Friday, January 28, 2011

Give us this day our daily bread!

The lentil soup in Istanbul was served with these gigantic naan like breads.
So, for all our globe-trotting, I was a very happy desi vegetarian, happily partaking of my dal and roti in what was almost a dhaba in Taksin Square.

Harmonies in blue and white

I have always loved block prints in shades of blue and white. Seeing walls full of tiles in these colours at Istanbul last year was a wonderful experience.
My latest bed cover, bought in Delhi this winter, bears a distinct resemblance to the tiled walls!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Year: Rants and more

Ladies who brunch!
Such lovely flowers, in the same garden.
Winter plumage!

I spent most of New Year's day ranting and grumbling and muttering under my breath, because some misbegotten people in one of the neighbouring buildings were celebrating what might have been a wedding, with shrill music, all day long. The following weekend, the little Hanuman temple at the head of our lane was the site of a marquee and loudspeakers, half the road was blocked, and there was noise all through the day. A political party here decided to celebrate Swami Vivekananda's birthday week with various programmes, including a blood donation camp. Besides this very worthy cause, they also install loudspeakers on all the electric poles in the area, playing the Swami's speeches, and on this weekend we had no choice but to listen to them. You wouldn't believe that I chose to rent a flat on this particular road because it is very very quiet, almost a cul-de-sac. I say almost, because one end has a very very narrow path between high walls, and only two-wheelers can ply there. Today it is, thankfully, normal, and my brain is relaxed enough to write!

Rant over! A new species of morning walker has been spotted on XXXX Avenue. No, it is the same old walker, but with new winter plumage- I present to you the Red-scarfed Woolly Headed Dipali! Yes, the early mornings in Kolkata are actually that cold, especially when we are out there by six a.m at the latest! Late mornings are bright and sunny, and there are beautiful flowers abloom everywhere. Being out in the sunshine in winter is really a pleasure.

I love winter, and I do hope it doesn't vanish too soon.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Unforgettable Food

Unforgettable is the food that you did not/could not eat at a particular time. We have all had hundreds and thousands of meals and snacks and desserts, eaten, digested, and largely forgotten.
As we say in Hindi- "khaaya peeya hazam kiya".
Can you remember what you ate last Monday evening? Unless it was a special occasion, when you just might remember what you had. I do remember last night's dinner, but only because we had gone out, and had pan fried noodles for the very first time.

A few days ago I was chatting with some friends, one of whom was annoyed because the members of her joint family had finished up her anniversary cake while she was at work, leaving a very tiny bit for her husband and herself. Another friend recalled an episode from her college days. As a post-graduate student, she was sharing an apartment with several other girls. As per their normal practice, on the midnight ushering in her birthday, she cut the cake which all the girls had got for her, which was shared and consumed. Her aunt had also brought her a Black Forest cake, which was untouched, as they had all eaten well. Imagine my friend's chagrin when she came home from college the next day to find two measly slivers of Black Forest left. She must have had several helpings of Black Forest in her life after that, but the unfairness of her flat mates still rankles.

As kids my sister and I would torment our poor mother by constantly raiding the larder and gobbling up all the goodies she had so painstakingly prepared. We were greedy kids, and didn't think of all the effort that had gone into those snacks, which should have lasted longer than we allowed them to. If she thought she had some goodies kept aside for guests, she was usually disappointed, and occasionally embarrassed. We were, sadly, quite shameless, and persisted in our greedy ways.

The one thing that I didn't eat that I can still recall after some forty odd years is a pretty pink and yellow pudding at an aunt's house. My father was fond of this family, and since I was his tail, I would inevitably tag along when he visited them. On this one occasion my sister came along too. (She was usually busy with her own pursuits, being older and probably less 'vela' than I was at the time. I think I was just more sociable, and of course I was Daddy's tail). After some sundry conversation, a tray with the pretty bowls of pudding was brought in and served. My father took one. The tray was offered to my sister, but she kept refusing. Perhaps she was feeling shy.
It was, of course, offered to me too, but, simply because my sister didn't have it, I felt honour bound not to have it. Several polite refusals later, my poor aunt gave up, wondering possibly what had got into this usually good eater! I was, of course, very annoyed with my sister.

So tell me, do you, dear readers have any such unforgettable foods?