Monday, August 27, 2012

Pappachan's Videocam

Pappachan came home radiant like the 'Olay model'. He had a video cam in his hand and flashed it proudly at his wife Treasa and kids.It  did not come as a surprise to any of them because there had been heated debates at home with regard to the purchase of this contraption.Treasa was worried about the wasteage of money on a second hand camera when they could buy a decent enough new one. Pappachan had his way with money and ego so he let himself  fall for the camera of Simonachayan who praised its clarity over 4 pegs of chivas regal.Now since Pappachan wanted to be in the same league as Simonachayan and his flock he fixed the deal over booze and this to Treasa was a poor business deal.What upset the kids was the fact that they did not get a video cam the year before on their trip to Muscat where they spent a month watching Cecily aunty and her huge belly anticipating it to burst any moment like a watermelon with a thumbelina baby. They were disappointed with their father who did not purchase this contraption two years back on their vacation to Cyprus and Israel where they could have made the best home videos. And now in this uneventful year he was buying it when none of them felt thrilled. 

Pappachan was oblivious to the plight of his family members.He was jubiliant for his youngest brother Johnichan the fairest baby boy with the best looks 'after him' was tying the knot.And Pappachan dreamt of  shooting the whole affair in his Panasonic videocam in his silk mundu and red velevety shirt. He had even made up his mind on the new hair style he would adorn and a month long facial treatment he would do for the glow people commented he had when he landed India.The kids had vague memories of this uncle.He was the one who gifted them the mango juice in a green carton that read Frooti and a chocolate in Violet wrapper that read cadbury. The uncle had pronounced it weirdly enough for them to follow him then.All these years they never heard their dad speak about his family and if he ever did they found it hard to catch up to his swearing skills.

Treasa was upfront logical in reminding Pappachan rather snapping him out of his reverie that they had no formal invitation to the wedding and this news was just a rumour they heard from a childhood friend of Pappachan who called him for a personal loan."Why would my brother need to invite me formally?",gnarled Pappachan but then he had to know the dates to book the flights he told himself.

The days thereafter were filled with nostalgia. Pappachan narrated his tales with Johnichan where the Big B carried the little one to school, how the little one once wanted to go see a temple wedding and could hardly pronounce 'Ambalalthil Kalyanam' ( wedding in temple) and ended up dragging Pappachan saying 'Ambathi kandanam'. 

As days passed by Pappachan grew impatient expecting the call from India. He checked his phone lines, dreamt of his red shirt and silk mundu and kept practising on his video cam.The bride would be fair for my brother is a hero he kept telling his kids and then narrated other tales and adventures of his childhood with Johnichan.Three months later Babykuttan came from a vacation in India and remarked what a beautiful sister in law Pappachan had.Having seen all his Sister in laws whom to him ranger from ambassador to fiat and maruti 800, he had no idea who the maruti esteem was that Baby referred to. Sensing the surprise Babykuttan blurted that he saw Johnichan and his wife at the church,the previous sunday.

It then dawned to Pappachan. The fight he had at home with his brother Georgekutty who had taken a loan of 1 lakh and never returned and how Johnichan intervened on behalf of Georgekutty. How he promised he would not marry unless he settled the account of 1 lakh." So he did not have the money so he was worried I would mess his wedding", he spoke to Treasa who was sympathetic to his grief." But  he was my baby brother", he continued.And then breaking all restraints Pappachan cried.His kids who had never seen their father cry was dumbfound by this miracle even jealous that their father never loved them so much to cry for them

The videocam lost to the world sat in the corner for the rest of Pappachan's life. He swore never to meet Johnichan and his wife but could not resist when they invited him home with pork fry. And that's how Pappachan was gullible, vulnerable,emotional and human.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Iftar Celebrations- Street food from Frazer Town Bangalore

The Holy month of Ramadan holds great significance in my life perhaps,even more than Christmas or Easter.Having grown up in Kuwait, this was the only festive season I saw in my childhood. Kuwait , post gulf war was quite dull and morose.The country was grappling with issues of safety and post traumatic experiences with war. My dad never let us out anywhere except during the month of Ramadan.Everything in our lives changed during those 40 days. Dad had evening shift so would be home more often, shops would be open after midnight and discount sales enthralled shoppers. But the most exciting part of Ramadan was the Iftar- the snack with which Muslims broke their fast. Street accidents were common during that time when noone bothered traffic signals.Mom often came home lamenting over the number of accident cases she had to deal in the children's ward ( kids falling into biriyani pots, burns and indigestion- the list was endless). There was a frenzy unexplainable in front of every shawarma, arayis, kabab stall and the streets looked gorgeous with the lighting and decorations.I can still smell the mutton fried with shallots in olive oil and herbs, and never have I tasted the same flavour ever since I left Kuwait. Back in India, I never even realised it was Eid until a holiday was declared.There is quite a solemnity and simplicity in the celebration of Eid and Ramadan here in India comapared to the Middle East. So when my hubby told me about the Iftar street stalls I was all excited.

My hubby was more excited than me to explore some street food in Bangalore during Ramadan.We kept stalling it due to some reason or the other every year.So this time when I was in Bangalore we decided to explore the street. A friend of my hubby's suggested Mosque road near Frazer town and I am glad we did go, because I learnt a lot of new recipes and their history. I recommend all my foodie friends to try this place. They have a variety of stuff and we had no issues digesting them so it is quite safe for people who don't experiment street food. Here's some of the delicacies we tried and some others I thought was interesting.

The highlights for us was pathar ka kabab. It's an escallop of beef or mutton marinated and cooked on stone- so the name. Meat often eaten at stalls and restaurants are never well cooked to my taste but this  time I was taken in for a surprise and so,I loved the experience.

