Dusk to Dawn Chennai Night Marathon 2014

If I had told myself last December that I would be running in the second half of 2014 I would have definitely laughed at myself. I don’t remember running ever. Even as a kid. I would never run to field while playing street cricket. So invariably I was made the umpire every time I played.

In fact when I started to run in August I did not aim to run even a 5k. But after the Heritage Run I decided that I could run walk and complete any number of kms. My only worry was ending the race last. Clement Williams a blogger friend had been running with this group called Tower Twisters and one day I decided to go run with them. When I started running with the group I could hardly run. Infact I was the guy everyone left behind when they ran. It felt good to be left behind primarily because I preferred running alone. I wanted to do my own thing. Run at my own pace.

In the mean time I had registered for the 10k at Dusk to Dawn and I just wanted to finish it. So in November I ran in the night to Metallica’s ONE in loop. I did finish that run in 93 mins while acknowledging claps from some people who I had met while running with the tower twisters. I finished the run looking at the skies and when I finished and had the medal around my neck I had to literally hold back my tears It was a feeling I am still trying to comprehend. It was not joy, it was not sadness it was something beyond that. It was like a connection with a higher power.

While theTerry Fox Run had me running for a cause, The Heritage Run got me running for Madras. It was at the Dusk to Dawn that I realized that I need to keep running.

I went to the booth where they were giving out the munchies (pun unintended) and I told the droopy eyed fellow manning that stall that I did not want food but 3 bottles of water. I downed all three and headed home, heated up the food that Nandy had ordered for me and went to sleep. It was a lovely night. No one finished last and I had finished a 10k run with a group of about 7000 people.

But it was not until next morning when I figured out what chaffing was.

Odugalee and the goatee

Yes I let it go. The goatee which I have been sporting for the last 14 years and odd months. It was such an integral part of me. I remember my niece going to sleep on my lap rubbing my goatee as a baby. Lots of memories associated with that small piece of hair on my chin.

During my life in Delhi a goatee friend and me decided to shave off our goatees and our moustaches. But before we did that we wanted to get a picture of us with a BRUSH Moustache (Hitler and Chaplin sported them). So the two of us shaved up and started taking photos on my Zenith Film SLR. I loaded the film and in all the excitement I loaded the film upside down 🙂 so 36 snap minutes, 36 poses and a few days later we paid up for the film to negative development only. Someone at the photo lab realised our error and did not print the copies. But we guys had a pretty good laugh about it.

When I joined work in Delhi I decided to shave my hair regularly and I used to keep my goatee trimmed and all neat. I was nicknamed “GOATEE” by my team mates and some people even thought that was my real name. One girl asked me ” Can I feel your head, goatee?” Well, I could never understand why girls wanted to feel a bald head. I realised recently that I had the supply and it was causing demand. Economics at work.

I removed my goatee in September “Beardember” I call that month now. I removed it because I could hardly maintain it. Also it was extremely irritating to get sweat into the beard while running. Yes, I have been running since August and I think I have partly figured out where I am going.

I don’t shave my head completely these days and well I have lost the goatee too. Should I now say that an era has passed.

A Billion Reasons not to Shop when the sale is on.

For those of you who think that a sale is genuine here is why you never, NEVER, EVER buy during a sale or offer.

What is the motive of a business? To let customers save on bucks. If that is your answer then please think again. Any business is here to make a profit. Ok let’s forget the business for a while. What is the purpose of an individual living in this world? The real reason for an individual living in this world is benefit or profit.

When you were born your parents and family benefited with the cute smiles you gave away. How did you benefit? They cleaned after you and fed you so you could repeat the cute smiles. If you got grumpy your parents were not happy because they did not benefit.

Then you grew up and went to school, the school benefited by the fees you pay them, You benefited by making great friends, learning absolutely nothing and getting whacked by your teachers.

Then you go to college and you benefited by looking and teasing girls and they in turn benefit with all the attention and sometimes they demand that the police give you some extra attention.

Then you get married. Well, this is one point in life where the woman is benefited and the man is at a loss, especially with words. But come, on you were mean to girls before that.

