Friday, March 31, 2023

Discovering the World of Flavours Part One

Do you like ice cream?  I do, too much for my own good.  Do you have favorite foods?  Aren't they one of the things that make life a joy?  If you didn't find eating a joy, you might not survive, certainly would be less satisfied with life. Taste is one of our five senses and is chemical in nature.  Food is adventure.

  Our taste buds are necessary for our survival and a big part of our enjoyment.  Of course they can steer you to unhealthy choices, but this is intended to be positive.  Although this post is personal it contains universal themes that everyone can relate to because we all go through some sort of discovery of the world of food.  Food is more than sustenance.  We remember social gatherings and vacations where food played a role.  Like many a baby boomer I grew up with what I would call relatively bland foods, but that also were part of life's enjoyment. and family belonging.  As I became aware of a wider world I came to appreciate the variety of food experiences that formed part of a good life.  Look around, lots of food is waiting for your attention--but take it moderately. 

 I started out in a WASP home, that is White Anglo Saxon Protestant or more commonly meat and potatoes.  Sometimes you can hear that expression "meat and potatoes" but I am glad to have ventured outside it.  Still meat loaf, mashed potatoes covered with gravy, corn on the cob, roast beef, turkey and blueberry pies were enjoyed.  I thought I was pretty sophisticated when I discovered hot beef sandwiches with french fries.

Variety is the spice of life.  Spices indeed are a good metaphor.  They can make the difference.  Salt and pepper. are basic  I remember my father admitting that because he smoked he put extra pepper on his food so he could taste it.  I discovered salt at an early age and went overboard.  Salt is a necessity of life, but without any special effort you are likely to get more than is healthy.  These days I stay away from the salt shaker, but I usually let the waitress grind pepper for me.  

At one time I used to pride myself on eating the hottest spices, but was brought down to earth by a restaurant manager at an Indian restaurant in Kitchener who pointed out that if too hot you lose the taste.  I have borne that in mind, but found one exception in the Hamilton Farmer' Market with a somosa dealer who had different spices and I decided to try one that was made by the founder and it not only was pretty hot (perhaps not quite the hottest), but it had a unique flavor that I have come to prize.

When I was young, a hi-lite was Christmas, not just the gifts and visitors, but also turkey with dressing and cranberry sauce.   My Grandmother Davidson used to make a Christmas cake that contained rum although both she and my grandfather were abstainers.  Lots of other things that were yummy.  Later learned white meat is healthier than dark, but confess I like both.  In some ways Thanksgiving was better as it included pumpkin pie.  Nowadays people eat turkey whenever it is on sale or they just want a change from the usual.  Few of my in-laws would consider eating cranberry sauce, although cranberries are now considered healthy.

The rest of the year we of course would find a variety of things to fuel up our bodies and nurture our souls.  As a youth not worried about fatty foods which tasted better.

As a youngster and carrying over to retirement years there has been an unhealthy attraction to junk food, especially with sugar.  Chocolate bars and other forms of that addicting substance probably spoiled my appetite for healthier choices.  I liked chocolate bars with nuts, but another favorite was Turkish Delight.  A fairly common dessert from my mother was tapioca which I haven't had hardly at all since marriage.  I remember sometimes eating with strawberry jam.  A favorite from my mother was date cookies which I used for dunking in milk.  As an adult I learned they are full of starch and is now a thing of the past.

Another dessert that brought out my competitiveness was fruit cocktail from one can and with only one cherry.  As the oldest I usually managed to grab it and lorded it over the other three at the time.  I believe they now put out more than one cherry per can to cut down on fights.

Must have drank gallons of pop.  Coke, Orange Crush and Seven-up were my favorites.  As I developed a reaction to caffeine I gave up Coke, along with a late discovery of Brio.  On a Florida vacation I loved Cherry Seven Up with no caffeine, but learned that when tested in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan it was not popular enough and no distribution for Canada.  Root beer I learned was without caffeine and I liked it.  Tried one brand that claimed to have bite and learned it was caffeine that gave it bite. 

 Milk used to be a favorite of mine.  I remember my father driving me home from university and dropping into a store to buy extra milk.  However research suggested milk was not as healthy as I had assumed.  My daughter's swim coach told them not to drink milk before a competition as it took too long to digest.  A choir leader told my youngsters not to drink milk before a performance as it clogged up their throats.  I still can't resist ice cream, but have eliminated regular milk and cut down on cheese.

A special treat once in awhile was Fish n Chips wrapped in a newspaper.  Salt, vinegar and ketchup.  Prefer malt vinegar.  For salads I like Balsamic.  I didn't realize for many years that my mother had an allergy to fish, at least some fish.  On a trip with my father she had an allergic reaction to anchovies on a pizza, not realizing they were fish.

One creative idea occurred when a friend gave us a basket of pears from a tree in their back yard.  We thought we might eat them one at a time, but my mother got the idea of substituting pears for apples and baking Pear Crisp.  I loved it and still ask for it.

Somehow my parents had established a tradition of regularly visiting a particular Chinese restaurant (like a date nite).  The strange thing was for many years they never actually ate Chinese food.  Then somehow they were persuaded to try some and they both loved it.  Chinese food became a family treat we all looked forward to. When we moved to a place where there was no Chinese restaurant my parents sometimes drove about 45 minutes from Haliburton to Bobcaygeon where they did enjoy.  

The Chinese are well known for buffets and many feel that is a poor way to eat.  It is true that in our desire to try different options we fill our plates and then go back for our favorites.  In our area the Mandarin chain had a few options and I always liked it.  Locally they were sponsors for the MS fundraising and my wife was a top fundraiser which allowed us to visit a few extra times.  

There was a pizza store on way to high school and eventually my family discovered it and became addicted.  Pizza  has become universal, but I met a real Italian that originated near Naples, our beloved Nanny.  White pizza basically plain,but very tasty.  From my daughter, Roma pizza that is soft is another--One of my favorites was from a bakery on Isle d'Orleans, Quebec.  These days there are countless toppings to tempt us.  Pineapple, although controversial was a pleasant surprise.  From Korean tv I tried corn and enjoyed it.

The family comfort food of choice was ice cream.  My father explained that when first married he and my mother used to split a brick of ice cream.  As the years went by buying a half gallon went just as fast, of course by this time they had kids, starting with me. You can be pretty sure all of us loved ice cream.  I came to prefer ice cream blended with cake.  Favorite flavors included black cherry, rum and raisin, pistachio, chocolate, chocolate mint, maple walnut, but really I love dozens of flavors.  Strawberry ice cream was an answer when my Grandmother Coakwell asked me my favorite and she responded with a small freezer full of it. Like pizza manufacturers are looking for more exotic flavors to tempt us--a special danger for me.

Hot dogs and hamburgers were a regular part of my diet as I headed for the teenage years.  I  remember the difference was between 15¢  for hot dogs and 20¢ for the more filling hamburger.  Later I discovered footlongs which could be found in Port Dover and Easterbrook's in Burlington.

