Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ruminations of a non cricketer

Cricket had its beginnings , sometime in the 16th century. It was then a game.

Two youths were fined for playing cricket  at Siddlesham, Sussex in 1611. The first match was played in the year 1700 at the Clapham Commons.The first six seamed ball was manufactured by the Dukes of Penshurst,Kent. 

Since then, the ball has come a long way. It has been beamed, bounced, tossed, and sometimes "thrown".  There are rules for how high you can bend/raise your arm while bowling, and there are ICC rules about how many bouncers can be bowled to a batsman in an over. These rules keep changing between 1 and 2. In 1991 , the rules allowed one bouncer per over per batsman. The players and umpires cribbed, and the number of bouncers was increased to 2. British umpire Dickie Bird said the judging of intimidatory bouncers  was to be left to umpires.

First Phil Hughes. Then, a day ago, an Israeli umpire died after being hit by a bouncer in a match where he was officiating.

It is a sign of the times today , that physical intimidation of the batsman needs to be resorted to, in lieu of  good intelligent bowling, and gundaism in the form of sledging is considered  a valid activity  by teams, for mentally troubling the batsman to disturb his concentration. .

Perhaps , what with the business and  betting, fixing and tampering,   it is no longer a game ?

Ask the ball and the bat.

It is not
a sporting fight
between the bat and the ball.

It is a war between
the bowler,
and the guy who bats.

And the red cherry
a veteran
of so many years,
a contemporary of the willow,
rues the
she has been flung
at people,
aimed at their heads,
between the eyes,
thumped on the chin,
and banged on their chests,
as the willow,
so talented at
sweeping, cutting, and lofting,
stands forlornly by,
sadly unable to connect
and defend.

She quietly rolls down
the 22 yards,
meets the solitary stump,
about the umpire
who got hit by someone like her
and died
in Israel,
and wonders,
sport will be played as a sport,
and not as a desperate war to be won
with battle plans,
and enemy sledging.

Simply Soornoli !

My friend Deepak Amembal recently completed a two month long, three country, pan Indian motorcycle trip, along with a friend. He is now currently visiting his native place for a special annual celebration of the family deity.

This is clearly a time to enjoy native delicacies as well, which may be made in Mumbai as well, but simply taste different, when made in places full of family, history, and memories of childhood.

 Deepak just posted a photograph of a Soornoli that he had for breakfast. A delightfully ventilated pancake/dosa, sweet with flavors of coconut, jaggery, and dahi, and pohe (rice flakes).

Clearly, it isnt just us who are impressed with his motorcycle trips and photographs that he posted throughout.

Sometimes, those in the photos also react ..... :-)   In English and Marathi.   Too bad I cannot speak Konkani .....  :-)

तान्दुळाबाई आणि मेथीताईंची
स्नानानंतर हळू हळू २-३ तास कुजबुज ,
मग पोहेकाकांचे अचानक पडलेले लक्ष ,

इतकी सर्व मंडळी
काय चर्चा करत आहेत
हे ऐकायला
धावत आलेले
ताक्शेठ , नारळीआजी, आणि गुळोजि राव.

रात्रभर चर्चा, कुजबुज ,
आणि सकाळी लोण्याकडे फेकलेले
प्रश्नार्थी कटाक्ष …

शेवटी गरम तव्यावर पडताच
छोटे डोळे चक्क उघडले,
मग समजलं .

दुचाकी वरून भारत भ्रमण करणारे
आपल्या गावच्या देवाच्या
त्यांच्यावर असलेल्या
परमेश्वरी कृपादृष्टीबद्दल आभारदर्शन प्रार्थना
करायला आले होते
आणि चक्क समोर बसलेले .

धन्य होउन सुरनोळी
तव्यावरून निघाली ती थेट
त्यांच्या थाळीत ….
Lady Rice and Fenugreeka,
fresh after their baths,
discussing something
with great alacrity,
an inquisitive Poha uncle
trying to join the proceedings,
unwilling to be left out,
Buttermilk Singh, Shrimati Coconut,
and  Vittal Jaggery Rao,
falling in with the group.

Unsuccessful night long
attempts to question
the Stuffy Butterbhai
sitting aloof in the morning. 

And then
a grand descent
onto a hot tawaa,
a bubbling mind
and a clear opening of eyes
as the edges curl in gold,
in honor of the new realization.

Sitting right in front
of them all
is Deepak,
now visiting his native place,
doing a thanksgiving pooja,
after his amazing Pan-India
motorcycle trip.

An impatient Soornoli,
loosening itself
from the tawa hold,
simply slides on to the spatula
and on to a plate,
along with
heart melting butter.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tomato Saar in the time of Sant Kabir....

Very  few people today remember things like chutney stones, embedded stone paddy threshers in house floors, and the winnowing "soop" (सूप)) used in our time for separating the grain and the chaff.  Fewer folks today, even know how to use these, and so it was with particular joy that I read this post by by my friend Shruti Nargundkar from Melbourne.

