Posted by: odzer | August 22, 2008

The Airtel iPhone Mishegoss

Email that Airtel so kindly sent me today

Email that Airtel so kindly sent me today


I have used the same mobile number and the same operator for around half a decade now. I am an extremely satisfied customer of Airtel, so far they have never let me down until today. When I booked an iPhone with them I had expected it to be priced at a level higher than what it is being sold for in most other countries but I did not expect such a high price. So you might say how naive, people can sell anything at any price as long as there are buyers. I should say sure. However Airtel knew that a lot of people were looking forward to this particular model and they should have arranged a better deal with Apple. If they do not have enough phones it is entirely a problem that has been created by Apple and Airtel, they are the one’s that have created this artificial scarcity.

Let me just say this I am not going to purchase an iPhone now. Thank you very much Airtel! I am very happy with my Sony Ericsson Z610i. Its already a 3G telephone and I can use it for roaming here in India and other countries with 3G networks extremely well. I admit I am a tech nerd and I will usually pick up anything even if it costs a lot more initially but not this particular phone. I am giving it a pass for now. Even though I know this will be a great product. I use a Macbook now and I love the computer in terms of its usability viz a viz what is available on the other more popular platform. Just for now I will say that disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe it!

Note : Part 2 of this post is available here.

Posted by: odzer | August 21, 2008

Korean food

I will admit I have only ever had Korean food 3 times in my life. Two times was in Dharamsala and one time at the Korea town in Shin-Okubo in Tokyo. The one time in Tokyo I had gone along with a friend for a Korean barbecue. So since I have just returned back from Dharamsala l will write about the latest experience. I went to the Korean restaurant Dokebi at Jogiwara Road. This is by far my favourite restaurant in Dharamsala. So what exactly do I like about Korean food, for one I like the spicy nature of it. If you like red pepper you will surely like Korean food. I also like Kimchi I can eat tons of the stuff whenever I get it. The Kimchi I ate in Japan was however far more nicer than anything that I have ever had in India.

This time I ordered some Korean Sushi (vegetarian one), a korean rice dish with a fried egg, some ramen and barley tea (which resembles Japanese muggi cha). The food came right on time even though my friend and I were the only customers at that time owing to the fact that it was pouring outside. We got two soups which had some sort of a sea weed in it for free and one bowl of rice free with the ramen. Apparently it seems Koreans seem to eat rice with their ramen. It also seems that Koreans use metal chopsticks which I am not so familiar with as I am more comfortable using either the Chinese or the Japanese variety. All in all the meal was excellent and the restaurants atmosphere makes me feel right at home and very comfortable. The fact that it is run by a Korean person (I am told a Korean woman) and it is reasonably priced is just excellent. So if you are ever in Dharamsala do give it a go.

Posted by: odzer | August 20, 2008

Dharamsala

I went to Dharamsala on the evening of 15th August, mostly for work but I thought also for a little break. It is just another story that I could not relax at all. One of the good things about going to Dharamsala is just to enjoy the culture. McLeod Ganj is full of it, every where you go there are schools for learning everything from Indian cooking to Hypnotic regression. In any case I had no time to go to any temples or any energy as well but I did meet some old friends and some new people.

So you can find all sorts of people in such a small place and all kinds of food as well. I had various interesting dinning experiences as well as eating all kinds of my favourite Tibetan foods. Overall it was a very tiring weekend trying to do business with a different culture with their own understanding of the world, language problems and some other interesting challenges thrown in. What I did find the most difficult was the Bus journey from Chandigarh to Dharamsala. It took me 8 hours to go each way and the roads were horribly broken in many places so the whole journey was so shaky. I do not suffer from altitude or motion sickness but I can imagine it would be much worse for people that do. What I do suffer from however is my height. I am quite a tall guy and I never fit in the average Indian bus seat.

As I write this I am suffering horrible leg pain, I wonder if anyone that runs the transport department in the government has ever heard or economy class syndrome? I guess it is not a big concern! Anyway I am posting some pictures from good old Himachal once again. It is nice to be back home though!

Posted by: odzer | August 15, 2008

Male body hair

How much do you have?

How much do you have?


Body hair is an interesting topic for men. Some like more, some like less. However what most men do know is that they get more hairy as they grow older. Sure there is some growth when you hit puberty but the really annoying body hair starts coming out when you are in your mid twenties. You notice the pubic sort of hair popping out of your nose and some men start to notice similar hair popping out of their ears. I guess Indian men have the most hairy ears in the world if I am not mistaken.

What about hair on shoulders and back? Yuck. Hair on your arms also tends to get longer during this age. So how hairy am I? Well fairly but not as hairy perhaps as my father. I can go without shaving easily for two or max three days. It seems though that hair in another crucial part is missing in my case i.e. the head. Do I like body hair on me? Yes I do, I think I am just the right level of hairiness. However the reason I am writing this blog is my phobia of getting more hairy from here on. I certainly do dread that ear hair though I guess my family has no history of that.

