Thursday, February 28, 2013

On being a sugarcane juice puri.....

My friend Shruti Nargundkar, of Melbourne, often comes across something in the shops that transports her back, to her childhood days in India. One such episode happened when she spied bottles of sugarcane juice in the chilled section.

Read about what she did , her memories, and the old recipes , in her post  here.

These are not just puris on a blue plate.  They are  puris, imbibed and drenched with the sweetness of sugarcane juice and some spices, designed to drive your blues away!

Naturally, lots of sweet words, in both Marathi and English, in honor of the sweet puris....

उलट्या ऋतुंच्या देशात ,
संभ्रमात ,
एका कुड्कुड्णार्या कपाटात ,
ती दबा धरून बाटलीत बसून राहते,

अचानक कुणा एका कुटुंबाच्या घरी
जाण्याचा योग येतो.

कागदी पिशवीत झुलत गाडीतून जात जात
तिच्या डोळ्यासमोरून,
… शेतातले ते उंच दिवस,
बैलगाडीने खडकाळ रस्त्यावरून
गुर्हाळाकडे केलेला प्रवास,
काही मैत्रिणीनचा
कारखान्यात जाण्याचा निर्णय,
आणि मग अंग पिळ्वटून
स्वतः केलेला, लोखंडी स्तम्भातली
रसपूर्ण यात्रा …
सर्व काही सिनेमा सारखे सरले .

ओट्यावर पोचली आणि हुश्श झाले .
वेलची, जायफळ, तूप आणि कणिक दिसले
आणि तिला बाटलीत बघून एकच खसखस पिकली .
जुने दिवस आठवले ,
सगळे एकत्र आले,
कुणा आजीच्या कौतुकाच्या पोलपाटावर
मधेच तेलात पडून,
हसून हसून फुगून,
दमून भागून घाम गाळत
एका मुलीच्या ताटातले दिवस आठवले।

फरक आता एव्हडाच ,
कि ती मुलगी आता तळत होती,
फस्त करायला दोन दुसर्याच मुली सज्ज होत्या…. 

She sits,
arms wrapped around her knees,
in a freezing cold  cupboard
somewhere Down Under,
till one day,
she finds herself,
in a huge grocery bag
trundling along
in a car
on her way
to a family home.

Visions of the past
floating by
like a movie;
waving tall
in the cane fields,
bumping along in
a bullock cart,
stopping by
a sugarcane juice place,
wondering why
some friends preferred
joining a factory;
and then a
a trip between
two tough metal cylinders,
that squeezed
the twisted life out of her,
again and again.....

on the kitchen counter,
she spies
the old gang
of cardamom,
poppy seeds,
and wheat flour
and simply cracks up
in ghee, err glee.....

The flavors of
the old days,
as they got together,
and rolled around
beneath  Grandma's rolling pin,
a quick jump in the oil,
a mirthful blooming,
and a final repose
in the plate of
a little girl,
just waiting to eat !

It s just that,
the little girl
is doing the frying,
there are two other girls
who can't wait to eat.....

Just saying.....

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bozoical Suspicions

Bozo,our hero and Mumbai's only dog-with-his-own-blog  is taking it a bit easy at breakfast these days.  Used as he is to some excellent traditional North Canara delicacies and Maharashtrian preparations,  once in a while it makes sense to break some bread with folks. Not the sliced variety, but the plump freshly baked Pav, pieces of which one tears off and never slices.

And while you can see him greatly enjoying it, as he traipses around the balcony, you may be surprised to note what is actually going through his mind.....

When I was little,
like you,
I ate whatever
appeared on my plate;
but unlike you,
no one had to tell me
to finish it.

I just loved hanging around
the table
at breakfast,
getting drunk
on the inviting smells
dosa and kande pohe
to name a few
wonderful things.

And then eating it !

I still do.

But then like you,
I am sometimes
in a hurry,
and naturally,
I must have some
"fast" food.