As a youngster I snuck into a neighbor's back yard and made myself sick eating plums.  That left a strong impression and I avoided plums most of my life, but have gradually enjoyed them (obviously loved the taste at one time).  Not realized they were included in fruit cocktail.

When I became obsessed with track athletics I developed the idea that liver was ideal the day of a meet.  Part of it was grossing out onlookers. I ate liver cold after my mother cooked some and at one level the practice seemed to work. 

Olives and Asparagus are truly items that are acquired tastes.  A great taste experience, but one that also makes you feel superior.  Blue cheese is similar and through my daughter's swim club I learned about Gorgonzola from a lawyer parent who loved Italian cheeses.  

Cooking on my own became a serious concern with my first job.which was in Barrie.  I remember a recipe of ground beef, pasta, onions and noodles that could be improvised.  I remember one salad made by my sister Pat made of rice, peas and onions.  To impress my girlfriend I made a roast beef with wine, mushrooms  and onions and for dessert, baked Alaska.  Once married I confess my cooking efforts have not been common.

Buckwheat honey with a strong taste that I enjoyed in herbal or regular tea and occasionally on toast..

My universe expands.  I faintly remember my father eating oyster soup, but years later after a mammoth search for a Christmas treat he said it was nothing special.  I, however felt the smell was nice.  Later on a networking group we were served oysters and a fellow member encouraged me; after the first time I didn't need any encouragement. 

For the most part my mother's idea of Italian food was canned spaghetti or some other canned pasta.   

Before meeting my wife I had been invited to both Italian and Ukrainian weddings as well as many private dinners for their unique foods.  Food is one of the celebratory features of weddings.  When I married into an Italian family got to appreciate finer points.  

My mother did learn to cook pasta, but really you need someone who lives as Italian to appreciate the many options.  Joining an Italian family can label you a mangia cake, which simply means cake eater which was an impression Italians once had to English eaters.   There are many variations on what we know as spaghetti such as linguine.  A variation I discovered was Rotini with its spirals that retained more sauce.  One new treat for me was gnocchi which are ricotta cheese filled pasta pockets.  Then there is lasagna that is eaten in layers of meat, pasta and cheese which also has variations that have gained popularity.   Another layered item and now my favorite is eggplant parmesan and learned later the eggpant had been brought to Sicily by Arabs.  A key element to Italian eating is the sauce.  Apparently Italians were the first Europeans to accept tomatoes as not being poisonous.  I watched my mother in law, wife and especially Nanny put hours of effort to making the taste just right.  Another Italian vegetable not heard of before was Zuchini and opened me up to zuchini relish which is preferable to standard relish.   

Italians certainly didn't neglect desserts.  Spumoni has to be added to my list of favorite ice creams as well as the more popular Neapolitan flavor.  At a pizza restaurant in Etobicoke, Pepi's, the owner encouraged me to try casata which has inspired me to combine cake and ice cream.  Cannoli pastries are another favorite preferring the Sicilian variation.

One peculiarity with my Italian family was that none of them would eat cranberry sauce except one nephew with a mangia cake father being the only other one to request cranberry sauce for turkey dinner.  They also ignored blueberries, another standard for me.  

An Italian habit that I have subsequently adopted was to eat salad after the main course. At restaurants it seemed normal to serve salad first while you waited for the main course to get cooked.  It seems most households carried on the habit.   

My father in law was Ukrainian and we got to eat much of that food.  Cabbage rolls and perogies are common and there can be variations with each, involving stuffings, for example mushrooms, cheese, rice, sauerkraut.  I had developed a liking for sauerkraut on hot dogs.  My son now lives in New Zealand and has learned perogies are hard to find there, so when he comes to Canada that is one of the things he looks out for.  There is Loaded Perogies in walking distance which offer quite a variety and has even got us eating them baked instead of boiled.  Ukrainian Christmas Eve had some unique once a year taste treats.  One was pickled herring and another was wheat in honey, both of which I liked.  One of my very favorites was called holibtchi (I think) and it was basically beet leaf with some sort of stuffing.  In some ways it sounds terrible and it is very labor intensive, but very delicious.  

Driving to Port Dover always involved some food rituals that made it more enjoyable.  A big draw was a 12" hotdog before they became more common.  In Hagersville was Hewitt's Dairy and there was always a long lineup--they always had a very large number of flavors.  As they were their own dairy it was always delicious.  On other visits we tried a restaurant the offered perch dinners that we had heard about back home, another add on was celery bread.  A few years later a crepe restaurant had opened and I loved crepes but seldom encountered them so I loved this restaurant that specialized with many options.  Apparently they had started as carts catering to tourists along the beach.   Unfortunately they decided to close during the pandemic.  More recently discovered Tandoori Salmon at a Port Dover restaurant.

We have lived in  a Portuguese neighborhood for almost 40 years near James St. that had about 4 Portuguese restaurants that we ignored.   Visiting our son in Victoria, but based in a Vancouver hotel at the end of week or trying various restaurants we were both tired and maybe a bit cranky and couldn't agree on a restaurant.  In the midst of our disagreement a young woman popped out and asked "why don't you come here?"  That was our introduction to Portuguese dinner and we no longer ignored them.  We did try seafood which we thought they were noted for, but got off on chicken with a pirri sauce.  Later a ritual became a patio special of mussels and sangria--which fortunately was in easy walking distance.  One of the restaurants posted something about fava beans (with onions and spices) that I quite liked.  When the World Cup or European Cup were being contested and Portugal was involved a parade of honking cars was something we both enjoyed.  One time one store offered fried sardines and I enjoyed one even with the head on.  

Fairly late one weekend nite my wife and I were looking at a new bakery on the other side of James St. that surprisingly was open.  Out of curiosity we crossed and went inside.  We were greeted by the owner and asked him a few questions.  He asked if we had ever had a a custard tart and then offered us each one for free.  I love them and appreciated they were a Portuguese specialty custard tartsdd.  Ola's is a favorite bakery.

At University of Guelph with a heavy contingent of agricultural students I encountered a maple syrup event that included pancakes with blueberries and loved it.  Later took my kids to maple syrup events at different parks so they could appreciate food doesn't just come from grocery stores.  One of my closest friends happened to be an Aggie.  Martin Weber was a city raised aggie student who had the idea he could make himself rich with what he called high bush blueberries which could be picked by machines.  He admitted that they would not taste as good as wild blueberries, but much more cost effective. It was a long and challenging effort as it took several years to reach the point where any blueberries were available and he never reached the stage of being able to use machines.  He had picked land used for tobacco as the soil was a bit acidic that helped blueberries.   I visited a few times and picked a few baskets, but it was very tiring.  He admitted he loved it when a bus full of Mennonites came and they were tireless pickers that probably saved a few acres of spoiled blueberries.  Unfortunately Martin died young and will be missed.  His blueberries were treasured.  Now most of my acquaintances share a love of blueberries which was helped by health benefits not promoted previously. 

