Foreign foods on an Indian tongue

A thin lentil pancake eaten with a spicy, tangy soup. Answer: DOSA
Indian tempura, with delectable onion/ potato fried in garbanzo bean flour, served with a green cilantro dip : Answer: BHAJIAS / PAKORAS WITH CHUTNEY!!!
A triangular filo pastry with a delectable potato filling tempered with cumin. Answer: SAMOSA!!!!!
Vegetarian Paella flavoured with exotic cinnamon and saffron.
Answer: Vegetable Pulao!!!!!!!!
Golden dumplings soaked in syrup laced with a hint of cardamom. Answer: GULAB JAMUNS , of course!!!!!!
Steamed, square Garbanzo bean flour sponge cakes, tempered with mustard seeds and a garnish of cilantro. Answer: DHOKLA!!
Rice pudding flavoured with the scent of rose water. Answer: KHEER!!!
A crispy spring roll with gram flour noodles and delicate spices. Answer: BAKARWADIS!!!!![ I haven’t made this up]
Now, enough is enough….
We have gone too far Anglicising/ Internationalising [ if that is a word] to repackage and market our Indian foods to appease to the world.
But now it’s time to Indianize a few international dishes to suit our sensibilities. So here goes
A wada pav with mostly non-veg tikki. BURGER.
A thick spongy bhakri with tomato chutney and grated paneer, baked in a tandoor-like oven. PIZZA
A flattened meduwada without the cumin and coconut, eaten without sambar. BAGEL
A sweetened meduwada, very similar to a Balushahi except less sweet. DOUGHNUT
Semiya/ Shevaiya with a non-spicy thick tomato kadhi with non-veg koftas. SPAGHETTI WITH MEATBALLS
Seaweed wadi with bhaat/chawal filling. SUSHI
A rectangular samosa with a bland filling of fermented paneer, onion or non-veg. PASTY
Chana dal pakora in thick chapati with white chole chutney. FALAFEL AND HUMOUS IN PITTA BREAD
A soft sticky khichadi made with special arborio bhaat,that can be veg or non-veg. RISOTTO.
A long wada pav with non-veg tikki, eaten with red and yellow chutney. HOT DOG
CAESAR SALAD: a rough koshimbir/kachumbar without dahi, containing non-veg and fried pieces of pav.
Maida or makkai Chapati with veg/non-veg sabzi , soft rajma and chawal. Avocado chutney and sour malai served alongside.
That’s it! What’s in a name? A gula jamun by any other name will taste just as sweet……….
The proof of the kheer is in the eating.
Bon Appétit or shall we say khao piyo, aish karo!!

E-Free Day :No electronics for 24 hours

Written for Indispire



Imagine getting up in the morning and no one greets you with a virtual Medu wada or a GM, complete with a bouquet of e-flowers!

Imagine getting  up when your eyes naturally open, without a digital alarm waking you with a cheesy film tune that screams-“Get up, Subah ho gayi- Its morning!’

That’s right , no electronics to nudge you or greet you before you’ve had a chance to let go of your early morning dream.

This can only happen on a day when someone confiscates your phone and all the electronic gadgets that you surround yourself with all day and night long, clinging to them for dear life as if they are your lifelines.

So anyway….it’s morning. No WhatsApp, No Facebook. You have no idea what your friends across the world are up to or whose birthday it is. In fact, your brain has lost the power to remember birthdays or dates. After all what is FB for ? And what good is a phone if it cannot tell you what date it is.

So E-Free day promises to shock the body and brain in more ways than one.

But just imagine, , what a typical day will be like without these gadgets glaring into our sleepy eyes and buzzing into our stressed, over-informed brains

7 am: Oops, over slept, but hey what is that sound? A rooster crowing? The ringing of the milkman’s cycle……..

8 am. I actually look at my breakfast as I eat it. There are no ‘jokes’ to amuse me. I don’t have to LOL at people’s forwards or send them e-‘namaskars’ randomly and so generously when I don’t mean it. I just enjoy my simple breakfast, chewing on every bite without choking.

8:30am: I look out of the window on the way to work, listening to the sound of rain and watching it quench the parched earth.

