Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Meet the New Words on the Block!!

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I have always been fond of the English language. Ever since I was a child, an English education ensured that while I speak my mother tongue fluently, when it comes to expressing myself, I'd find myself reverting to English.

Now I have a confession...I am involved in lexpionage...Never heard of it? Well, time to get familiar...When you become a trawler of the world wide web and social networking sites in search of new words, that better explain certain new phenomena than the current words in the lexicon, then you too earn your stripes as a spy in the network of lexpionage. Did you know that there they are on twitter too?

churnalism n. Journalism that churns out articles mostly based on wire stories & press releases. 

I laughed over this one for quite a long time...It hit quite close to the truth...Although I have never had to be a churnalist, I know many...and it's not a very happy existence being a journalist like that...I thought it an apt description.

Here are my other favourites....

BlameStorming: n A method of collectively finding one to blame for a mistake no one is willing to confess to. Often occurs in the form of a meeting of colleagues at work, gathered to decide who is to blame for a screw up.

Threequel: n The third film, book or event in a series - the second sequel.

Cyberslacking: v Spending one's employer's Internet and email facilities for personal activities during working hours.

Thumbo n. An error made while using the thumbs to type, particularly on a mobile device keypad.


Cyberdisinhibition n. A temporary loss of inhibition while online. 

These are just some that have caught my fancy recently....More shall follow...


Ahh...before I sign off on this post...guess what Richard Branson made Playboy magazine into when he bought of Playboy from Hefner? A VIRGIN PLAYBOY ofcourse...


On that cheeky note....I shall go off to be flabbergasted at the smorgasboard of words that are out there to gobsmack me with their aptness and bouncebackability of meanings...;)


Cheerio!





 

Monday, April 26, 2010

This Summer, Go Indi-Afro

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Have you heard of cornrows? Well, not those undulating fields of corn that make up half the arable land in Africa...or maybe that's where the inspiration for it comes from..But here, what I'm talking about is how they create cornrows on your scalp...

It isn't an easy task I tell you. When your hair is that springy and tightly wound as the hair of Africans, it takes some innovation to style it and give it a distinctive look...

My first brush with an Afro hair style was when I was all of 3. My dad, like any good Malayali has spent most of his professional life working abroad and though a chunk of it of his was spent in the Gulf - Saudi Arabia to be precise, the first quarter of his professional life roughly was spent in Africa - first in Cameroun and then in Tanzania.

So coming back to my Afro style, when I was 3, my parents, new at parenthood decided to enter me into a fancy dress competition and dressed me up like a little local. With my straight cap of jet black hair, portioned into various sections and tightly wound up to look like a nice African hairstyle. Now what they didn't bargain for was vanity in a 3 year old. The precocious child that I was, all my interest in participation vanished when I realised that I had been given a hairstyle which in my little eyes wasn't glamourous enough...What would you expect when all around me there were little princesses with long flowing hair till their tiny backs...and for someone given the 'boy-cut' to keep her thick dark mop manageable, this seemed like there was little value addition...So I cried and threw fits and tantrums till they had to undo all their hardwork and only then did I take a sulky bow in the Indian gathering where the fancy dress was held...I guess I didn't feel fancy enough...( Dad has promised to scan that photo soon..when that comes in you shall see my first Afro too)

And then about a couple of decades later, here I am, in Brighton, suddenly fancying myself with an Afro-cornrow. I had been gung-ho about giving it a shot for a while, but the tipping point came when my gorgeous flatmate came back from a trip to London with this gorgeous hairstyle - a braided black carpet of hair...

I pestered her day and night, used all my charm up to coax her into trying that on my hair....Delicate issue of elastics to keep my silky dead-straight hair in some form of shape was the first stumbling block. But L my flatmate had all the solutions, now that she was sold on the idea.

So there on the first really sunny bright day, we sat in the little patio outside our house, L with her tube of 'Virgin Non-Sticky Hair Fertilizer' ( can you imagine how much we laughed over that?) and elastics and a comb - and the really enthu-cutlet in me...

All was well, when she portioned out my hair and told me that she would be just doing the crown part for doing the entire thick mess that was my hair would take atleast half a day. I said a breezy 'yes'. And L got down to work...In two minutes, the air was pierced by my Owwwwwwwwww....Did you know that an Afro-cornrow style makes you see little stars and bells and bees in front of your eyes? Little pinpricks of pain across my scalp as L began efficiently creating braids out of tiny portions....

