Monthly Archives: July 2013

Interview with Italian Chef Tony on Basil Food Fiesta

Chef Vincenzzo Zizza (Chef Tony) from the award winning Italian restaurant – Fratelli Fresh has crafted a special four course menu by interesting usage of one constant ingredient — Basil. In an interview with The Talking Desk, Chef Tony takes us through a culinary journey that focuses on the Indian herb.

Chef Tony

Chef Tony

How would you describe Italian cuisine?
Italian food is food for the soul and the heart. Italian cuisine is simple, uses fresh and few ingredients in the dishes. Italian cuisines retains the original flavors and aromas of the ingredients used and uses accompanying ingredients to best enhance the dish. The portions of Italian cuisines are hearty, wholesome and to be share with all.

What is the Basil Food Fiesta at Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel all about?
Basil food fiesta is gourmet feast inspired by the exquisite and inimitable flavor of ‘Basil’. We have crafted a special four course menu by interesting usage of one constant ingredient — Basil. We promise to dish out delectable soups, entrée, main course dishes and desserts, by skilful blending of ingredients that accentuate the subtle essence and taste of Basil. 

Tell us about how you’re using basil to dish out a delectable four course meal?
The menu is a four course menu incorporating – Zucchini Impanati panna cotta, crema di basilico e parmigiano (a slice of zucchini in savory breadcrumbs, pan-fried and served with a slightly spicy panna cotta, cream of basil and parmesan) or Panzerotto napoletano canzone style pizza (Pizza pastry filled with mozzarella and basil, served with crunchy tomato). Seafood lovers can relish the Gamberi con tartare di basilico e jalapeno (cocktail of prawns with jalapeno and basil tartar sauce). Savor the fresh zest of Basil in flavorful soups like Stracciatella di carciofini e basilica (clear soup with artichoke, egg, basil and parmesan cheese) or Minestrone alla Genovese (mixed vegetable soup with basil pesto). Main course includes Penne con salsa di noci, olive e basilica (penne pasta with walnut, olive and basil pesto), Tournedo’ di sogliola con salsa carrettiera poached (fillet of Asian sole with spicy tomato-onion-basil relish) and Saltimbocca dipolloallagriglia con burrata al pesto (grilled chicken breast with parma ham topping with mozzarella and pesto relish). To sustain the tempo of Basil laced food fare; end your meal with the unusual gelato al basilica (basil gelato).

How easy/ difficult was it to craft the menu?
Crafting a specialty menu using one ingredient can be challenging. It requires a lot of creativity,  a flare for combing classic and unique combination in terms of ingredients and flavours and the ability to create something wonderfully new off the same.

Why is basil an important ingredient? Enlighten us on this Indian herb.
Basil is called the ‘King of herbs’ owing to its distinct flavor and aroma. It is used widely in Italian cuisine and goes extremely well with tomato as an ingredients. Thai cuisine is huge on basil or horapa as it is called and apart from being an integral part of Thai curries it is also had raw with som tam salad. In Indian cuisine it used in a lot of wellness diets, soups and salads. Sabza or basil seeds are also a part of many a soothing summer drinks in northern India. Few basil leaves added to our nimbu paani can too enhance the flavor. Basil tea too is a trend that is catching up India.

Gamberi con Tartare Di Basilico e Jalapeno

Gamberi con Tartare Di Basilico e Jalapeno

Turnedo’ di Sogliola con Salsa Carrettiera

Turnedo’ di Sogliola con Salsa Carrettiera

Zucchini Impanati, Panna Cotta, Crema Di Basilico e Parmigiano

Zucchini Impanati, Panna Cotta, Crema Di Basilico e Parmigiano

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Column: Roof Over My Head

Please note: This column was first featured in The Goan on Saturday.

When I tell anyone I’m currently in Mumbai, not the immediate, but one of the questions asked is – where are you putting up? Good question!

So where do Goans like me (immigrants) stay in Mumbai? Putting up in this city gets very convenient if we have a “godfather” here. Uncles, aunties, grandparents, cousins, etc. turn out to be godfathers during our first few months in this chaotic city. And if you have a house here, this could be your heaven.