10 am . At work. I seem to have tons of free time. Why am I not feeling tired as usual? Something is missing. I hate to admit it but I feel lighter not just because I’m not carrying my wretched ‘over-smart’friend but because I’m not feeding myself useless, utterly useless information.

1pm: Lunchtime. I’m actually looking at other people, as in, looking at real people across me and looking at their food. I feel like talking, as in, actually opening my mouth and attempting a conversation, speaking. Yes, I can speak. I almost forgot I could! Hmmm feels kind of nice to speak.

5pm. time to go home. No games to play on the commute home. I am missing my Candy Crushes!By the time my station comes, I feel energised, because I managed to doze off for a few minutes. Hmmm maybe I will bring out the old badminton racquets and play with my cousin, this evening.

8 pm: I am at a fancy restaurant with my family, all without their ‘smart’ pieces of luggage. The food arrives. Alas! No food photos, no selfies. What is life without recording what we eat and drink!! So we admire each other in person, compliment each other and actually appreciate the aroma of the food, the presentation and eat our dinner slowly, cracking jokes and pulling each other’s leg.No ROTFLs needed, we just laugh wholeheartedly only when we feel like.

11pm: No one is wishing me Gn or Tc. Do people even care about me? But  today I actually managed to cuddle my child and say a proper Good-night.I look at the crescent moon outside.It’s been ages since I saw clouds drifting lazily across the night sky. The sky is lit with stars. Real stars. I can look at them for hours and hours.The breeze touches my cheek and I realise that I cannot ‘forward’ that feeling to my 1052 e-friends even if I had all the e-gadgets in the world.

At the end of the day, we realise that all the Es in our life have robbed us of the simple pleasures of life.

Our bodies and brains deserve better. Surely we can live one day of our important and busy lives without all the E- stuff that runs us.

Just ONE day- an E-Free day. Is it that hard? Who knows? Can we do it? Are we brave enough ?

E-Free can be any day of the year or several days of the year.

So unhook yourself from the thing that lives your life for you and Get a Life!




TRAIN STORIES-Part I. ‘Goosebumps’

The time was 7 pm ish
I was on a local train travelling towards VT. This was a long time ago when Mumbai was still Bombay and CST was Victoria Terminus.
Now, I am a veteran Bombay-Pune train traveller, having sat on many an upper luggage berth in 2 feet of cramped space, right next to the blades of a ceiling fan.
But there is something about local trains that is eerily different from the long distance ones.
Anyway, here I was on my own, in the ladies compartment which was steadily getting empty. As it emptied of women, some unsavoury looking male characters jumped in at various stations.I looked at them , pulling my handbag closer, contemplating getting off at a station and boarding the general compartment.
But I stayed put because there were a couple of other women in the compartment.
Masjid station was approaching and by then, the only women left in the compartment were another young woman and me. The ‘chokra’ boys were getting a little too animated for my nerves and I desperately hoped the other woman was travelling all the way to VT.
The rough looking boys in rags hummed film songs and I was inwardly freaking out praying that I reached VT in one piece.
The smell of masalas filled the air and to my despair the other lone woman got up and started to get off at Masjid. I looked at her in panic as she alighted, still wondering if I should get off and go to the ‘general’.
And then……. I saw her turning towards me, staring at me, smiling a smile that will haunt me my entire life. As the train pulled out of Masjid platform, through the bars of the wretched windows ……… the smile remained fixed, unwavering.
The next five minutes from Masjid to VT were the longest five minutes of my life. Who cared about those boys anymore.
That smile had unsettled me forever!

Cracked Cups: broken not shattered


Don’t we all just love the sickeningly sweet mugs that have super exaggerated  titles like : World’s greatest wife or Hot babe or Number one cook or Wonder woman or whatever?

Cups and mugs that are not for drinking mere beverages but meant as  trophies for the perfect woman.

The woman who can cook, clean, multitask, love, produce kids, work outside the house, look good all to perfection. Does such a woman exist? Maybe she does, maybe she doesn’t. Who knows? Perhaps, perfection lies in the eyes of the beholder…….enough to want to gift her a trophy that proclaims her number one status.


Well, I am certainly not one of those perfect woman as in all my years I have yet to be given a mug/cup/tumbler which declares me as a perfect being. Thank goodness for that.

