Monday, July 26, 2010

Paan - Lucknow's obsession with the Betel Leaf

A Paan Shop
Chewing Paan has been an obsession in Lucknow from the times of the Nawabs, when Lucknow was known as Avadh. The paan also referred to as the 'gilourie' was consumed mostly by the royalty and was a symbol of sophistication and upward mobility. Movies like Shatranj ke Khilari and Umrao Jaan - both the 1981 and 2006 variants, portray the paan fetish of Lucknowites magnificently. Back then paan was offered to Nawabs in ornately carved silver cases known as Paan daans. The Paan daans had several small containers in it, each for the various accompaniments of Paan, like the Supari (Areca Nut), Kattha, Chuna (Slaked Lime) and various other spices usually consumed with Paan.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How to beat the Traffic Jam agony

Every morning when I tuck in my sandwich and rush out to beat the traffic jam at the busy Velachery signal, I wonder, why can't I have a device that will simply 'transmit' me a-la-startreck straight to my office - wish I could just use the magic words - "Beam-me-up, Scotty"  and find myself sitting in my cubicle, right in front of my computer! Traffic Jams have a new defination in India, where the vehicles are not just slow-moving, but can be a complete stand-still. While stuck in a traffic jam near the Richmond circle in Bangalore, I remember, parking my bike right in the middle of a chocablock street and going to a nearyby shop to buy some essentials, knowing fully well, that in the ten minutes in which I will be back, the traffic will move at most - a few lazy inches. I remember missing my flight once due to a traffic jam on the airport road.