Contact Us
Mental Health
Financial advice
Youth Matters
Techno Corner

By Nitish S. Rele

Well, looks like Nina Jacobson was right along. The Disney executive had told Manoj N. Shyamalan after reading the screenplay of "Lady in the Water" that she "didn't get it." It appears that everyone -- from the audience to the critics - has panned the Indian American filmmaker's latest film. Of course, the reaction from the Disney-released "The Sixth Sense," "Unbreakable," "Signs" and "The Village" director to Jacobson was a walkout and a quick switchover to another movie studio, Warner Bros.

To coincide with the movie's release by Warner Bros. on July 21 comes "The Man Who Heard Voices Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career On A Fairy Tale," by Sports Illustrated writer Michael Bamberger. The 278-page book follows the trials and tribulations of Shyamalan over a period of two years, before and during the making of the film, starring Paul Giamatti and Bryce Howard.

Bamberger lays out his first impression of Shyamalan. "And then there was Night, with his drooping earlobes, bug's-life eyes, curling lips, nasal voice. He was slender and boyish, with gymnasium-built arms and jet-black hair that had a few strands hanging just over the tops of his ears."

For those folks who wonder how the acclaimed director got his name, the Sports Illustrated writer reveals that Shyamalan did use his father's first name, Nelliate, but only briefly. It was only after he read about the Lakota American Indians did he come across the name Night and cultivated a liking for it. "He took possession of one of the most common, essential basic words in the English language, one of the first words infants learn," writes Bamberger.

That the author is in aware of the elusive director is evident plenty right from the start and throughout the book. "Night's moves were spectacular." "I got the feeling that he had some secret move up his sleeve, one that let him come up with a big idea, invent a killing phrase, and sell close to $700 million worth of movie tickets around the world. I wondered how he did it." "What drove Night in the first place was his energy at the Burch party, and what awed me about Night was his effort, his endurance, his willingness to struggle."

But to give Bamberger his dues, he does provide remarkable and invaluable insights into Shyamalan and his way of thinking. The renowned director, we are told, doesn't believe in coincidences. "Night was one to process connections all the time. Everything fit," he writes.

Desperation takes over Shyamalan when the lead actor Giamatti doesn't get back about playing the lead in the "Lady in the Water." "Night couldn't see the reality, that Paul Giamatti was an actor in demand with a lot going on," writes Bamberger. "Night wasn't accustomed to dealing with real-world intrusions. You were supposed to get sucked up into Night's world and to hell with everything else. But that wasn't happening."

Giamatti does call in to Shyamalan with a pertinent reply, "Dude, I'm so Lady."

Poor Sheetal Sheth of "American Born Confused Desi fame." She had vied for the role of Shyamalan's sister (yes, Shyamalan has the biggest role of his acting career in the film) but lost out to Sarita Choudhury of "Mississippi Masala" fame. The reason was simple. Shyamalan knew Choudhury would "play the role differently from how he had written it, how he had intended it. She would improve it … Sarita would make Night a better actor. She would raise his game and improve the whole movie. Or she could."

Bamberger concludes the book with an interesting anecdote. When he asked some of the "Lady" people to complete the sentence, "I believe," he received such responses as "I believe that imagination is our greatest power." "I believe all the world is a little mad except you and me and even you are a little strange." Shyamalan, on the other hand, replies "I believe. Period."

That's the creative genius in Shyamalan, always up to something, believing in himself, in self-confidence. Bamberger deserves praise for presenting an open and honest portrait of the acclaimed director though he is all admiration and even more in awe than we would have liked.

By Nitish S. Rele

“In Trinidad, the best compliment a cook can hope for is to be told he or she has ‘sweet hands.’ It means the person is so talented in the kitchen that anything he or she makes – from a sandwich to a seven-course meal – is like manna from the gods.”

That explains the title of New York-based author Ramin Ganeshram’s new book “Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad & Tobago.” The 250-page book with colorful photographs by Jean-Paul Vellotti (published by Hippocrene Books,, $29.95) is a journey through a rich and eclectic heritage of the Caribbean nation. A British colony from 1779 until 1962, during those years Trinidad and Tobago’s population grew to include East Indian and Chinese indentured servants who works in the sugar plantations alongside former African slaves. Trinidadian food is marked by the blending of these cultures.