But then what do you do if you do not have relatives who will provide shelter till you settle in Mumbai? Plus, you’re not in a position to shell out thousands of rupees just to get a roof over your head. In such a case, most people apply to hostels. Earlier, I thought that it was only girls like me who put up in hostels. But I recently discovered that a guy colleague, who also happens to be a Goan lives in a hostel for boys. The only difference between the two hostels (apart from the obvious) is that girls have a deadline to follow, whereas guys can enter and exit at any time. I don’t know if this is good or otherwise, but hostel is a great option when you’re looking for safety and accommodation that’s inexpensive. Say goodbye to late night parties, maybe? Also, hostels allow every hostellite to stay comfortably for three years till he/she is familiar with the city and is ready to face approaching challenges.

The next convenient option, which is also a little difficult to find is someone who’s looking for paying guests. During college days, a couple of my friends used to put up as paying guests. One such friend used to live with an elderly Goan lady in Colaba. The lady was a gem, she used to say. She would ask my friend to play the piano or at times they’d discuss some classic novels over a cuppa. However, she had to go house-hunting when this lady decided to sell her place to settle in London. On the other hand, another friend had a hard time with her house owner. She wasn’t even allowed to use the kitchen.

When such issues arise, many of us prefer a place all to ourselves. But finding an apartment can be a daunting task. Pampering a broker, and then paying an amount by burning a hole in your pocket. In addition to this, you are not allowed to stay in a flat for more than a year, which means you need to renew your contract every year. And a year in Mumbai is nothing less than a flash. Many of us Goans like other immigrants prefer sharing an apartment. This cuts-costs while opening opportunities to set up your own kitchen rather than relying on restaurant food or a dabbawallah.

And then we wish, if only we had a house of our own in this city!

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I hope to make my fellow Goans proud too: Keith Sequeira

Keith Sequeira, who has roots in Goa got a break in Bollywood and acted in his first film, Sixteen. Read the complete story that appeared in The Goan here. Below is the (unedited) interview with the actor.


Congratulations on your great work in Sixteen. Tell us about how the film came to you.
I was sitting at a restaurant when a casting director who was working on the project approached me. He asked if I was VJ Keith and if I’d like to do a fabulous role in a small but very interesting film. I loved the story and my character in particular. The film interests me more because it focused on teenagers and girls and the issues they face. Also it put women in a strong light and showed our society a mirror. Hence I was sold to sixteen immediately.

Describe your role and character in the film.
My role is of an author who represents the perspective elders have about teenagers. He is a very intense person who comes with his own baggage. However, he is drawn to one of the 16-year-old characters in the film and we gradually see his character transform through the story. Eventually they end up as his inspiration. It was a great role for subtle strong performance.

What led you to choosing modelling/ fashion and acting as a career?
I basically could never imagine myself doing an office job. Acting us something that I’m very passionate about, and the opportunity to do something different every day is what I crave most and feel blessed about. I started off as a model and my favourite campaign is for Raymond. I was the last person to audition and literally was forced. Shocking but I was chosen immediately from around 3000 people.

Tell us about your days as an RJ followed by being a VJ.
Being an RJ was something that came to me naturally because of my voice and the ability to communicate fluently. As a result, I realised I could make a career out of speaking with my audience. I auditioned and the channel was impressed with my ability to connect with the masses.

I, becoming a VJ was a total coincidence. I was on a trip to Mumbai, and a close friend mentioned that B4U was looking for anchors. I thought of giving it a shot, so I auditioned and was instantly selected. This one incident brought me to the city of dreams.

Where did you complete your schooling, college?
I completed my schooling from at St. Columbus School in Delhi, followed by a Bachelors degree in Economics.

You’ve been an RJ, VJ, Model and an actor. What are the common challenges you face?
Being a media person, catching up with the fast pace can be an intimidating task. Sometimes, I feel this pace needs to be slowed down because as humans we need our breaks before we start.

Introduce us to Keith Sequeira the Goan. What are the Goan qualities you posses.
My dad is from Aldona. He left the state when he was still a teenager to build a career. He left Goa for Mumbai and later left Mumbai for Delhi, the place when I was born and brought up. Also, my dad speaks Konkani without any effort. It’s fluent. The sad part of growing up in Delhi is that I was never exposed to Konkani so there was no chance of me learning the language. My best quality about being a Goan is that I don’t take life too seriously. Apart from this, it’s also important to possess a good sense of humour, which is also essential in my line of work.

