Coffee:Deconstructed

May 18, 2010 13 comments


ACHTUNG! I am an engineering student, and I am in examination mode right now. So pardon me readers for sounding like an examination sheet in this post.

WHO THIS POST IS FOR?

This post is for all you coffee enthusiasts, budding coffee enthusiasts or people who go simply dumb upon seeing a menu card at a coffee shop(which you go to because of peer pressure and because its cool nowadays to hang out there), or those who simply did not understand why they puked out when they had that teeny-tiny glass of espresso the last time they were at Costa Coffee, or why after an uncultured sip of Cappuccino or Breve you looked like a pretty messed up version of Chacha Chaudhary. Why your girlfriend usually ends up ordering the Latte or the Mocha. This post is also dedicated to some people who call themselves coffee freaks, and end up ordering an Americano each time they go to a coffee shop(one of you is alright, the other one is a damn right poser :p)

WHAT DOES THIS TELL YOU?

The above figure tells you how 6 types of coffee drinks are made. This tells you about the intensity of the drink. If it contains loads of milk, cream and chocolate, it is bound to be on the lighter side. A shot of espresso for the untrained could be a disaster recipe.

APPLICATIONS OF KNOWING THIS

Take that girl you’ve been eying the past week out on a date, and impress her with your newly acquired uber cool knowledge. Also to save on a lot of money, by not ordering the wrong drink and ending up throwing it away. Perhaps the most important reason being, you know what you are drinking! A Barista-Lavazza menu card will not seem like a future Space Shuttle Launch Dossier prepared by NASA for Dr. George Fitzgerald Smoot III. Plus now you also know, Americano is not how Mexicans refer to the people from up north, it is a type of coffee.

NOW WHAT?

The next time you see a coffee shop, don’t simply give it a miss, try going in, you’ll enjoy the experience. You’ll meet new people, have a good time, and enjoy something that you’ve been missing altogether. And for coffee freaks, you cannot resist smelling a freshly brewed delight, can you? Well I can’t, I am off to get myself one!

