Monday 11 October 2010

Navratri

As a six year old, I waited for the nine days of kolu . It first meant quarterly exams and a quarter of school year had finished. It also meant I would get a pattu pavadai . See on my paternal side I am the only girl . The family legend has it that Goddess Meenakshi was invoked to deliver me thus and my Patti thought my name as Meenalochini would be more apt . Thanks to being the only girl available on hand. the elder women would run riot at my expense. First a patti pavadai , then amma pavadai would be bought. Then my maternal grandma from Mumbai would buy a gagra choli . Now all this had to be designed for the nine days of festivities. Then the three women ,the two grand mothers and mother would catch me and sock me into a corner . Then decide to plait my hair with the whole of Chennai´s flower market . Well people who have seen me know I am not peitite but just made small, at age 6 trust me that size was smaller than small. with the burden of Flowers I could barely lift off ground. But the two grandmas would have their typical in our family the tradition is ... well it ended in dousing a flower basket on my little head .
After I was able to get myself on two limbs the next was the careful planning of what song to sing in whose house. The pattu master would be asked to teach me navratri songs. Well it would always end up as Ra re venu or vara veena . When my mom realised I was singing the same song after three navratri editions she decided singing was not my thing much to the relief of the poor bhagavathar.
Once all the ladies were dressed ,we would pile ourselves into an ambassador car and drive from navratri to navratri .
It is one time of the year when women don't stay home after 5 , eat junk food, come back late and only worry about the next day´s pattu sari. Now , at navratris the sundal is the highlight . From pattu mami´s kondai kadalai sundal being too salty to the kerala mami´s payuru sundal doused in coconut . We would eat the packet and then criticise the contents. I would be content sitting in the front seat of the ambassador eating all the sundal and happy that home work was such a distant concept.

Some over enthusiastic mamis will tell sundal only if you sing. Ok mami if you insist I will belt out ra ra venu for the 100 th time .
Now kolus come in different varieties- the eating ones and the decorative ones. The eating ones are with that sole purpose , you go there say hi , caress some silk saris , some jimkis , roll call on marriages and then go for the bonda bajjis. I love the bondas with chutney and kesari. Over the years the mamis have started adding pizzas and noodles . I was so happy that I didnt have to come home and have to slug through amma´s nutritious meal schemes.

The decorative kolus , the category where our family is the heavy weight ,is all about bringing out the dolls. The dolls in our house belonged to my paternal great grand mother . so the dolls do not have sri devi´s nose and aishwarya rai´s pout. We have two gowri bommais that is the pride of our navratri. Every year the dolls are dressed to theme . We managed some years even changing their sex by adding fillings in require areas !!the doll´s dresses were stitched from dupattas and the theme was highly debated at home. The whole family would paint , cut , stick and polish.

Always before the first guest arrived one part of the mountain landscape usually the mountain itself, would rumble and some cotton wool would fall over. This was interpretd as a good omen, removing all the bad eyes for the evening.

As the years progressed , navratris had a more sinister meaning. My grandmom would coax me to invite any girl from an age group of 15 up wards . She would then say Ponnu yaaru. Aaah padivala? . And she would then annpunce annaku pakalam . I would then say No patti , she is a mean girl doesnt share her food .... I couldn't think of having any of my friends married to my brother . My patti would then say ivala nambina kalyaname nadakathu.

If any girl wore any jewellery worth the bling. Patti would put on her glasses and pour closely at the yellow metal .

When i graduated from the pavadai davani to sari. My role in the navratri world changed. It was no longer eating humble sundal. I constantly had to answer what my future plans were and how I was modern girl with family outlook . whatever that meant.

By this time the sundal itself was slowly disappearing and the grand sweets and sri krishna took over. The ladoo mixture combo reigned supreme . The thamboolam got fancier with disco bindi and fancy kumkum.

Many years I was away during kolu and would try to re create my own sad kolu. All the trunks would be dressed in table cloth and all the 4 dolls arranged to bring on volume . A whole day of slogging to make indian sundal eatable by spanish women. My maid would make gazpacho with coriander for the Indian touch. She tried making other stuff until i made her understand that our gods were fussy eaters and ate only stuff they knew . Clams and gamba al ajillo are not their thing. She found that strange that our gods ate our food and were fussy too!!The spanish women would all come, put on their bindis sing besame mucho eat their sundals and keep chatting till 10 at night. My mother once witnessed this spectacle and said it was the most tiring kolu she saw.

