5 drinks to order because your favourite fictional characters did
Carrie Bradshaw’s COSMOPOLITAN
The famous journalist drinks these (1 ounce vodka, 1/2 ounces Triple Sec, 1/2 ounce lime juice, 1/2 ounce cranberry juice) all through the many seasons of Sex & The City.
The Famous Five’s GINGER BEER
Summer picnics with the Five (okay four, since Timmy the dog does not like ginger beer) weren’t complete without copious quantities of this very British drink.
Harry Potter’s PUMPKIN JUICE
Butterbeer is sold only at the Harry Potter theme park, but pumpkin juice can be made just about anywhere. Drink up, and pretend you’re on the Hogwarts Express!
Precious Ramotswe’s REDBUSH TEA
The owner of Botswana’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency drinks this refreshing, almost nutty tea that is native to Africa.
James Bond’s VESPER MARTINI
Daniel Craig orders one in Casino Royale: “Three measures of Gordon’s; one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel.”
5 lyrics to learn by heart if you are or have been in love
Ai Ajnabi - For when your true love is too far away for a quick hug
Ai ajnabi tu bhi kabhi aawaaz de kahin se / Main yahan tukdon mein ji raha hoon / Tu kahin tukdon mein ji rahi hai / Roz roz resham si hawa aate jaate kahti hai bataa / Resham si hawa kahti hai bata / Woh jo doodh dhuli masoom kali / Woh hai kahan kahan hai woh roshni kahan hai / Woh jaan si kahan hai
From Dil Se. Lyrics by Gulzar
Don’t Turn Away, It’s Only Love - For when your true love is too chicken to make the first move
Don’t close your eyes / Don’t hold it in/ Reach out to me / let it all begin
Don’t be afraid, it’s only love / Only a touch that frees you / Let it release you
Take the chance, it’s only love / Let it come through you slowly / Open your heart and show me / Don’t be afraid, it’s only love
From The Scarlet Pimpernel. Lyrics by Nan Knighton
Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein - For when you need to tell her that she’s the one, the only one
Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein khayaal aata hai / Ki jaise tujhko banaya gaya
hai mere liye / Tu abse pehle sitaaron mein bas rahi thi kahin / Tujhe zameen pe bulaya gaya hai mere liye
From Kabhi Kabhie. Lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi
Maybe I’m Amazed - For when you’re feeling all grateful that she’s still in your life
Maybe I’m amazed at the way you’re with me all the time / Maybe I’m afraid of the way I leave you / Maybe I’m amazed at the way you help me sing my song / Right me when I’m wrong / Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you
From the McCartney album. Written by Paul McCartney.
Teri Aankhon Ke Siva Duniya Main - For when she’s so beautiful it’s left you speechless
In mein mere aanewale zamane ki tasveer hai / Chahat ke kajal se likhi huyi meri taqdeer hai / Main hoon kahin inka saya mere dil se jata nahi /Inke siva ab to kuchh bhi nazar mujhko aata nahi
From Chirag. Lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri
5 books to make you sound intelligent at parties
Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies Hilary Mantel
Both books won Bookers. Both make British history addictive. Both remind you that you don’t need a fantasy when you have fact (and Thomas Cromwell). Say stuff like: “Hilary Mantel wrote the second book in just five months. What discipline!”
The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald
The language, the slow unravelling of dreams and illusions, the romance and politics of the 20th century – it’s all there. Let’s hope the movie will be half as good. Say stuff like: “Fitzgerald captured a society and a set of young people; and he wrote them into myth.”
Behind the Beautiful Forevers Katherine Boo
Everyone has an opinion on Ms Boo. They all want to know how she got so close to India. Say stuff like: “After spending three years in India, she can see what we refuse to believe.”
The Origins Of Sex Faramerz Dabhoiwala
In 1612, if you were found guilty of adultery in Westminster, you’d be stripped to the waist, whipped and banished from the city. By 1650, you’d be killed for it. Today, nobody cares. Dr Dabhoiwala explains how. Say stuff like: “The book is not about the origin of sex, but the evolution of the Western attitude to it.”
Sethji Shobhaa De
Her first novel in a decade. Has she changed with age? Have your tastes moved on? Say stuff like: “Oh, come on. Sethji is not Nitin Gadkari. Even fiction isn’t that daring, surely!”
5 books to curl up with, anytime
A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
Because Bill Bryson is the only guy who can make science fun, and by fun we mean ridiculously straightfaced observations about black holes, atoms and Earth. It is also profound in many ways. Finish it in a go and you’ll love every bit of it.
The Krishna Key, Ashwin Sanghi
Why should racy historical thrillers or meaty fantasy sagas come only from the minds of Western writers? Ashwin Sanghi spins his yarns well, and leaves you breathless at every cliffhanger. No wonder his books are bestsellers.
The Ibis Trilogy, Amitav Ghosh
To be honest, Ghosh’s books were getting a bit weepy and repetitive. Then he threw the formula out of the window with an epic three-part take set against India’s opium trade and featuring characters no one would forget. Stay up nights reading Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke. Then lose more sleep waiting for the next book to come out.
