Mango Memories

It’s raining mangoes in Bangalore. Roadsides are decorated by juicy fruit stalls proudly displaying the many varieties of mangoes from Langda, to Badam to Daseri , to Baiganapallli to the more elite Alphonsos, mangoes of every hue and size await the customer.

The kind of mangoes that I remember growing up with are differently called like the pulpy and juicy ‘moovandan’, to the seemingly less classy’ ottu manga’ usually reserved for the mango chutney, the rich and supposedly royal ‘neelam’, the rather too common ‘gomanga’, the small and juicy variety which can be finished in one slurp called’ chakara manga’  or the common ‘nattu manga’.

School holidays were spent roaming the ‘parambu’ picking up ripe mangoes, unripe tamarind, ripe cashew fruits, fallen gooseberries and trading gooseberries for the ripe and tangy blushing fruits called ‘champakka’. It’s only in my aunts house that I have had the rare fruit which was called ‘lubikka’.

Mashu as my aunt’s father was fondly called was a good farmer and his home and garden an endless resource for yummy delights. Fenced with pineapple shrubs, with a pond to jump into and charcoal powder to brush your teeth with, ripe black pepper seeds to munch on, endless treats of lubikka, champakka, jackfruit, mangoes and pineapples, chips of all varieties and some bakery items and the delicious ‘unakkalari appam made in pure ghee’, life took a different turn at Kalammai’s house.

Back at Kopparambil though, we concentrated our energies on roasting cashew nuts away from the prying eyes of grand father, munching on the salted and unsalted varieties of tamarind seeds, simply swinging merrily on the branches of trees or generally lying  beneath the single fan in the house watching the blades cruise by with a slow whirring sound.

After rushing through our customary one-page writing in English and Malayalam , without ever pausing to think over what we wrote, we would all rush out to play ice-ice, hot-hot, sky-water-land, or akasham, bhoomi, patalam,hide and seek and other such games.

Famished after lots of  running around ,huge servings of jack fruits, more mangoes, roasted/boiled tapioca, roasted/boiled raw banana, roasted/boiled jack fruit seeds, with or without chutney was just the evening snack we could have wanted.

The white powdery texture of roasted tapioca glazed with the aroma of charcoal is nothing short of heavenly!

In Kerala the unripe mango is used mostly for making chutney, to add tanginess to curries, and to make pickles. The raw mango pieces preserved in brine and sold by the local push cart vendors have many die-hard fans.

It was in Indore that I learnt more about the versatility of the king of fruits -varieties of ‘aam ka murabba’ – unripe mangoes preserved in sugar syrup,Kalonji/  a mango pickle variety, the supremely delicious and refreshing drink called aam ka panna and the ever useful aamchur which is essentially powdered mango seed.

Quick, easy to make and healthy and tasty all at once, aam ka panna is a delightful summer drink!

Aam Ka Panna, manna for summer times!

Recipe

Take 1 pulpy raw mango. Wash it thoroughly and cook it up in a pressure cooker. Leave the mango to cool. Once it is cool, extract the pulp of the mango after skinning it. Run the pulp in a mixer. Take out the smoothed pulp and preserve it in fridge in a neat jar. To make your glass or two of aam ka panna,take 1 or 2 tsp full of pulp, depending upon its tanginess, add water. To this add a pinch of jeera powder, crushed jaggery or sugar, 1 or 2 crushed pudina leaves, a pinch of rock salt, salt- according to your taste. Mix well and your drink to drive away the heat is at hand.

 

 

Advertisements

Pillion riding

the palpable joy of pillion riding

is to have your hair flying

to dangle your feet

to feel the breeze

to be taken around

to know that you are safe

to go places on your bum

to have a reason to pick a fight

too fast, too slow,too reckless

to not have to dirty the sari ka fall

picking every dust on the road

to reach on time

to pray that you are light

to feel proud in your heart

to turn your head up to the sky in thankfulness.

Ps: Small moments, big joys.

