Friday, June 28, 2013

Early cooking endeavors

Most of my childhood, atleast till I entered my teens was spent in Kozhikode a.k.a Calicut, a northern district in God's Own Country Kerala.

For nearly thirteen years we stayed in the same rental house. It was a three storeyed traditional Kerala style house with tiled roofs . There was a well at the back that was always filled with sweet tasting water despite the fact that we were hardly a mile away from the sea. There was a huge open space in front of the house in addition to a car shed,  which my mother used to decorate with Kolam(Rangoli) everyday.A sprawling mango tree grew in front that covered the whole of the front yard. It allowed just enough sunlight to light up the space and always kept the house cool. Apart from that there were a couple of coconut trees and a betel nut tree in the space around the house. The latter had a black pepper climber running around it.

A huge cowshed that no longer housed any animals stood between our house and the landlord's house and that used to be a primary play area for kids in the compound.

At that age I was not mature enough to appreciate the loveliness of that house. I longed to move to one of those modern concrete mosaic floored houses. Now sitting on the 4th floor of a multistorey concrete complex , with not many plants around, I would give anything to get back to such a home.

There was a huge washing stone near the well, that our maid used for washing our clothes. Every morning I would sit on that stone with the toothbrush in my hand thinking about God knows what, for almost eternity. Then my mother's 'Jaish, go brush' would slowly transform to 'You are going to be late for school, are you going to brush or not?' and I would carry on with my morning routine.

All the houses in the neighborhood had so many trees and plants and many of them housed beautiful gardens. I had so much to explore and a lot of friends to play with.

One of my favorite activities now is losing myself within the walls of my kitchen experimenting with food. Of course, the favorable results do have only a 50% probability.  My cooking interests dates back to my years in Calicut as a five or six year old. Oh, I loved pretending to cook. Three stones or brick pieces arranged  together housing some sticks was my stove. One of the easily available materials in the neighborhood was the coconut shell that served as my vessel. I would fill it up with water , add some grasses for the seasoning and place it on the make believe stove. Take an orange brick piece or a tile piece, dip it in water and rub it against a stone and it would give a red colored paste. This would add color and look to my curry on the stove.Sand mixed with water would be filled in some of the coconut shells and then turned upside down and emptied to give us what we called rice cakes. Above all, I would pluck the still young green black pepper fruits, smash them to a paste and add them to the water on my stove to give it a thick consistency. The cowshed had a guava tree and some of the yet to ripen guava fruits would also meet their end in my cooking endeavors.

Soon, the landlord came to know how his precious crops were getting sabotaged by a mischievous brat in the neighborhood and a warning came flying in my direction. Then I could not fathom what was wrong in plucking and grinding all those fruits. Now when I pay a huge sum in my supermarket bill for a mere 100g of black pepper or 3 guava fruits, I find myself reminiscing those days.

The years I spent at Calicut hold some memories very very close to my heart and yes, I had a very fulfilling  and exciting childhood in a beautiful and green town.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Wrapped up tight in my blanket warm,
Comfortable and snug, pondering I lay;
A wish blossomed that I were in a cocoon of peace;
Impermeable, impenetrable!
Safe from evil,
Away from harm,
Devoid of worries,
Free from fears,
No attachments and no strings attached;
Nothing to decide, nothing to face;
Only bliss, eternal and serene.
With the flicker of a candle my eyes opened wide
Realization dawned, slowly yet surely.
I am but still a caterpillar.
Leaves aplenty!
Aplenty to chew
Before I freeze!

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons - By aussiegall from sydney, Australia (Monarch emerging  Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Aajana Dil Hai Deewana - Memories

After around ten minutes of staring at a blank page and still not getting any ideas for a new post, I decided to do some no-particular-reason- web- browsing.

'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani' reviews, posters caught my attention and brought back some memories.

Well, nothing to do with the film or with Ranbir or Deepika for that matter. Just the title. Rather, just one word in the title 'Deewani'.

It happened when I was around nine years old. My maternal grandfather had expired and all my mother's siblings and their children had gathered at my uncle's house for the obsequies.

A lady lived next door with her husband and two daughters. My cousins and I used to go to her place for playing. She used to do sweet things like just calling her daughters aside , giving them some snacks and specifically instructing them not to waste them sharing it with the monsters from next door. Well it was perfectly audible to us and at that age a little bit of innocence was still intact I suppose and so we did not give it any importance.

That was the time when Hassan Jahangir's 'Hawa Hawa E Hawa ' song had been a super hit all over India. The same album had a song 'Aajana Dil Hai Deewana'

One day while playing, my cousin and I started singing this song. This lady's second daughter had just enrolled for Hindi classes and God knows what her honorable Hindi teacher taught her.

She retorted 'Hey you two, you think I dont know Hindi? I know what Deewana means. Deewana means payithiyam (word in Tamil for mad) right?'

At that point in time, my only Hindi teachers were the great heroes and heroines of Bollywood. I knew that 'Deewana, Parvana, Mastana' kept coming in every song churned out along with 'Pyaar' and 'Ishq', but did not really have a clue about their meaning.

"What? Mad? No WAY!  Mother promise" I responded.

"No, I know. My saar has taught me. Deewana means mad. You both are calling me mad ?"

Thats when the beings inside us with red skin and two horns got excited and we both started singing that song as loud as possible. I dont recollect what she had done earlier to annoy us that we absolutely enjoyed teasing her. With a villainous laughter we continued "Aajana Dil Hai Deewana, roke chaahe lakh zamaana, kehdo naa yai dil hai deewana, ta da ta ta ta ta da da ta ta". The last musical notes, we uttered with amazing musicality.

"Do you know what super song this is? This is the latest hit" one of us bragged to the poor girl whose Hindi was restricted to the pure Hindi lessons of her sir and she had not seen any Bollywood movie till then.

She was almost on the verge of tears and the two of us started singing with all the more frenzy.

"Wait, I will go tell my mommy" she threatened. " Sollikko (Go ahead and tell)" we replied nonchalantly and continued our rendition. I think we even did a jiggle or two in rhythm to our tune.

Once satisfied that she was fuming with anger and brimming with tears we returned home. Well, the lady did follow very soon with "You have these brats that you call children at home. You know what they did? They are coming to my house and making fun of my daughter with some Hindi song. It seems they kept calling her a lunatic"

Our parents were already grief stricken due to the death in the family and they were in no mood to question the authenticity of the baseless accusation against us. Do I need to say that we were grounded? 

"Aajaana Dil Hai Deewana" :D