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March 2006

Flattery or Plagiarism

Who would have thought this little blog of mine would have such devout readers. Readers who are journalists, who want to spread my words with such faithfulness as to keep the original untouched, in its exact same form, word for word, comma for comma. And print it in one of the nations English dailies, with (purportedly) the highest circulation.

This should warm the cockles of my beating heart, it should fill me with pride and joy, it should, it should...

Well it doesn't. I am mad.

And after I complain to the person in charge of that section of the paper I receive a phone call from the offending creature. Who calls it 'research'. Who does not admit to charges of copying even though she has scooped up 400 words of a five hundred word post and did a paste job. Who does not identify herself on the phone .Who has the gall to suggest I 'want something", as in money, to keep me quiet.

Now I am madder.

What the silly woman does not know is that the exact same piece was plagiarised in a magazine that was circulated in November 2005. So, now everyone knows it definitely appeared before her piece, whether in my blog or actually lifted from some other 'journalist' .Who is the fool? Plagiariser No 1 or P # 2.
The editor of that particular magazine issued an apology right away, refused to use the "journalist" in question again and circulated my letter to her stringers as a warning, and ...(oh wowee!!) suggested that, perhaps, I would like to write for her illustrious magazine.
Not surprisingly the 'in charge' of the paper today said...."err so why dont you come and meet me and maybe you would like to write for us". Oh surprise surprise! .Very pally like. Familiar. First name basis always. Friendly. Patronising.

No mention of formal apology. No mention of setting it right in print

The odd fact is, 'not so net savvy' journalists do not use the Internet except, like this woman, for "research". They don't know that this great piece of software called Copyscape (please look to the bottom right hand corner of this page) can catch them red-handed in black and white if they have online versions of their papers.
Any editor in this country would do well to use keep it on their desktop. Google is another wonderful tool. Just type in phrases from any article and if it has been written before, at least on the net, you can find out in 2 seconds flat.

And we have copyright and patent laws in this country too. Yes. I know this is not Neem or Basmati and this thief is so local as to make the situation somewhat amusing,( I mean if we meet in the same restaurant -what do I do? Throw curry in her face?) but all the same. There is such a tiny, little thing called creative pride. My words above another persons byline. Ugh. I dont like the look of that name. It ain't mine.

How many other bloggers have experienced the same thing? How many blogs are being reproduced wholesale without permission and with no attribution given to the writers and photographers?
Dear community of Bloggers. Please do let me know.

Mutton Kolhapuri

Mutton Kolhapuri

There is nothing subtle about this dish. Its red, hot and pungent.The taste hits you right away because of the generosity with which garam masalas are added. The chillies are hair raising. Especially if the lavangi, that firecracker of a mirchi ,is part of the ingredients. Its sparks define Kolhapuri food. Almost painful to the palate, once eaten most people are not 'twice shy.' In fact many remain fans forever, addicted , craving that colourful gravy, situated as they are, far away from the rugged terrain that surrounds the place of it's origins.

Kolhapur District


Roast on a tava or frying pan:

  • 6 tbsp. of copra grated till golden brown. Remove from pan.
  • 1 tbsp. khus/ poppy seeds. Remove from pan.
  • Now roast the following together, stirring continuously to prevent burning, till they give off a nice aroma:

    • 3 tsp. peppercorn
    • 1 tsp. jaipathri / mace
    • 3 tsp cloves
    • 2 2" pieces cinnamon
    • 6 badi elaichi / black cardamom
    • 6 green cardamom
    • 1/4 jaiphal / nutmeg
    • 20 Kashnmiri chillies / or three lavangi chillies and 10 kashmiri chillies
    • 4 tsp. khus / poppy seeds
    • 2 tbsp. dhania /coriander seeds
    • 2 tsps jeera / cumin seeds
    • 3 tsp. saunf /fennel seeds
    • 2 tsp. shahzeera /caraway /
    • 3 tsp. dagad phool / lichen /
    • 2 pcs. badal phool / star anise
    • 2 tsps sesame seeds

Let the spices cool then grind in a coffee grinder till a fine paste is formed.I add the coconut, poppy seeds and sesame seeds last of all, as they release the oil required to make the powdered ingredients into a paste..

