Saturday, December 18, 2010

If not movies, what could the world use to connect Spain and maybe Mauritius?

   The most beautiful things in life are inexplicably simple. They remain the most basic to human existence, which is why even in today’s times of celestial changeovers, love stories still work. In a pounding tone of a testament, arrived early this year, one such movie that will stay for a very long time to come in the hearts of movie lovers. By the middle of a snowing December, as I watched ‘Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya’ again in remembrance of the best movie experiences of the year, I realized, I almost let the year pass by without making a memoir of the ones that were so heartily endearing this year.

2010, of course, saw some dynamic flashes of – as they say - contemporary cinema. From the gigantic Avatar to the simple and brave Udaan to the heart touchingly simple and real ‘Angaadi Theru’ to Toy Story to the most recent masterpiece, Social Network, 2010 undeniably did its share of filling our ever evolving quest to experience good cinema. I am sure there were other great ones that I missed. So I won’t rate them in any potential order, not even in order of my personal preference. They all belonged to different kinds. But I guess what I am trying to say here is that, of the entire lot, Vinnaithaandi varuvaaya, to me, seems the simplest, the oldest, the most impactful.

It’s amazing the kind of effect this outrageously clich├ęd subject of the Goddamned love can have, again and again and again and yet again on people. I mean, who else other than us, Indians would know better how many million times have they tried to show in million bizarre ways, what love was!? But, it still works. Amazingly. In a strange, illogical, beautiful way. I couldn’t help but smile in contented agreement, after watching this movie, that, even by the turn of the first decade of the 21st century, there’s nothing more that fills our heart than some good, old fashioned love. It’s probably corny but hell, it’s true.

This is in tribute to one such good work of cinema. In a way, it’s nice to wrap this year up on a note of love – it may not be the best movie of all time but it’s certainly going to be a beloved. The way the love happens in the movie, the way it does not after a point in time, the music and the perfect little ending where they let the love be what it was and move on to life is perhaps the story of every other someone you will find by the curb of the street.

Because we’ve all been in love or will be or are hoping to be and would still hate it and love it at the same time for a thousand beautiful reasons.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Madurai - there's a lot more to it

                  Today, while the evening is sinking under an outrageous temperature of -4 degree Celsius, and I have nothing but a dead old plate of lettuce to consider for dinner, I am dreaming about one of the most heartwarming feasts I have ever – I’m sure – had.

It was sometime by the wry end of an Indian summer when we were on a road trip by the lustrous looking, newly smartened up NH7. If you had been driving long over the same road during the pre-makeover days, you will know what I am talking about. The new NH7 is a driver’s perfect Indian dream. So, anyways, after what seemed like a glide of a ride from Nagercoil to Madurai, we hunted around – late in the night - utterly famished – but still unwaveringly unanimous (all of us and that was quite rare) - for this little, old place that – stories said – was a rare treasure to a food lover’s soul. we did arrive at this dreadfully rusty looking, almost invisible (no boards, no flashing lights!) rugged building that stood on not more than 500 sq feet of ground in its entirety which included the family room, of course - the only one, about 5 * 5 (I’m serious), in size, which by a hair's breadth could seat about six hungry people.

We looked around and beamed in pride - We were at the unbelievably popular(for the what it looked like) ‘Konar Mess’.

With the infamous stories we had been religiously collecting about the restaurant, we were not surprised. Not even when we saw a string of dimly lit wagons along the whole street outside Konar Mess, in which, we later heard, the big wigs of the Madurai circle (dons/dhadhas included) dined. Uh –uh! I think we were far too starving for any surprises.

When the table was, at last filled with what we had been craving to see, in sheer glee, we let our tongues drop flat onto our plates. And then followed an evening of a south Indian delight of meat!

          My favorite was the Kari dosai – a kind of ghee-roasted dosai with fried, spicy, minced mutton filling – the most popular pick of the menu. To soften the crispness, Kari dosais are traditionally accompanied by a small bowl of mutton gravy – simple and authentic. As we began nibbling those pieces of wonder down, we let a gush of pride roll over in honor of the experience.

So then I dived into what was considered yet another sin-not-to-have by the Konar-mess-lovers-club. So next appeared on the table, a plate of steamed idiyappam with the accompaniment of a bowl of Mutton Chukka (Mutton Chukka varuval to call it, in native fondness) that rather smelt like a tangible mesh of the best assortment of south Indian spices.

It looked dark, rough, kinda jagged but tender to touch. It was not the typical chukka I had believed I was a fan of. There was definitely a secret ingredient, I could just smell it.
I didn’t ask; didn’t feel up to it. But ever since, I almost gave up ordering chukka elsewhere.

Ohh! And - Of all the bites of intoxications we blissfully indulged in, that night, Mutton Kheema (I can’t precisely remember more details of what I ate this with) deserves a pat on the back too. It wasn’t my order and by the time I wanted to, they ran out of it.

            That’s one grave misfortune Konar mess can mercilessly inflict upon you. You need to be quick enough to let the orders move in to your table. They vanish from the pantry at the blink of an eye and you do not want to go through the depression of watching the last plate land up on your neighbor’s table.

As a traveler that cannot just hop onto Madurai every other day, trust me, that, can be pretty heartbreaking!