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BLOG - ER Ramachandran

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chong Chiu sings Thyagaraja Krithi!

Hi Mbp friends,

'Rama Ninnu Nambina...' A Thygaraja Krithi in Telugu  rendered by Chinese- Malaysian,  Chong Chiu Sen. Chong learnt Carnatic music from Late D.K. Pattamal.

Listen to Chong.  He is as good as  musicians who sing in Madras Music Academy Chennai, Gayana Samaja Bangalore. Reminds you of Late Higgins Bhagavathar.



Thursday, November 21, 2013

The origin of Bangalore blues for President Obama

Bangalore has grown so much even Kempe Gowda, is sure to lose his bearings if he dared to set foot on a city which the chieftain once founded.

If he came across theBangalore Municipal Corporation ( BMC) rechristened in Kannada with an additional letter Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike,  BBMP or more likely known as Owners and Displayers of  Garbage the city makes in a day and  one look at his own statue would be enough to make him run away never to return.

He had named the hamlet Benda kaLooru which means in Kannada  ‘small town of boiled grams’  after eating them when he landed there for the first time. The British twisted it into Bangalore which again is going through a metamorphosis thanks to U.R. Ananathamurthy, as Bengaluru.

 Since the original name started with food, much of Bangalore’s fame came from the Eats which the city became famous for.

Whether it was the Masala dose in Vidyarthi Bhavan, Puri - Saagu in Mavalli Tiffin Rooms ( MTR),  BeNNe Masale dose in Udupi Krishna Bhavan, Rava Kesari in Malabar Lodge,  Idli, Vada, coffee in Malleshawaram Tiffin Rooms,  there was always a huge crowd waiting smacking their lips in anticipation.
Most of these restaurants had won their customers with their own specialty with delicacies such as Bisi Bele Anna served with Happala and Mosaranna for the afternoon lunch and broke into Aloo Bonda and by two coffee in the evenings when most Bangaloreans walked their cycles in one hand with an arm over their friend’s shoulder on the other like a Western Horseman, a la Gene Autry walking his horse!

Other snacks which have a stamp of Bangalore and helped students studying for exams late nights were the Kharada Bun and Baadami haalu at Harsha Stores or Ganesha Stores next to Revanna’s grocery shop in Basavanagudi.

  Snacks which are another term for Round-the-clock-eating came from Subbamma’s famous condiments stores! Located in H.B. Samaja Road opposite Medico Surgicals, and nudging next to Siddoji Rao cloth stores in Gandhi Bazaar, Subbamma’s preparations like Rave Unde, HurigaaLu, chakkli, kajjaaya, Kharada KadLe kayi became so famous, it crossed palates of Vindhya Mountains even in Sixties only to become a rage and craze in cities in U.S.

Competition to Subbamma came just a mile away from V.B. Bakeries whose mouth-watering coconut burfies and haalukova stole customers from other outlets. Further, V.B. Bakeries ran their shop like an assembly line with order matching delivery with zero waiting time to the hungry crowd at an amazing pace.
The market for Indian food rose to frenzy when Veeraswamy opened his outlet in London with most natives there preferring Indian Curry over their own Fish and Chips!

How did Bangalore contribute to Indians in US which has become a heart-burning issue with President Barrack Obama these days? In fact one should ask when eating become some kind of springboard for Bangaloreans to pose a direct challenge to US Presidents.

True Bangalore’s colleges like UVCE, BMS, Ramaiahs and others produce Engineers and more recently Software Engineers aided by sound basic Maths at school levels. When the first and second wave of engineers went to USA for higher studies and had to stay alone in bachelor digs, they had to make do with meager foreign exchange provided those days and looked for low- paying campus jobs to keep their body and soul together.

It is the Rasam, Sambhaar and Chutney powders and ‘Dhideer (Instant) Idli powders, ‘Bisi Bele ‘ Mix that came to their rescue. MTR, Subbammas and V.B. Bakeries etc   made easy to carry, easier to make Rasam and Sambhaar, which tasted ‘just like mother’s’. Rasam and Sambhaar are such versatile dishes rice, bread, chappathi, even an old shoe soaked in snow for a couple of days and cut to small pieces will taste heavenly!  As these packets made their presence at Universities in  Harvard, Stanford, Princeton etc.. US Customs, wary officials thought it was some kind of a bomb- making ingredients which will kill you by bouts of sneezing but soon learnt it was the life line of Indians going abroad. Dr. Narasimhaiah (H.N.) did a PhD in Nuclear Science from Ohio University from the Uppittu he learnt to make with MTR powder, for 5 years at a stretch. An- out- of - job Steve Jobs once confessed he survived by eating the weekly sumptuous Indian food served in Hare Rama Hare Krishna temples!

Gradually more and more stayed back to land  important jobs in corporate sector,  or for start-ups especially in Silicon Valley, raising serious concerns to US Administration. The influx of bright students from India and China on one hand to take jobs in US over the locals and flight of jobs to countries like India on the other seem to worry US Administration like hell.

Now of course, we have mothers who  go with just a  rolling pin in hand and  conjure culinary wonders  to take care of  her  pregnant daughter-in- law and can dish out a pizza  as well as akki rotti with elan’. This has become an additional source of worry to President Obama as more and more Ajjis are flooding US cities from Bangalore which is the biggest software center outside Silicon Valley. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his ministers are planning to make Bangalore numero uno Software center in the world this will only pave way for more exchanges of Software Engineers.

This only means more Ajjis will go to US and prepare their own Sambhar, Rasam and Chutney powders which ultimately may find huge market across markets in US. Another worry for US for sure, in years to come!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Curious case of the Gandhis'

India is heading for a General Election  again in 2014. 

While the actual dates are yet to be announced, it has already entered a feverish pitch with the Ruling Congress and the main opposition Party, BJP leaving no efforts to chance but slugging it out overtime all over the country.
 Their Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is the main campaigner who is already setting up record for the huge numbers he is drawing and for the ferocity of his speech-making. Gone are the mild mannered ways of an Atal Behari Vajpayee coaxing voters with his eloquence or the emotional pitch that suited the Rath-Yatrs specialist L.K. Advani. Modi is  a no -nonsense, fire and brimstone who has a gift of gab and is more in dialogue with the masses than a dull somber voice making speech as if reading a Government of India Gazette.

Pitted against him is Ruling Party’s heir Rahul Gandhi who looks a slow-starter but can raise the pitch in his own way.  Rahul has so far kept a deliberate, studied low -key profile which suits his personal style.
A study of Rahul’s style shows he shuns power and responsibility when it was there for the asking.  He has attacked the ‘Lal batti’ culture which includes some of his own colleagues and came hard on his own Prime-Minister’s Ordinance which almost threatened to tilt the apple-cart. So he can take positions of extremes when push comes to shove.

He has shown many a time he is not interested in power and has repeatedly stayed away from it. He is more like Hamlet, a reluctant prince and may be as indecisive as the Shakespearean hero.

He understands one thing though.  Very clearly. It is only the Nehru-Gandhi family, alone and alone that can win an election for the Congress.

 In the initial years after independence, Congress didn’t have any opposition to speak of, and ran away with it every 5 years with ease. 

From the time Indira Gandhi came on, opposition started, first from within. When she could take collective might of Kamraj Nadar, S.K. Patil, Atulya Ghosh, Sanjeeva Reddy  etc within her own Party and come out triumphant to start her own Party, rather wrested the Congress Party as her own, there was no looking back. She could take on any opposition and come victorious that included combined opposition and even Nixon-Kissinger combine and outfox them and created Bangladesh.

When she came back after the fiasco of Emergency she won back power for Congress all by alone. She took on stalwarts like Jayaprakash Narayan, George Fernandes, Raj Narain etc and trounced them singlehanded. She visited the riot-scarred Belchi in Bihar on an elephant in 1978 and won back power singlehanded. She campaigned like a whirlwind all over the country day and night, making 6 to 7 speeches sometimes in different districts and different States.

The style that Indira Gandhi set, called Indira Wave, has worked for Congress till date. Whereas Opposition Parties had stalwarts there was only one star that worked for Congress, its hardworking Boss, Mrs. Gandhi.
Crowds otherwise that would be wafer thin when local leaders addressed, would turn massive when Indira came to address. You could never think a Sitaram Keasri winning an Election as Congress President outside his own State, much less when had to address gatherings in Kerala or Nagaland.

Same formula has worked for Congress all through.

Sonia Gandhi followed the same path after acquiring Indira Gandhi’s ruthlessness in the process.
 In 2004 Last General elections Sonia and Rahul took on the ‘India Shining’ campaign head-on which has stalwarts like Vajpayee, Advani, Yeshwant Sinha, Mahajan, Arun Jaitley, Uma Bharathi etal single handed and landed crushing defeat on the combined opposition.

They realized they have to win their election on their name, steam charisma, hard work whatever. Once they won they chose people to form the Government. That is where Manmohan Singhs Chidambarams,  Antonys, Kamal Naths who will bring their expertise in their chosen field and  along with it ,fierce loyalty. Time tested Loyalty. Those who became Ministers also knew left for themselves they wouldn’t have even saved their deposits but for the Gandhi family!

Whether he likes power or not, whether he wants to be  a Prime Minister or not, Rahul Gandhi realizes that he has to win the Election for his Party more or less alone or probably with help from his mother who is keeping indifferent health and from his sister Priyanka.

Whether it is good for democracy or not is a different matter, but that is how it has worked for the Grand old Party, Congress Party so far!