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
An autobiographical graphic novel, Persopolis is drawn in simple black and white. It is a story of 10-year-old Satrapi around the time of the Iranian revolution. She’s smart for her age, funny, curious, perceptive and quite vulnerable too.
Mario de Miranda
Who needs words when you have illustrations by Mario? This two-kilo tome distils the cartoonist’s best work – from boyhood diaries to the unforgettable characters he created for local newspaper strips. Open a page at random. Pore over his wicked details. Laugh. You’ll never know where the evening went.
10 TV series you should buy or rent and watch back to back
Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi (Two seasons; 1984)
This is the mother of all Indian sitcoms and they set the bar high. Ranjit Verma, wife Renu, the unmarried, unemployed brother Raja, friends, bosses, neighbours and crazy Bombay types all create hilarious situations and somehow get by. Ah, then there’s Satish Shah, playing a different character in every episode, spoofing one community one day, a profession the next, twisting the plot in a way no one’s done since. Of course, all this was back in the ’80s, when people put their fridge in the living room...
Veep (One season; 2012)
Sue, did the President call? In the world where Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Selina Meyer – the Vice President of America – the big man never, ever calls. But there’s still plenty of fires to put out every day and lots of laughs for those of us watching. Selina gets a hurricane renamed so they don’t mistake her for disaster, she nimbly backtracks on her own machinations, she ad libs, she eats yoghurt on a bad stomach. And the rest of her team is just as good on their feet. Dreyfus won an Emmy for this role. You only have to watch the pilot to know why.
Game of Thrones (One Season; 2011)
The TV version of George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books is racy in more ways than one. It not only fits 700 pages into crisp, delicious episodes, but also features lots of nudity (most of it during key moments in the plot so prudish types can’t fast forward). Seven families fight for the control of the Iron Throne on the continent of Westeros. They resort to everything: beheading, incest, poison, sex and dark magic, and battle dragons, the undead, the winter and each other to survive. There’s no single hero and no way to predict what’s coming next. But you can’t tear your eyes away.
Malgudi Days (One season, 1986)
Oh come on. You weren’t really paying attention to all the subtle details when they first aired the show in 1986. Or perhaps you were too young to pick up on the poverty, the hopelessness, the magic. All these make excellent reasons to watch the 39 half-hour episodes of RK Narayan’s stories. Swami is there – and so are his friends. But what’s also there is an India that may seem removed from our own, though not a bad place at all.
The Wire (Five Seasons; 2002-2008)
First, the warnings: The Wire is violent. It’s filmed on location in run-down Baltimore using an ensemble of mostly non-actors who slur in their local accent. It demands a great deal of patience, attention and conscience. It will break your heart over and over. The show follows a police unit in a crime-riddled neighbourhood, their efforts to bring down a drug mafia using wiretaps and its impact on the rest of the city. Each episode, each season, builds on the previous – skip 15 minutes and you’re lost – which explains why the show became a cult hit only after it was released on DVD.
The Newsroom (One season; 2012)
The genius Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, West Wing, Studio 60, On The Sunset Strip) is behind this well-intentioned, slightly self-righteous show about a show. When news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniles) lashes out at a hapless student about how America isn’t the greatest country in the world, it sparks off the idea for a news show that, for once, reports the news instead of chasing ratings and advertising. Ex girlfriend Mackenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) is producer and the team struggles with more than just the truth. Try to keep up.
Breaking Bad (Four seasons; 2008-2011)
When a broke, mild-mannered, high school chemistry professor learns he’s dying of cancer, there’s only one way to secure his family’s finances – by joining forces with the local drug peddler and using his chem genius to produce the world’s finest crystal meth. It is slightly ridiculous and completely illegal – the easy money is never quite so easy. Watch the show for its great writing, the shifting power dynamic and the acting.
Dekh Bhai Dekh (One season, 1993)
Hey, everyone loved the Diwan family. And if you’re wondering who they are, then you probably shouldn’t be reading this. They were the perennially-in-trouble family with a penchant for humour in the popular ’90s sitcom. Starring Shekhar Suman, Navin Nishcol and Sushma Seth, the serial takes the viewer through the various ups and downs faced by the family and crazy things which can only happen to them. And man, they all spoke really fast.
Downton Abbey (Two seasons; 2010-2011)
Take one gorgeous English estate. Populate it with high-mannered aristocrats and their equally snooty servants. Throw in the news of the Titanic sinking, remind the family they’ve just lost the heir to the estate and watch everybody scramble. Then throw in WW1. Downton Abbey’s residents have secrets, odious personalities, alarming personal agendas and some very cunning tricks up their sleeves. It’s madly addictive, I dare say. Will you stay for tea?