After years, I am in Chennai dressing dolls before navratri . My hair is what my Patti would call bob cut . The doll´s dresses are now all got ready-made. We insisted that kolu has to be a home grown initiative , so we sent the dolls blouse to our local tailor. He became all excited and stitched Sita´s forest garb with all kinds of fancy cuts that she looks more like a model for forest fashion 2010. We have laid out fresh lawn and try hard to keep the little ones of the house away including a dog that finds it disorienting to have a garden in a bed room .

The sundal packets are getting ready and the dolls have all been taken out for their 9 days of glory under the made in china decorative lights. We the women are dotting round town with packets in hand . People now dont ask me do I sing but rather do I play chess ? One lady wanted to know if I could have a chess theme navratri . Well someone did Michael Jackson .... If Chennai Navratri has evolved to beat it a check mate cant be very far away

Saturday 18 September 2010

The Voice of God

Chennai has been through the month of Aadi. Apart from everything being on discount we have had our ears seared with blaring music from all temples . Every weekend the local temples put a loudspeaker , make porridge and generally see that we all wake up in a bad mood and black eyed.
Why do we need loudspeakers in temple. Is it for us to know there is God , is it that loudspeakers are just cheap , or more importantly is it for god to hear his disciples. Imagine God up there every year has this loudspeaker gone wild session. He or she would would ensure us yes he or she do exist and they do not have a hearing problem .
After a weekend of an Aaatha screaming woodstock kind of fest , I was in no mood for another weekend of Aatha being drummed down my ears. So at 4.30 a.m. I call the police station and tell Saar what is the rule for loudspeaker , The police says SI speaking 6 am ma . OK saar we cant sleep the noise is unbearable . Within ten minutes the jeep comes , the police man calls me and says ma we are here what do you want us to do. I say Saar you hear a deafening noise chase them . Aah you want us to follow the noise . Yes I say, Ok OK . We will put on our siren and scare them. Then after ten minutes we hear Aaatha on a fainter note and tug at our blankets.When SI calls Madam can we see you . See me ? For what Si. So that ma you know we came . I said I know you came. I am not flashing my nightie at a pot bellied cop at 4 am . So ten minutes later the aaatha volume is turned up again. I call my friendly SI .. and say saar no respect for the police these people have turned up the volume . He says dont worry mam god is there he will teach them a lesson . I say Saar you see God doesnt take complaints and come with a siren so I cant tell him in a direct way .
BUt God if you are up there please dont wait till after life to throw the aatha brigade in hell .. just mute their loudpspeakers for now...

Friday 30 July 2010

The Aunty from Phoren

When Bata heeled us , and mostly only after the shareholder coupon came in. The Ambassador took the whole neighbourhood to school and Doordarshan delighted us with wonder balloon and kanmani poonga. The aunty from phoren was a much awaited arrival. Moment Aunty would come all of us would put on our best frocks and be asked to entertain aunty with loud carnatic music and dance wthout any music. Then aunty would then go Wow thats awesome and put her hand into her sack of goodies. This is why we loved aunty . She would come with a box full of gifts to be distributed. She had gifts according to relations and how much the desi mama sucked up to the green card . Since we were tier 1 we always got our first pick. frocks in bright colours , ribbons , lip stick , stickers and then toys that came free with mc. donalds. Those days we thought you had to have really done some major karma to get these goodies. Aunty would not drink our water or eat our food , but would wear bright silk saris and lots of malli poo . Our cook would say maha lakshmi powder potta namma rukumani thaan.She would always tell us about back home ... where you could buy 100 chocolates at the same time .100 chocolates patti would say ... Kamakshi did you hear that where my daughter lives she can buy 100 chcoolates !! . Even patti was enamoured by the phoren daughter. Patti would get american snow for her face , hundreds of used plastic dabbis for keeping her vibhuti colection and of course the chocolates.I wasnt sure whether I really liked this aunty . I always thought she was more of a santa mami . Everytime someone came home she would hug them and go Aww and give a gift. My poor amma always had the worst of the Aunty. She had to cook meals with mineral water , the rice had to be the right glycemic index and in return amma always got advice on how to keep a good home , and how to freeze food in plastic dubbas .Amma never understood what was the point of cooking too much , stuffing it in a dubba and putting a sticker on it. Amma would get lots of make up and conditioner with the strict warning that they were prized possesions from sams club pick of the month .
Aunty would buy mops , duster cloths for the servants . Those poor souls would keep the duster cloth safely ,they thought a phoren cloth had to be used only on phoren stuff .. so only the computer got its weekly spa ritual.