By the half-way mark, we had to take a break for me to gather more breaths into my system to chant more Owwwwws in rhythmic beats to L's nimble finger sorcery....For a brief while I thought of doing a radical hairstyle, keep the half already done cornrow intact and leaving the other wound like a red-Indian woman over my other ear...Something like this....

But L would have none of it...She doesn't begin jobs to not finish it, you see...So then I studied more of those tiny birds flitting around with tiny little glowbees while little bells chimed....and L would encourage me to hold on saying "sorry love, just a little more...just a little while longer"....So with the determination of a pioneer all kicked to breach a new frontier I persevered.

And through all this, my friends were having a rocking time, taking pictures of the entire ordeal. This picture remains my friend A's favourite one...

An hour of torture...and L was a proud Braid Mama....My crown was down...and the remaining she said will fit into a ponytail...

So there I was with my Indi-afro cornrow...all set for Summer...

Now this isn't a hairstyle for the fainthearted. Your scalp will hurt like a bitch for a while reminding you about how your hair wasn't meant for such torture. But the end result was 'Oh-so worth it' for me.

Another thing to remember this Brighton Summer by....The Summer that I went Indi-Afro...and proudly so...

Life does come a full circle doesn't it...My folks saw me on Skype and the first thing they said was remember when you bawled your lungs out when we tried this on you? And now see, you think it is fashionable...Ahhhh, the fickle mind, I tell you!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Voodoo and Corpses and Unadulterated Wickedness....

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After a really really long time comes a weekend, when the day seems to stretch out infinitely with few deadlines and fewer 'pressing issues'. There has been glorious sunshine since Spring officially began and the update on my depression is that I only encounter it when I open my blogpage....But my wickedness quotient has been rapidly spiralling...and I guess my new friends here are very aware of my fascination for wickedness - albeit the harmless kind!!

But the very wickedness of wicked thought....thrilling!!!!

Today I want to tell you about some quirky and amazing stuff I received from my buddies here...They are the kind of gifts that thrill me the most..and this post is dedicated to two of the quirkiest things I got recently...

My friend from Finland wrote to me the other day saying she had something just right for me...And I was wondering what it could be...Turned out it was this!!

My very own voodoo doll...I'd say it looks like a blond man, with scars stitched all over his tiny body...But see right here, what it says, this little one can grow upto 600 times its size...Heres what the cover to it says :  Have you ever wanted to get back at someone so ba that it consumes all your thoughts and desires? Now you can channel that energy into the ancient art of Voodoo by growing and enchanting your very own Voodoo Doll...

The instructions at the back say that I need to put the doll in a glass of water for 72 hours to let it grow to its full size..and through the time that it grows, I can patiently wait with two pins with tiny pearl heads that is also part of the Voodoo kit and prepare to assault the little doll when it grows to its full size..There is a black heart specifically marked out as well as the right point on the head where the little pin can prick....Delicious wickedness....
I wrote about my latest gift on facebook and I had a couple of horrified "Babe, I hope I'm not going to get the worst of your ire" comments started streaming...That's when I realised "Oops saying that I have a voodoo doll makes me a wicked witch too"..

And right here it says, express your anger in a safe way. The Voodoo Doll is a perfect. No one gets hurt and no one gets arrested! (Very important ;) Does that appease anyone of my harmless instincts?

For now, it continues to hang on my corkboard, awaiting that one victim, who inspires me to poke a couple of pins into my little voodoo doll...

Meanwhile, I laugh every time I see my yellow corpse..

Yep, there he is, dead with a little x mark against his head....Place him inside a book and there he is the lower half of his body squashed to sheet while the upper plasticy bidy keeps flopping..so everytime I pick up the book I'm currently reading, I see a dead yellow man peeking out of my book...Horrid thought? No way...not really...look at him...A strange gift to receive isn't it but I love it thoroughly...And knowing the book worm that I am, this corpse is going to be squashed time and again, in books detailing conflicts and riots, history and travel...

