Archive for November, 2009

So when a day as yellow and cheery as that calls out after almost a week of weeping from the skies above, you listen to that call and set out to face the sunshine.

If an opportunity to step out doesn’t come knocking at your door, you find an excuse, create a situation, convince/tempt/bribe/threaten a friend and pull her also into your scheme of things.

My excuse was that I had an upset tummy and desperately needed good healthy food that would include lots of vegetables in the form of traditional dishes. The destination was Sanjeevanam. The victim, my friend Bruce is a foodie. You could often spot her hovering around in the kitchen and sniffing about near the windows in each of the rooms in our house, collecting aromas from other, more productive kitchens in our apartment. Once a roommate got the fright of her life when she heard a noise and opened her weary eyes from a deep sleep to find Bruce positioned strategically in front of the fridge at 2 in the morning, rummaging and emptying its contents with lightning speed. She likes and enjoys eating so much that you’d be amazed at how much can go down that body of hers. Which surprisingly aint so massive. I mean for someone who has such a big appetite I’m sure people would expect to see a giant rolly polly rolling down the street. But no, our girl is toned quite well, and pretty! At least in the eyes of this beholder, she is.

And so, tempting her with healthy food didn’t take much convincing. One message was all that was required. The temptress and the victim set out to Sanjeevanam for a healthy lunch. Now this is one place that has an equal share of takers and haters. You won’t find many lovers. There are only takers. For Sanjeevanam revolves around the concept of health food. The ‘Rajabhojanam’ is a 7course meal that starts with four different drinks of milk and almond, beetroot juice, buttermilk and ‘kanji’water (porridge) to balance all of the acidic juices and alkaline properties of your stomach. Once the juices in your stomach starts oozing, you are ready for the first round of raw veggies (their plantain stalk salad and finely chopped raw mango sprinkled with pepper are the major attractions), second round of semi-cooked veggies, third round of fully cooked ‘poriyals’ and ‘koottus’ and then red rice and ghee, and the final round of white rice, sambhar, rasam, ‘mor’ curry and buttermilk. A cup of nice rice payasam is like the crescendo after which you will generally pass out, before the serving boy rushes to your aid and pours in a spoonful of honey into your palm to revive you back into consciousness. Honey aids in digestion, he then educates you with a smile.

After the banana leaf is licked clean and after all the waiters and customers finish gaping at the two mysterious girls who walked in like hurricane and crawled out on all fours exhibiting the worst form of civilized behaviour in front of all that food that was put in front of them, we walked to ‘nuts and spices’ to buy dark chocolate for Bruce’s cousin who was going to make chocolate dessert.

That’s when I got a call from my dear lost friend Gobu, who suddenly had a realization and called in with a whine: “Charooo, I just realized, I don’t have any friends!”

“Er… well um..”

Hearing my confused murmurs she offered- “I mean I have you guys, but the list pretty much ends there….. and its kinda upsetting”

“Well, frankly Gobu, I think its not friends that you don’t really have. It looks more to me like you don’t really have a life in that workplace of yours”, said I, thinking I was giving a piece of reference from some very intelligent observation.

“I want to get out. Its been so long since I saw you all. I want to be in a place full of trees and things… Take me somewhere… pleeease…” Gobu begged.

Krishnamurthy foundation in Greenways road was the chosen place where trees, birds, clean air and silence could be found in plenty. After showing her the library and walking barefoot on the grassy patch, we sat under the ‘peepal’ tree for a chat until the not-so-friendly dwellers under the patch of freshly cut grass started charting their way up into our clothes and to other unmentionables. Gobu then saw a beautiful curvaceous tree and had an urge to climb it. Having lost the practice and patience, we both studied the tree, searching desperately for a foothold. Finally finding no such foothold, I heaved her up and stared at her when plans of pulling me up failed several times over. We then walked around aimlessly, taking in the smells of the earth and the barks and leaves of the trees. Gobu talked about how this place reminded her of her township back home and for brief moments we both thought about all of those childhood times we spent with nature- climbing trees, downing raw mangoes and unripe guavas, skinning our knees and roasting ourselves to a perfect brown in the sun . Japanese novels, like their movies were devoid of drama and masala, said an upset Gobu suddenly, holding a novel in her hand that exposed the bare back of a fair Japanese lady. I was still stuck on that thought about my childhood. Playing with nature changed you forever. There was absolutely no substitute for the experiences it offered. Poor kids. They know not what they are missing out on. And we were responsible for it.

And then we saw it. The perfect mango tree with a heavy trunk and the most welcoming of low lying branches that found us jumping in joy and clambering up it. But once up the tree, somehow it didn’t feel as good as we expected it to. Childhood was lost. And so was the innocence that could give us unbridled joy.