Amma always was proud of my long hair . It was something she had nurtured for years with oil and shika. Even during the worst drought , water would be hand pumped for my head bath. So Amma would then take a little of Aunty´s conditioner and rub it all over my hair . That condtioner bottle saw me through my school years. It came to our house when I was three and even managed my school graduation. If I had a dance program Amma would even be liberal and use two drops of the conditioner.

Over the years the aunty has had to try hard to win our love . Her wonder shredder and magic bullet doesnt cut with Amma. She is the queen of micro wave now and can very easily can have a kolu of only tupper ware . She tells Aunty try our Tupper dabbas they even have anjali pottis , you know and they are even dish washer safe.. you should take it back home

Aunty finds it hard to now be just a normal aunty . Her american tamil is no longer new . Every girl speaks american better than the americans . Her back home stories dont excite us anymore . But now aunty decided to bring her daughter and her kids to up the buzz around her .She would insist that her grand kids bathed in our bubble top water and that only expensive milk was given to them. Even brushing teeth would be only with Aquafina ( pronounced Acca fina by our thambis).

Even patti finds that tough to swallow. Yen di Raks ( see Rukumani went through the american loop and came out raks)it is too much i say if vegetables are washed so much there will no taste...
But aunty´s daughter , aunty jr. our cousin tries hard to be one of us. Although she hates our guts when we jump into any auto or leap out to attack any man calling them saar . And she cant understand how suddenly we insist we are ladies and say saar konjam side . She undersatnds we are the power mamis . we have our madisars and our vodka and back home is preferably a nice place in chennai .Even back in her home .. they find that tough to follow... because in the end namma vazhi is always thanni vazhi....

Sunday 27 June 2010

Kalyana Kathaigal

Im in Chennai in the middle of Kalyana season . The whole day goes in trying to get into the tight silk blouses and ferrying vethlai bags .
In Chennai kalyanams are taken seriously . It is the only place where I know that you can have 3 invites on the same day and in the same hour slot!So this is how the chennaiite does it.
Did the invite come by post or courier ? Are we boys side or girls side? Then comes did they come personally ? Who came ? Parents or tier 1 relatives. Then the ultimate tie breaker. Who cooks in the wedding?
Mountbatten Mani , Arusuvai , Saapadu Raman , Kalyana Raman , Mambalam Mahalingam ...
Now a days though the Mambalam tribe have deserted good sambar sadam for wontons and chocolate fondue. Many a mamis find it difficult to juggle the giant appalam in a sea of Iyer made Curry leaf tempered Original Chinese noodles.

Once we have deciphered where we go first , sit longest and eat the husband and wife make a complicated plan.

You arrive at the wedding. First the men move to the left and women to the right . Young girls are deciphered slowly the boys in Hawaii chapals and American returned cologne are slowly recorded and mentally matched.

As Husband and wife sit separately and wife is immersed in mami tales . The mama on the other side can feel the bile rising in his stomach. Ducking and weaving the relatives of the couple he signals furiosuly to mami . the modern day mama would sms saapad? in the good old days a pavadai clad girl would be sent Mami, mama is calling.
But first you have to mark attendance , then hand the gift, avert the meals ready look of the relatives. Collect the thamboolam bag and run to the next.

Handing the gift is a skill in itself. You learn to squeeze past the bouquets and land right at the stage. If you are important the photographer is summoned, if you are not you are told how dear you are.

Then comes the reason we women love weddings. You don't cook , you get to dress , not have to sit next to a complaining husband and bitch without bother. So when you get to the Elai sapad and sample the buckets being emptied. You are confronted by the videographer. He knows exactly how to capture a pattu mami with a papadum in her mouth or a mama vehemently fighting with the cook that no mundris came his way. For me i find it tough to have the poli dipping with ghee and jangri all in one go and a flash light attacking me.