So when an individual life is all about benefit then a business is all about profit. So there is no business out there which will not want you sell at lower profits. No Not even Saravana Stores.

So my dear thondargaley, when some business announces a sale please be aware that the tag prices could be raised and then discounted, the business is trying to push old stock, the place is pushing damaged stock.

By the way all those offers from Pizza places offering Buy one Get one free or some brilliant offer of Garlic bread and pizza and Coke and dessert is probably the company pushing old stock real quick.

CAVEAT EMPTOR… If you actually expected me to give you a billion reasons not to shop during a sale, Well, Stop handling money.

Flipkart naamam Vaazhga, Amazon Naamam Vaazhga, Vaazhga e-Shopping, Valarga Tamilagam, Valarga Tamil Makkal.

Also I love this video clip… simply brilliant!!!

Food Tales – Sam’s Pizza

Decided to get some pizza love this evening. Have been hearing about Sam’s Pizza for a while now so headed right there with Nandy. I don’t have any pictures to post because of this new rule that Nandy and me have implemented. No phone, social media, photographs while eating. Whoever does it first will have to pay for dinner. Have not won even once until now. Hope to soon.

Ordered a plate of Salad from the salad bar. OD’d on the salads. Liked the soya chunky salad, kimchi, carrot and raisin salad.

Ordered the thin crust Hawaiian Pizza 9incher. Toppings were some chunks of pineapple and some chunks of paneer on a Cheese Pizza. The crust was crunchy at the edges and soft on top just the way I like it. Cheese was not up to the mark, too chewy and tasted quite bland. Pizza was way too greasy for my liking.

Service was OK. Water was served in a dirty plastic glass I asked for a replacement and it was done quickly. Had to wait for the salad bar to be refilled. Also the tables and chairs look really worn out from regular use.

They have a wall painting with the nutritional value of pizza. But no mention on what basis.

Bill came to Rs. 670. Will definitely go back for their salad bar. Will give the pizza a miss. For more info please visit : lovecustomwaterbottles.com

TOI vs Deepika Padukone

In a country with a shortage of toilets it is no wonder that Times of India is the highest selling newspaper supposedly. They cover the news, news which fills pages and pages but is hardly of use to anyone. I would have preferred if TOI was called a tabloid. Anyhow that is not what this is all about.

Times of India wrote an article about Deepika Padukone’s Cleavage to which Deepika Padukone responded and to which TOI has responded again.

Dei, stop it both of you. Wasting precious time of so many people. Deepika if TOI thinks your cleavage is news hit them hard where it really matters. Stop attending events which has TOI as sponsors cut TOI out of your life. Also Read The Hindu. They are a much more South Indian paper and they cover sensible news.

And Times of India, shame on you. Why don’t you come up with a gallery of Man Boobs? Feature men with moobs.  Do something worthwhile for your readers and also please read The Hindu.

I dedicate this post to Prabhu Jayachandran he is in love with both Times of India and Deepika Padukone and exactly in that order.

Stop fighting there are enough wars being fought and enough journalists being killed.


Food Tales – Pizza Two (Not The Villa)


Pizza Kaaran is a pizza outlet in Sivakasi which reminded me of Karagattakaran.

This is Part Two of my Pizza Tale. Go read part one HERE

The first time I really tried Italian food at an italia restaurant in Chennai was at Bella Ciao. Nope not the one in Kottivakkam but the one which was on the top floor of Chotabhai Center. A few friends told me that they even served wine on the sly. So there I was looking for Pizzas and finding a ton of other confusing names staring at me from the menu. Pasta, Fusili, Arrabiatta well so many weird sounding names and the worst was how to pronounce them? I prayed to St. John Bosco and his mother Mamma Margaret and they told me to just ask the person taking my order.

So I pointed to the stuff on the menu and asked them about the pizzas. (I was not a fan of the pastas then). So the guy was explaining to me about the Pizzas and he mentioned Jalapeno which he pronounced as “Halapeno” I had to stop and ask him what it was and he described “JALAPEENOS” to me. He figured that he had to teach me to say it like them Italians and he made me repeat Halapeno atleast 10 times before I think I got the first part of it right. I did ask him about the wine but the poor fellow just shook his head and walked away having failed in his attempts to make me pronounce Jalapenos.

