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Mad Monday

I so want to write bytes and bytes of stuff here.  The head is so full of words that need release.  Unfortunately,  Monday morning has set the pace for the rest of the week, which promises to be frenzied.  Here are some one-word hints for stuff I need to write about, and probably will if I can squeeze in.

  • Baking
  • Wodehouse
  • Rebecca
  • Weather (really?  Hmm)
  • Guest
  • Kid
  • Dreams
  • Sharing my world
  • Work

Let’s see how many in this list get scored off by midweek.

When’s the American Thanksgiving, by the way?  I need to write an article for a client connecting thanks giving and technology- yep, I have no idea of the sentiment behind thanks giving, except of course the historic connection, and technology for that matter, self being a technophobe to a large extent.  In case you are not a professional writer yourself, this is what many of us, who write for a living, do – gas about stuff we don’t know.  My profile page in this blog describes me as “word-pimp”.  Rightly so.

Toodloo for now.



The buds of taste

I have always loved vazaithandu mor kootu – VMK henceforth, loosely and pathetically translated as “plantain stem, buttermilk gravy, spiced with green chilly, cumin seeds and coconut”.  When I was young, I believed that this was the stuff that only grown ups could make because of the difficulty involved in chopping the hyper-fibrous stem.  For a long time after I took over the kitchen, I made everything except VMK because I wasn’t an adult.  Whenever I visited my in-laws for meals, I would request my m-i-l to make it because well, she is an adult, isn’t she?    Somewhere in my early forties, my father gave me a plantain stem from the plantain tree that grew in our farm house, and with much trepidation, I made the dish at home, and while it was delicious, I was distraught because I had become an adult.  Today I made VMK. Perhaps I have come to terms with my grown-up status, because I relished it without hesitation.

I have noticed something interesting.  I am not a good cook, my family,  friends and guests who have partaken of our figurative bread and wine would vouch for it.  However, there are some dishes that I excel in – the above VMK, mashed yam spiced with ginger and tamarind (karunaikizanghu masiyal), pumpkin milk-kootu, and mango pachadi.  I love all of the above.  Unfortunately, my family hates all of the above and so while I am glad to have more of them for myself, I don’t make them too often.  On the other hand, I despise sambar.  All kinds of sambar. Given a choice, I would ban sambar from the world.  And it reflects on my making of the dish.  I make the worst sambar in the world.  My poor family, which would like nothing but to swim a large pool of sambar every day, are given the short stick in this regard.  Likewise, I make the worst Morkali, which my family loves, but I am not particularly fond of.   I can’t make pickles to save my life, and my family often looks at home-made pickles in other people’s houses with longing and pain.  I am, as you have guessed, not a great fan of pickles.

I often wonder if this is true with others as well – that food items that are liked by the cook taste better than those that the cook does not like?

Sharing my world and stuff you didn’t need to know

Cee’s questions

Do you ever sit on a park bench for more than ten minutes?

I wish I could say “yes”.  For a long time, I thought that’s what was missing in my life – a park bench in which to sit and be lost in the moment. Took me a while to understand that I am too restless for that.  In retrospect, everyone else around me has known it.  My class teacher in 11th called me “jumping jack” for a reason.  My college friend called me “butt spring”.  My labmate (a Japanese girl) called me “bullet train”.  I can’t sit in one place (unless I am writing) for more than two minutes.  I must move.  Even when I do sit, I am fidgety.  My feet tap, my hands flail, my eyes wander hither-thither – definitely not the Buddhaisqueness you’s associate with a park bench.  That’s why meditation is hard for me.  My brain calms down instantly, but my body can’t take stasis.

A few months ago, a bench was installed right outside our fence.  I was excited when it was being installed – now I can finally sit on a bench in the evening, listen to bird song, watch children play, and tête-à-tête with the neighbours.  Guess how many times that has happened?

When you lose electricity in a storm, do you light the candles, turn on the flashlight or use your cell phone for light?

I live in India.  We don’t lose electricity in a storm.  We lose it because we can.  The powers that be, believe that character must be built among the citizens and in their magnanimity, always cut off power just when you dump soaked rice into the mixer to grind, or you are in the middle of a work deadline and the goddang document must be mailed within the next seven minutes or it would spontaneously combust.

But that does not answer the question. I use my phone flash light to get the candles and light them all around the house.

Would you rather be given $10,000 for your own use or $100,000 to give anonymously to strangers? 

Can I have the $10000, keep half to myself and give away half to the stranger?  I could use the extra dough at the moment.  To buy innerwear.  You know the problem with rains?  Inner wear don’t dry fully (no, we don’t have a washer-drier – yes, we live a fairly spartan life) and there is nothing more annoying than having damp clothing next to your skin.  But you didn’t want to know that, did you?

While on the topic of innerwear (yeah, I am gross like that), I always call it by its Tamil name (jaddi), which drives my family nuts – “you are gross…why can’t you be decent and call it inner-wear?”, the kid and dad chorus.  “Why?  What’s wrong with jaddi?” I ask, “it is just another piece of garment that you wear”.  They roll their eyes around and give me a wide berth until I stop saying the blasted word.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?

My kid’s cheer-up book is my inspiration this week, and perhaps for a long time afterwards.



The Trishanku heaven of language

For the uninitiated, Trishanku, in Indian mythology, was a king who wanted to ascend to heaven in his mortal form. An ambitious ascetic, Vishwamitra, seeking to one-up his nemesis, Vasishta, lifted the king towards heaven with his powers. The nemesis prevented his ascent by HIS powers and between the two warring mendicants, the poor chap eternally hangs upside down, not quite in heaven and neither on earth.

I often find myself in that predicament. I love English but it is not my native language and I often feel inept at handling it. This is exacerbated when I read a good book. While I am good in my native language, I am not good enough for creative literary output. So I hang upside down in no-man’s territory, with angst to express but inability through lack of skill.

