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Paleo, Keto and all that Jazz

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(A modified version of this article appeared on Arre: link here.)

Over the last few years, my Instagram feed has seen more and more pretty girls diversify their business. From ‘gramming about fashion and beauty they’ve also expanded into food. Invariably, the meals being Instagrammed look like something out of a magazine photo shoot. The standard shot has become a ‘flatlay’ (a picture from directly above the food, for the noobs) of a wooden tray on a rustic table. In the tray we have: a ‘grain bowl’ and a smoothie, or a plate of avocado-on-sourdough with a side of almond milk or an ‘alternative’ classic dish (my favourite is a pizza without cheese, made with shredded cauliflower as the base). For those among us who are used to Raju Chinese, the nomenclature is so misleading that it’s tragic – cauliflower rice isn’t rice with cauliflower, it’s shredded cauliflower which is supposed to substitute rice. Zucchini noodles aren’t pieces of zucchini in a good stir-fry noodle dish, they’re lo…

On AndhaDhun

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Alright. I watched AndhaDhun yesterday and for the benefit of the five people still reading -- but mostly for my own benefit -- I have to write about it.

It's almost impossible to write about this movie without giving out spoilers. So let's first talk about the premise: Maybe a man is killed, maybe he committed suicide. Akash (Ayushman Khurana) may or may not be blind. These are both resolved early on, with definitive answers. But what happens for the next two hours is difficult to explain or describe.

Sriram Raghavan, who seems to be getting better with every film, exploits the thriller genre with a mind-bending, edgy, dark (yet darkly funny) script. His last was Badlapur (a fairly noir exploration of vengeance - both the act and the emotion, with two actors feeding off each other's madness) and I thought he couldn't get any better, but dear God - this one's quite a bit ahead of Badlapur. Yes the second half is definitely weaker than the first but it's a beau…

Who gives Louis CK his career back? All of us

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(A modified version of this post appeared a few weeks ago on Arre: link here

In other news this week, Louis CK did a ‘surprise set’ at a New York comedy club, his first performance since news broke in November 2017 about him being a sexual predator, harassing multiple women by masturbating in front of them. A few female comedians who had been subjected to his behaviour stepped forward and made their allegations public. At this point, he gave a carefully worded apology and went into hiding. His film was pulled from release and all stand-up appearances were cancelled, naturally.

It's unfortunate that no one pressed charges. But some with careers in their early stages were already feeling the pressure from his team, in the form of cancellations from venues. Maybe they were unwilling to risk further publicity. Maybe it was something else. Maybe, as it often is in these cases, legal recourse would just add many years to reliving an old assault that they were not interested in thinking…

A Society of Enablers

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Recommended reading for today: In 'Small Fry,' Steve Jobs Comes Across as a Jerk. His Daughter Forgives Him. Should We?
Many things are said about Steve Jobs - many are known already from his biography, from the 2015 movie starring Ashton Kutcher. Denying paternity to his first child, Lisa, is a well-known fact. His temper and almost-maniacal drive are well-known facts. That he would insult his staff regularly and create a hostile work environment, is known as well. Yet no one can deny that his role as an innovator in Silicon Valley overshadows most others.
Excerpts from Lisa Brennan-Jobs' book are disturbing for readers, even if she continuously presents justifications for his behaviour. In a sense, her justifications are the hallmark of most people who have an abusive parent or spouse - naturally, they are unable to dissociate the person they love and respect from the person who is abusive towards them. This leads to two outcomes (which usually co-exist): one, that they…

The Enduring Appeal of Wodehouse

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I was first introduced to PG Wodehouse in middle school -- and everything I’d read until then under the broad head of “classics” paled in comparison. Or as he would say, the scales fell from my eyes and I tottered about like a bally idiot. At that age, you think of English literature as an unending conveyor belt of Austen, Dickens, the Bronte sisters – hard times and difficult people -- with Oscar Wilde being a welcome change of pace once in a while. And then you read one Wodehouse novel, to find that a whole world has been hidden from your view until now.

