Friday, December 23, 2005

My favourite food and where I eat it

Vikram Karve

I love good food. And I love walking around searching for good food ( food walks I call them). Let me share with you, dear fellow foodie, some of my favourite eateries. Most of them are in South Mumbai, where I live, a few (where mentioned) are in Pune which is my home town which I visit quite often. Read on. It’s my very own Vikram Karve’s Value For Money Good Food Guide. I’ve walked there and eaten there. It’s a totally random compilation as I write as I remember and I may have missed out some of my favourites but I’ll add them on as and when memory jogs me and also keep adding new places I discover during my food walks. Try some places and let me know whether you liked it.

Vada Pav - CTO Vada Pav (Ashok Satam’s Stall) alongside the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) at Flora Fountain ( Hutatma Chowk). Or at Sahaydri at Churchgate.

Misal Pav – Vinay in Girgaum . Walk down Marine Drive, cross the road near Taraporewala Aquarium, take the lane between Kaivalyadhama Yoga Centre and Ladies Hostel ( it’s called Income Tax Lane), cross the railway overbridge, walk straight on Thakurdwar Road, cross Girgaum (JSS) Road, walk a bit and Vinay is to your right.

Kheema Pav – Stadium. Next to Churchgate Station. Kyani at Dhobi Talao.

Seekh Kebabs – Ayubs ( Chotte Mian ). Take the lane to the left of Rhythm House Music Store at Kalaghoda and let your nose guide you.

Jeera Butter – Ideal Bakery. Kandewadi, Girgaum. And try the sugarcane juice at Rasvanti next door.

Chicken Stew ( Kerala Style),Malabar Paratha and Appams – Fountain Plaza. In the lane off Handloom House. Fort. [ Brings back nostalgic memories of Ceylon Bake House in Ernakulam Kochi (Cochin) ]

Chicken Biryani – Olympia. Colaba Causeway. In Pune it’s Dorabjee & Sons restaurant on Dastur Meher road off Sarbatwala Chowk in Pune Camp.

Mutton Biryani – Shalimar. Bhendi Bazaar. I like the Chicken Chilly Dry too.

Malvani Cuisine – Sachivalaya Gymkhana Canteen. Opposite Mantralaya. Nariman Point. Bombil Fry, Pomfret masala, Kombdi (Chicken) Vada and Lunch Thali.

Gomantak Cuisine - Sandeep Gomantak. Bazargate Street. Fort.

Chiken Masala and Khaboosh Roti – Baghdadi. Near Regal. Off Colaba Causeway.

Nihari – Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar. Near Metro.

Nalli Nihari – Noor Mohammadi. Bhendi Bazaar.

Berry Pulao – Brittania. Ballard Estate.

Puri Bhaji – Pancham Puriwala. Bazargate street. Opposite CST Station (VT).

Kolhapuri Cuisine – I go to ‘Purepur Kolhapur’ at Peru Gate Sadashiv Peth in Pune for authentic Kolhapuri Pandhra Rassa, Tambda Rassa and Kheema vati. In Kolhapur it’s Opal.

Gulab Jamun – Kailash Parbat. 1st Pasta Lane. Colaba Causeway.

Rasgulla – Bhaishankar Gaurishankar. CP Tank.

Khichdi – Khichdi Samrat. VP Road. CP Tank.

Vegetarian Thali and Chaas(buttermilk) – Bhagat Tarachand. Mumbadevi. Zaveri Bazar.

Navrattan Kurma – Vihar. JT Road. Churchgate.

Veg Burger and Chicken Cafreal Croissant – Croissants. Churchgate.

Tea while browsing books – Cha-Bar. Oxford Bookstore. Churchgate.

Just a refreshing cup of Tea – Stadium. Churchgate.

Ice Cream – Rustom. Churchgate.

Pav Bhaji – Lenin Pav Bhaji Stall. Khau Galli. New Marine Lines. Near SNDT.

Jalebi – Pancharatna Jalebi House. Near Roxy. Opera House.

Milk Shakes, Juices and uniquely flavored ice creams – Bachelor. Opposite Chowpatty.

Stuffed Parathas – Samovar. Jehangir Art Gallery.

Stuffed Omlettes and Steaks – Churchill. Colaba Causeway.

Sea food – Anant Ashram. Khotachiwadi. Girgaum.

Apple Pie and Ginger Biscuits – Yazdani Bakery. Cawasji Patel Street. Between PM Road and Veer Nariman Road. Fort.

Cakes – Sassanian Boulangerie. 1st Marine Street. Near Metro.