Red Lobster was discovered soon after marriage.   I learned later that they did not have outlets in either the Maritimes or the Pacific coast as not cost competitive, but we thought they were a good deal.    Salmon sometimes barbecued with maple or dill was considered another taste treat.

We discovered the Hamilton Farmer's Market and got an education from many of the vendors.  An Indian vendor, really a sales representative sold us biryani almost weekly and explained that it tastes better if the bones are kept in it.  I had come to love Indian food after at first being repulsed by a strong curry smell in a small apartment inhabited by a lot of Indian families.  Tandoori chicken was a favorite barbecue item.  The smell grew on me to the point I loved it.

Also in the Hamilton Farmer's Market we had been introduced to mangoes and avocados along with some tasty recipes.  My sister Rebecca taught me how to cut mangoes.  I came to prefer a yellow skinned variety and at the time they were called Manilas.  I heard Ian Hanomansing say he preferred that type.

A few years ago there used to be a street festival called the Mustard Festival which I learned was supported by a local company, G.S. Dunn, the largest mustard company in Canada.  One habit I gained was that I now put mustard on corn on the cob.  Try it.  It does add to the flavor.  I also learned corn tasted better barbequed in its stalk.

I can't remember when I first became aware of bagels, but soon they became trendy and they are still in our freezer.  My sister, Rebecca on the south shore took us to a real Montreal bakery and we stocked up.

On a trip to San Francisco early in our marriage we had a few interesting experiences, but one that has carried on is the discovery of sourdough bread.  Sharon has a friend Beth who got her started on a starter kit that keeps on providing a variety of tastes. at

My daughter Heather is always checking out new restaurants and discovered one, "Culantro" that is based on Peruvian recipes.  They had a delicate way of preparing chicken and also used citrus flavorings on fish. My son Michael and daughter Heather meet with chef Juan who was a neighbor at the time.   

 Before moving to even more foods that taste good, I will mention one I do not like.  Squash.  I actually like the smell, but it tastes like grass.  Other people have told me that cilantro tastes like soap--but I love it.  So I guess there is something to genetic chemical preferences.

 As you have noticed I love a variety of foods with a waist line to prove it and this blog is already too long, but my world expands even more.  I bet some of you could tell about your own interesting encounters and you are welcome to do so.  Food really is a universal joy and the more you know the more there is to enjoy.  In the second part there will be more global encounters, but also some shifts in my thinking inspired and shared by others.

Be sure to check out part II where I discover more exotic foods, but also get involved with conscience and health issues.

Discovering The World of Flavors Part Two

 This part is about more exotic foods that have been discovered, but also more concern for weight, health, the environment and justice.  A lot of odds and ends in random order.

 As I age and read about  nutrition I have become more interested in veganism.  The benefits include guilt free regarding cruelty to animals.  More than that you cut down on cholesterol and chemicals.  It also has environmental benefits which means also economic benefits as we try to feed a hungry growing planet.  

 One documentary film that is hard to dismiss is "The Game Changers" (2019) which you can learn a bit more about at   Suggested by friend Bob Stone. Balancing that is natural reality that is our history:

 What animals we choose to eat is subject to social concerns.  Cows and chickens are normal. Pigs are forbidden to Jews and Muslims.  Sheep and lambs are too cuddly for some.   In Tarpon Springs, Florida I decided to try frog legs which tasted fine, but I read their eyes remind people of themselves and so that was the only time.  The idea of horse meat is repulsive to many of us and I worked for a horse publication. Veal is very tasty, but raised cruelly with cows packed tightly.

Talking to a Muslim friend he pointed that Halal meat is healthier as blood is drained from the body.  Also effectively argues that it is less cruel (but some think it is crueler).

A friend from Sharon's work had an emu farm which offer meat with less cholesterol.  It tasted ok, but somehow never caught on.  Goat cheese was discovered and I was told it was healthier.  As it became more popular trending, but there are a lot of surplus male goats, but little Canadian interest except for Caribbeans.

A restaurant was giving out samples and my curiosity gave in to temptation and I found kangaroo tasty.  On another occasion perhaps trying to show my sophistication had more kangaroo meat that had been barbequed.  I was told that kangaroo is low on cholesterol.  The problem is it is difficult to shake the idea of a playful toy.

Calamari was an exotic food I acquired a taste for until I learned that the octopus is a unique sentient being.  Check: The idea of eating Ox tongue was repulsive, but was persuaded to try at a Korean restaurant and realized they are tasty.   This has been my plan for several years--it partially relieves my conscience and cuts down on meat/fat consumption.

What happens if we all do become vegans?

Weight is a social and health issue.   A battle I am familiar with.  One of the most successful diets I have had  was the F Plan, with the F standing for fibre.  Chopsticks have one good advantage in that they slow me down.  Other strategies have involved mindfulness. 

We ate Mexican at the suggestion of a brother in law, first in London, (Ontario) then Etobicoke.  Our children loved it.  A few years later Hamilton developed a nearby Mexican restaurant.  Awhile later we learned their menu was gluten free and that turned out to be a key factor for one visitor.  We were surprised that another nearby restaurant had a Muslim chef which meant their menu was also halal which turned out to a positive for a sister of mine.

The Burlington Library declared, "Beauty of Humanity Movement"  their Burlington Reads selection.  A big feature was a Vietnamese Soup called pho which I sampled and have continued to do so.  Other Vietnamese items I have taken a fancy to include sandwiches with cilantro and spring rolls.   From a newspaper review we drove to Toronto to checkout chocolate covered bananas which indicated a French colonial influence

Perhaps the best value in a snack is a red bean sesame ball.  Cheaper than a chocolate bar with a mix of sweet red bean and a bread sort of wrapping and sesame seeds.  Have bought at Chinese or Vietnamese bakeries.

Thai restaurants offer my favorite foods.  They have a lot of spices and combinations of other Asian foods.  One combination was lychees in a curry.  They were the first for me to offer peanut sauce.

New Zealand is noted for meat pies and we did indeed agree they did have better than at home.  A flavor available fresh for only a short growing season was feijoa, which I absorbed in a sorbet, wine  and with hokey pokey,cereal  Driving around the North Island we were struck by the large numbers of sheep eating on mountain sides.  We ate more than usual of lamb items .  Back home it was admitted that lamb fed on grass tastes better than Canadian lamb fed on feed.  My Grandmother Coakwell introduced me and Sharon to lamb with mint as she knew my parents didn't eat it.  We attended a Maori show that included an underground cooking hangi.  Still another treat was at an underground parking lot at major shopping mall where I had a Malaysian item.  On other occasions we had visited Japanese, Turkish, Mongolian restaurants.  On another occasion at a Chinese restaurant I was able to try chicken feet that two friends had been discussing and I could appreciate their interest.  At another Chinese restaurant we ordered a few hours ahead of time and got a Beijing Duck which was more elaborate than anticipated.