There are few writers that have the same appeal that Wodehouse does, even a hundred years from the publication of his first books. His mainstream writing (books we’d recognise) began in 1910 and continued until he died in 1975, sometimes finishing a novel in three months. That’s like JK Rowling completing the whole Harry Potter series in two or three years and George RR Martin being free to pursue other things since 1999. And yet …

Masterchef 2016: A Primer

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There was a time when restaurant food was pretty much the same food you could make at home, but unhealthier, tastier and involving more effort. Now, of course, it's not a good restaurant unless every item on the menu has a two-line description and half the items are molecular or deconstructed something.
Which brings us to why I once booked a table (for lunch) three weeks in advance and spent an obscene amount of money to eat beetroot salad and some stir fry vegetables at a three hatted restaurant - Masterchef. 
In its sixth/seventh/eighth? season now, Masterchef's probably the most popular thing on TV in Australia. (This sentence was a Captain Obvious opener that is normal for every episode). 
For those of you who've never watched it (hah, losers) and would like to get into it, here's a quick primer on what the show's all about.
1. Format Every year, a bunch of amateur cooks try to become Australia's next Masterchef, a title that's only slightly more relevant th…

Fantastic Inner City Funky Trendy Living At Its Best OMGICan'tEven

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There are many occupations that walk the tightrope between ethical and unethical. Lobbyists. Advertisers. Media people. Politicians. But what most people have missed, over the last many decades, are the small guys. The tightrope isn’t the privilege of the bigshots alone. Why doesn’t anyone recognize the regular blokes trying to make a dishonest living, just trying to do what’s right for themselves? Insurance people. Mutual fund brokers. That glorious Indian category, “fixers”. And the universal hustler – the real estate agent.
It takes some serious ballsiness to pick a career option that may, for months at a stretch, give you no income at all. The sort of ballsiness, in fact, that your chances of “playing with the truth” are between 50-100% (vs. the 0-10% tolerance you learnt at your mother’s knee).
There has never been a real estate agent who told you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about a house. This is for two reasons: 1. Renting or buying is all about compromi…

The 8 Stages of Getting Married, Explained via Facebook

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What do you get when you cross two people in their mid-twenties, two intrusive families and about a thousand people who really just care about free food?

The answer's self-evident to most Indians so let's just move on ahead. If, like me, you find your social media timeline inundated by people getting married, your emotions are probably one of the following: bemused interest, utter boredom or twinges of jealousy (not for the wedding, just for all the likes).

Also, if like me you have no real friends getting married, you can only guess what's happening in the lives of the ones who are. So married people - here's how the outsiders see the process.

Step 1: The Clean Up (Step 1 applies to arranged marriages only) [lasts 6 months to 1 year]
Quick note to the rest of the world - arranged marriage is when your parents set you up on a blind date (after looking at the date's CV of course), except that on the third date you get engaged instead of getting laid. 

Sometimes your …

Reporting from the new culture

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When you move countries, you fully expect some things - language, food, places, are all part of the normal change. You get there and people say "How you going" instead of "How're you doing" five times a day and before you know it, this begins to sound normal to you. What you don't expect is a show called "Dating Naked" on primetime television, where people -you guessed it- date naked (with appropriate blurring, of course, but the purpose of this show is as yet unknown). What you don't expect is a homeless person with a board that says "I'm sorry but it's either this or crime" - which, when you think about it, is less a request and more a threat. What you also don't expect is just how scary the homeless people can be, especially if you're from India where beggars are usually over-friendly, over-enthusiastic people on the streets who believe that the best way of getting money from you to is poke you continuously while …

The Dummy's Guide to Being Punjabi (according to Bollywood)

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Have you always wanted to be Punjabi? Were you born into one of those communities that frowns upon alcohol, dancing and being an idiot? There's no need to worry. Bollywood has been taking it upon itself to show you -one movie at a time- how to be Punjabi. Because if there's one thing we can rely on, it's Bollywood's penchant for accurate depictions of communities.


To be a Punjabi...

You must have one of each of the following:
1. Bebe (n., bay-bay): A grandmother, white haired and frail, but energetic and happy. White attire (on account of widowhood) is optional but preferred. In recent times, bonus points if she makes sly jokes with double entendres. Her role in your life is to tell you, "Sab theek hi hona hai" and "Kinna kamzor ho gaya hai"... and to state the obvious (e.g. "Beta, main vi teri bebe hoon.")

2. Veerji (n., veer-jee): An elder brother, but only if you're female. (If you're a guy, you need a sister who ties her hair i…