Tuesday, 3 April 2018


Well, I have no excuses for being on my vanishing phase for 3 months. Sometimes it so happens that one has to take a sabbatical and I was doing just that.

I was resting. The only activity during these three months was morning and evening walk to TKS and eating Dosas every day. Once or twice Shish started the topic of democracy. He was trying to remind me of our commitment to my friend that we will find a solution to his problem.

‘For 3 months there will be no discussions on democracy. My head is saturated now and I can’t think anything about problems and solutions.’ I told shish.

This morning i was sitting in TKS as usual and who is rushing in but my friend. Shish pointed him out before he reached TKS.

‘See, your Democracy friend is coming.’

‘Oh, he seems to be in some panic.’ I was feeling a bit guilty

‘Naturally. This is what I was trying to tell you a couple of times.’ 

‘Don’t worry. We will handle it.’ I said. ‘Hey, come, come! What happened? You seem to be in some kind of a trouble.’

‘Not in some kind of a trouble. In big trouble, we are.’

‘You sit and relax first. Let us have tea with most delicious Dosas. Shish, bring some water and Dosas for my friend here.’

Shish came out with the foodies. As we consumed Dosas, my friend said

‘Naradaa, you have disappeared for last three months. All the efforts to contact you through phone had failed. So, I decided to come.’

‘I had taken a sabbatical. Truly, I was very tired and I needed this rest. Come tell me the problem. Shish, I think you should also sit with us.’

‘Naradaa, Shish, You had seen our problem last time. We have to find some solution immediately. Otherwise the whole household will break up. The cost of various things are going up skyhigh and practically every other day the policy changes.’

‘I can think of one solution.’ Shish said, ‘I will open a TKS in your place. I will come and train you how to make these Dosas and other foods like Parippu vada, bajjiya, upma etc. I will have no workers of mine there if your guys are willing to work. You start making them with this quality and see the result.’

‘But your business here will suffer.’ My friend told Shish.

‘Don’t worry. This will run without any trouble.’

‘What do you say, Naradaa?’ My friend was not fully convinced but ready to give it a try.

‘It looks like a good idea. But what about your profits, Shish?’

‘My profits will be shared by me and people who work in TKS2. I am thinking of a business model having profit sharing with the people who work in the restaurant. They do not have to share the loss. But if it is in loss for three months, we will close it.’ Shish said enthusiastically.

My friend said, ‘Shish, some of our guys are very cunning. If your TKS2 works well, they may try to take the business away from you once they learn how to make these dosas.’

‘I don't think so. Anyway, let us try. I can take 3 months loss. Only what you will have to make sure is others who had come from outsides will not create trouble when they see competition.’

‘So, you go and get the necessary arrangements made. Shish will prepare the necessary equipment’ I assured my friend.
'Thanks. And Shish, I must say the dosas are melt-in-the-mouth kind. Excellent.'

Monday, 1 January 2018


Sh: I am surprised. Surprised and shocked at what you have done

N: Why? What have I done now?

Sh: Rather, what you have not done. I did not expect this from you.

N: I can’t understand what you are talking about. What did you not expect from me?

Sh: Or rather, I expected you to do the square thing.

N: Are you talking some code language? It would help both of us if you talk in clear English language.

Sh: OK. You know what is the date today?

N: First of January, of course The new year starts off today. So?

Sh: So where is your blog? You write a blog everyday for New Year, no? So, why not for 2018?

N: Is that all?

Sh: You normally write it on 30th December or 31st December.
N: But I wrote my blog yesterday, on 31st December, no?
Sh: But you wrote something called ThatsApp. Last month you promised me you will write about TKS this new year.

N: Oh, that?

Sh: Now, don’t ‘Oh that’me. When I didn’t see the blog for last two days, I thought you wanted to wait till we finished our New Year Eve celebrations so that you could write about that. But I see that there is no blog today also.

N: Well, the blog is coming. Part of it is already written. I need a little more inspiration. That is why I came here so that you can make those yummy dosas which definitely inspire me.

Sh: Getting Dosas is not a problem. The chef is already on the job from the moment he saw you coming in. But don’t you want some tips on what happened last night?

N: Why? Did something extraordinary happen here last night?

Sh: No no. Nothing. Nothing extraordinary, surely. OK, a bit out of the ordinary in a party with drinks.

N: Look if you do not stop talking in that cryptic language, I will hit you with a brick. I know, I know . It is just an empty threat. If I hit you, who is going to give me these delicious dosas? But tell me what happened, no? As far I remember, nothing happened, unless some fight happened in your kitchen where entry for outsiders like me is barred. There were no loud shouts or screams even.

Sh: Yes, that is that out of the ordinary part. Where the drinks are flowing like nobody’s business, there should have been some excitement, some fights. At least there should have been some verbal altercations.