Please read her post,  to learn what folks of my generation learned before blenders and processors drove all the fun out of it.  ( I still have an inherited chutney stone, and winnowing fan)

  Only she could have woven in  the winnowing "soop",  with the "soup" ,  and a recipe for a  robust tomato desi soup or saar , with the Dohas of Sant Kabir ringing in the background.

“Saadhu aisa chahiye, jaisa soop subhay
Saar saar ko gahi rahe, thotha de udaay”


" साधू ऐसा चाहिए , जैसा सूप सुभाय !
सार-सार को गहि रहे , थोथ देइ उडाय!!

Aah. I always knew there was something spiritual about soup.   In Marathi and English too ....

काही द्वाड खेळकर उपद्व्यापी
थंडीने गाल लाल झालेली
पसारा करणारी मुलं,

विनव्ण्याकरून दमलेली
तेलात क्षणभर विश्रांती घेणारी कांदे आई ,
तडकून डोळे वटारणारे तिखट रागात
गाणारे मिरची बाबा ,
आणि मंद दरवळत सोनेरी स्वप्न
एकिकडे बघणारी लसूण आत्या;
सगळी गडबड ऐकून
धावत येणारी शेजारची जिरी
आणि मिरी ,
ह्या सर्वाना आयुष्याच्या सुपात घालून
तरग्णार्या सर्व शंका
बुडबुडे काढून हवेत उडवणारी जादू
व्हायची वाट बघणार्या
आपले अनेक शुभाशिर्वाद त्यात
कौतुकाने ओतणार्या
नारळीदूध आजी .

बरोबर कबिरांचे दोहे आणि श्रुतीचे पोहे .

साधु ऐसा चाहिए , जो सिखाये सबको सुविचार ,
मूंग दाल खिचड़ी , पोहा पापड और टोमेटो का सार।

Tough games in the cold
and cheeks reddened,
shoving each other to the side,
an Onion Mater,
all gone to pieces
and taking a breather,
resigned and
simmering in hot oil,
a sharp and hot tempered
Mirchi Dad,
bursting in anger,
and his sister,
the aunt,
Lasoni Tai Garliki,
exhaling quietly
in golden tadka fragrance.

The The Cumin Peppera Madames
to be part of it all,
and a wise Grandma,
full of the
Milk of Coconut Kindness,
waiting to allow
all kinds of
agitating boiling debris foam
to resolve things,
pouring her heart into it all.

A side offering
of Sant Kabir ke Dohe,
and Shruti's Pohe...

"A Holy man should be like
a winnowing fan,
keeping the good grain,
and shoving the chaff afar;
Very clearly, it is time for
Moong Dal Khichdi,
Poha Papad, and Tomato Saar".

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Grass Soliloquies.....एका हिरवळीचे मनोगत

Some pictures posted by friends often emphasize a universal truth.  Young ones are born with an intrinsic love  and respect for  nature.  They don't need "special days", projects and labels. And there is nothing "on show"....

Just wondering how great it must be to be the Green Grass in this picture !

एका हिरवळीचे मनोगत ….

काही येतात
मशीन चालवतात ,
आणि म्हणतात ,
"आता कसं ! व्यवस्थित दिसतं ना सर्व ?"
आणि निघून जातात ….

काही येतात ,
कुठली कुठली जमिनीतली भोकं शोधतात ,
मग लांब जाउन
एका दणकट काठीने चेंडू उडवतात ,
आणि मग चालत चालत नाहीतर
रिक्क्षा सारख्या गाडीत बसून
चेडू शोधतात ,
दुसरे खड्डे शोधायला जातात;
माझ्या पाठीत किती लागतं , माहित्ये का ?

पण कधीतरी
दिवस सोनियाचा असतो,
मंद वारा साद घालत असतो,
दवबिंदू कोवळ्या उन्हात नट्टापट्टा करत असतात ,
दोन बाळं माझ्यावर रेलून
कानगोष्टी करत
मजेत हसत असतात;
मग कधीतरी ती आडवी होतात,
लोळतात , खेळतात ,
मला कळून चुकतं,
कि हिरवळ म्हणून
अश्या क्षणांसाठी जगायचं असतं .....
Grass Soliloquies.....
Some arrive with machines
and drone across
finishing up and saying,
"There ! That's how neat it should be!"
as they rattle off.

And some,
seek holes in the ground,
only to trundle
a distance away,
and then whack a ball
with a hefty stick;
then walk around or ride around
once again
for balls or holes.
Does anyone realize how
those whacks hurt ?

But then
some days
are Golden days,
with a soft breeze floating around,
and dew drops
preen in the early Sun;
Two babies,
with their own secrets,
stories and fun,
leaning on me
laughing and nodding,
and suddenly
rolling around
gambolling on me.

These are quite simply,
the days
I feel grateful
that I am a lawn .....

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Your Daily Soap....

Sometimes, the simplest of everyday stuff inspires a poem. My friend Amit Amembal,  recently posted a photograph on how worn out soaps get a new life in their old age, when they are stuck onto the younger soaps. 

It doesn't matter if the soap has changed color.  Old is always gold.   And it must always be an honor for the new ones  to do this.  

It is a life philosophy.  Now in Marathi and English .....