But all of is who have had videos of our weding. How many times have we seen it and how many times in that have we leapt out of our husband's heart and on to a rose bunch. I managed it 6 times and I also managed to have my head morphed into a chess queen and chase the king all Over 64 squares.The videographer explained madam special effects .... my patti thought it was a bad omen to have my head cut off on my wedding video.

Nowadays you don't just attend weddings you have to sing , dance , socialize all at same time .
But I serious love the wedding season. Where else can we see on a muhurtham day , vadhyars taking no entry and telling the cop Saar muhutham time coming close pls.adjust. Or ladies in their scooty with their brightest sari and matching helmet. In December we can ever get the matching ear muff (the current chennai haute accessory) in leopard print toying with the maatal.
Wedding season is when chennai takes stock of its soon to be married youngsters in a way that even the census may not be able to keep up. But when aadi arrives apart from aadi thalupadi you have to re adjust those silk blouses for the next season....
till then mama and mami can keep themselves busy emptying thambaloom packets and recycling gifts till the next manjai patrikai comes along....

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Cleanliness is next to godliness

By now you all have been introduced to my maid . The days when she comes and I am there I get a sneak preview into what makes this woman tick. Bring god into everything , give a Arasi look with zoom in zoom out action when asked why did u break my jar... if Madam is still not relenting ... turn on the taps. In a nutshell she is my maid. In my head I have boxed her , cajoled her and also think of a life where I dont stand by the lift at 8.30 like a pit bull awaiting her arrival and then turn into a little lap dog when i see my floor pressed .


My maid is honest , never lies never cheats and never robs. So I indulge her superstitions. Which are let me quote . When I have my ladies days I dont collect godly rubbish. Ok thats reasonable. On amavasai I light lamp , make payasam and vadai come late for work. No maid No. Ok I bring crunchy masala vadais to work. Ok then amavasai is forgiven. She does make very good vadai . That gives my cook a vadai complex.
Ok on Fridays I dont collect garbage . Why . It is godly day . Ah . That is not happening. But you see Friday is clean day . Ok Ok clean is always good .
Then comes killing insects and animals . In India we all run little abattoirs seeing how to put a lizard in trance use a bata chapal to down the roach. keep cakes for rats .... Its a chenobyl in the back yard.
Maid says Tuesday Friday no animal murders . Ah but if animal is running around what can I do . Maid says no ma that lizard will send us to hell. By this point I realise I am going there anyway and in all probability dragging maid with me . So i take out the plastic bag.... and sparing you the lizaard hara kiri kill the thing. Ma maid says have bath and light lamp ... your sin will go .
I chew slowly ... then of course comes PMS. she has serious PMs . When the bad moon rises maid has problems with iron man , cook , gardener. So when its Pms time I shout at my husband stop throwing garbage the next four days there is no garbage bag removal. Husband thinks its not even your bad moon thats rising why do I deal with 2 PMS every month. Good question husband ... today is TGIF you see maid is in godly mode and my devil avatar is hanging out ... and this devil doesnt even wear prada .. just good old bata hawai .. because the hawai chapal can kill a Roach with one phat no prada or choo can come close.. for some its TGIF and for its OH GGIF oh god its friday

