Moving away......

In search of the new 'I' and need of some fresh space, I have moved.....
Blogger is clogging my thoughts (or so i say!).. Hopefully the new arena will bear more blogs posts or should I say more word-presses (now that sounded like hissing! I can almost pass off for a parsel-tongue)...
See you all there -
Living life with red tinted glasses

A chill ran down my spine

The expression was my favorite and used it generously during i-dig-nancydrew-days. I would render mystery stories (in the beginning, only to apply the phrase) that almost paralleled the famous five, but set in my grandpa’s house in the country-side, forbidden-attic, overgrown monsoon-fed yard, old vile servants and the like. Well! The stories never got published, owing to… mysterious circumstances; not really! I simply wanted to state it that way. However, the phrase had formed an impression, that in addition to using it twice in the same sentence; I was willing to make everything frightening to chill the feel!

So when watching snow-white scared the shit out of me and I wouldn’t even look into a room with mirrors, I had put the slogan to rest. I bet a Halloween remedy of house of horrors could have gone a long way, back then and I wouldn’t have ended up half as petrified of the dark as I am today!

Although, it never stopped me from (over)indulging in X-files, groupwatching-to-be-scared of movies like the exorcist, the ring, later making a mockery of ‘Saw’, Urban legend and many others in the same genre. The most popular character of Nagavalli in Manichitratazhu (The-original-legendary-mallu-movie-defaced-by-commercial-farce-remake-chandramukhi-in-tamil-and-bhoot bhuliya-in-hindi) had left an eerie stamp and if not for the panache of lal-ettan as Dr.Sunny... I might have never watched the movie a million times after, to end up intrigued by the MPD twist to most movies about the possessed. Another unforgettable classic centered on MPD is Sidney sheldon’s ‘tell me your dreams’.

Last Sunday evening, I spent movie hopping and tad bored at times with the runaway hit ‘Paranormal Activity’. With a husband who believes that my phobia to darkness can only be combated by leaving me lightless and screechy on my way to the bedroom up the stairs, I thought the therapy had left me stoic to the most terrifying movie of the year! But then however hard I tried, as the wood creaked in the bitter cold of fall, I awoke to ungodly hours rerunning the movie in my head.

**Spoiler alert**The only saving grace was the fact that the movie ended on an ambiguous note and I with all the research on MPD and psychokinesis, also drawing inputs from Sunny-chaayan’s explanations in the end of Manich. concluded that Katie was indeed not possessed, but an ironically comforting split personality. The wicked climax was almost heart-breaking and numbing. **End spoiler alert** But the very fact that the movie depicted normal people, leading a normal life, haunted by abnormal activities did leave that very chill, this time as a knot in the pit of the stomach. The simplicity of the movie, down to the webcam prints and fear factor without any of the creepy music, special effect jargon left a deep impact!

I tried to douse the movie with a hop to feel good Christmas Carol in 3D and two servings of unhealthy Chinese followed by icecream. So tonight, before I break into a sleepless reprieve, I am going to read a light book, play the fun times at LA universal studios, when Frankenstein and friends were nothing but humans scared of us and the risible comments we made watching Ring 2 and hopefully fall into that luscious sleep!

Culture Shook

The edapally punyalan stands valiant at the busy cross roads of Eranakulam(Kochi). This spear bearing, white horse riding, serpent killing, St. George of St. George church at edapally had always been a mystery to me. This deity with the power to control and rid snakes is an easy favorite even among the hindus who fear the snake gods. My maternal family home was built around a dozen edifices of snake gods and hence the allegiance to punyalan had stuck since a long time. Our trips to Kochi till date are always accompanied by a hand folded quick bow and swift donations to this white knight.

As a child, I was perplexed at the tam-bram association to a church and the politics of the faith confounded me to no end. When cousins chose partners outside the familial realm of caste, religion, ethos and what not, they were met with cold response from the elderly. The faith I had awed now seemed hypocritical. The willingness to rebel anything and everything had only become stronger and sadly the purpose was lost somewhere!

The families haven’t stayed far behind. The confluence of ethos, language, religions, casteism, is the norm; the fence is breaking away. Acceptance is now widespread and even in vogue. As we celebrate the unions, sport a thaali with influences from the families of boy and girl; organize weddings with various ceremonies making them double the fun, has the din shut us to what holds next? Has the clamor and victory of love left us in the end nonchalant? Did we revolt to find common ground and lose ourselves mid-way?

So when I posed the question to a friend, she was quick to conclude – “Our unborn children are Indians. They won’t be tied down to caste, religion, language and all the unnecessary barricades”
I wasn’t convinced – “So, it means they will know no language well enough, they will hardly understand any traditions, they will have no real direction to choose their god, they will never care enough for all the work we did to sever the very barriers.. Are we making a better world or breaking it?”
“All of that and much more. …”
“We might as well brace ourselves to accept homosexuality isn’t uncommon” she quipped, tongue in cheek of course!