 

After the interval

‘Stop’, she told life

‘you can’t go

not yet not now

you have seen the tears

you have known the turmoil

but I can’t let you go

until

you have seen the gurgling bubbles of laughter

rushing forth in great emergency

molecules of happiness

breathing for the very life

breaking boundaries of the mind

the deep guttural roars of irrepressible joy

trapped beneath tears of impatience

bellowing noises  breathless

cracklings of the diaphragm

settling into the softness of a chuckle

disappearing into the silence of a smile

making its way to the eyes

now not soaked in sadness

twinkling in delight

the forehead furrowed

with laugh lines of fate

and faith,yes, faith

you have to see this

after the interval

there’s a twist!’

PS: Her of a thousand smiles

 

 

Vacation with no twist

Where did you go on a vacation? Ah, me! I just stayed at home every day of the 1 month vacation that I had and boy! didn’t I enjoy every moment.

What did you do? Some writing, mostly thinking and some brooding.

Home was to me my paradise this last month, a world full of options for rest, somewhat rare delicacies, well, I rarely cook those, with ample time for dreams, day and night, for cooking up grand plans, of taking time to look at the wardrobe overflowing with saris, of mixing and matching this with that and that with this, of writing anytime, of listening to songs, many of them, of binge watching movies old and new, of calling up people, I rarely do that, of filling up my journal with colourful fantasies of a colourful life, of trying my hand at learning a few shlokas from the Bhagavad Gita, renewing the vow to learn Kannada, dreaming of a clean swacchh India, no Bangalore, no RT Nagar, smiling and saying hi hello to a few neighbours and in general making the right noises about the difficulties of living, of stubbornly refusing to step out of the house, of composting for a month now, of feeling delighted of being at home and putting on a few extra pounds with the excuse that I will lose it once the work starts again!

When the world was caught in the rains, in the waters gushing down the roads, I was blissfully marooned in the cocoon of my home.

I sat at home watching the little kids being rushed to school and them sauntering back in the afternoon.

I watched ladies literally run to catch the school bus and walk back home in relaxed groups.

I listened carefully to the morning noises, the afternoon excitements, the evening howls and the night time growls with the rain dance in between.

This comfort after years of angst, of struggle, of fighting against the wall that seemed to impede me, crush me beneath its weight, every time I tried to raise my head.

I thought of how so many times, for so many days, I would sit in the car, refusing to go home like a stubborn child, of how I preferred any activity outdoors to the four walls of the house.

And this last month I revelled in the freedom of having the place to myself, of scrubbing and cleaning and even talking to the walls.

Somethings reinforce the need to stay away and this past month put a stamp of approval on my decision to break free, break away to be the self…

Blessed truly!

Cheers to the new academic year! To new courses and new students! To new experiences! To a renewed promise to research, learn, write and grow!

 

 

A little less drama

‘A little less drama would have been fine’

she told life

who looked at her disbelievingly

‘the actor that you are

you love fantasy

you thrive in thrillers

you long for romance

your heart soaks in pain

twists in agony

sheds copious tears

you create

situations

of hate, of malice, of ill repute

because you love attention

you want me to hang on to you dearly

to cry out to you to help

you mean monster

gently slaying my soul

making me count every breath

pay with tears for pain unlimited

seek company where it never is

live for pleasure which is nothing but pain in disguise

sometimes your sadism gets to me really

whose side are you on for god’s sake?

ah! god!

that gentleman who is ‘gentle’ no more

I heard a song, god is a woman!

well, can’t say really

its all make-belief

except you ofcourse

I know you

because you are with me.

I would still have loved you

had you been kinder, simpler, more giving

nevertheless

we are together

you and I

until death plays the villian.