What’s your take on Goa and Hindi as a language? The relationship between the two.
I travel to Goa almost twice a year if not more. The place is undoubtedly gorgeous and the people are extremely hospitable. However, Hindi is not widely spoken in Goa, but it’s now coming along with the younger folk. The younger generation has started loving Bollywood. Even though I’m a Goan, the fact that I’ve been raised in Delhi helps me speak fluent Hindi. Soon, I want people to break the stereotype that Goan bloodlines cannot speak fluent Hindi. Hopefully, this should happen in time.

Considering you’re a Goan, are you ever viewed with a different eye in the industry?
Considering I’m a Goan, there are times when I’m viewed with a different eye. There’s always this notion that Goans are unable to speak in Hindi. In addition to this, my name always flashes my Goan identity.

Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
In the next five years, I want to definitely do more of acting and doing good work in Bollywood. Simultaneously, I would also like to carve a name for myself in the industry that is rapidly advancing and expanding. Like this, I hope to make my fellow Goans proud too!


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South Indian cuisine is very simple and humble: Chef Ranjit Kuttikattu

If it’s not masala dosa, we would be eating some idlis. If not any of this, you could bank on some appams or upma to ensure your tummy isn’t growling. And how could we forget medu wada? These are some of the most common South Indian recipes we Mumbaikars love hogging. Isn’t it?

Lotus Café at JW Marriott Mumbai is organising a South India Food Festival from July 5 to 21, 2013 between 7:30pm and 12am. The four southern states — Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala — are known for its unique flavours. So here’s my tête-à-tête with Chef Ranjit Kuttikattu, Junior Sous Chef at Saffron who takes us through a culinary journey to the south of India.

Chef Ranjit Kuttikattu, Junior Sous Chef at Saffron, JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai.

How would you describe south-Indian cuisine? Do elaborate on the flavors of each region.
Indian cuisine of the South is quite versatile and diverse. Every regional food of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka which collectively form the South Indian States are distinctively unique.

Flavours of Karnataka cuisine are a combination of coconut and mild spices. Scoville level of hotness is bare minimal compared to other states. North Karnataka is known for their vegetarian delicacies. Coastal regions are abundant with seafood.

Kerala cuisine is a perfect amalgamation of vegetarian food of Brahmins, seafood of Syrian Christians, and meats & poultry preparations of the Malabar region. Most of the food is vegetarian but with the increasing influx of Christians and Muslims, non-vegetarian dishes are becoming common.

Flavors of Tamil Nadu are quite diverse. The breakfast spreads are quite unique and cherished throughout the world. The Chettinad region and Kongunadu region of Tamil Nadu are equally well recognized for its varied uses of spices. Chettinad cuisine offers a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.

Andhra Pradesh is known for their fierce hot tangy food. Geographical and climatic condition suits extensive cultivation of hot chilies. The majority of a diverse variety of dishes is vegetable or lentil based. Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh shares some of Central India and the Vidharba region of Maharashtra, the region has more Jowar and Bajra based rotis in their main staple menu. The Rayalaseema districts, sharing borders with eastern Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has similarities to those regions. Hyderabad region of Andhra Pradesh is quite distinct due to the early presence of Nizams .Food is like Awadh or Lucknowi cuisine of North India but is comparatively spicier.

How would you distinguish north-Indian and south-Indian cuisine?
North Indian Food is very rich as compared to South Indian cuisine. Usage of ghee, butter and cream are quite prevalent.   North was invaded by Mughals and Nawabs earlier which helped in molding the current style of cooking in these states. They have a very unique technique of cooking food like Dum, Tandoor, etc. The food is based on various gravies and meat stocks which form the base for most of the dishes prepared in the north.

Unlike the North, South Indian Food is simple yet very distinctive. South Indian dishes have evolved more on geographical and climatic conditions. There are wide varieties of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes available. The coastline around South Indian States helps to produce varieties of seafood dishes. Other distinctive feature is the perfect blend of spices with local produce of vegetables, meat and poultry. South Indian Breakfast delicacies like idli, dosa, medu wada, sambhar are very prominent throughout the world. The meals have endless choices.

What does Lotus Cafe have to offer us?
At Lotus Café, we are serving an elaborate South Indian buffet, wherein there is selection of non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes. There are soups, starters, lamb, beef and duck preparations. A variety of seafood like Pearl spot, Sardine, Mackerel, Black pomfret, Lady Fish, White blade Fish, Mud Crab, Prawn and sundried seafood which are procured from South India, are abundantly available for the buffet.

