Archive for July, 2009


Cooking is an art. Men, in general are better cooks than women. Women are good too. I am talking in relative terms. I don’t want to lose my female readership.

You know why men are better at cooking? Cos we learn it the hard way!! We always do. With our grad students, there is no dearth for new experiments and lots of fun. 🙂

Disclaimer:- All characters,events, incidents etc., quoted in this post are purely non-fictional. Any resemblance to a particular set of grad students you might know is solely intended and is not a work of fiction from the author. So take your guesses.

A bunch of grad students (4 to be precise) went on a cooking endeavor a couple of years ago. Those were the times, when cooking was an exciting task for those grad students. Yeah, they had landed in the United States of America just a week before. Ask them what cooking is all about now. “Whatever!!!! It just needs to be edible and should get done in less than 30 minutes.” – one possible answer. “Food?? we have got ramen, maggi, tortilla and instant side dishes” – another possibility. “Oh, why bother about food, when you have a whole bunch of restaurants and a good form of financial aid to support yourself” – one of the rarest possibilities in the electrical engineering department. 😉

Anyways, let us not digress from our main story. Cooking it was – the agenda of that evening. The menu was fixed to be sambar with okra fry. (Okra = Ladies Finger). Why is it called ladies finger in india? I just can’t make out the reason behind that. Any ideas? Enlighten me!!

One of our grad students never knew that cooking okra was that big a deal until that day. Sambar as such was easy to cook. But frozen okra could be really tricky at times. But our poor innocent bunch were unaware of these details. Our “big grad student” (bgd) and “please da grad student” (pgd) who has been named so for the sole reason that he uses “Please da” for every practical reason except pleading , set about defrosting the okra in the microwave oven. Our menial grad student (mgd) and “solu grad student” (sgd) who shot to stardom with  the previous post, cut some onions and started frying them in oil. “sgd” had heard somewhere that, onions and tomatoes can be used as a base for cooking anything. Alright!!! No arguments on that.. After the onions were fried, the defrosted okras were added to the pan along with some chilli powder, salt and then started the long process of frying.

Midway through, one of them suggested that, they should taste the okra to make sure that the spices were in the right proportion and also to make sure that they were fully cooked. Our “bgd” took up the responsibility. One piece into his mouth and he spat it out right away. The okras weren’t fully cooked. Our “pgd” came up with a thought. He had heard from various reliable sources that, most vegetables take lot of time to cook and if they don’t get fully cooked, water must be added. The other three thought, this “pgd” really knew his bearings in cooking and followed  him. Thus, they added water. Not just one or two cups. Enough water to drown all the okras and make their cadavers float.  And closed the pan with a lid. The rest is history!!! 😛

After 5 minutes, the pan was opened. The gd’s were expecting to get something like this. 535570229_2a5be9c0fd

But the okras had other plans. Probably they were angry with the gds for cooking them wrong. Probably they were angry that they were bathed in water. Probably they were disgusted at being thought about as any normal vegetable. Probably they wanted to show off that they were one of a kind. Probably they wanted to punish the gds for thinking that okras were easy to cook.

What remained there in that pan was beyond description. Something that strongly repelled the word “edible”. However, our poor “mgd” who was having hunger pangs, summoned the courage to take that lumpy mass and put it on his plate. He even tried to put it in his mouth. What happened after that is left to the reader’s imagination. ;). It took the gds more than a week to get the utensils clean. On the brighter side, the gds learned how to make cheap glue.

PS:- Things to remember 1) Never add water to okra. 2)Never trust a fellow gd’s cooking advise, especially if he landed in the USofA on the same day as you. 3) You always learn it the hard way!!!

The Killer Blow!!

Disclaimer:- All characters,events, incidents etc., quoted in this post are purely non-fictional. Any resemblance to a particular grad student you might know is solely intended and is not a work of fiction from the author. So take your guess.

A voice chat between a grad student (who has recently come to the US ) and his parents.

Mom:- Kanna, how are you? (for the tamil disabled, kanna = dear)

grad student(gd) :- am fine mom

Mom:- are you eating properly? are you sleeping soon?

grad student:- yes mom

[remember.. there are two types of grad students… 1) Those who answer in as few words as possible to everyone.. 2)Those who answer to their parents in a couple of words.. But, when it comes to their GFs, the answers are sometimes muffled(you know why ;)) and sometimes just a single word like “sollu” (tell me) which keeps getting repeated a million times like the broken record in a very old gramaphone ;).. one must appreciate their patience and perseverance in long distance relationships…. Our hero in this incident falls in neither category.. He was simply pissed off on that particular day.. for no reason obviously..]