A fresh fragrant Pav,
a piece torn off
crunched between my teeth,
as I multitask,
charging around,
shooing of the crows,
in the balcony,
hankering after my stuff...

Which is actually OK.

I just heard
Kande Pohe "meetings"
and maybe
it is time
for me to
just lie low,
chewing my Pav
under the divan,

Maybe some
Prospective Interested Parent Types
saw me on the Net ?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Bells of Mayapur

My friend Braja Sorenson,  lives in Paschim Banga in the village of Mayapur, on the banks of a tributary of the Ganga. She often captures the sights and sounds of the area, which is full of fields, riverboats, simple folks, Krishna temples, and prayers.

As she says " Seriously, all you need to do is listen to the bells ringing in this little town, that's all the solutions anyone needs....."

One of her clicks below.  

Big, small,
hefty, dainty,
some simply hanging,
some additionally
tied up confused

in knots,
they all wait
to be part of the praise
and prayer.

that the best music
with a devoted
moving touch,
that makes you
swing in prayer
with all those around you,
ringing away in joy,
despite those
thought holding
individual chains
trying to keep you in place...

Friday, February 22, 2013

It's Bharli Wangee, Mate !

My friend, Shruti Nargundkar of Melbourne, on a recent visit to the land of her birth, and childhood, lugged back a few traditional vessels to her modern Australian Kitchen. One of these , called Langdi, (see picture below) , goes back a long way and is typically used whenever you make Bharli Wangi, or spicy stuffed baby aubergines/eggplant/brinjal.

Do read her memories and her recipe here

Long after the aubergines disappear, the real fun starts. Wiping and scraping of all the spicy goods stuck to the langdi, with a no-nonsense mixture of rice and ghee, which is then imbibed and licked off , with a great sense of satisfaction......

Bharli wangees often inspire poetry . Once in Marathi. Then again in English,  for the aubergine types. :-)

All photographs by Shruti Nargundkar.


लंगडी, रोवळीताई, परात अम्मा ,
फिर्कीताम्ब्याताई आणि कढईबाई ,
माळ्यावरच्या अनेक पंचवार्षिक वनवासानंतर
अचानक प्रगटल्या,
आणि कुणा एका

माहेरवाशीण लेकीला बघून
भाकरी , भरली वांगी, मसाले भात
कढी वगैरे चे दिवस त्यांना आठवू लागले.

हट्टाला पेटून लंगडी परदेशी गेली,
तिला अगदी अंबेजोगाईहून मलबार हिलला
गेल्या सारखे वाटले …

चकचकीत सफेद प्लेट्स ,
पारदर्शक नक्शीवले बाउल ,
पदार्थ न चिकटणारी पातेली,
आणि काट्या चमच्यांचा संसार .

अचानक एके दिवशी ती ओट्यावर आली,
आतुरतेने शेगडीवर गेली,
आणि छोट्या छोट्या भरलेल्या वान्ग्यांबरोबर
तीळ ,खोबरे , दाणे आणि कांद्यात
अगदी रमून गेली.
चुलीवरचे दिवस,
मधूनच फडक्यांनी हलवलेली लंगडी ,
खाली आडमुठेपणाने चिकटलेला मसाला,
सगळ डोळ्यासामोर तरळले

जेवणे झाली ,
मंडळी उठली, आणि
आवरा आवर करता करता
लंगडीला नेहमीचा जुना भास झाला …
थोडासा भात तिच्यात घालून
चापून चोपून मसाला पुसून
माहेरवाशीण डोळे मिटून
तृप्त मनाने घास घेत होती.

इकडे माळ्यावर
पराताम्मा आणि कढइबाई
अगदी कृतकृत्य झाल्या

 Traditional langdi vessels
along with
those with wide brass expanses,
and slopes
and threaded adorned necks,
rushing down
from a family loft
to welcome home
a prodigal daughter
from Down Under.

the incorrigible langdi,
tagging along
with the daughter
on her way back.