Are you from one of the south-Indian states? Take us through the process of recipe selection. How easy/ difficult was it?
Yes, I am a Keralite, born and brought-up in Mumbai. Moreover I completed my Hotel Management from IHMCT, Kerala. Eating food from my mother’s kitchen and three years of hotel management has helped me understand the in and out of the food of Kerala. My Mother has influenced my cooking style in many ways. My dishes are quite homely and simple, but I always try to present them in a very professional way.

My friends working in other states of South India and my frequent visit to their places have helped me understand the complexity and uniqueness that goes into South Indian Cuisine. As I always say, South Indian Cuisine is the easiest of any other cuisine in India. This I say not because I am from south. This is because I have worked with restaurants with cuisines from Awadh, Punjab, Kashmir, etc. A right balance of ingredients with the spices can help one gain expertise in preparing South Indian Food.

I believe there is enormous learning required to understand the wholeness of South Indian cuisine due to its diversity. I have just started my journey and I am sure its going to be very exciting.

Tell us about the signature dishes and how you’ve managed to retain the real flavor.
I love few dishes which I will cook anytime and anywhere. I always try to do justice to all the food I make. But there are few dishes which I love to cook, eat and share all the time. I always carry my Kodumpulli (Kerala Tamarind) if I have to cook my signature Meen Vevichattu anywhere in this world. Similarly Tarav Mappas (Duck) , Kozhi Chimbli (deep fried Chicken Morsels), Beef Ularthiyathu , Chicken Chettinad , Kozhi Gassi, Mutta Roast (Duck Egg), Denji Rawa Fry (Soft shell crab) are always there in my South Indian Menu. I always try to bring my prime ingredients of the dish from the region where it is locally produced in. This has helped me to retain the flavor of the dishes and gives justice to the food I prepare.

A lot of Mumbaikars love south-Indian food. What could be the reason?
I believe there are Chefs like me who are trying their best in revolutionizing South Indian Cuisine by organizing South Indian Food Festivals, adding classical south Indian dishes in Ala carte Menu, opening Fine dining restaurants for South Indian Food, etc. Mumbai has seen lot of south Indian restaurants flourishing in recent times. And there are few restaurants helping in spreading awareness of authentic South Indian Food. And I am happy that JW Marriott, Mumbai has given me this platform to showcase my take on South Indian Cusine.

What’s that one best aspect about south-Indian cuisine?
South Indian Cuisine is very simple and humble, provided you keep adjusting your Chili Tolerance level depending upon your clientele. Westernizing South Indian Cuisine is possible provided you keep all the elements, flavors, textures intact without disturbing the originality of the dish.

Bonda Mor kuzhambu

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Waterfall Rappelling on the Outskirts of Mumbai

One fine day, one of my colleagues suggested that we do something adventurous this monsoon. Everyone chanted “Let’s go. Let’s go”, and within a day we knew where we were heading to. Now the only problem was that the trekking plus waterfall rappelling was taking place on a Sunday. Not that we didn’t give it a thought, but eventually, we were a group of seven friends at work who made it to Mahuli, a village on the outskirts of Mumbai. We were being guided by a group called Shalom Adventures.

We boarded a train at 8am from Dadar to Asangaon. What followed after getting off the train was completely unexpected. One by one, we had to mount a tempo that was our ride till the trekking spot. After a not-so-heavy breakfast, we left out baggage at one of the village houses and started walking on the beaten path that was going to lead us to the top. The rain, however, was playing games with us. But let’s confess, it wasn’t behaving like a stubborn kid.

After climbing up the hill for almost an hour, we reached the spot from where we were to start rappelling. From here let me write about what was going on in my head when I was about to begin. I wouldn’t really make it sound bad and say I was scared. I wasn’t. But when I started rappelling, I stopped thinking. Every thought just disappeared. The only thing playing on my mind was — Am I doing it right? I tried hard to grip my feet onto the rocks, but it was getting difficult due to the heavy showers. I stopped for a moment and peeped how far I was from an open well of water that was waiting to caress me. As I was rappelling along the waterfall, there were thick droplets hitting me while I was descending.

After that, I was just happy. Adventures have a charm of their own, and on Sunday, I was charmed. Now, let the photographs narrate the story.












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Ashley Lobo: You do not choose dance, dance chooses You

A Goan by roots, Ashley Lobo is a noted choreographer and is popular in the Bollywood industry and Indian TV. Here’s my little (unedited) chat with the 46-year-old artiste.

