Sunday, May 6, 2018

Ikk Panjab

"Ek Dal Makhni, Ek Paneer Butter Masala aur Do Butter Naan"

If I had a thousand rupee note for every time my family dinners constituted various renditions of the abovementioned, I would be a crorepati, albeit of illegal, unwanted tender.

Having grown up in a vegetarian Punjabi household of teetotalers, Tandoori and Buttered platings of our brethren, the chicken and mutton, have stayed off the usual dinner orders during family outings. So, the Dal and Paneer reign. Now, with changing Punjabi trends, such as replacement of the words "kudiye" with "swag Gucci saree wali brown patola", it was about time that our vegetarian Punjabi dinners be given an equivalent upliftment.

Enters another Punjabi restaurant in the middle of Dilli da Brampton aka Rajouri Garden Market - Ikk Panjab.

Focused on "rediscovering lost recipes", the restaurant is an attempt to bring authentic flavors from pre-partition India. While it says so as its official tagline, the claim resonates equally in the decor - blown-up monochrome prints of the Sikh Regiment from 1940 amidst models of the rifles used in the Mutiny.

Nothing short of a museum, the restaurant tries its best to add to the minutest details, wherever possible - such as food being plated on a sil-batta; handcrafted copper bottles complete with perfectly aligned dents of a coppersmith's hammer; and types of achaar paanch - signifying the "punj" on a custom-designed wooden platter with the restaurant's branding.

The menu, however, plays with flavors authentic, yet differentiates itself in what it does with the offering. "Oh Teri" is the gimmick you begin with - a butter chicken samosa, followed by the choicest picks from The California Boulevard menu that fit the theme - the Palak Patte ki Chaat and Ambarsari Fish n Chips.

I'd recommend you try the Adraki Matran di Tikki, even if the "adrak" in the name may sound intimidating, and the Rahra Soya Missi Roti Taco - which is a filling of soya nuggets in a taco shell of missi roti.

For non-vegetarians, I'd trust the good fellow who accompanied me for dinner and swore by the quality of the Raan, which I've been told is done so well only at the Bukhara's or in Pakistan. (Disclaimer: The said friend has never visited Pakistan. When I questioned his claim, he reminded me how I liked this facebook post in hope of benefiting this gentleman half a rupee for his cardiac cancer. I then shut myself about trust and belief. Born debater, I tell you. Give him the benefit of the doubt). 

In my search for the substitute of a Dal and Paneer combo, I'd ordered the Achari Baingan and Punjabi Kadhi, both worth every dime you throw here - almost like the bhaint of an anna in a wishing well from Sikh history.

And how could I forget the drinks! To a Punjabi true to his roots, the Gud Wali Lassi may sound inviting, but I'd recommend you trust the signature items - the Tikhi Punjaban, a drink of tamarind juice, laal mirch and churan in a base of pomegranate; or the Dudh Soda, your favorite Roohafza Milk from a sunny Gurpurab afternoon spiked with some bubbly of the virgin variety.

The place is quite a drive from Gurgaon, but if you've lived in one of the refugee colonies of Delhi for a part of your life, and have some relatives still inhabiting one such in Western Delhi, there's a high chance this falls en route their address.

If my experiences of Punjabi women count, I'd recommend you save yourself some bickering on the way back home from your relatives', by skipping lunch/ dinner that your chachi/ maami/ bua would have prepared and bringing your mother here. I promise neither the servers nor the chef would mind if they hear her say, "Main koi isse kamm achha khaana banaati hoon?" The way she would devour it despite her diabetes will be enough signal for the staff to smile.

And I dare your pyo to suggest skipping dessert for an ice-cream from the thela outside. The Pathani Kesar Badam Kulfi and the Taran Taaran Jalebi are hard to miss. 

If you own a Punjabi restaurant in Rajouri Garden or Timbuktoo, I urge you to visit this spectacle and order just their Jalebi. That my friend is what you call a Jalebi. Trust me, I run a blog with that name.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Kaddu Planting

Doodles from this morning meeting. Kunzum Tako Kaddu Planter is my soul sister for the day. Suggests exactly what I've managed to achieve at my office desk since morning.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Neil Armstrong and the Case of Social Media Cliches

"You know, I cannot even post a gym selfie on Instagram anymore because these idiots will have another reason to troll."

"Calm down, Neil. It doesn't suit you at this age."

"Why doesn't it bloody suit me! When your grandchild does it, she's showered with a thousand likes and the title of an influencer. And when bloody I want to show the world how hard I've worked on my biceps, I'm told I'm just an old hag trying too hard to live up to my family name."



"That's quite clever though", chuckled Janet, handing Neil his early morning cuppa.

