Kaada- The Great Indian Magic Drink

If ever a guest appeared at the doorstep, sneezing and sniffing and complaining of the bad weather, the increasing pollution, reducing immunity etc. my mother would very discreetly disappear in to the kitchen. She would be back soon enough with the magical potion for all cold, cough, flu of any Indian kind holding forth a tumbler full of hot ‘kaada’.

” Drink it, don’t worry. Your cold will vanish.” Amma would suggest to the surprised guest and later go on to insist with the excuse, ” after all it’s for his good. What’s in it for me?” thus once again proving unequivocally her command over many of the kitchen cures.

I have been subjected to tough code of ‘kaada’ many times in my growing years along with the spicy ‘rasam’ and rice at dinner to help me tide over those days of heaviness in the head and clogged nasals.

In these days, when Bangalore is sneezing and wheezing all at once, I am thinking fondly of ‘kaada’ and of course, amma! It helps to have some one who knows a remedy for every malady at home, wishful thinking!

She is just a phone call away, thankfully.

But you see, even with the best of ‘Kaada’ intentions in my heart, I might still not be able to make it well because I do not have the necessary ingredients. With no ritual of lighting a tulasi lamp at home, I am inconvenienced to find a few tulsi sprigs to make my version of ‘kaada’. Any ways let me share the recipe, so that you can have the magic wand to drive cold away, any time.

So it is like this:

Boil a cup full of water. Add half a tsp of coffee powder, the ground variety, not the instant one. Allow it to come to boil. Add a few crushed black pepper corns, powdered dry ginger, a piece of jaggery or ‘gud’, crushed tulsi leaves, a pinch of turmeric and reduce the water to half its quantity.

Strain and pour into a cup and your magic potion is ready. Have it hot and sweat off your fever or cold by covering yourself in a blanket and getting a nice sleep. Repeat the process till completely cured.

What I like especially about ‘kaada’ is its universality. When I was down with fever while at Indore my maid suggested, ‘Bhabhiji, kaada pee lo”,  ‘make your ‘kaada’ sister.’

Kaada’ in its different avatars is a popular cold remedy across the country.

Sneezing are you? Time to have ‘kaada’!






A Moment of Epiphany

Epiphany was to me a term to be learnt and forgotten like much else that is done at  college. I remember the copy of my text book ‘The Glossary of Literary Terms by M.H. Abrahams’ which the handsome and ever smiling Ajayan, my junior had borrowed to learn from and in which he had laboriously made notes, underlined and marked various stuff. That is how the word first caught my attention, with a note written by him.

In the early years after leaving college I was still under the illusion of being able to clear NET (National Eligibility Test for Lectureship) and get that elusive scholarship called JRF( Junior Research Fellowship) which promised a princely sum of Rs. 10,000 which was such a dream. What made it even more impossible for me to give up on this dream was Balraj.K, my younger brother who insisted on asking me almost every single day, ‘Chechi, are you not preparing for NET’?  I resented his prodding me  and was consumed with guilt and sorrow when I lost him and his daily questions for ever on 10th of July in 2012 that I immediately registered for a PGCTE from EFLU, Hyderabad. I was in tears every time I sat down to write each one of those 33 assignments of having let down that single human being who seemed to have such a mountain of faith in my abilities.

Life rolls on, doesn’t it? So it did, many bumps and rough hits later, I was busy enjoying my state of ill health, nagging pain, over heaped stress, anxiety and what not, refusing to see the sun light, determined to seek doom and gloom,wearing a sad, tired face of a martyr much maligned and much abused by the act of living, yes, this was as recent as yesterday, when epiphany chose to strike!

Epiphany in literature is a moment of sudden realization, as in when the Prince of Denmark, the young Hamlet, realizes that there is no such a thing as a perfect revenge and that he has to make good of the chances that come his way to avenge the brutal killing of his father at the hands of his uncle, Claudius.

” There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will”.

Epiphany struck me in the realization of how much of our lives is in our own hands and how much is definitely not ours to chose or to play around with. The element of uncertainty in life looms large making it difficult to make definite plans and preparations for what is to come.Perhaps then all that is to be done is to embrace life with a Nietzschei-an nihilism and take it as it comes. There is no grand purpose anyways!

Maybe then it makes sense to be in the moment, enjoy who you are, where you are, irrespective of those around or not around you.

It makes sense to celebrate your little moments of achievements like your being able to get up early, why not? or being regular with your exercise or being able to keep your smile intact or maybe just being around as you are, that is no mean achievement considering the fact that many of the more illustrious are choosing to call it quits from the stage of life, rather early and many others never get a chance to come this far in living!