Imagine waking up every morning to a message that implores me to live up to an ideal I can never be.The stress of trying to be this ‘best in the the world’ would be too much to handle.

So I have decided to invent some mugs/cups/ trophies for those among us, including myself who are in need of some cheer.Why do those teacup manufacturers wherever they are, in China or Muradabad, not make crockery for lesser mortals who fall short of the high standards, of being 100%, of being the ‘bestest’.

Why not have crockery that is defective but still proud of being so?

What is wrong in drinking from a cracked, chipped, stained, half-eared cup?

So here is raising a cup to all those less than perfect humans out there who need a trophy or two to honour themselves, the way they are…………………….





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WORLD’S WORST COOK :)…….We can’t  all be the best can we?



Indian English that only we Indians understand

I’m starting a new series of Indian English terms that only we Indians use and understand.

We invented these terms/words and we use them confidently and brazenly as if they actually exist in the English language. Who knows? A few years down the line these might even creep into the English dictionaries. After all ‘shampoo’, ‘guru’, ‘avatar’, ‘bangle’, ‘jungle’ and so on are Indian words that made their way into the English language.

But lately I’ve noticed some terms being bandied about which are not Indian words but English words that Indians use and each term has a connotation that only we Indians understand.

So let us start with a cheerful term:



What is a return gift?

Read on to find out.

When we were children, which was a very long time ago, we attended birthday parties and gave a present to the birthday boy or girl.

A couple of Amar Chitra Kathas or a pack of sketch pens with upto twelve colours but certainly not forty-four or one of those orange-yellow metallic pencil boxes with geometry set or if our budget was a little more generous, it was a single Enid Blyton book. But even that was really stretching it, because if I remember correctly it cost around Rs. 10 and we are talking about the 80s. The packaging was also with the same standard shiny paper and yes, it was recycled.

At the end of the party we were given a balloon, a pencil, eraser[ we called it rubber] and some hardboiled sweets like Ravalgaon ones[ or eclairs if the hosts were slightly well off]. That’s it. It was as simple as that. We called them ‘back presents’.

Sometimes we got nothing at the end of the party, aside from the balloon. But then our presents were simple too. The party was all about the party games and food.

A homemade cake with no icing or a shop-bought simple square cake with gaudy brightly coloured icing, hard icing flowers with silver balls which we all wanted to eat, but turned out to be too hard, samosas, wafers in a single flavour[ salted, oily, non-branded], home-made green chutney sandwiches and if we were lucky, there would be chole and bread or puris. If were were really lucky there were gulab jamun. Yes, most birthday parties, in our middle class homes had this standard menu.

Party games were standard ones- passing the parcel[ nope, no presents between layers of newspaper, only one winner and yes , everyone had to do ‘punishments’ like sing a song, bray like a donkey, slap the person on your right or something equally silly, if not outrageous for today’s touchy world, but perfectly sensible to us in those days and so on], musical chairs[ highly competitive, no political correctness, birthday boy or girl did not have to win and had to compete like everyone else, no second turns]. Parents conducted the games and the prize if any, was a pencil or sweet. That’s it. No clowns to entertain the guests, only Papa or Baba to hold forth and play clown, teacher, master of ceremonies and so on, while mother slaved in the kitchen.


Fast forward to the present.

First of all, the middle class is no longer middle class. Birthday parties are not what they used to be.

Venues are not necessarily at ones home. What are function halls for, anyway?

Menus are exotic, complete with ‘welcome drink’ and what have you.

Event managers thrive, themes are a must, clowns and Mickey mouse are already so yawnworthy…. Give us something new for goodness sake! No not Dora again and we had ‘Frozen’ last month. Yes, boredom sets in easily. We are difficult to please.

Presents are ostentatious looking, in grandiose packing, complete with a fancy carrier paper bag which costs a bombshell on its own.

Actually let us not even into what goes into a present.

I am more intrigued, actually , outraged by something that goes by the name of ‘return gift’.

What! What is a return gift? Is it a gift you return? Is it an unwanted present that is repackaged and forwarded?

Nope. For those who don’t know, a ‘return gift’ is the new age, exclusively Indian English term, for a gift that one receives at the end of a party. A term, much like the ‘welcome drink’ …….a sign of the times, of new money, actually lots of new money and all the means to flaunt it. Why not?