We complained about the mosquitoes who were fast drilling their stingers into our bodies and we climbed down. I narrowly missed squishing a giant snail by a few inches. We giggled and fooled around and walked out wondering what to do next. The answer came in the form of ‘Sandy’s chocolate laboratory’. We weren’t really craving for chocolate. But since we’d already walked in and the place looked real cool, we decided to give it a shot. ‘Chocolate decadence’, which Sandy referred to as a ‘boring’ dessert (He had wanted us to try out the most sinful item on the menu card) was served in a ‘beaker’ along with a thick chocolate cookie and a ‘test tube’ of chocolate sauce. Impressed by the concept of a chocolate laboratory, and chatting up with the man who concocted all of the potions and desserts himself, whom we also discovered was not another ubiquitous ‘malayali’ (in spite of his curly hair and severe mallu Christain looks), we complimented him on his good taste and skills and hopped out into the streets once again, only to find my yellow sunshine gone and replaced my a bright crescent peeking from behind white clouds.

Where to next? In college, we were a gang of four. One got married early and now has a baby. The remaining three of us had been having it good until marriage dates got fixed for another one. Now our trio was down to two. But nevertheless, the three of us planned to meet up for dinner. Our final gathering before she gave up her single title and walked into a life of ‘householdom’. So to pass time until the bride-to-be could join us, we decided to visit the Kapaleeshwar temple and feed the cows there. We hopped onto a train and climbed down after one stop at the Mylapore station and walked into the ‘kovil’ with two ghee lamps and lots of plantains. We hurried on with our prayers, clicked a picture of a cat and her two kittens sleeping blissfully inside a silver palanquin on which we believe the deities ‘commuted’ regularly around the temple grounds, and ran out to the ‘Goshala’ where the temple cows were housed.

We were welcomed by three absolutely adorable new borns, who nudged and rolled out their eyes and stuck out their tongues at the plantains in our hands. The youngest among the three was too small to chew on the plantain skin. So we peeled it, broke a small piece and had to literally feed it and wipe its dribbling drool from our hands. The main ‘Goshala’ had several cows of different breeds. Some devotee who was inside the Goshala and who appeared to be touching the ‘behind’ of one of the cows explained when he saw the horror in our eyes that the ‘Gomata’(‘mother cow’, or is it ‘cow mother’?) resided at the rear end. And that touching a cow’s behind and seeking blessings would do us much good. We didn’t really know whether to believe in his story, but Gobu had already ventured into the shed and pressed her palm against a cowdung caked behind. I chose a cleaner behind and risked getting kicked by what the caretaker called a ‘high class mix breed’ that came with all of the arrogance of being the ‘best quality’.  She stamped her hooves a couple of times and warned us to move away. And we paid heed to her warning and disappeared.

Out in the temple grounds, people sat around in circles and talked. Some were immersed in devotion and chanted prayers. We then played with a cat, got introduced to ‘Mumtaz’- the slipper counter owner’s lovely brown stray dog and got a reading from a parrot that screeched and threatened to peck us when we tried to pat it. We departed by giving the parrot a yellow flower, which it very skillfully plucked and scattered all over the cards and into his little cage.

We walked into Saravana Bhavan, had masala dosa, shared a pineapple juice, chatted for a while, bitched about the bride-to-be who ditched us and departed. For a change I rejected the offers from the auto-drivers and decided to take a bus. It was a good decision. The ride gave me enough time and space to sit and recollect my thoughts and the day’s events. Life was good. Really good! And it was still only just a beginning!


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cleanin up

Blogs are like shelves. Clothes shelves to be precise. If you do not promise to yourself to check on it everyday, you are bound to get avalanched in a huge ball of mess every time you open it. So then, the next best thing to do, if you can’t devote time for it everyday would be to simply shut it close. And walk past it, around it, away from it or if you are the type with a heightened level consciousness and all, then kill the thought the moment it arises in your head. I did all of the above. Only, my blog was more accommodating than my shelf. Unlike my shelf, comments did not pile up to fill and overflow from my comments box. Guess that further motivated the two-toed sloth inside me to make it look like a ‘crawl to the end of the world’ every time I decided to take action. And just when the two-toed one thought she could silently slip out of blogdom, came a call from a ‘lionocerous elestrich’. Yea, my dad has the memory of an elephant, is as swift as an ostrich in chasing away and trampling problems, had only a single point of focus in front of his eyes on his nose and can growl like a lion!

And growl he did, when he opened my blog yesterday and saw an unappetizing crow still feeding on the ‘kozhukottai’ I placed two months back.


“ke ke ke”, was the only reaction I gave him.


He didn’t force me to write of course. But then before he kept the phone down, he made it quite clear that he missed reading my blog. (Now I really know why they say that nobody will ever love you like your parents.) And I’ve realized that truth even before my marriage.

So this is me shouting out a ‘YAY’. For having learnt a lesson in life. For having decided to write again. And also for finally deciding to clean up my shelf.

Although, the ‘yay’ for the last one has met with an untimely death I fear, somewhere in between my lungs and the solar plexus.


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