A bit intimidated
by a world
of china, crystal,
forks, spoons
vessels shooing away
sticky food,
she took her time
to emerge.

On the stove
one day,
immersed in deep conversation
with sesame,
and onion minions,

in and out
of the sizzling baby aubergines,
she dreamt of her days
on a mud stove,
someone holding and shaking her
using a cloth,
and some spices
sticking loyally to her.

The meal over,
folks left
to clear up
and she thought
she felt something.
That took her back
many many years....

The prodigal daughter,
was wiping her
remaining sticky spices,
with a decent dollop
of rice and ghee,
and imbibing it all
licking her clean,
with single minded

Back home,
all her friends
from the loft,
now in retirement,
sort of nudged each other
and couldn't contain a smile.....

The Langdi had arrived Down Under !

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Secret of her Dental Beauty.....

There is a new generation of blogger dogs who interact these days. Bozo from Mumbai, Luci from Thhiruananthapuram, and Coco from Bengaluru, to just mention a few. 

Bozo and Coco are the chivalrous types,  and often look out for Luci , when she is up to , what everyone thinks, are her willful antics, like chewing up all kinds of stuff that catches her fancy.

Here is Luci, clicked by Shail Mohan , as  she shows of her brilliant teeth.

No drilling, no fillings, no root canal, no crowns or bridges, no gum surgeries.

Just an honest-to goodness hard chewing , more than 32 times, of whatever she feels like !

The Close-Up toothpaste types
by the whiteness
of our teeth

old pals
Luci and me
to pose for ads..

Till they found out the secret.

Energetic chewing of cushions
by the incisors
causing them to be
brushed with a lot of foam;
tearing of
the meek chappals
by the gunda canines
on the sides,
and mashing it all
and spitting
it all out
along with electric bills
bringing a spark to the teeth.

someone came too close
with the spectacles,
and they got chewed off too....

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bozoical Enlightened Chases

Bozo, Mumbai's only dog-with-his-own-blog,  is acutely aware of how Mumbai has changed over the years.  Everyone is chasing something or the other.  Some because they are greedy, some because they don't think,  and some, in films, because they are paid to do so, unlike , Bozo himself,  who is an enlightened chap.  He may have been an impulsive chaser earlier.  He is now more thoughtful, (than many folks I know).

He still chases. And was unaware of Magiceye clicking him in action....

Like they say,
Times have changed.

Early on,
chasing was a hobby,
and I loved chasing
other dogs
who woofed messages to me,
young ones
running for school buses,
bossy noisy
cars and bikes,
the postman,
the fish vendor,
and in a foolish moment,
even Lassie of Carter Rd.

Things are different now.

I now chase
these pesky crows
off the balcony,
guys who throw
plastic water bottles
on the road,
heroes on bikes
who roar past me
the wrong way,
naughty young dogs
who alarm small kids,
furtively darting
rats and rabbits,
and on my daily walks,
even those who I think
trouble ladies while getting into buses.

And when
I am not being Citizen Bozo,
I lie
on the cool floor
beneath the divan,
dream of someone special,
and chase
my own dreams
in my mind...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The glorious uncertainities in the gullies

My blogger friend, Anil P. , is a widely travelled trekker, travel writer, poet, photographer, and has been honored  by Lonely Planet , as a featured blogger in 2012.   

He clicked this on one of his sojourns in Kolkata, during Durga Puja days. Everyone is out, pandal hopping, except these 3 chaps.. Read his entire post here.

These three faithfuls, staying home , doing what all little boys in India do.  Using any little bit of space , pretending they are the India X1. (I know some boys who mouth the commentary as they play...)

So what if there are no stumps; a neighbor's doorway works fine.  So what if there is no umpire; and so what if you hit the Wall when you drive; Rahul Dravid always stood in the slips.  And how else do you train to bowl straight on to the stumps, err someone's schoolbag propped up with some shoes ?