Buns, Breads and Pastries – Gaylord Bake Shop. Churchgate.

Falooda – Badshah. Crawford Market.

Curds – Parsi dairy. Princess Street.

Sandwiches – Marz-o-rin. Main Street. MG Road. Pune.

Chole Bhature – Monafood. Main Street. Pune.

Shrewsbury Biscuits – Kayani Bakery. East Street. Pune.

The mere thought of Shrewsbury biscuits evokes in me a sensation I cannot describe. I am feeling nostalgic and am off to Pune - for Shrewsbury at Kayani, wafers at Budhani, Sev Barfi at Bhavnagri, Amba Barfi and Bakarwadi at Chitale, Biryani and Dhansak at Dorabjee, Misal at Ramnath, Sizzlers at The Place, Pandhra Rassa at Purepur Kolhapur, Mango Ice Cream at Ganu Shinde, Mastani at Kavare, Bhel at Saras Baug and on the banks of Khadakvasla lake, Pithla Bhakri, Kanda Bhaji and tak on top of Sinhagarh Fort, Chinese at Kamling ( Oh no. Sadly it’s closed down so I’ll go across to the end of East Street to the East End Chinese takeaway next to Burger King).
And guess what? The moment I reach Pune, I’ll walk across the station and enjoy a refreshing Lassi at Shiv Kailas. And then walk down in the hot sun to Main Street. One thing I’ll miss is the non-veg samosas at erstwhile Naaz on the West End corner at the entrance to Main Street. The good old Naaz and Kamling are two places I really miss.

See you then. It’s one in the afternoon and I’m hungry. I’m going out for lunch – guess where !

Dear fellow foodies. Please do send in your comments so I can keep updating.
Happy Eating ! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

An Affair to Remember by Vikram Karve

Vikram Karve

I look in front of me. I like what I see. I keep seeing, my eyes locked on to the target, as if by some mysterious, yet astonishing, force of attraction. Something is happening with me. Senses heighten; stimulated, aroused in a way I have never felt before. Waves of desire rise within me. I feel tremors of anticipation. My mouth salivates and I lick my lips lasciviously in eager expectation. I feast my eyes hungrily. My heart beats. I feel possessed. Intense passion, Lusty craving overwhelms me. I can’t control myself any longer. Wild with desire, I move towards my target, ready for the kill.

No. No. Dear Reader. Just wait a moment. The object of my desire - It’s not what you are thinking. What I am looking at, the object of my attention, the focus of my temptation, is a bowl Nihari – two succulent pieces of mutton floating in a rich nourishing gravy looking so luxuriant and tempting, that I just can’t wait to devour. But I control myself. Good food must be savored delicately; slowly, attentively and respectfully; in a befitting manner, with finesse and technique, with relish and appreciation and you will experience true gustatory delight. That’s the Art of Eating. It’s sacrilege to eat in a ravenous and rapacious manner.

The bowl of Nihari, so luxuriously appetizing; a Khameeri Roti, so soft and fluffy. It looks heavenly. I move closer. The tempting aroma - so enticing, so blissful - permeates within me, energizes my brain cells, activates my taste buds. My mouth waters. I am ready to eat.

Eating is not a gustatory experience alone, it’s visual and olfactory as well. Food must look good, smell good, taste good and, most importantly, make you feel good. The Art of Eating. It’s Holistic. Multidimensional. Encompassing all domains of your inner being.

If you want to do full justice to good food you must build up an appetite for it – merely being hungry is not enough. And the first step towards building up an appetite for good food is to think about it – simulated imaginative gustatory visualization to stimulate and prepare yourself for the sumptuous indulgence. An important thing we were taught at boarding school was to read the menu and prepare for the meal by beginning to imagine eating each and every dish, from soup to pudding, in our mind’s eye. Remember: First plan your “eat” and then eat your “plan”.

It’s true. I eat my food twice. First in my mind’s eye – imagining, visualizing, “vicariously tasting”, fantasizing, strategizing on how I am going to savor and relish the dish to my utmost pleasure and satisfaction till my mouth waters and I desperately yearn to eat it. And then I do the honours – actually go and eat it and enjoy the delightful experience.

Using my right thumb and forefinger, I lovingly pick small piece of meat from the gravy and delicately place it on my tongue. I close my eyes. Look inside. To focus my conscious energy. To accentuate my awareness. To concentrate. That’s the cardinal principle of the Art of Eating. You must always close your eyes during the process of eating. When you eat, you must eat; nothing else, no seeing, no hearing, no talking. No multitasking. Focus, eat mindfully, meditatively, honour your taste buds and you will attain a state of delightful bliss and happiness.

