Monday, November 29, 2010

Kerala in Munich

After having seen a couple of ads about a new ‘South Indian’ restaurant, which is a rarity in Germany (read, never heard of in Germany), we decided to go there with a couple of our friends to check if we could finally find something other than Mughlai kofta, Chana Masala and Palak Paneer !

As soon as I got in, I was impressed – finally an Indian restaurant with no huge paintings/posters of the Taj Mahal or skimpily clad women doing household chores, instead there were some beautiful statues of Natarajar, Krishnar, Pullayar, potted banana trees (with banana leaves), tasteful hanging lamps and red draperies that did not shout the color. I was even more impressed when I saw Idli, Dosa, Uttapam, Kesari, Tamarind rice, Lemon rice etc. in the menu…I was fervently hoping that it was some franchise of Saravana Bhavan that for some reason did not choose the same name (its silly I know, but hunger can do weird things to you!).

Our German friends were not there yet. So we ordered the usual mango lassi and started looking at the menu in detail to make sure we had some suggestions for our friends to whom we had promised that there was more to Indian food that just Nan, paneer and kofta ! While we were at it, the waiter brought some appalam (the South Indian rice appalam and not papad) and I was once again impressed. The 3 kinds of chutney dips were also a welcome change from the usual mint and mango chutneys that one usually gets in all other restaurants.

Among the 4 of us, we tried a lot of the dishes, so here is a quick run through them
- Uttapam with sambar: Sambar was perfect, Uttapam was decent
- Vada with sambar: same sambar, same perfection, Vada was crisp but needed a little more salt
- Masala dosa: dosa was perfect (how did they get the dough to ferment in winter ??), masala needed a little more salt (I am guessing the chef has high BP)
- Chola Bhatura: Chole was really good, pooris were too hard, I would NOT recommend it to anyone, well at least anyone I like ;)
- Spicy lamb: I was told it was very good
- Kesari: Too dry, very less sugar (was more or less like a German cake - maybe that was the idea!)
- Gajar Halwa: very good (was obviously made before and was just microwaved before serving, if I may add at a much higher temperature than necessary but its winter and I really don't mind)
- Beverages (Coffee, Tea): bad, would never try them again (Indian restaurants in Germany always serve bad coffee but this one even had poor chai and I was heart broken at there being no mention of South Indian coffee in the menu...schade!)

The waiter who served us first was very friendly and polite but the one who took orders for dessert and coffee was quite rude. It was obvious he was in a hurry and the tone he used was always ‘come-on, lets get this over with”…well I am going to give him the benefit of doubt this time.

Verdict: Excellent décor, good food, decent service

PS: As an ardent fotographer, I should've taken pics but like I said, hunger does weird things to you !

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fake job offers purporting to be from Qatar Airways

I got the following email today. My first thought was that it was spam. But I wanted to be sure because I had a profile in before and I was approached by a head hunter in Dubai a few weeks ago.

A quick google search revealed that its quite the scam and a number of people have let go of real jobs in the hopes of getting a high-paid tax-free job elsewhere.

Here are a few indicators as well as pointers to stay away from such emails:
  • Beware of weird domains in contact email ids. Given that the official website of Qatar airways is, email ids from any other domain should cause suspicion like the one in this email from
  • The footer of the email says something about PI Industries. If you visit that website, there is nothing in there that even remotely connects it to Qatar airways. So why would one company use another company's address in the footer ?
  • Since there is a name given here, you can run a quick check of the name in LinkedIn. Legitimate head hunters, recruitment agents are usually listed in such networking sites.
  • Quality of email - Although making language mistakes is not such a big deal, I have never seen a job query that says "Free feeding" !
  • Inspite of all this, if you are still in doubt, just call the concerned company (using its contact information online, not the one in the email) and confirm. Qatar airways itself has issued a warning in this regard.
Above all, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is ! So exercise caution !