So, go on, celebrate living, plan or no plans.

So, go on, be yourself, no matter who judges you and how.

So, go on, love yourself,  whatever your reality is, love it, embrace it wholeheartedly.

Epiphanies anyone?

Teaching Thrills

It is not some cheap thrill

it is serious life-altering stuff

that happens in a classroom

each day every day

that brings to life

much joy, great sense of being

in the exchange of ideas

in watching young people

get up to be more confident

to stand up for themselves

is a sight of salvation, nothing less

there is no modesty

in acknowledging

its power of sunshine

to get along, to get going, to reach a better place

to be a part of this journey is a blessing, nothing less

so each day, keeping aside those dirty much cried over secrets of life

wound and thrown into the dust bin

she enters the classroom with a joy unbound

and inshallah! is blessed to receive many times over

multitudes of joys in return.

PS: What goes around, comes around,the beauty of Nishkama Karma.




Painful Teaching

Pain does it well

pure pain

manifesting as dull ache

growing into a throbbing,pinching,needling nag

tearing you up into bits and pieces

not yet ‘a patient etherized’ upon the evening table

not yet numb to the depravities of pain

but prone to convulsions

involuntary smirks and quirks

sudden outpourings of old philosophies

rehashed wisdom

bits of pop songs

doomsday predictions

listless looking


wearing ‘ you don’t know it until you have it’

stamp on your creased forehead.

Its something peculiar to pain in aging

as opposed to pain in childhood

when you simply dusted your back

and walked off limping

smile intact.

Pain while aging

is different, stronger, more lasting

in teaching you who you are

in helping you cast away a few illusions

in showing you your true friends, if any

in brutal honesty

in singular lack of sympathy

in self loathing apathy

in the hard hitting realization of

get up and get going

or you are for god’s sake

never going to get up!

Pain omniscient, omnipotent

its the greatest of all levelers

and much more.


ജീവിത യാത്ര

മെല്ലെ മെല്ലെ വേണം ഓരോ ജീവിതവും
എങ്കിലേ ജീവാഗ്നി മുഴുവനായും

അത് വരെ
സതോഷവും സമാധാനവും
ഒരു ചടങ്ങു മാത്രമാണ്
ഒരു ഞെട്ടലും
ഒരു നീർപ്പോടും

തപിക്കുന്ന ജീവൻ ആണത്രേ
സുഖിക്കുന്ന ആത്മാവ്
പുഞ്ചിരികൾ കോടി പോകുന്നത്

സഞ്ചരിക്കാൻ എത്ര വഴികൾ
എന്നിട്ടും എന്തിന്നു യാത്രികർ
സ്വയം ക്രുശിക്കപ്പെടാൻ തുനിയുന്നു
എന്തിനു കിട്ടാക്കനി തേടുന്നു

മുനയില്ലാ ചോദ്യമെന്നു കരുതരുത്
മുന കൊണ്ട് മുറിഞ്ഞ ഹൃദയമാണെന്നു അറിഞ്ഞാൽ മതി

The Tiffin Box

Round shiny

rather heavy

the tiffin box sisters

a small earthquake in my school bag

at the lunch hour

in the aroma-ridden classroom

I reach out ‘ships sailing in my mouth’

(mom’s only  pet

I always get the best)

aloo parathas -2  and a half

achar – a little

miss little tiffin has a katori full of curd

and there is a surprise packet of a besan laddoo

that’s my reward for yesterday’s test

25/25 in mathematics

mom never understands that nor appreciates

mathematics that is

but she loves it when I do good

it’s her revenge against her dad

who thought her dumb

and did not send her to school after 10

I spread the neat turkey towel on the desk

look at her a little shyly

she never looks back that girl with pony tail.

I dig into my paranthas happily

and bite into my laddoo noiselessly

I have to give Raju a pinch from my laddoo

breaking my heart into many halves.

Fully loaded and a little sleepy

I wait till it is home time again

for pakodas and more of those laddoos

at least one more I hope

I walk home  to the music of the tiffin sisters

jingling in my bag

they are a happy lot these two!

after all they don’t have home work!


In-debt-ed @ Personal Loan

invisible but all pervasive

insistent and pretty consistent

they who love the most

make themselves available

on the telephone

after intentions pure and mercenary

their benign gentle hearts

outpouring with endearments

press upon me poor soul

gift after gift of ‘loaded’ presents

reminiscing days I rather not recollect

wish me on my b’day and worse on my anniversary

detailing how I had sleep walked into her dream

and how the vision compelled her to

reach out to me – dancing in distress

ah!lady, but I never asked for a Personal Loan!