So there you go...I have a dead body partially squashed and a voodoo doll also...And next time you think you have been mean to me, wait for that sensation of pinpricks against your neck and heart...That's me practising my voodoo on you!! ( Wicked wicked wicked laugh...fades into the background) 


(Guys....for those not really familiar with me) This is a fun post...I do not have any intention of suggesting I am into occult or black magic or voodoo

Monday, April 19, 2010

My head speaks Greek and Latin to Me!!

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 Disclaimer: If this post makes no sense to you, blame it on the depression. I seem to have picked it up somewhere on the way back home from turning in my term papers....

There seems to be no method to this strange madness...

I mean it began when I walked in, into my School office, intent on turning in my papers. Every paper requires a coversheet, that normally has all the necessary details of the programme I'm doing. I screwed the cover sheets royally. The lady at the counter spotted 4 mistakes! Feeling dumber than the fifth grader, I went back picked up a fresh set of coversheet - 2 each for three paper and began all over. Went back to the counter and the lady glared at me, "oh no, not you again", if she didn't have to polite, I'm sure that's what she would have said. But guess looking at my goofy expression, she paid closer attention to my coversheet and found two mistakes again...I mean it's not Astrophysics or calculations. It's just about putting down your name and course and the paper being submitted. But I just couldn't get it RIGHT...So there I was back again, writing the same thing in different slots for the THIRD time...Feeling doubly stupid and really out of my normal 'CLEVER ME' element...

With my head held down like a scolded child, I inched my way back to the lady, only to realise there were atleast 4 people now ahead of me, who managed to get their coversheets right...The lady was so appreciative of them, I felt downright jealous...She smiled sympathetically at me, I guess, taking me to be a Special Child with comprehension disabilities and then she began miming with her overly made up eyes...From asking me for my student id, to referring to each paper by its complete course name...Embarrassment Embarassment Embarrassment...Was I feeling it more than was there? Maybe but right now you are on my side, listening to the story from my point of view...So you agree with me, MORTAL EMBARRASSMENT...

Papers turned in, I said hi to a couple of my classmates in the queue, and beat a hasty retreat...It wasn't a particularly clever day, and I for sure, didn't want to hear from anyone how they breezed through their term papers, while I sweated it out in the sub ten degrees in Brighton...

And as I began my fifteen minute walk back to my house, with a shoulder tote that was considerably lighter of roughly hundred pages of drivel I managed to unearth from roughly 20 books that are now resting in various formations on the floor of my room, my mind started word games with me...I hear strange voices in my head, talking to each other..no one is talking to me..and I know it's Greek and Latin. ( Mental Note to self: This new term, study Greek and Latin...not Spanish..Spanish is for mere mortals, Greek and Latin helps you talk to the little ghosts in your head!)
The daffodils and the tulips across the campus seem happy, that makes me more depressed...By the time I unlocked the door to my house, I could have bawled...Instead I begin a vigorous clean up...As if exorcising the Ghosts of the Term Papers from my house...Began with the kitchen...Pots and pans kept for drying got a vigorous scrub...if they could think, they would have asked " Pray tell, what's our fault"...Took the bulky vacuum cleaner to my room two floors up, reached there out of breath and hoovered the life out of my carpet...The books toppled...And i hoovered them too...

Is it something like post partum depression? I mean, if I were to think of the term papers as my babies, conceived out of considerably less passion than is romantically believed, through a very uneasy pregnancy of a month that seemed about a year long, and then delivered - a yuckkk my babies were sooo ugly and badly formed...Just not like how I had imagined them to be....Maybe that's why...Maybe it's that I could have such an uncharitable thought...Maybe it's coz I sent them into the big bad world of grumpy lecturers and uncaring markers who wouldn't understand the pains I took to carry the baby full term...

Hmmm...so there...I go down and there is my flatmate, looking visibly relieved, fixing his lunch in the kitchen...I spoke to him about my Depression and he controlled his twitches of absolute mockery at my perceived plight remarkably...I did hear the sniggers when he was heating up his sorry food in the microwave....MORE DEPRESSED BY NOW....

Head straight to my room. Switch on the IPL and I read about the matchfixing allegations...INDIFFERENT DEPRESSED NOW...

End of story....I'm still in indifferent depressed state....My little ghosts in my head is still speaking Greek and Latin...If they are trying to console me, well, then their message is LOST IN TRANSLATION...literally!!!!