The meat is so tender that even a toothless person can eat it. It’s truly “Melt in the mouth” cuisine – like the famous Galouti Kebabs of Lucknow. Soft, succulent, juicy.

You don’t chew. You just gently squeeze the meat, softly rolling your tongue against the palate and the meat dissolves releasing its intoxicating flavours. It’s sheer bliss. Enlightenment. Gustatory Orgasm. Sensory Resonance. I do not have words to describe the exhilarating sensation.

That’s the hallmark of a genuine nourishing Nihari, the best part of the thigh muscle, specially selected prime marrow bones with generous portions of succulent meat, tenderized and marinated with curds, seasoned lovingly in the choicest of spices and dum-cooked to seal in the juices and flavours, slowly and gently, in a gravy carefully thickened with an assortment of flours of wheat, maize and dals as per the season and taste and garnished with thin strips of ginger and fine slices of fresh green chillies and a sprinkling of coriander.

I turn my attention to the Kameeri Roti. Holding the roti with my left hand I pull out a piece with my right. The texture is perfect – soft and fluffy. I sample a piece – yummy – it tastes good by itself; and why shouldn’t it? Whole-wheat atta kneaded with plenty of curds, seasoned with a bit of sugar and salt, fermented overnight in a moist cloth, flattened and cooked in a tandoor. Nourishing, luxuriant, ideal with the Nihari.

I dip a piece of roti in the thick gravy allowing it to soak in and place it on my tongue. Exquisite. A gentle bite. Tangy ginger and sharp chilli. A confluence of contrasting tastes. I absorb the riot of zesty flavours. It’s exciting, invigorating, perks me up and I am ready for what I am going to do next.

And what am I going to do next? You knew it didn’t you? I call for a marrow spoon, dig it into the marrow bone, scoop out some marrow and lick it on my tongue. I close my eyes and I can feel the nourishment coming all the way through. It’s a heavenly feeling.

I eat in silence. Mindfully. Savour the aroma, delicately place the food on my tongue, chew slowly and experience the variety of flavours as the permeate my taste buds, fully aware and sense the nourishment as the food dissolves and sinks deep within me.
The succulent meat. The sumptuous gravy. The luxuriant fluffy Kameeri Roti. It’s a feast worthy of the Gods. An ambrosial repast.

I am in a supreme state of bliss. Is this enlightenment? Or gustatory delight. Maybe it’s meditative eating. Or let’s narrow it down to the art of eating a Nihari.

It’s simple. Create a positive eating atmosphere, honour your taste buds, respect your food and eat it in a proper state of mind, with love, zest, awareness and genuine appreciation and it will transport you to a state of bliss and happiness. In a nutshell, this is ‘The Art of Eating’.


I used to visit two eateries on 1st Marine Street Dhobi Talao near Metro Cinema in Mumbai – Sassanian when in the mood for Parsi food or maybe a Roast Chicken, or to pick up delicious cakes, biscuits and freshly baked delights from their Boulangerie next-door and Punjabi Fish Mart for earthy deep fried fish best enjoyed piping hot by well fortified cast-iron stomachs on cold damp monsoon evenings. Sometime back, returning one evening from one of my food-walks, I noticed, in between these two, a newly opened restaurant - Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar – with a takeaway section, from where I picked up a menu card and walked home. Later that night I read the menu card and was delighted to find on it my favourite non-vegetarian delicacy – Nihari. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I partook of the dish.
And soon I had my tryst with Nihari and experienced this delightful gustatory affair to remember.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