Mom:- do you take bath regularly? do you wash your clothes regularly?

gd:- yes mom

Mom:- do take bath daily..I guess it is summer there and you must be sweating a lot.. take care of your personal hygiene..

gd:- yes mom..

gd wondering if his mom reads phdcomics… phd061209s

Incidentally, she has heard a lot of stories from her other friends that, personal hygiene of certain human beings dips to record lows once they attain the title of “grad student”.

also notice that his dad has been keeping quiet all this while.

Mom:- You took only two bars of soap.. did you buy soap?? use the soft ones.. I heard that many soaps are too strong and might affect your skin.

<gd wondering:- woww.. i never knew that.. mom is doing too much research.. probably i should try delegating some work to her>

gd:- ok mom.. Shall do so.

Mom:- Try to buy hamam soap. That is the best and easy going on your skin.

gd:- mumbling to himself… mom, hamam soaps are sold for human beings only in india.. they are probably used to bathe buffaloes in this country.. <oh yeah!! our gd hated hamam soaps for the sole reason that his parents dint let him use any other soapfor his own good of course.. but when have we understood that..>

<now our gd decides that he must let his parents know that he has become Americanized already and he doesn’t use bar soaps!>

gd:- Mom, I don’t use bar soaps any more.. I use shower gel with a scrubbing puff Arizona-Sun-Bath-And-Shower-Puffs-75

<I know the color shown in this picture is Gay to the max… But noooo, our hero is 200% heterosexual.. This was the only picture that I could get..>

An innocent mom that she was, did not know what a scrubbing puff was.. She knows bar soaps used on homo sapiens, bar soaps used on utensils & even the bar soaps used on clothes.. But what in the world was a shower gel and a scrubbing puff

So she blurted out innocently…

Mom:- What is a scrubbing puff??

Our gd being an impatient bloke, lost his cool over a meaningless conversation and shouted..

gd:- I can’t keep explaining everything.. Dad has been quiet so long.. Why don’t you ask him to explain what it is..

Now came the killer punch

Dad:- adhu onnum illa.. namma oorla indha eruma maada laam kulipatuvanga theriyuma.. thengai naaru vechu.. adhuve nylon la senju vitha, indha pasanga style a scrubbing puff nu soluvanga.. (thats nothing.. you must have seen the coconut shell covering used to bathe buffaloes in our country right?? if a similar thing is made in nylon, these guys call it a scrubbing puff).. It is used to bathe fully grown “buffaloes”.. The only difference is, a buffalo has to be scrubbed but our son has the ability to scrub himself, “luckily”.. waterbuffbymauricekoop

Now you know why our hero’s dad was quiet so long!!

Aah!! The killer blow!! 😀

Our poor grad student knew better than to lose his patience when talking with his parents.. 😉

Whats with the concept of bigger being better in the “United States of America”?? ……. Now don’t get me wrong. No double entendres intended. I am talking about cars and trucks. And I know there are coupes and convertibles, but the majority of the population seems to be preferring pick-up trucks and SUVs, atleast in the place I am studying!! College Station, Texas. I agree, this is “Aggieland”. There are lots of farmers and farm related activites  going on in abundance which justifies the need for trucks. But, even for pizza delivery??

Papa Johns

Guess all his tip money goes for gas. Even that is not going to be sufficient. There was this tagline in an ad for the Hummer… “Like nothing else..“… Yeah right!!! I totally agree… No other vehicle gives 14mpg in the city. That is 3.64 miles/litre of gasoline. ;).. And why does an average american bother about that. Gas is selling at $2.7/gallon. “Voila.. Get me a bigger gas guzzler!!”. Till you are hit hard with a rock and given the reality check. Now you know why GM went bankrupt. The icing on the cake is this “A snake swallowing an elephant”. Ha ha!! American brand being rejected by China. How many times have we made fun of chinese products?? Heights of irony. I bet this is going to get better.

We should see how the americans react if the gas prices are taken to $10/gallon. The SUVs and pickup trucks will be wiped off the american soil. No longer will we see puny girls driving a hummer as a status symbol. Maruthi 800s & Tata Indicas  if imported, will sell like hot cakes. And the delivery vehicles will be simpler than this

Dominoes

When I had gone to take my license test in the brazos county DPS, I saw a young american girl who had to come to take the test in a hummer. Imagine trying to do parallel parking with that gargantuan machine. College Station, especially has a reputation of making people come back atleast 10 times before they bless you with the driving license. Trust me, it is easier to get the blessings of Lord Venky in Tirupathi. And there came this girl with a hummer. The obvious happened, she was rejected outrightly even before she tried to get that machine closer to 20degress with respect to the wall. Now tell me.. bigger is better??? Really??? God Save America!!