N: So do you want me to write about some imaginary excitement that is supposed to have happened? No, no. That is not done. I don’t want any extra readership.... Nor do you want any additional advertisement for TKS. Your dosas are the best advertisements.

Sh: How about some New Year resolutions? They are harmless.

N: Why do you want NYRs? They are usually forgotten within a day or two. Unless you want a contest, like who can remember their resolutions the longest.

Sh: But you know, most of them will bring last year’s list because they would still be valid.

N: But I am not going to write about the resolutions. You do one thing. Now, that eating dosas is done, you go in. Let me sit here and complete the blog. It will be about what did not happen in TKS on the New Year’s eve.

Sh: But it is a shame. If people think nothing happened on the New Year’ eve in TKS, they won’t be impressed.

N: Does not matter. You have to make a sales pitch with ‘a clean TKS’. You can also make up a few slogans.
(So, when Shish came back. I gave him this.)
Sh: (after reading) Hey, this is just our conversation, no?
N: Yes, of course. That is the New Year's Blog!!!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

ThatsApp 3

Sh: So, you have more points towrite about WhatsApp?

N: Yeh, a few. I am going to start with a request to you. I need your help.

Sh: My help? What can I do? I don’t even have a smartphone.

N: Then go get one. Why you do not have a smartphone? These days everyone has.

Sh:  If I start using the smartphone and whatsapp, even my customers will stop talking to me.

N: Why? What have your customers got to do, about you using your whatsapp? That is purely private.

Sh: No. There is nothing private nowadays. The omnipresent Gods in the cyberworld can hear everything, see everything, know everything.

N: So?

Sh: So, there is nothing private.

N: OK, but why should your customers stop talking to you?

Sh: They are now at least calling me and ordering dosa and tea. Once in a while they ask me, ‘how are you etc.’ Even that they will start doing through whatsapp, if I have a smartphone.

N: Yeh, I agree with you. I had not thought of that.

Sh: Now you tell me what help you need from me?

N: I want you to operate my whatsapp and email accounts.

Sh: How can I operate your accounts? Those are your private affairs. Do you think I want to announce to the world that ‘such and such private and confidential letter to Naradaa is now with me. Anyone can buy it from me. Charges, terms and conditions apply....

N: No, no.  Everyday after I go through the mail and whatsapp and save the useful ones (only about 2 or three of them usually), rest of the mails and messages I want you to delete.

Sh: You want me to delete your mails and messages?

N: Yes

Sh: Why can’t you do it yourself? It is your messages

N: Look, I get about half percent of useful messages. I have to look for such messages like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystalk. And I can’t concentrate so much that there is a good possibility that I may delete the useful mails.

Sh: I understand. But where is the time. This is a full time job and I do not have that much time. I have to run my TKS because people want to be fed with my Dosas. I think you must employ someone to do the deleting. Any other point about WhatsApp?

N: Yeh, of course. It is these pictures and videos. People always want to send the greetings like Good Morning and Good Night through videos and pictures....

Sh: But that is a good thing, no? You feel nice when someone wishes you and that too with beautiful pictures of flowers, rivers and mountains, Gods and Goddesses etc.

N: True but then you start wondering which one to delete and which one to keep. But now I think I will have to delete every one of them and avoid opening the new ones coming.

Sh: Why?

N: Because someone says that these messages are made by people who hide some secret code in them and all the data from your phone will be stolen by them. They would use it for hacking into bank accounts and other private information and may even start blackmailing you. The irony is that the guys who send such messages, in turn, are themselves sending such pictures and videos.

Sh: See, you don’t miss anything by not seeing them. Just delete them.

N: Then there are so many rumours and fake news coming through. And the long essays what they call ‘forwards’. We do not know which one is true and which one is fake.

Sh: But this part of the development, no? The solution is again just ignore them. Do not open even slightly suspicious ones. Just consider that, 'what you didn’t see does not exist..... '

Sunday, 17 December 2017


It was a panic call from my friend.

‘Naradaa, you have abandoned me, I think. For almost last one year – or more, it seems – you had never contacted me.’

‘Why, what happened? I was under the impression that you are all doing very well after the reforms had been carried out. But you sound a bit disturbed.’

‘Of course I sound disturbed because I am disturbed. Not only disturbed but on the verge of getting mad. If you don’t come soon, next you will be visiting me in some asylum. So, get a move on...’

I knew there was no point in asking him further.

As Naradaa was ready to start off, Shish said,

‘What do you think of me accompanying you, Naradaa? I think I can be of some help to you in solving his problems’

‘What do you think his problems are? Have you any idea the enormity of his problems?’

‘Of course I know his problems. I came here and had a firsthand experience of what is happening here.’

‘Oh, yes. I forget about that. Shish, it is really very civil of you to offer help but what about TKS? If you are away, will TKS function?’

‘TKS will function. The management experts say that an organisation is healthy if it runs smoothly even when the owner goes out of town.’

