Apr 30, 2006

Another Indian killed by Taliban...?

As the news of the Indian engineer K Suryanarayana, (abducted by the Taliban in Afghanistan on Friday) brutally killed by his kidnappers on Sunday came out, I have received calls and mails from so many friends enquiring abt my safety.(Yes,Iam still in my month long vacaton in India) Before I proceed further let me offer my sympathies to the bereaved family and thank friends who remembered me.
The terror murder of Suryanarayana is the second such incident in the last four months wherein an Indian has been targeted. The earlier case was Mariappan Kutty, a Border Road Organisation jawan kidnapped and murdered in similar fashion.
These 2 incidents reinstate the dangers of working in the Afghan-Pakistan border provinces like Kandahar, Qalat and Zabul. Unlike the Central and North Afghanistan where I work, these southern areas come under the Pashtu speaking belt and are Taliban strong holds. These are areas where even Afghans themselves (who speak Farsi) fear to tread. Unless the work is within an army camp or some secured cantonment its suicidal to take up jobs in these areas of tribal mindset.
Another important aspect that the Indian Government fails to address is the involvement of ISI in such attacks. Pakistan has been growing increasingly uncomfortable with the growing presence of Indians in these areas that have long been Pakistan’s backyard. Ever since the Mariappan kutty incident, India has sent more security forces to these areas in the name of protecting Indian workers and the presence of increasing Indian forces has alarmed Pakistani agencies of late. Last few months saw accusation by Pakistan of Indian RAW and Afghan intelligence agents collaborating in these areas against Pak interests. In my opinion, this incident is a direct reflection of this. Its clear that Pakistan under the guise of the Taliban wants to send a signal to India that its not going to allow its backyard to be usurped by India. The Taliban, even when they kidnapped their main enemies -the Americans or Europeans, had always negotiated and there are many instances of successful hostage release. But the murder of kidnapped Indians before proclaimed deadlines and without negotiations is clearly showing some underlying ‘motive’…and it doesn’t need a rocket scientist to determine who the ‘motivator’ is…

update : Nitin writes more on the subject in his A c o r n

Apr 15, 2006

Bagram visit

Bagram is an ancient city in Parwan province and now an important US air base . My last outing in Afghan soil was a drive to Bagram. The landscape enroute is amazingly beautiful and the road is lonely. Nothing much to see in Bagram except for its buildings in mud architecture and a busy muddy shopping area that sells cheap chinese and other foreign goods- a favourite shopping spot for locals and expats alike .
the lonely traveller...
virgin landscape
Grazing Bactrian camels...
a little shepherd boy...
mud architecture on the way...
interesting buildings on the way...
more brown...
houses on the way...
houses on the way...
stopped for some refreshing buttermilk...
local fresh butter
wayside food joint...
Bolanis...my lunch
 15 April 2006

Apr 14, 2006

another Tamil New year...

photo:Lampshade in an Indian restaurant , Kabul
This is the 3rd new year celebration for me in 4 months. (English followed by Afghan and now Tamil) I dont really see any significance of celebrating the Tamil New year when Iam not using the Tamil calender at all. Over the years, TNY has just become an occasion for releasing yet another bunch of crap movies and yet another holiday that starts with Solomon Pappaia's pattimandram followed by Tanglish interviews of actresses on TV.
Is there any way to restore some meaning to our New Year? Or do we really need a meaning at all for a celebration? ...

தமிழ் புத்தாண்டு வாழ்த்துக்கள் !!!

Apr 13, 2006

Ratta eeleeeeeeeee....eewwwwww

From a piece of paper a scholarly looking Simran reads, "Nammo chinnam Ratta Eelee. Amma nammo leader. Ammakku vote potta nalla roads, no rowdism, no water problem. so nammo chinnam ?"
and the frenzied crowd goes : "ratta eleee" (imitating her)

O my God ! How much i miss this years election campaign...!

Apr 12, 2006

back on the table...

Chicken Biriyani has now become a regular menu on fridays. never knew making biriyani was so easy!

Pomphrets ( vaaval or vavvaal meen) ... has sort of become the sunday lunch menu...

now some baggies for the veggies...

ok..this we tried for the first time...Chepam kelangu (anybody knows the english word for it?) fry... turned out really crispy and tasty.

P.S: Well, I desisited from posting anything on food for sometime for 3 reasons.
1. My blog was increasingly looking like a food blog of late.
2. and that lead to people making grave mistakes of asking me for recipes.
3. and finally, some people started vanishing (maybe secret cooking classes) unable to torture themselves looking at my food pics!