But why call it ‘return’ gift?

Well, who knows? Many happy ‘returns’ of the day?

It does seem like whoever coined it, wanted the ‘return gift’ to be like a return of favour.

You give me a present, you do me a favour. So what it is my birthday! I will magnanimously return the favour. So, I give you a present in return. So we are both even. Quits. Equal.

Is that what it means? Well, the word ‘return’ does seem to imply that doesn’t it.

Why blame Indians for coming up with the concept? We have the concept of party favours or goody bags in the West which do sometimes contain an obscene number of goodies that threaten to outdo the cost of the birthday present.

But somehow, the ‘return gift’ does so blatantly, without holding back. In your face.

Without a middleclass care, it is ready to outstrip, outshine and upstage the birthday present, if finances permit.

Now picture this.

Children love presents. Children being children, will, in spite of being well brought up and all that, despite their parents’ protests, refuse to leave a birthday party unless they have received their party bag, sorry ‘return gift’.

‘ Go ask Monty’s mother for the party bag because we are leaving soon’ might sound better than ‘ Go ask Monty’s mother for the return gift’, but they do mean the same thing.

But imagine if the ‘return gift’ is a couple of pencils and eraser. Is that a good enough ‘return gift’ in return for the 2 feet X 2 feet, one kg Monopoly set you gifted the Birthday boy or girl? No ? Are you thoroughly disappointed? Well, yes, if you were expecting a ‘return gift’ and it is your fault for calling it a return gift and expecting a return of favour.

Now if you called it a goody bag or party bag, you[ or your child] wouldn’t be so disappointed would they?

Think about it.

Anyway, the ‘return gift’ here to stay.





It’s world women’s day today and it’s time to celebrate the women in my own world.

Not high-achievers, headline-grabbers and celebrities, but real women.

Women who are the unsung heroines that  have made me who I am.

My Mother: For bringing me to this world and being the most selfless, sacrificing person ever.

My sister: For being my true companion,my partner in crime, my best friend, my 2 am friend, my agony aunt.

My grandmothers: For being the genetic pool from which I derive strengths [ and weaknesses] that I had no idea about.

My female cousins: For being my source of worldly knowledge, from the birds and the bees… to food to  celeb fashion to just random yakkity-yak.

My female teachers: The ones who thought I could be something in life as well the ones who thought I was rubbish. Thank you for challenging me and bringing out my potential. The ones who bullied, tormented me and tried to pull me down- thank you as well, because you showed me  what the real world is like and it only made me more determined to prove you wrong.

My friends: For making me laugh and laughing with me. For celebrating life with me. For hearing me out even when I made no sense. For being there for me even when you are thousands of miles away- you know who you are 🙂

My female bosses: For believing in me and guiding me, holding my hand and pushing me when needed. Also, thanks to the one who didn’t believe in me- it only made me work harder until you were compelled to eat your words.

My mother-in-law: For showing me that a ‘Saas’ can be a friend too.

My daughter: For unconditionally loving an imperfect parent such as me.


Why celebrate these women only once a year when they light up your life every single day?





12 gorgeous fashions from my 80s past

I was looking at some old photographs of my youth. Friends and me posing for photographs at various strategic ‘cool’ locations of the time. Of course we looked different 25 years ago, minus wrinkles and grey hair, but other than that , we looked different because we were dressed in what we thought of as fashionable. It makes me cringe to see some of those fashions, but some of those styles make me nostalgic for an era which was the most hip and happening time in our lives- the 80s/ early 90s.

Here are some of the styles we wore with aplomb, some of the ‘looks’ which were ‘in’ at the time and some of the hot favourites.