P.S Please don't ask why some stuff is in CAPS...No answers from the little ghosts...





Thursday, April 15, 2010

An English Vishu

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Even Procrastination lost out on the will of my term papers to complete themselves.

So here I am, on my first Vishu - think this is my first out of India.

Vishu has always been a special one for me...We Malayalis (who for brevity shall be called Mallus) with more Commie blood running through our veins than we care to admit don't celebrate any extravagant Hindu festivals that normally ensures a steady supply of sweets throughout the year. In fact, come to think of it, Mallus have few sweets to claim as their own, except for maybe the cloyingly annoying halwa and the yummy not necessarily over-sweetened payasams..

Hmmm...so that leaves the Mallus with two festivals... Onam the harvest festival and Vishu - its popularly considered as the New Year...but then there's the controversial technicality of the calendar and associated complications to deal with for Chingam is technically the first month of the Malayalam calendar..So let's just say 'Happy Vishu' and avoid the controversies,shall we...

But Vishu is special..especially when you are a child...All the elders ensure that the younger ones receive Vishu kaineettams( aka Vishukettam)..Every year, rate of inflation too applies...Only the 'Uncle Scrooges' ( there are many in every family) stick to the traditional token money...your favourite aunts and uncles of the family are obviously the ones who have those really shiny BIG notes...and they are very generous with them too...The Gulf uncles and aunts send in their contribution to the kiddy funds and ensure someone senior does the proper rationing...I used to have a big fat purse readied well in time for Vishu...The advantages of belonging to a very very large and mostly generous family ( our branch of the big tharavad alone is over a hundred members)..so do your calculation as to how fat the earnings are....

Waking up in the morning for the Vishukkani that would be set up the previous night itself was a highlight...You wake up around 5AM latest for the kani...and normally children are fast asleep at that time...Even though you'd see the preparations for the kani before you went to sleep, that sight was something to behold...When my grandfather was alive( my maternal grandparents lived with us) he used to be particular about getting a stiffly starched mundu folded into a magnificent fan and decorating the kani with the best jewellery my ma had...Later after muthachan passed away, my dad took over the role of the patriarch...as a child you would be gently woken up by an elder, and told not to open your eyes, for the first sight of the day has to be the kani....eyes gently held shut by warm hands, you are led silently with just whispered instructions as to where what is...you stumble along till you are asked to sit down, 'eyes tightly closed' would come the next instruction.....your hand would be guided to the waiting tumbler of water...some taken and you gently wipe your eyes and open it to a wonderful vision....The kanikonna ( Golden shower tree) against the soft flickering lights from lamps lit inside cut coconut shells and the magnificent brass lamps...there would be all kinds of fruits and vegetables arranged in platters too...the logic being that you must open your eyes to prosperity in the household and that would ensure a prosperous year...Ahhhh...I don't think I do justice to the magnificence of that view....

Once the kani is over...its time for the elders to lighten their purses while ours begin bulging over the day...My ma used to have a lot of fun offering to count my cash for me...with me suspiciously looking at her and refusing her gracious gesture...for once my maths was perfect, I didn't need anyone to tell me how much I had...And then we got to the crackers...So much fun bursting them till the darkness before the dawn gave way to bright sunshine...

I would kill to just be home for Vishu every year...It's a day that guts me...Just on two days of the year, I yearn for a sumptuous Mallu sadya...on Vishu and on Thiruonam day...My home would end up becoming the meeting place for what can only be called a Potluck Sadya...All my ma's sisters - equally fabulous cooks- would divide the multiple dishes to be served at the sadya and then everyone would get together and have a glorious sadya...Thats the picture of my half-relished sadya at home, last year...

After I began earning and became a well-paid journalist, giving good vishukaineetams to my cousins and extended family took on a sense of pride...But this vishu, now that I'm back to impoverished student days, there are no vishukaineetams to give...hopefully the little ones' in the family won't feel the loss of one set of currency notes....

So how did my Vishu go? I write this with a sense of loss....