Ganeshram introduces the reader to street foods such as Shrimp Patties and Shark and Bake, teatime favorites like Lemon Crunch Teacakes or Coconut Shortbread, and elegant dinner fare ranging from Avocado Soup to Spicy Stuffed Red Snapper and Curried Crab and Dumplings. These little-known delicacies along with fascinating histories and anecdotes on topics like Trinidadian rum, Buccaneer Cooking and Black Cake bring the islands of Trinidad and Tobago into your kitchen.

How did the “Sweet Hands” come about? “Actually, a very wonderful former editor at Hippocrene, Anne McBride, knew of my background and liked my writing,” replies Ganeshram. “They had long wanted a Trinidad book in their cooking series but couldn’t find just the right person so she asked me. I jumped at the chance to do a book that paid homage to my father and his ancestry.

The book, which also is available in Trinidad and Tobago, has received a tremendous response, according to Ganeshram, who hopes to travel to the islands for some book sales and signings, especially at the new Indo-Caribbean museum in Waterloo.

Ramin Ganeshram
Ganeshram, who was born in New York City to a Trinidadian father and Iranian mother, personally likes to cook a lot of Indian, West Indian and Middle Eastern food. “I am very ingredient driven,” she reveals. “For example, I might say, ‘I really feel like pumpkin today’ and then that informs the type of food I cook. If it's spicy pumpkin I want, it will likely be a Trinidadian dish. If it's something more delicate, it might come from my French culinary training. Of course, like all chefs, I love to experiment with techniques and ingredients whenever I can.”

Of course, Ganeshram is already at work on another book, this time a novel that takes place in Trinidad during World War II. “It's based somewhat on my father's family,” she says. “I'm also researching a new cookbook on the traditional and unique foods of the

Caribbean--it's not all the same stuff you know!”



Moses Reuben, Executive Chef and Owner of Melange Restaurant in Port of Spain, adds elegance to everyday Trinidadian food with French techniques and delicate seasoning. His version of curry chicken can be paired with roti for a more traditional feel or plain rice for a more sophisticated presentation.

Ingredients (4 servings)

4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, chopped onion
3 tablespoons chopped onion
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh shado beni or cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chicken stock
1 medium-size Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup coconut milk


Mix the chicken with the garlic, onions, shado beni, cumin, and 2 teaspoons of the curry powder. Set aside to marinate for at least 20 minutes but preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

Mix the remaining curry powder with ½ cup of water to make a smooth paste and set aside. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan, add curry paste, and then add the chicken. Mix well and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock, potatoes, and salt. Simmer for 15 minutes and continue to cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes more. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 3 minutes more. Taste to adjust the seasonings. Serve with rice or roti.


This quick bread has a special sweet tang from the mangoes. If you cannot get fresh mangoes for this recipe, frozen are available at many gourmet markets. Trader Joe’s is a good brand. Alternately, you can buy frozen mango puree made by companies like Goya.

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf)

1 large ripe mango, peeled and sliced, or 1½ cups frozen mango cubes
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup (3 ounces) chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350-degree F and grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Combine the mango, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon of water in a blender. Puree until smooth and set aside. Alternatively, use 1½ cups store-bought mango puree.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda.

In a large bowl, beat together the egg, mango puree, and oil. Add the flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Add the walnuts.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to continue cooling. Slice and serve.

Contact Information
The Editor:
Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site. Copyright © 2004 Khaas Baat.

Anything that appears in Khaas Baat cannot be reproduced, whether wholly or in part, without permission. Opinions expressed by Khaas Baat contributors are their own and do not reflect the publisher's opinion.

Khaas Baat reserves the right to edit and/or reject any advertising. Khaas Baat is not responsible for errors in advertising or for the validity of any claims made by its advertisers. Khaas Baat is published by Khaas Baat Communications.