Ashley Lobo

What are you currently working on?


– Highway (director Imtiaz Ali)
– One by Two (director Devika Bhagat)
– Bombay Velvet (director Anurag Kashyap)
– Boss (director Anthony D’souza)

JUDGE: India’s Dancing Superstar

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: The Danceworx Performing Arts Academy

Tell us about your debut on television and India’s Dancing Superstar. How easy/ difficult is it to judge a reality dance show?
IDS has been my debut as a reality TV judge. But I have been on TV earlier on a daily show called the ‘Good Morning India Show’ (Star Plus) where I hosted over 250 episodes of the dance fitness segment along with some senior students of The Danceworx.

IDS though has been a huge learning experience. A lot of fun and discovery about myself. I have been asked to judge other shows over the last 3 or 4 years numerous times, but I was focusing on other areas of my life and did not take them up. I have done so now because it felt right for me at this point. Also, I love the concept of IDS because it promotes dance across all ages, styles, personalities and I love that thought.

It’s not been easy or difficult from a technical stand point, but I think for me to communicate my thoughts across accurately in Hindi has been a challenge and a lot of fun! IDS has also exposed me to so many different perspectives of dance and how they are viewed. Most importantly, I have met the most lovely people and made wonderful friends like Riteish and Geeta.

When did you start The Danceworx and why?
I started The Danceworx in 1998 in New Delhi, and more recently in Mumbai. The aim was to create an awareness of international dance and to provide an opportunity to facilitate a professional understanding and training of international dance in the country. I also wanted to introduce dance into mainstream education and give it a vocational status so more people who have the gift feel confident about choosing it as a career.

How long since you’re involved with theatre and dance? How old were you when you first ventured into this profession?
I have been involved with theatre and dance for over 30 years. My actual exposure to theatre and dance was at a very young age as I grew up with it all around me. (My mother Celia Lobo was an opera singer and a musical theatre director). Even in school, I was actively involved in every play. However, I seriously started dancing on stage at the age of 15. At that time, we did shows on the weekend and got paid Rs.100 per show, which we spent immediately! We were all very passionate and loved what we did.

What led you to this career? What/ who was the inspiration?
I don’t really know!  I think it all started when I did a musical called ‘Cascades’ which my mother directed. I had just come out of boarding school and had a long summer break before junior college, and my mother encouraged me to take part. The choreographer was a beautiful lady called Salome Roy Kapur who was very nurturing and encouraging to all of us amateurs who had no training. I think my becoming a dancer came about by accident! In fact, the further I went away from it, the stronger I got pulled into it. There is a saying… ‘You do not choose dance, dance chooses you’. I think I am a classic example of that.

Your Mum’s a respected opera singer and a theatre personality. Tell me about the collaborations (if any) between the duo. If yes, how was it working with your mum?
Working with my mother has been interesting to say the least because we have very different ideas creatively. We have not collaborated much except for a few amateur productions and that was fun. I’ve learnt a lot from her also as youngster growing up, just watching her work.

You moved to Sydney in 1989. Tell us about your days there.
In Sydney, I worked in a hospital to put myself through dance school. It was very difficult as I would start work at 6 in the morning and go on till 2:30 in the afternoon. After that, I would go to dance class and do 5 hours of dance daily. It was very exhausting but I learnt some of my most valuable lessons of life in that phase. I learnt not just about dance, but about myself. I learnt the difference between being alone and lonely. I learnt the value of time and money. And while working at the hospital, I learnt how to love strangers and make them family. I learnt that life is very fragile and can be all over the place, and how not to take it all seriously. Most importantly, I learnt the best dance and how to laugh at myself and love myself all at the same time.

You are also a theatre teacher. How easy/ difficult is it to teach someone theatre and why?
For me, theatre is life. You do not teach it. You play, you experiment, you try different things and see how they turn out. All art, from my observation, is about watching life and reproducing it. Mediums may be different but the material is the same. I think for me, a dance studio is this huge human laboratory in which we challenge ourselves with thoughts and circumstances and see what comes out. It’s a place where we confront ourselves and challenge ourselves. It’s all a lot of fun. One cannot take it too seriously. I cannot see it being difficult or easy as it’s all playtime.

