible, which is why you will always find him looking over his shoulder to check for any approaching interceptors. This insecurity is not very well-founded, however, as a surprisingly low number of people are willing to approach a man in the middle of draining the main vein, let alone make any effort to make him stop mid-stream.
Someday, when I am bored and have nothing to do, I’ll go up to a Shy Pee-er and ‘Boo!’ the living daylights out of him. Nothing cracks me up more than watching a grown man run back to his motorcycle with his Johnson hanging out for the world to see, leaving a trail of hot, wet shame in his wake.

3.       The Urine-o-matic:
I remember going to watch the circus at a kid. There was a lady who stood on top of a tower of fifty men, contorted herself into an impossible curve and pulled the sheet out from beneath a table of silverware at fifty feet.
The Urine-o-matic is the Public Urination equivalent of that woman.
While he is in possession of two perfectly good hands, he prefers to Urinate keeping his ‘tool’ completely free of any restraints that his limbs may impose. While this is a great trick for showing off at parties (Right? I don’t know. I don’t go to many of those), its possibly not the best idea for the road.
I understand that you want to keep those hands clean for the journey, sir. Your body organs are under such poor maintenance, obviously, that the two hours succeeding your urination consisting of touching innumerable spit-covered walls, encountering dust and eating food prepared with the sweat and blood (and sweat) of the child-worker at the highway dhabha must be protected from its filth.
YOU have to understand, however, that your Instrument isn’t meant to be played that way, and you’re little act is about as pleasing to passers-by as a hot Kebab poker shoved into their eye-sockets.

4.       The Non-Urinator:
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “This isn’t a category of public Pee-men at all”. You’re absolutely correct, of course.
However, this person is part of so rare a breed, and one so severely understated, I feel I would be doing them a great dishonor by not mentioning them here.
These are the men (or women, fine) who refuse to destroy the sanctity of the city by emptying their bladders all over the carefully constructed walls, the lush-green parks or the cross-country blessings that are the highways. They will fight the urge to publicly relieve themselves till their kidneys give way and their brain turns to pig-slur.
These people are heroes, and for all of those going “Oh, I know tons of people like that”, you need to feel better about yourself, because though together we seem a great number, we’re still a small army. We are the Spartan 300 to the Giant Persian army that is the public pee-er.
As long as there are people like these, hope runs immortal.

Like I said at the very beginning of the article, this isn’t a work of art, its drivel that I churned out on a boring Saturday. If you’re still not satisfied with it, write about it somewhere.

Like on a wall. With your pee. Unless you're a woman, in which case, HA!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Things in the NCR you should eat, and probably haven't.

As some of you may already know, during my time at BLAH Magazine, I co-wrote THIS article with Onaiza Drabu (Blog, Tumblr) about seven things you should eat in Delhi.
A lot has changed since that list was compiled, though:

1.   Sanchoz, CP has, since, closed operations, as has Cha Bar
2.   The quality of the Biryani at Max Mueller Bhavan has dropped considerably, as has the quality of most   of their dishes.
3.   I have been to more places since, tried more dishes, gained more weight and become much wiser in terms of food.

I don't, of course, claim to be a food critic, nor do I claim to be qualified for any such role (I like food far too much for that). I just love eating good food. So you can keep your low cholesterol and impressive longevity, thank you very much.

It is for the aforementioned reason that I have decided to compile another list, much better researched and with newer places. I'm going to start it off with something I had not a few hours ago.

1. Tikki at Brahmaputra Market, Noida:

"What?", says the dedicated meat-eater, "I thought Brahmaputra was only good for flesh-munchers that can relish the rolls, tikkas and biryanis. Oh hells no, my naive friend. The tikki served at Brahmaputra is one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten.

The good thing about it is that while the crust of the tikki is crustier than most places' to begin with, the delightful gentleman preparing the dish tops it off with a sprinkle of Papri. He then smothers it with an exquisite combination of Dahi, Chutneys, Masalas and Onions. 

The first thing that strikes you about the dish is the perfection of the Tikki itself. It is extremely crispy and crunchy on the outside (more so because of the Papri) while maintaining its softness and the flavour of the potato on the inside.

Secondly, but not less importantly, the Chutneys and Dahi, coupled with the Masala, are added in perfect proportion. The Dahi doesn't dilute the chutneys, nor do the chutneys overpower the Dahi and Masala. 

If you're vegetarian, and are forced to go to Brahmaputra with your meat-eating friends (as I did to several of my friends), or if you want to have some kick-arse Tikki, head down to this Palace of Foodgasms.

Unless you want to have a meal sitting down, in which case you should head down to....

2. Panda Wok, Sector-18, Noida

Hidden away in the lesser explored part of Sector-18, Panda Wok serves up some of the best Chinese food  this side of CP. 

Run by Chef-duo Som and Gunjan (former chefs at  some of the best hotels in the city), Panda Wok is commited to serving Five Star quality Chinese food at affordable prices. A meal for two sufficient to fill you up would cost you close to INR 200 a person. As one of the chefs puts it, "For 400 a person, you could KILL yourself with food".

The best thing on the Menu is is the Money Bag dumplings (though everything is lovely). The crust of the Money Bag is a thin layer, cleverly crafted to provide the right barrier between your tongue and the meaty flavour of the filling. The covering doesn't eat into the flavour of the filling, though it manages to retain its own distinct taste.

An extremely endearing touch is the balloon that is placed on every table. The guests burst the balloon at their table to uncover their 'Deal for the day'. Nothing extravagant, but it makes you love the place a little more.

The ambience of the restaurant is that of a tiny neighbourhood eatery, and that is all that Panda Wok claims to be. If you're around Noida with a craving for chinese food, you know where to head.

