Friday, February 25, 2011

Unfair Grants And Waivers

An article in today's edition of Times of India grabbed my attention. The article "Tax waived on gratis WC tickets", stated that a waiver of entertainment duty was granted by the Maharashtra state on complimentary World Cup tickets given to the cricket clubs and associations. This when the cricket clubs are extremely rich and the state in dire financial straits. Welcome to the Indian Cricket Tamasha 2011 !!!

The state's rationale is that complimentary tickets don't have an entrance fee component and since there is no entrance fee, the entertainment duty also cannot be charged. I definitely did not get this argument. It does not seem logical; in the first place why is there no entrance fee for complimentary tickets? So a privileged few not only get these tickets without standing in line for hours but also avoid paying fees and tax. They get to have their cake and eat it too!

View this in the light of the scene in Bangalore a couple of days ago where scores of people stood in line for hours for 7000 tickets available at the counters. Also note another article in the same newspaper stating that the cost of renovation of the Wankhede Stadium today stands at nearly Rs.300 crore.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tri Valley university scam

There are quite a few universities like Tri Valley in the United States, established solely to make money by providing student visas to non-immigrants. Some of these so called universities offer master degrees and some only have short-term courses in technology, English language, QuickBook training, etc. The ones offering short-term courses are more like visa shops for non-immigrants.
During our time in the US, I was exposed to some of the workings of this system, if you can call it that.

What brought about the emergence of this excuse of an institute/university? My take....

For a lot of people from our country, US continues to be the dream land, the ultimate place to be in. A lot of children are groomed to choose engineering or such courses of study in a bid to ensure their passage to the US. Right from the time when the child is in school, the parents chart an education path to lead to an entry into US. If the child misses the bus to study bachelors, then masters it is or there still remains the PHD. This kind of single-mindedness brings about a desperation in the child to remain in the US however he can, prompting some drastic measures at times.
Do keep in mind this is only the means of an entry to the land, lots more needs to be done to stick it out there.

Where do we lay the blame for a Tri-Valley like scam? the one who induced the need to stick it out in an alien country come what may or the one who saw the means to mint money out of this need or the one who tried to make it in the alien country or with a little twist ... the politicians who will not let India be US-like.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Time to move

It seems a co-incidence that my first post was when I moved into New Jersey. And now that I have restarted it's time to move on....
We relocate back to India in a month's time. This has brought mixed feelings in me a part of me wants to stay back for some time and on the other hand I rejoice in the return.
Five years in this country, during which we have stayed in quite a few places - Arizona, California, Michigan, Virginia and last New Jersey. Each of the places so different from the other, giving beautiful memories to treasure.

My thoughts are similar to the ones I hear from people considering a return to India. That it is our country, we would be with our countrymen (and women), proximity to family, familiar places, etc. For me a big plus is the freedom to work with the employer you want without restrictions of visa and stuff. It's like having shackles taken off my feet.

On the other hand this country has given and taught me a lot. To loosen up a bit, the independence, budget living, consumerism :)

The mammoth task of packing now remains......

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Malvani Kombdi Hirwa Masala (chicken in green masala)

The other day, I tried Chef Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe for the malvani chicken in green masala and it turned out really well. I did tweak it a little like adding only 1 black elaichi, not marinating the chicken (that was because I did not have the time) and using canned coconut milk.

Kombdi Hirwa Masala (chicken in green masala)
The recipe I followed:
Chicken breasts - 2

Oil - 3 tbsp
Bay leaf - 1
Green elaichi - 3
Black elaichi - 1
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Cinnamon - half inch piece
Cloves - 3
Onions - 2 chopped
Malvani garam masala - 1tsp
Coconut milk canned - 5 tbsp
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves for garnishing

Grind to a paste:
Coriander leaves - 1 bunch
Fresh coconut scraped - half cup
Ginger - 2 inch piece
Garlic - 6 pods
Green Chillies - 6

Cut chicken breasts to medium sized pieces and wash and clean and keep aside.
Grind the coriander leaves, coconut, ginger, garlic and green chillies with little water to a fine paste.
Take oil in a pressure cooker and heat till hot. Keep the flame on medium heat, add the bay leaf, green elaichi, brown elaichi, cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon stick till fragrant. Then add the onions and saute till soft and translucent. Lower the flame and add the ground green masala and fry till the oil starts to separate. Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for about 5 to 10 minutes, add salt at this stage. Add about a cup of water and mix well and close lid and let it cook on low flame till the chicken is cooked. Open lid and add little water if you want a little gravy. I liked this dish with little gravy which was really thick. I added half tsp of chilli powder at this stage because I wanted it a little more spicy but you could avoid it.
Add coconut milk and the malvani garam masala and heat through, don't let it bubble over. Garnish with coriander leaves and this dish is ready to be served. I loved having mine with chapatis and later with rice.

If you have the time, marinate the chicken like the original recipe calls for - grind ginger and garlic, add salt and marinate the chicken for half hour. In which case only grind the coriander, coconut and green chilli for the green paste.