How I Quit Smoking by Vikram Karve

Vikram Karve

I do not remember the precise moment I started smoking. Maybe it was sometime in college, in the seventies, when egged on by my friends I had my first puff. Just for the heck of it.
But what I do remember is the precise moment when I decided to stop smoking – a defining moment of my life.
A friend of mine came to my home in Mumbai late at night from the airport, to spend the night and catch next morning’s early train to Pune. It was late, I was tired after a hard day at work, so I gave him a cup of coffee and hit the sack and crashed out.
Suddenly someone was waking me up from my deep slumber – it was my friend asking for cigarettes.
“There’s a pack on the writing table,” I told him.
“It’s empty,” he said.
“Okay. I’ll get one in the morning,” I said.
“I need a smoke now. I’ll go out and get some,” he said.
I looked at him through my sleepy eyes and said, “Go to sleep. It’s late – there won’t be any shops open now.”
“There must be someplace. Please,” he said desperately, “ I haven’t had a smoke since I left Delhi. It’s been four hours. I’m dying to have a cigarette. Just one. I can’t sleep if I don’t get a smoke.”
Seeing his desperate craving, I had no option but to drive out with him in search of cigarettes at the unearthly hour.
Later, lying in bed, I thought about it. Poor chap. We had probably started smoking at the same time. If this could happen to him it could happen to me too if I didn’t wake up. He had become an addict. I didn’t want to become one. There was only one way. Stop smoking. Yes, I had to quit smoking. And I did it. I quit smoking. It’s been three years now, and I know I shall never smoke again. Let me tell you how I quit smoking. Maybe someone out there may benefit from my experience.

The first step towards quitting smoking is to learn how to enjoy smoking. Seems absurd - a paradox - isn’t it ? But that’s what I did and I’ll tell you all about it. I realized that in order to fully learn how to enjoy smoking one must first know the art of smoking. I got my clue from a teaching story as I reflected upon it carrying it my mind for a long time until I fathomed the story’s inner depth and meaning .
A seeker asks the master, “ Can I smoke while meditating ? ”
“ No ,” scolds the master angrily.
Another seeker then asks, “ Can I meditate while smoking ? ”
“ Yes , ” says the master knowingly realizing that this seeker is on the path to enlightenment.
This is the key, the first step – if you really want to stop smoking. First learn to meditate while smoking. Here is how I did it.
One evening, I take one cigarette, just one, and walk down to Marine Drive and sit down on the parapet in the cool sea breeze watching the sun being swallowed up by the Arabian Sea, crimson-yellow petals being thrown high up in the distant sky gradually devoured by the enveloping twilight. Soon it is dark, quiet and tranquil and I feel calm and relaxed.
I take out the cigarette from my pocket and hold it in front of me, look at it lovingly and close my eyes. You must close your eyes – it accentuates your other senses, makes you more conscious of what’s going on inside you. I hold the cigarette near my nose and breathe in the rich aroma of the tobacco, gently moving the cigarette as I take deep breaths, savoring the sweet fragrance of the tobacco tinged with the fresh scent of the paper and filter, until my olfactory system is truly and fully satiated.
I then put the filter between my lips, taste it and suck in air deeply through the unlighted cigarette. It feels good. I then open my eyes, light the cigarette, close my eyes, get ready and take a deep drag, focusing on my breath as I inhale, allowing the smoke to permeate deep within me, infusing a sensation I cannot describe, and watching carefully with my inner eye as I exhale - slow, long and relaxing.
Is my system being energized or depleted – I do not know – but I continue my unhurried meditative smoking, eyes gently closed, my inner senses fully conscious, aware, observing attentively, till the cigarette is over. I open my eyes, come out of my trance and instinctively I gulp in a huge amount of the fresh sea breeze and rinse my lungs and system.
As I walk back I decide that this is how I shall smoke each and every cigarette from now on – meditative smoking – the only way I shall smoke.

Most of us “smokers” haven’t learnt how to enjoy a smoke. We keep puffing away every waking moment of their lives without even noticing it. You grab a quick smoke in a hurry, you smoke when you are bored, you smoke while talking, while working, while doing something - smoking and multitasking : You smoke unconsciously, cigarette after cigarette, without even realizing it. Is it worth it? Why smoke if you don’t enjoy it?

I decide. Whenever I feel like smoking I shall stop everything and prepare myself for a meditative smoke. Go to some quiet place where I can sit undisturbed, alone. Yes I must be alone. Meditative smoking is a solitary activity. And I shall only smoke – no multitasking. No more smoking with friends, with tea or coffee, no more smoking in the office feeling a guilt conscience that non-smokers don’t like it or at home with my wife nagging me, no more hurried puffs, no more mindless unconscious smoking. Only meditative, mindful, conscious smoking in glorious solitude, inner calm and tranquility .

I follow this religiously and soon I am smoking only one cigarette a day – every evening, at sunset, just as I described it. For me smoking is a special occasion requiring solitude and a congenial ambience and if I cannot create the right atmosphere, both internally and externally, I shall not smoke.

When you have mastered something it’s time to let go and move on to something new. One day I feel I have mastered the art of smoking, derived all the enjoyment possible and reached a state of contentment and satiety. It’s time to let go. At sunset I go to my favourite place on Marine Drive, enjoy my final meditative smoke and toss the cigarette butt into the sea.