  • French plaits:Yes, women of a certain age will remember the time we all went crazy for French plaits. We learnt to tie other girls’ hair into these lovely, woven braids and then we practised on ourselves in front of the mirror until we got it just right. You started at the top of your head and progressed along  the back of the head, until you reached the nape and then just tied it off, leaving a long ponytail loose. You could do it even with neck length hair and we were such experts, we could do them in the dark!
  • Aashiqi ribbon: This was a classic of the times. The film Aashiqi was a super hit.Mind you this was Aashiqi part I with Rahul Roy with his long hair, which was a novelty for the time and of course Anu Agarwal of pouting lips fame. Long before Bollywood heroines started injecting their lips with fillers, Anu had practised pouting and taken it to a new level. She had a permanent pout , wore her hair in a French plait often and in the film, wore a frilly, chiffon/georgette, hair tie. It was a cross between a ribbon and something that looked like bird feathers, but made of brightly coloured cloth. Now we adored this fashion and sure enough, it was the thing to be spotted wearing an ‘Aashiqi’ ribbon. Those who have never heard of this were either not born in that era or were simply not fashionable enough! Note: Many a time it matched exactly with the dress, made out of the same cloth.
  • Power-dressing with padded shoulders[ not quite]!: our fashions followed Bollywood, which in turn followed Hollywood. Power dressing was in- women in the west were wearing padded shoulders. Now we in India did not wear power suits. But we wore salwar kameezes or churidars. So the next thing we knew, our heroines were wearing these clothes with shoulders extended at least 3 inches beyond the actual shoulders.The tailor very cleverly made huge puffs at the beginning of the sleeves to mimic shoulder pads. There were no pads , only bellowing fabric ruched together and poking outward from the shoulders on either side. Think Madhuri and Juhi in their hit films and you will see what I mean. Of course we imitated the heroines and our tailors were very much in tune with all things Bollywood. There we were with broad shoulders on our kameez or our midis[ another fashion of that era] and sleeves that tapered to the wrist.
  • Bermudas: only the hip crowd wore these longish,knee length, very loose, shorts with a thick white cord [nada] and elastic at the waist. We bought them off the roadside vendors and they were usually unisex, but made mostly for men. One vendor had labelled them ‘Burma Das’….his version of this fashion statement garment!
  • Pedal -pushers: another fashion that was never seen again. Pants that extended to the calves and which had a draw string were very popular in my late school years. It was the ultimate thing to own a pair.
  • Baggy pants:This fashion was a reinvention of the 60s. Really loose at the bum, with pleats at the front,then tapering to the ankles, this fashion was the rage when we were in college.
  • Diana cut: It was the 80s, Lady Di was the craze….we had watched her wedding on Tv and of course we all wanted to look like her….even if we didn’t look like her one bit. So all we did was ask the beauty parlour lady for a Diana cut and she knew exactly what to do. Imagine us Indian girls,trying hard to look like clones of Lady Di.
  • Don’t know what this hairstyle is called : Funnily , in the 80s, we all looked the same- boys and girls and a haircut that was short at the top of the head with the hair puffing up, the sides had little hair, but just behind the ears the hair suddenly got long and extended in tufts to the nape of neck or even longer to the shoulders. Think Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Hollywood popstars- we all looked like clones of each other.
  • Banana clips: This fruit shaped hair clip was meant for bunching together all the hair into one long sweeping mane of hair that made even the shortest, thinnest head of hair convert into a luxurious ponytail. The trend was to keep taking it apart in public and redo the ponytail, all the while flaunting the silkiness of the hair and trying to make an even longer ponytail with every new attempt. ‘Higher, longer, fluffier’ was the mantra for a great banana clip ponytail
  • Perms: Only the really adventurous ones got this done. One day you had straight hair and the next you had a hair of curls. We wondered what some of these girls had had done. Not for the faint-hearted this one.
  • Balleys/ballees/ bellys: these were pumps, that were something new in India. Up until then we only wore chappals or sandals or proper laced up sports shoes. Or school shoes. But ‘Ballees ‘were a new fashion. Nobody knows why they were called that…..think it was Bally shoes, Bally being an international brand name in such shoes[ i just found that out]. In India we happily called them Ballees and you could bargain for them at roadside shops. I remember buying  Ballees bargained to Rs 10, which were all cardboard and cloth and magically lasted at least a year!
  • Long sleeved blouses: Somewhere in the early 90s, for some inexplicable reason, long sleeved saree blouses came on the scene. We had either a red or black one sewn and one had to wear it with saree draped in Gujarati fashion. We liberally borrowed and lended our blouses among friends for a bit of variety.
  • Multiple ear piercings:This was the epitome of all our fashion efforts. As if one wasn’t enough, we got an extra couple of holes in our ear lobes and studded them with all sorts of earrings- oxidised silver ones being the most popular!
  • Dhoti pant: Been there done that- worn a dhoti in public and not felt embarrassed. It was the thing to wear a dhoti pant as the bottom half of salwar kameez. Teamed with a shortish top, we were ready to take on the world. After all Madhuri our fashion icon carried it off with such grace!
  • Stone washed /Acid washed jeans : Wearing jeans was for the really fashionable ones.‘Gin pant’ could be acid or stone washed if you preferred.We also wore knee length pinstriped denim skirts which were actually really nice. But after a certain age, these were banned …pity!
  • Pathani dress: Eeks to think that this could actually be a female apparel. Typically a man’s dress, this fashion came on the scene briefly and exited just as quickly. So even before we had a chance to get it stitched from the tailor, it was gone. Thank goodness. It was taking power dressing to new heights!
  • Churi sleeves: One day i pulled out a really old kameez[ Indian top] from the past. Horror of horrors the kameez was for someone 5 Ft 3 inches, but what happened to the sleeves? They were for an Amazonian woman  of at least 7 foot 2 inches! But even more horror of horrors, I remember wearing this kameez and rocking it at a wedding some 25 years ago! Now how could that be possible? Well, these sleeves were supposed to pulled up the arm, to the elbow, until you got lots of creases like multiple bangles [ churis] . Much like the churidar[ Bottom half of a salwar-kameez set] except a hundred times impractical  and weird.What were we thinking? No wonder it took ages to dress up and get the damn thing off! A definite fashion faux pas,unlikely to make a comeback.

