Monday, July 19, 2010

I HATE goodbyes

So after a surreal, almost dream-like two-month stay with us, my parents left for India. This is the longest that we got to stay together after I left for Hyderabad in 2002! To say I miss them would be an understatement but I will just leave it at that. I dread the thought of returning to an empty house tonight. I feel very bad for all the times I was harsh with dad for eating sweets...

Just so that I focus on something and not mope around – I plan to master the hula hoop by July 25th and that’s a promise! Just to up the stakes – either I hula hoop for at least 2 minutes or cook gulab jamuns for A and K3! :D Let’s see which way the hoop swings.

Friday, July 09, 2010

My friday fix of nostalgia

My idea of friends and friendship while in college was quite filmy, to say the least. It was hugely influenced by the movies like DCH. Being around friends for most part of the day I worried how I was going to manage after college. I remember being really upset for a couple weeks when my friends from the engineering college left Aurangabad for their homes, jobs, higher studies. Like we all do, we promised that we would stay in touch as much as we can, that there is email, phone, web-chat, etc. Similarly after MBA when we said our good-byes, we made our promises. Nobody was na├»ve, even then we knew that it wouldn’t be as easy as seeing each other every morning in the college corridors – but there was hope that we would catch up often.

There are so many things to take care of after college, in real world, that catching up with friends never gets listed as a priority, how unfortunate! I was just thinking about a day, ten years ago. Every single thing got reported to my best friends. Every single problem, no matter how small was discussed at length, solutions analyzed, every simple joy was shared and we used to laugh together. I still recollect a vivid memory of my friend. We were so close that we did things almost the same exact way, so much so that people thought we were twins – yeah even when she stood at least a couple inches taller than me. This friend and I wept profusely in the middle of some random class test for my dog who was soon going to live with my grandparents. That memory seems so warm yet so weird at this moment – I can’t believe it was in this life…

Well, I have been a sucker for all things about friendship – I take pride in the fact I don’t have one single best friend but all my friends, (though the number has shrunk dangerously in the last few years) are my best friends. Such soppiness , but true. The reason for this rather melancholy post on one of the most “happy things” in life is plain green envy. Yesterday while watching a bunch of young school boys having a whale of time under the sprinklers, I missed my friends – all those right from my kindergarten days to the ones I made on the first day of my first job. Quick to make amends, I immediately promised myself to be more clued in with their current lives. Arrgh! But I still can’t get myself to orkutting or facebooking or twittering! That phase of self imposed social exile doesn’t seem to end just yet.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

i thought i could cook pithle

When I was growing up, my contribution in the kitchen was limited to following my mom’s instructions. She would tell us “stir the curry”, “cover that vessel”, “dry the plates”, “take out the vegetables from the fridge” and you get the point. All three of us were especially gifted in carrying out her instructions verbatim. So if she asked us to turn off the gas, we used to just do that. She had to explicitly say “turn off the gas and cover the vessel”. In this sense we were “Saang kamya Balkoba”!

I don’t remember the first edible thing I cooked. But I remember cooking Pithle – the humble chickpea flour (besan) preparation for which every Maharashtrian household will have its own recipe. My experiment began enthusiastically with a small vessel, a cup of curds and a cup of besan and ended up in a monster kadhai with 3 - 4 cups of besan, 2 cups of tamarind pulp and countless cups of water. Verdict- Absolutely inedible. I just couldn’t understand what could go so wrong in cooking such a simple thing? The first time I tasted the stuff, it was not sour enough but there were no more curds. So I added 1 cup of tamarind pulp and it tasted too tart. To compensate I added some besan and then some more. It tasted really tasteless by now and I tried to compensate by adding some more tamarind pulp. The whole stuff was way more than what the vessel could hold. So midway I poured the gooey, drippy stuff into a bigger kadhai. And since most of it just stuck to the kadhai and was turning into a solid mass I panicked. And added more water. I had never cooked before but always observed how my mother cooked. She did not measure water, nor tasted food while cooking nor ever peered into a recipe book. But the food always tasted delicious. Sadly I didn’t realize that her confidence came from years of cooking.

Luckily for A, I more than made up after my marriage. I have cooked pithle several times and it comes quite close to my mother's version, sometime like my amma's version and sometime like my mamis'. Of course I love cooking when it’s a weekend affair. With no cook or help, the time and energy spent around planning, cooking and storing meals is enormous. Can’t help thinking about all those mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, friends and occasionally uncles who cook (many a times, laboriously in the hot, poorly ventilated kitchens, often over smoke spitting chulhas) and so lovingly feed hungry, eager mouths. Annadata sukhi bhava indeed! And then I cant help thinking about farmers, the ultimate Annadata, toiling hard, themselves struggling to make ends meet and yet producing food for the entire country. How do they resist the temptation of moving off to the nearby cities and get a more certain, secure livelihood, one which is not dependent on the rain-gods?

How I start off thinking about pithle and end up thinking about the plight of farmers is beyond my comprehension but I don’t feel hungry anymore.

Ps: While I was re-reading my post, i remembered my grandparents in their big kitchen in Secunderapur. The vision of my mothe-baba continuously stirring a HUGE vessel of milk to make khoya for gulab-jamun while my amma bent over the gas stove, cooking the most deliciously soft puran polis moistened my eyes. Ah! Grandparents are such a blessing - can’t wait to see them back home.