    • 1 and 1/2 kg. mutton shoulder with cartilage removed.Cut into cubes.
    • 6 - 12 tbsp. oil.(I use the lesser amount but its a question of taste and necessity)
    • 6 large onions minced
    • 2 onions and 15 cloves garlic pureed into a paste.
    • 2 level tsps haldi/ turmeric
    • 3 tbsp. ginger garlic paste.
    • 1 litre/ 2 pints boiling water
    • 2 tbsp. lime juice
    • 3 tsps salt or to taste
    • 1 tbsp. fresh coriander

    Heat the oil in a large kadhai. Add bay leaves and stir for a second before adding the minced onions. Fry the onions till brown .

    Now add the garlic/ onion paste and the turmeric, stirring well so it does not burn. Add the ginger garlic paste,give it a stir and then add the mutton pieces all together. Let the meat change colour and brown a bit before adding the boiling water.Cover and cook for 40 minutes on a medium flame.

    Now add the masala paste the lime juice and salt. Stir to cook the paste well., add more water if required. Cover tightly and cook till done for approximately 45 minutes on a low flame.

    This meat should not be dry and should have plenty of gravy. Garnish with some coriander and serve hot.Goes great with jowar roti or plain rice.

Survival of the Fittest- Cookbooks from World War II

This afternoon I got a call from an old, old friend . She is 95 and full of beans.She told me of her ideas about changing the national symbol to reflect, not the wheel of Ashoka, but the wheel of the rath of Krishna.Not murderous Ashoka but gentle Krishna.We have forgotten, she said, that Ashoka killed his siblings to become king. Krishna was not murderous. He did his duty. Karma yog was the answer. Work without anticipation of reward.

It was good to hear her . She wanted to share her vision that the wheel at the centre of the flag could mean more to most Indians..

She also talked to me about her husband who died last year. He was interned in a POW camp in Germany, after being caught in Cairo during the Second World War, and suffered greatly, like so many Indian officers and soldiers, who remain, like the Australians, the unsung heroes of the Allied army.

How many people know what Indian regiments did during this war?
8th Indian in action. Italy 1944

With movies and literature glorifying the deeds of other countries few realise that Indian officers were among those who faced Rommel in the desert, who were among the first to enter Rome, in the race for that honour between the British and U.S. army across Europe , and who died in horrifying circumstances in the Battle of  Monte Cassino, in the south of Italy.
Cassino 1944

The few who survived that battle walked into Rome to guard many of Italy's national treasures- singers from the National Opera. For whom the grateful artists gave a concert that left not a dry eye in the room.

How do I know this? My father was there.

Back to my friend. Her husband kept a cookery book in the German camp, which she now wants to publish. In it are jewels of recipes . How to make do without several ingredients and still make a great meal. It occurs to me that he was not the only one to remember, in complete detail, the tastes of his youth and how to reconstruct the best of them even in his mind.And what power this had to make him survive (think of "In Memory's Kitchen", recipes collected by inmates of the concentration camp at Terezin.)

(I am sure that even in this age of globalisation, where regions are defined by availability of ingredients, most of which cross all borders, except perhaps those which require absolute freshness, his book would do well with the adventurous. After all, courage today is also defined in culinary bravado.Witness Bourdain, our modern day culinary warrior.)

Yesterday I saw a snippet on TV about a few living veterans of World War II .

Sikh Troops in Burma 1945

Soldiers, villagers, who had been part of the British Indian Army in Burma , who were told to go home after the war, without a penny to live on and who, even now, receive pathetic pensions of Rs 900 i.e. $20 for their part in the wars of the British army. Wizened yet dignified, they had the courtesy to attend some ceremony organised by the UK high commission, to be at the receiving end of a dozen cameras and a hand out of cheques of $30 apiece, for being some of the bravest of the brave in those bloody battles . They were assured, by some British boffin, that people in his country would "continue to raise money for them as long as they lived!"

How gratifying.

At least the British left in 1947, with, besides much else, our curry. Worth a lot more than 30 quid would you say??