Stay close, let’s celebrate!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of how we talked

We talked a lot

she and I

taking turns to listen

and share and share

we talked after 25 years almost

talk we did and how

she remarked of how kid-like I was

and I said how grownup she was then

roles reversed

we laughed

I am all grown -up

she’s pretty kid-like

time changes everything

for the better or worse

we laughed some more

shedding pretences

opening up like never before

I came away impressed

and thought of how

she could’ve influenced me for the better

had we met earlier

but all that happens

happens in good time

so, I welcomed a friend

old but newly found

and treasured

every moment

she, well-versed in life and living

grounded and rooted

cynical and kind

sweet as she is sharp

a razor wit

a woman of truth and substance

an iconoclast

but mostly a friend, a new found friend

blessed truly!

 

Compare and Kill

There is nothing that can kill the natural abilities of a person than comparing him to someone and saying, he’s not as good as his father, mother, aunt, uncle, friend, whatever. Yet we do it every time to our kids. We just pit one child to another till such a time that the two become enemies and both of them end up losing whatever self confidence they have.

Here’s how a grandma manages to keep her grandchildren at war with each other.

To A: ‘B is so good. She is sooo respectful. She loves me soo much. She scored 10/10 so many times’..blah..blah..blah

To B: ‘A is the best, I can’t tell you. She has got all the genes from my side of the family. She is just like me in my younger days. She is sooo good looking, she is such an obedient kid. I am sure A will never misbehave like you. How can you even be like this?’

Well, that is the death knell for whatever sibling love the two girls might ever have for each other.

If you thought this pill to kill only worked at home, no, not at all.

At school suppose, the girl or boy has a father or mother, or an elder or younger sibling or a grand dad who was smarter, it starts all over again.

Teachers to A: ‘B used to be soo good at maths. How come you are so weak?’

‘But your mom is so smart, how come you are not?’

‘Your aunt is soo fair, how come you are not?’

‘But your father is Sachin Tendulkar, no less, how come you are not so talented at 16?’

Gosh, I pity all those juniors, especially those who have more acclaimed parents.The pressure of being a junior Tendulkar, a junior Sridevi, a junior Beckham, a junior Jackson, even a junior Gandhi or Bachan is killing I am sure.

And surely not everyone gets time and chances to grow up and make it big like the Jr.Gandhi does, no way!

And it is not like the comparison ends once you are an adult. The mommies are pitted against each other by the family.

‘Hey, your daughter is very smart. She is fair even.’

‘But this girl, she is not that fair, how come, did you give her something different?’

or ‘That guy has bought a flat with such a small income even, what are you doing?’

‘You people have been in the city for so long, still don’t have a flat, how come you never thought of it?’

‘My daughter has two kids, she is well-settled. Yours, not yet started family? Is something wrong?I know a doctor, very good she is.’

Hello! can you stop?

Then grand moms.

‘Your granddaughter is very smart. too smart actually. Mine is not that much. Infact, my daughter is also like that. What to do?’

‘Oh, you were invited to their wedding? Hmm, they invite only big people!’

‘Why are you doing so much work, at your age? Take some rest no!’

‘We are too simple people, my son works a lot, but does not earn enough. What to do?’

I can go on but the point is we forget that each is to his own. It is better to leave people to mind their own business and not poke into their affairs. Comparing yourself with others will only give you grief. Comparing your kids/relatives with others will make them miserable.

So just cut it out.  Stop the hurt. Stop the comparison.

 

 

Who be you?

Who be you

from across the skies

gently nudging

a wayward ship

losing its moorings

on a stormy night

Who be you

with hands unseen

holding a lamp

for those

blinded with brightness

unable to find their feet

who be you

singing a song

caressing a tired soul

to nod off into deep slumber

dreaming of starry nights

who be you

warning in our hearts

no, not this guy

no, not this place

no, not this time

helping us to wait a little more

who be you

kind spirit of the universe

your presence is our gain

knowing you is our strength

coz you stay within

dear wisdom

to see the world in a rain drop

to hold a life in a seed

stay deep

stay true

just stay.

to keep us grounded

to keep us rooted

just stay.

 

Cooking Kofta

Kofta has been a long standing demand at home but I am a lazy cook, if not lousy. Since I am counting the last few days of vacation, I am particular of how I spend my time.