This was a time when there were no malls, no sizing[ yes, one size fits all….lucky if you were 5 Ft 3 inches and 48 kg.] Most of us were size zero thanks to living in a hostel and being malnourished. But we loved wearing abnormally loose clothes. In fact we wore comfy tents that could accommodate another human. We used lipstick on our eyelids and  cheek bones. We  used eyeliner on eyelids and to draw eyeliner bindis.

We rocked those days. Those were certainly the wonder years!


An Ode to a disappearing food tradition: An Irani cafe in London

photo copy 5Round white tables with wooden chairs, transparent glass tumblers with steaming chai, steel glasses for water, memorabilia from the 70s and 80s on the wall, signs in Hindi all over the place, chequered black and white floor and even a ‘nimbu-mirchi’ strung together to ward off the evil eye!

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There is a word for finding something when you least expect it:SERENDIPITY……I think I found something I was looking for.

The menu offered delights that reminded of an era gone by, in a country far away. The Irani fare promised to recreate memories of eating in the most basic eateries found in India- the Irani cafes.

Waiting for the order was no problem- the prints on the walls provided enough amusement-old, old covers of Eve’s weekly[ you have to be old enough to even remember this magazine], cheeky signs at the door, old black and white photographs of families from the 70s, nostalgia evoking advertisements from the past-including one about a grooming school for ladies, posters of unheard of Bollywood films……

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Soon our plate of delicious Keema pau came to the table. The Brittania berry biryani with raita and black daal followed. In between mouthfuls, a slug of masala chai [or Baileys chai, if you preferred], warmed the soul as cold fingers gripped the familiar ‘cutting chai’ glass for comfort.

Spotted a wada pav at another table.[ but being eaten with a fork and knife, by an Indian!]. Salivated at fresh roomali rotis being spun about in the open plan kitchen and promised to try a Frankie next time. That will be the real test because to me Tibbs frankie is the only Frankie.

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I always judge a place by its toilet. A clean toilet speaks volumes for the general hygiene of the copy 4

photo copy 10So of course, a visit to the loo was a must and I wasn’t disappointed.In fact, made 2 visits so I could take pictures of the absolutely hilarious decor. In each toilet which had a number in Hindi on the door[!], there was a glass cabinet with  toiletries of a certain vintage on display- all kinds of balms, ointments, creams, lotions, potions, laxatives evoking memories of childhood in India came rushing back. There was even a plastic bathing mug. In the ladies’ was a huge poster with 2 hunky lads from the distant past.