Togetherness is love

Have you tried navigating a trolley full of luggage into Chennai airport sweeping past hordes of relatives all huddled together waving at their wards . With promises to return soon , eat medicines , produce babies , write emails , pray to god ,all hanging in the air. The wards you can see have their hearts torn between two continents and their clothing reflects their nostalgia shared. sparkling nike and leather jacket jostles for space with jimki and malli poo which will all be tucked away till the next trip back . As we try to wrestle these persistent relatives who are so moved by the situation they refuse to budge . Me not known for physical might but tongue power I have been bestowed by the almighty try to tell them ,please move. they stand their transfixed waiting to catch the little pinky of the good bye . Many times I have been trampled on or have my suitcases thrown down or have relatives trying to enter the airport along with me .
Which brings me to my scientific research findings. For each adult that leaves Chennai airport an average 2.1 adults accompany them. If there is baby add another 1.7 , bigger children you can add another.7 . If they are fully grown and I mean American size growth minus about.485 adults . So for each family going to America there is a send off party of 4 adults , 8 massive cases , half of grand sweets , RMKV pothy´s and a sprinkling of nalli. Not to mention mixer grinder , sumeet mixie all forming part of the send off experience .
have you noticed Indians do very few things in solitude. Except the utmost neccesity...I had to have some injections for an allergy . The doctor said 5 injections over 10 days.Every time the nurse would take me in she would pull the curtain and peep outside and wait . After the third . poke me quick I can get out experience , she asked me if I was married. I said yes , mother in same city. I said yes . Is it relevant . So nurse says , madam you always come alone . No one to come with you . Why I ask ? Normally women come with some one . Really I ask. See I dont relish having these injections and I dont really think my husband is very fond of seeing needles. My mom would freak out if she saw blood . So trust me I am better off. Nurse looks very strangely at me and takes in her next normal patient , lady with mother , water bottle , napkin etc etc.
Next I run to buy furniture. I see in the store full families shopping , debating sitting , jumping , sleeping on mattress . I run in ask do you have a sofa for 20,000 . Good Is it fittable in my living room. Good. send it over buddy. The sales man says madam do you want to look. No . Want to come back. No. Just send it . My husband never really notices the sofa as long as I can clean all the food we can spill on it . So sofa in solitude retail is good
Then enter a sari shop. This is the shop I dread most . When all the fancy saries are thrown at me I dont know what to do . I look quickly . Ok this sari looks reasonable . It has a blouse piece. Good that saves me the headache of finding mera wala green.While I try to pay , you see full families looking through saris. The husband says green is not your colour. The mother says in muted tones ... your mother in law is paying buy more fancy sari . the wife wants a Vidya balan ensemble . Put all this together you have a two hour family shopping experience where saris are seen in tube light , no light and the taken out on the road to see in natural light . Do we actually wear our saris on busy T nagar streets for its natural colour to show ??The experience is then followed by snacks and tea .
Many times when husband is away I bring on the calorie mela. Parantas doused in butter , vadas with ghee and brownie and muffin . So I like to go to these swanky cafe shops and pretend to be cool and gorge on muffins. Every five minutes I get asked, madam is someone joining ... No I am here to eat so that when my husband returns we can go back to bircher museli and stewed fruit... They look at me strangely. Every time a person walks in they look at the person and me and see if there is some buzz!sometimes flattering sometimes you think aiyo yo
Why do we have to be together all the time ... In India if you buy a curtain , the family has bought a curtain . Everyone will visit to see the curtain , the nice ones say eh cool. The older ones say is this a curtain , looks like some cloth has been attached . In our times curtain meant a curtain ... Ok I get the point
Ok I never invited you for curtain seeing ceremony. Now that you are here have the bajis and move on . I hate this come and see my house I have new curtains. And how does that change my curtains. Why do we need to see your curtains or sofa ... But we always see the curtain and say oh nice and on the drive home you bitch ... that curtain is so bad. My god how can you buy that curtain. But in family retail law do unto your curtain what other do unto theirs
Abroad we have burst crackers in our yard and no one turns and looks ... or question. But in India togetherness is love and you can never have enough of that, although love at times is 24x7 indulgence

Wednesday 31 March 2010

Tagged

Thanks Sowmya of www.ssstoryteller.blogpost.com !for tagging me . Didnt know what I had been tagged for... but figured it out . Sorry didnt know who to tag in return
7 things about myself

* When I was about 5 in our school for some reason we had to collect neem seeds . I collected goat droppings sincerely and insisted that they were neem seeds.
* Around that time . Sorry the interesting bits in my childhood all happened the same year I think . I kept asking my mom to cut my hair similar to a doll I had. This doll had come from Singapore and doll and me wore same dress , had same pillow, etc. My mother said that if I had a fringe I would become cross eyed. Seeing that there were no fringe benefits in rolling my eyes and looking cute. ( I still get a lot done by rolling my eyes and producing tears at short notice) I decided to chop my hair myself . MY mother while combing my hair realized that parts of it were missing. So I came up with a story that a girl in school had cut it off interjected it with tears and big eyes. My parents were keen to catch this hair cutter monster I had created. As luck would have it my brother surfaced with a dustbin full of hair and a scissor hidden deep beneath
*My dad once caught me going triples outside Ethiraj! We were all dressed in a strange outfit with leg bands and pony tails. We were going for a dance competition .
*In hostel we used to steal butter and bun and hide it under our bed .
*Everyone thinks I play chess. I dont
*My brother and me had an idea to make chocolates called kozhava . It meant rolling chocolate and cheese into balls and freezing them. We thought we could become millionaires . My other cottage industries included mixing milk and pencil shavings to make rubbers . Start a lending library. We kind of couldn't work the partnership agreement as to how the empire would be divided and it fell through
* Extremely lazy to actually do anything , but hyper active once I start...

