Thursday, April 26, 2007

Leaving on a Jet Plane

But, Im leavin' on a jet plane
Don't know when I'll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go
~John Denver

Well, I do know when I'll be back...see you Tuesday or Wednesday. Take care everyone!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

PROVOKED (the movie)

Jag Mundhra

Cast: Aishwarya Rai,
Miranda Richardson, Naveen Andrews,
Nandita Das, Robbie

Release: April 2007

In 1989, Kiranjit Ahluwalia housewife of Indian(Punjabi) descent living in London, set fire to her husband, Deepak, as he lay in a drunken stupor in the bedroom of their house in Southall, London. Kiranjit admitted to killing him in self-defence (she was afraid for her life after he came close to killing her several times in their abusive 10-year marriage). She was sentenced to a life in prison because the judge ruled that self-defence could not be used in her case as her last physical beating from her husband occured more than two hours before the killing signifying that the murder was premeditated and not in self-defence....

The rest of the review is on my Anthropologist Wannabe blog.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Restaurant Tag and "On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

Category: Fiction

Format: Hardcover, 176 pages

Publisher: Knopf Canada

The year is 1962, the place, England. Florence is a prim and proper young lady, a violinist from an affluent family who loves Edward, a history graduate from an ordinary background, and is looking forward to marrying him and spending a lifetime together, but there is one small problem...Florence is repulsed at the thought of consumating the marriage!

I'm surprised she didn't think to talk this over with Edward before the wedding, but then again, this was 1962, before the sexual revolution of the '60's and I am sure it wasn't easy for people to discuss these issues then. ALso, she naively believed that loving your partner should be enough to make the marriage work. Edward, not having had too much experience himself had noticed her reticence the few times he tried to touch her, but mistook it for shyness. So they marry and needless to say their honeymoon (on Chesil Beach in Dorset, after which the book was named) was a bit of a disaster.

As I read Ian McEwan's thirteenth book, "On Chesil Beach", I had to wonder what Florence would have done differently today. Is a lack of sexual desire or even a repulsion of the act easy to talk to about now that we're in the 21st century? Are you considered less of a woman if you cannot bring yourself to have intercourse?

"On Chesil Beach" is an intimate look at a couple's marriage..their expectations, their fears and their frustrations with flashbacks to the time they met and were dating...these flashbacks (which I won't go into here) help explain their complex relationship.

Truthfully, I don't know if I liked this nouvella (it is only 176 pages). I think the writing was just a tad too perfect and exacting (every word in its correct place and not an extra, unecessary word) for my taste. The characters, too, were a little too naive, a little too believing, which made them boring. Also, the source of Florence's disgust is never spelled out.

I think this might have made a good short story...although it is a nouvella (176pages) it has the rare distinction of feeling too long and too short at the same time. Boring might be a good word to describe this book but feel free to disagree with me.

Restaurant Tag:

I was tagged by the lovely ml of
Zee's Space to do this restaurant meme, so here goes.

The rules:
1. Add a direct link to your post below the name of the person who tagged you. Include the state and country you’re in.

Nicole Tan (Sydney, Australia) Also, originator of the tag, thanks, Nicole!
velverse (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
LB (San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy)
Selba (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Olivia (London, England)
ML (Utah, USA)
Lotus (Toronto, Canada)

2. List out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location.

3. Tag 5 other people (preferably from other countries/states) and let them know they’ve been tagged

Chez Cora:

I would like to start with one the childrens' favorite places to eat. Chez Cora is a brunch place with many branches all over Toronto and the GTA. We go there early enough for breakfast and devour their delectable French crepes. My favorite crepe is the one featured here, the "April '89" because it's packed with seasonal fruit in a yummy custard sauce ( I tell them to leave out the chocolate spread) and I usually choose to have it in a gauze- thin buckwheat crepe. The kids love their banana and hazelnut spread crepe, which I will admit is yummy, but terribly sinful!

Lahore Tikka House:

As the name suggests, this is the place to go for Pakistani cuisine. It is located on Gerrard Street, or the hood as we fondly refer to it. I am partial to this inexpensive restaurant not only because of its melt-in-the-mouth kebabs and its delicious, fragrant biriyani, but also because my dad was born in Lahore and every time I tuck in to one of the delicious butter naans, my thoughts go my him and my grandmother in whose house I ate my first teaspoonful of butter chicken with naan. If you ever chance to visit this place, don't forget to order some Lahori Kulfi (kulfi is Indian icecream and the house special has malai (cream) and badam (almonds). I have to put out a grease alert on this particular restaurant because many of their dishes come swimming in oil.