What are the challenges you face as a choreographer?
International dance in India is at a very nascent stage. Likewise, the audiences at large are not fully aware and have a lot of catching up to do, so a lot of times you cannot necessarily do the kind of work you would like to do as it would not connect with them. Also, developing dancers means they have to follow through with their training and do it professionally long term. Most young dancers, for practical reasons, shift out of dance just as they are about to discover their real dance. That point is where one can create the most interesting choreography on the dancer but they move on and so one is constantly working with a younger crop with limited training and experience. This however is changing rapidly, thankfully, as now dance is being taken a little more seriously as a vocation.

Take us back to where you were born, your school days and you as a Goan.
I was born and raised in Chembur in Mumbai. I moved to Australia when I was 21-years-old. I currently live in Juhu. I went to a boarding school called St. Marys in Mt. Abu, Rajasthan followed by college at St. Xavier’s in Mumbai. My father’s family is from Camurlim and my mother’s side is from Mandrem. I love Goa and go there at least 4 or 5 times in the year, if not more. In fact, I travel to Goa at any opportunity I can get! I understand Konkani but unfortunately I don’t speak the language… but that’s something I intend to change very soon.

Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
My aim in the next 5 years is to spread The Danceworx into more cities and satellite towns in India and create more dance awareness and opportunity. My dream is also to set up a full-time dance centre in Goa.

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Feature: Live Sound Engineer Leon Silveira

Leon Silveira

He is responsible for the set-up and operation of sound amplification systems at different venues such as theatres and other live events. He also plays a very important role in chipping into the success of live music concerts. Professional live sound engineering makes it possible for musicians to perform before huge crowds at various venues without compromising on sound quality. And one such Live Sound Engineer is our very own Goan lad, Leon Silveira.

Leon was born to a family of musicians. “My dad is a bass guitarist and his brothers are musicians too, and that’s where I’ve picked up the skills from,” he says, adding, “I was always fascinated with speakers and amplifiers, which led me to learn how to wire up systems on my own. After a point, I started setting up sound for big events. Once, I managed a band because their engineer was not available, and the feedback I received from the band as well as the crowd was encouraging. This took place almost 10 years ago. Since then, this profession has stayed with me.”

This profession might not be very popular. People love to become singers and musicians, but few like to stay backstage to fine tune the event. The tale of Leon getting fond of sound equipment ties back to his childhood.

“My dad was into making amplifiers. So I used to keenly observe his work and the type of tone speakers required to amplify. Since they were home-made amplifiers they would lack perfection. But he loved to repair rather than replacing it with new speakers. And since we had one music system, I would assist him refurbish the speakers by holding a wire just the way he wanted it so he could solder them together.”

As of now, Leon works as a live sound engineer and technical head for an online music retailer company. He is also associated with a lot of bands including The Lightyears Explode, Blek, The Fringe Pop and Discordian to name a few. Before picking up sound engineering as his career, Leon started off as a drummer, later took up the guitar and is currently tripping on the piano. “I’m also teaching the piano to students at JMD School of Music.”

Around three to four years ago, Leon decided to set up something of his own but found it difficult to keep up with the changing pace of the industry. “The market moves way faster than we can imagine. There’s something new every week. My investment amount started shooting up, as I needed a warehouse to store the equipment. Plus I needed manpower. This turned out to be expensive so I ditched the idea.”

Setting up sound and ensuring that it runs parallel throughout the concert venue isn’t a cakewalk. “The acoustics of every venue is not always correct. Hence, I have to ensure that the sound travels equally to every nook and corner. In other words, every person should be able to hear the same music wherever he or she is at the venue.”

Leon is Goan by birth and belongs to Calangute. However, his trips to Goa are restricted to gigs in the state. And when he’s not gigging, he keeps himself busy listening to music or relaxes while admiring the speakers piled up at his house.

The article was first featured in The Goan on Saturday.

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Column: The stubborn little black and yellow Buggies

Please note: This column was first featured in The Goan on Saturday.


On a rainy Saturday, I set out with a friend to grab brunch at a not-so-nearby restaurant. I was going from Andheri West to Andheri East. Even if you’re not from Mumbai, you must have heard of the plight of travelling from one end of the suburb to another. But we were lucky to get a rick as soon as we stepped onto the road. Then what am I about to whine now? Let me narrate. We enjoyed a delicious and flavourful buffet at this newly opened Pan-Asian restaurant and were now heading back home. We tried to hail an auto, and another one, and another one until we lost count of how many rickshaws we pleaded to take us back home.