It’s been more than three years now and I haven’t had a smoke nor have I ever felt the urge to smoke. I know I will never smoke again – I have quit smoking forever.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Short Love Story by Vikram Karve

Rendezvous at Sunrise
( a short story )
Vikram Karve

Sunrise, on the eastern coast, is a special event. I stood at Dolphin’s Nose, a spur jutting out in to the Bay of Bengal, to behold the breaking of the sun’s upper limb over the horizon of the sea. As the eastern sky started unfolding like crimson petals of a gigantic flower, I was overcome by a wave of nostalgia – vivid memories, not diminished by the fact that almost ten years had passed.

I was a young bachelor then, and Vizag ( Visakhapatnam ) did not have much to offer. Every Sunday morning, I used to rise before dawn and head for Dolphin’s Nose to enjoy the resplendent spectacle of sun majestically rising out of the sea. The fresh salty sea – breeze was a panacea for all the effects of the hangover caused by Saturday night excesses.

After the viewing the metamorphosis at sunrise, I used to walk downhill along the steep mountain-path towards the rocky beach for a brief swim. I used to notice a flurry of activity at a distance, in the compound of a decrepit building, which I used to ignore, but curious, one day I decided to have a closer look.

It was a fish market. Most of the customers were housewives from the nearby residential complexes. They were in their “Sunday-worst” – sans make-up, slovenly dressed, faces unwashed and unkempt hair – what a contrast from their carefully made-up appearances at the club the previous evening.

I began to walk away, quite dejected, when I first saw her. I stopped in my tracks. She was a real beauty – tall, fair and freshly bathed, her long lustrous hair dancing on her shoulders. She had expressive eyes and her sharp features were accentuated by the rays of the morning Sun. I was struck by the thunderbolt and instantly fell madly in love with her.

But I knew in my heart that I stood no chance – she had a mangalsutra around her neck. She was married – probably happily too. Nevertheless I went close to her and made her pretense of buying some fish. Smiling cannily at me she selected a couple of pomfrets and held them out to me. I managed to briefly touch her hands – the feeling was electric. She communicated an unspoken good-bye with her teasing dancing eyes and briskly walked away.

I was too delightfully dazed to follow her. I returned to my room and had fried pomfret for breakfast. Needless to say they were delicious. I religiously followed this routine every Sunday morning. She never missed her rendezvous with me – same place, same time, at precisely the same time, Seven o’clock. But not a word was exchanged between us. I was too shy and she probably wanted to keep it this way – a beautiful ethereal relationship – a love so delicate that one wrong move might destroy everything. Meanwhile, I have developed a taste for fried pomfret – quite creditable, considering that I had never eaten fish before.

I left Vizag. Time passed , I had sailed around the world , but I never forgot her : A man’s first love always has an enduring place in his heart. And now I was back in Vizag almost ten years later. As I walked down the slope towards the beach, in my mind’s eye I could still vividly visualize the playfully sublime look on her face - her gentle smile and communicative eyes – although ten years had passed. I could not contain the mounting excitement and anticipation in me. I was desperately yearning to see her again. It was a forlorn hope but I was flushed with optimism.

As I reach the beach I noticed that the Sun was well clear of the horizon. I glanced at my watch. It was almost Seven O’clock. I hastened my step – almost broke in to a run – and reached the fish market and stood exactly at the same spot where we used to have our rendezvous at sunrise.

With tremors of anticipation, almost trepidation, I looked around with searching eyes. Nothing had changed. The scene was exactly the same as I had left it ten years ago. Only one thing was missing - she wasn’t there. I had drawn a blank. I was crestfallen. My mind went blank and I was standing vacuously when suddenly I felt that familiar electrifying touch. It shook me to reality, as quick as lighting. She softly put two promfret fish in my hands. I was in seventh heaven.

I looked at her. I was not disappointed. Her beauty had enhanced with age. But there was a trace of sadness in her eyes as she bid me an unspoken goodbye. I was too dumbstruck by the suddenness of the exhilarating event to react or say anything. For a moment we looked at each other in silence – a deafening silence.

It was only as she was leaving that I noticed that there was no mangalsutra around her slender neck.

I am going to stay in Vizag for a week. And next Sunday I shall rise early, behold the majestic sunrise from Dolphin’s Nose and run down to the beach fish market to be on time for my rendezvous at sunrise. And then, dear reader, I shall tell you what happened.


