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Tweet Me Up Scotty: Mumbai Tweetup @5Spice @Janta Bar

I went to my first Tweetup last night.

It was a Mumbai Twitter's meet. From what I understand, a Tweetup is when folks who Tweet meet up, talk in real life, eat and drink, largely Dutch. No agenda. Hopefully.

The hash tag was #5s. It was at 5 Spice, Bandra. As close to home as it gets for a chronically lazy socialiser. Problem was that I was done in by Mumbai's freezing winter (apparently hit the sub 20s. Centigrades). I doubted that I could croak out even 140 characters. So I stayed home and ordered Green Thai Curry from Thai Baan. The only folks in Mumbai apart from Thai Pavilion to make a half decent Thai curry.

I sat at home chatting with K and a friend. My heart was at 5 Spice as I kept scanning the tweets on the tweetup. Then this flashed from @TalkorTweetshey there is a popular request for u to be at this tweetup guys want to meet even if you are feelingsick.

I had to go. I donned a jacket though I couldn't find my muffler or monkey cap. I headed to 5 …

Is Bandra the new cocaine?

Met a Social Media friend from Delhi for the first time last weekend. We met up at Gloria Jean's, Bandra, for a short while. A place which he confessed to love. I like Gloria Jean's too. As does my wife and many others.

I pass the road in front of Gloria Jean's on the way to work everyday. At times I try to grab a bite in the car and sip a juice as I am not the sort who wants the worm in any case. Problem is that I have to wait for the stretch to get over before I start eating. Its pot holes and pockmarks would make the food somersault in your tummy. Never a good idea. I was hoping that they would fix it when Obama came to Mumbai. Then he flew down to South Mumbai and we were left with audacious hope.

Most of the houses at Bandra resemble the road that I described - old, damp walls, peeling paint, tired plumbing, pre-liberalisation flooring, badly planned, dark, dank and small.

Yet, here are some interesting things I found out through hearsay. My friend who lives at GK 2,…

Anyone else who has got 'Jhingalala'd'?

I miss the good old days of a DD antenna and a booster antenna for Bangladesh TV. Or even the cable wallahs whose office you could go to. Scream and rant and get technicians if something went wrong.

I don't want a satellite dish service which teaches me supreme patience and tolerance. I don't want a satellite dish service which prepares me for the worst that life can throw at me. I don't want a satellite dish service which prepares me for failure, being ignored, being dumped. I don't want to be grounded. My TV rights taken away. I thought I'd grown beyond that.

I don't want a satellite dish service which doesn't work. Which takes my complaint. Gives me a booking number and a date three days later. Followed only by a SMS that my 'complaint is closed'. Asks me for feedback on their service, which I never experienced. Y for Yes. N for No. And if you text N then the reply is 'invalid service'.

I want my MTV.

Welcome to the real world

For all the snide remarks about their being a virtual make belief invisible world, I have met some really interesting people, and made some of my best friends of late, thanks to Blogger, Facebook, Twitter and of course something called Orkut.

 I met Shubho who is fairly prominent in Twitter and FB for the first time today. He said the same thing about meeting folks through social media. He was in his 40s and said that he had connected with some wonderful people across age groups.

Some of these 'connections' remain virtual and yet at times more intimate than many acquaintances in the real world. And some cross what my friend, Kaniska, calls the fine line between the real and the virtual world. Yes we  too met thanks to the blog.

And this evening we had dinner with some of my original friends through blogging and another new blogging friend.

This is a social reality of our times. Thank God for that.

So do you draw your sustainable from the 'virtual world'? I believe its …

Do blogs work for you? Please write in

Note: This post was not written by Ross Geller (FRIENDS)

Hi, today is Ashtami. The biggest and most auspicious day of Durga Puja. It is also the 25th anniversary of the Puja in our building. I was there when the Puja started 25 years back. And am lucky enough to be here this time too. 25 years. Phew, that's a long time. Wonder how things will be on number 50?

Got a piece of good news to share with you on this auspicious day. As you probably know I am a market researcher by trade. That's what pays for the bacon I bring home, make pasta with and write about. My job is to help clients understand what consumer feel about topics of relevance so that they (the clients) can work out their strategies.

Well, this is an instance where work and play collides. I had written a paper on how blogs and social media (Facebook, Twitter) can be used to get customer feedback for small businesses. The paper was based on, what else, food blogging. Things I observed on Finely Chopped.

