Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Candy for the '90s Dandy

It’s the 29th of August already. Despite having written a post on this blog around 12 days back, the pressure of writing a piece every two weeks builds up like the burden of getting a 26 year old daughter married as soon as the end of the month deadline approaches near. With my enthusiasm levels at the lowest on a scale from Alok Nath to Prabhu Deva, I sit down to type another piece and fulfill my bi-monthly duties.

In recent news, I have passed the set of CWA papers I gave in June this year. A little party to celebrate the same is yet to be planned, but I thought it’s just to let my taste-buds engage in some foreplay with sugary somethings from the local grocery store. A trip down to the local sardarji uncle’s shop ended with a small purchase of a Cadbury’s 5-Star. Even though my body got enough calories to last a 30 second orgasm, my tongue was left with a longing for an old lover. It’s depressing how in spite of the rise in per capita disposable income in the Indian economy over the past one decade, the sweets and confectionery market has plummeted to the level of offering kids with products wearing taglines like “do rupaye mein do laddoo”. It’s sad how today’s children don’t even know about the wonders that were “Pan Pasand” and “Ravalgaon sugar boiled candies”. To commemorate some unsung heroes from the time when icing on the cake meant white cream topped with a little pineapple piece, I bring to you a list of some candies that my tongue still identifies as its childhood best friends.


This, my friend, is the grand-daddy of all digestive “tablets” in the world! Swad has always been one of my favorite candies of all time, and therefore, deserves no lesser than the first spot on this list. An elder cousin of Hajmola candy, Swad brought with itself a sense of Indian-ness that Hajmola candy can never match. The silver packet bordered with a checkered brown pattern was Madhubala, if Hajmola’s pink or green wrapper was Preity Zinta. It had a taste stronger than all the other digestive candies of its generation, and was loved by my dadaji and me alike.

Swad not just made my gall bladder wet with excitement, but also gave Pooja Bhatt an opportunity to star in a TV commercial, thus keeping her mind off movie scripts that involve people like Emraan Hashmi rubbing their sand-paper on half naked ladies.

Swad has slowly been left alone by its grand-children who are too busy selling tattoos under their skins, housed in fancy jars that adorn the shelves of a local grocer. Has it died a silent death? I guess not. It may still be fighting the last few months of its existence in a remote village, near its manufacturer’s factory.


From a big piece of candied jal-jeera called Swad, to little pellets of gastrous joy, our markets used to be full of orange packets with black polka dots that sprawled across the local shop entrance like prayer flags at a Tibetan monastery. Fatafat was my small packet of happiness, the digestive qualities of which my innocent brain did not care for. My love for Fatafat was selfless. I would pop one pellet at a time, never all at once, and relish the tangy flavor slowly. It was Fatafat that introduced me to the usage of “khatta” with “kaala”.

Another variant of packed digestive pills was Chatmola that sold in a yellow and red wrapper. Everyone’s favorite “Appu the elephant” adorned the front of its wrapper and made the kids jump with joy.

I still manage to spot Fatafat at a store or two, but Chatmola is no longer a survivor in the market. If you were to get me a nice birthday present, please pick up some packets of Fatafat. Phir treat pakki!

Ravalgaon Candy

Ravalgaon candies were India’s answer to Fox’s. Its transparent cover was the first to teach me that these sweets are “sugar-boiled”. They are available in a variety of colors like yellow, red and orange. My favorite among them used to be the orange; I think because that was the only flavor I could identify. There’s one with a blue cover too, but I've never been able to tell the difference between the tastes of the blue one from the yellow.

Pan Pasand and Mango Mood were other offerings from Ravalgaon, and ranked higher in my list as compared to their competing products by Nutrine and Parry’s. They still sell in the market, but face stiff competition from Cadbury’s and Parle. The multinationals may be doing a good job at marketing their products, but their products can never match the panache with which Ravalgaon candies shower with a bang from a balloon over a young boy's birthday cake.

Phantom Cigarettes

I remember the red pack of cigarettes that would open up to 10 sticks of sugar colored in red at one end. Phantom Cigarettes were peppermint flavored candies that were not minty enough to attract girls off Close-up billboards, but still macho enough to make little boys believe that they had a chance with.. um, Minnie Mouse?