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The Map is not the Territory by Vikram Karve

The Map is not the Territory
Vikram Karve

“ The map is not the territory ”.
What does this mean ?
Liehtse’s famous parable of the Old Man at the Fort is perhaps apt to illustrate this concept :-

An Old Man was living with his Son at an abandoned fort on the top of a hill, and one day he lost a horse.
The neighbours came to express their sympathy for this misfortune, but the Old Man asked, “ How do you know this bad luck ? The fact is that one horse is missing and there is one horse less in the stables. That is the fact. Whether it is good luck or bad luck – that is a matter of judgment.”
A few days afterwards, his horse returned with a number of wild horses, and his neighbours came again to congratulate him on this stroke of fortune, and the Old Man replied, “ How do you know this is good luck ? The fact is that there are more horses in my stable than before. Whether it is good luck or bad luck – well that is a matter of opinion.”
With so many horses around, his son began to take to riding, and one day while riding a wild horse he was thrown off and broke his leg. Again the neighbours came around to express their sympathy, and the Old Man replied, “ How do you know this is bad luck ?”
A few days later a war broke out and all the able bodied men were forcibly conscripted into the army, sent to the warfront to fight and most of them were killed or wounded. Because the Old Man’s son had a broken leg he did not have to go to the front and his life was saved.
This parable drives home the lesson that there are no such things like good luck and bad luck. What disturbs you are not events but your attitude towards them. You must learn to distinguish between facts and your attitude or judgment towards those facts. It’s all in the mind. Facts are like territory – ground reality. But the way you interpret or judge those facts, your attitude towards them, depends on your mental map.
This mental map is formed due to your values, beliefs and experiences and you tend to view the actual facts or events (territory) through mental filters based on your values, beliefs, biases, prejudices and experiences which form your mental map.
Remember, just like the actual physical geographical territory exists on the ground and its map is drawn on paper, actual facts and events happen in reality and each one of us interprets them depending on the different maps in our minds.
Events, by themselves, don’t hurt you, it is your attitudes and responses ( mental maps) that disturb you and give you trouble. It then becomes your paramount duty to introspect and continuously redesign your mental maps to develop the correct attitude and responses towards external events.
When something happens the only thing in your power is your attitude towards it. We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them. The secret of inner calm lies inside you, in developing the proper mental “maps” and correct attitude in your mind, so that you are not disturbed by the vicissitudes of external events which are akin to the outside “territory”.
Remember, the map is not the territory.


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The Art of Happiness by Vikram Karve

The Art of Happiness
Vikram Karve

The primary aim of philosophy and spirituality is to help ordinary people live a life of happiness, fulfillment and tranquility. Every day you ask yourself - How do I live a happy life? Is it simple to be happy? What is the art of happiness? Let us see what the Taoist philosopher Mingliaotse has to say: “ The art of attaining happiness consists in keeping your pleasures mild.”
You know that whenever pleasure is present you are happy – this is a fact that cannot be denied – for a pleasure is an enjoyable event or delightful emotion which is bound to make you happy, at least for that moment.
Highfalutin philosophers and spiritual gurus may prescribe various impracticable esoteric paths of renunciation, asceticism or sectarian precepts eschewing enjoyment and pleasure as the sine qua non of happiness but the fact of the matter is that to the ordinary person happiness and pleasure are inextricably intertwined.
Discovering enduring pleasures which you can easily and regularly achieve, realize and enjoy in your day-to-day life will produce contentment, fulfillment and happiness.
No pleasure is a bad thing in itself, but wanton pursuit of pleasures is counterproductive as it leads to over-indulgence and excesses which bring with them disturbances which are detrimental to our happiness and well-being.
In your search for happiness you indulge in extravagant parties, expensive entertainments and try to enjoy everything at once, instant gratification by over-indulgence in wining, dining and dancing, stretching yourself to the maximum limits possible; at first you enjoy yourself and feel happy but when you come to the point of satiety you begin to feel a sense of repulsion, and if you overdo yourself, next morning wake up sick and feeling miserable with a sense of sadness rather than happiness. Grandiose, complicated, ostentatious and intemperate indulgences which you think will make you happy , in actual fact leaves you stressed-out, unhappy and causes you harm in the long run.
There is no need to overdo things in order to be happy. Just keep your pleasures mild. Enjoying a simple, tasty and healthy meal with your loved one’s and friends, or just sitting quietly and leisurely reading a good book, taking a walk enjoying melodious music, enjoying your work, leisure, hobbies are some mild pleasures which will make you happy and keep you healthy too.
It is simple to be happy. The first thing you must do is to introspect and list your most pleasurable activities – things that give you true joy, happiness and satisfaction – in all aspects of your life. Make your list as exhaustive as possible and from this list select those “mild” pleasures that you can enjoy every day or often. And then fit them into your daily routine. See what happens. Experiment. Delete those “pleasures” that you thought would give you happiness but actually made you stressed-out – things you think would be satisfying but turn out to be unrewarding. Do not be hesitant to add new items to your list – you can always remove them if they fail to produce the desired results. Fine tune and religiously practice your list – and experience happiness every day.
This prescription of keeping your pleasures mild will enable you to structure your life in way where your happiness will be in your control and you will find greater joy in your life. It will be feasible and within your control to ensure that you enjoy these mild pleasures daily or at least fairly regularly and, with only so many hours during the day, these enjoyable events will begin to crowd out the neutral, unpleasant, and irrelevant activities in your daily life and make you feel fulfilled and happy.
Dear reader, start today and discover the art of happiness. And do let me know your experience – did keeping your pleasures mild make you happier? And which are your mild pleasures?