Men who are not very hairy especially some Asians tend to want to be more hairy and generally very hairy men tend to want to have less hair. Some friends of mine are so furry that it is hard to recognize where the hair begins and where it ends and some are completely lacking the fuzz. I remember an incident in Tibet when I was at the Jokhang square when some young boys came and pulled on my arm hair and called me a “Monkey”. I guess they were just fascinated by it because they had never ever seen a hairy man before!

Another thing that bothers me about body hair is the fact that I have a white bathroom floor, after a nice shower the hair on the floor unnerves me. I always try to take a shower before the floor is cleaned. In Japan it is a tradition to share bath water or to take communal baths. I dread the idea that some of my hair will be floating around when the next person takes his or her bath so I just avoid the whole shared bath thing. Fortunately for me my hosts and friends were quite understanding about the whole thing. I guess though it is something for me to overcome and I am sure I can.

Should men actually shave their arm pits? Some do, some do not. I guess it depends on how they look at it. I guess men who are likely to shave their arm pits are also likely to shave elsewhere. Muscular men who happen to be hairy are very likely candidates for shaving off fuzz in interesting places. I guess as a person who is very smell centric I would rather some guys shave it off though on record I have observed men smell less from their arm pits. One they are likely to eat less spicier diets and secondly its just that women DO smell more there so its less important for men to shave their pits.

Personally I do not like facial hair, I kept a mustache when I was a teenager only for the reason that I was afraid of cutting my lip. Although I do like going without shaving occasionally. However I guess facial hair is everyone’s personal choice. In one way or the other I do feel that men are obsessed by their hair whether its on their heads, their faces, their chests or other more interesting body parts. I shall just end with a joke, one of my non-hairy friends once observed “I don’t like women that are more hairy than I am”.

Posted by: odzer | August 14, 2008

Hey Chink!!

Whoa! So many of them.

Whoa! So many of them.


Race is a loaded topic anywhere but not so much in India? Indians can never be racists right? WRONG!!! I will quote a friend of mine, “Brown people make the worst racists, they do not like white people and they do not like black people.” Some days ago one of my Tibetan friends went for a small walk to the market near my home. While he was coming back some guys in a car started yelling at him “Hey Chinky” etc. The guy simply hung his head and came back home.

He told me about the whole incident and I was not surprised at all, since I have heard many similar stories from my other friends. One of my German friends was actually asked how much she would go out for, again quite near my home simply because she did not look Indian and it was perceived that she would be easy. I simply asked my friend why did you not yell back “Hey Bangladeshi’s or Pakis”. That may seem mean but racist people often think of themselves as immune. This brings me to another subject, how Nepalese are treated in India. All Nepalese are automatically considered to be servants or watchmen! You don’t need to look far just watch a Hindi movie or two.

Talking further about race, in small villages in Punjab it is quite common for white boys to be named “Gora” and a black guy to be named “Kala”. Our obsession with skin colour is deep and I am sure plenty of purveyors of fairness creams have capitalized on it. I remember now another incident from my college time. I was sitting in the campus basking in the sun one winter when a guy walked up to me and sat next to me. He asked me why I was friends with these chinks. I was so shocked for a while that I could not say anything to him. Here was a total stranger actually telling me who to be friends with!

I guess the biggest cause of racism is ignorance. I can not think of any other reason and perhaps insecurity. So far I have witnessed discrimination in India against Asian looking people, whites, blacks and even darker skinned Indians. I guess anyone who does not fit in is a fair enough target. I guess when our people travel abroad and then suffer again at the hands of the same kind of ignorant people they might get some sensitivity to the issue. However I have also met plenty of Indians who live abroad but when they come home they use rather derogatory terms for people of other races. In the end just as a food for thought one of the words used in Hindustani for foreigners is “firangi” which means “different coloured”. If you do not think that is racial, I don’t know what is!

In case you are from the North-East and living in “mainland” India. You may get some help by visiting this site in the event that you are a victim or racist violence whether verbal or physical.

NB : Oh and please don’t leave any comments about that Chinese guy in Indian idol. That is a bit too predictable. Be Creative!! 🙂

Posted by: odzer | August 13, 2008

Calling Arunachal Pradesh

The not so well connected state of arunachal pradesh

The not so well connected state of arunachal pradesh

So this out of sight, out of mind sort of place in the north east is what I have been trying to call up for the last 4 months. A close friend of mine has moved to Arunachal to a place called Tenzingang near Bomdila in the not so great state of Arunachal Pradesh. Of course there is no mobile network coverage where he lives though it is quite a large settlement of people. Every time I call his office phone (the fellow has no landline phone at his home) the phone call either does not go through at all or I get this message “All the lines to this route are presently out of order” which is very honest but it does not help me. Not that it is any better from his side, he has to actually travel quite a distance to call me as well! Of course he always complains that I never call him though he has a perfectly functional office phone.