Saturday 27 March 2010

washing our dirty linen

Recently an article piqued my interest. A million euro diamond bustier had been made and presented.
Can you imagine if you got a diamond bustier. You wear it in Chennai for a nice kalyanam and all the pothy´s pattis and rmkv rakkamas go ¨besh besh romba nalla irriku¨. Now once you have the dress that grabs more headlines than skin you cant repeat it. All the women will say too much ya, always wearing this pala pala dress . Well if I bought something for a million trust me I might not have much left for the next bling thing.
Ok now I have this dress , wore it , burnt a few mami´s and mami wannabes . Now what do I do with this. Since I have worn it when Chennai is in Agni Nakshatram mode , do I send it for laundry or wash at home.
My laundry man is a sweet guy. You give him a garment and tell him ¨kalayanithala payasam fell saar. He takes a chalk piece and marks it out . sends it to his laundry and gives it back. the only stain that went was the chalk . But I like him and gives me special privileges since I am the Chess Anand Mrs. If I went with bustier he will think this chess anand mrs is slightly mandai kolar variety. imma thundu dress kudthu madam ore koovurthu
What do I tell him , wash clean dry clean press...
just give the stones back ....
Or maybe I will wash it at home . I do all my washing myself . I have the brain , samsung has the brawn and we save a lot of money ( sung to tune of I have the brain....) Ok so I wash it and tell maid hang it to dry. Maid is maha enthu and by now you realise most of my posts are dedicated to her .
What do I tell her. Dry it without wringing its neck ... no dry it on my bed ... no dont even touch it .. since maid has a hand of death as far as chess anand´s shirts are concerned. White shirts turn blue and blue shirts take on pink... well thats why i wash clothes myself... so a diamond bustier what can it become ... a sack of stones
and then promptly iron man( by the way he doesnt talk to maid ... ok labour relation techniques another post)will takes all the coal from newcastle and my bustier will be moved closer to its carbon sister.

What do you do when you are supposed to feel a million dollars . Go overboard and actually buy it . I would gladly like to feel 499 Rs. Fab India kurta sale . You wash it, you know the color will bleed, the husband´s shirt changes colour. You go to laundry , man says enna ma color ore run a . You say ammam pa. Sar shirt konjum urgent . he smiles. YOu come back stop by fab india ... and the whole cycle turns. Now when you try and want to feel a million euros on your bust you take away all this pleasure and of course what if you put on weight will you buy more diamonds to add on the bustier. fab india on the other hand they can go XXXXXL if u want.... in the same bleeding variety....of course if u do lose weight ... then you reduce a few stones on the scale I meant!!