The downside of Trishanku’s heaven is that it can get fairly lonely out there. My exclusion from native literature/media alienates me from the local banter and I can’t relate to references from current local popular topics. My ambition to break into a foreign language-which despite being well-practiced where I live- excludes the cultural affiliation that’s needed to foster a sense of naturalness. The result is that, when I communicate an original thought in English to the local neighbour, it often misses the mark and flows by as immaterial sound bytes.

This is particularly true of humour. Humour rides on language, both in its conception and delivery and I often find my rare attempts at humour in the real world fall on their noses. This doesn’t bode well for an already introverted ego and I feel like I leaned on a family apparition. Happened this morning. There was a lively tete-a-tete in the only Whatsapp group to which I belong, about a holy cow – not the idiom but an actual holy cow, the sanctity of the animal in this country not really a hyperbole – and I shared, what I thought, a smart and funny anecdote from my life*, which, had I been the reader, would have had me in splits. What resulted, however, was radio silence you could cut with a knife. I go back and read my message and I don’t see anything wrong with it! Makes one wonder, what?

Oh well. I have my blog in which I can hang upside down all I want.

*G,I don’t mean to belittle the profundity of your message. It just reminded me of an incident in my life. When A and I were e-dating, in one of his early mails, he said “one of the appealing things about you is your name. My grandparents had a cow called {my name} that I was very fond of as a child”. Sometimes I wonder what induced me to marry a man who called me a cow. Destiny is a potent driver. As are hormones 😉

Sharing my world and a few other thoughts

First my world:

Would you rather take a 2 week vacation with an organized tour or take a cruise of your choice?

The first one.  Partly because I would throw up my guts on the cruise.  I throw up in anything moving, it is a wonder I am ok on a rock that’s cruising at 460 meters per second.  Also because I don’t have to organize anything, and everything, including the places to eat, especially the places to eat, are decided for me.  Must be bliss. On second thoughts, that’s true of the cruise as well, so I will stick to the nausea.

Did you like swinging as a child? Do you still get excited when you see a swing?

Read first part of the last answer.  Watching someone else swing makes me want to throw up.  Watching an empty swing rock makes me want to throw up. My carpool family has a large sized traditional swing (like this, stolen from google images) installed in their living room, and that is the default seating  for visitors.  Needless to add, I spend most of my time in their house, standing, and begging the kids to not rock the swing in my presence.

What is the most important thing that you ever learned ? (I bet it’s not something you learned in school)

I think school is often underestimated and short changed.  The fundamentals of every piece of knowledge that I claim to have, were instilled in school.  Some of the wisdom I have earned over the years have had their origins in school as well. I have learned that hard work always pays, and the reward for hard work is the sweetest of all – I worked really hard in my higher secondary, and was rewarded by the school rolling shield at the end of the year – but what I can’t forget is the feeling of achievement that filled in me as my name was announced.  I have learned that friends are an important part of life and many of the friendships start in school.  My two stress busters are my kindergarten friends even now –  Soumya and Shobha.  Life has taught me that compassion is the hardest emotion of all.  And compassion towards oneself, even harder. I have learned that life must not be taken too seriously, I wish I had learned that earlier, I have wasted three decades of my life taking it so.

Life itself is a continuous learning experience, and every moment teaches me something new.  Sometimes I remember the lesson, but often forget.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

I wouldn’t call what follows, an inspiration, but appreciation.  I started watching the detective series titled Miss Fisher’s murder mysteries, As usual, as the seasons progress, it gets less and less credible, but I am still hooked.  The series, to me, is not as much a detective story, but intense romance, and I surprised myself by loving the romance.  I often claim to be unromantic, and I am, but chivalry does me in every time. The chivalry need not be romantic – I remember a chilly fall afternoon in Syracuse, I was returning to my lab with a friend with whom I had had lunch (a working grad-student lunch at Subway, just to clarify).  I was wearing a sweater and my friend had a windbreaker on.  Seeing me shudder ever so lightly at a nippy breeze, he quietly removed his windbreaker and wrapped it around me.  That was the most chivalrous thing I have experienced in my life.   My better-half and my child say “thank you” to me after every meal – even a crappy one – and that, to me, is such a charming gesture that brings a catch to my throat.  But the amble is to say, the characterization of the inspector in the newfound series is so romantically chivalrous that despite the series itself nose-diving (and I am only in the second season), I can’t stop watching it and get all fuzzy when the inspector is made to do something utterly cute and old-fashioned*** – considering that the setting is the early twentieth century, it is old-fashioned alright. Sometimes I wonder if all the feminism (no, I am not against feminism, I consider myself a feminist) has killed chivalry in the world – not complaining too much though, after all justice is infinitely more important than romance, but sometimes I wonder if it would be cute to have the better-half open the door of the car for me !  When I ask him, he gives me a weird look.

My thoughts:

As if the above were not.  After a week’s break, schools have resumed working.  It is still pouring outside as I type this out, but I have a gut feeling that this is the end of monsoon – early end, and not as much rain as we need.  I don’t know why the gut feeling – forecasts continue to foretell possible rains in the near future, but somehow I feel this is it.  Am I being a pessimist or a realist?

I have big deadlines lined up from now until the turn of the year, and the mood has not set in yet.  It will, but it had better come before the client pops a vein.



Jack: “I will never again dismiss the fashion world as frivolous. It all looks harmless enough, but you never know what lurks beneath.”

jack.jpgPhryne: “Usually lingerie.”

Jack: “Equally dangerous.”

Phryne: “And just one dress can be lethal.”

Phryne: “Night cap?”

Jack: “Perhaps another time…at a less dangerous hour…in a less lethal dress.