So, we set out to my friend’s place. He was right at the gate to receive us.

‘Come, I do not want others to see you. We will go out to the woods where there is some quiet and peace. What I actually mean is where others won’t overhear.’

When we settled down, he said, ‘Naradaa, we are in great trouble. The reforms have gone a bit too far and they are disrupting everythingin our life.’

‘Yeh, but that is nothing new, no? You knew it and last time you said that it is a small sacrifice anyone has to make so that we will have a future which is bright....’

‘True. But what do we do when is too bright and we cannot see anything. A few months back, the doctor said.....’

‘Doctor? Why doctor?’

‘Oh, you do not know that! We have a new village doctor. Earlier we had Dr. Berry who actually didn’t have much work to do except treating some patients for small ailments. He retired and this new doctor came. When couple of people were down with flu, normally we used to take some paracetamol and took some rest and that was that.’

‘You still could do it.’

‘But the new doctor insists that it is all because of our unhealthy livingand we must have good treatment centres. Also, the kitchens where you prepare food should be clean and the food ingredients should be change. To start with the oil should be changed completely.’

‘So, it is fine, no?’

‘Look at this oil....’, he said. ‘It is all black or blue or any colour other than oil colour. You must throw this oil out and get new oil.’

‘Throw out the whole stock?’

‘Yes, we had to. It did create a crisis of some sort, but we thought it is all for our health. But even with the new oil, we are getting a small tummy ache and flu.’

‘What is there to worry? So you tried one method to fight the illness. It didn’t work out. But after all you got fresh stock of oil which is good, no?’

‘But you see, Naradaa, there are several similar reforms which are in the offing, we are told.’

‘What do you want me to do? Shish, can you think of anyway by which we could be of help?’

‘I do not think we could interfere because it is their internal problem. We should think of a solution before you are ready to go for next elections.’ Shish said.

‘Please do not abandon us in our time of need.’ My friend pleaded.

‘OK. Give us some time. We will have to think and think. In fact think twice before suggesting a solution.’

‘All right. But don’t take too much time on it. Naradaa, Shish! Please take this problem as a challenge.’

‘We will definitely do our best. You couldn’t find a solution yourself? After all, every problem should be having a solution.’

‘Yes, but here the other way is also true. Every solution is also another problem.....’

Friday, 8 December 2017


Yesterday, among one of the WhatsApp group messages, there was one message that stood out.

Jishnu (My brother-in-law’s son, a Class VIII student) got first price in Kathakali music in a school ‘kalotsavam’. A video clip also was uploaded. As I listened to the famous ‘Marimankanni’ being unfolded beautifully, my mind was transported back to about four decades.

If I remember right, it was in 1979, we came back to India on a two month holiday from Indonesia where I was employed. As usual in those days, generally people coming back on holidays from abroad, there were several gift items which were mandatory to be part of our luggage. A radio or a tape recorder or a 2 - in – 1 was invariably included. We too had brought a tape recorder where we could record and play back songs as sung by family members and also conversations, gossip sessions etc.

My brother-in-law Ravi (fondly called Unni), all of 8 or 9 years at that time, had come visiting us with his mother. I had been told that he is very much interested in Kathakali music and a highly talented singer even at that young age. I was personally very much interested in Kathakali (even now I am) and so, I requested him to sing.

He sang a padam from ‘Nalacharitam’ story – Siva Siva enthu cheyvu  njaan... – and the famous dandakam ‘kshoneendra patniyude....’ from ‘Keechakavadham’. These were sung by him superbly, for his age. I had recorded it and used to play it to my friends and used to tell that here is a great singer-in-the-making. I am sure I still have that cassette. But as we had moved houses several times later in life, it would need a bit of searching to find it.

Unni went on to win first prize in Kathakali music later in school ‘kalotsavam’ after six or seven years. For many years now he is a well-known Kathakali musician Athippatta Ravi (He is also a teacher and a poet) and had sung the two ‘Aattakathas’ written by me which were staged several times in Mumbai and Palakkad.

Also, if I am not mistaken, his daughter Uma also sings and had won a prize last year.

Now his son Jishnu has won the first prize in kalotsavam and given his background, I can confidently say that here there are two more good singers for the near future.....

Sunday, 3 December 2017


For last few days I have been watching ISL football in TKS, along with my quota of dosas. As a marketing technique, Shish has put up a big screen in his ThattuKada Shish. (TKS)

No, he is not showing the European league or Spanish league or anything. I asked him why.

Sh: See I have not opened this TKS for showing football to people. Football on a big screen is an additional incentive but our main business is Dosas and the other mouth-watering dishes. Still I would have liked to screen all the European football live but they are all late at night or during the early hours of mornings.....

N: Of course, ISL is OK.

