Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A mystery solved!

I'd wondered for years how coconuts were cut into beautifully uniform pieces and sold by roadside vendors. A couple of months ago the RE and I decided to buy some fruit (and bhuttas) from a local market. There was a coconut seller there too, selling whole coconuts, as well as large pieces. I asked him how he shelled the nut, and he was kind enough to give me a live demonstration! He used a screwdriver as a chisel, and a hammer, and banged and hammered away gently until the coconut was shelled, after which he cut it into large pieces.
I haven't tried this technique yet, but it didn't look too difficult.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mixing metaphors

The Hindi language has some interesting proverbs and idioms, many of which I had to learn in school, and which have been part of my mental landscape for decades now.
For the past few years I have been rather distressed by the inaccurate use of some of these metaphors, not only by individuals in private conversation, which can be excused, I suppose, but by public figures on television and in film lyrics.
A case in point is the mixing up of the phrases 'thhaali ka baingan' and 'ek hi thhaili ke chatte batte'.
The first refers to someone with no fixed beliefs or values: one who will roll along like a round eggplant on a tray: shifting as the tray is tilted, therefore untrustworthy.  The second refers to a set of small pebbles or jacks which were used to play various indoor games with, all were more or less alike, and all were stored in the same pouch/small bag. Metaphorically, it means arising from the same source, being similar, sharing the same values.
When we refer to corrupt officials, we may deride them by saying 'sab ek hi thhaili ke chatte batte'- all belonging to the same category.

The children's film Chillar Party perpetuated this mistake in the song 'Chatte Batte'. You cannot even Google 'Ek Hi Thhaili ke Chatte Batte'- you will automatically get to this song and 'Thhaali'.
The lyricists ( Nitesh Tiwari, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Vikas Bahl, Amit Trivedi)  obviously meant 'Thhaili", which is what makes sense in the context of the film. Thhaalis do not have chatte batte.
I wish they had checked with a Hindi grammar textbook.

And now we also have Hindi newsreaders also using this misbegotten, inaccurate phrase.
Lyricists, newsreaders: sab ek hi thhaili ke chatte batte.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


My home is full of clutter of various kinds: ancient files, paperwork of various vintages, endless books, several of which we may never look at again, objet d'art and assorted bric a brac . We also have vast quantities of the original packing of various appliances, against the day when we move out of rented accomodation and into a place of our own. I would love to ruthlessly dispose of many many things, but I don't really see myself doing so. I don't know about the rest of my ancestors, but my father was definitely a hoarder. I have another, rather specious sounding reason too, to not get too organised.
My sister had been on a mission to declutter for quite some time. She gave away vast quantities of stuff to various people, things both new and old, which she distributed among friends and family with the utmost generosity. My father and I had bought some small ceramic snack bowls (for his house) from Cottage Industries many many years ago. One fine day my sister packed them up and handed them to me, insisting that I keep them and use them. She very rarely wore sarees, and gave away most of her saree wardrobe, as well as many other things that no longer found much use. She seems to have very successfully cleared out whatever she thought of as clutter. And then, quite suddenly, she left this mortal coil.
          A good friend of hers has been inspired to take a leaf out of my sister's book, and get rid of all unnecessary items in her house. I, on the other hand, am hanging onto my clutter for dear life. As long as my decluttering remains merely aspirational, I'm sure that my Maker will let me hang around in my messy domain. Once I've successfully organised my life, who knows. I'd rather not risk it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Another loss

In an extremely strange symmetry, the RE also lost a sister. She had been suffering for a long time from a progressive condition, and we sadly observed this bright and beautiful lady's irreversible decline, the tireless efforts of her family to reverse her condition, and her husband's single minded devotion to her care.
We all miss her. With her passing, I try to erase the memories of the silent figure who seemed impervious to our greetings and caresses, and to remember the sister who loved and cherished us all.
Each one of us has our own particular set of memories of our interactions with her, and sharing those brings us some comfort.

This is life.
This is life.
It ends, for each and every one of us,
It will end.
Knowing this,
why does it still hurt so much????