The fine leg
is long and deep,
the square leg
is rectangular,
but nevertheless,
the ball flies
and is swept,
past the
lighted slips
in the gulleys
and Walls
and is
avidly watched.

They don't know it,
but it is not
a six.

the neighbor's tree
has done
an amazing leap
to take
a catch.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bozoical Inhalations .....

Bozo, Mumbai's only dog-with-his-own-blog  will have you know that he is well versed with IT/software/design acronyms, and WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get  to those  acronymically disabled bipeds).

However, it does NOT apply to folks like him.

This may be a Magiceye photo capture, during his daily walks,  as he  goes around, smelling the roads, corners, vendor places, and areas used by disobedient two wheelers and elderly four wheelers.  

But clearly, what you see, is NOT what you get.  Bozo's nose is highly evolved.  You may smell vadapao, petrol, roses, and wet mud. 

Bozo smells something else.

When the BIG ONE in the sky
distributed noses,
I think
I got the best one.

Because He knew that
I would use it well.

Unlike some folks
I know,
I do not use it
to poke it
into other people's lives,
and unlike them,
I actually think
about what I smell .

Do I smell fear ?
Do I smell danger ?
I can also
smell insects and rodents
that one cannot see,
even tumors before they happen,
and spasms in others,
before they kick in;
I can detect evil,
and things that explode,
and also things
that hide,
quietly eating away your walls
be they
of your house
or yourself...

But I can also smell
a dear friend,
once a little girl,
coming home after a break,
tired legs
climbing up,
happy legs
rushing home,
the fish seller
still on the staircase,
the smell of
an old lady
from a book
on something
she wrote about me,
and the smell
of she and her friend
in the elevator,
as they come to meet me....

It isn't
just you biped guys
that have this IT....

Thanks to our
amazing nostril computers,
2000 times smarter
than the biped noses,
we too
are in the SIT age;
Sniffing Information Technology......

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Versatile Pumpkin Raita....

In response, to  a recent, very interesting visual cooking contest , where you cooked a any Indian dish, but styled it in non-traditional / western way, my FB and blog friend Shruti Nargundkar of Melbourne,  succeeded in raising the Maharashtrian Red Pumpkin Raita to new heights.

Inspiration struck as she  cooked and mashed the pumpkin, and spiced it with mustard, cumin, coriander, red chilly powder and a smattering of finely chopped green chillies, coconut and crushed roasted peanuts.  And she clicked just before the plain yogurt/Dahi decided to mix...

Read her post/with recipe  here

कधी तरी सिंहकटी वरून
दुमडून दुमडून अचानक
खूप फुलणारा पिवळा
भोपळ्याचा गाउन,
गळ्याशी दाटीदाटीने झालर

करणारे ओले खोबरे ,
दाणे, मोहरी-जीर्याचे बुट्टे
आणि केसात खुपसलेला
कोथिम्बिरिचा राजमुकुट ....
आणि कार्टलंड बाईन्ची
रथातून धावणारी गोष्ट ....

आणि कधीतरी
एखाद्या शेलाट्या भांड्यात ,
चापून चोपुन नेसलेली
पिवळी धमक नौवारी पैठणी ,
जिरे-मोहरीचे काठ्पदर ,
लावणीचे बोल थिरकताना
उडलेले थोडे कुंकू ,
थोडी मिरची कढीपत्त्याची कलाकुसर
आणि त्यावर शुभ्र खोबर्याचा
अंगावर पेललेला रेशमी शेला
आणि दहिशेठना बघताच
"या रावजी , बसा रावजी ..."

शब्द कुठलेही असोत ,
राय्त्याची चव अप्रतिमच असते .....

bright yellow flounces
of a silk tissue gown
flaring all around
about a narrow waist,
scalloped shredded coconut
frilled around a slender neck,
mustard seed cuminy
with a tiara in green,
as she rides
in a chariot...