I remember one of my cousins buying me a pack of these “cigarettes” on a trip to the market close to my aunt’s house. We loved its taste, and the novelty quotient it sold on, but I cannot forget how disapproving my parents were of the so called candy. So, my experience of machofying myself with a Phantom in my mouth was short-lived, but I think I wouldn’t mind seeing it in the market again. Or maybe I will. It’ll have a bad effect on the psyche of kids.

Shit, have I really grown that old!

Kismi Bar

Parle’s Kismi Bar was an inexpensive substitute to a chocolate. I believe it tasted of cardamom, and was more of a “toffee” flattened out into the shape of a bar. For about a rupee or two for a bar, it was a good option during times of sudden sugar cravings.

The red cover of the product displayed a silhouette of a suited man being kissed by a beautiful lady. What makes me call her “beautiful” is probably the fact that her shape was colored in white, in contrast to the man, who was a shadow of black. Go ahead and judge the shameless racist in me if you want to. I come from the land of Kismi, where cows are considered holier than the ride of Yamraj, the buffalo.

Jelly Belly

If you ask my parents about my favorite dish as a kid, I bet the pack of Brown & Polson custard powder in my kitchen that they will say “jelly”. A die-hard. No, a die-jiggly jelly fan, as a six year old, I would demand jelly be made in our kitchen every single day of the week.

To save her the pain of making jelly every day, my bua would get me a pack of Jelly Belly from her way back home after office every evening. I would tear off the plastic cover and suck the whole jelly off the cup in an instant. Candle-shaped jelly sticks were soon a rage with the other kids in my colony, but my loyalty remained towards the Rex Jelly that was shelved in our kitchen or the little shivering shots of “Jelly Belly”.

Most of these much loved sweets are no longer seen. I miss them. Yes, I do. But for me, there’s always a bit of fresh Jalebi to love. Happy Sweet-toothing.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Top 10 Reasons to Let Me File Your 1st Income Tax Return

10. You can apply for your own credit card, with your name printed on it. Oooh! And you can give your best photograph for it. No more driver's license kinda photos on cool id's.

9. You'll feel so good to have earned enough during the year to fall into the tax brackets. Warren Buffet in the making, eh?

8. You'll contribute a sum for the development of the nation. Jai Hind.

7. You'll declare your income and make your money white. While Dawood Ibrahim has to deal in drugs, invest in Bollywood and buy properties in Monica Bedi-esque women's names to make his black money milky-milky white, you just have to file an income tax return.

6. Your employers deducted some tax from your salary. Those bloody law abiders! It's time to see if you can claim some tax refund from the TDS.

5. Letting me e-file your IT Return will avoid the whole nonsense of bribing Income Tax officials. You'll feel cool like ACP Pradyuman, or Barney Stinson for having eff'd the IT clerk's dream of little Gandhiji's dancing to "paisa paisa kardi hai" in his drawer.

4. If you're too busy, just email me the details, while you're at your work desk, or sitting in the loo, trying to poop and simultaneously emailing on your smartphone.

3. Paying my nominal fee will feel like paying for a stand up comedy session. I assure you of full entertainment, sir.

2. We'll not just drink coffee together, but I'll also make you have really cool iced tea. Choose from mint, peach and lemon. Or have all 3.

1. We'll get to meet each other. It's been a long long time. Let's catch up on all the latest news, make fun of our ex-girlfriends/boyfriends, finish every sentence with ''that's what she said'', make prank calls and live it like the old times.

So you see, this is not just an excuse for me to throw a ''coffee, tea or me'' at you. It's ''Income Tax Return, coffee, tea AND me.''

Last day for return filing is 31st July, 2013. Hurry Om Hurry.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Defining YOLO for the Average Delhiite

As the world approaches a much talked about end in another few months, it’s good to see that humankind is beginning to accept what fate holds for us all. Instead of building modern versions of Noah’s Arks with billion dollar seats to help the wealthy sail through the impending washout, we are all getting together and enjoying the last few days of the world as we know it. A thought binds us close. While the virgins look for ways to bang a thang before the apocalypse, the experienced go berserk on the internet and substitute periods with #YOLO. The beautiful epiphany of only getting to live once has given us a reason to come up with another viral acronym. Ladies and gentlemen, to give it to you in a nutshell, “You Only Live Once”. Wow! Now let’s all shout YOLO.