Got to know to…

Hope you are in a happier place Rouvanjit

You might have read about young Rouvanjit Rawla. He used to study in La Martinere for Boys. One of the premiere schools in Calcutta. I am referring to him in the past tense as he took his life recently. Thirteen years is all he got in this world. The caning or corporal punishment that he received in school apparently led to his suicide.


Caning? Didn't that happen only in David Copperfield?

Well not really. I moved into an ‘Indian’ school in Calcutta in 1984 when I was ten. My earlier experience with schools, or play schools, was in the UK, Iran and then in an ‘International’ school in Calcutta. We knew about the Solar System. But not about canes.

The ‘Indian’ school I went to, following the ICSE board, was where I first came across the concept of caning. Except it was with wooden rulers and not canes. Our teachers would take our rulers and then hit us across our palms. At times till the rulers broke. Boys. Girls. No gender discrimination. Across ages. By all teachers. Always on t…

Of sons and mothers

The defining mother son moment of Hindi films of the seventies was Shashi Kapoor telling Bachchan ‘mere paas maa hain’ (Mom’s with me) in 'Deewar'. Nirupa Ray, who played the mother in question, played the same character in a number of other films too. Struggling to put ends meet so that she could bring up Amitabh Bachchan in various movies. Unquestioned devotion to his mother drove the hero and the story of the film.

The recently released Hindi film, ‘Wake up Sid’, showed a very different mother son relation. Supriya Pathak, the mother, was doting and smothering. Ranbir Kapoor, the petulant son. Churlish. Irritated. Snapping at his mother at all points.

Something which would have been unheard of for a hero in the seventies.

Is it becomes the times are different? Is it because we have moved to consumerism from Gandhism?

Or is it because Wake Up Sid was directed by a Bengali? After all Bengali mothers are considered to be amongst the most protective of their sons.

But then ar…

How grey was my valley?

Tapen Chattopadhyay, who played the character of Goopy in Satyajit Ray's Goopy Bagha series passed away a few days back.

The Goopy Bagha films defined children's films in a country where there weren't many. Films you could grow up with as you kept discovering layer after layer each time you saw them. For many of us they were the rare home grown super heroes cum rock stars. Though more in the Asterix quirky, double meaning, genre. This post is not about Goopy Bagha. You can check this excellent post by the Great Bong to get an idea of the phenomenon that was Goopy Bagha if you want to know more.

I first heard about Tapen Chattopadhay's death from a college friend on Facebook. Soon status updates from others of my vintage began to pop up. Culminating with the above blog post which was linked by many including me.



I guess the mid thirties is a strange period. This is when the icons you have grown up with begin to leave you. Bagha, or Robi Ghosh, was long gone. Goopy now j…

Finely Chopped on Facebook... My experiments with Web 2.0

Warning: Geeky post ahead

I recently opened a Facebook Page for my food blog, Finely Chopped. A blogger friend wrote in today saying that she'd just discovered this page. She said she was wondering why I had stopped putting food updates on Facebook. Till she found the Finely Chopped pages. And then said that this was a good idea as I could reach out to a larger number of like minded people.

So why did I start a Facebook page for the blog.

Well let's go back to more than a decade and a half and about twenty five kilos less to a balmy afternoon in Calcutta's Presidency College. PR or Dr Prasanta Ray, an urban legend and head of our Sociology Department was taking our class. One of those rare teachers who could connect life with education. Reason why I remember a lot of what he had taught then.

PR was discussing the book of a rather intriguingly named Sociologist called Tom Bottomore. If I remember right, Bottomore said that each individual has a number of social concentric c…

The gravediggers ... Mumbai ravaged

There was a slightly old Economic Times lying around in our bedroom. I glanced upon what was written on it as I was tidying up. The article was about Gollman Sach's take on the BRIC countries. 'I' standing for India. And how these would dominate the word even faster than earlier predicted.

Those of us who work in multinational companies would have possibly come across the spiel about how India is the future and how everyone's excited about the 'India story'. You would have heard the same people going gaga about the service in Jet Airways when they come here. And you are probably reading this post on a state of the art laptop or phone. The latest the world has to offer.


But a look out of the window of your home, office or car shows a very different world outside. And I am not even talking about the in your face poverty. Poverty we have learnt to blank ourselves to. Poverty which bothers us only when an Irishman refers to it while winning making an Oscar winning …

'Gai-eem' ... life on a treadmill

It's been a cruel summer. And the heat has made people do strange things. Like join a gym in my case.