"Why does this look so pale today? Is it not the filter coffee Naren sent from Mylapore?"

"Hashtag No Filter, old man."


Neil was a man of old tastes. He reminisced of the days he brought glory to the United States and took a giant leap for mankind. But unlike all celebrities other than Freeman and Thalaiva who drive themselves to insanity for the lack of attention post seventy - Neil was one who believed in changing himself with the times.

Except, he hated social media cliches.


"I'm sorry to say this, but all your attempt to be changing with the times is in vain. I mean, just look at yourself, Neil. You're such a curmudgeon, cursing at these kids' Facebook posts day in, day out."

"Please, Janet. I have no problem with anyone. I just have a problem with the lack of originality in this generation.

Last night, I posted an old picture of myself with Buzz and Michael, writing about how on that historic Thursday of 17th July, 1969, we almost shit our pants when we separated the spacecraft from Saturn V, our rocket, on our first trip to the moon.

As the rocket detached with a jostle, I remember Buzz mumbling what he thought would be his last words. The Apollo propelled and we could see the Saturn drifting away into space. That, my lady, was the real Throwback Thursday. And now if I use that term on my post, I look like a bikini-clad fashionista in a paid partnership with Elon Musk. Except, Space X cannot even afford to pay me anymore."

"I'm sorry I started you off on this early morning, Neil. It's my mistake."

"No, don't be sarcastic with me now. As my wife, I want you to be supportive of me. You were when I told you I wanted to quit the navy for the NASA program - and I want you to be now when I want to create an original identity for myself on social media."

"How am I being sarcastic? I'm with you, always, Neil. You just need to age gracefully, and not be craving attention on the internet all day."

"I hope you remember what they said about a space mission with three men. It's worse than prison, Janet. Put three men in a cramped space and a risk of not coming back from it alive, and see what your hormones can do to you.

You used to tell me during training days how you thought Buzz was cute. Did you even think of what that could do with my head? I avoided looking at him all through that voyage. I would take out your picture from my pocket to see your pretty face after every intense conversation with him, almost like your photo would remind me of my love for you and give me the strength to hold back.

I crossed my heart and swore to die if I ever brought shame to you. You were, are and will always be my giant leap, Janet."

"Aww, Neil."

"I fucking literally loved you to the moon and back, and now I cannot fucking say it on the internet because some trashy teen-queen keeps using it for the rest of the world."


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Monday, December 4, 2017

Unapproved Audit Observations - Part 1

My life revolves around visiting client sites ever so often with my visiting cards in the inside breast pocket of my blazer – almost like a CID pocket shield that I flash on the accountant’s terrified face and post one slap across his skull, having him spurt why he booked a capital expense as revenue.

The adventure mostly ends with micro-management of the articled assistant, correcting his draft of the report for want of 1.15 pt line spacing and justified text alignment. To add to my misery is the stuff that gets edited out from the report by Senior Partner of Sandeep Ahuja & Co.

Here’s taking a leaf out of my book – quite literally – and putting it where at least someone would read and appreciate. Here’s observation #1. True life story.


Client Name: Confidential
Branch under review: Unnamed District, Jharkhand
Period covered under audit: Quarter 2, Financial Year 2017-18
Scope: Review of Internal Control Systems
Audit Lead: CA Sarthak Ahuja

Observation: During the course of physical verification of fixed assets installed at the office premises, the Audit Lead observed that the plastic seat on the commode was rickety. Efficiency in the working of the asset was tested through a sampling exercise of sitting on the porcelain rim by putting up the plastic seat in a vertical position against the cistern at the back.

Overlooking the aspect of the rim being too cold, severe doubts on the functioning of the asset arose when on turning on the knob for the water jet, a cold stream of water flowed onto the head of the Audit Lead, almost trickling down his back from the collar above.

Cause: On in-depth examination, it was found that the design of the water jet is flawed, whereby the flexible hose through which the water travels into the jet was attached to the bottom of the backside of the plastic rim, as illustrated in Figure 1 and 2.

Effect: An adverse observation has been recorded due to the following reasons:

- The asset not just has a worn out plastic rim that does not stay firm when put down, but the water jet installation is design inefficient;

- The asset led to the auditor’s clothes having drenched in water, especially down the spine of the shirt, making it almost impossible to rationally explain the cause on his way out to the auditee staff. The lack of a shower system in the premises further limited the possible causes that could be used to explain the wetness.

- A trickle or two during accidental excretion of bodily fluids onto the official attire can be explained by an uncontrolled flow of the water tap in the wash basin, especially if the subject purposely splatters water onto his shirt, all the way down to his waist, in an attempt to explain such an incident. However, a trickle down one’s spine is an inexplicable situation adding to the subject’s embarrassment and lack of willingness to live.