It took me months to figure out what LOL meant when it hit cyberspace in my early social networking days of OMG was acceptable, and so were Bebo and Lolo. But, let’s not turn everyone into the Kapoor sisters by giving a grand welcome to “Yolo”.

I see my twitter feed full of YOLO hashtags, and it’s permeating to facebook, too. It’s not surprising that Americans with an IQ equal to the number of thumbs on Hrithik Roshan’s hands are so thrilled with the whole idea of getting to live only once. But what raises great concern is how we Indians, who feed on shows like Raaz Pichhle Janam Ka on the most popular television channel in the country, are blindly falling for such buffalo dump. Let’s not forget that we are “karma-yogis”. We believe in the cycle of life after death. We strongly hold on to the belief, nay, -fact- that whatever we sow, we will also reap. If not in this birth, then till the reaping burns us out of the shackles of life and death.

In my attempt to keep us in touch with our unquestionable beliefs, I bring to you versions of YOLO that connect with our souls. Ooh, deep! Since charity starts at home, here’s defining YOLO for the average Delhiite.

YO’ Lusty Organ

Since the early ‘90s, we Delhiites have given a whole new meaning to the word organ. The evolution is noteworthy. There was a time when Shahrukh Khan would blow on a mouth organ, ride his red bike and sing a song in Kumar Sanu’s voice in every second movie. And today, I realize how my mum was correct when she said that Bollywood stars have short-lived eras of stardom on the big screen. We have easily replaced Shahrukh Khan with every woman on the road. Taking them on “rides” and making them “blow” organs is no longer a fantasy that makes people among us play rocket-rocket in the privacy of their bathrooms. They no longer need practice runs. The brilliant show that they put up makes us all read the following day’s newspaper and say that we want to clap our hands on their faces. But we go and clasp another woman the same day. Darn, the YOLOness!

There are others who claim to treat women with respect. They touch their elders’ feet, drink milk every day, and make a trip to the colony temple every Tuesday. They’re the good boys. Good Delhi boys, with a wonderful vocabulary of words that define making love to the female members of every animate and inanimate object's next of kin. Keeping their swords in the sheath, they claim to make babies with the mother and sister of everything that falls within a radius of two-fifty yards.

Yeh burger ******** itna chhota hai!
Yeh ******** red light kabhi green milti hi nahi.
Saale, likh likh ke exam mein mere haathon ki ** **** gayi!

That’s exactly the reason why we believe that HT City offers better literature than a book telling us a story of a small boy being raped in an Arab location. Having received our doctorates in the art of raping, stories of kite runners seem passé. We claim to do every piece of furniture, every article of stationery, and every item of food a hundred times every single day. That’s a YOLO worthy achievement, don’t you think?

Yaar, One Large Oye!

From the size of one’s car to the size of another’s Sainik Vihar farmhouse, we Delhiites love measuring things with not a span or a cubit, but with eyes so wide that put our inflated scrota to shame.

Let’s put two big hands together for our city, which has made the statement “Tu jaanta nahi mera baap kaun hai” used enough number of times to be Guinness worthy. Let’s also take this opportunity to congratulate the average Delhiite who has excelled in the field of mathematics by proving that the number of relatives one has is directly proportional to the number of digits in one’s bank/under-the-table account.

With posters of Royal Stag forcing us to question if we have made it large enough to be called a Patiala peg, we fear being hungover the following morning, and dig into a plate of chhole bhature cooked in shudh desi ghee. Our diet shows that we’re obsessed with food that’s big; or food that’s cooked in pomace olive oil. Either way, we won’t stop ourselves from mentioning at every occasion that even the aaloo ke paranthe at our place are sautéed in the literally “rich” olive oil. That speaks a lot about mine, and Your Obsessive Love for Oil. Another YOLO defining moment? I bet, saadi Dilli.

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