Dear Job Applicant,







Sequel to the job advertisement made, we have reviewed your CV/Resume
sent by our labor consultants for a possible job
engagement with us and we also wish to inform you that you are
eligible for a Job position in QATAR AIRWAYSGROUP U.K

Please answer and submit the Official Online questionnaire alongside
your credentials/photo graph for QATAR AIRWAYSGROUP U.K which will be
used to ascertain your final eligibility for a Job position in
reference to your cv/resume as posted prior to this interview by
*Note: Only Successful and Short-listed Applicants will be contacted
Either On Phone or Email!

Good Luck!

1. Briefly describe your ideal job?

2. Why did you choose this career?

3. What goals do you have in your career?

4. How do you plan to achieve these goals?

5. Can you work well under deadlines or pressure?

6. Tell us about a time when you failed to meet a deadline. What were
the repercussions?

7. Do you have reference list?

8. Why do you want to work here?

9. Why should we hire you over the others waiting to be interviewed?

10. What is your Current Monthly Salary Package in US Dollars?

11. How soon can you travel down to start your new Job?

12. What job position/s are you currently holding with your current employer?

13. What three Specific Job Positions do you target from QATAR AIRWAYS

14. Give us full details on the Following;
(A.) Full Name :
(B.) Permanent Mailing Address
(C.) Current Mailing Address
(D.) Tel/Mobile Number(s)

15. What is your Country of Nationality? Is it different from your
Present Location? If yes please state your Current resident Country.

16. What is your Future Plans for QATAR AIRWAYSGROUP U.K?

Compensations and Benefit packages for these positions remain
Competitive and Comparable with those available in leading Aviation
Industries across the globe & negotiations
are allowed.

Contract Awards/ Employment will be based mostly on merit and will be
considered on experience and Profile.

Over the years, The best recruited Expatriates have been selected via
the Internet and the selection has proven to be unbiased & based on
merit since our Clients require the best expertise in various fields
to enable them deliver within specified frames of time and harness the
opportunities in the operating environment.









Many more incomparable benefits.............


All Completed Online Interview Questions should be submitted to the
Human Resources Department of QATAR AIRWAYS at: to enable them ascertain your eligibility
for a Job position and make possible considerations for Job offer in
her Company.
*Note: We need only twenty candidates, and we have received more than two
thousand emails and CV's so far waiting to be short listed and Only Successful
and Short-listed Applicants
Will be contacted Via Email! And will be contacted,
invited for a Job position and a mandatory Orientation/ Training
Program scheduled 3 weeks on confirmation of Job Offer from QATAR AIRWAYSGROUP


ikennaoy Ekam.
Recruitment Manager.
This message, including any attachments contains confidential
and privileged information for the sole use of the intended
recipient(s). If you are not the intended recipient, please
notify the sender by return e-mail and delete this message
from your system. Any unauthorized use or dissemination of
this message in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. PI
Industries Ltd. shall not be responsible nor liable for the
confidentiality & integrity of this communication nor that
this communication is free of viruses, interceptions or
PI Industries Ltd., 403 Millennium Plaza, Tower A, Sector 27,
Gurgaon 122 001 (India) Ph. 91-124- 5081244-46,
Fax 91- 124- 5081247, Website:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Baby fever what everyone in my family is suffering from and by family I mean not just immediate family but anyone who is even remotely associated to some member in my family tree (actually family forest, in Ashok's words!). I can't actually blame them because according to them we are living ''outside the law''. Whoever has heard of a desi couple without a child after nearly 4 years of marriage??

There was a time when I thought that pregnancy inevitably followed the wedding. In my defense, I was 17 and everyone who got married announced that they were having a baby within 3 months and there were no movies/internet/ads to ''enlighten'' me. These days, the situation in India has marginally improved and married couples have the ''luxury'' of starting a family after a year or even two, if they are lucky. But once someone celebrates the 2nd wedding anniversary, everyone stops hinting around and chooses the direct approach.

Here is one of the “pearls of wisdom” that usually has smoke coming out of my ears....''Your life is empty without a child''
While I am sure a child enriches one's life and brings happiness, I fail to see how everything else one accomplishes before having a child suddenly loses all meaning. People usually use the same argument for getting someone to marry. While I totally believe a loving companion (spouse or partner) makes life beautiful, I fail to see how the individual's identity is suddenly deemed worthless.

There are others who choose the practical approach and say:
- Women have a biological clock
- Its better to have a kid when the parents are young and healthy and can accede to all the time and attention demands from a child or children. The addendum of this is its better to have a kid when the grandparents are still reasonably healthy
- The sooner you have a child, the earlier you can retire since the child/children would be settled by then

While I partially agree with these practical statements, I am also tempted to play the devil’s advocate. Life expectancy and general health of this generation is better than the previous generations and so is the determination of when to enter the various phases of life. I mean how often did women stay unmarried after 21 in our parents’ generation? But now most women don’t even think about marriage until they reach 25 and I know quite a few who are in their late twenties and still not ready for marriage. As far as the kids-settling-down-before-retirement argument, I have to say that I don’t like to plan the next 30 yrs of my life with so many variables in place; those variables being number of kids, their IQ, their urge to settle down in life, their financial independence etc. I am going to go with ‘let’s cross that bridge when we get to it’.

Then there is the sentimental approach where grandparents say ‘naan sagarthukulla kollu perano pethiyo pakka vendama’…this usually reminds me of when I urge one of my friends or cousins to get married so that I have an excuse to come to India and have fun at a wedding…simply put well-intended but unreasonable expectation !

I think a lot of how I feel definitely has to do with my tenure in Germany. People here are very practical and they always have this attitude – “Its my life and I know what I want from it”. Families and friends are usually only informed of decisions they make and are allowed to deal with the outcomes in anyway they please. I don’t know if it stems from their independence right from childhood or from the distance they maintain with families/friends. I remember how offended I was when some stranger asked me about my salary and later remembered how common it is back home and how touchy I have become.

Another aspect is seeing married couples here with no children. While some do not want the responsibility of a child, others simply like the way their lives are and do not want to change it. I also know a married couple who instead of having children choose to have foster children for a few months every year. This way they can be with kids, do their part to society and in the remaining time be their old selves.

I have to admit that seeing and being with such people has changed my perspective. I am not leaning towards having no children but I am leaning towards choosing when to have them.

Ashok and I worked/work hard for our careers and we do enjoy our success and want to continue to enjoy them. We are having fun traveling, attending shows, taking dance/ski lessons and doing a lot of other things that one should do when one has time, money, interest and health and we are not yet ready for a change in our lifestyles....I think it should happen on its own and it will probably happen when we least expect falling in love :).....and when it does happen, boy o boy, aren’t we in for a roller-coaster ride !?!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Deepavali - Andrum, Indrum

I was looking at the video, it was made when Chowmee was nearly 5 years old. I was so glad Chowmee appa had thought of making a video and had later thought of converting the cassette to a CD. I loved to watch it and it always brought back a rush of memories.

Chowmee was 10 years old. It was 4am in the morning. I could already hear the crackers outside, the hustle and bustle of people in the building. I was still trying to wake her up.

''Ezhunduru chowmee, mani 4 achu!''
"Po ma, enakku thookama varudhu''
''Pattasu vedika poga vendama ? Pakathathu Chitra, Sreeya ellarum ezhundhuta theriyuma??'', I knew that would wake her up and it did.

After she drank her boost, I made her sit down on a stool in front of the bathroom to oil her hair.
''Yennai vechu vidaren vaa, athula kachinadhu, mudi vasanaya irukkum'', as she sleepily sat down on the stool, I sang ''Gowri kalyana vaibogame, Seetha kalyana vaibogame''. I know chowmee liked it when I sang this song. I couldn't help adding ''innum konja varushathala, chowmee kalyana vaibogamenu paduven''.

''kannu eriyardhu ma'' she screamed, when I was applying shikai to her hair and I scolded her, ''kanna irukki mudikonu sonnenolyo?''

After I washed her hair, I let her bathe and I took the new blue and white skirt and blouse remembering how she had wanted the black skirt and how upset she had been after I told her, ''Pandigai nal anniku karuppu potuka koodadhu'' and how she had come back to normal after we had shopped for some matching blue and white hair clips and bangles.

''Amma, naan kulichuten, en dress tha''
''Mudhala thalaya thodachu vidaren, inga vaa'', after drying her hair and taking a few strands from each side to do a small plait it in the middle, I told her, ''Pudhu dress kungumam thadavi vechurukken paaru, swamy namaskaram pannitu edhuthuko''

She came back in a few minutes and said ''Amma, inga paaru'' proudly displaying her new dress. I said ''romba nanna irukku, pattasu vedikarche white colora thodaikara thuni madhri akidadhe''. As she gave me an annoyed look, I smiled and said ''seri, seri, thatha paatikum namaskaram pannu''.

As she was ready to leave to join her other friends, I exclaimed ''Legyam sapda marandhutiye, anga dappala vechurukken, edhuthuko'' and continued to wake the others. When I came back from the bedroom, chowmee was still happily licking the legyam. I immediately took it away from her and said ''Ada ramachandra, adhu bakshanam illadi''. As she licked away the remnants sticking to her mouth, I remembered how she loved the Deepavali Legyam.

The others joined her in a short while and after 1 hour, they all came back, satisfied and hungry. Chowmee called out ''amma pasikardhu, bakshanam tha''. She always took one sweet from each kind I had made on a plate and the mixture in a cup with a spoon. Chowmee appa always said ''ava mattum dhan methodicala sapadra''. She would take them with her and either sit at the window sill watching birds (there would many kinds of them flying around behind our house) or sit next to paati and ask her for a story.

Very soon, weary from having woken up early, she would nap on paati's lap and when I asked paati ''amma, unga kal valika poradhu, avala bedla paduka vechudaren'', paati would cut me off and say ''kozhanda paduthunda kal valikuma enna?"

When chowmee was 14, she came home from school one day and said ''Amma, ineme naan pattasu vedika maaten''. When I queried her about what had happened, she said that she heard stories about child labour in Sivakasi and that many students in the school had made a conscious decision not to burst any crackers and she was one of them.

When she was 18, she was staying in the college hostel and had not come home for Deepavali since she had an exam the very next day. She said it was one of the toughest subjects and so she wanted to spend her time studying instead of traveling. I had called her at the hostel to make sure she had received the packet of sweets I had sent and she happily said ''Amma inga ellar athulayum sweets anupchurka, enga room poora sweet dabbava irukku, padikama ellarum nanna saptu kadai pesindu irukkom !''

When she was 21, she was in Germany. When I called her, I was surprised she was going to a lecture. I asked ''Deepavali anniku koodava lecture irukku?'' and she responded with an irritation in her voice ''Enna ma, Germans Deepavali kondaduvala illa namma kondadaromnu leave viduvala??''. I was afraid to ask if she had purchased a new dress or if she had any sweets that day. I knew the answers already. And when she said ''inniku mattum naan Madrasla nammathula irundhu irundha evalo jollya irukkum illa?'', I suppressed my tears and told her that she could plan to come the next year and fervently hoped she would.

When she was 25, I was expecting her call. I still couldn't believe that my Chowmee was all grown up, was married and it was her thalai Deepavali today and she was living 1000s of miles away. She had already refused my offer of buying a pattu sari for her and a pant-shirt for Mapillai and sending it by post. When she called, she said ''Amma, inga Indian communityla oru party irukku. Adhuku innum konja nerathula naanga po porom'', I was happy that she was celebrating thalai Deepavali with her husband and that's what mattered.

When she was 26, she was in Chennai for the Grihapravesam of her house and I was overjoyed when she decided to stay for Deepavali. I knew she would stay at her in-laws' place but I also knew that I could visit her there. I celebrated Deepavali with my little girl after 10 years.

A sudden ringing jolted me out of my reverie and when I realised it was the phone, I answered it eagerly. Hearing ''Amma, chowmee pesaren'' always made me happy. She was calling from work to wish me and after giving her my Deepavali Asirvatham and speaking with her for a few minutes, I knew it was time for her to go back to work. After she hung up I realised that Deepavali simply wasn't the same anymore...maybe...maybe it will change when chowmee's little girl or boy is around....

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