Saturday, June 18, 2011

One Small Love Story

There are few people who inspire you to love. When Sai Baba teaches us to love the world, Sri Sri Ravishankar teaches us to love yourself, Romeo-Juliet gave a new dimension to romantic love, Mother Teresa taught us to love the underprivileged. In recent times I added a new person to this endless list-my sister-in-law (Anni). She taught me how to love your favorite food. Her undying love for her all time favorite dish biriyani has always intrigued me and left me thinking-how could anyone love a dish so much?
I got to know about her passion from my mom-in-law, well before my marriage. Whenever she prepares biriyani, she would say,”If Anitha was here…..”. At that point of time I just thought this as a mere motherly love. It was much later that I came to know that it was of course motherly love but apart from that it was my sister-in-law’s unrequited love for biriyani which made my mom-in-law tell these words every single time we talked about biriyani.
As I get to know my new family a little closer I got more news about Anni’s love for biriyani. My Anni is a diehard fan of her mother-in-laws mutton biriyani. Anni learnt to cook biriyani from her. She prepares biriyani almost every day. I heard later on from my brother-in-law(Anna) that she only prepares biriyani well and that now-a-days he is so scared of even hearing this word that he suggest eating from outside whenever Anni gets into kitchen ready to try a new biriyani variety.[This was supposed to be a secret].
I was never a biriyani fan and let alone cooking biriyani, I do not even know to eat biriyani properly. This mughal food which came to India from middle east is still a favorite of many. But Anni is different from those many in a way that she loves it a bit more than the others. How? Why? It is still a mystery to me.
Not everyone get a chance to eat with ones husband's family before marriage. I was lucky enough to get many chances. One among them is memorable one when I went to a Chettinaadu hotel with my in-laws, Anni and her kids. Once Inside the hotel, I was busy strategizing –how will I eat some decent amount of food in front of my in-laws, what should I talk to them, what should I talk to the kiddos who will never understand my already bad tamil. All this time, Anni seemed very restless and was constantly looking out for a waiter to stop by. Obviously she was ready with her order-Mutton biriyani. I felt sorry for her hunger. Little did I know then that she always feels hungry when biriyani is around. When hot biriyani came, Anni abruptly stopped talking and gave a sharp greedy look to scan the varieties. That look was enough to digest the biriyani on the plate.
Even after many protests from me , my mom-in-law shoved a big heap of mutton biriyani into my plate and instantly I started calculating the time which I will take to finish that off(if at all I could finish). Everyone knows that I am a slow eater but being a “pudu ponnu” means keeping lot of decencies even if it is not part of her. I was nervously watching everyone around the table. Though Anni was talking to me and to her kids and to her parents, all the time her attention was to the plateful of biriyani in front of her. Or was she eyeing other’s plate also? I would be happy to share my plate with her but my mom-in-law had decided to make me eat my plate. I wanted to ask her then –“Anni why do you find this stuff so interesting to her?” But I was new to everyone present there and I didn’t dare ask to her then. Eventually I was to find it out.
I was immersed in these thoughts looking at the delicious heap in front of me when Amma told to me –“eat slowly, take your time.” That was encouraging enough for me to eat still more slowly. Amma was busy feeding Amrit.  Appa was also busy eating with great concentration. He does this every time he eats. Scientists says that eating with concentration is good for health. It helps the food to be absorbed well into your body. Dhanvanth was cranky and blabbering in his cute childish style.
 Even when the whole world was moving around her with activities, Anni  was uninterrupted by these and was determined to stick to her mission- enjoy biriyani.
Amma could no longer handle both Amrit and Dhanvanth and so asked Anni to feed the latter. Dhannu in his cranky mood was difficult to handle. Anni seemed a little upset on having to interrupt her relishing biriyani but started feeding him. I was eating looking solely on my plate and nowhere else. I could hear Dhannu throwing tantrums and I wanted to watch it, out of curiosity. I could hear Anni asking Dhannu to open his mouth to feed him. In between she was also telling him how tasty the biriyani is and that it will make him stronger. I understood then that for Anni biriyani is the complete food. I wanted to see cute Dhannu eat food amidst his crankiness and I lifted my head just enough to see his face. I heard many times Anni telling “ Open your mouth Dhannu, look this biriyani is sooo yummy” .And he will do so. But not even a single time I saw biriyani reaching his mouth. My curiosity made me tilt my head a little more to track the path of biriyani.
It started from Anni’s plate and ended in her mouth! Poor Dhannu kept his mouth open for a long time before falling asleep!
Days passed by and I became part of this wonderful family. My mother-in-law did succeed in making me eat better and made me put on few kilos. She even taught me to cook many dishes-biriyani being one among them. But they say –you learn what you love- and so I learned sambhar and rasam very quickly but could never get my hands on any types of biriyani.
Once I shifted to Chicago with Arun I had made it a point to learn new recipes and surprise him. I tried everything from kerala dish to north Indian, from bhramin food to continental but could never prepare tasty biriyani. I used to get tips from Anni and Amma but my biriyani was never a success. Anni used to enjoy even while she used to tell me biriyani recipe over phone. She used to tell me the method of biriyani preparation in a single breath so as not to lose the thrill of it even when she speaks about it.
I talk to Anni daily over phone and  I noticed that Anni always had some news related to biriyani and every time she speak about it her voice showed an elevated level of happiness. She knows by heart which hotel in Dallas serves good tasty biriyani and what ingredients that would have used in it. She knows who is going to throw a biriyani party and when. “why” doesn’t hold much significance to her.   During one such conversation she mentioned about a picnic party where all the families had cooked and brought biriyani varieties. But I was amazed on why she was not excited while talking about biriyani this time. Then came the reason which surprised me even more- there were only 23 varieties of biriyani but she expected more.
Anni has endless tales about her love for biriyani and I am sure I will update my blog whenever I get something new from her. I wish that her love be long lived.
When I was finishing my blog I got a call from Anni’s number. Since Arun was busy watching his favorite tele-serial, I picked the phone and to my surprise it was Anna. It was unusual for Anna to call at this time. Usually it was Anni who speaks first and then pass the phone to Anna. I thought there should be something very special and important that made him to call us. He wished a good evening and I could sense a great tension in his voice. He said .” I do not want to tell you this but then I do not have any other option but to tell you. I found out that your Anni is cheating on me.” I felt dizzy. After all these years of strong marriage….????
I told him he should have mistaken and that my Anni will not do such a thing to which he strongly disagreed.
He said,” Yesterday night I heard her tell in her sleep –I love you biriyani. I am sure she loves biriyani more than me”.
Needless to say I burst out laughing and could tell anything more but these- Anni long live your love for biriyani. Anna, better luck next time. You lost her to a Mutton biriyani.”