The French cuisine is supposed to be top of the food tower.  I love croissants, crepes, onion soup, chicken cordon bleu, escargot and Vichyssoise.   I would like to explore more, but they have the reputation of being expensive and complicated.

One of my jobs took me to health food shows.  There is an emphasis on organic foods which I usually prefer.  New things I discovered included hummus, tahini and tofu. I learned a recipe for tuna curry that was supposed to be healthy for its omega oil.  One of the few things I am allowed to cook for others.

Michael was in Korea and was able to impress us at a local Korean restaurant ordering food in the Korean language.  They let you cook yourself at your table.  Noted for beef dishes.  My latest taste discovery has come from watching Korean tv series.   I started to notice dating couples and wealthy business men often ordered Tteokbokki to impress one another.  The real capper was a spoiled brat in a hospital with parents anxious to placate asked him what he wanted and he replied Tteokbokki and it has proved to be a new favorite.  I didn't catch on to kimchi.

For awhile I lived and worked in Waterloo country and became fascinated by the Mennonites.  Someone recommended the Stonecrock Restaurant in St. Jacob's  and one special treat was shoofly pie (so named because flies were attracted to its sweetness.  Our one year old daughter, Heather  loved it.   One location i visited frequently was Wellesley that was the headquarters for an apple butter factory.  I approached a local grocery store that was embarrassed they didn't have any on their shelves, but a manager sent me to the factory.  They showed me a new product called pumpkin butter which was really apple butter which was enhanced by pumpkin.  That became a regular visit, until I no longer had an excuse to  visit the town and was unable to find it anywhere.  A few years later, my son, Michael on a visit from New Zealand for  a computer conference in Philadelphia.  I had learned that some of my Mennonite ancestors had lived in Pennsylvania and sure enough in a downtown market I was able to find both pumpkin butter and shoofly pie.

As I got older I found caffeine stopped me drinking coffee and soon after much soda pop.  I understood chocolate also included caffeine, but fortunately it not elicit uncomfortable reactions that other caffeine sources did.  I read that carobs had no caffeine while tasting pretty close to chocolate.  Over time I learned that carobs are more nutritious in comparison. Even more, carobs help keep one more regular.

At first awareness Sushi seemed both unhealthy and not tasty.  However I developed a taste for it.  I read that Steve Jobs who liked to pretend he was a vegan really liked sushi with eels.  I investigated and that became a favorite.  Eels fascinated me when visiting Western Park in Auckland where I noticed people feeding them.

Ethiopian food had some appeal with some unique spices. and vegetable combinations. Ingera bread was served with most options and I think was intended as a wrap around, but I cut it up and mixed in and loved it.  It is supposed to be a grain that is especially healthy  A local restaurant that served it went out of business as I have been writing this.

Quebec City looked for advice, but finally concluded no wrong moves.  We once stayed at a bed and breakfast on Ile d'Orleans with fabulous breakfast each day.  We learned that much of the food for the Quebec restaurants is grown on Ile d'Orleans.

Visiting our daughter Heather in Nova Scotia we learned to like Donaires and later found a shop in Burlington.  Rappie  pie is an Acadian dish that my sister in law, Jean llkes.  Surprisingly Heather does not care for seafood, but we got out for a restaurant in Dartmouth famed for seafood.

My sister Rebecca married a Moroccan.  I was offered Coucous which tasted pretty good as a communal meal.  It is often eaten by hand.  An artichoke was on my plate and it was a great mystery to me, but my niece Leila couldn't help laughing as she had me eat it by peeling the layers.

Kelly Bowers a co-worker re-introduced me to pomegranates and this second time I appreciated them more than the first.  Frozen pomegranates are eaten a couple of times each week.

In Cuba Raphael, our breakfast cook convinced me to try jalapenos in an omelette.  For one outdoor dinner we had barbecued fish that was delicious.  Each day we had something different.



In Victoria we were entranced by idea of gelato, but felt it was a luxury.  But it seemed we tried small portions almost daily and eventually got addicted.  I also remember ordering a Baba ganoush at a chain fast food outlet and felt there was something I could not identify that made it special--literally years later I figured it was eggplant.  We went to a number of cafe in Victoria and while others had coffee which gives me a nervous reaction I chose tea and was actually quite annoyed with a flavor that seemed to be my only choice--rooiboos.  Later back at home I developed a craving for it and was able to find it at the Farmer's Market through a tea and soap merchant that we befriended.  Our favorite restaurant anywhere is Paggliacci.  The service is personal and excellent.   On particular nights the rearrange tables for entertainment.  Lineups are usual, but they often bring out wine for those waiting.    

I had tried baklava at the CNE and loved the sweetness.   My wife's step father had a daughter in law with  a Greek connection and found Greek local restaurants.  We enjoyed the food including moussaka and a Cypriot version at a different restaurant.

My encounter with Persian food was almost by accident.  I was supposed to sell coupons and a Persian restaurant got no response, so I felt obligated to check it out.  My wife and I quite enjoyed it.  My daughter ordered some Persian food including some delicate pastries and it was delicious.  Planning to have more.

Feel free to tell me your taste adventures.  If you haven't already read part one you can check it out here;

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Another (and another, etc) school shooting

 Many Americans are upset about the continual stream of shootings, but seem powerless to do anything serious about it.  The shooting in Nashville is dominating the news.  Those in charge don't seem alarmed enough about the highest rate of shootings in the world.  It is a conundrum that while gun deaths are exceptionally high, reducing them is such a political difficulty.

 One of the drivers of a demand for gun rights is fear.  It seems some really do want protection and they feel their own gun is the most reliable solution.  It likely does work for some people, at least for awhile.

There is another set of people who feel it gives them power, power unimaginable with out it.  Kyle Rittenhouse, underage felt righteous shooting to death some rioters protesting yet another black murder.

Underneath these human motivations are business motivations, after all money is heavily involved.   Gun makers and other manufacturers with supplementary interests are competing with other economic entities for the public's consumption.  Fear is good for sales.

Distorting the 2nd Amendment is done by slick operators.  Some make it seem guns are necessary to protect citizens from the government. Yes the government does indeed ultimately rely on gun power to enforce their laws, but the early American government really did need to boost their military defensive capabilities and not so much to arm those who disliked the laws.

There is an element of racism which might be a little more complicated.  It does seem that many whites fear blacks, others hate them and still others don't want them to get benefits that they get.

The real underlying money motivation is to reduce taxes and deregulate.  The really rich realize their complaints don't generate much sympathy, but racism, abortion, LGBT concerns, and gun rights make sure their representatives have power to block unfavorable legislation and often with help from the electoral system they can dictate legislation more to their tastes.  

