Thursday, August 30, 2012

Home is where the Saag is......

It is often a challenge to recreate traditional regional Indian dishes when you stay away from your home country. But there is nothing an observant and learning mind cannot solve.

Gastronomically , India is a rich tapestry of regional cuisines, which are enjoyed by folks across the country.

My blogger friend Shruti Nargundkar of Melbourne,  decided to make a traditional rural Punjabi  meal, of Makke ki Roti and Sarson ka Saag (Mustard Greens with Maize Flat Bread). And she did it using Chinese Spinach or Choy Sum and Swiss Chard or Silver Beet Greens.  She also made it a slightly less richer version , calorifically speaking, in keeping with the times.....

Read the entire post and recipe here.

The result clearly was more than mouthwatering. It also spawned a poem in Marathi, with a version in English.  

And to those, ignorant of it, a concept of Maher (a married girl's parental home), Maherpan (a married girl's homecoming  accompanied by some great indulgent fuss), and Saasar (her marital home, often with a mother-in-law ,,,,)

उलटे ऋतू असलेल्या देशात
सासरी आलेली ती ,
स्वप्नात मोहरीचे मळे,
पिवळी धम्म फुलं,
ताज्या लोण्याचे गोळे

आणि शेतात शिजवलेली
मक्के कि रोटी आणि सर्सोन का साग बघते.

आज कालच्या ई युगात
पालेभाज्या सुधा एकमेकांना ईमेल करतात .

आणि मग एक दिवस अचानक
सौ. चोय्साम्बाई मोहरीमल चिने,
गडद हिरवा शालू नेसून,
जरा वयस्कर सौ. चान्देरीबाई बिट्यान्चासह तिच्या घरी पोचल्या ....
पदर खोचून कामाला लागल्या .
"अग मिर्चे , नुसता "आले आले" काय म्हणतेस,
त्याला कान्देभौजीन्बरोबर, लसण्यासकट घेउन ये,कि !
ऑलिवआजी थांबल्या आहेत केव्हाच्या ....."

शेवटी त्या दोघी स्वतः ही त्यात पडल्या,
आणि येणाऱ्या नवरात्रीच्या भोंडल्याची आठवण व्हावी
इतक्या गोल गोल फिरून
मजेत मिसळल्या....
थोडंसं पाणी , किंचित लिंबुरस, आठ्वणीन्चा मसाला,
आणि एव्हड्यात दमलेल्या सगळ्यांवर
त्या सासुर्वशिणीने हलकेच पिठाची शाल पांघरली.

मनात खूप आठवणी दाटल्या ,
तिचा चेहरा बघून तव्याला काय वाटले कोण जाणे ;
मक्याच्या पीठाकडे त्याने लाल डोळे वटारले,
पटापटा रोट्या चुपचाप तयार झाल्या .

ती जेवायला बसली.
हौसेने खाल्ले .
आणि मग ती संगणकावर बसली
तेव्हा भारातात्ल्या पालेभाजीने पाठवलेली ईमेल दिसली ...
"लेक किती वर्ष्यात माहेरी आली नाही,
चोय्साम्बाई आणि चान्देरीबाई,
जरा माझ्या लेकीच माहेरपण कराल का ?".......

Ensconced Down Under,
in her  Saasar,
she dreams
of the
golden yellow  fields,
the mustard greens,
and the delicious
traditional meal of
makke ki roti and sarson ka saag,
with a cheerful dollop of
fresh churned butter.

She doesn't know that
in these E-days,
even Greens send emails
to each other....

And so it came to pass
Mrs ChoySum Mustardy Chinawalla
in a grand green silk
a slightly senior
Mrs ChanderiBai Beetay
came visiting
and tucking in their saree ends,
simply got down to work.

"Stop calling out, Mirchi,
and just drag The Gingerfolks here,
when you escort
Lords Onion and Garlic;
can't keep Grandma Olive waiting, can you?"

In the end
both the ladies joined in,
and shaking
and moving in circles,
as if participating in the Navratri Bhondla
of Maharashtra.

Some freshening with water,
lemon juice,
some spicy memories of old,
and suddenly
the lady of the house,
a light wet shawl of maize
over all the tired cooked folks.

Her childhood
in vivid recall,
displayed across her expressive face,
the griddle noticed,
and red hot in anger,
ordered the maize dough
to organize itself
without fuss
quickly in
delicious cooked rounds.

She set a place,
sat down
and partook of the amazing meal.

And when she logged in
on her laptop
soon after
to check email,
she saw the message
from the Indian Mustard Greens
to the Greens Down Under.

"Our daughter, far away,
hasn't been able to visit
her Maher for so long.....
Choy Sum and Chanderibai ladies,
would you visit
and give her a taste of Maherpan ?"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sunshine Women

My young blogger and FB friend, and a quietly observant and sensitive photographer Swati Maheshwari, recently did a guest photopost for my friend Zephyr Nag. The subject was "the rural woman" as seen through her lens, and the photographs simply oozed strength. 

And it was all about no posing, no accessorizing, no publicity, but a quiet and serious getting on with life, while some urban types suffer diseases caused by the arrogance of abundance.

As Swati says ,

" .....When I look at a woman, my mind is awhirl  with questions, not just one, but plenty that intrigue, tease and make me wonder about the thoughts that go on in her mind. What she is like, who she is in her life, the stories, the joys and sorrows that are etched in the lines of her face.  She is not  just a person, but an entire saga of life itself. As strange as it may seem, every woman is alike in a certain way and yet every woman is unique in her own way. Come with me on the journey of discovery of this wonderful being and her myriad facets...."

Swati blogs at Espial ,  is an amazing photographer,  a PR Consultant , and co-founder at Rustic Art, the creators of an environment friendly and organic range of products.