My kani? My mobile at 8.30AM as it shrilled my ear drums into numbness...followed by a cursory check of my mails and the assortment of Vishu greetings...
I had croissants for breakfast...well baked by a good friend, but that's not Vishu breakfast now is it?
No set mundu or Kerala saree or pattu pavadas for me...I had to be at my part-time workplace..so pulled on trousers and a sweater...
While sadyas were served all around Kerala, I had some hummus and oatmeal biscuits for lunch...as I write it, I feel more sorry for myself...
Hopefully this evening, when my friends finish their term papers, I'm hoping to head to Brighton for some Sri Lankan dosas..that's the closest to a South Indian meal I'll get to in Brighton...
Do I feel like cooking to get over this homesickness? Naaaah...I might do that some other time...
Even Vishu does not shake the Lazy Procrastinator up much...just some nostalgic memories bringing out a maudlin smile....

Happy Vishu to all Malayalis...and I hope everyone has a wonderful year ahead...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Confessions of a Manic Procrastinator

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  • There are five things marked VV Imp on your To-Do list, but you look at the clock on your laptop and decide you have just enough time to play three more rounds of Text Twist
  • You know for sure there are no new updates, no status messages, no mails on facebook, but you just wonder what can be lost with one idle click.
  • One photo of some acquaintance that you added a long time ago on Orkut or Facebook, in a random burst of bonhomie, leads you to wedding pictures of some random people and you still go through them as if it was a wedding in your family
  • You rearrange the four different coloured post-its that are hanging on your corkboard twice and then put it back to the way it was, for it was put in that manner for a reason
  • There are four bottles of water filled on your table, but you just manage to unearth two more bottles and suddenly you decide you need to fill them up. The logic: newly discovered truth that dehydration was the reason for your sleeplessness three nights ago
  • Boxes of tea and cereal are stacked up on your desk, but you refuse to throw them away for the fear of overcrowding the bin which could force your procrastinating hand to clear it out
  • BBC News and IPL telecasts of Youtube become appointment watching – not out of necessity but need to get out of the chores already lined up
  • The alarm on your new phone goes off with the literal impact of shock therapy on your sedated sleep-heavy body, but despite an appointment in the next 45 minutes, the next 15 are spent in bed wondering how to complete all the processes of getting ready in 30 minutes and not 45..
  • Making those dreaded ‘of no use’ shopping lists that will never be found by the time you defeat your body’s compelling reasons of laziness, seems like a fun thing to do
  • Writing this stupid list that lists out my capacity to procrastinate while there are still 800 words left on my term submissions – the Word Doc tab left opened gives me those Yawnnny vibes forcing me to open a new fresh blank page and compile this – Now isn’t that the heights of procrastination???? 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Case of A Mysterious Disappearance

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If you are receiving this message, that means you have been named in the will of those dear and near who needs to be intimated about my recent bereavement.Atleast it feels like death..

I am bitterly hurt to inform you about the mysterious disappearance of my companion of 2 very long years - my mobile, the virtues of whom I'd waxed eloquent about in just my last post.. After the physical and technological abuse it has been through at my hands,I have always known this day has been long in the coming, but that does not reduce the blow that has been dealt on me.

Even as I continue to grieve, I know I have to move on. As a part of that, I have already arranged for a new companion to join me. I have not yet got over the fact that my SIM card chose to elope with my mobile phone. So I have decided to expel both and all their sweet memories from my life- however involuntarily...
Even as I mourn inconsolably, I realise that the practical chores of living have to continue...And all I need to do is look around my once massive, now completely devastated home lovingly called 'My Addressbook' to know that rebuilding my life after this unexpected desertion will not be easy..

That they went away heartlessly, with an 'out of sight, out of mind' swagger,completely switching themselves off and rendering them totally untraceable just adds insult to injury. In my defense, I did go around like the hapless companion that I was, in my demented state of mind, from shop to shop, restaurant to restaurant, every where that I had even thought of stepping in in Brighton, seeking to know if anyone had any information. But they seem to have had the conspiracy much earlier...And it was a near flawless execution to give the devils their due..

My sighs and sobs continue unceasingly. All I hope and pray is that this fate not befall any of you....

In mourning,

Journomuse

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Wordsworth's Daffodils

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My Sony Ericsson P1i has been my constant companion over the last two years....And every day these days, as I walk down from my University residence towards the Library or my class, it quietly pops out of my pocket and nudges me to use it to capture how beautiful my campus looks, fresh out of its winter slumber....