Sh: I know if I screen them, people will sit through and the business will be brisker. Many people would like to watch European football compared to the diluted version.

N: Who says ISL is diluted version? There are many international players.

Sh: Ok,Ok. I did not say it is inferior. But comparatively it is slow and low on most of the aspects of the game.

N: Of course, it is low in speed comparatively. It is low on thrills probably. But it is low on fouls also.

Sh: You see, the thrill that you look for will need some speed and fouls. Couple of players falling, getting hurt, couple of players getting yellow and red cards.... All these are major parts of football which create the thrills.

N: I am sure the players are not thrilled..

Sh: Don’t be too sure. They also get the thrills but the main thing is they get paid. We get the thrill!

N: The problem is if someone gets hurt seriously and his playing career ends. That would be very bad, no?

Sh: But you know usually things like that happen very rarely. All these people are trained to take a few fouls as if it is a routine activity for them. They are trained to make a foul too. And moreover, I was told that they are also trained to fake an injury so that referee would award their team a free kick or a penalty stroke. A few times I have seen the guy who was in so much pain gets up and continues to play as if nothing had happened, after the free kick was awarded.

N: My God! What has the world come to?

Sh: Also I think that they are getting some training for acting. After committing a foul, you should be able to have that innocent look as if you didn’t know anything about it. Or you should look indignant that how anyone could accuse you of committing a foul! If a free kick or penalty is awarded, a few players will go and crowd the referee.

N: And you ay, this is all part of the sport. In our childhood, we were encouraged to take part in sports because that would infuse some discipline and sportsman spirit.

Sh: What is this spirit that you are talking about? You know very well I don’t serve spirit because you don’t allow me to.

N: Not that spirit..... I am talking about sportsman spirit.

Sh: Oh, that! And what do you think of the reverse passes? I have seen in this tournament too many reverse passes. Sometimes I felt that the goalkeeper gets to touch the ball more from own teammates than from the opposite team.

N: I have also noticed that. But that is only a strategic retreat.

Sh: Most of the time some of these players do only the reverse passes as if it is a new game. One day I got confused which team is playing against which side!

N: True. I have also seen it. But see it is all fun, no? Interesting things happen in football! In one of the matches long back I had seen, one goal keeper came all the way down to the centre line and.....

Sh: And what happened?

N: What would happen? One of his team player made a reverse pass and scored a goal!

Sh: Did you see what happened the other day? The goal keeper was collecting a reverse pass. An opposite team player was walking around and just put his foot forward and it became a goal!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

ThatsApp Again

Shish: I am a bit upset with you.

N: Why? What have I done?

Sh: First of all, you didn’t come to TKS yesterday. (Shish is my shishya, if you recollect, and is now now running his TKS, the ThattuKada Shishy)

N: Oh, that?

Sh: You can very well ‘Oh-that’me. But you know I waited for you with excellent dosas and a new type of chutney which I wanted you to check out.

N: So you wanted me to be the guinea pig before you include it in the menu.

Sh: No, not exactly. But we have to change things a bit sometimes. You know there are many different types of dosas also. One of my friend is running a restaurant and he serves 27 different types of dosas.

N: What is the use? You can have only only two or three types on a day.

Sh: But you know the customer has choices. Today the theory is give the customer choices.

N: Customer also maybe confused and will not know which type to take and he may abandon dosa altogether.

Sh: Never. They would not abandon. If they are so confused, they will say, ‘oh, all these new stuff! I prefer the traditional stuff....’ But some of them will tell themselves ‘ok, let me try this one for a change....’ And to some who still cannot decide, our waiter will help, ‘try this one today, sir, this is new and very good’

N: So, what happened to the new chutney? Did it sell well?

Sh: Of course, yes. But this is not what I wanted to talk about. You sort of distracted me from the main subject. My complaints about you .....

N: Complaints? Plural?

Sh: Yes. One, you did not come yesterday. Two, you wrote that blog about WhatsApp without even consulting me.

N: So what?

Sh: I could have given you some more points to write.

N: Such as?

Sh: On the positive side of WhatsApp, you can see your friends when they are participating in some music program etc almost instantly when some WhatsApp you the clips.... And one gets to know and communicate with the relatives of the young generation whom you didn’t know earlier.

N: I thought I had mentioned these, even if not in so much detail. And on the negative side?

Sh: One big problem for me is that there is no much verbal communication between my customers. I do not get to hear many gossips. They are all on WhatsApp chats the moment they come in till they leave. The only thing they do other than WApp is eating dosas.

N: Yes, that is something I missed out probably. Not only in your TKS, even in homes have communication between family members been taken over by WhatsApp.  Any more negatives?

Sh: I am sure there could be more points both on positive and negative side. You are the one who sits on the lazy chair and write, so it it is upto you to check out.

N: But you must help me, no?

Sh: I will. Give me a smartphone and I will WhatsApp you more points when I find....