• Eyes on Fire - Blue Foundation
  • Rooster - Alice in Chains
  • Jigsaw Falling into Place - Radiohead
  • Quien Fuera - Silvio Rodriguez
  • La Tortura - Shakira

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Why are you vegetarian?

Recently, with all the hype surrounding vegetarianism and its variants, a vegetarian could be forgiven for believing that s/he belonged to a higher strata of compassionate and righteous human beings - feeling sorry for their meat-consuming brethren. Now that I've so cunningly confessed and in the same vein conveniently exonerated myself, allow me to inflict some personal history on you.

Notwithstanding generations of strict Brahminic (and hence vegetarian) influences, my Dad ate all kinds of meat during his heyday, including the unholiest of unholies - beef - while he traveled the west. Mom, though not quite as adventurous, wasn't averse to the consumption of meat. If memory serves me well, she might have even tasted pork. Quite understandably, there was no pressure on me to stick to a veggie-only diet. As a child, I tasted chicken and mutton on a couple of occasions - even relished them. However, Mom had no clue nor an inclination to cook meat at home - so our daily meals were always vegetarian.

Somewhere along the way, a desire to eat meat fell to the wayside - and weakened further by taunts from meat-eating friends. I got thru college, living away from home 'unscathed'. I didn't drink (I tried to .. a lot .. to no avail) or smoke (I'm asthmatic) or eat meat.

Due to the combination of a nitpicking palate and a genetic hand-me-down, I avoided the 'twin evils' of drinking and smoking. Add to that a self-cultivated disinclination to eat meat and I was carrying the fodder to feed a delusion of piousness. I was at the tipping point.

I promptly tipped over, when I arrived in the states in 2000. Though Eugene, OR was liberal enough to have more meat-free offerings than the average american town, my options were quite limited - but I slugged it out. I took to cold sandwiches and cous-cous salad and of course gallons of ice-cream that I consumed as dinner. I suppose it was around this time that I truly subscribed to the idea that I was standing on higher ground.

Somewhere down the line, I lost sight of a very important fact. As an Indian vegetarian, I was never ever denying myself the pleasures of eating the tastiest of foods. The sheer variety of home cooked food was staggering at the very least. Being vegetarian came very naturally to me. It wasn't about eating healthy and really not about being overly nice to animals. We ate good food at home - it just happened to be meat free.

There are people very close to me including Aparna who gave up meat for ethical reasons - and I greatly respect that stand. I was never into eating meat so there was nothing to give up. I'm still quite happy being a vegetarian and would love to have more options when I eat out. But ask me about why I'm a vegetarian and chances are you won't hear hogwash about ethics and humanity.

.: I thought I'd post Aparna's response to my rant in a an unabashed show of nepotism :.
I'm going back in memory lane here, but I distinctly remember that as children, we were all taught not to take what isn't ours. Why is taking a life any different then? Why is OK to kill an animal?

I used to not be a vegetarian. It was so easy. Or was it? My reasons were that I needed the nutrition, it was OK as long as it wasn't a mammal, etc. etc. I also thought of vegetarians being hypocritical when they wore leather, so I kept believing that there was nothing wrong. The reality though was that I didn't want to know the harsh reality behind how that food came to my table? It's not pleasant, it's not right, and I believe we have the power to do something about it. The very least we can do is not contribute to it.

It takes courage to stand by what you believe in. I believe all life forms deserve respect. I'm not a mission to change the world...just myself, for the better.

I read about the Canadian sealhunt the other day and was very disturbed. Sign the pledge below if you think it's worth saving a few lives...they're all equally valuable.

I guess it was my turn to ramble on..:)

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I'm hitting paydirt more often in my search for better chocolate ice-creams. Since Haagen Dazs Mayan Chocolate and Amazon Valley Chocolate, I've hit upon Choctal. This brand specializes in Chocolate-only ice-creams. So far, I've tasted 'Pure Kalimantan' and 'Pure Costa Rican Chocolate'.

The description was enough .. "a cacao that makes dark, rich, pure chocolat" . It was as promised - a strong, uncompromisingly bitter, swiftly melting chocolate extravaganza. There was also talk lingering oak, vanilla or caramel - but my brutalized Indian palate craves pure chocolate and as long as that is the dominant flavor, I stand sated. You'll hear more about this brand. I'm very impressed.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

It's picasaweb now ..

I've moved to picasaweb for storing all my online pictures now. It serves my needs - and though it has limited space, it's able to display pictures at a decent resolution. I hated flickr and the limited sets option it had to offer. Let's see how this holds out. I'm hoping to hold out so I don't end up paying to host my pictures.

I made a trip to Tallulah Gorge last weekend along with Bharath, Sandhy and Arora. The sky was overcast, the pictures were terrific.

Friday, June 01, 2007

the Chocolate Revolution

I'm a chocoholic - make that dark chocoholic. I like chocolates. Did I mention that I love Dark Chocolate? Get the picture?

Yes, I scour the candy sections for dark chocolate that I haven't tasted before. Usually, I to go to specialty stores (TJs, Whole Foods, Cost Plus have been serving me well) to satisfy my bottomless pit of a stomach. Of late, I've been noticing some dark chocolate versions of some mainstream (ugh! milk) chocolates.

Hershey's have been serving up some crappy low-end dark chocolate for a while now. However, they've recently come up with a higher priced and slightly better brand - Cacao Reserve. Some of these taste decent - worth a try. The most surprising entrant was a Dark Chocolate snickers bar. I'd say it's much better than the milk chocolate version - what did you expect?

The point is, everyone is slowly turning towards dark. I see a proliferation of articles touting the benefits of dark chocolate. I'm all for it. Hopefully, we'll be weaned off of the extremely sugary and awful tasting american mainstream candy into something more subtle and rich.

I will soon review a stash of chocolates I bought in Canada. I never saw these brands elsewhere and the flavors were exotic - Banana Ginger, Green Anise, Orange Peel, Fresh Ginger. I haven't tucked into them yet - I hope to savor each one like it's a bottle of fine wine. Not to mention - I paid premium price for each bar, close to 6 bucks a piece.