Thursday 11 February 2010

Ore the love only

The V day is back. And what all is being offered . V day yoga poses claimed a web site. What is a V day yoga pose really?
Now what is this V day .
I remember in our convent school we used to huddle up in the library to read Women´s Era. That was the ultimate in Agony Aunt bashan . The girl always loved her neighbor but was shy to declare her love . Auntyji always said to write a poem , send a rose or tell a friend to declare it. Now we have the Cosmopolitan version of auntyji. 50 love tricks that never fail. Imagine us harried woman we have trouble remembering our Mother in law´s birthday. 50 tricks that have to be remembered and acted upon !
Ok I decided that if I am wasting so much money on these magazines I should execute at least one love trick. It said Surprise your loved one with a vacation . OK done. So I book a hotel in Berlin for my loved one´s birthday . I tell to loved one come to Berlin this hotel . So I arrive 2 hours before loved one should arrive. Enough time to execute the other 3 tips. Decorate room , have favourite food. Now favourite food was a chocolate cake baked with love in Madrid with frosting to cover the unpleasant curves on the cake ( I know what you are thinking) ok! Now this cake was squeezed into aluminum box. Indians always have tupper, zip pouch and aluminum cases in all sizes! So armed with all this I take a train then a plane then a bus and get to this love shack hotel . So I sit in hotel and think loved one will come in 2 hours . Enough time to play sudoku, freecell and laze. And while I am enjoying all this laze haze . Bell rings . So I open door and there I see loved one. I say what you , so fast . He said why ?? You have to come only by 13.00. He says yes I caught an earlier train. Aah earlier train. Now love tip doesnt have Plan B . If loved one arrives early say in chaste tamil Ona aaru early a vara solra . Loved one says Its my birthday you have to be nice. First you book a hotel and the concierge looks at me strangely and says the lady already checked in . I wanted to give a name like POcahontas at reception a la Notting Hill . But when they saw my face and height or rather the lack of it . My passport was asked . So out goes pocahontas and tip no . 11 , book room under spicy name .
Ok now I am physically pushing loved one and say wait outside five minutes .
Shut door and read the fire exit instructions. DO NOT PANIC !!
Panic . The chocolate cake is now being elbowed out of aluminium foil , where are the candles and there are no matches now . Where is the birthday gift. Why did I put it in end of suitcase. And loved one is banging door. By now I realized he is not loved one , but testing my patience . Loved one says open the door I cant stand outside with my luggage . Wait . Again knocks . What are you doing . I say Wait . He says where do you get these ideas. cant we do normal things .
Yes why cant we be Normal on Feb 14TH
How practical is actually buying red roses , filling a bed room with candles and then when the maid comes the next day and looks around a bed full of molten wax , what do you say , This Electricity always goes on feb 14!!
Or while you are doing a Gisele Bundchen from Victoria Secret , next door mami decides to surprise you with a bowl full of undai korambu. What do you say , Mami i am not open door now not even out of door for that matter...
V day is such a nice concept . You fantasize that a George Clooney would serve you Nespresso and a Michelin star chef would cook you a meal and there are roses and orchids and you are wearing a Gown. But even when I dream I have problems I dont wear gowns , first I dont get them in my size as kidswear is where I am mostly removing goofy and mickey from trousers ... Flowers I am allergic too . I love George Clooney and Nespresso , Chef I would prefer my mami´s rasam and potato roast.
You say it with roses, with words but when there is love you dont say it. When the gajar halwa looks more like a carrot that has been gored to a very unsweet death and the mixie lid flies off like a saucer taking its orange contents all over. A laugh from the other side and a hug is all that you need . Ok after that George Clooney can be arranged to bring in the coffee .....

Sunday 7 February 2010

The Great Indian Ketchup

Semai hot machi we are. Add tomato ketchup to that and we have a new blog entry....
We Indians can take credit for many things , but do you know what has been the best offerings that have bettered the lives of many people everyday. We gave the Germans the curry in their currywurst . From mere saurkraut and wurst and burst they have a chatpata currywurst . Then take our Colonial masters , we gave them Vindaloo , Balti and Curry Madras . How their lives have been spiced everyday thanks to our masala .We dont have anything in India called a curry powder , but we have our Indian tomato ketchup. Give an Indian a bottle of tomato ketchup and they will conquer the world. They will eat the saurkraut, the sheperd´s pie , the gulash , the works.

Why do we love tomato ketchup so much ? As a child we had only one variety of tomato ketchup . It came in a nice plump bottle . We would eat the ketchup with bread, dosa , vada , cutlet with finger chips and sometimes with our plain fingers. As the ketchup would decrease in the bottle we would find new ways to pull out the last drop . Long forks , broom sticks , back scratchers would all be put to entice the last few drops to come out to a waiting samosa.
But Indians have uses for tomato ketchup that would make Mr. Heinz blush like his tomato. We add to chinese manchurian, to paneer mutter. Even send it as a kitchen tip. When ketchup is only few drops in bottle , add few drops of water, masala and pour on bread as spread and win Ms, Eves tip of the month prize.

But the ketchup lives on even after its contents. The bottles are used as water bottle , when that use is over , its used as a stand for mosquito coil , even if that has been used up we keep money plants in it. What is better in a bed room , an empty ketchup bottle with money plants hanging out. Thats what I call kitsch decor !!