All in all a brilliant concept and a wonderful ode to what is a dying tradition in India- the humble Irani cafe- presented in a not so humble avatar. In fact a glamourous twist to what is a essentially a no frills, down to earth copy 3

Nope, I did not get paid or fed to write this, but genuinely felt elated on eating at this place, which by the way seems as popular with Indians as it is with non-Indians. The queue to get in was long and well worth copy 13

Hmmm…. just realised, I’ve got more photos of the decor than of the food!

Venue: Dishoom, Covent Garden, London.







Bollywood has it’s own ideas of illness, and all things related to medicine.

Filmy illnesses have their own special signs and symptoms.

Take for example, someone who has had an accident.Every other film/serial has one such victim.

Whether it’s a car crash or a street fight, when someone gets a head injury they always end up on a clean, comfy hospital bed, in a private room of course. Note how they they never get admitted to a communal ward, although nobody knows who they are or who will pay the private room bill!. A neat little bandage adorns the forehead and the only dramatic wound is a circular, red dot on one side of the forehead- never two dots, just one.How they always manage to hurt themselves so precisely is a mystery. Of course many head injuries are accompanied by the obligatory and predicatable amnesia- loss of memory. The only way the amnesia is cured is the person having another 2nd accident of course, complete with a head injury! Wow! This method of treatment must be researched by doctors- it works all the time in our filmy stories!

Anybody wondered how come the accident victim always gets a head injury but never a facial injury at the same time. Never! The face is intact- no cuts, no jaw fractures, no bruises[ unless it’s a street fight, where the hero/villain ends up with a macho swollen eye. That is acceptable]. But the heroine always escapes unscathed, with a few hair out of place and face scrubbed clean of makeup[ or so we think].

The only time these filmy sorts ever hurt their face is when they hurt it so badly that there is nothing left of it and they need a face transplant to sort it out.

Long before the first face transplant was done in real life, our Bollywood types were getting them done and not only that but along with a new face, they got a new voice[ thanks to a larynx transplant], brand new hair[yup, advanced hair follicle transpant] and a brand new body to go with the new face. But mind you, with all this happening, their brain remained intact- no amnesia etc. Whew! Neurologists, plastic surgeons eat your heart out and take a lesson or two!

The most bizarre medical scenarios are floated by Bollywood.

When a very ill patient is in bed, all there is in the posh, clean hospital room is an IV saline bottle hanging on a pole. If more lucky, the ill person gets a heart monitor of some sort. Yup and all of us know when the filmy person is dead, because Bollywood had made sure over the years that we get trained in reading an ECG……..when we see that flat line in a filmi monitor we know it’s all OVER!!


Oh and sometimes, only sometimes can they please connect the oxygen mask to something and not just leave it over the ill person’s face??? It needs to be actually attached to an oxygen cylinder somewhere, even if it is a fake one.

Oh and when they do surgery in our films, please can the surgeon stop fiddling with his face mask using his gloved, bloodied hands? That is a definite no-no.Also can he/she please tie it around at the top and bottom, behind the head, as it is is meant to be? Many times, they just leave the ‘nadas’ at the bottom untied and the bottom half of the mask is just hanging like a curtain with two cords on either side. Which surgeon in real life does this?


In the film, MajorSaab, there is an abosultely hilarious scene when a ‘doctor’ of the filmi sort tries to save person’s life in the operation theatre. He performs his special version of CPR[cardiopulmonary resuscitation]. The way he jumps on the patient’s chest and pumps is a lesson in how NOT to do CPR- this has to be seen to be fully appreciated. The enthusiasm of the filmy doctor had to commended because it does indeed at least give people a rough [ very rough] idea that there is something called CPR – just that this is not the way to do it. They say laughter is the best medicine and I have a feeling that the laughter from the audience is what helped the dying patient to get well soon, certainly not the doctor’s antics.

Now, I cannot help but think of a scene from a Bollywood film[ cannot remember the name] , where someone needs a blood transfusion. One must remember that blood transfusion is one of Bollywood’s specialities.

So yes, this person needs blood and these other people come in from various corners of the city to give blood. Guess what! They also turn out to be this person’s long lost brothers and mother as well! Wow, what luck, what destiny!

And then of course they all have the same blood group, because filmy families always do. So there they lie on beds next to each other and donate generously to their new found brethren. Wish such miracles happened in real life, but thanks Bollywood, for advocating a noble cause like blood donation.