Girls (One season; 2012)
Close to the beginning (in the second episode, actually), twenty-something Hannah Horvath is at the gynaecologist’s, her feet in stirrups as she gets checked for signs of STDs. She says she’s kinda hoping she, y’know, does have HIV – so the fact that she’s educated, jobless, broke and trying to survive New York will cease to matter. We’re not sure she’s joking. Her three friends don’t fare much better – this is the flip side to Carrie Bradshaw’s NYC, where everyone’s struggling with life and love. “You couldn’t pay me enough to be 24 again,” says her doc. “Well,” she responds. “They’re not paying me at all.”
5 foods so heavy but tasty they’ll make your doctor faint
Puran poli: This sweet bread, traditionally made at festival time, is yummy and very high in calories. Guaranteed to make you roly-poly!
Keema Ghotala: No one would dream of eating a keema that didn’t have an oily layer on top, despite its cholesterol content. So what happens when you stir an egg into the mix? Pure heaven, as the keema acquires the taste of fluffy scrambled egg. Add pao for a heavy, er... heavenly time!
Atte ka halwa: This is a mix of little atta, lots and LOTS of dry fruits, and copious amounts of ghee. And it is served piping hot, with an extra serving of ghee. Be still my healthy heart!
Malpua and ice cream: You should really get a coupon for a health check-up when you attempt to eat a whole malpua by yourself. But add ice cream – and then maybe that dessert should come with a doctor in tow.
Bacon-wrapped prawns: How do you make a plate of freshly cooked prawns tastier? You individually wrap each one with a fatty sliver of bacon. So what if that also wraps each one with extra calories – you only live once, right?
5 films you should watch because of their mind-blowing sex scenes
9 ½ Weeks (1986)
Yes, they were having good sex on screen, even back in 1986. Kim Basinger gets it on quite kinkily on with Mickey Rourke right in the middle of the kitchen. There’s ice involved in one scene, jellies, berries and jalapeno in another, and even a rainy side street in another. The film is all about sexual control and complications.
The End Of The Affair (1999)
Where Graham Greene’s novel was staid, Neil Jordan’s adaptation sizzles. Ralph Fiennes plays a spurned lover, brooding over his affair with Julianne Moore. One particularly racy memory has them ripping the clothes off each other, racing home and hoping to make it to bed and be done before her husband gets home. They manage, just about – and she screams out her climax.
Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
Life offers temptation enough when you’re a teenage boy. But when you’re Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna on the road trip of your lives with the smoking hot Maribel Verdú, you might as well make the most of it. The woman sleeps with both of them, bonking away in her heels and bra. But she’s also nice enough to throw in an awkward three-way that the guys (and you, dear viewer) will always remember.
Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982)
Before high-school comedies became a genre. Before Sean Penn became a serious actor. Before proms became the high point of teen existence. Before handsome vampires, there was this hilarious movie. Don’t miss the scene in which one horny boy gives himself a treat in the bathroom, fantasising about his sister’s bikini-clad best friend. It’s more amusing than arousing. We like!
Wild Things (1998)
A young Denise Richards and Neve Campbell get naked and make out with Matt Dillon. Then, the young ladies also get it on with each other. In a swimming pool. Many other things happen in this movie. But none of them matter.
5 Indian films you should watch because India is like this only
Hera Pheri (2000)
Three unemployed men get a call from kidnapper Kabira. Working on the classic jugaad formula, they actually manage to turn the game around, increase the ransom to keep the extra cash and give the rest back to the original kidnapper.
Andaz Apna Apna (1994)
This one is a classic. Two unemployed conmen who dream of marrying Bollywood actresses, want to make a quick buck. They compete for the hand of an heiress and get caught in a series of hilarious
Where else will you find a police officer called Chulbul ‘Robinhood’ Pandey, who is corrupt but fights for the poor, bashes 15 goons with a flick of a finger, all while stalking a woman and dancing like a fool on crack?
Peepli Live (2010)
A poor farmer, Natha, wants to commit suicide because of his debts. A news channel gets a whiff of it and bang, Natha is the newest sensation. Everyone wants to interview him and can’t stop discussing whether he will go ahead or chicken out. Will he give in or will he give up?
Malegaon Ka Superman (2012)
The story of a small-town videographer who is obsessed with Bollywood. He makes spoofs of Sholay and Shaan and finds an audience. Then comes his super-ambitious project – Malegaon ka Superman. What makes it desi are the idiosyncrasies – the ingenuity in pulling off a superhero film in a village, orthodox villagers who won’t allow women to work, etc.
5 totally useless things to buy
Stainless Steel Duck Shaped Fried-egg Cutter: Just be happy that you are getting a fried egg at breakfast. Who the heck wants it duck-shaped?
Banana Guard: A banana has a guard - it’s called the peel.
Ducky: This ducky changes colour so you can test how hot your baby’s bath water is. We say, if you want to test the temperature of the water before giving your baby a bath, just stick your hand in.
Sheep Pyjama Case: When you’re not wearing your pyjamas, fold them neatly on the bed or hang them up. Don’t put them inside a fluffy toy, for God’s sake.
The Snuggie: A sleeved blanket to keep you warm when watching TV? If you just got off your butt, you would be warm enough.
From HT Brunch, November 25
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