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Junk Food

A cute little yellow daffodil, who lives in the small park at the centre of the city, opened her eyes to the bright, smoky, disillusioned lights of the vehicles .She remembered what her great great granny had said to her that in their days they used to wake up to the bright refreshing light of sun. She used to explain for hours how handsome and lovely sun was! Little daffodil does not remember having such a day in her entire life and probably will never have. A loud horn of a truck woke her up from her dream.
By now there were hundreds of vehicles around her at the city centre. She thought ,Why is it that the humans never stop or stand still even for a single moment as if they are all under Newton’s first law of motion?Like they are all in continuous perpetual motion and till now they were not stopped by any external force? We too do lot of things standing still our entire life! We enjoy nature, converse with other beings, we sing, dance, whisper, cook, eat. We too rejoice at birth and we cry when someone depart. And look I thought so many wonderful things –all standing still!’ Little daffodil thought that it might be because humans have very small or no brain inside that gigantic body. And she was right!
It was eight in the morning and now she is devoid of even that little light that she had early in the morning. Now all she could see was smoke and dust and fumes. She usually has a hard time patting off the dust from her body. She heard a cough and immediately recognised her maali. He has been providing for her from her childhood since the soil she stands is barren. Maali took out the supplement and thrust it onto her lap. She had no other go but to accept it and drink it. He took out a bottle with a big picture of skull on it and sprayed plenty of it on her and her family who were around her. She remembered the scary stories her granny used to tell her of how their small children died of eating these supplements and how even healthy ones died after being sprayed by this liquid. The ones who survived caught severe and deadly diseases. Little daffodil couldn’t help wondering that even after so much of horrible incidents why this maali keep doing this every day? Don’t they think at all? Or is it that they don’t they think at all about other beings?
While her parents were busy with their daily chores, little daffodil was busy observing the world around her. She was determined to learn this species called humans. A beautiful melodious song distracted her from her observation. She turned around and saw her little friend -honey bee, hovering around her. He sat gently on the daffodil without hurting her.
He unrolled his tongue to get his honey from her when suddenly little daffodil warned, ‘Friend ,did you forgot what your mother had said to you? Never eat junk food!’