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The Indian Fan

A bright sunny afternoon in North London, thousands making their way to Holloway after getting down at the Arsenal tube station. An assortment of School Kids, Undergrads, Government employees, corporate honchos, housewives, dressed in red and white making their way to the Emirates Stadium. On their way they cross a set of fans dressed in all white, smiles turn into smirks, tempers start flaring, veins that were never there are now visible, the two sets of football fans automatically arrange into neat rows, facing each other, mano-e-mano. With frowns on their faces, and their clubs crests in their heart minds and souls, begins a confrontation. Words are exchanged, expletives being thrown in the air, fans of Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur start the match about two hours before kickoff. No matter where their club finishes, this is one game the Spurs do not like to lose. Not just because it gives bragging rights to the Gooners, who may be their colleagues, neighbours, or in some extreme cases even immediate family members, but it hurts, and is recalled for the rest of their life as a painful indelible memory. This is a typical derby day in English Football, and with over 200 professional football clubs in the country, chances are that more than one derby encounter must be taking place somewhere every weekend. And its not just about the derbies. Fight for the top, the Champions League place, or even to escape relegation, a previous encounter ticking off the fans, or maybe even seeing the young star who used to play at your club play for your rivals who pay him about £5000 more than your club, spur on fans to take their throats to the limits. The much famed chants like ‘You will never Walk Alone’ from Liverpool FC, ‘Glory Glory Man Utd’ or the Gooners’ own ‘Its Arsenal’ act as the 12th man on the pitch for their respective teams. Ashley Cole being laughed off as Cashley at the Emirates, being greeted with jeers and a loud boo sound at his first touch of the ball at his first visit to Arsenal after signing up for Chelsea, and showered with fake £10 pound notes from the Bank of Russia, as a pun on Roman Abrahmovich, Chelsea’s new owner and shouts of ‘you do Cheryl Greedy’ could be heard quite distinctly over the live broadcast of the game in India, where about a score of people dressed in Red or Blue watched the game at a pub in Delhi. No chants, no scarfs, no fights, just the plain old applause and whistling, back seat driver like advice to the manager and amateur comments on who is playing well and who is not. Switch over to cricket, and all you hear is noise. The crowd may have grown to 100, 200 if you count the people standing outside in Natraj like poses, just to get a glimpse of the newly introduced concept of score bar at the bottom of the screen, but all they do is make noise. No chanting, No songs sung in the praise of the Indian Cricket Team, or any of its members, or even chorus clapping. The stadiums fare only a tad better. The crowd tires after doing 3 rounds of the Sachin chant, 5 at max. About 10% of the crowd is dressed in the official jersey, you do not see a sea blue conjuring up at Ferozeshah Kotla every time India plays there, or for that matter, the 90,000 strong crowd at the Eden Gardens do not chant in unison to give the Australian fielders fielding at third man, fine leg and Long on. There is no drum beating at the Wankhede Stadium or for that matter claxons at Chinnaswamy or Chidambaram, no Mexican wave at the Barabati, no 100’x100’ Indian flags at the Green Park. The power of passion that is in Indian Cricket fans fails to translate as a collective sound to make the opposition players nervous. I cannot recall one instance when the crowd at an Indian Cricket stadium collectively booed or jeered at an opposition player. Despite Ricky Ponting being a publically hated figure in India, even he was given a miss when it came to being booed. You see fans showing their passion all over the world. Be it the Americans with their customized version of most sports, the Australians with their mocking styled cheering, the South Americans and the Italians with their flares, the Spanish and the Portuguese with their giant flags do more than just play with a player’s psyche. The Dutch know only one colour to where to sports stadiums-Orange, even the classiest of Brits when it comes to supporting the English National football or Rugby team. It makes a difference. The players being supported feel good about themselves, bringing out the best in them, their passion for the game shows, and they get a high, whereas the opposition who bears the brunt of the fans, plays much below par, and there are bouts with nervousness, fear of failure, being taunted and anxiety. This is not just limited to football or basketball. Even cricket fans abroad are used to such things. The famed Barmy Army of England sing for their team with a beer in their hand, dress up as Sylvester, Pink Panther, Snagglepuss on the third day of a Lord’s Test and have fun, they even travel abroad together to watch a test match. The Australian crowd knows how to get to an opposition player. I remember when the Sydney crowd getting the best of Ishant Sharma. The tall speedster who was just getting used to play for India at the test level, was at the receiving end of the jeering of the New South Wales bred crowd. The anxious bowler had ran thrice till the popping crease without delivering the ball, had to return and restart his run-up. And what happen when an opposition bowler is making his debut in India? Nothing, he enjoys the learning experience and probably returns home with the story of Sachin Tendulkar being his first ever scalp! India first of all does not have a pub culture, that is where fan clubs foster. Viewers collected in Cardiff in a pub to watch a live darts game would probably make more of a difference than an Indian Crowd at Andheri or Salt Lake. There needs to be a culture of fan clubs in India. A small a thing as Arsenal FC has over 100 clubs registered with it from across the globe. Imagine such a thing happening for the Indian cricket team from within India, there would be more than double that amount. Fans meeting up every Sunday, at a Coffee Shop to discuss the progress of the Indian Cricket Team, and coming up with chants for the upcoming match in their town. Secondly there are not enough people seen wearing the Indian jersey. There would me more people vouching for an EPL team in India, or having the jersey of an IPL team, but when it comes to the Indian national cricket team, they are not there, even after being changed from the weird sky blue colour to a much hotter shade of blue. People are mocked on the streets for wearing it, I fail to understand why. I do not in anyway wish that Indian fans turn into hooliganism ala the South American or Turkish Football fans, or recreate the racism incidents seen at Mumbai a few years back. This is just a call to the Indian fans, an announcement, we have the passion, we have the power, now we can live the dream, the dream we all had at one point of time, of playing for the Indian Cricket team. We can do it now, as its 12th member and making a difference.