Rose Garden Tea House:

This is the tea house at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario. To be able to sit out on a patio right in the middle of some of the prettiest and most fragrant rose bushes in North America being served "propah" Earl Grey English tea, crustless cucumber sandwiches, hot scones with homemade jam and Devon cream and Victorian jam cake is a little slice of heaven right there. I love "High Tea" and never miss the opportunity to bring friends to the Rose Garden Tea House. If you visit me, I promise to take you there! :)


The Boujadi restaurant located in the Jewish quarter of Toronto is a MUST try if you enjoy Moroccan food. Heady smells of fruit, cinnamon and mint greet us as we enter the restaurant and soon I am attacked by a hunger so fierce that I'm literally gnawing on my hand till the chicken medina tagine arrives with the kafta couscous. "Medina" refers to the thick spicy onion/tomato sauce imbibed with saffron and coriander. All the crockery and cutlery used here are traditional Morroccan pieces which add to the dining experience. The Mint tea is to die for!

Asian Wok 'n' Roll:

is another family favorite because it serves delectable Hakka Chinese cuisine with a decidely Indian touch. Hakka cuisine is favored by most connossieurs of spicy food because it bursts with pungent flavors and some kickass garlic-chilli spice. Our favorite dish to eat there is the tangra Masala chicken, a lovely fusion of Chinese and Indian spices, and don't forget the aromatic ginger fish, it will leave you wanting more.

In turn, I would love to tag (in alphabetical order):

Bybee of Naked Without Books: Seoul, South Korea

Milan of Zzz's Creative Mess: Serbia

Radha of Petty-Change: Dubai, UAE

Tanabata of In Spring it is the Dawn: Saitama, Japan

Yianna of Karma Canyon: Athens, Greece

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Let's Make : Chicken Vindaloo

According to Lizzie Collingham in her book "Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors", the British discovered vindaloo in 1797 when they invaded Goa. By then the British, Dutch, and the French had joined the Portuguese in India and were jostling for control of the lucrative spice trade. During their 17-year long occupation of Portuguese India, the British discovered the delights of Goan cookery. They were relieved to find that the Goan (Catholic) cooks were free from the irritating caste or religious restrictions that prevented Hindus and Muslims from cooking beef and pork and, when the British left in 1813, they took their Goan cooks with them. In this way Vindaloo made its way to British India and from there back to 68

Vindaloo is normally regarded as an Indian curry, but in fact it is a Goan adaptation of the Portuguese dish "carne de vinbo e albos" or meat cooked in vinegar and garlic. The name vindaloo is simply a garbled pronunciation of vinho e albos.

Vindaloo is traditionally made with pork but the British liked it best with duck; I prefer it with chicken, so the recipe I am going to share is one modified for chicken and taken from Bridget White Kumar's, "Flavours of the Past : The Very Best of Classic Colonial Cuisine" which I bought from the author on my last visit to Bangalore. I made this for lunch and the family loved it, I hope you do, too.

Chicken Vindaloo

1 kg Chicken cut into medium pieces

3 big tomatoes pureed

2 big onions chopped

3 medium potatoes peeled and cut into quarters

1 tsp mustard powder

3 tsps chilly powder ( or 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder and 2 tsps paprika)

2 tsps cumin powder

1 tsp pepper (powdered)

1 tbsp garlic paste

1/2 cup vinegar (malt vinegar preferrable)

1/2 tsp haldi or turmeric powder

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the onions until golden-brown. Add the garlic paste and fry well. Add the chilly powder, turmeric, cumin, mustard powder, pepper and a little water and fry well till the oil separates from the masala. Add the tomato puree and salt and fry some more. Now add the chicken, potatoes and vinegar and mix well. Add more water depending on how much gravy is required and cook till chicken and potatoes are done.

If you enjoy this, I will share more recipes and extracts from both, Collingham and Kumar White's books.

For an excellent review of "Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors" by Lizzie Collingham, please check out Niranjana's review at ECLECTICA

p.s. I hadn't planned on this post so I didn't take a picture of the chicken vindaloo made in my kitchen, so I borrowed one of mercuryvapour's pictures from flickr. Hope he doesn't mind.

Monday, April 09, 2007

BBC Radio 3:World Music Awards and "Tropical Fish: Tales From Entebbe" by Doreen Baingana

BBC Radio 3 announced the winners of their World Music Awards recently and to my great joy, K'Naan, orginally from Somalia but living in Canada now, was chosen at the "Best New Comer".

Debashish Bhattacharya from India won the Asia/Pacific album of the year..Debashish, the inventor of the 22 string Indian slide guitar is so deserving of this award...take a listen to one of his tunes, you will be mesmerized with his playing.

Camille, the young French singer, walked away with the award for Europe and I couldn't be happier! She's got a lovely,quirky singing voice and loves singing acapella at her live've got to take a quick listen to the song she won the award for, "Ta Douleur"

Camille - Ta Douleur
Uploaded by reumtalaveusho

And here's another Camille favorite of mine, "Au Port"... click on the title of the song for the video.

As you can tell, I love listening to "World Music" so if you have any recommendations, do send them my way, please!