There was another movie in which the director was probably hell bent on showing how blood is the same, no matter what religion you belong to. So another noble thought, although, I don’t think the director meant same blood group. Anyway, in one scene, the two guys, belonging to different faiths lie next to each other on hospital beds and their blood is extracted and then it MIXES together, drop by drop, in the bottle[!] before it goes into someone else. The symbolism was great, but does this ever happen in real life?

Please someone tell me which film this was.Please. Point taken: we have the same blood within us. Point not to be taken: it doesn’t work that way Mr Director. You see, it’s a little more complicated than this. William Harvey discovered blood groups. I’m sure he certainly never imagined such dramatic blood mixing.

I could go on and on.

NOW PICTURE THESE SCENES that have appeared in countless Bollywood films:

  • Scene 1: A woman collapses, she is carried to a bed where she is lying unconscious. The doctor is called and everyone in the household gathers at the bedside. The doctor, like a magician, examines her pulse intently and pronounces: “Congratulations! she is going to be a mother!” Wow! No medical history, no date of last menstrual period, no pregnancy test. This is Bollywood style medicine at it’s best.


  • Scene 2: A woman, usually newly married, suddenly runs to the sink and starts vomiting. The male members of the house start panicking. But a calm, wizened elderly lady of the house smiles knowledgeably and based on the fact that the woman is vomiting, proudly and confidently diagnoses the ‘good news’. “Don’t worry, have no fear” she says. “She is going to be a mother”.

Ah granny’s wisdom! Who can dispute that? Bollywood grannies seem to have their own special skills at diagnosing pregnancy based on vomiting! No, it cannot be a case of food-poisoning or just a stomach upset. If you are married and especially newly married, Bollywood grannies will most certainly diagnose a pregnancy!


  • Scene 3: An unmarried woman suddenly runs to the sink and starts vomiting. However this time, the wizened elderly lady of the house is horrified as she diagnoses pregnancy in an unwed mother. Even the music score that accompanies the vomiting is sinister sounding and that is one of the clues that suggest that something terrible has occured. No wonder the granny instantly guesses it’s a pregnancy. Again, there are never any chances that it could be simply something nasty the poor girl ate the previous night. Never! Also, no doctor required here, not even the one who checks the pulse and gives a prompt verdict of pregnancy.


  • Scene 4: A woman, usually married, suddenly craves pickle. She steals some from the kitchen, goes to a place where she thinks nobody can see her and excitedly but shyly eats the pickle. Again, an older lady of house spies on her and comes to a conclusion in a matter of minutes. Pregnancy, of course! Who needs any investigations when the pickle jar is almost empty?


  • Scene 5: [In a Marathi serial] : Two older women are talking about a younger woman who has been feeling nauseous. One of the older women tells the other one “ It has to be pregnancy….after all, she has been having ‘kordya ultya’[ ‘dry vomiting’……presumably ‘retching’]”. I cannot suppress my laughter as I have to say Marathi serials are a bit more medically advanced compared to Bollywood films, considering that they seem to better at the differential diagnosis of vomiting!

The other day I was watching a Hindi serial where this woman with a scrubbed clean look was lying peacefully in a comfy looking hospital. I have a suspicion she wasn’t that ill,because she managed to apply clear mascara on her eyes and nude lipstick on her lips.

Anyway, the poor soul kept drifting in and out of consciosness. She had no monitors attached, no IV medications of any kind, but the doctor by her bedside was all she needed. Every time she became conscious, the hero would try to talk to her and then she would pass out again. The hero would panic….”doctor sahab! “he calls out.

“ No worries,” the doctor says matter-of-factly…..”Yeh to hota hi rahega” Then she slowly and coolly proceeds to check the pulse. That’s it. Problem sorted. The woman regains consciousness and the saga continues.

C’mon people at least borrow a fake stethoscope from a child’s doctor’s kit and use that as a prop! Or ask a real life doctor to guide you and direct you in scenes that have something medical going on.

Please feel free to add any Bollywood medical scenes I’ve missed out.

If I’ve inaccurately described a movie medical scene, then I must be forgiven because I did bump my head yesterday and it must the amnesia and confusion that has resulted from it. Although, unlike Bollywood, I am not looking to bump it again to regain my memory. Thank you very much.