She is the flower
that blooms,
in the tree’s scheme of things.

Never the “heroine”
next to
dahlias and orchids
in bought bouquets,
she faces
the winds
in the bloom of her life,
aware of the fruit
that comes later.

Unarranged, undisplayed,
but oozing strength
in a seasonal blossom,
she tangles with birds,
while allowing the bees,
and moths,
and tolerates
the wandering
of the little ants
all over her.

She blossoms,
with some like her,
some still tiny,
and some
who actually leave
and are taken away
to adorn
someone’s artificial celebration.

And they all learn,
that regardless
of the time of their Life,
it doesn’t matter,
what color you are,
what size you are,
how sharp you are,
or how old you are.

It is about remembering
what the Big Tree taught you,
getting on with others,
being true to yourself,
putting in the great effort,
facing big storms
and emerging, head up,

Another day,
Another sun,
and she rises,
brushes off some dewdrops,
and smiles
as she sees
in the distance
the silhouette
the little
strong woman
with the camera……..

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuberosal Art of Worship

My blogger and FB friend Bhavana Nissima Upadhyaya, posted this lovely photograph on a Nishigandha in bloom. A flower with pride of place in celebrations, decorations, worships and garlands,  and one is convinced , that one knows , where our artistic art forms got their inspiration form.

The first picture, courtesy Google, is that from a dance festival held in Ahmedabad in 2011, where 21 dance forms inspired by Bharatnatyam were presented.

The second clicked by Bhavana, tells you where they all got their insipration from.

And I am sure  SomeOneUpThere smiled and said, "I am glad they are learning ....!"

(photograph by Bhavana Nissima Upadhyaya)
The prayer,
the invocation,
the music
the wonder,
the silks,
the Mudras,
the Rhythm,
and the Naad
so many uniting
to pray and sculpt
in worship, as one.

out amidst
the red silken wet soil,
avid green worshippers,
chirping chants on trees,
buzzing flying stotras,
this heartfelt,
simple prayer
by a dedicated family.

Some geriatric,
some of age,
and some yet to bloom,
so naturally sculpted,
all standing tall
clutching on
to the family matriarch,
and green.

One will go home.

The other
will leave home
to be part
of another prayer,
another garland
in another temple.

Why ?

The Onam Matriarch

Come Onam, and my FB friend Shruti Nargundkar, writes a wonderful post about spending  the day in Gods Own Country, or Kerala, India's southern most state, celebrating the festival.

Read her amazing post to taste the jackfruits, and various types of chips, , enjoy the fragrance of the jasmines, and delight your eyes with the visions of folks in white and gold, only to be amazed by the wonderful geometry and grandeur of the pookalam...

And before we forget, Avial (photograped by Shruti) for the soul .......(recipe on her blogpost)

high up there
in tete a tetes
with the Windy varun,
her last fling

before leaving 
her high abode...

She climbs down,
amidst a clamour
on the ground,
the little onions,
the slightly older
strong willed chillies,
and the polite cumin and curry leaves
all itching
to be part of her scene,
when she makes
her annual trip
to Onam amusement park.

Back at the park,
the beany youngsters,
and spicy chillies
and bubble in great excitement
as the
immature bananas
elderly drumsticks,
stuffy potatoes,
and various gourdy folks
stewing in their own thoughts
look on
at the uncontrolably
flirting carrots.

A few hissing steams,
and the mango-turmeric police
spraying the Hing canons
to get things under control.

completely absorbed
in the little ones
finally arrives at the Onam park
to a tumultous welcome.

everyone together,
she smiles and looks up,
notices her cousin,
shakes her head indulgently,
and says,
"Ah ! The new generation !
I knew you had a hot job
Never thought I'd see you here,
with the mustard ladies...
But this is Onam,
so do Join us.....

***Naral : Marathi word for Coconut

Beasts, Beauties, and Sunlight on Chrome

Motorcycles  are not normally my scene. I have always thought of them as monsters, ridden by folks in a hurry (in Mumbai) who blatantly overtake from the left. (we drive on the left).

But thanks to my FB friend Vineet Rajan who is a member of a motorcycle club  I was able to view this amazing photograph clicked by his fellow member Manu Goel ( who is now also my friend ;  all I need now is a motorcycle :-)...)

The monsters actually looked like beauties here; like a bevy of beauty contest participants, posing just so, on a stage. And the mirrors helped ...

Just proves  you never know what may inspire a poem......

So many
dark and lovely,
chocolate smooth complexions,
slim centres
with an engine flare.

All standing together,
some leaning in support,
arms out in front,
holding mirrors,
waiting for the results.

And the judges arrive,
in black leather windcheaters
and helmets
and knee pads
and puncture kits
and goggles;
some with backpacks,
and most with a worried look.

And Miss Yamaha
nudges Miss Hayabusa
and says,
" I heard one of them mention
that Gas will now be Rs 80 a litre
And the Enfield lady ,
taps the Pulsarkumari
and says ,
" I guess
that means
we cut down
on vacations
in Goa ?
Sigh............... "

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Bozoical Rider

Mumbai's own dog-with-his-own-blog, Bozo, cannot believe his eyes. He now actually has competition in his own house, in the form of a two wheeled, brown, growling machine, currently sitting in the garage.

He is just grateful, it cannot come inside the house. He is also thrilled to bits that it cannot play with the young ones when they come home on holiday, and also that it cannot eat all the good festival stuff that gets made in the house.

But Bozo, is a pragmatic chap, likes to move with the times, has put deep thought into this and has some ideas on how he can join his mentor and life chronicler Magiceye on the various rides. 

As Magiceye's old faithful, he needs to keep an eye on this new entrant , the mechanical beast......