Now before more friends 'notice' that Iam not posting anything on food for a while and start doubting whether Iam into starvation or Lent days fasting, let me post this and get it all clarified: The experiments are on full swing as usual...more will be on the table soon! :)

a glance says it all...

Apr 10, 2006

State of Mind...

The Mud walls of Kabul...2006

With myriad dreams and ideas galore
I walk out of my Architecture school;
Cob webs, cob webs await in store
Reality hits me like an icy pool.

“Why can’t you dance to our chorale noise?
Why don’t you design our fashion box?”
They shamelessly ask in a single voice,
“Why don’t you bend and smell our socks?”

Superstitious tongues wriggle like snakes
Hissing, fizzing like they know it all;
So much farce, so many fakes;
Mask after mask, they march and fall.

Reasons are lost and wreaths are laid
Over proven thoughts and wisdom of old;
In Colorful costumes of wanton pride
They party and know not their soul is sold.

After every word they check their watch
“Time is gold” they proudly say;
They realize not it’s a prefixed match
Puppets who never will know their play.

Together they think and nod their head;
Cloned club with a common brain;
Moving shadows – the living dead;
They move in circles like a keyed toy train.

Second hand lives after pomp and pelf;
They live for attention and love the limelight.
Every man a stranger to himself
Yet they love to believe they’re right.

My feet run as far as they could
In search of a place where they’ll hurt me no more;
But my spirit stays waiting to explode
With myriad dreams and ideas galore.

(Written in Kabul- 10.04.2006)

Apr 9, 2006

Mud , Brown and White...

File Photos of Old Kabul...from the Winter collection.

Mud & Brown...2

shop selling cement bags
a mud house?

massing in mud...

mud shop selling soft drinks...

clicked today on the way to army base...

Apr 6, 2006


I clicked this picture today as my car was slowly making a turn in a street curve...The little boys wave a salute as they see a camera aimed at them. But the girl instinctively covers her face and turns away laughing. Such a wonderful sight to see these afghan kids laughing and returning from school.

Apr 5, 2006

Nannari sharbeth...Cooooool !

Its summer time again and people are desperate to cool themselves with any means they can. Its a pity that our good old healthy natural 'cool drinks' are being swept away by the Colas.
One such natural and once popular drink thats fighting for survival is the Nannari sharbeth.

"....nature has given us a wonder herb, `Sarasaparilla,' popularly known as `Nannari.' The roots of this herb have the medicinal property of protecting us from common summer ailments.
In the past, our elders had the habit of drinking a mixture of extracts from `Nannari' roots along with lemon juice and palm sugar (panangkarkandu). Later on, white sugar replaced palm sugar. Gradually, people began to prefer other attractive alternatives," says K.O.S. Nagarajan, Managing Partner of a 100-year-old sharbeth company under the brand name, `Ondippili.'

`Nannari' is a natural coolant. It has medicinal quality of providing relief from acidity and constipation. Besides, it purifies the blood," Mr. Nagarajan explains."We don't add any preservative or chemical. It is a pure health drink that relieves you from exhaustion."

Why dont you try it this summer?

Click here to read the full story from the Hindu

Apr 4, 2006

Jallikkattu Banned!!!

I wasn't surprised to read about the court ruling that bans the traditional bull baiting game 'Jallikkattu' of the Madurai and other southern neighboring districts.
I had lamented about the deterioration of this sport long ago in this post.

This is sad. The sport has a history of more than 3000 years and should have been preserved as a Heritage event.
 The state government had turned a deaf ear to repeated appeals by different forums and animal rights groups to reform the event to guarantee better safety standards.These groups took the issue to court as the last resort and earned a ban verdict.

Its a pity that a court had to intervene in an issue of tradition and culture.The right thing would have been the timely intervention of the state government to conduct the event in an organized and safe way. .

Hope better sense prevails and the ban is lifted soon...

(Images from google )

clicked on the way...

the changing face of kabul...

Cinema Park...bollywood rules!

scars of war...

clicked on a chilly day...

Apr 3, 2006

Lets cut...

As I had promised before , the food experiments continued this week with great success. It was time to try out my favourite dish - the Cutlets !
These are veggie cutlets made from potatos and bread crumbs ...

The experiment further improved the next day..this time they were dipped in egg for that added flavor and crispiness...just yummy!

Now to my fav...Fish cutlets ! (Tuna fish)... just delicious!