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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Chillies by Vikram Karve

An Apocryphal Teaching Story
Vikram Karve

Here is an apocryphal story, I heard long back, whose inner meaning had a profound positive effect on me :

On his first visit to India, a rich merchant saw a man selling a small green fruit which he had never seen before. It looked fresh and juicy and the merchant was tempted, and curious, he asked the vendor," What is this ?" "Chillies, fresh green chillies," said the hawker.
The merchant held out a gold coin and the vendor was so overjoyed that he gave the merchant the full basket of chillies.
The merchant sat down under a tree and stared to munch the chillies. Within a few seconds his tongue was on fire, his mouth burning and tears streamed down his cheeks. But despite this discomfort, the merchant went on eating the chillies, chewing them one by one, scrutinizing each chilli carefully before he put it into his burning mouth.
Seeing his condition, a passerby remarked, " What’s wrong with you ? Why don’t you stop eating those hot chillies ? "
"Maybe there is one that is sweet," the merchant answered, " I keep waiting for the sweet one." And the merchant continued eating the chillies.
On his way back, the passerby noticed that the merchant’s condition had become miserable, his face red with agony and copious tears pouring out of his burning eyes. But the merchant kept on eating the chillies, in his search for the ‘sweet one’.
" Stop at once, or you will die," the passerby shouted. " There are no sweet chillies ! Haven’t you realized that ? Look at the basket - it’s almost empty. And have you found even one sweet chilli yet ? "
"I cannot stop until I eat all the chillies. I have to finish the whole basketful," the merchant croaked in agony, " I have paid for the full basket and I will make sure I get my money’s worth."

Dear Reader – Read this story once more, reflect on it, apply it to your life. Don’t we cling on to things that we know we should let go ( at first hoping to find ‘sweet one’ and even when we discover that there is no ‘sweet chilli’ we still continue to shackle ourselves to painful, harmful and detrimental things just to ‘get our money’s worth’ when we should let go and liberate ourselves).

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

A Teaching Story by Vikram Karve

A Teaching Story
Vikram Karve

A wise man seeking enlightenment, renounced worldly life, took a strict vow of celibacy which was a sine qua non for attaining enlightenment and headed for the hills to live an ascetic existence of a hermit. He found a secluded cave and began his simple meditative life surviving on natural wild vegetation in the forest and began his journey towards enlightenment.
One day he noticed holes in his robe and discovered that there were lots of rats in the cave who were chewing off his robes and who soon were nibbling at his toes disturbing his meditation.
Perplexed, he went down to town and consulted his Guru who said, “ No problem. Just get a cat who will take care of the rats.” So our wise man bought a cat and took it up to his cave. The cat took care of the rats and the wise man was undisturbed in his quest.
After a few days the cat had eaten up all the rats and started moaning with hunger. The constant moaning and crying of the cat again disturbed the wise man’s meditation and he again consulted his Guru who advised him to acquire a cow whose milk would feed the cat.
Now the wise man would spend some time milking the cow, feeding the cat and then settle down for his meditation.
A few days later the cow stopped giving milk and mooed loudly. The cat too had started moaning again and the disturbed wise man ran to his Guru once again who gave him some seeds. The wise man planted the seeds which yielded food both for the cow and himself. But he now had to spend so much time tending to his garden, feeding and milking his cow and giving milk to his cat that he hardly got any time for meditation.
He rushed to his Guru who once again had a ready solution, “ There is a young widow – poor thing she is destitute. She will look after everything and you can meditate in peace and attain enlightenment.”
It was a wonderful arrangement – the young widow looked after everything, the garden, cow and cat flourished and the wise man was undisturbed in his quest for enlightenment.
One day it began to snow, the temperature fell to sub-zero and the young widow started shivering in the cold. Soon she could bear it no longer and snuggled into the wise man’s bed and tightly embraced him as that was the only way to keep warm.
Who can resist the tight embrace of an attractive woman in the prime of her life ? The vow of celibacy lay shattered and there ended the wise man’s quest for enlightenment.