Actions cannot succeed if people do not feel safe--amongst other steps they need to see that gun ownership is a two edged sword--it encourages wider spread ownership--it increases the chances of an "accident" and provides wider opportunities for others unhappy with how they see the world.  Suicide is also more common when vulnerable people have easier access to effective means.

Lots of restrictions have been proposed such as banning assault weapons for personal use or requiring background checks.  Such measures need to be adopted, but more importantly fear and hate need to be reduced.  That cannot be legislated.

Education is very important.  Some politicians have wanted to restrict true black history.  The United States has had a bad history with minority races and have avoided dealing with it.  Slavery is in the past, but its legacy lingers.  Indigenous were displaced from their land.  Asians and Jews have also suffered discrimination.  It really is a matter of understanding differences.

Religion is very personal, but when imposed on others can lead to violence.  Learning to respect others' beliefs is important.

Homosexuality is normal, but makes others feel uncomfortable.  More have come out of the closet and others have asserted their rights, but still there is resentment. 

Conflict resolution offers more effective ways of winding down tensions.  Listening to understand should be encouraged.

Mental health is often used as an explanation, but not enough is done.  Ironically many mentally ill people are apt to be the victims of gun violence.  Certainly a "sound mind in a sound body" is good for everyone. Money for training professionals would help on multiple fronts.

Politicians lead by example.  Some hate speech is obvious and somehow needs to be curbed.  Dog whistles keep tensions higher than necessary.  It is true it is possible to hate quietly, but outward expression fans it.  Politicians are sensitive to what their voters want, so ultimately it falls to the rest of us to set the agenda. 

I am sick that news casts are interrupted so often for another shooting and still nobody does anything to alleviate the obvious pain.  Other issues are neglected--climate change, nuclear proliferation, pollution that are tied to profit motive that hurt everyone and pandemics that somehow have become politicized.  Another shooting in the near future will demonstrate how pathetic politicians are at solving real problems.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga

 One of the elements movie goers have come to expect is a twist, one that surprises them.  Because the practice is so common, the standards are high.  "Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga" (2023) more than meet the standards and as a bonus stars Yami Gautam.

Within days it reached number 5 on Canadian movie standings on Netflix.  It is available in a dubbed format.

Starts off with a bloodied face which gets attention and than backtracks.  Flashbacks are used to explain how we reached the current situation.  The many twists are a bit hard to accept until you see the background from another perspective and you can give yourself an "Ah Ha" moment.  To spice up the plot they have combined a diamond robbery with a  airline hi-jack.

This is not meant to be a spoiler, but to assure you the twists are well handled and will keep you awake and focused.

 To hold our attention as well as this film does requires some expertise and talent.  Here are a few contributors

Ajay Singh was the director.  He started as a second unit assistant director for "Aamir" (2008) about a very tense bomb situation.

Amar Kaushik is the first time writer and a veteran producer.  His film credits include "No One Killed Jessica" (2011), "Stree" (2018) and "Bala" (2019).  An amusing story was how he set up Yami Gautam in "Bala"  The film was about premature baldness.  She played a somewhat vain woman who married the handsome Ayushmann Khuranna (wearing a wig).  Amar told Yami to grab his hair and pull.  The look on her face was a scene stealing one as his baldness was revealed.   

For a little perspective on the sensitivity to premature baldness (including "Bala"} check out:   

Music was provided by Vishal Mishra, an award winner composer and background singer.   His credits include "Qarib Qarib Single" (2017), "Notebook" (2019), "Kabir Singh" (2019), and "RRR" (2022). He had auditioned for Indian Idol and was rejected all but one time in which he was eliminated before appearing on television.  Since then some of his songs have become very popular.  During the Pandemic both his parents caught Covid and the whole nation was downcast and he wrote what became an unofficial anthem, "Fir Muskurayega."

Cinematography was Gianni Gianelli, Italian born.  He had done a few films in his native Italy and in 2015 did his first film in India.

The editor was Charu Takkar with 13 film credits.

Yami Gautam really stands out as Neha, an airline hostess.  Yami studied law and later did many commercials and appeared on fashion magazine covers.  She has performed in Kannada, Punjabi, Telegu, Malayalam and Tamil films.  Her film credits include "Vicky Donor" (2012), "Badlapur" (2015), "Kaabil" (2017), "Uri:  The Surgical Strike" (2019) and "Bala" (2019). "A Thursday" (2022) and "Dasvi" (2022).

Sunny Kaushal plays the male lead, Ankit.    Film credits include "Shiddat" (2021) and "Gold" (2018)  He started out to be an accountant, but as the son of a director and brother of an actor took the plunge himself.

 Sharad Kelkar plays an agent chasing after diamonds.   Film credits include"Rustom" (2016) and had his voice used with the blockbuster "Baahubali 2" (2017).

Indraneil Sengupta played Sudhanshu Roy, another one chasing after diamonds.  Indraneil started as a model and a dancer.  His film credits include "Kahaani" (2012)--one of the best twist movies ever; "Children of War" (2014), "III Smoking Barrels" (2017) and "Doctor G" (2022).  Check

I love twists and Yami Gautam has been very reliable for an enjoyable film.  This has been tailored to her talents.  You can't go wrong.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Homecoming by Rana Foroohar

 My previous book blog was depressing about the state of the future world.  Rana Foroohar is well aware of problems, but sees room for hope and strategies.  There is a lot of meat in "Homecoming."

The Covid pandemic revealed weaknesses  and is forcing some rethinking.  The supply chain turned out to expose the global vulnerability.  Capitalism is all about profit and how to increase it.  Rana points out that efficiency is valued and favors single source.  Very often the single source is cheap and far away.  

Rana suggests that America needs resiliency which can be supplied by local and multiple sources as well as innovations.  We have been forced to find new sources and new methods. 

A few complications are the threats of military intervention and the actual one in Ukraine.  Taiwan is an obvious target and is critical as it is the top global provider for essential computer chips and semiconductors.  Rana admires the system of governance adopted by Taiwan that allows its citizens to express their opinion on a wide range of issues.  The government is ready to respond to false information (steady stream from mainland China) within hours.  China was supposed to be freer as they became richer, but that has not happened.

 A big theme is that capitalism with its emphasis on a free market trends to efficiency at the expense of resiliency.  In the name of efficiency businesses gravitate to single sources to increase profits.  In a previous blog it was pointed out a number of innovations brought  dramatic reduction in costs of transportation and communication that opened up modern growth in global wealth.  Lots of scaling up for supplies that had become part of our standard of living.  Now society needs to boost our resiliency to survive..  Check:     Much specialized equipment although designed in America is boosting manufacturing in other countries.

Climate change is the major global issue, but still the world seems content with changes that don't totally  deal with the issue.  The author draws attention to some of the key factors, overlooked.