So where is Arunachal on the information highway? This has left me wondering. If they do not even have functional telephones yet how can they have Internet? Why does a state that our government in Delhi claims to have such a deep affection for have no working phones? What if China invades? They won’t even be able to call for help! He he he. Does not the government here scramble each time China claims Arunachal? Tsk tsk!

I guess I will just have to deal with the fact that I may not get to talk with my friend as long as he is posted in the wilderness that is the North-East of India. Oh and there is no private phone company where he is either so should I blame the government alone….

Posted by: odzer | August 12, 2008

Lasagna

I had this strange idea of making lasagna today. Its hell of a lot of work but I had some company so I did not really mind. I made two kinds but I only baked one kind and tossed the rest in the fridge for tomorrow. The only difference between both is that one has parmesan cheese added to it and the other one has only béchamel. In the past whenever we made lasagna we would use a hand cranked pasta machine that one of my friends owned to make our own pasta sheets. Today I had to use store bought lasagna. I must say I much preferred the hand made pasta.

Anyway both the kind of lasagna seem to have come out right and I can very nicely confirm that one dish was exceedingly tasty. In the layers I had added three types of bell peppers red, yellow and green. Mince, a tomato sauce, béchamel and mushrooms. Will I be cooking lasagna anytime soon I can not really say. I am far too lazy!

Posted by: odzer | August 10, 2008

Penne Rigatte

A lazy dinner

A lazy dinner

Tonight I was feeling lazy so I cooked Penne Regate for dinner. I did it with the usual Tomato sauce and had some Parmesan cheese on top at the end. I like eating pasta now and then but I do not usually cook Penne, its either spaghetti or fettuccine. I will be honest mostly I would rather use Penne in a salad or a casserole.

I would have loved a bit of decent mince so I could have done a bolognaise but it does not matter because its mostly the tomato sauce that I am after. They say tomato is a poor man’s red wine and since wine is indeed a pricey drink here I do not mind the extra lycopene. Tomatoes in the monsoon tend to be of a very poor quality and its perhaps the worst time to eat Tomatoes in India, I must say though that Indian tomatoes taste really very good.

The penne turned out to be quite nice and I will tell you the secret, MSG toss a bit of it most restaurants will do that anyway so will most of the packaged sauces, also add a bay leaf along with the mixed herbs. I am not averse to eating MSG because as a food additive it has been around for a long long time and its naturally found in things like mushrooms. In fact the taste is similar to certain stocks that contain meat. Now I am not saying food wont taste good if you do not have MSG but I don’t really see any problem in this particular additive. The Japanese and other Asians routinely have been using seaweeds to get this compound as a taste enhancer for years and they don’t seem to die that easily.Further all the alarming results that have ever been found in MSG have been after subject animals were directly injected with MSG, no effects were observed when it was given to them as a food additive. So basically I will sometimes toss in these things when I want a taste enhancement and I do not worry about it but I do not do it routinely. Sometimes I tend to use natural taste enhancers like shitake mushrooms, parmesan cheese, fish sauce, carrots or even tomatoes which all contain MSG naturally.

Posted by: odzer | August 7, 2008

Apple pie

What would you do if your mother came home with Kilos of Apples? Probably the same as I did. We had the seasons first apple’s from Himachal this year. They are a bit tart and hard so perfect for baking a pie. The only trouble is when you think about baking a pie in India it is not as simple as going to your friendly convenience store and buying some pastry. You have to make your own pastry dough! There are of course some advantages to that because you make it with butter instead of transfat filled margarine that most commercial pastry dough has. So after my breakfast I started peeling the apples, a job that I absolutely hate and then I chopped them. I cooked them with a bit of cinnamon and powdered sugar in butter and prepared the pastry dough from scratch. All the fruit of my labour that you can see in the gallery.

I prepared a tart shell and put in the pastry dough and the filling and then made the top layer. Thereafter it was a simple matter of tossing it in the oven for around 30 minutes at 200ÂșC and having the whole house filled with smell of apples and cinnamon. It may not be a bad idea to do it before guests arrive just to make the place smell nice. I finally took the baked pie out and waited for it to cool down (I am a very impatient man) and then had it with Maple Syrup (100% not the cheap stuff!). A perfect decadent winter meal although a bit premature but still I can not wait for it to get cold enough so I can cook more often.

Posted by: odzer | August 6, 2008

Sugar Apple/Custard Apple

Some days ago I went to visit a neighbour of mine who is also a close friend. He has a sugar apple (Annona squamosa) tree. He actually climbed the tree to fetch some for me. They were very sweet and ripe. In some commonwealth countries a Sugar Apple is often called Custard Apple as well though that is a completely different fruit, I believe both of the fruits have their origin in Latin America or the Caribbean. This morning before I left my home I had two of them and I picked one to take a picture but it was so ripe that it just broke in my hand so I just ended up eating one. I have eaten this fruit after many years and we have many interesting fruits coming up with the approaching winter so I am looking forward to that.

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