I am no stranger to the word of gyms (note to self: the surprise element should come at the end of a post). From akhara like non air conditioned places to the college gym which I think had the same equipment which Netaji had used to strengthen his legs before he kicked the Brit prof down the Presidency stairs to suave gyms at Mumbai and fancy ones in luxury hotels. Then my back gave in during a holiday and I got an excuse to stay away. But I would look at gyms occasionally. Especially when I would see the disturbingly rotund figures of food show hosts on Indian TV channels. Very different from the Bourdains the Majumdars and the Chins.

Checked with my Ortho. My last hope. The cherubic and corpulent gent smiled and said "of course you can go".


So I did a round of local gyms a few idle Saturdays back. Was hounded with SMSs and calls from them since. Two months free. Eigh…

Dada's Gang of Boys

"The best way to ignite Saurav is to write him off" Steve Waugh

The other day K was referring to a couple of friends of ours as 'Tendulkar Fanatics'.

I said that it is easy to be a Tendulkar fan. He scores oodles of runs. Acclaimed by all. Owns most personal cricket batting records.

In fact you actually have to be fanatical to be a Saurav Ganguly fan in my opinion. Consider the evidence. A man with patchy performances. Glorious at his best. Farcical at his worst. Often inconsistent. You always have your heart in your mouth when Dada bats. You have no idea what he will dish out. And over the last years its often not been much. While, as many point out, Tendulkar's still going on like a well oiled machine.

I had met a gaggle of fellow thirty plus Bengalis a few days back. The most consistent support group of Ganguly. In contrast to Ten whose supporters cut across clans and countries. We asked ourselves about why we Bengalis support Ganguly. Even when he is obviousl…

Golden years? Yeah right!

If you are in your mid thirties then you would possibly be at a stage where you see your family elders growing old. Parents. Grandparents. Ailments. Debilitating at the worst. Scary at the least. Heart wrenching in most cases. You would probably feel it more because this is the time when many of us move out of the more selfish and self obsessed twenties to the domesticated thirties.

There is nothing as painful as to see those who have brought you up, protected you, helped you stand, picked you up, nurtured you, beginning to tremble themselves. Nothing as deadly as to listen to the feeling of doubt in their voices. To detect the hidden fear and anxiety when they talk. To imagine their unsteady steps. To hear about their obstacle ridden lives.

Health ailments are so frustrating. You can't do anything against nature. There are things that even money can't fix. And we are not talking of common colds, the odd bloated feeling or a little pimple here and there. Failing vision, weakenin…

Whose Queen is it anyway?

One tends to hear a lot of English when one moves around in Bandra, the posh suburb of Mumbai. Especially during the rare occasions when one goes to walk at Carter Road. The mind tends to wander and eavesdrop on others as one walks aimlessly in a straight line.

I would safely say that more than ninety per cent of the conversations one overhears happen in English. All sorts of 'English'. From prim and propah Queen's to BombaiyaSlumdog pidgin to LOL Twitter chirps. In accents which would make Bernard Shaw's Henry Higgins roll his shirt sleeves up in glee.

The accents floating around are fascinating. You have a very American FRIENDS twang which seems most ludicrous on young brown skins to English with heavy Indian regional accents.

The world of politics is a good example of the latter. You recently had Dada and Didi (PranabMukherjee and MamataBanerjee) presenting the National and Railway budgets. Both were pilloried by many, including embarrassed Bengalis, for their heavy B…

My name is immaterial

Pali Hill is considered to be one of the poshest addresses in Mumbai. This is in Bandra. Considered to be the poshest and most expensive suburb in Mumbai. You have all the Khans and Kapoors living here. I suspect that the tax collections from this suburb is amongst the highest in Mumbai.

Yet it took me close to twenty five minutes to drive down from the base of Pali Hill to Bandra P O which is less than a kilometre away on Saturday morning.

Chaotic traffic. Cars tottering like battered prize fighters. Autos whizzing past like mosquitoes. Pedestrians crawling all over except on the footpath. And people dragging handcarts oblivious to all. Not a policeman in sight. What really livened up the madness was the fact that roads had been dug up. There was no advance notice. So you reached your turning and realised that you could no go further as the road was dug up. You had to turn back into the snaking traffic. You would be really lucky if the person opposite you had the sense, patience a…

Bombay to Goa ... Lost in translation

This happened on the drive down North Goa yesterday. We were heading to the airport to catch our flight back to Mumbai. A nice air conditioned Wagon R (Rs 50 more for AC) and a very sweet, young Goan driver. A local Hindu, nicknamed Sam.