Moral of the story – Less baggage, better travel.


The Best Breakfast in Mumbai

Food Walks in Mumbai : Vikram Waman Karve

A Sumptuous Breakfast after a long brisk walk in the heart of Mumbai
Vikram Waman Karve

I start early, at dawn, from my house in Churchgate, hit Marine Drive and walk briskly towards Chowpatty where I turn right, cross Marine Drive and take the road adjoining Wilson College, walk past Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan , Gamdevi , Nana Chowk and crossing the railway overbridge keep going on Grant Road passing Novelty Cinema , turn right at Delhi Durbar on Falkland Road, reach VP Road, walk past Gol Deval and there I am at the Bhendi Bazar Mohamed Ali Road crossing – my destination Noor Mohammedi Hotel in front of me. Over an hour and a half of brisk walking has built up a healthy appetite in me and I am ready for a sumptuous breakfast.
I enter the Spartan no-nonsense eatery and order a Nalli Nihari and Roti. Within a minute a bowl of piping hot gravy and a fluffy khaboosh roti is placed in front of me. I dip a piece of the soft roti in the rich gravy, let it soak for a while, put it in my mouth and close my eyes to savour and relish the gastronomic experience in its entirety.
I can feel the gravy soaked roti melting on my tongue, releasing its delicious flavours which permeate into my soul. I am in seventh heaven and keep on attaining higher states of sheer bliss with every succulent bite of the mouth watering concoction – they say it’s a bone marrow and wheat gravy but I don’t delve too much on the contents of a dish – it’s the taste and delicacy that matters.
It’s a delectable beginning to a delightful day as the luscious taste of the delicious Nalli Nihari lingers on my tongue for a long long time. It’s epicurean satiation of the highest order – a blissful experience I can never forget.


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An Epicurean Experience at Dawn in Mumbai by Vikram Waman Karve

Food Walks in Mumbai : Vikram Waman Karve

A Sumptuous Breakfast after a long brisk walk in the heart of Mumbai
Vikram Waman Karve

I start early, at dawn, from my house in Churchgate, hit Marine Drive and walk briskly towards Chowpatty where I turn right, cross Marine Drive and take the road adjoining Wilson College, walk past Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan , Gamdevi , Nana Chowk and crossing the railway overbridge keep going on Grant Road passing Novelty Cinema , turn right at Delhi Durbar on Falkland Road, reach VP Road, walk past Gol Deval and there I am at the Bhendi Bazar Mohamed Ali Road crossing – my destination Noor Mohammedi Hotel in front of me. Over an hour and a half of brisk walking has built up a healthy appetite in me and I am ready for a sumptuous breakfast.
I enter the Spartan no-nonsense eatery and order a Nalli Nihari and Roti. Within a minute a bowl of piping hot gravy and a fluffy khaboosh roti is placed in front of me. I dip a piece of the soft roti in the rich gravy, let it soak for a while, put it in my mouth and close my eyes to savour and relish the gastronomic experience in its entirety.
I can feel the gravy soaked roti melting on my tongue, releasing its delicious flavours which permeate into my soul. I am in seventh heaven and keep on attaining higher states of sheer bliss with every succulent bite of the mouth watering concoction – they say it’s a bone marrow and wheat gravy but I don’t delve too much on the contents of a dish – it’s the taste and delicacy that matters.
It’s a delectable beginning to a delightful day as the luscious taste of the delicious Nalli Nihari lingers on my tongue for a long long time. It’s epicurean satiation of the highest order – a blissful experience I can never forget.


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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Food Walks in Mumbai

I love going on Food Walks and over here I shall record my food walks in Mumbai and the delicious food I savoured in the nooks and corners of Mumbai.
Please join me in my food walks.


The Best Biryani in Mumbai

Wher do you get the Best Biryani in Mumbai ?
Lucky ? Shalimar ? Delhi Darbar ?
It's undoubtedly the one and only Olympia on Colaba Causeway.
Try it. The Spread Test and Taste test. It comes out with flying colours.