Categories: India, Sport Tags: , , , ,

3 Idiots

Saw the movie last Thursday, with my preferred choice o3 Idiotsf company, after it was difficult to tolerate lines and jokes from the movie, and jaw dropping reactions when I told people that I hadn’t seen the movie. What I had expected while going to the movie that it would not live up to its hype of being a revolutionary movie, especially for engineering students, and wouldn’t even pass half a laugh at Chatur’s speech(had already heard of it, after constant mentions of it in the hostel, and updates related to people joining a Facebook group related to it which kept up popping on my FB homepage. But it wasn’t to be so, turned out to be a wonderful entertainer. Hats off to Raj Kumar Hirani and Aamir Khan’s brilliance. Not to forget R. Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Omi and Boman Irani’s incredible sense of comic timing. It was unrealistic at parts, like the scenes where Aamir delivers a baby at ICE’s boys hostel’s common room and Sharman’s interview.
But what I felt that it had projected the higher education system of India in a very false light. Never are you going to seen a lisping nut-head leading the premier engineering institute of India with trousers reaching the heights of his chest and carry out every menial thing like taking a nap or shaving with precision and punctuality. What I fear might happen as a result of this movie is that people might not appreciate the power of hard work. There are going to be blames on the Indian Education System and the inefficiency of rote learning rather than appreciating the quality of academic brilliance. IITians will be seen as slaves of the corporate Industry in the US, with acquiring a Lamborghini and a Malibu Villa their only ambition, or maybe the Sunset Boulevard. If one is not a Phunsuk Wangdu, he may be inspired to just loose his interest in the classroom, and start building dreams of becoming a wildlife photographer. Not to forget that a wildlife photographs require immense knowledge about the subject and hardwork, but the whole point may be missed.
So keep in mind that the only message that it intended to carry was to identify your skills and passions, and live them, rather than doing something that you are not good at, and trying to make a career out of it.

Categories: Movies Tags: ,

Lucknow

After only just getting into the Ganga Gomti Express at the Allahabad Station, the journey was quite peaceful. Yeah, it was. Thoroughly enjoyed my first time in a chair car of the Indian Railways. The view from the bio vision Television sized bread shaped window was quite picturesque. But the peace was soon to be lost. I was recalling many of Seema Goswami’s countless mentions in the Sunday Brunch of how Indians lack etiquette. Could hear a guy from seven rows back talking to none other than a customer care executive of his cellular phone service provider, a medical school professor husband complaining to his wife of the same profession how he should have been the new HOD of some plasmo-something department and not Khan, a guy who was showcasing the amplification abilities of his new Chinese handset by playing the whole album from Slumdog Millionaire. Lattika’s Theme put me to sleep. Jai Ho!
And there we were, at the Charbagh station, Lucknow. The Lady who sat next to me in the train, said “Aap Nawabo ke sheher mein hai!!!” as a reply to a sarcastic comment of mine on the vocabulary of Lucknowites. Nice. As I got out of the station I heard this Beggar say “Bhaijaan ek rupaiyyah deejiye na!”, almost made me drop a note in his bowl. The Charbhagh station was like this pseudo-Sufi structure. At first glance it seems quite impressive, on careful observance you notice that its quite a decent way to fool tourists just about to enter Lucknow. They have made neat usage of Rajasthani and Mughalai architecture, but the paint on the walls of the building ruins everything. It seemed too fresh for my liking.

The Lucknow Malls turned out to be quite good, much better than what I had expected. Saharaganj was very sleek, though the crowd over there was quite a bummer. The Gomti Nagar-Indira Nagar side malls fared much better in this department. However from a list of very fond memories that I have of Lucknow, something that comes quite close to the top is the Gol Guppe of Royal Cafe at Hazratganj, and the basket chat from there is quite delicious too. The best chat I have ever had in my life. But here is a bummer: the taste is restricted just to Royal Cafe, other chat waalahs across the city have failed to reproduce the taste, Delhi still enjoys the status as the Chat capital of the world. Other food items that I loved from Lucknow is a variety of selections from Tunday Kebab’s, Kulfis et al.
The monuments of Lucknow are quite similar to each other with the exception of the Residency. My journey started with a drive through the magnificent Rumi Gate(darwaza) which led to the Grand Shia Muslim Monument, known as the Bara Imambara. Walking around the site was quite an experience. The Bouli, well its in shambles now, but one can imagine how impressive it must’ve been back in its days. And the stories of the guides only add romance to all of it. The Imambara and the Bhool Bhullaiyya had this old world charm connected to it, tracking down the dark cool paths of the labyrinth in hope of this one untredead path that would lay open to us. Unfortunately we found none.