The pizza arrived 20 minutes later and it was one of the best pizzas I have ever had. Bottom of the base was crunchy, top of the base was slightly soft and man there were toppings which I really loved Sun-dried tomatoes, olives, bell pepper, Jalapenos and some cheese. Up until that day I had thought that the pizza was about the cheese. But it was that day that I realized that the Pizza is much more. Grain Base, the Pizza sauce, Vegetables/Meat and cheese for that flavour. Since then I have tried not to eat from the Pizza Huts or the Dominos or the Pizza Corners. These places had just one option for the base and it was chewy and they always over did the cheese. Each time I would eat a pizza from the Pizza chains it would look like a cheese flood on top.

This is precisely how cheese should not be overloaded onto a pizza. 

This is precisely how cheese should not be overloaded on a pizza.

Since then I have been to a bunch of Italian places which serve Pizzas and Pastas and I have learnt to cook the pizza and pasta. But my favourite pizza will always be the first one that I really tasted at Bella Ciao. Tuscana and Darios serve good pizzas too. But nothing like your first love, right? Pizzas were like The Godfather to me. My love for Pastas came much later. But nothing to beat the Godfather right?

If you are a pizza lover or a foodie remember to always ask what ingredients go into making your pizza dough. You would be surprised by the number of ingredients you would have to google for.

Which is the best pizza you have tasted? and if you love to make a pizza, will you make one for me? 🙂

Help thy Liver to Help thou

The liver is the largest organ organ in the human body. I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that unless you did not pay attention during biology class in school. The liver works tirelessly to kick out all the toxins from food that we ingest. Yes, there are so many toxins out there and we don’t even know what we are eating these days. Do you know what went into that pizza you gorged on last night? But when the liver can’t handle stuff anymore it gives up on us. We would not be happy if that happened to us.

But what if we did not give up on the liver and somehow cleansed it.

There are so many natural foods which will help us in doing just that. I am not a scientist so I am saying this from personal experience. Here are some.

Garlic does wonders for the liver. Just boil it in water or milk for a while and then chew well before you eat it.

Water flushes out a lot of unwanted stuff from the system. Not just the liver. So stay hydrated.

Turmeric is is a wonder root which not only cleanses the liver but is also a antiseptic and soothes any ulcers you may have in the mouth or stomach.

Greens rush nutrition is a MUST eat and the leaves should form part of everyone’s diet. But the Keela Nellii is the the best for the liver. It flushes all those toxins out.

Food is the best medicine. So starting the Paleo diet is alcohol paleo. You need to listen to your body closely, it tells you what you need to eat. Remember most times you just hear the tongue talking because it is closer to the ear. 🙂

Food Tales – Pizza One

Keep Calm and Eat Pizza

Pizza is wholesome healthy food when done right. It does not mean that you can eat Pizza for every meal.

The first time I had a Pizza was in Cakes’n’Bakes in the late 80’s. My cousins would come visiting from abroad and they would tell me tales of giant frozen pizzas which they would buy and put it in their freezer for weeks together and how each time they felt like a pizza all they had to do was take a slice of pizza from the freezer and put it in the microwave. I would wonder why the folks at home did not eat pizza and why did we always stick to Dosai, Idli, Pongal, Sambar and Chutney. The closest thing I had tasted to a pizza up until that point was the Onion Uthappam and even that was a novelty item which I could order when I went out with my parents to a restaurant.

I don’t remember the pizza from Cakes’n’Bakes but I definitely remember the pizzas we used to eat at McRennett Bakery on Anna Salai. It was these 6 inch affairs which seemed tiny compared to the description of Pizzas I had heard from my cousins. These McRennett pizzas used to sit in their display, the cheese all dried up and crusty and the pizza base near stale. They used tomato ketchup for pizza sauce and some veggies which seemed like they came from the salad leftovers from some restaurant.

Pizza Corner started their first outlet in Chennai sometime in 1996. I had just finished my 12th board exams and had joined Khan’s entrance coaching classes in Nungambakkam. The first reasons why I chose Khan’s classes is immaterial to the post but the second reason was because it was at a walkable distance from Pizza Corner. But I hardly had any money to spend on a Pizza whose prices were in triple digits. But the occasional chance when I could save some money I would somehow get my friends along too (so we could share, not the pizza). I still remember asking a friend if he wanted to join the gang for pizzas and he said “dei, ennaku indha bun, roti ellam set agadhu.” (I don’t like this bun and roti stuff) I was appalled when he uttered those words bun and roti. I used to call him “Panroti” after that. My Pizza Corner visits got a huge lift when they offered unlimited Coke at the price of one. But sadly I could either drink lots of coke or eat lots of pizzas but never both together. Tricksters those fellows were preying on young people like me. 🙂

Then the biggies finally set shop in good old Madras. Dominos, Pizza Hut and now in the recent years Papa John’s and California Pizza Kitchen. There were also some local ones which I preferred for the price and also for their taste. I think it was Chef Express who ran an ad in local papers saying that their Pizzas would be home-delivered on a bicycle there was something about them being eco-friendly and stuff. There was our very own Pizza Republic which tasted good to my Indian Tongue. Every other Pizza joint was hell bent on reducing the consumption of rice based food in Chennai. Buy one Get one Free offers or the no cook Wednesday and No Cook Friday offers that Pizza hut keeps bombarding my phone with:) But I will tell you what never NEVER screw around with rice in this part of the country. A few months back Pizza Hut introduced Birizza which is nothing but Biriyani stuffed inside a crust, wonder what those guys were upto when they came up with that one. Each pizza joint wants to give a twist to the humble pizza. Now each time I go to an italian place I have finally figured out that Pizzas in India are as good as the Dosas in Italy. To be continued… Read more on RetroKjokken.com.

Chennapatnam to Madras to Chennai

Usually there is this 2nd Part Jinx theory. But that sure does not apply to the CBC Tablog-2. Running successfully in blogs near you.

I was born in Madras and now live in Chennai. As time goes on who knows what else it would change into. But what’s in a name? The city has changed with the times but Madras is unbreakable. Madras has been ruled by so many countries but it was during the British rule that the Madras Presidency covered part of present day Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. No wonder the North Indians still call people from the south as Madarasis. While I was in Delhi I tried to educate the northerners that all South Indians are not Madarasis and that the language that we speak is not Madarasi. Futile efforts.

There is hardly anything I want to change about the city, well expect maybe the drainage and the garbage collection and disposal system. But what I would really like to change is the attitude that people have about Chennai. Madras is what you think it is and it is much more and as a friend used to say you can expect to see a person praying at the temple in the morning and he could be seen later in the evening at Shastri Nagar Sharks Bar with a mug of beer chilling out with friends listening to Heavy Metal Music. So anyone who wants to experience Chennai all that they need to do is be Open Minded. Madras is a relatively young city compared to the other metros. But there is so much happening here that people need to change their opinions about the city. The city has always been about change. Well any great city is about change.

And as Rocky says “If I can change and You can change, then everybody can change.” Embrace Chennai!

Dedicated to the city of Madras

Next Up is Dr. Jennifer Divia Clement who blogs at Princess of God and also at Dr. JC’s Classroom The zoology blog has some interesting stuff and I hope to read more blogposts from her especially on the Zoology blog..

Independance Day 2014 speech by Shri Narendra Modi

Modi is a great speaker and for the first time I listened to him speak and such a great speech. Stuff like this must be listened to every time one doubts the self and the nation.

1. Say no to violence
2. Teach responsibility and accountability to sons
3. Build toilets in every school for boys and girls.
4. Clean India
5. Bank accounts to every person in the country.
6. Create model villages. Model villages will make a model country.

And for the manufacturing sector

1. India is not isolated from the world so let’s think the world.
2. Zero Defects – in the goods and Zero effects – no negative effect to the environment
3. Manufacture Goods which we can proudly say “Made in India”

The strength of the saviour is greater than the strength of the destructor.

And all these points and more were made not by the Pradhan Mantri but by the Pradhan Sevak Shri Narendra Modi.At one point during the speech he mentioned how standing on the lofty ramparts of Red Fort he can say a lot of things and then he added that if the people work for 14 hours he will work for 15 hours.

A motivating speech and if the crores of people can take one step forward then the entire nation would have taken a step forward.

First time I heard a Prime Minister call out Bharat Mata ki Jai and Vande Matram in addition to Jai Hind for .

Vande Matram!
Bharat Mata ki Jai

Jai Hind!

Food Tales – From The Past

Food tales is a chronicle of my experiences with food. I love what I eat but do I write about food with equal passion. These tales are an attempt to explore that and of course share my love for food.

I am a proud product of Don Bosco, Egmore. I spent 14 years of my life studying there and recently at DB Converge our alumni meet I had a chance to interact with a few of my teachers. I realized that the only people other than your parents who still get to hit you hard (even if you are old and have a huge belly to prove that you are old) are your teachers. Teachers definitely hold a much higher position than the Gods. So Mrs. Sarojini Govindan who was my Hindi teacher in primary school saw me and recognized me in a split second (even though I have lost all my hair and grown a huge paunch) and whacks me on my shoulder and says “You don’t have what you should have and have something you definitely should not have, lose your paunch Aravind.” That was indeed an eye opener for me.

I still remember amma asking me to study but I simply hated school work though I loved reading everything other than my school books. At one point my mother even locked me up in my grandfathers office room asking me to study a few chapters and when she opened the door a few hours later I was found reading the telephone directory. So amma figured that the best way to get me to study was not to use the stick but to use the carrot. I was not a bunny to go eat carrots so what did I love the most?

We simply called it “Urundai” at home. It was besan (Chickpea flour) mixed with powdered sugar and ghee and formed into the shape of a ladoo. Sometimes cashewnuts roasted in ghee would also be added.

So the deal amma made with me was, I had to finish a chapter then she would ask me questions and if I answered it to her satisfaction I got one Urundai. I would finish chapters which I didn’t have to so I could get lots of bonus urundais. So things were fine at home because of the urundais. Back in school it did not look too good. My teachers would keep complaining to my mom that I was a brilliant student but my lack of effort made my brilliance very dull. My teachers would not give me urundais when I did well in class.

So life went on with me studying well at home in the company of Urundais but only scrapping through in exams. My maternal grandfather would keep telling me that I should not have exam fear. Little did he know about my love for Urundais.

And then in 1991 Narasimha Rao became the prime Minister of India. He along with Finance Minister Manmohan Singh opened up the Indian Economy and in came food pouring in. Food that earlier could only be brought in select stores in Madras or you had to ask people who went abroad on trips.

Recipe for Urundai

1200 gms – Chickpea flour
200 gms – Powdered Sugar
200 gms – Hot Ghee

Mix the chickpea flour and powdered sugar with the hot ghee and mix well.
Make them into the shape of ladoos. I am sure you will get a lot of urundais with so much kadalai maavu.

Simple recipe, right.

We now do a healthy version of the Urundai. No Ghee, No Sugar and no Kadalai Maavu (Chickpea flour). But I will keep that for another post.

The Leh Trip – 5 years From The Past

It has been 5 years since a group of friends decided to go on a trip to Leh, Ladakh. It was a high that has been pretty much un-beatable since literally we travelled the highest roads in India. This trip happened much before the bollywood movie 3 Idiots. So not too many Indians. Actually it felt like I was in some foreign country. Leh was flooded with foreigners. We had a chance to taste food from different countries. Of course we were there for a different purpose. Capture the beauty of the region.

Like my friend Joel aptly said “Even a blind man can take beautiful photos of Leh.” Beauty is all around you. If you get a good home-stay from removals eastbourne then you get the additional experience of living the Leh life and also drink endless butter teas. We stayed at the Sia La family at their guesthouse. Lovely family. Great place to stay and walking distance to the Bazzar.

I wish I could do this trip again sometime soon. Only regret I had was we could not spend enough time in Pangong Tso and Nubra Valley. But we visited so many monasteries and the plates of momo’s and bowls of thukpa that I consumed were innumerable.

This trip was one that I cannot forget. Cheers to my friends Adele, Erina and Joel. It has been 5 years guys. Let’s go on our next adventure soon. 🙂