Now our ketchup masters have different flavours. Imli, chilli , chatpata , no onion , yes onion etc.
So now Ketchup becomes the main dish and you add anything as a filler to get the ketchup into the tummy. I bring back bottles of ketchup when Im back. My maid cant fathom how an Indian can make ketchup and even tea so spicy .

We once had family visiting us in Europe. So we took them to a tapas bar. We had bite sized portions of every imaginable vegetable dish . But our guests looked at the food and kept a stoic composure. While we chomped away the guests hesitantly kept looking at the waiters. Then they summoned courage and asked . Can we get some chilli ketchup.
The waiter said seƱora this is fine espanis food . No ketchup good sauce.
To which the family said what kind of place no ketchup only. In India even in Pizza hut they give so much free ketchup.
And then aunty became all brave and said . Not to worry I have this pizza hut ketchup sachet and chilli flake with me .
And much to the chargin of our waiter. The fine Spanish tapas were doused in good old tomato ketchup and chilli flakes and the aunties attacked the plates viciously.
Now that we were used to the aunty brigade and their ketchup sachets we suggested we would be fine and cultured and ask for Tabasco sauce wherever we went.

So at a fine restaurant the fish comes cooked in its delicate sauce with a whiff of fennel and a hint of saffron.
We Indians are not hint variety. We liked to lay it thick like our chunky tomato ketchup.
And then we pop the question
Haben sie Tabasco o einer piquant sauce bitte?
The waiter looks at us brings the bottle and watches. We sprinkle the plate with hot drops. No hint no whiff only tabasco.
See tabasco is the hermano mayor of our tomato ketchup . We treat it with respect . While all the guests look at us ,our dead tongues ( in Tamil naaku sethu pochu da anthu naadu lai) come back to lives while the poor European feels his tongue will be taken closer to his padre nuestro .
Why o Why do we love tomato ketchup so much. The free packets at Mc Donalds never satiate our appetite we need more of our tomato fix .
Maybe ketchup is one thing that unites our country´s tongues. Punjabi samosa , Marati vada pav, Good crisp Medhu vadai , Puchkas all can be enhanced with tomato ketchup. Thats the great Indian mother tongue .
But maybe, just maybe We are like this only.
Mind it!

Saturday 9 January 2010

Aunty mai kabhi nahi

See I think I am only 16.... Although my mom oscillates from wanting me to be 10 again to wanting me to act my age. But seriously how old do you think you are. No this is not a FB quiz where I will give you lonely pink cows .


The other day a youngish boy who I thought looked kinda cute came home. So I did this whole Im cool thing. Wear your sneakers , show your undies Im cool with it. While I was mentally regressing on the age factor . The boy comes to me and says Aunty thanks for the chocolate my amma also makes the same one. In my mind I was doing the Grease routine and terribly trying to stretch my imagination into Olivia´s skin tight stuff . The Aunty in me lept out. What I am aunty. No no I am not aunty call me Aruna. The boy then said after a while aren´t you and my mom kind of friends so you are aunty .
OK OK
One day a young photographer came to take pictures of my husband and me . She happened to be from the same college. See mentally I am still just passed out from college . When I still see a lecturer even at a wedding I am so scared she is going to ask me Why were you not in class! So I told this young thing . Ah same college. Do you kind of do the whole mall routine and stuff. She kept smiling and then opened her pierced tongue and told my husband ask aunty to come we need to take a picture. Aunty... oye I could be a santoor kind of aunty . people think I am your sister and then I am aunty. this reverse stuff is not nice.
I can be cool with the coolest of them
Conversely ...
I was in Germany and was carrying a whole lot of luggage see there is only so much of grand sweets a VIP box can take but ok I was about 10 kg overweight. I was travelling alone and hubby dear carries the heavy case puts it on the weighing scale the digits are moving ... and the woman looks at me and then at my husband . My eyes dart like a deer in the headlights. What would be worst paying or having to listen to endless I told you so .
Then this woman seeing me all going teary eyed bends down at tells husband tell your younger sister she cant carry so much weight next time .
See now this is good they think you are little sister but your are an aunty wannabe.
Then the woman got up she was a whole foot bigger than me .Then i realise from where she was I was not aunty material in this whole life span of mine. She was technically Aunty for me