I slowly woke up midway and began to stretch after the coconut tree induced snooze. Suddenly Sam spoke out of the blue.

Sam: Sir, where are you from?

Me: Bombay (I normally use the M word on the blog)

Sam: Oh. Er what is happening to the new Shah Rukh Khan film? Will it get released?

(I am used to this. Years back on hearing I am from Mumbai, folks in Bangladesh had asked me when the then new SRK film, KuchKuchHotaHain was going to release!)

Me: Well from the news it seems so.

Sam: The Sena is opposing, no? What is the problem?

Me: Well from what I know they are protesting because he wanted Pakistani players in his IPL team

Sam: So the Pakistanis won't play now

Me: No, I don't think so. Plus they can't hire more players now

Sam: This Shiv Sena makes …

Mumbai Road Rage

It took me close to two hours to drive the twelve odd kilometres from Chinchpokli to Bandra after work at Mumbai this evening. I took to the wheels of my new car for the first time after I returned from a weekend in KL and its regulated traffic and empty roads. I am without a driver again.

My spanking new expensive car with ergonomic seats and super suspension couldn't prevent my back from giving in today after the drive. I was so disoriented when I returned from my drive from hell that I almost put my socks in the garbage bin instead of in the laundry basket. So why am I writing instead of resting my back? I am writing because I am angry. Very angry. And the pain doesn't let me forget my anger.

Angry at the fact that I live in a city where I have to pay the highest road taxes, the highest for fuel, highest for rent and then have to go through this. Roads broken everywhere. Multiple constructions going on in every road of this cursed city. Metro, Monorail, flyovers, concreting, …

Murder .... Drunken driving

There's been one more drunken driving accident at Mumbai. It happened last night. Two people dead. More injured. Not the driver though. Two innocent people. Bystanders. The details of this case are not important. Drunken driven as an act is such a shame. Avoidable and condemnable.

Hearing about the two who died really makes you think about the futility of life. Neither one knew when they woke yesterday that it was going to be there last day on earth. The years of joy, trial and tribulations of life cut to an end due to no fault of theirs.

Drunken driving is one of the most lethal things one can do. I am not pontificating from a pedestal. We all take risks with our lives. One does things that the doctors say are harmful. But drunken driving puts others at risk. Kills people. That is just not on.

Is it that difficult to take a cab back home? Worst comes to worst, if you have your car, and not a driver, then you could even leave your car behind and pick it up the next day.

I know that i…

Musty Majestic Mumbai

I love getting lost in old Mumbai.I was there for a short while today as I had a meeting near Bombay Hospital. Enough to get the heartbeat racing.The art deco of the refurbished Metro cinema. The majestic crumbling facade of Crawford market. Parsi reading rooms. Irani Cafes ... Sassanian Boulangerie and Keyani. Punjab Hotel, Kashmir Hotel and New Bengal Lodge from a time when the Indian federation was being formed. Shops with quaint names and calligraphy from another age. All sitting like Miss Havisham waiting for her Prince Charming.There is a sense of romance in the old city which the ruins, disrepair, dust and grime cannot hide. A beauty which makes you proud of belonging to this city.Long standing plans to come on a Sunday with a camera are remembered. Fresh plans to come to Sassanian Boulangerie for kheema pao are made.And then the cab ride back to spreadsheets, numbers, team motivation and client satisfaction.I hope that the old city doesn't become the foundation for skyscr…

Last Christmas ...dumped on New Year

Gosh, it was just July when I wrote about our driver woes. I had put a comment about a chubby, affable driver who had just joined us. He turned out to be a good find. Drove properly. Often bunked but not to the point of desperation. Polite. Round. We used to refer to him as 'The Great Salami'. Simon Majumdar's moniker for his brother.

Cut to the first morning of this year. We woke up bleary eyed when the bell rang at ten. It seemed as if we had just gone to bed after bringing in the new year. My hair looked like a balding porcupine's as I dragged myself to the door.

I opened it and saw that there was a thin, lanky guy waiting outside. His words finally registered through the haze of the previous night's good cheer. The Great Salami, who took his salary a day in advance, had apparently quit! The thin, lanky guy worked for a neighbour and came to apply for the job. TGS had apparently sent him.

I couldn't think of a worse morning after scenario. I slowly realised tha…