Some of you might have seen the glorious snowscapes that I had put out in December last year....Now it's time for the Spring Collection....
 
I'm sure this is the sight that inspired Wordsworth two centuries back to write his wonderful poem Daffodils...



I wander'd lonely as a cloud 
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd, 
A host, of golden daffodils; 

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine 
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line 
Along the margin of a bay: 
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they 
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay, 
In such a jocund company: 



I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie 
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye 
Which is the bliss of solitude; 


And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Mama's Cookbooks

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Psst...These days I'm in the throes of writing my term papers before the D-day for submission- April 19. But after every 250 words, my thoughts freeze. I hate academic blarney, for want of another word...And like a guilty child, I come back to my blog to write things I don't have to reference or attribute to someone else or write in a way that if it were to take the form of a person, it would be appear a stuck up frigid creature...Yuckkk..the thought revolts, so here I am creating my pet posts - which makes me feel infinitely better about going clack clack clack on my keyboard...

So like I was telling you I am so bored with my essay, I have turned in desperation to God's gift to poor students who don't have access to television in Britain...the BBC iplayer.. A friend who is the best chef amongst us is a fan of Raymond Blanc, the French chef who says 'Voila' more times than I can count coherently. So there I am at the stroke of midnight, watching him whip up a mouthwatering souffle and parfaits and lots of other yummy thingummies...Just looking at those dishes, I'm sure I have put on a stone or more...But do I care, we live vicariously don't we?

But that's not the point of the story I have to tell you at this moment...As I sit watching this show, I wonder if my kids will ever get a cookbook like my mom keeps...or if they will be given convenient internet links to such archived programmes on a flash drive or maybe if I'm more benevolent a collection of my favourite youtube videos burnt on a CD each so that the kids don't fight over my years of internet research.

They shall be born unprivileged...They won't have a cooking aficionado for their mother...

What they shall inherit is a mother who is a master of short cuts...Of quick fix recipes...who has little readily purchased boxes of everything that her mother would whip up from scratch ...who is happy to use tomato purees and ginger garlic paste and lemon juice from a bottle..They shall have a master forger, who scans recipes she sees or reads for anything and everything that can be substituted with things at hand or things that involve zero human effort..

Mama's cookbook was different...Written in her very prim and proper handwriting, in English and Malayalam, depending on where she sourced it from, neatly in a hardbound diary...She used to have a notebook earlier that grew tattered. My mother too was definitely not one of those, who knew when they were born that their life was dedicated to cooking...I remember long conversations late into the night about how she had never had to cook till much later into her marriage, as there were always others in the family to do that, while she went to work at a bank. Later, when she started travelling to parts of the world where Papa was posted, she used to tell me about how she would be quivering at the thought of Papa bringing his friends home for dinner. The simple soul that she is, for her, a guest means someone for whom a special effort needs to be taken, even if it is a family we are really informal with. So out would come the best crockery and serving ware and her cookbook. 

When I began to take an interest in cooking, purely academic, I would love leafing through Mama's handwritten, well thumbed stained pages searching for the recipes of the meat cutlets and chicken biryani that she makes. And like any proud child, I'd say no one cooks like my Mama...The best part of her cookbooks would be the Good and V Good she'd have jotted on the right side of the name of the dish if she has experimented with it....I'd sometimes thumb through her books to check how many had received such honorary mentions...Later on, when my secretarial skills improved vastly, I remember jotting down some good recipes for Amma as they were being shown on TV....But she always kept written copies of the recipes. 

I remember trying to make my own cook book very early when I began college. I thought every girl had to do that as a rite of growing up. But somewhere soon, I think the project was quickly abandoned. Today, I have a trusted few websites and the google search engine where I enter the ingredients that I suddenly feel like combining, and there it throws up miraculous permutations and combinations of what I can rustle up with them...

Suffice to say, I shall have no scrapbook of cooking exploits....I'm told I can ensure that no one goes hungry for lack of anything edible to eat...I shall take that as a compliment...My recipes are rarely conventional, so have instant names. And then are instantly forgotten too, the moment the last bite is done...Rarely is any recipe revisited - either due to distinct disinterest or because the ingredients used the first time around have been used up...