Monday, March 28, 2011

I have CMPD :-(

Few years ago, when I saw Vikram’s Anniyan in a Cinema ,I had a doubt that I too had Multiple personality disorder or MPD.I was a different person outside the theatre and an entirely different person inside. Such was the impact of that movie on me that within a few hours I transformed into a shy, timid and soft spoken girl into a complete freak. Those who were with me while watching Anniyan will know this fact. They will also know that my new hairstyle is also an after effect of this movie. Yes, you read it right; I cut down my 1 metre long tresses after I became an Anniyan fan. Anniyan was, is and will remain one of my favourite movies which showed this MPD with a new perspective. Sydney Sheldon also told us a beautiful story of MPD in ‘Tell me your dreams’ which again is my favourite. My intention here is definitely not to make you bored with my research on MPD but I want to share one of my observations which confirms that I have MPD- but of a new kind.
Very recently, one among the hundreds of forward [informational] mails caught my attention. It was titled, ‘Sleeping positions and its meaning’. Just like everyone else, I too was curious to know what my sleeping position meant! It had 10 different poses and I could easily identify mine.J Interestingly I had not one but many sleeping positions which made me frown.
I am a person who in any normal day sleeps in a ‘soldier pose’. I would call this a ‘corpse pose’ so that you can easily identify, without much of my explanation, how a person sleeps in this pose. Yeah yeah, you got it right. Lying on your back with both arms pinned to your sides or crossed over tummy. Then, according to experts, I am generally quiet and reserved. I don't like a fuss, but set myself and others high standards.  I was so pleased to read it. I myself didn’t know till then that I am such a serious and sober person at heart.
After my marriage I moved to Chicago with my husband. I was [and still]l having a tough time coping up with the sub zero temperature here. I noticed that after I landed here I started sleeping in what they call as ‘foetus pose’. For your better understanding and visualization I can term it as ‘O pose. I curl to the maximum extend so as to utilize all the heat generated by my body. Heat from my legs keep my tummy warm, heat from my hands keep my neck warm and heat from my forehead keep my knees warm. I strictly follow conservation of energy principles. According to experts, I should be tough on the outside but sensitive at heart. I may be shy when I first meet somebody, but soon relax.
To beat the scorching cold, we put heaters inside the room. After few hours the rooms becomes heated enough that I can sleep without my blanket. In fact I will start sweating and then I assume a ‘Starfish pose’.  The best alternative word for that would be ‘Michelangelo's Vitruvian man pose’. Lying on my back, with both arms and legs wide apart, so as to allow maximum air flow through my body. According to experts, those who sleep in this position, make good friends because they are always ready to listen to others, and offer help when needed. They generally don't like to be the centre of attention.
You see, I got three different personalities which vary according to climate. I call this Climatic Multiple Personality Disorder or CMPD.
I bet you too suffer from CMPD J

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And the Entertainer of the Decade award goes to----Poliwood

Around the world entertainers are paid hefty sum of money for keeping the hard working population entertained. It’s the case in our country also. In that case why shouldn’t any politicians be “PAID” filthy amounts of money for they are the greatest entertainers in India, greater even to the Indian film industry? Even otherwise who will nowadays be entertained by the oft repeated masala stories where an old hero romances young belle [read skeleton], fights for her love and then ‘happily- live-ever after’? Whereas our politicians have ,to offer you ,much more unpredictable, raunchy, steamy, hot, hep, sensational and thrilling stories. And mind it that not two stories is similar unlike in movies where we can make out the story by its title.
Don’t get disillusioned by the fat chunk of maal which goes into Raja’s and Kalmadi’s pockets. Are yaar, without them how would you wake up with a sensational morning story in newspapers and television? How would you pass your tea time at cafeterias? How would you have sleepless night thinking about the next episode’s story?  Come on, so much for entertainment and you are till complaining about their “PAY CHECKS”? Now you are the one with stingy minds!
Now that the election is approaching, you can expect much more nail-biting and edge-of-the-chair drams. This time you will have double mazaa because, not only they will entertain you but also offer you goodies for having watched them do monkey dance. Goodies like mixer-grinder, cycles, laptops, bus pass and what not!! People still haven’t figured out what they should do with their ‘colored TV set’ which they got last year. It has either a menace in their house because they already do not have enough room for one LCD plasma TV which adorn their 1 kichinged [kitchen,living and bed room combined]house [ or room ] or it is a junk piece which will never be switched on by the poor downtrodden who do not have time to watch it after their days of bone breaking toil. Many even tried their luck by carrying the TV on head  , direct from the ration shop, and turned vendor by shouting ‘ammaaa...TV.. .TV..onnukku nooru’. We will have to wait and watch the fate of mixer-grinders, if at all they will have any.
This new gimmick is like ‘giving a man fish’ rather than ‘teaching him how to fish’. You get only a panji muttai [cotton candy  ] , which will taste good ,looks good and will also melt in seconds, if you allow them to entertain you for 5 years. You will never be given a solid candy making machine for you to make your own candy and make money.
As long as there are takers of this kind of entertainment the ‘poliwood’ industry [political entertainers] will boom. Let’s wait and watch for more melodramatic blockbusters. Let’s make fan clubs of more heroes and superheroes like Raja and Kalmadi and  Amma[JL].

PS: Auditions are going on for the forthcoming poliwood movie. Anyone with a good ‘nonsense’ and greedy nature and a hunch for making it big in the industry can apply. If selected , you will be given top roles for 5 years.