The Chhota Imambara was nothing like its elder cousin, but sitting down on the carpetted floor and absorbing the Sufi air around us was one experience. The lights, the decorations, the culture, it was all so charming. Residency was an altogether different experience. There were no domes, no putti paint, no Jhoomars there. It was all so British. It was stoned, paved and cemented. It reminded me of the so many of the remains that the British have left us Delhiites to spend our winter afternoons at. The la Marteniere school was a major dissapointment. At best it was this neglected heritage building that cried out for maintenance. Rustic is allright only till a point.
What else… Saw Ambedkar Park…what a waste, LU-charming, Bhoot Bangla-dont want to get started on it, JJ Bakers-delicious, needs to be a tad better for an upmarket area like Hazratganj, Chikan work-Mum and Dad love it, I have got no idea. In all a great experience. What I would remember this trip the most for is reasons I wont ever be able to explain to you on this blog. Sitting with friends at coffee shops and talking about quite heavy things, meeting new people and starting off with them, Jodha, the political spark in the autorickshaw(ask me about it…a good story), the return journey in the Shatabdi…thinking about this trip gives me a high. Loved this city. Would rate it very highly. One of the best cities I have ever been to. Needs a better government though. All in all, a trip worth remembering for the rest of my life. Would definitly be going back there.

Categories: Travel Tags: ,

Moonlight in the Darkness

The past few weeks haven’t exactly been all smiles for me, Actually they’ve been quite traumatic, But I’ve been in a good mood today. So I’d try and list down all the beautiful things in life, things that make me smile…
1. Music — This is a sure shot cheer pill that works for me. Listening to Roger Water’s seductive voice accompanied with the mindblowing lyrics, or Slash strumming the Guitar, AR Rahman’s soothers and I just love when the Guitar it  is in the right hands… Thank You Gilmour, Clapton, Slash, Satriani, Hendrix for cheering me up so many times in the past with your magic.

2. Football — Good Football that is… watching Bolton play Chelsea is not going to cheer me up, thats a royal bore! Watching two sexy teams in action, say Arsenal play Barcelona, a purist’s dream definitely will. There’s nothing better than sitting back and watch the most creative players on the planet entertain you with some end to end stuff. Missing you Zizou. Yed, Monsieur Zinedine Yazid Zidane. He was the orchestrator of the football field, and he surely created some magical music.

3. Calvin & Hobbes — Having the entire collection of Bill Waterson’s masterpiece creation in your kitty, you are bound to be happy most of the times. Calvin reminds me so much of ummm… me when I was 4! But the Transmogrifier was a bit beyond my abilities!

4. Reading — From the Hindustan Times’ sunday supplement to PDFs on the Internet.
5. Jodha — For those of you who don’t get what this is, dont bother asking. For those of you who do, yeah Jodha!

6. Comedy — Friends:The sitcom and my real life friends as well. Missing you all, How I met your mother, the Big Bang Theory etc.
7. An Intelligent Conversation— Yeah, discussions that involve words like Psychedelia, Tsar Nicholas II, Ashok Argal, Axl Rose, Francis Jeffers, Satanism, Westminster Abbey are big turn ons for me!!!

8. Children — Watching them do silly things, watching them sleep, watching them smile while looking into your eyes…if this does not cheer you up, boy you are heartless!

9. Food — Not from my hostel mess. Good food, freshly cooked by mum or for that matter anyone, always puts a smile on my face.

10. Movies — Again good ones.

Categories: life Tags: