Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Can Indian Food Go With Wine ?

Wine is the services drink in India. There was a time good wines had to be imported from abroad and cost a pile of money, but now good wines are grown in India and it is possible to get a bottle of Indian made wine that can be refreshing. But, wine by tradition is a European drink and the food that goes with it is also Western. But there is a change and some experimentation has shown that perhaps Indian food could also serve as an appetizer or a starter with the wine served. Generally Indian food amongst all Asian cuisine is perhaps the hardest to match with wine, since the background of Indian food is a complex layering of hot spices that may well drown the taste of the wine. There is an old saying that defines the foods that go with Wine. It says something like this ‘Whitewine with fish and red wine with meat’. This is like a Sloka(verse) from the culinary Gita, but it doesn’t work in India. So what is to be done? Can we not match Indian food with wine? The point to be borne in mind is that the matching of food with wine needs to be done in such a way that the flavor of both i.e. the wine and the food is retained. Indian cuisine is not perfect with wine as too many ingredients go into its preparation, unlike the western food that is generally bland. An example is the powerful chilly dishes that are likely to knock the flavor of any wine of the pedestal. Indian citrus flavored dishes tend to put wine in the background and the curd and yoghurt based dishes give a different taste and the flavor of wine would go. Thus it is a challenge to pair Indian food with wine, yes a challenge but not difficult or impossible. Individual tastes also matter and what is good for the goose may not be good for the gander. Some Indian connoisseurs who are regular wine drinkers do feel that white wine is fabulous with Indian food. So what are the foods that go down well with wine? Gourmets and chefs feel that tandoore, smoke cooked dishes go well with an oaky chardonnay (white) or an oaky Merlot. A mildly spiced curry if you are in the mood for one will go with a Chenin Blanc. New revolutionary tastes and experimentations are on and people have tried a non spicy samosa that eternal Indian dish along with red wine. Have a sauce, both white and red with it and it goes well with red wine. Can we have an axiom for Indian food and wine? One of my friends from the Hyatt coined this. He said ‘LightIndian food with light wine and richer dishes with richer wines’
But at the end of the day, what matters is the individual taste, more than anything else. People from the subcontinent do not relish bland ham or grilled chicken with wine; they would much better prefer a Tandoore chicken tikka with the wine. I have tried it and it tastes great, both for the wine and the Indian tikka.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Sniper Duel from the Pages of History

History records many famous duels between opponents right from the primitive age. There was the famous duel between Hector and Achilles at the gate of Troy, during the Greek Trojan war. There is the famous test of skills between Richard the Lion heart and the Muslim warrior Saladin. In a similar vein a modern duel took place between a Russian sniper Rifleman Vasily Zaytse and a German officer, equally brave and determined Major Heinz König. The setting for this epic battle that lasted 4 days was the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942.
Vasily Zaytse was transferred to Stalingrad by the Russian top brass to help hold the Germans off. He had a one point agenda, to use his skill as a sniper to kill as many German Army officers as possible, which were considered high value targets. Zaytse moved among the ruins of the bombed out city and picked up many German officers with his rifle. In fact as per reports during the months of October-November he reportedly accounted for 242 Germans. Figures are not important, but it spread panic in the German ranks of an unknown Russian sniper who had to be contained. The German headquarters after due deliberation in Berlin selected Major Heinz of the German sniper school to come down to Stalingrad. He had been given a one point charter to eliminate the Russian sharpshooter as early as possible. Major König landed in Stalingrad and got down to his task. He realized that his enemy was a formidable adversary and he accordingly made plans to kill vasily. Thus was launched a duel between two sharpshooter, each of whom mad e his plan to kill the other. Russian intelligence also was aware of the arrival of the German ace from Berlin and accordingly vasily was called by his superior officer to get ready to face the German sniper. He was warned that Major König was the best German sniper and he headed the Training School at Berlin and thus Zaytse was advised to formulate his plans carefully. Both the adversaries played a cat and mouse game as they stalked each other. Major König drew first blood as he was able to kill two close companions of Vasily. He assumed that he had killed Vasily and came out into the open to smoke a cigarette. Vasily saw his chance and in a split second shot the German Dead. It was a tremendous victory. Later many Germans mentioned that the duel was fiction, but the fact is that the German archives do mention another name as a sharp shooter. There could be a mix up of names. Also the telescope of Major Konig’s rifle is preserved as an exhibit at the Armed Forces Museum in Moscow. It’s worth a look. After the war vasily wrote a book about his duel with the German ace. By killing the German sharp shooter, Vasily has moved into the hall of the great snipers of world history. He died in 1990 and is buried at Stalingrad.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

General VK Singh has Cut a Sorry Figure

General VK Singh had filed a constitutional writ in the Supreme Court on a matter which many considered trivial, when seen in the National context. The general had made it a matter of honor and one was bewildered that so trivial a matter got the entire attention of Army chief heading a 1.2 million strong army, the third largest in the world. What was the issue that so agitated the general? It is a mundane matter regarding his date of birth. The general ontended that he was born in 1951, while one branch in the army had recorded the date of birth as 1951. On the basis of his school certificate the General asked for an extension of one year as army chief. One wonders who the advisors of the general were. The general really stood no chance in court, for it is a fact that he had lived with 1950 as his date of birth in the army for 40 years. What stopped VK Singh from petitioning the Supreme Court earlier? Obviously the general was on sticky ground. The sad part is that the chief of a fighting and operational army had time to spare to fight on this mundane matter. Granted the general was right, but he had served hos term and should have left. But he chose to stay on and iin the bargain got a rap on his knuckles instead. Men like VK Singh are men with a limted horizon. They perhaps have no strategic vision. If the general had, he wpuld have not wasted his and the courts time with such infructous action. How much nicer it would have been in case Singh had petitioned the Supreme Court on a matter concerning officers and men like the One Rank One Pension issue? But small men cannot rise to greatness and in that respect VK Singh has shown that he is a puny individual with no claim to even a semblence of greatness.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Simple Question On Sex * 79

I have been wondering on a simple question, why is sex so enjoyable. Everybody knows this is so. Yet most religions and religious preachers frown on pleasures of the sex act. There is a puritan streak in Christianity and Buddhism and Jainism. Why even Hinduism lays great stress on celibacy.

Thus most religions do not accept pleasures of the flesh. However there is one man who accepted sex as something desirable and natural. Most men with little knowledge refer to him as Love Guru. I am afraid nothing as far from truth as this title. He was Acharaya Rajneesh or Osho.Rajneesh was much above the mundane thoughts. He accepted that sex was natural and desireable. I think he was one of the few philosophers who really understood sex. He was the man who took away the guilt complex in man and liberated him.

Give the devil his due and Rajneesh deserves credit for recognizing the essence of human nature. You cant fault him for that

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What is the White Slave Trade ?

The slave trade of Negroes to work in the plantations is well documented and is a fact of history. Forts like the one at Cape Castle in Ghana on the West coast of Africa stand as testimony to the black slave trade. But there was another slave trade which is not so well documented. This is referred to as the White slave trade and solely concerned white women.

This slave trade is to an extant still alive and INTERPOL is trying its best to break it. The slave trade of white women started from the 15th century and even earlier. It stemmed from the fact that the rich Arabs and Caliphs desired white women for their harems. The Caliphs and Sultans greatly desired European women. This was a commodity not easily available. Hence these Arabs hired agents and professional touts who for astronomical sums of money either lured or kidnapped unsuspecting young European girls for the harems of the Arabs.

There were cases of young girls going for a walk and being spirited away. There was an elaborate mechanism and the girl could not escape. She would be taken to the Sultan's harem. The sultans were very particular that the girl being supplied was a virgin. No payments were made in case the girl was not a virgin.
The trade continued well nigh into the 20th century, but now is in decline. The hey day of this period was the 18th and 19th terms of numbers the white slave trade involved very few women, but it certainly did exist.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Amrita Shergill, Nudes and Art

When I was younger, I did have some talent as a artist.In those days I painted a lot, but my father was vehemently opposed to any study of art and so I fell in line with him and achieved a conventional degree and carried on in life. Still two or three of my paintings remain as a reminder to what I could have accomplished. Anyway that is old hat now, but my interest in art did not diminish and recently I spent a considerable amount of time witnessing and studying the paintings of Amrita Shergill at the Museum at Delhi.
The paintings are absolutely stunning. The best part are some lovely nudes of herself which stand out in the collection. Who was Amrita Shergill ? Not many may be knowing that she was a Sikh girl who died young at the age of 28. Her short lifespan, however, is a beacon to modern Indian painters. Born in 1913 of a Hungarian mother and Sikh father in Hungary, she died of a mysterious illness at Lahore in 1941. I have reproduced one of her paintings to give a reader the visual of the type of painter she was.

Nudity , beauty, and women from centuries have gone hand in hand. However, It must be understood hat nudism per se is not art. But again most of the greats in the field of art have painted nudes as a form of self-expression.
The famous painting by Fransisco Goya of his love for the Duchess of Alba led to one of the art's greatest paintings. it set the tone of the greats being painted in the nude for posterity. As a follow-up, Brittany Spears got herself painted in the nude in this century so as to leave her image behind for posterity.
Coming to Amrita Shergill, she was certainly a genius and achieved more than painters in a lifetime. Her paintings are raw and earthy and conform to the fact that a nude is Gods most wonderful creation. Her self-portraits in the nude are there for posterity as a tribute to her skill and spirit. That is perhaps the reason the ancients in India and Greece painted and sculpted nude women. Lastly, we must remember that a nude is a creative form of expression and perhaps an erotic woman's painting is the ultimate in creativity.
I feel sad that Amrita died so young.One wonders what she could have achieved in a lifetime, but then God has his own peculiar way of running the world.

Chinese Navy and Its Aircraft Carrier

I am wondering why China has not invaded Taiwan. I think it is because the Peoples Republic of China has always been at a disadvantage vis a vis the USA. The powerful US navy ,in particular the 7th fleet has been an eyesore for China. One of the reasons is the lack of an aircraft carrier to counter the US navy.
Things are now changing and the Chinese bought an old carrier from Ukraine. This came without engines and the Chinese fitted new turbines in it. It is a slow carrier and able to move at aspeed of about 20 knots an hour. This is slow, but the Chinese navy can learn operations as a start.
The Chinese have now begun sea trials for the carrier. But this again will take some time as mastering operations from a carrier takes time. To attain operational capability will take at least 2 years.
The Chinese did a mistake in not going for a carrier earlier. Even the Indian navy has been operating aircraft carrier for over 45 years and successfully used it in the 1971 conflict in East Pakistan. The Chinese are now making amends and going in for aircraft carriers. Reports suggest that that Chinese are planning a fleet of 20 carriers. But it will be difficult to make up for lost time for at least a decade. Till then the Chinese will remain a second rate naval power.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is American Democracy Flawed ? Only the Rich can get Elected

America is a democracy, but that is more in word than deed. The US president is arguably the most powerful man on this planet. There is no doubt on this score. But there is certainly a doubt as to whom the US president represents. Does he represent the common American citizen or the rich aristocracy ?

Starting with the big daddy of all George Washington who owned 300 slaves and 60,000 acres right down to the present challanger Mitt Romney, I can't think of a man who became US President in the 20th century who came from an improvished household. The fact is a man cannot become the President of the USA,who is himself not rich and has no money bags to back him. In that respect democracy in the USA is a flawed democracy.

There are exceptions like Lincoln, but that was from a bygone age and not at all possible. The present challanger,being labelled as the great 'white hope' to take on Obama is perhaps the richest of all US presidents in the present age and time.. His wealth estimated between $ 190 to 250 million dollars makes him 50 times richer than Obama. Though Obama is certainly not a poor man wjth an estimated wealth between $ 2.2 to 7.5 million. As far as Mitt Romney is concerned, he is way ahead of the Bush's and Carter. Mind you Romney has only disclosed only the broad outlines of what is his worth. His real worth may be double or triple of this disclosure.

Now we have another President hopeful in the shape of Donald Trump. Here is another man with millions, not forgetting Hillary Clinton who is has billions pledged to her by the Business community.

I wonder why the Americans cannot elect a man who is a commoner and lived with the common people. This presently is highly unlikely with the Presidency in the grip of the capitalists. Thus democracy in the USA is for the rich man. Can we see a poor man sit in the White House.That for me is the million dollar question.

Male Spermatozoa and ESP, any Connection ?

I am going to write on a topic that requires deep understanding. This concerns the development of Extra Sensory Powers or Perception. Nobody has as yet been able to explain why some human beings have these powers and how did they achieve them.

In India however there is a branch of Yoga that deals with the developments of ESP. Some years back I had met Swami Shradanand at a village Ashram in Bassein near Mumbai. The Swami is no more now, having left for his heavenly abode. But one point stuck in my mind. He during his discourse once showed how ESP can be developed through Yoga.
As per Swami Shradanand there is a direct relation between the male spermatozoa and ESP. He espoused that once a man does continuous Yogic pose in this case the Sir Asana ( Head Stand), then after perfecting this pose and holding it at least for an hour and half strange powers will slowly become clear to the man doing Sir Asana. But he added 3 riders along with the perfection of the Sir Asana. They are:
a) Complete celibacy.
b) Vegetarianism.
c) Intense prayer and mediation.
As per the swami's theory once a man follows the above ritual his spermatozoa will get conserved and during the Sir Asana Pose will slowly begin to trickle down the spine and after a couple of years will touch the base of the brain. After many years these spermatozoa will form a flower at the base of the brain and a man will slowly develop extra sensory powers. On the face it looks improbable, but I can vouchsafe the powers of Swami Shradanand. He could not only read the mind but could predict and guide what to do in the future because of his uncanny powers.
The Swami's theory is difficult to test, but what he has said cannot be dismissed out of hand.