So when I grew up watching amma wake up early to paint the kolam, slurp many a serving of coconut oil laden avial, guffawed in the theatres watching Malayalam movies, mastered a language that can be spoken only if you are born into it; I had taken pride in all of it and let it all be part of me even without my knowledge, even with all the rebellion that had sprung. So am I wrong in expecting my unborn child to experience it the way I did?

It makes me wonder what our parents had in mind for us and how we turned out? Will we manage to introduce the best of cultures into our upbringing as parents? Will we be forceful, unmindful or renowned in our approach? So, if I were to save something what would it be – my religion, my tradition, my language, my food habits? If I make the choice, how do I make the save? and if I make the save, would it be at the cost of losing the choices of my other half?

The irony of the situation may cease in a long time. Hypocrisy fought with new hypocrisies… Blended fusions and potpourris created and meshed. Love triumphing above all else and leaving behind a trail of foot prints washed away in the sea of reform!

Long long weekends

One might agree that Fall is the best season in the north-east and I have often mentioned that. Though it isn’t yet time for the colors to splash in tandem, the chilliness has been more than punctual this year and a few leaves are already turning yellow. The temperatures have started dropping and hanging in the comfort zone of a light jacket, making one wonder if the summer ended before it began.

In our quest to enjoy the remnants of summer, this long weekend, we spent lulling time with friends doing this and that. Met an old friend; though she had only twenty two hours to spare, we had managed to squeeze in lots of catching up, warming up to the fact that lot has changed since 2001, customary Boston-sight-seeing and a hearty lunch. It could easily be another ten years before I see her again, I am sure.

The remaining days were laid back (though the weather couldn’t have been more delectable), sometimes its long hours of sleep, elaborate brunches, lazy movies and naps on the patio that work better than a plan. However, yesterday we a group of six, headed to Salisbury beach, half expecting to be frozen to death. And like a wonderful surprise, we were met with sunny skies, cool happy waters and lots of fun.

Since we weren’t armed with towels and such, owing to our pessimism of the weather, for a dip in the beach, we had settled to playing Frisbee, amateurish kite flying, gobbling dark chocolate all under the golden sun and brown sands. We followed this by a sumptuous lunch at the Salisbury Pizza – if you are travelling anywhere there, may I say they have awesome food and lots of choices for vegetarians too!

Early evening, stuffed till our stomachs could burst, we headed to Newburyport. We quickly embarked on our new adventure of sea-kayaking. Though not technically in the sea, we were kayaking in the river delta that had rough waters. The experience was a lot different from the lake kayaking we had done many times before; this one was harder and all the more fun! We paddled three miles, until the muscles ached and stomachs rumbled again!

Tiredly refreshed, we went on to explore the Newburyport square in the wee hours of the evening. The canopy of pretty shops, rustic red brick buildings and the bustle of people was more than welcoming to rejuvenate. We feasted yet again at a sweet little Italian bakery, on yummy gelatins, jujups, cookies and more.

Against the setting sun and crimson skies, we headed back on our one hour drive, reminding myself that it is these little moments of nothingness that make a bigger something to look back to!

The moonlight witness

We rarely see the moon in this part of the world. Either it is grim skies of winter or the rains in summer and spring. But some nights like tonight – once in a Full moon – it is moon-beam splattering its way through my window, distracting the sleepers' eye and before it fades away into grayness of the fall season, I wish to capture it in my memory and blog.

Let me rewind a fourteen years; I am witnessed by the moon picnicking with two equally sanguine childhood friends, in the labyrinth of our terrace. We believe to have attained childlike nirvana, being famous five! We are gobbling down ├ęclairs and cream biscuits, imagining it to be aunt fanny’s cooking.

Fast forward a few years, train travelling from a school excursion - vizag to hyd; moonlight streaming through the dirty grills of the Second class Indian train. Dumb teenagers we are; mesmerized and blinded by bollywood, banter hours on about how romantic the whole scene is! Only thing missing for the tittering girls is a music number and the urgency of a crush.

Further a few more years, a friend and I steal the breeze by besi beach at 9 pm, a contentious hour, not even 50 ps in our midst to buy the raw mango snack, warming to a never ending talk, smiling and preserving an honest friendship moment - the moon cheering us against the splashing sea!

And then a three years ago, laughing on the moon washed steps of the Copley church against a bustling Boston city; I harbor a moment to the treasure knowing little that he is the one I am to marry.

Now lying awake; watching the moon shine through my window, stealing my sleep in all its brilliance, I am but contented... For she gave me a lot to b(dr)eam about!

“How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank.
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears; soft stillness, and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.”

- William Shakespeare

Hot meals and spicy treats

Warning: Even if the title sounds like Padma Lakshmi’s next hip cooking-model book, this post isn’t anything like that!

When I was twelve, my mother was in her cook-with-a-difference phase or so it seemed. I believe it was fueled by the presence of a constantly hungry child and the influence of hyderabadi openness to garner every cuisine and culture as its own. For I am sure, if it hadn’t been for appa’s transfer and my board exams the fervor would have lasted longer than it did.