3. The Yum Yum Tree, New Friends Colony:

The Yum Yum Tree needs no introduction, but I'll introduce it anyway. Its a Chinese/Japanese/Thai restaurant in the main market of New Friends Colony (the one with the Shawarmas, yeah) that is known for, above all else, its Sushi Lunch.

While the lunch is excellent, no doubt, its not the best thing they have on the menu, not even close. So here's what you should eat at the Yum Yum Tree for the perfect meal:

Duck Spring Rolls in Gooseberry Sauce/ Duck Har Gao in Cherry Hoisin
If you're a fan of Dimsums, like yours truly, you will definitely appreciate the subtle flavour that fills both these dishes. Though they're not comparable in any way, both of them are amazing starters in their own rights. The good thing about both the dishes is the tinge of sweetness added by the Gooseberry sauce and The Hoisin that is missing in other, more salty dimsums.

Pork Spare Ribs
To be fair to other rib-selling restaurants in the city, I've attained negligible experience in the field of ribs and there is very little I have to compare the ribs at Yum Yum Tree to.
But to be fair to The Yum Yum Tree, their ribs are definitely one of the best things I've eaten in this city.
The meat is tender, not overcooked but not too tough, extremely juicy and cooked to near perfection by the geniuses in the white hats at 'The Tree'. They're best eaten piping hot and I would recommend you order them without any accompaniments in order to experience the dish in the best way possible. Though if Pork isn't your thing, I'd advise you to stay away from it and go for the more conventional white-meat dishes on the menu. The grilled fish dishes are good as well.

Date Pancakes
After a lovely meal, you can finish off with the Date Pancakes that is served with Jaggery Ice-Cream. The ensemble is a perfect blend of the two items that compliment each other without, amazingly, going overboard with the sweetness factor.

And finally, there's....

4. Its Greek to Me, Safdarjung Enclave

Tucked away in Safdarjung Enclave, probably one of the last places one looks to for a delicious fine dining experience, Its Greek to Me is a pleasant surprise. 

While this restaurant is, in no way, inexpensive, nor does the ambience of the restaurant match up to the prices on the menu, the food does not disappoint. Two of the dishes, however deserve a special mention.

The Non-veg Mezede platter is an excellent choice. The dips are absolutely delicious and form the perfect accompaniment to the platter. The Chicken Pita, Chicken strips and Roast Lamb are cooked to perfection with fresh, juicy meat (though I've heard otherwise about their Sea-food).

The other great thing on the Menu is the Baclava with Ice-cream. The dish is absolutely refreshing and is the perfect way to top off a fantastic meal.

I'd advise you to stay the frick away if you intend to eat for cheap prices, but on days you feel particularly indulgent, come around and give this place a try.

That's all for this time, but I'm a graduate now, and I work in Marketing, so I'll probably find time to write about more stuff I eat around the city. Maybe I'll write about food all over India, maybe the globe. Who knows. The world is my Oyster.

Mmmm, Oyster...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rapists - How Fear Begets Helplessness.

This won’t be a long post, there isn’t much I have to say.

The other day, while stalking someone on Facebook, like you do, I chanced upon THIS picture. It was a photo captioned with the various things a rape victim should keep in mind about rapists that can help them be better prepared for an unexpected attack.

The picture, though intended to get as many eyeballs to the extremely helpful caption as possible, highlighted a very important point that continues to plague the minds of most people today.

In our heads, we turn rapists into powerful beings.

In the picture, the Rapists are menacing and confident, completely aware that the victim of their actions is completely helpless and can do nothing to prevent themselves from the evil that is to befall them. This perception of the victim is reinforced by the look of horror and helplessness on the face of the victim, who appears to be submissively accepting her plight, as much as she is anguished by it. Quite antagonistic to the message that goes along with the picture, wouldn’t you say?

While it is important that potential rape targets understand that rapists pose a considerable threat to them, it is equally, if not more, important that these potential targets be continuously reminded that they are not helpless. The image of a powerful, omnipresent rapist that has been fed into the mind of every young girl in the country needs to be destroyed and replaced with the true image of the average rapist, a pathetic, confused little person with very little clue of how drastic their actions are.

I don’t mean to say that the threat of rape is to be undermined, nor that rapists are to be treated with any sort of leniency whatsoever. The point is not to ask people to disregard the threat that these lunatics pose to society and its members. The point is to make the audience understand that rapists, just like any other criminal, are mortal, weak, pathetic and beatable.  

In a crisis situation, a person subject to an attempt to rape would be under high levels of stress and experiencing a thousand different emotions. Rationally speaking, the least we, as the environment to that victim, can do is remove fear from that array of experiences.

Screaming for help, using the pepper spray in your purse, attacking the attacker in sensitive areas of the body, keeping a phone ready with the appropriate help numbers dialed in high risk areas, these are all brilliant ideas to protect targets from the rape menace, but they cannot be brought into implementation unless the logical response behavior is allowed to function without being clouded by fear and the feeling of helplessness.

I know a lot of what I’m saying is extremely difficult. I’ve never been subject to any such situation (hold the immature humor) and that probably makes it easier for me to sit here in my room and belch this out onto a keyboard, but I’m trying to think logically to remove any obstacles there may be to a rape target approaching a crisis situation with a helpful, pre-planned defense mechanism, and the fear and helplessness instilled into them since an early age tops that list.

Once again, I don’t mean to offend anyone, undermine anyone’s suffering or advocate any sort of sympathy for a sexual offender.

I’m just saying, remove the fear of the threat, and you’ll remove the threat.