Impact: High. The incident explains how if any of the auditee staff members were to accidentally experience the result of such a shortcoming in the installed fixed asset, it would lead to not only loss in morale of the employees, adversely impacting the working efficiency of the human resource, but may also lead to high employee attrition and turnover.

Management Response: The issue was not discussed with the Management at the time of debriefing due to the sensitive nature of the observation – open communication of which may have led to severe consequences such as a reduction in the authority commanded by the audit exercise. Thus, management response is sought through the medium of this report and may be obtained in the form of an Action Taken Report, the format of which is appended herewith.

Recommendation: It is recommended that the fixed asset be replaced at the earliest, with a more design efficient system be installed, such as a health faucet, which is in line with modern day practices of maintaining hygiene at the workplace.

It was also observed that the fixed asset was neither recorded in the Fixed Assets Register, nor bore any sticker signifying the fixed asset number. This would need immediate redressal as negligence in non-recording of an asset in the said register may lead to theft of the asset, which would also skip the notice of the team conducting physical verification of fixed assets.

Thereafter, the cost of the asset newly installed should be added to the gross block and depreciation be charged at applicable rates as prescribed under the relevant schedule of the Companies Act, 2013 as well as under the Income Tax Act, 1961, for respective purposes.  

Thanking you.
Yours sincerely,

CA Sarthak Ahuja

Monday, October 2, 2017

Your Pace or Mine?

If I write any further, my mother will think that my sole mission with this post is to reduce her street cred in the lanes of Mothers-with-Marriageable-Betas. But truth be told, Alpha her kid is not, and admittedly, as an appreciator of alliteration and puns, a Beta beta has a nice ring to it.

I’m gifted, both genetically and emotionally, to be asked to field in a game of cricket in seventh grade PE period, and make the spectators go aah-ooh when I run after the ball beyond the boundary, and throw it to cover a distance of 5 cubits between myself and the stumps at an angle of twenty-five degrees instead of ninety. Being promoted to the Man-of-the-Match-esque title, “Beech ka Bichhu”, I think I was actually glad that I’d get two shots at batting, and the perks of a Bhatta Ball – with an occasional try-ball at the beginning of each inning.

Football was closer to my heart though. I would run after the ball for five minutes like it was the final episode of Survivor: St. Columba’s School, and soon realize that the point of the game was to increase the heat in your chest to a Fahrenheit that would qualify for a hit reference in a Bipasha Basu starrer Omkara song. I would fall to the ground (for dramatics, because attention-seeking bitch), holding my chest with a heart that would thump like Skrillex deciding never to drop the bass. Open my shirt buttons and you would see redness like I tore my chest apart like Hanuman, apart from witnessing too much chest hair for a twelve year old… the sport was closer to my heart, I told you.

Over the years, and especially while I was taking my CA final exams, I realized that my body was actually doing a Benjamin Button, with returning baby fat and all. In an attempt to not reach a condition where a third person would do my washy-washy, I decided to reverse the reverse-ageing and, contrary to popular belief of every single joint in my knee, to take up a sport.

So I took up one which would allow me to not give an unfair disadvantage to others and be magnanimous like Arnold Schwarzenneger.

I started running.

What they call jogging.

Or what they actually call panting for breath while Lady Gaga’s Applause plays in your ears to build tempo, but the only tempo you can relate to is Ashok Leyland.

In the dark.

When no one would be in the park.

To mistake me for someone in need of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Not that I was getting any while not panting for one.

So, I would run in the moonlight of October 2013 – the silver of the full moon sifting through the carbon-dioxide emitting leaves and making the crescent on my forehead shine in its full glory.

I started small. Five rounds of the park every day for a week. Seven thereafter. Ten. Twelve. Fifteen. And finally, twenty – each round reminding me of the age when we were taught the numbers.

Every single year, at the annual school picnic at Lodhi Garden – there were a few things that would never change –

A guy from the class walking into one of the tombs and coming back to tell the rest that he either saw a ghost of the Mumtaz of the Lodhi who is still haunting the tomb, or better still, that he is possessed by the Mumtaz of the Lodhi, who will pounce at your Blue Lay’s because her death was caused by starvation from lack of Magic Masala.

Second, ten-year olds pelting stones at a man resting his head in the lap of a species from the feminine gender, who wore a dupatta-cum-burqah and exercised her abdominal muscles like biting off the crotch of her salwar – while the boys shouted “Romeo-Juliet” in unison with each pelted stone.

Third, the protagonist of this story coming back home with a fever that wouldn’t go for days four hundred ninety-six.