This post makes me want to put together a book of my quixotic recipes...but even then I'm sure I won't have the patience to write it by hand anymore...I have become so accustomed to the keyboard....My cookbook might be a printed one, with copies saved on my laptop in case I misplace the hard copy.....

Look at the lexicon, hard copies and soft copy, typed and double spaced, with appropriate pictures copy pasted from the internet....

So clinical, so calculated....The smell of love is missing...and Mama's handwriting...that personal touch that makes it a treasure to be bequeathed and cherished.....


Monday, April 05, 2010

Antique Hunting in Covent Garden!!

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On my last trip to London, I had some time to kill. So I took off by foot to Covent Garden..


For those familiar with Mumbai, the Covent Garden Market is a beautiful, extremely well maintained version of the Crawford Market in VT. The structures look very similar...The Market layout is pretty much the same..The comparison unfortunately has to stop there...


This is an antique hunter's paradise...Some stuff is exorbitantly priced. I guess anything sells in the name of antiques....

Some others seemed to be having a cranky day...told me not to take pictures, I guess they realised I wasn't the kind to splurge the pounds...


The musicians in the open restaurant area were a delight to listen to....They make the atmosphere just so festive...
And there was just so much colour and tinsel and glitz to please my eye...


Coasters with the name of most traditional pubs in England...When I first landed here, I wondered why most of the pubs were named Hares and Hounds or The Wellington or weird ones like the Slug and the Lettuce ( Why would you want to drink at a pub named that??). In every nook and corner of England, you would find one of these. I realised later that these were the English way of doffing their hats to pubs older than their entire family history in their area.



These telephones, I have always had a fascination for them. The first telephone I remember at my father's house, was a big black one, even fatter than this, and it used to be such an effort to put your finger through the right hole and dial the number...If you managed to dial five numbers right, what a sense of achievement it gave!!



If I had had a dress on, I might have purchased a set of these to dress up for the evening to have a spot of tea with scones!!



The British know how to preserve their history...Guess they have been doing it right for a long long time....If you are in London and have some time on your hands, it's a delight to roam around this tiny market which has open air eateries and road side entertainment and a lot of old junk to rummage through...






Thursday, April 01, 2010

'Indian' Bahu, Brazilian Beefcake and Bollywood Jhatkas...

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Living on a university campus with 'friendly strangers' can sometimes be a harrowing experience. But on the whole, it's crazy fun....And at other times, like I found out, it  can be an eye-opener...


A two-hour conversation with my Angolan flat mate and I felt like the Brand Ambassador of Bollywood who got to bask in the adoration of an enthusiastic convert, without having to put any effort to give her the spiel on jhatka...

I had no clue that in the living rooms of tiny apartments in Luanda, Angola, the favourite past time was watching Brazilian prime-time soaps.... ( Portuguese is the language spoken in both Brazil and Angola..so the love for these Latin American Soaps in distant Angola..)And not just watching them, but agonising over them and even praying for the story line to change to suit their favourite characters is the chief past time for the young and the old...And Bollywood songs provide the spice to liven up their lives...

Guess how I found out...

Here I was in my flip-flops walking down rickety English stairs like a rampaging elephant, in search of food for my grumbling tummy when I heard lusty singing from the kitchen....By now, I know who that can be...but today, the tune seemed vaguely familiar....So I sneaked up into our kitchen cum dining cum everything a.k.a common room and there she was...moving her JLo hips ( I think JLo would have a complex if she saw her!) in what can only be called a jhatka that would have Mallika Sherawat go green with envy....And when I moved closer there she was, at the stove, her back to me, her hips grinding, and Kajra Re playing...

With my mouth in a big O, I stood watching her feeling 'I don't care if I don't talk high about Bollywood numbers and am humming tunes from ColdPlay more often than not, but how dare you know about film songs from MY country without MY knowledge or more importantly, MY initiating you into it...'


And I guess sensing my presence, Lady L( haven't told her about this post, so I shall preserve her anonymity, just in case) did a royal 180 degree turn and stood with her hand comfortably resting on her jutting hip....And seeing my mouth still frozen in the big O, she wiggled her eyebrows wondering what had stung me...


So there I was pointing to her Youtube screen, where there was an unfamiliar scene on...and Kajra Re still playing on, asking her, 'How do you know this shit?'