As a guy with four legs,
I've always envied
the bipeds
who have such excellent balance
who nevertheless,
drive on four wheels.

there are wheels
within wheels
cranking in the biped cortex,
as I discovered
when folks rushed out one morning,
and I saw them return
wearing helmets
firing on all cylinders,
on a motorcycle,
the color of my eyes.

I guess
the days of
standing on a seat,
leaning out of windows
into the wind are over.

It's now time
to join the Biker Dogs Motorcycle Club,
helmets that leave the ears free,
and riding goggles
that hide
the jealousy in my eyes.

There are places
that sell motorcycle dog seats
and LED dog Collars.

So many folks wanting to ride,
and only one seat...

But I think I will wait and see,
who Deepak wants
to take with him
on those rides
into a Sanhyadri Sunset.....

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ballad of the Kanda Kairi

A summer relish made out of raw mango and onion. Returning from morning school on hot afternoons in the plains, to enjoy this amazing preparation, its recipe and sense of lipsmacking wonder indicated so well by my friend Shruti Nargundkar of Melbourne , in her post ,"The Summer of our Content".

The recipe I follow has the same ingredients, but is not as homogeneous in appearance, since one uses grated raw mango(kairi) and slivers of onions, often ornamented by stiffly hot kadhipatta leaves and halfburnt fenugreek seeds.

Nevertheless, this remains a star side preparation, to be had at lunch, a ceiling fan groaning overhead, followed by cool spiced buttermilk, a glass of matka water , and a lingering taste in the mouth, that transforms into dreams on a somnolent summer afternoon...

Just a peek into the tumultuous life of the Kairi....... original in Marathi, an afterthought in English...

 (photo by Shruti Nargundkar)
लहानपणापासून तिला वाटे
आपण नाटक सिनेमात काम कराव ......
तिच्या जन्माच्या वेळी, आम्राईभर आलेला
सुगंधीत मोहोर,
तिचे डोळेभरून झालेले बालपणीचे कौतुक,
थोड्या पिवळसर लालसर छटा दिसायच्या आत  ,
सात च्या आत घरात चा नियम .
आणि मग एकदिवस
बाजारात पळून जाणे,
एका आजीबाईनी  आश्रय देणे,
आणि शाळेत जाणार्या काही मुलींनी तिच्याकडे
अधाशीपणाने बघणे. 
एवढे  सर्व तर सनेमा सारखेच ....

पण आजकाल एका सिनेमात अनेक नटनट्या  असतात .

रणरणत्या माळरानावरच्या  कडक उन्हात
अचानक अवतीर्ण झालेले कांदा सिंग ,
त्यांचे नाच्या पाठीराखे
तापलेले, घासून पुसून  स्वच्छ  भुईमुगराव दाणे,
घाबरत मागे आलेल्या  जीराबाई ,
आणि   कैरी च्या पाठीमागे भक्कम पणे उभ राहून
"भिउ नकोस, तुला सावरायला मी आहे न .."
असं म्हणून सगळ्यात पडणारे मोठे गूळभौजी....

शेवटचा सीन ,
सगळे एकत्र फिरतात,
एकमेकात इतके गुंततात ,
स्वतहाला विसरतात.
गुंडांनी गरम तेलात मोहर्या उडवल्या , त्याच्यावर टाकल्या
तरी फक्त एक मंद चर्रर्र ......

आणि मग
भाकरीबुआ पापुद्रे येतात,
गवारीबाई, हिरव्या शालूत  ओव्याचे अत्तर शिंपडून
हझर  होतात,
दही आणि  भात एकत्रच यीऊन पोचतात ,
पोक्त वरण राव
मन घट्ट  करून बसलेल्या लोण्याकडे बघून
म्हणतात ,
"काय हो, लोक म्हणतात
कांदा सिंग आणि कैरीबाई
यांच्यात काहीतरी  चालू आहे....
खरं कि काय ?...."

She always wanted
to be
in Films....

Her birth celebrations
amidst fragrant
mango blossoms,
an indulgent protected childhood,
and strict timings and rules of life
as she came of age....

And one day, she took off
into the market,
only to be rescued
by a old vegetable seller grandma.

Watched greedily
by school kids,
as she transferred
from basket to house.

Almost like a movie, this.

But this is a age of multistarrers....

And so Hero Kanda Singh
suddenly appeared on the burning plains,
by his Monkeynut sidekick;
an apprehensive Jeerabai,
worriedly following behind,
and Lord Jaggery,
sensing Kairi's  discomfiture
and saying,
"Fear not, and proceed;
remember, I am there to support you !"

The last Climax scene.

A massive mingling
and becoming one
of all the characters,
so much, that
there is barely a squeak,
and just a hiss,
as some
hot oil with crackling mustard
is poured over them all....

Which brings on the watchers,
Bhakribua "layer" Papudre,
Lady Cluster bean,
with Ajwain perfume
on  green silk,
the Curd-Rice folks hand in hand.

The thick and portly
Dal representative,
looks at the White Butter Man,
sitting desolately,
trying not to dissolve,
and clearing
his Hinged salty  throat
asks ,
" Tell me,
everyone says,
there is something
going on
Kanda Singh and Kairibai....
Is it true ??

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Life and Times of Chawli Rajgire

My blog and FB friend Shruti Nargundkar often posts visuals and recipes in her blog, which bring a whiff of my childhood years.

Rajgira or the grain called Amaranth is very commonly available in India, and is cooked in different traditional ways depending on the part of the country. This recipe which she posts , with an interesting connection to the Akshaypatra (Endless Food Machine granted to Draupadi in the Mahabharata epic)  inspired two different poems

Read her amazing post here: "Your Akshaypatra brimmeth over!"

Back to the poems.  One , penned at night, a slightly morbid one, commenting on the Food machine aspect and its relevance today.  (Will post it in the comments).....

A new day, a new morning, and another more cheerful poem resulted, which you may see below in the original Marathi and later-on-done English version.

(did anyone say anything about a Diurnal Affective Disorder ?..... Ah. Never Mind )

(photo by Shruti Nargundkar)
राज्गीर्यांची चवळी वयात आली ,
आणि आपल्या हिरव्या परकर पोलक्यात
अगदी डोळ्यात भरू लागली ,
आणि शेतातल्या बायका म्हणाल्या
"आता जरा बार उडवूनच टाका हो !
तो जोंधळे मामींचा भाचा आला आहे गावाकडे ....."

आणि मग एक दिवस
भल्या पहाटे,
स्वच्छ थंड पाण्याचे अभ्यंगस्नान करून ,
एका उबदार भांड्यात ती डोकावली ,
आणि जिरे-मोहरीचे तेलात जुंपलेले
कडकड भांडण सोडवायला
हिंगांबरोबर धावली .
तिच्या हातापायाला हळदसुद्धा तिथेच लागली
आणि सगळी गडबड ऐकून,
गावचे श्रेष्ठ कांदेराव ,लासूणराव ही आत पडले.
आणि लाल नौवारीत्ल्या मिरची आजीला म्हणाले,
" चला , काय सोन्याचे दागिने असतील ते लवकर घाला,
आपली चवळी कशी नखशिखांत सजली पाहिजे ,

जोंधळे वर्हाड घेउन आले,
पितळेच्या परातीवर थाप पडली
तव्यावर ठिणग्या उडल्या ,
भाकर राव लोण्याच बाशिंग बांधून आले ,
आणि मुगाच्या दागिन्यात सजलेल्या
चवळी ला हार घालून ,
लसणाच्या चटणीला पाठराखीण म्हणून घेउन
आपल्या गावाकडे मार्गी झाले....

The coming of age
Chawli Rajgire,
and she preens
in her green parkar-polka
as she runs in the fields.

"Hmm. You need to look for a match
for her
", they said ;
"Did you hear
Jowaribai's  nephew is back ?

And so 

one cool dawn , 
rubbing herself
with fragrant muds,
she showered,
and peeped into a hot vessel
to check what the noise was all about.

Hot oil fights
between mustard and cumin seeds,
crackling in anger,
and she rushed in with Hing,
only to get smeared in
marital turmeric powder.....

Onion and Garlicky village elders
trying to bring some peace,
and they urged the
old Red Chilly Grandma,
to bring forth the jewels...

"Bring forth the gold,
and our Chawli
must be the most beautiful bride,
the toast of the season

The Jowari folks,
the groom's side
amidst percussion on a large brass Thali
and a fire crackling
on the griddle
in joy.

Young man Bhakri,
with best man Butter,
wordlessly garlanded 

golden glorious Chawli
jewelled in Moong ,
collected her
Chatni, Maid of Honor
as the accompaniment,
and quietly
made his way home......

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Snacks and Leaders

This is a photo posted by my friend Sangeeta Khanna, who is a botanist, researcher,nutritionist, trekker, nutrition advisor, and a proponent of food as medicine. And a photographer . She blogs on cooking using the freshest and most seasonal ingredients, thanks to her green thumb and her amazing garden. 

Walking in a light drizzle in August, in Delhi, amidst quaint tiled/blocked grounds strewn with leaves and branches, presumably enjoying the season as much as the bloggers, this scene reminded me of Snakes and Ladders, a board game we played a lot in our childhood, which was devoid of Angry Birds, FB,Need for Speed etc etc

(photograph by Sangeeta Khanna)
In this life game
"Snacks and Leaders",
it's so much fun,
to walk,
firmly forward,
leading your mind
from event to event...

Sometimes you slide down
slowing a bit on a green,
as it
puts you back
a few squares in life.

But sometimes,
the greens call,
you have the most fun
your thought garden
as you
cook amazing things
and the "Snacks"
make you jump so many squares up.

I guess at this age
we don't
really like to play
hop scotch with food ...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tendrils of the Courageous Type

My FB friend Arvind Khanna posted this wonderful photograph; something he posted as a member of the Delhi Photography Club, and shared with us.

Nature they say , reflects our lives, and possibly vice-versa.  And so we have , occasionally, brave entities, facing all kinds of dark forebodings by gutless superficial folks, as they delve deep into troubled places, and try to work on their own, seeking a solution......finally turning around and back , possibly to a better world; who knows ?

(photo by Arvind Khanna)
Life is easy
when you rest
on the efforts of others,
facing into a blue sky and sun,
waving at the
some flying by
checking you out,
some alighting as a breather
in an actual journey somewhere else.
They skim the surface,
and perhaps
you know who I talk about.

But the toughest thing
is to look inwards,
amidst the dark forebodings,
little yellow glimmers
and a confused
dark populace,
deep in the recesses,
and say,
"I will go in,
investigate the situation,
try to improve it all,
and only then emerge back up.
These folks
are the tough brave ones.
They don't
make them like that anymore....

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Onion and the Cutting Edge

Just found out that there is Cutting Edge Technology involved  in the stable cutting on Onions.  Masterchef Vikas Khanna who along with TechGuru Rajiv Makhni presided over the recent Indiblogger Nokia Apptasting Meet, dedicated a part of the evening to the onion cutting algorithm.

We normally cut both ends of the Onion, and then cut away, which sometimes makes the Onion slip. The thing to do is to keep the root side uncut, and hold on to the onion with that . The root texture keeps things stable, and both you and the Onion learn to go back to your roots. 

This is a photo by photoblogger Pankaja Date, showing Vikas Khanna cutting the Onion, and Rajiv Makhni and an assistant checking out some flaw in their cutting edge technology.....   

Naturally, it inspired this :

Its Body in whorls,
Its Mind in a whirl,
an onion
traumatized and falling apart...

And she puts
a reassuring hand
on its  Root Knot,
"You must remain connected
with your Root,
whether you
Are falling to pieces,
Really cut up,
or showing someone 
a Slice of your life...."

And a blushing tomato
watching this, sighed,
"Kaash ! mai Root Hoti !...." 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hail Zero !

The recently publicised Coal Scam  causing a loss of 1.86 lakh crores to the exchequer through Coal Block misallocation ,  prompted my blogger and FB friend Priyadarshan Kale, who works in Finance, to ask people if they could write in figures, the mind boggling sum.   

Many erred. Some fainted.   

INR 1,860,000,000,000.00

I made a poem :-)

शून्याचा शोध लावला ,
शून्यातून मोठे झालो ,
पण साध्या माणसांना
अजून शून्याचा अर्थ समजला नाही ....
कुणा "एकाने" स्वताहा समोर
चोरून चोरून इतकी शून्य लावली ,
कारण त्याला "अर्थ" चा खरा अर्थ कळला होता.
आणि म्हणूनच
तो अर्थाची व्यवस्था बघतो ,
आणि आम्ही सर्व मोठे शून्य ,
शून्यातच बघत राहतो ......

Discovered Zero,
Began as Zero,
But proletarian me
never understood Zero.....

Then some special "1"
stole so many 
and added them
to his repertoire 
of Final Answers.
to put it plainly'

Thats why,
he manages 
his collection of Finance,
while BIG Zeros like us
keep staring 
with eyes 
as big as Zeros.....

Evening Colors

A single photograph can inspire so many streams of thought.

My blogger friend Rain Trueax who lives on a farm in the Pacific Northwest, is a permanent invitee to the Great Nature Show on Changing Season Colors, since she lives in the midst of it all. An accomplished  painter artist, she writes on a wide variety of subjects.

She recently posted a wonderful photograph along with her thoughts in poetry form.
 (Both as below)

watching a leaf
waiting for it
to fall

How does she
help her daughters,
those of birth
and those of
know their own
feminine self?

The earth knows the
 know yourself. 
She has posted this in a post  "Seasons and their Wisdom"  on her blog "Rainy Day Thoughts".

I commented  my interpretation in verse.  And she was gracious enough to let me use her photograph here.  My interpretation below.....

(photograph by Rain Trueax)
Facing life colors
cheerful equanimity
the tree
in russets
and reds
and browns,
shining gold
in the early autumn sun.

There is no
for the loss of green.

And she wonders
how to tell her daughters
if your mind remains green
you need
no other color
to beat
the passages of time
in your life.....

Lady Khantoli (Updated with English version)

Once again, my FB and blogger friend, Shruti Nargundkar  posts word pictures on her blog that make you feel you are in a temple complex with folks coming in to worship their favourite family Gods for blessings, children charging around outside reveling in the "blessed" food/Prasaad  being offered to all worshippers, even going in for seconds , with the smiling Gods turning a determined blind eye.

Shruti posted a recipe of a whole wheat sweet prasaad offering, Khantoli, made with jaggery. Which is how it was made in the old days.

The flavors, the whole wheat roasting smell, the golden hue, the coming together of everyone and everything for a presentation to the Gods, inspired a Marathi poem. (English version  follows).     

आमच्या येथे श्रीकृपेकरून
श्रावणातील शुक्रवारी  ,
ठीक  सायंकाळी सात वाजून एकोणतीस मिनिटाच्या     
गोरज मुहूर्तावर
आमची सुकन्या
ची सौ का कणिका
हिचा विवाह
ची श्री सोनेरी गुळे
(कोल्हापूरचे श्री अंबाजी व सौ देवी गुळे यांचे सुपुत्र )
यांच्याशी  संपन्न  होणार आहे....

कार्य सिद्धीस नेण्यास भगवान तूप  व श्रुतीदेवी मेलबोर्ने समर्थ आहेत.

देवासमोर पत्रिका ठेउन
उल्थ्नीबाई लगबगीनी हालचाल  करू  लागल्या
आणि ऑलिव्ह मावशी ला बघून जरा दच्क्ल्याच.....
 एव्हड्यात  गव्हीन्बाई लगबगीने पुढे झाल्या ,
आणि आजकालच्या रवाबेन , लापशी व एन. आर. आय  बलगरवाल्याना
बाजूला सारून
स्वतः जातीने  कढइत फिरू  लागल्या.

पलीकडे देवाचे नाव घेउन गरम पाण्यात
उतरलेला गूळ,
इलाय्चीबाई व खसखस बंधू  ना खुणावत
त्यात विलीन होउ लागला....
हट्टाला पेटलेले बेदाणे ही आले ,
आणि सर्व मंडळी
गव्हीन्बाईना लगबगीने जाउन मिळाली ....

"आता कसं , लग्न घर वाटतंय ,
सर्वांनी  जरा पाच दहा मिनिटे स्वस्थ बसा
मग नैवेद्य दाखवू ....."

गव्हीन्बाई थांबल्या,
त्यांनी कपाटातून
आपला जुना बदाम-काजूचा तन्मणी काढला ,
स्वताहाला  न्याहाळत घातला ,
आणि सर्वान घेउन नैवेद्याच्या ताटाकडे मार्गी झाल्या ...

"You are invited
to celebrate
the marriage of our daughter
(son of Mr Ambaaji and Mrs Devi Jaggerywale of Kolhapur),
at the auspicious
Shravan evening moment
of 7hrs and 29 minutes.....

To be Conducted
by Lord Ghee, and Lady Shruti of Melbourne.

Inviting the Gods to grace this ,
Wholewheataa Maam,
pushing aside
the Rawa,
and even NRI Bulgur types
rushed into the wok,
stirring and involving herself
into the ghee,
as she
looked upon the Olive Oil with suspicion.

a desperate jaggery in shreds,
threw itself into hot water,
all the while signalling to
the young Cardamom
and Poppy seeds to join up....

Can Raisins be left behind ?

And so all these folks
landed up at
and mixed so nicely
in excitement,
that she finally asked them
to Cool down
and Relax.

Bidding them be,
she quietly
opened her space,
took out
the heirloom Tanmani jewelery
studded with
Almonds and Cashews,
adorned herself.

And they all watched
in admiration,
as she very self consciously,
in silver,
made her way
to be blessed by the Gods..... 

Bozoical Life Seasons...

You don't need to know the properties of glass to reflect. Bozo , Mumbai's only dog-with-his-own-blog knows that , as a Holy Book said, "for everything in life there is a season".

There is a season for racing in gardens, there is a season for sprucing up on your way to meeting Luci (of Thiruvananthapuram) for lunch,  there is a season for growling and cribbing, there is a season for hankering after fancy accessories and there is a season for thinking and ruminating about life....

Unlike us bipeds, who are experts at mismatching seasons to activities, Bozo thinks there is something to what the book says.

We guys
may not make
a song and a dance about it,
but we too have
and monsoon fashions,
and preferred colors and stuff.

some unimaginative bipeds
we guys really don't prefer golden blondes
à la Lassie....

It's more about being
a smart chocolate brown
or a butterscotch cream
with streaks of color
or even a shining military black....

As for me,
I'm beyond mundane stuff
like colors
and am more into accessories
like my smart
personalized London collar,
my casual blue one,
and my
impressive harness.

There has always been
a big long
shiny thing
in the house,
in which
I see and admire myself
when I wear this stuff.

It's when
the sun sets,
dinner is over,
windows closed against mosquitoes,
and the lamp shines,
I restlessly move,
till I see a hint of myself
emerge from behind a curtain
in the glass,
and you know what,
when I see
deep into my mind,
and thank God
for my amazing life ! 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Assorted Essentials ....

Normal everyday items like a basket of Assorted Parathas  (Indian Breads) that one orders when having a meal in a restaurant. And my friend Magiceye, posts such a wonderful photo, that you start imagining what curries must have been ordered with it .

 Parathas may be simple, or complicated and stuffed. Some lightly flavoured with mint, onion, garlic, various crunchy seeds, and some  importantly stuffed with the big stuff like potatoes. All vying to fit in ,  the allocated important space, at the centre of it all, as the hoi polloi carrots and sliced onions pretend they have not noticed....

(photo by Deepak Amembal Magiceye)
The Food Constitution
of India
has declared them
an Essential item.

They have a place
at the Centre,
and in a Special Enclosure.

This Standing Committee
is actually sitting,
all trying to fit
into the same frame,
despite their different persuasions.

Some arising
from applauding the dough
between two palms
and smacking it
on the insides of a tandoor
to test its response in heated moments.

Some compulsorily rolled,
and thrown
onto hot surfaces,
with a bit of oil drizzled
to acqaint them with hard times...

Some creative ones,
cooperating with spices and mint
trying to appear really cool
amidst all the stuffy ones...

And some who
simply don't go anywhere
without their Aloo, Gobi, Paneer
and Muli hanger ons.

So much posing,
so much buttery makeup,
so much prestige,
and they
finally realize,
that they are meant
for the people,
as someone breaks off a piece,
dips it 
in Dum Aloo
and imbibes it all,
"Ah ! Wonderful !
So what if these disappear,
I will vote for new ones !"

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Great Deception

Young photoblogger Pankaja Date somehow sights the most amazing creatures. 

This particular glamorous caterpillar , ambling slowly across the expanse of a leaf on a cloudy drizzling monsoon morning, just had some great character !

Maybe there was a show of Miss Caterpillar-India World  happening !

The stage
in a vivid jungle green,
cue lines
lightly marked
to guide the participants.

It's been
a great experience
going through
Leaf-Chewing round,
the Slow Waltz round,
the latter
a bit tough
with so many legs
shod in

A thunder roll,
the crickets buzz and clap,
a few leaves,
shed some customary tears,
nodding breezes
croaky whistles by the frogs,
and she emerges
in a yellow and black
form fitting gown
by Varun Monsooniani,
what looks like
tiny Swarovski spears,
and a maang tikka
in gold.

it's her hair
standing all on edge
given the Great Deception.

No one knows
that she cocoons
into a Pupa

Poking one's Nose ...

My young FB friend  Sudev Sarkar was a neighbor more than 25 years ago, when he was a student.

Technology allows you to meet so many folks , virtually, that you haven't seen for years.

 He recently went on a Safari to the Amboseli National Park  in Kenya, and posted some amazing photos here.

One,  portraying the giraffes, sort of reminded me of something. 

 (photo by Sudev Sarkar)
So many
tall upright leaders
aware of the environment,
minding their own
life and work,

an example to their young

It takes one
pseudo powerful,
physically imposing
but empty minded
insecure type
poke his nose in
and cause problems.

Politics of the jungle ?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ek Tha Sizzler......

Sometimes the headers of blogs look so delicious, you forget to read the posts.  My blogger friend Magiceye posted one such , of a sizzler , he enjoyed at one of Mumbai's original sizzler places , Yoko Sizzlers, in the western Mumbai suburb of Santa Cruz, where it first started.  There are many branches, but they often do not measure up to the standards of the original.

The entire ethos of fire, flavours, sauces, smoke, steam, participating meats and vegetables,  and the flourishing presentation reminded one, of the movies and Bollywood.

So many edible folks
with Bollywood pretensions.

Pert Preity Zinta green peas
with the cute factor;

Conservative Rima Lagoo
Cabbage Moms,
keeping base,
with pale green sarees,
largely wrapped;

Assorted roasted vamp onions,
of being transparent;

A chorus of
squished singed tomatoes,
bright shining carrots,
some out-of-place
unwilling cut-up beans,
and a bunch
of flamenco spinach dancers,
flashing their dark green skirts;

All watched
by the elderly Thakoor Cutlet,
and his Cheesy Chamchaas,
while the
law enforcement
French Fries Patrol
keeps asking the whereabouts
of the missing Monsieur Rice-Pasta;

The tempo heats up,
as they prepare
for the
arrival and repose
of the  Hero;
Powerful Top folks,
Sometimes Fowl,
Sometimes Communist Red,
and sometimes
a Slippery and Fishy
slightly better white...

Unbearable tempers,
the fat's in the fire,
the angry Hero smokes,
and sizzles,
as he is presented at the table.

And the man
looks at his friend,
blows the smoke away,
picks up his fork,
and says,
"Wonderful film !
Kya sizzler hai !"

Freedom to explore

Young photoblogger  Pankaja Date likes to go exploring amidst the green, more so on monsoon mornings.  She did so, on this Independence Day mid morning, and amongst butterflies, and caterpillars , also chanced upon a ladybug teetering at the edge of the leaf. 

As she mobilized to click it, an ant simply made its way importantly into the frame.

This was the result.  

Like they say, nature reflects what it sees around itself.....

(photo by Pankaja Date Photography)
In the
same undulating green,
two worlds
of the
haves and have-nots

separated by
a self defined line.

On one side,
prosperous black coated
red top-hatted types,
bursting at the seams,
blithely traipsing around,
the smooth life,
unaware that
blind ambition
and overconfidence
sometimes leads to a sheer fall.

And the hardy
of the uneven
occasionally damaged
with potholes ,
testing out the dangers
with their tentative feet,
trying to smell
which way the wind blows,
and what lies below.

A heavy blast
of a monsoon wind,
and the green terrain
sweeps itself
taking the citizenry along.

Do they fall,
do they hold on
to each other together,
or do they
hold on desperately
for their own dear life,
is a telling commentary
on the society
we call our own.....

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Life and Times of the Coconut Paneer Barfi

My blogger and FB friend Shruti Nargundkar of Melbourne,  has a wonderful food related blog, where she often intertwines her childhood memories and ethos  of the cooking , and creates wonderful pictures .

She recently posted  something about a coconut paneer barfi , something to be made on the Rakhi Poornima/Coconut Day celebrations, when sisters tie Rakhis to brothers (see foreground of the plate), and fishermen offer coconuts to the Sea , in gratitude and worship.

It is often fun to attribute a life to all the ingredients.

I tried. Originally in Marathi, the King'(Shivaji)'s Language .  Then , an effort in what is called, the Queen's.

पोर्णिमेच समुद्रस्नान चकवून
घरी आलेला तो नारळ ,
स्वताहाच्या अश्रूंमध्ये बुडलेली
त्याची बहीण साखर ,
 राखीचा सोहळा
बघायला आलेल्या पनीरला
आग्रहाने बोलावतात ,
इलायची इलायची  खूप खेळल्यावर ,
ओलसर उबेत चिंब भिजल्यावर,
दुधाच्या कोरड्या पंचाने
पिठी साखरेच्यासह पुसून
एका मउ गुळगुळीत ठिकाणी
सगळे आरामात  पहुडतात .....

आणि कधीतरी
सोनेरी क्षणात ,
निरांजानासाम्वेत ,
ताम्हनात बसून
कोणा एका हसर्या चेहर्या समोर
शेवटची गिरकी मारून
आत्मसमर्पण .......

तसे क्षणभंगुर ,
पण किती परोपकारी  हे
बर्फीचे आयुष्य  !

A run-away coconut,
playing truant
from the
Fishermens' Full Moon Festival
offering to the sea;
Lady Sugar,
in her own syrupy happy tears,
and they invite
Paneer Kumar
to join in the celebrations....

Wild games of Cardamom-Cardamon,
all stirred up
and warmly entangled
in excitement,
they rest,
in a cool place
a wrap and scrub of
some tough dry
no nonsense
milk and sugar....

And then
in one golden moment,
of the puja thali,
the final flare
of a glowing sweet life,
as they
slowly circle
around a happy brother's face,
to offer their lives,
to see joyful faces
around them.

A short life this,
but what a giving one .....

Bozoical cheesy dreams

Bozo, our famous Mumbai dog-with-his-own-blog   is back in his element, after a week of being on his own.  His mentor Magiceye, was out of town, and there is always just so much you can enjoy looking out of the balcony , as it drizzles.

Magiceye is back, after a long driving trip, and Bozo has heard folks ordering  pizza on the phone.  At one time, he might have bounded up and down the house in anticipation.  But like Mufasa , the Lion King, he always lives his life in the balance. 

He will probably nibble on some chicken and stuff, but he doesnt really think too highly about the yeasty crusts, and the "kaphakaarak (=mucus generating)" cheese. Unlike some folks we know who diet to look size zero and beautiful , Bozo listens to those who worry about his health.

But he always  dreams on......

has been a
festival of smells
and sounds,
after a week
of Maun Vrat
and staring out of the balcony.

The smell of rain
and wet earth,
the sound of
a car stopping
and footsteps
on the stairs.
A whiff of shoes and
automotive luggage smells
the house
is full again....

We chaps
have a such
a keen sense of smell,
that sometimes
we even smell things
that are not there yet.

Like they say,
folks are tired from travel
it is late
pizzas have been ordered.

And so I dream
of cheese
and oregano
and pepper
and tomatoes
and chicken,
as I mostly avoid the crust.

No, I am not
on a size zero diet
a la Kareena Kapoor,
nor am I selected
as Hero
of the film
"BozoKumar Pizza le Jayenge"...

Those doctors in Parel
have put me on a diet,
and I can only dream on .....

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bozoical Declarations

Each week,Bozo, Mumbai's only-dog-with-his-own-blog  has so much  interesting stuff to tell !  He may not give speeches at the drop of a hat, or vociferously protest   like some folks we all know, but he has been an observer of our society, the family set up, and the environment, and now that he doesn't gallivant around so much with his friends, he has time to deeply reflect.

His mentor and life chronicler , Magiceye, clicked him recently  in such a pose, as he was relaxing on the floor, not just thinking about lunch and garden walks, but some other stuff as well.

Read on ...

Nature or nurture?

And sometimes,
when I am by myself
in the quiet house
I reflect on it.

Abandoned at birth
I ran helplessly with a pack
due to sheer peer pressure,
till a little girl
gathered me up
and took me home.

And there,
I learned little things...

Just like
you didnt play
very loud music,
that disturbed,
you didnt keep wilfully barking
simply because you were
upset , protesting
or telling off another dog...

You  didnt jump on
little children
you met for the first time
because they got
initially frightened...

And you didnt
strain at the leash
as you went for a walk
simply because you wanted to chase
a butterfly.....

You didnt pick a fight
with the neighborhood dog
simply because he growled
a challenge....

Of course
i made mistakes,
but I learned from them.

I think
about how
nature gave us this country,
and how we've failed
to really nurture
the simple citizen,
by our infighting,
runnning after votes and money,
lying to get power,
and destroying
those who think differently.

Nature created me,
this wonderful family
nurtured me,
and taught me
to think
and live differently.

I have thought long
I have thought deep,
and must say
that if ever,
Nature and Nurture
fought an election,
Nurture would win by a landslide....

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mahimwalla Fashion Week...

I am convinced that random highly publicised events, happening in your city, influence the appearance of certain photographs, like this one posted by friend Magiceye, as part of the Mumbai Daily : Camera Critters....

There is a huge hype in the papers about the Lakme India Fashion Week , happening in Mumbai right now.

Just across the marsh from Bandra, the fashion-queen of the suburbs, in Mahim, there is of course, a perennial "fashion-year" happening at the Mahim Nature Park

Green ramps
Floral beauties
sitting cheek by jowl
escorted by
suited stems,
music by
the Buzzing Crickets,
and then
for all other
cool green hangers-on,
standing room only
at the Mahimwalla Fashion Week...

Chyrsallis Makkhanpakshi,
show stopper
from Dharavi,
stepping out,
traipsing daintily,
golden wing palloo
on both sides
held wide,
a defiant face
eye straight ahead
proboscis up.

End of the ramp
and she takes off
muttering ,
about what she has not found.

and still waiting for that
pot of honey....

Friday, August 3, 2012

BIG faces, small minds.....

My blogger and FB friend Slogan Murugan, has a wonderful photoblog about a Mumbai we take for granted but never "see";  "Mumbai Paused : Photographs and stories from the city that's always on the move"

This is something he has captured in South Mumbai, on the road which earlier housed the Strand Theatre,  before the Mall-ification happened. 

Fancy new facades showing how small the big is :-))

 (photo by Slogan Murugan aka M. S. Gopal)
feel big
simply by being
great within and by themselves.

Some feel big,
only when
they succeed in making
others in front of them
look small....

Questions in Black....

Well known photoblogger and my FB friend  Joshi Daniel recently completed an awesome 4 years of photoblogging with, hold your breath,  198 images, 884,308 views and 17,323 comments!!!

And then he went and clicked this amazing monsoon picture on an I-phone, in Trivandrum, Kerala.. 

The blackness spoke volumes.  As the states clamour for the monsoon to revive....

So many
gathered and crowded,
sometimes each other
and sometimes the

pristine pure
white fluff.

Like one said to another,
"I wonder why "black"
has such
negative connotations...."

Black thoughts,
Black minds,
Black Money
Black tikka
Black Cat......

And now
despite us
being "loaded" in black,
they want
all our goods
to to be off loaded
in their state......

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The case of the magical Doodhi .....

In a world where eating out is acceptable and even routine, you will never find this proletarian, light vegetable being served in restaurants. Bottle Gourd, or Lauki/Doodhi, as it is called in various parts on India, and my blogger friend Shruti Nargundkar of Melbourne writes a wonderful blogpost  ,  describing this vegetable preparation of her childhood.

 Which incidentally is exactly the way it was made in my childhood and still is.

It probably will not make it to Masterchef anywhere (India, Australia and so on);  but no amount of fancy "plating", presentations, and secret ingredients can beat a simple doodhi sabji with chana dal and peanuts, garnished with coriander and shredded coconut, and eaten with a piping hot phulka, which sheds its tears of happiness as melted golden ghee.....

(Photo by Shruti Nargundkar)

The paneerized Mercedes man
rough shod
on smooth table tops,
changing gears
on sighting
tandoorized chicken
spicily grooving amidst
red sizzling
tamasi forests,
moves on
to emerge
out of the ghat tunnel
and takes the Right Turn.

An old cottage,
an older Mom,
an even older lap
to lay his tired head on,
and he stops,
switches off, and
lunches on
hot phulkas with
Chanadal Doodhi Bhaji,
with a glass of chhaas,
watched indulgently by the
approving Kothimbir,
and Mirchi ladies
and dashing Kadhipatta,
who helped with it all.

Yes, they serve best
who only stand and wait.....