Haleem was something we looked forward to as it was something hyped about. But it somehow did not suit our taste. Haleem is a mixture of broken wheat, pulses, meat, curd, and spices cooked for hours to form a porridge.It is supposedly the extravagant treat for those breaking their fast. I think we did not strike the chord.

I loved the chicken stick it was different and a combo of flavours exploded at the tip of my tongue leaving me too stunned to decipher the ingredients. But I think I can figure that out.

The kheema roll was quite filling , too bland to my hubby but fine to my taste. I guess we really were in our foodie trance ( as I would call it modestly when people hog non stop) so I guess we polished it off. Otherwise this dish alone could make a sumptuous meal.

I guess there's something fascinating when people gather randomly and eat together. It's exciting and motivating to foodies to eat with fellow foodies around. The ambience is so conducive for food lovers that you savour each bite even more. I find this experience distinct from the one you have at huge spreads and buffets. Maybe it's also because you burp and belch and fart and start all over again ;).

Some where there on the street you don't bother about your clothes and manners and you feel you belong there- your love for food connects you to those strangers eating their hearts out. And that's what I call a 'foodie orgasm' :)

Mutton Soup

Kheema roll ( Roomali roti coated with egg and stuffed with minced meat)

Chicken Stick

Desserts - Phirni, Rabri, Halwa and more....

 Katti rolls- Schezwan chicken, Chilli chicken, Mutton, Hariyali chicken

Chicken manchurian, Chicken lolipop, Chicken stick, Beef fry

Pathar ka kebab

Kheema roll - in the making

Rasmalai, Gulab Jamun, Rasgulla

Hyderabadi Haleem 

He insisted to be photographed :)

Chicken spring roll, Lemon chicken, Ginger chicken

Kebabs- Malai, Hariyali, Lasooni, Tandoori

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rare moments

There are those rare moments in life when we find ourselves alone and lonely. Being alone is a physical attribute, I prefer being alone when I read and write. Being alone never implies that one is lonely. While being lonely is an attribute of the mind. I can be lonely even when I am with a group of people. Sometimes I like being alone and lonely and sometimes it just happens even when I don’t want it to. There are also those rare moments when my self-esteem crashes like a hard disk unexpected, out of the blue- those rare days I really don’t want to be alone or lonely and yet I do end up that way. And before I can recover, the smithereens of my self respect, I am done. It takes me months to recuperate ,frankly though I can put up a face that ‘’ all is well’’. This happens to many of us we admit it or not is a different thing altogether. These fatal blows always come from people whom you value the most. Technically they should not matter for the pain they cause you but unfortunately we call them “FAMILY” so they have all the rights to kill you every time they think so. I so wish I could apply my postmodern view of family and life onto these individuals when they misjudge me. I check my pocket and mails for the credible details I could furnish to disprove them I am not the same old butter fingered girl who was responsible for every havoc at home. I don’t swear anymore (not always), I am clean, and I manage two homes, live in 3 cities and am considered quite popular in my circle. But then ‘Families’ always have short term memory loss and they don’t tend to move over from where they last saw you ( And that’s always when you were 10 years old and was coming into terms with your identity). So you tend to still be mean, demanding, selfish and self centred. And they somehow are always right. And you can never be right and that’s how god scripted this scene in your life.
So I have learnt that not everyone can be for you when you want them- you like it or not !!!! So if you think you would rather commit suicide discovering this truth, I would say it’s waste of effort, life would go on you die or not ( and even for your family members !!! ). If you decide not to work and take a day off, you lag by a day and days together makes months and a year and I have lost those and my antagonists never realized. And finally when you muster up courage to put things in perspective they turn around and tell you “ You are ranting out of stress and need to think straight”. And then it falls flat your greatest pride which is also the universal myth “ I live for my family and they know me”.
I have spend many moments of my sleepless nights crafting those lines in my thesis’s acknowledgement – that I owe it all to my family. And then I realized very recently had I left it all ( which I did feel like and I was always asked why I chose PhD in the fisrt place), would they have bothered, now that I struggle what is it that they do for me? A call , a mail, a letter, a visit ( none of this actually happens) so is it out of modesty that I craft these lines? Maybe yes many of us do it out of clichéd modesty.
I have decided to write these lines no matter how arrogant they feel-

“I tried, tried and tried alone, therefore I succeeded”

Some journeys are meant to be alone, should be traversed alone for they are yours and if it was left to family every child would end up being the same in life, but since we  struggle and aspire to do something different in life, it’s we ourselves who bring us up to a point.
And yet, many a times we still yearn for that word of appreciation from a loved one. It won’t happen, life is not merciful and so is everyone in this world. After all families too are composed of human beings. Sometimes it hurts, very badly, I wish people realized that. And sometimes I wish I never realized the pain. But these rare moments in which your life flashes in front of you- tells you who you really are and how far you can go tolerating all the crap people tell you and the mess the create out of their and your life.
A friend of mine once told me “No one will understand your pangs in doing this PhD, for you chose something different when you could be out there earning and taking up vacations. But PhD is nothing great it’s just an academic exercise. It’s waking up every day and pushing yourself beyond your limits. Each day you create new limits. And the degree is not for the miracles you did but for the endurance”
All the disappointments and those rare moments of madness and loneliness is just part of pushing oneself beyond the limits. It’s part of the test for endurance. So every day I wake up I ask myself two questions. Is it worth staying away from my hubby? And am I ready to tolerate the crap being asked and thrown at , to push myself even farther?
I do, so I am here.