And that's when the saga unfolded....


Angolans are crazy about Brazilian soaps, which are basically about love, lust, cheating, ditching and the step son's dilemma if his father's mistress' illegitimate child becomes his sister or if she is fair game...Now the Brazilians are intrigued by Indian exotica and especially our Kamasutra-esque dance postures that leaves very little for imagination, if the idea is to give a blatant 'come-on'...And I don't need to tell you about the wonders of a wet saree....well, I have just been informed that now, the Brazilians and the Angolans and every part of the world where there is Portuguese diaspora, are fans of pelvic thrusts and chest heaves in wet sarees.

Ok, did I digress? I guess no....I had to give you background masala, didn't I? 

Lady L sings Kajra Re in a Portuguesed fashion...it's wonderful to hear how for them, our poetry is a non-sensical grouping of os and aaas and uuuus....and by the time they break down the syllables as they hear it, a bloody post mortem has transpired on the shayari in the songs...Anyways, I shouldn't be petty about that...


But my curiosity was whetted...I had to know the storyline....And in no time, there I was, rolling on the carpet by the dining table, holding my stomach, half worried that I'd gag on my own laughter...


This is a miniaturised but descriptive story line...The son of wealthy Brazilian family stumbles upon the daughter of an Indian merchant ( read bania...and mind you, I'm being deliberately casteist..you shall soon understand why)....the girl is a mind-blowing Indian beauty, who reduces men to whimpering testerosterone pools with just a wiggle of her eyebrows and the sway of her hips behind her long flowing jet black hair...He falls in love, they have a lavish Rajasthani wedding at the castle of her father where elephants walk in straight lines and servants scamper about with their heads bowed low and turbans that seem to be bigger than their heads while everyone dances to Doli Taaro Dhol Baaje while smearing everyone else with colours like in Holi....

But the crunch comes when they can't consumate their marriage....For the father's astrologer has prohibited this, as the sun could cross into the lunar orbit ( or some such nonsense), as per the girl's stars spelling doom for their relationship...So the Brazilian groom knows it, his bride is kept in the dark...And now with the husband refusing the desperate advances of his nubile wife, she is now in a seething mass of frustrated desires....her saree drapes go lower, her blouses literally refusing to hold her assets in place, but her young Brazilian holds fast....Till the night that she dances to the Tawaif song that Rani Mukherjee croons for Aamir Khan in 'Mangal Pandey'...


Lady L knew the songs and I played Bollywood trivia by trying to guess the songs from the tunes...Should I say I failed miserably....And we ended up googling the songs....till realisation dawned like little light bulbs around my dumb head...


And as our Indian girl breached the Laxman rekha, wooing her man and having her wicked way with him, secrets start tumbling out of her royal closet.....She is pregnant by a Dalit ( now you know the casteist angle...imagine the Angolan trying to tell me about the merchant-Dalit caste problems!!!) and just as they were to elope, her father reveals her lover is a Dalit and the girl drops him like a hot potato...Right in time for a love-struck Brazilian to stumble along and the father decides to bundle her off to the Brazilian household...( What a global thinking merchant dad, isnt he?)


And this is just the main storyline...the Brazilian's father is in the throes of a major affair in Rio, his brother has an identity crisis...his sister is battling cancer...those are the side-stories I won't even go into right now....

Lady L suddenly perks up and asks me, So what does Eey Bagwen mean? And I say 'Whaaattt?'....and she patiently repeats, Eey bagwen...that's what that Indian girl keeps saying always....The coin drops and I say....Ooooooohhh, hey bhagwaan...that's like saying Oh, Lord!!


And then comes the next face...What about Arrrriiii Babaaji....Now how do I translate that?


By this time Lady L's soup is bubbling away, so is my stomach....But then, this conversation was priceless....


Who would have thought tying a nylon saree and shaking bountiful hips was the latest craze in far away Africa or that a  bored housewife in Rio knew about how a merchant's daughter cannot marry a Dalit in India or that in far away Brighthelm, an African girl cooks while Kajra Re and Tumhaari Adaon pe main waari waari was playing....


Bollywood Jhatke ki Jai.....Atiuttam Aanand....That's my new mantra!!!!