The Advisory Boar

By Abhijit Menon-Sen <>

What is Nehru Place?

It's hard to describe a place where you can find, next to an authorised HP outlet, a chap with syringes full of coloured ink who will refill your inkjet cartridge on the cheap.

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Celebrity security ordeals

I'm tired of people getting worked up about “demeaning and humiliating” treatment that some celebrity occasionally suffers at the hands of airport or other security personnel.

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Fighting the fixers: thermal paste edition

While cleaning accumulated dust out of Hassath's Athlon64 heatsink the other day (to silence an overheating alarm), I accidentally lifted the heatsink off the CPU and broke the layer of thermal paste. After that, of course, the machine refused to boot at all, emitting a loud siren-like wail at startup.

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Sify nullband service

Sify broadband never once worked for us.

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André Béteille: Religion and Society

An excerpt from an opinion piece by André Béteille about how religion and society cannot be studied independently.

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Buying LPG on the black market

It's surprisingly easy to buy LPG cylinders on the black market in Delhi.

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Cucumber preparation voodoo

Cucumbers contain a variable amount of a substance called cucurbitacin, which gives them the bitter taste. Legend has it that one can "take the bitterness out" of a cucumber by cutting off both its ends (or just one, depending on whom you ask), rubbing the cut surfaces together for a while, and washing away the thick white foam that is produced.

I've always been suspicious of this claim.

For one thing, if the bitter substance is evenly distributed throughout the cucumber, how could rubbing the cut ends remove it? (The suggestion that it "creates suction" seems patently absurd.) Or if the substance is concentrated at the ends, why is it not sufficient to just discard them? On the other hand, what is the white foam, which does sometimes (but not always) taste bitter? And why does everyone seem to believe in the efficacy of this method?

Speculation aside, I see no sensible way to test the proposition.

If you take a bite out of the middle of the cucumber and it turns out to be bitter, it's because you "didn't rub the ends"; but if you do rub the ends and it's still bitter, you "didn't rub the ends enough". If, on the other hand, it doesn't taste bitter, how can you tell whether it was sweet to begin with, or if the rubbing cured it? I can think of many strange kitchen rituals, but none with the strangely ambiguous, undecidable nature of the cucumber ritual.

The question remains unresolved, but until I learn the truth either way, I will continue to eat my cucumbers without any voodoo preparation.

Thoughts on drinking and driving

It's annoying to have to explain not wanting to drink and drive.

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