Agriculture is the greatest threat and it tied into other complicating streams.  Single crops are normal, but harmful for biodiversity and in many cases add to supply chains.  Much of apparel comes from cotton which can be grown very cheaply far away and encourages fashion cycles going faster that in turn leads to much waste.  Many of us are aware of methane being a crucial factor in global warming, but getting food to our tables and seeds and fertilizers to the fields are major transportation inputs.  The author suggests that vertical farms can increase local control while increasing bio diversity and reducing transportation.

Housing is another major cause for climate change.  Building housing and maintaining  them against heat and cold needs to be done more efficiently.  3-D printing appears to offer cheaper costs, environmentally better and higher long term quality.  Personally I see a fundamental problem is human  desires.  Check    Much of the housing price increases can be attributed to (foreign) investors who buy houses for the expected price increases.

Jobs are a crucial concern.  Automation and Artificial Intelligence assure traditional jobs will disappear everywhere.  Immigration frightens many, especially from poorer parts of the world.  Inequality is increasing with the rich able to grab a bigger share of resources.   Mankind can have more meaningful lives with a change in attitudes and structure.

Gig workers (work with temporary contracts) are also vulnerable and deserve more protection.  Germany and others have found that working with unions is good for business, but there is a lot of resistance in United States. 

Large corporations concentrate power that by itself promote inequality, but more importantly tends to diminish innovation.  Rana suggests that co-operatives (like Ocean Spray) should be encouraged and anti trust laws should be enforced and expanded as small companies do more innovation.

Two big areas are healthcare and education.

Much of healthcare requires human contact and although long distance diagnosis is increasing it is not possible to ignore human contact.  We learned from the pandemic that health care workers are vital, but they feel under assault.  Prevention is much better than cures as many nations have found, but again there is resistance from Americans to medicare.  Americans are now experiencing a decline in longevity. 

Education is another field where progress can be made for both jobs and leisure enjoyment.  Much of the student debt crisis can be the result of poor direction.  Many prospects feel they have to go to university to get a degree in order to get a job, but the world doesn't need that many degrees.  What the world needs is more vocational training for the newer technical jobs.  The world does need critical thinkers and the world wants to enjoy life more.  Although there will be more online teaching smaller classes are also a boost to education. 

Democracy is assaulted by surveillance states and needs to reassert itself and offer a better life than too many are forced to.  Quadratic voting is a new concept brought forward by Glen Weyl.  It allows voters to have digital tokens that enable them to allocate their preferences among many issues that gives them power to express their priorities.  

Inequality seems to be growing.  The very wealthy have found their best allies are those like Donald Trump who can stir up voters against their own best interests.   The huge tax cuts have enabled many companies to buy back shares.

A quote from Adam Smith that warrants more attention:  "It was not by gold or silver, but by labor, that the wealth of the world was originally purchased."  It is the workers of the world the made everything else possible and they should not be ignored.  

This is a very complex book with lots of encouraging ideas.  Unfortunately the world is full of apathetic and greedy people who stand in the way of a more resilient world that we need to survive.  The ideas are being enacted by many people, but we still need more globally minded earth citizens.  Be one of them.

  Rana Foroohar is someone more people should pay attention to.  She appears in CNN from time to time and has written other books.  Check

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The Family Man

 What do all the glamorous spies do if they settle down to a wife and family?  Most of them don't and even fewer do a good job.  But still some try.

 Srikant Tiwari promised his wife he would quit his dangerous job chasing after international terrorists, but he lied.  He was too good and got pumped up with challenging scary assignments.  He loves his wife and two children, but feels obligated to the cause. 

The two seasons deal with Kashmir, the ISIL, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.  Lots of terrorists and political intrigues.  Srikant is very analytical, cool under fire and when it comes to it physical contact very effective.  Often on the same day as an "encounter" he picks up his children at school.  In the middle of  a "job" he got called to his daughter's school to deal with a misbehavior issue.  Later he had to placate the school principle by using his contacts to extricate her from a supposed legal problem.

His wife is constantly complaining about his absences and meantime we learn she is on the verge of an affair.  Eventually she tries to drag him to a marital counselor, but he walks out.  At one point he actually quits the dangerous job, but he is consulted by others.  He ends up going back partly because he is bored with his IT boss and partly as he misses the excitement.

He has been successful in keeping his job separate from his family, but accumulating enemies it is inevitable that one of them will see his family as his vulnerability.  This is a standard tool for raising tensions and they do it well.

It takes organization and talent to produce an enjoyable thought provoking series.

Raj & DK comprising of Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru were directors, writers and producers.  The two have a Telegu language background and met studying engineering.  They emigrated to United States to build a career in software engineering.   By 2003 they had collaborated on their first film, "Flavors".  They combined directing, writing and producing over films.  Their film credits include "Stree" (2018) and "Farzi" (2023) winning awards along the way. D.K. Krishna--played in 6 episodes.  check

Music was handled by Ketan Sodha, Sachin Sanghvi and Divya Limbasia.

Cinematography was handled by Nigam Bomza, Azim Moollan and Cameron Bryson.

Editing was done by Sumeet Kotian.  His film credits include "Drishyam (2015), "Madaari" (2016), "A Thursday" (2022).and "Farzi" (2023).   Check:

 Manoj Bajpayee plays Srikant Tiwari, anti terroris fighter and father.  Temperamental role. An award winner with 95 credits including:  "Satya" (1998), "Veer-Zaara" (2004), "Swami" (2007),  "Dus Tola" (2010),"Gangs of Wasseypur" (2012), "Aligarh" (2015) and "Rustom" (2016),

 Priyamani played the wife, Suchitra Tiwari.  She has 67 film credits in Telegu, Malayalam and Hindi including "Grandmaster" (2012) and "Virata Parvam (2022).

Sharib Hashmi  played DK, close colleague to Srikant.  47 film film credits including "Slum Dog Millionaire" (2008),  "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" (2012), "Filmistaan" (2012), "Ujda Chaman" (2019) and "The Great Indian Murder" (2022).

Shreya Dhanwanthary played Zoya, a female member of the  anti terrorist group.  Shreya was born in India, but was raised in both the Middle East and India.  She graduated with a degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering.  She has written a novel, "Fade to White" (2016).  She has performed in many commercials, Telegu, Tamil and Hindi films.  She has 19 film credits.

Ashlesha Thakur played Dhriti, teenage daughter to Srikant.  She has been in some commercials and a few films including "Badrinath Ki Dulhania" (2017) and "Pagglait" (2021). 

Seema Biswas played Prime Mnister Basu.  She has 98 film credits.  Her first was an award winner with a very strenuous role as "The Bandit Queen" (1994).  Other film credits include "Ek Hasina Thi" (2004) "Water" (2005 ), "Amal" (2007), "Cooking with Stella" (2009),  "Project Marathwada"  (2016), "Funny Boy" (2020) and "Atrangi Re" (2021) .  She did several movies with Canadian directors, Deepa Metha and Richie Mehta.

