Monday, February 28, 2011

Of a non-snoring spouse and a fried finger

In sympathy with young Sue here, I managed to fry a finger yesterday.
Of course, it was all the SRE's fault, or rather, his office's fault. We knew that the SRE had meetings this weekend, which is annoying anyway- quite apart from my weekend being less entertaining than it is when the man is around, I strongly feel that the poor SRE needs his rest!
He had been working till very late on Saturday night, and, oddly for him, didn't sleep well. I woke up a couple of times and found him reading his iPad. (These days news of Libya is very very high priority in our house-he enters the house and switches on the iPad and tells me the latest from Tripoli). Since he wasn't snoring, something was obviously amiss, so I slept badly too.
He'd forgotten his laptop at the office, and at 6.30 a.m was getting ready to go and find it. I decided to tag along for the ride. Laptop retrieved, it was time for tea and newspapers and breakfast, since he had to leave for office again at nine. (Since he seemed quite stressed out, I didn't want to tell him that the laptop wouldn't have waltzed away between seven and nine in the morning, and he could have as easily retrieved it when he was in office during his scheduled working hours. We do not put across any opposing points of view when the man is stressed. We have learned this the hard way, over the decades). He was kind enough to go to office by taxi, without protest- I didn't want him to drive alone late at night after another hard day of meetings, and he was, most surprisingly, amenable to my suggestion.
The youngest child was home. Though, given his holiday sleeping and waking patterns and the SRE's schedule, he could only meet his father on Friday evening. During our dinner-a-deux on Saturday (the SRE was dining with his colleagues) the son and I were talking about how delicious ghee is in some foods, and were remembering kadhi with a topping of chilli powder heated in ghee. And so, instead of our default options of rajma or chholey for Sunday lunch, kadhi and rice was the plan.
The son got up around noon, and I told him that he could have some pakodas with his coffee, so that he'd have an appetite for lunch, which we would hopefully eat by two o'clock.
I made the batter and fried plain pakodis for the kadhi. Chopped up an onion and a potato, a green chilli and some coriander leaves and added them to the plain batter. I sprinkled a little chaat masala on the first batch and handed them to the son. The second batch was made, and I tried a couple- they were delicious. During the final batch my sleepy mind was distracted by some stray thoughts, and whoosh- hot oil splashed onto the poor ring finger of my right hand.
I did ice it, and yes, it's a lot better now, and the kadhi with the chilli-ghee was delicious. What I want to know is, can I fairly blame the SRE and his office for this fried finger or not?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

When the saints go marching in!

3848K Download

A dear friend mailed me this link.
It is great fun! Enjoy.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

This Sunday morning

This Sunday morning
isn't over yet, but it has a little
joy that overflows,
that I'd love to share.
We woke up late enough
to feel rested, and I decided
that tea and morning papers
would be had in the sitting room
so I'd be able to read
unsquashed by the man.
Two cups of tea each
Four Sunday papers
which I never manage to read
but long to do so
(and keep aside in
an ever growing pile
which is ultimately dumped
and not read)

We listened to Kabir,
A beautiful rendering
by Rajan And Sajan Mishra
and ate breakfast before ten
By which time Rashid Khan
was singing Malkauns,
a beautiful devotional bandish
'Tu hai Malik mera'
The spouse took a newspaper
to read in bed
And promptly fell asleep
snoring and a-roaring
while I heard, with joy,
the drut:
'Aaj morey ghar aaye balama'
In a positively sublime
ironic harmony!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Nani's Lemon Pickle

It's the time of year
to make the lemon pickle
that I make from my mother's recipe,
a pickle that I've been making for years.
(The only one that I make now-
gone are the glory days
when the children were young
and I'd make at least seven or eight
kinds of pickle every year).

Lemon pickle that I'd manage to sun
for the fifteen minutes a day
of sunshine that the
guest room window gets
every morning, these years in Kolkata.
The only pickle that my father
could eat, these last few years.
Made with no oil, no vinegar,
moderate spices and
the weight of tradition.

Last year our lives were in a pickle,
of illness and hospitals and nurses
and oxygen cylinders and nebulisers.

This year, the younger daughter
asks me if I'm making
Nani's lemon pickle.
I hadn't planned to, but
when a child reminds you
of something that you used to make
You know you should take a hint,
and proceed.

I bought seventy-five beautiful limes,
plunging into baskets full of them,
choosing the best
at Lake Market yesterday afternoon,
and had them weighed.
Soaked them overnight,
and then washed and wiped them dry
this morning.

I sat and cut them,
remembering the time,
in another city, some years ago
when my mother cut them for me
perched upon the dining table.
( My dining table thanks me
for my kindness in not attempting
to sit on it anymore).

I measured out the salt,
and took out the last of my
treasured 'heeng',
the wonderfully strong asafoetida
that my Maama,
my mother's younger brother
used to get for us.

I remembered getting the news
of his sudden stroke
on a train, and how he barely
survived for a day after that.
The sorrow of bearing this news to my mother
little knowing that barely eight months later
I would bear the news of another death,
of her firstborn, her only son.

I wondered if she and my father
have been able to catch up with
their siblings and the friends and relations
who've gone before them.
Party time, somewhere!

In the meantime,
the nascent pickle looks forward to its
daily dose, (for at least a month)
of fifteen minutes of sunshine.

Edited to add: the approximate recipe is in the comments section!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On the SRE's birthday

All these bouquets reminded me of Mehdi Hasan's rendering of Saleem Gilani's lyrical lines:
'Phool hi phool khil utthe mere paimaane mein
aap kyaa aaye bahaar aa gai maikhaane mein'

May this birthday mark the beginning of a wonderful year! Happy Birthday, my dear SRE.

Monday, February 7, 2011

To the girl in the courier office

I've known her by sight
For the last few years
she always has a smile
and a pleasant word.
Our brief contact is
always pleasant.
Today, I said to her,
You are looking tired.
Are you not well?

No, but my father passed away
suddenly, a few days ago.
He was eighty two,
and a heart patient,
He died peacefully,
during an afternoon siesta.

This girl's father-in-law
had died many years ago,
she never knew him.
So she asks her husband
How can you bear to live
without your father?
I don't know what he says,
But I know what I know

That we have no choice in such things
And the older generation going,
in the fullness of time is but natural,
Not to be mourned endlessly,
But to be remembered with love,
and gratitude.

I'm glad that your father
didn't suffer
And that you can remember him
as he was,
not transformed by endless pain
and suffering into a living skeleton,
The broad shoulders
once perched upon,
a distant memory.

The vacuum will always be there
but we do live.
Live we must,
Until our own turn arrives
For ashes and dust

Sunday, February 6, 2011

At Kolkata airport

This was a Tata Indigo with yellow on black registration plates. We wondered what had happened to it- the youngest child thought that it was a taxi that had given up the ghost, waiting for a passenger who never arrived.......