The little black and yellow buggies that zip through the traffic like busy beetles started acting very stubbornly. In a city that has more than 120,000 autos populating the suburbs, it’s a wonder how tough it is to get one. On the other hand, it’s just funny when not just one, but three to four autos stop in front of me when I am actually going to a nearby store to buy Maggi noodles, may be. And I politely smile, and decline a ride. Oh come on, it’s walking distance. But this was not! None of them were willing to take us. The moment I said, “Chaar Bangla (Four Bungalows),” he would nod and zoom away. After a good 35 minutes, our saviour arrived. As we settled into the auto, I started interrogating this driver on why none of the other drivers were taking us when we said Chaar Bangla.

It was around 4 in the evening, the time when most shifts end. And everything we faced had to do with the time. According to our autowallah, most of the rickshaws are not owned by the respective drivers. Each auto is driven by at least two drivers every day, and the steering changes hands mostly around 4pm or 5pm in the evening. That’s when the night shift begins. The reason this guy decided to give us a ride was because his shift was ending at 6pm and he still had enough time to take us to the West and return to the East.

Apart from this, at times it’s also about refilling fuel. This driver also mentioned that auto drivers turndown customers when they need to refill CNG, and angry commuters fail to get the point. My friend and I were all ears when he started giving us his point of view on the relationship between autowallahs and commuters. All I could do was exchange glances of guilt for saying bad stuff to this lot. This is however, not the first time I’ve faced such a scenario. During college days, it was very difficult to convince a cab driver to take us to Grant Road station from Sophia College. They would always refuse. So much so, my friends would ask them if they would rather prefer taking us to Dubai or London, maybe.

I think they refused because of the crazy traffic. Once you’re in it, you’re trapped. And who wants to get trapped on the noisy streets of Mumbai? Not even the autowallahs or the taxiwallahs.

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Column: Choris comes by once in a While

choris pao

Last week, a friend at work got some choris pulav for lunch. Her parents had picked up these pork sausages during their last visit to Goa. She could definitely not sit with me for lunch and not offer any. But I rightfully exchanged my lunch (which comprised of vegetable and chapattis) with her choris pulav without allowing her to have her own lunch.

Okay, that did not happen. I made that bit up. We shared our food like we always do. This appetizing food reminded me of my days back home and how often I used to feast upon such delicacies. After a good five years in Mumbai, my palate has settled for every recipe, and most of it being vegetarian food. I’m comfortable eating veggies on a regular basis. Wait; make that every day except the weekend. Saturday-Sunday is strictly non-vegetarian. It’s been months since I’ve gobbled up some homemade food. When I say homemade, I am referring to the food that’s cooked by my mother or sister. And I’m sure all of us staying away from home miss this, the most – home food. Now the question is, isn’t there a better alternative for us? The answer is yes, but at exorbitant prices! So, is there a solution? Indeed.

And this solution works best among us youngsters who lack interest in preparing their own food, run out of time to cook or tend to overcome or are overcome by sheer laziness. At such times, dabbawallas come to our rescue. Like time and tide, Mumbai’s dabbawallas wait for no one. There are over 5000 food service deliveries in Mumbai and they have now become a part of this city’s culture. I get my dabba (tiffin) every evening. I must admit, this dabbawalla has never let me or any of my friends down. Every day, there is something new packed and sent. It’s not just when I am at home. Such services extend to offices as well. Surprisingly, the food that is sent to us is nothing less than homemade food. Technically, it does come from someone’s home and all the food is cooked to perfection. There are times when some dishes are not up to the mark, but how much can you expect for Rs 50? So we keep reminding ourselves that beggars can’t be choosers.

Till date, my roomies and I have changed at least three dabbawallas. When the first fell ill, we stumbled upon the second one. And then the second one thought of going on a long holiday and we finally settled on the third and final one. Now, all we hope is that he doesn’t go on a holiday too. I know, I sound like a hungry task master who just doesn’t want her dabbawalla to enjoy a holiday. Kidding, of course! So, every day we get to savour tasty food. It’s flavourful and carries aroma in the air. It seems these dabbawallas follow one mantra — Work is worship, and customer is God. Come what may, we are never left starving.

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Please note: This column was first featured in The Goan.

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In conversation with Candice Pereira, Marry Me Weddings

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