The same routine sans the spirit and the stones repeated itself when the hero would take annual trips to the Delhi World Book Fair and walk all day on two sticks that never worked more than doing a nocturnal spinaroonie on the bed while sleeping with Dadi Ma and kicking the gut out of her liquid-diet digesting stomach.

My body would catch a fever every time that it was exerted beyond normal. It never did during the annual running season because it would always be on slow counts of five, seven, ten, twelve, fifteen and twenty – spread over two months.

Circa 2017.

The over-enthusiastic, self-delusional bitch now decided to take up running again in the new park behind his new residence in Gurugram three days ago on account of a three-day-holiday, long-weekend, no-GST-calls, thank-god, whatever you may call it.

And ran twenty frickin’ rounds for two days straight, thinking haha, I’m a runner, bitch. I listen to Tamma Tamma on loop and kick the shit out of Gurugram’s morning runners, owning their patooties like no one’s ever pwned them before.

The last two days have gone rolling on my bed, trying to convince my family that I’m dying; taking medical advice from a second-year student of medicine who said exertion can never cause fever because it’s common sense that it doesn’t, and then looking up an article on Livestrong<dot>com to prove him wrong, while coming to terms with the fact that telling family about eminent death was actually not a joke, but is a reality.

Two back-handed slaps to that sadist bitch of a fever, who is keeping the temperature -running-, almost reminding me of what I cannot do for the next three days, or the remaining of my life, whatever comes earlier, ceteris paribus.

They say your whole life -runs- before your eyes before you die. Sadistic little piece of shit.

Anyway, at least the fever got this blog -running- again.



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Friday, March 31, 2017

You're Not Transformed Yet

As you wrap up your last class, submission and exam – this year is not yet over. Not until, aside from the life in denial, the transformation is complete.

I remember before I accepted my admission offer, there were friends who mentioned that I should’ve applied to schools outside the country, as ISB was on a growth spree – while in ranking, but more specifically in its intake year-on-year. There were arguments against the quality of the institute’s churn out as well as against its placement focused, rat-race culture. I was told that I probably settled while I could shoot higher – all personal opinion, mind you. And I walked in with thinning hair but thickening confidence.

Within a week, the fellow Chartered Accountants seemed more accomplished; the engineers definitely smarter. And why wouldn’t they when it’s expected for CAs to be math geeks while the JEE experienced ace at financial equations.

I hope my conceitedness can be forgiven for I thought I could walk into this institution and rule it for having settled for something in India rather than moving farther from home, whereas my classmates would be those for whom this was a dream come true. It’s a pity how far some of us can imagine ourselves from reality.

Now, what would you do but transform when your bubble of self-assurance bursts. This year, as many of our alums mentioned during the O-Week, is a humbling experience. You’re amidst a pack of doyens, ready to sprint and grab what you’ve laid your heart on while you trot on a Jaipur foot. Or Delhi foot, or Bombay – coming from cities where egos inflate with small achievements.

The year was tough to begin with: a feeling of loneliness, never-before-experienced competitiveness and given by a few instances at the squash court, head-breaking if not cut-throat competition. It took months to figure out how this world works, cracking case-studies, making resumes, attending interviews and running calculations of ROI – like it’s so easy to put a percentage on experience.

We’ve seen brave-hearts with GPA 4 rejected by companies by the dozen and party-planners get the highest of packages. And then we’ve found ourselves in the middle somewhere – either with changed career paths or hands folded in gratitude for being blessed with a job-profile that we think we were only lucky to bag.

We’ve all humbled through the year, as most of us will claim on our way out. However, it’s important to remember that true humility is not a result of undervaluation of one’s talents and accomplishments. It differs from a phase of dealing with relatively low self-confidence. We’ve been in an environment for a year that put us amidst the smartest bunch of 900 we can possibly never find ourselves in again. The world outside will have a more rich portfolio of skills, abilities and talents – not all of which we may have learned to appreciate in whatever degree they present themselves in.

Maybe, the test of our true humility will be when we realize that anyone else we interact with may have probably done better or at least just as well as we may have, had they found the same opportunities for growth as all of us were lucky enough to find not just at ISB, but even before and much after.

With this, we’re almost ready to sign off, knowing that we were definitely blessed to have been a part of this cohort. We leave with dreams to fly, to achieve much more than what we thought we could before coming to the Indian School of Business. Among all these hopes should be the dream to create platforms for others to achieve – for hopefully, that would be the mark of the true to its core, humble leaders from the PGP Class of 2017. The test of transformation awaits.


This piece was addressed to the PGP (MBA) Class of 2017 at the Indian School of Business on 31st March, 2017 - a week before their convocation.

Image Credits: Venkataragavan Sabesan