And then Raita Di,
stuffed into a shapely place,
in a brilliant yellow nine yard paithani,
with mustard-cuminy borders.
The vermillion powder
blown across
the mirchi kadhipatta embroidrey
in an exciting moment
of a ghungru dialog,
as she throws
a silk white coconut wrap across,
spots Lord Dahi,
and breaks into
"Ya Raoji, Basa Raoji...."****

Language is unnecessary.
The brilliant Pumpkin Raita
in a league of its own......

**** : the opening words of a popular Laavni/traditional Maharashtrian rural ballad inviting guests

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bozoical trails ....

Like you and me, Bozo, Mumbai's only dog-with-his-own-blog is a regular middle class guy.  He is, like us, in awe of those of his compatriots , who perform in the service of the nation, with special facilities and training.

Like them, he also follows some trails, as he goes for walks with three different folks everyday, keeping a keen eye on his surroundings.  And he realizes, that each of us have a role to play in the lives of the people around us.

Magiceye captures him on one of his trails....

You know ,
some of my friends
real strapping chaps,
who have
their own valet facility,
are often photographed
going around like this,
in the service of the nation,
as they chase after
some evil folks,
smelling something suspicious.

I've realized,
we have our own places
in this world,
and we are destined
to follow different trails.

The young ones
I played with,
have grown up and moved away.

And so
I pretend to be
the remaining  young one
at home
doing my stuff
on the daily walks,
smiling at friends,
glaring at cigarette butts
in the compound,
sniffing at spots of petrol.

Just sometimes,
i see a pretty butterfly
and feel like chasing it.

I find it difficult,
and then,
I content myself,
sniffing around,
and looking for signs,
or a trail,
that leads
to my own
carefree childhood,
with the other kids
in this Garden of Jade...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Khandvi , a rock and roll life.....

My Fb friend Avanti Mavinkurve recently posted a photo of this amazing traditional dish called Khandvi in Gujarat, and Suraleechya Wadya in Maharashtra, which she made in the US. 

Made from a judicious mixture of garbanzo flour (besan) and buttermilk (or Chhaas (Taak) made by churning yogurt),  lightly spiced,  heated to the correct consistency ,  then thinly spread across a flat surface, adorned with stuff, rolled up and tempered  with a flourish of crackling mustard seeds,  one needs practice to make this.  

While one could virtually taste this lipsmacking  stuff,  some Marathi and English words simply burst forth in celebration. 
(photograph by Avanti Mavinkurve)

दह्यात खळबळ माजून
आता स्वस्थ बसलेले ताक ,
थोड्याश्या लिंबाच्या रसाची
वाट बघत बसले.
संधी साधून बेसनराव
भेटायला आले ,
आणि वातावरण गरम होउ लागले .

थोडेसे मीठ , साखर, आले-मिरची ,
पण त्यात पडले,
गुंता सोडवायला
पळी व डाव अविरत हालचाल करू लागले .

शेवटी ताकेश्वरी आणि बेसन रावांच जमलं ,
आणि विवाहाप्रित्यर्थ
एकत्र ताटाच्या मंडपात ,
अक्शतांच्या पावसात
फोडणीच्या तालावर
सर्व सोहळा गुंडाळला गेला,
आणि हो,
वधूच नाव खांडवी ठेवलं गेलं .....
The quiet lull
in the life of a buttermilk
Lady Chhaas,
after a chaotic thrashing
in the yogurt,
kind of waiting
for a bit of lemon juice balm,
and the Besan Man
simply ups
an already hot situation.

The Salt,
and sugar,
a bit of berating from ginger-chilly types,
and the large spoons
try their best
to dissolve the misunderstandings.

A final appearance
of Lady Chhaas and Besan man
on the same page,
and the nuptials
take place
on the back of a steel plate,
amidst a confetti
of coriander, coconut,
some auspicious percussion
from the crackling mustard seeds,
as the carpet gets rolled up,
for the reception dance.

Oh! Incidentally,
the new bride
was given the name Khandvi...