Back then when new recipes were being doled out by Khana Khazana over lull afternoon channels and internet was the priciest luxury, amma had settled to improvise the kitchen culture by watching the dishes come to life on television. After a particular disaster of navaratan kurma, she realized that watching wouldn’t do and a diary had to be maintained for recording the procedures. Many a times the diary would go missing when a chubby Sanjeev kapoor would be listing the ingredients; and so the recipes would find their way on last pages of phone books, newspapers and scraps of paper. Evidently, half way through a recipe, sprinkled on yesterday’s newspaper and an old bill, one of the bits would be lost, leaving the recipe to be at the chef’s mercy and the glutton’s fate.

Now don’t get me wrong here. My mother is a great cook, I have mentioned that before and many friends reading this blog would vouch for that. However before hyderabad, she never had a chance to come off the coconut shell of home-(mallu)-land cooking. Her enthusiasm caught on and appa and I were quick to suggest menus that ranged from ice-creams to home-made wine and trust me they were all made, made to perfection (the wine in fact took three cartons of grapes and six patient months). The summer vacation that year, you can almost imagine how the house was, but a conception of the cake house in Hansel and Gretel tale, if not literally.

Old binders of aging black and coffee-colored papers of recipes collections were dusted; new recipe books by Mallika Badrinath and Meenakshiammal adorned the kitchen shelf; a vegetable garden was erected tall and prolific that bore brinjals, corn, beans, tapioca, lemon and many others I don’t recall due to sheer nonchalance. The only thing that was bought in the house was milk and given the playground like size of the backyard, I am sure even the oldmcdonald's farm could have been feasible in the unreal world.

There was not one single instance that triggered the slow down, but a confluence of many- a nagging teenager, who had taken preference to sipping road-side pani puris, moody biscuit-mami (the baking guru of the colony, hence the name stuck) had decided to not share her recipes anymore, almost ten different gardeners calling quits in a year’s time, Sanjeev Kapoor traded for soaps… Whatever it was, she headed homeward again and took with her some of the raving success recipes that are prepared till date (macroni, kadi and 7 cup sweet are my top three favorites)

The only things that remain of that wonderful era are a few photographs of the garden, that thank god were remembered to be clicked, and all those cookery books inherited by me, parked in my kitchen shelf. So, today when I swelled to the tiny bottle green leaves burgeoned from the sown cilantro seeds, I was almost beginning to relive the era; only this time, frightening enough, it wasn’t amma I was watching tending to the plants and digging through cook-book-diaries!

Boston Beautiful

Boston Beautiful

I have often mentioned the bean-town is many of my posts; for its unforgiving weather, lovely Charles stretch, lively streets and even starbucks round the corner. Now that I live a painful fifty miles away from this youthful city, it only makes me love it more every time I visit. She was my first big city in this country and hopefully she’d be the last!

When the weather is a soaring ninety, spring is in the air and the sun doesn’t stop to shine until 8 pm, you can’t help but take the effort to travel the distance, swear about parking space and crowded city traffic, pay an indecent amount of money in the name of event (red Sox game) parking, yet let go all of that in the vibrancy of the winding university streets, comely cafes, beautiful.. beautiful weather and a pang of jealousy for all those enjoying the labyrinth as city dwellers.

Today was one such rarity, when spring was as warm as summer. It almost seemed like the flowers had bloomed overnight, unwanted crab grass and other pretty weeds had sprung in our lawn looming for the soaking sun and the world was buzzing with joggers, kids and outdoor-habitants.

We had headed to the boat rentals along the Charles and begun our day with some scenic kayaking. Cool waters below and sun drenching and later we had been shockingly lucky to find street parking. Next stop was the Noodle street restaurant for lunch on Commanwealth ave. We walked the Boston university teeming street to hunger. It was our first at this place and I’d definitely recommend their vivid menu. Though the ambience was a tad disappointing, the kitchen had succeeded in satiating our stomachs. If asian food is on your cards, this is definitely a nice one to try.

One hour long lunch and after, it was time for reviving old times- dear old Charles! Sun, shade, sunscreens and green, we had settled near the splashing blue waters for a slow evening; watching the Cambridge skyline strewn against the unrelenting sun, trees in pink bloom and tinge of smoke from barbeques burning all around. Time had simply waddled along, as I read, warmed to the sun, played some Frisbee and lulled to the moment forgetting to let the mind think.

Sun burnt and lazed, we called it a day to gear up for the long drive back. And before I began to walk back, I had taken a slow moment to stand by the bridge and take in the arresting view and the life swarmed around this walking city, only to miss her even more than I ever had!

Likes and Addictions

My photo
chocolates, coffee, suprabatam by MS, appa, jogging tracks, diwali, first snow, mangoes, flat shoes, black and red, big dial watches, friendship, boston, masala chai, Smell of old books and new, margarita nights at chillys, bugs bunny smile, tom and jerry, god of small things, cookery books