Gul Panang played Solini an anti-terrorist leader and old flame of Srikant.  Gul was Miss India in 1999.  Her 33 film credits include: "Dor" (2006), "Manorama:  Six Feet Under" (2007), and "Hello" (2008.)

 Samantha Ruth Prabhu plays Rajii, a super female terrorist fighter that is more than capable of upending almost any male.  First noticed Samantha in"Eega"(2012) most unusual story line involving a lover reincarnated as a housefly, but very popular).  Samantha is bilingual with Telegu and Tamil and has won awards acting in both languages.  She has made money as a brand endorser and model and since 2012 has channeled much of her money through a charitable trust to help pay hospital bills for young children, pay for patient flights to the Taj Mahal and to meet film celebrities and boost awareness of hemophilia.  She is a delight to watch.  Her film credits include "Ye Maaya Chesave" (2010), "24" (2016),  "Mersal" (2017), "Mahanti" (2018), "Super Deluxe" (2019),

Lots of action, but also lots of political intrigue and domestic conflicts in a unique combination.  If that is your cup of tea you will enjoy this series.  Available on Prime.

Titles I have seen are bolded at the first mention, giving perhaps an indication of my bias, but also an awareness of experience of the cast or crew.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Thalaikoothal or Involuntary Euthanasia

Thalaikoothal was a traditional practice in a Tamil part of India.  It dealt with older people who were very ill, whose natural death could not be predicted.  These elderly people would be a burden on limited resources.  They also would be suffering and not enjoying life.  The solution was thalaikoothal which was a form of senicide or involuntary euthanasia.  They made it a ritual with the whole family involved.  Near as I can understand the basic principle was starvation.

 In this film we are quickly introduced to an old man comatose with tubes and oxygen around his neck and nose.  We learn the old man's name, Muthu and it is son Pazhani who tends to him with bathing,grooming, massaging and taking to a doctor.  He refuses to consider thalaikoothal although everyone around him is advocating for it.  His young daughter, about ten is cheerful and helps take care of her grandfather.   Later she reassures her other grandfather that she would do the same for him. 

 Pazhani has taken a lower paying job to have enough time to tend to his father.  He has also taken out a series of loans which he has trouble paying back.  He pledged his house for the loans.  He also got loans from his father in law and brother in law.  The loaner points out that the father will not get better, but does respond when Muthu is finally able to open his eyes and to blink to indicate yes or no.  His daughter in law had been verbally abusive, but now felt more kindly disposed and asks Muthu if he would forgive her and blinks yes. 

Through the magic of cinema we are shown the inner thoughts of Muthu who most remembers a courtship from his youth.  He loved a woman who was from a different caste that forbid him marrying her.  They both wanted to live with one another and when they privately wed she had her ring (where they had placed a ring) toe cut off.  I admit I was confused what happened next, but it seems obvious they did not marry and she was quite likely killed or chased away.

Eventually Muthu is no longer opening his eyes and the pressure for thalaikoothal resumes, from not only the loaners, but also the whole neighborhood except for his Pazhani's daughter.  The ending is not too surprising and we are shown some rituals and great sadness.

Of note was a neighboring couple who were despairing of being infertile.  The wife talks about what is natural as her husband explains about the involuntary euthansia and why it is not murder.  She had asked him to go to an infertility clinic and he said it was not natural.  

This is a low budget film that is very well done. 

Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan was the writer and director.  He had some acting, but in 2016 he was able to convince producers to let him write and direct his own film, "Lens."  It was a socially relevant film as were his next projects.

The producer was S. Sashikanth who started as an architect and became involved with major projects.  Later he became interested in films and bucked Bollywood traditions that made producers more in charge of financing movies.  He preferred to pitch creative ideas and began producing Tamil language films in 2010.  "His film credits include  "Vikram Vedha" (2017) and "Mandela" (2021).  Check

Not able to find out who responsible for the music, but found words (translated from Tamil) very appropriate.  I bought music (with singer Pradeep Kumar) and will be adding it to my relaxation playlist

Cinematography was handled by Martin Donraj.

 Editing was done by Dani Charles.

Sunflowers, symbol of eternal life were in many scenes.  For some reasons chameleons were in a few scenes

Samuthirakani played Pazhani.  He has credits as both actor and director including;  "Visaaranai" (2015), "Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo" (2020), "RRR" (2022) and "Don" (2022).

Vasudhara Kashyap played his wife.    

Kathir played the younger courting version of Mathu.  He has 14 film credits including "Vikram Vedha" (2017)

Katha Nandi played the young woman Pechi courted by the young Muthu.  She is Bengali and had to learn Tamil for this role and her next with Mohanlal she will learn Maylayalam.

I wish I could track the name stage name and background of the grand daughter as she was a delight.

It is another perspective on the sanctity of life.  It may seem barbaric to us, but most of us live a more comfortable life.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

The Next Civil War

A civil war is pretty serious business.  As Abraham Lincoln said, "A house divided cannot stand."Stephen Marcuse contends "The United States is near its end.  The question is how"?  His book explores the atmosphere and suggests a few scenarios that could burst out in a more active war

As I write this blog, a few months after the book was published there is news that quotes from an interview with Rupert Murdoch in which he admits that he believes there was no election fraud in 2020.  Furthermore we are hearing evidence that many of the Fox personalities off air also admitted there was no election fraud, but on air were promoting the big lie.  Apparently a good portion of Americans accept the lie and would vote for Trump all over again.

Do I think they are stupid?  Or are they too proud to admit they were wrong?  I believe the problem is they don't care--some are pleased Trump restricted immigration, or turned the tide against abortion, or pushed against blacks, gays and transgenders, or they dislike high taxes and onerous regulations.  That is a measure of a divided country.  The trends foreseen by Stephen Marche seem to be progressing.  A small part of his research is reflected in the following observations.

The level of violence, both rhetorically and physically has been increasing.  Groups are preparing for armed combat with training and weapons.  Domestic extremists killed 42 people in 2019.  Police brutality, one measure might be shootings, ranks much higher than other countries.

Disrespect for government authority.  Joseph Arpaio had been admonished for illegal immigrant raids, but continued until arrested and convicted, but pardoned by Trump.  Michael German, a former FBI undercover agent points out that white supremacy sympathies among police hurt domestic terrorism cases.  Killers like Dylan Roof and Kyle Rittenhouse are lauded as heroes.  Marche states "The greatest threat to the United States is not the hard right.  It is the general decline of legitimacy of the government that underlies the rise of the hard right."

Gun ownership is growing and already is well beyond any other nation.  That is through registered guns, but "ghost" guns (made from kits, 3-D printers) already account for 30% of seized guns.  Most owners claim bought for protection and for some that means from the government.

Alex Newhouse a researcher into extremist violence points out " radicalization starts with alienation... Social alienation comes with anger at their lot in life...the contrarian will often provide an explanation...for why they are feeling that way."  Population projections point that the United States will be a minority white nation by 2045.

The United States Constitution was a compromise.  The slave holding states were concerned the industrial north would outvote them on important issues.  Their white male propertied population was too small to compete with the north so they insisted upon counting their slaves as 3/5 of a person and combined with the electoral college it gave them parity with the north.  Those rules allowed Thomas Jefferson to defeat John Adams in the 1800 election.  The electoral college has given the south disproportionate power ever since with a notable exception during the Civil War.  After the Civil War, the south was able to institute Jim Crow which could only increase black resentments and southern resistance.  Five of the current Supreme Court justices were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote.

A study in India focused on Hindu-Muslim conflicts.  "An increase in Muslim expenditures generates a large and significant future religious conflict.  An increase in Hindu expenditures has a negative or no effect.  The dominant culture, Hindu feels more impacted by a change in relative standing.  Whites in America also seem to feel most threatened by changes in the status quo. 

Inequality as it increases leads nations closer to war and revolution.  The Covid pandemic underlies the effects of inequality.  A comparison of nations with over 5 million population and an average of over $25,000 gross income reveals that the United States did the worst.  Not masking, not practicing social distancing and not vaccinating were political issues.  The world is inevitably going to provide other crises.  Inequality leads to a lack of co-operation needed to deal with global crises.

 Many politicians do not care about issues accept to use them for power.  Cater to and even inflame the mass prejudices.  Big money is needed to hide the desire for power.

Secession within a nation has been written into legislation for only two nations.  Canada recognizing Quebec represents a distinct ethnic population.  Also Britain recognizing a similar ethnic identity for Scotland.  Texas, essentially a one party state has generated a secession movement that prominent politicians cater to, but not quite endorse as they also have presidential ambitions.

The American people are capable of solving the big problems such as the electoral system, the legitimacy of their courts, police reform, even inequality and climate change.  The author contends "The United States, if it is to survive, requires a Constitutional Convention.  The loathing overtaking the country makes that possibility more remote every day."

The author and I are both Canadians, in other words, outsiders.  But like the whole world we will be affected how the American dilemma plays out.  Without America the world will not solve many crises such as climate change, pandemics, inequality, justice, etc.

Read the book for more scary details and citations.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Farzi or Fakes

 It starts out a bit slow, but picks up steam and is all the more enjoyable for the buildup.  Sunny, sometimes known as The Artist and his brother Firoz  live a lower class sort of life with their Grandfather.  Soon you learn they are not really related, but form a close family.  The Grandfather's printing business is about to go under.  The Artist (known for his really good fake art that he is open about) comes up with the idea of apply his skills to counterfeiting money.  After some trial and error he succeeds.

At the same time we meet two characters that are on a mission to break up counterfeiting.  Michael is a man who was busted by a reporter who falsely accused him of misappropriate behavior.  As a result he was demoted, became alcoholic and divorced, but still very concerned about counterfeiting.  Meghan is a government employee who pushes for stronger anti counterfeiting measures.  She is single with a mother pushing her to get married.

On top of these two factions we meet up with  a master crook, Mansoor who has big money and hooligans backing him.  He has developed a network for distributing counterfeit money.  A very arrogant, smart and ruthless man who is quick to recognize talent.

These three groups interact while we learn of personal concerns and criminal activities.  Tension builds.  We develop sympathy for some of the characters.  Class does not come with money.  The final episode is heart pumping with contrasting emotions competing for your attention.

There were a lot of classy people responsible for the quality.

The force behind this series and a few other films is known as Raj & DK comprising of Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru.  The two have a Telegu language background and met studying engineering.  They emigrated to United States to build a career in software engineering.   By 2003 they had collaborated on their first film, "Flavors".  They combined directing, writing and producing over films.  Their film credits include "Stree" (2018) and "The Family Man" (2019-2021) winning awards along the way.

 Music was provided by the Sachin-Jigar team.  Their film credits include "It's Entertainment" (2014), "Badliapur" (2015), "The Family Man" (2019) and "Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui" (2021).  Check

Pankaj Kumar handled the cinematography.  He has been able to modify scripts.  His award winning career includes "Ship of Theseus" (2012), "Haider" (2014), "Talvar" (2015), "Rangoon" (2017) , "Raat Akeli Hai" (2020) and "Atrangi Re" (2021).   Check: and catch more about Shahid at  "

Editing was done by Sumeet Kotian.  His film credits include "Drishyam (2015), "Madaari" (2016), "The Family Man" (2019) and "A Thursday" (2022).   Check:

 Shahid Kapoor is the big draw and demonstrates why he is.   He plays Sunny, the Artist as a smart person who is low class, but is sophisticated enough to understand others of a higher class.  Way different from his earlier romantic comedy roles.  I would say he is the second best male dancer in Bollywood, but there is no demonstration in this film.  His credits include  "Vivah" (2006), "Jab We Met" (2007), "Dil Bole Hadippa" (2009),  "Kaminey" (2009), "Haider" (2014), "Udta Punjab" (2016), "Kabir Singh" (2019) and "Jersey" (2022).  Two blogs cover some noteworthy movies he has starred in /arjun-reddy-and-kabir-singh.html and

Vijay Sethupathi played Michael the dedicated counterfeit hunter.  You will both admire him and feel sorry for him.  Vijay has performed in Hindi, Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam cinema and winning many awards.  His film credits include "Puriyaatha Puthir" (2017), "Vikram Vedha" (2017),  "Super Deluxe" (2019) and "Kadaseela Biriyani" (2021).

Raashi Khanna played the other dedicated counterfeit hunter and the lead female.  As with the Michael character she is hard not to like, but also to feel sorry for.  She has also appeared in Tamil and Telegu cinema.  Her film credits include "Oohalu Gusagusalade" (2014).

Bhuvan Arora played Firoz, the "brother" to Sunny.  Bhuvan has 19 film credits including "Cham Bahaar" (2020).  Apparently the clincher for his audition was a fast talking commercial he had done and at one point is demonstrated in the series.

Kay Kay Menon played Mansoor, one of his many manic negative roles.  He has a degree in physics as well as an M.B.A.  He started his career in advertising, but soon got involved in theatre, television and films.  He has been in films in Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, and Telegu.  His film credits include   "Bhopal Express" (1999), "Main, Meri Patni...Aur Woh" (2005), "Gulaal" )2007)  "Sarkar Raj" (2008), "Mumbai Meri Jaan" (2008),  "Haider" (2015), "Rahasya" (2015) and "The Ghazi Attack" (2017).

Many other actors played supporting roles and gave the story line a lot of credibility.  In sum, the series includes a good mix of crime, action, black comedy and drama.  If you are interested in those elements you will enjoy this series. It deserves its high rating.

I have bolded the first mention of movies I have seen.