The vacation gave me enough and more time to ponder and play the victim and wallow in self-pity.

I also embarked into doing the undoable i.e. of raking up non-existent affections and sympathies maybe, quite decidedly,in a rather unjust manner!

It was like this,

Hey, you are my friend.

Sorry, I am not.

Hey, but be my friend.

Sorry, I do not want to!

Truth be told, I was definitely being the spoilsport and was the drum-beater of ‘take note-I am here syndrome’.  Hmmm… and I got a royal snub in return! Been there???

I quickly realized the stupidity of my behaviour and felt terribly ashamed.

Before I plunged into despair, Elizabeth Gilbert came to my rescue. I was listening to the audio version of her book Big Magic.

She remarked of how we can never choose someone’s reaction to our work, written or otherwise. Having chosen to write or express our opinions, it is necessary that we have the good will to allow others to express their opinion of ‘our work’. ( Ok, so you know how to excuse yourself for poor results!)

Again, there is nothing like ‘your work’, according to her. Creative artists are only conduits for ideas which are like ‘ghosts/spirits’ trying to be housed or given a shape to.  This the writer says is true of any creative energy be it in business, arts, literature, cinema or more.

It got me thinking, really! like, if there is no way we can decide how our work is perceived, there should be no way we can decide how we are perceived, how our words, thoughts and actions are interpreted.

Then perhaps, it is ok for me to extend a hand in friendship and for the other person to turn it down. It is the same for me too,right!

Sometimes we hang on tenaciously to certain ideas and try hard to make it true. Like a friend of mine who believed that only a wise, sagely person could save his life. To this day, he is in search of superior wisdom from saints.

Everything apparently happens in its own good time.So then what is to be done?

Keep at your work, keep doing what you are trying to do, make it better while graciously acknowledging the infinite energies that surround and support you. Mostly believe in who you are and be kind to those around you.

Remember that the world sees you as you see it.

Oh! I almost forgot the kofta. Here is how I made it.

Aloo Kofta

Grind the customary paste of onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic. In a pan, heat a spoon full of oil and add the finely ground paste. As the water dries up, add a spoonful each of coriander powder, jeera powder, chilli powder, garam masala, a pinch of turmeric and salt to taste. Toss in some butter or ghee for added taste.

While the paste is getting ready for the curry base, you can peel and grate potatoes. Add a pinch of salt, garam masala, chilli powder, jeera powder, coriander powder etc. as per your taste to the grated potatoes. Add the necessary amount of besan  or chickpea powder ( 1 to 2 tsp) or corn flour to roll the grated potatoes into small not very tight balls. Heat oil in a pan and fry the potatoes till light brown.

To the gravy, you may now add water little by little. Simmer the paste for some time and then toss in the fried potato balls into it. Let it boil some more and you can garnish the curry with chopped coriander, a dash of lemon and may be another dollop of butter or ghee. Your kofta is ready! Adding  a paste of finely ground cashew nuts while the paste is simmering makes the curry creamier.

Life is a bit kofta like, you put in your best and hope for a good taste. Sometimes you feel satisfied, at other times, you wish you had done something better, or may be the ingredients could have been better. But you just have to keep at it hoping for a better taste/tomorrow and that my friend is living!

Simbly sitting

Simbly sitting

in the first bench

looking at the teacher

not following anything

just staring at everyone

not writing notes even

dozing off in history lessons

confused in maths

yem or yen

what do you know?

average in English

spelling mistakes everytime

what a waste

father’s money

mother’s hopes

you will never make it

I will give it in writing

you dreamer

you immature girl

looking like a fool

forever stupid

ok, keep looking out

I am talking to you only

boyfriends must be there

they will never marry you

I tell you

just for fun they will look at you

stay away or ruin your life

waste fellows

anyways whom to tell

no one can escape karma

children these days!

Ps: Convents, simbly saying! Miss Pushpa TS!