And, now on to the Book of the Week:

Tropical Fish by Doreen Baingana

Written by: Doreen Baingana

Category: Fiction

Publisher: Harlem Moon

Format: Trade Paperback, 208 pages

Pub Date: September 2006

Tropical Fish details the coming of age of three sisters in Entebbe, Uganda after the fall of dictator Idi Amin. As we read about the sisters Christine, Patti and Rosa, we the readers, are commanded by Doreen Baingana's wonderful prose to consider how politics, faith, culture and the new AIDS epidemic impacted the lives of these three young ladies as they journeyed into adulthood.

Although all 8 stories are gems, there are three that stood out for me:

In "A Thank-You Note" Baigana uses a letter written by Rosa (the eldest of the three sisters) to her lover to tell us of the AIDS crisis in Africa. By having Rosa (who is now dying from AIDS) write the letter, Baingana does a terrific job of humanizing and personalizing this tragedy. The reader comes away from the story feeling angry that AIDS is such a big price to pay for a little adolescent promiscuity. The descriptions of dying from this dastardly disease are vivid and will stay in the reader's mind for a while to come.

(** I was reading a British volunteer's Ugandan Diary and she states that despite the raging AIDS epidemic in Uganda, it is very difficult to provide sex education in schools because workers or teachers are not allowed to discuss homosexuality or masturbation. Masturbation could possibly prevent a lot of teenagers from running out and having sex, but because a discussion of it is not encouraged, sexual promiscuity is rampant. You can read more of Lizs Diary here)

"Green Stones" is a beautiful story about a child (Christina), who believes with child-like innocence and optimism that because her father buys her mother jewels, he must love her mother very much...unfortunately her notions dispelled with the revelation of infedility and alcoholism. Passages where Christina dresses up in her mother's jewels and pretends to be her are very moving and will probably take you back to the time when you played dress-up. The author has done a great job of capturing the voice of a 7-year old in this story.

"Tropical Fish" deals with interracial Christine gets a much older American boyfriend, Peter, who is an exporter of tropical fish. It is plain Christine doesn't love this man, but she goes along with the "romance" trying, in her own way, to figure out her place in society as a woman, and a black woman at that. With Peter, she has glimpses of a lifestyle her middle class African upbringing would never have been able to afford see further glimpses of Christine trying to eke out her place in the world when she immigrates to the US and has to come to terms with being an African woman in a sea of Americans. In the final story, Christine returns to Uganda after 15 long years and tries once again to see where she fits in as an American-returned, African lady.

What is striking about all of these stories is that with the exception of the one story on AIDS, they do not focus on tragedy, poverty, war, famine, corruption and all the other things we have come to assoicate with Africa. Doreen Baingana wants us to see that there is another Africa that exists, one that the media won't allow us to see and in writing these stories she hopes to give alternatives to the media's negative narrative on the continent.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida

# Hardcover: 240 pages

# Publisher: Ecco (January 2, 2007)

# Language: English

Vendela Vida's last book "And Now You Can Go", didn't have all that much to write home about, but the writing was so quirky and clever, the characters so unusual and unique that I made a mental to note to hunt down her next book just to treat myself to more Vendila Vida, and I am glad I did!!!

"Let The Northern Lights Erase your Name" borrows its title from a Sami poem, by Mary Ailonieda and it, together with the cover art, effectively captures both the setting as well as the theme of the novel. Most of the book takes place in Lapland, the place where Norway, Finland and Sweden come together aboove the Arctic circle and is the abode of the Sami or indigenous population of Northern Scandanavia. I was excited that Vida chose to set this book in Lapland, because this fabled home of Santa Claus and his reindeer, is an irresitable draw.

THis is a hard book to write a review for because, like with any mystery novel, giving even a little away might be too a nut shell, Clarissa, the protagonist of the novel, was abandoned by her mother in a shopping mall when she was 14, in an excruciating painful way...the two were out Christmas shopping together and when suddenly her mother disappared, leaving a goodbye message with a store clerk (“She said to tell you she got tired of waiting”) leaving Clarissa and her brother who suffers from "Down's Syndrome" to be brought up by the father.

Upon her father's death, Clarissa accidently learns that he wasn't her real father , which takes her on a journey to Lapland in the hope of uncovering her identity, instead, she learns of several more secrets, deceptions and lies...

This book is filled with characters you are going to despise and yet, you are going to want to read more about them...the atmospheric descriptions of Lapland and the Sami people with their reindeer herd, their JOeks ( a personal song that sounds like a yodel) are beautiful and enlightening. I was particularly excited to be given a ringside view of the Ice Hotel...spending a couple of nights at the ice hotel has always been on my list of "must-experience" and after reading about it here I know it has to be done sooner than later! Just make sure you bundle up well and grab yourself a mug of hot chocolate before reading the book because her descriptions of the cold and snow are so vivid, you almost feel the cold artic air as you read.

While secrets and lies are the pervading themes of this book...the author also addresses issues of abandonment, one's quest for one's identity, mothers and daughters, reinventing oneself, communication, or rather the lack of it... this book is a multi-dimensional one and will present a lot of questions as you read, but the good news is that it will answer all of the questions it presents.

If you're looking for something quick and something a little different, give this book a try, you might be happy you did.