एक दुसर्यांसाठी कण खण
झिजणारे आयुष्य ,
कुणा एकाचे तन स्वच्छता अभियान

घालवलेली आयुष्याची संध्याकाळ,
आणि पाण्यात पट्कन विर्घळ्नारि स्वप्न…

आणि अचानक
एक धडधाकट व्यक्तिमत्वाचे आगमन,
मुलासमान त्यांनी घेतलेली काळजी
"मी आहे, माझ्याबरोबर रहा …."
असे म्हणून शेजारी बसवणे ,
आणि मग पुन्हा
पहिल्यासारखा हुरूप येउन
स्वच्छता अभियान लढवणे …

अजून आपल्याकडे ज्येष्ठांचा आदर होतो,
बघून बर वाटलं.....
A dissipating energy,
the evening of  life
scrubbing the sins and spots
of so many,
and watching
so many dreams
dissolve into nothingness.

And suddenly,
an extended hand,
of one who
adopts and becomes
a healthy son,
reassuring ,
as he says,
"Don't worry, I am there....",
and once again,
it is back to a
dedicated scrubbing life....

Happy to know that
there is so much respect
for seniors
in a soapy world....

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The MahaDiet Wars Circa 2014

When someone who is a walking, talking, driving, encyclopedia on popular Food places and traditional foods across Maharashtra, is faced with spending time at the Nature Cure set-up  , Nisargopchar Ashram at Uralikanchan, a haven for simple sattvic food,   and an  ayurvedic lifestyle, anything can happen.

An initial acceptance, then slow seeds of intolerance, a desperate  pining for Spices,
and a harking back to the "Good" food days. 

All this in a running war with the Satvik Food Party.... 

But these are nor ordinary Mahabharata wars.

They are  the Uralikanchan Diet Wars.

And the possibility of a Diet Geeta emerging did exist.  For a while at least....

Read on .

सन २०१४ मध्ये
उरळीकांचन येथे झालेले महा आहार्युद्ध …

एकीकडे गांधीयन तत्वांशी एकनिष्ठ राहून
नाचणीच्या भाकरया ,
स्वच्छ चेहेर्याच्या
बिनामेकप्च्या कोबीबाई ,
फेर आणि लवली न लावता
नम्रपणे एकीकडे पानात बसणार्या
फ्लावरा बेन ,
ताटक्षेत्रात विखुरलेल्या,
साधे पणाची शपथ घेतलेल्या तोंडल्या,
आणि अचानक आलेले
कडु काढ्याचे पोट वादळ ….

मिठाचा विरह सहन न झाल्यामुळे
मसाले वाल्यांच्या वाटाघाटीत
सामील झालेले राजाभाऊ ,
कुणा एका तिखट मिरचीला भुलून
युद्ध सोडून देण्याचा निश्चय करतात काय,
वहिनींचे उत्तम सारथ्य न जुमानता
रथ सोडून बाहेर पडतात काय ,
आणि मिसळपाव,श्रीखंड ,बटाटेवडे
अश्या कौरवी मंडळींच्या नादि लागून
दुसर्या एका रथात बसून
मुम्बापुरीत परततात काय !

इथे श्रीकृश्णाने डायट गीता सांगायला सुरु केली,
तर अर्जुन चक्क गुल ?
The Great
UraliKaanchan Diet Wars,
Circa 2014....

On one side,
Nachni Bhaakrees,
in a principled Gandhian stand,
along with Miss Cabbage,
clean scrubbed,
devoid of makeup,
while a pale Caulifloweraben
devoid of
Fair and Lovely accoutrements
sedately sits
to one side;

And then some young Tondlis,
all in pieces,
stoic in their promise
of simplicity,
just wondering
about the bitter Kaadhaa concoction
that just passed by them
to create havoc in the innards.

On the other side,
an opposition,
led by Rajabhau,
after the loss of the Salty Lass,
almost giving in
to the Masala plotters,
and blindly following
the come hither gestures
of Lady Mirchi.

And then
what do you say
about a Rajabhau,
who abandons
his Champion Vahini Charioteer,
and the war,
and walks away
with the villanous Misal pao,
Shrikhand, and Batata vada
only to drive away
in another 4-wheel chariot
led by himself ?

Krishna trying
to explain the Diet Geeta,
and Arjun ,
nowhere to be found ?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hanging around......

For a little girl, who , as a young kid, thought sitting cross legged in 15 feet of water in a pool was fun, this must have been child's play.  She had then earned the wrath of the life guard at the pool.

I am not sure you are supposed to leave your hands like this . Always thought you were supposed to clutch the cables with an expression of terror on your face.

 She herself is actually an excellent photographer. They always tell their subjects to smile.  I guess when it is their own turn, they just grin......

Maybe times have changed. 

And maybe , the greens all around , peering through the brown, have something to say ....

एक लक्ख सकाळ ,
डोंगर दरयात विहार्णारे असंख्य पक्षी
उन्हे डोक्यावर आलेली ,

मधूनच एक थंड वार्याची झुळुक ,
आणि अचानक
एका शिखरावरून दुसर्या कडे
दोरखंडावरून घसरत कुणीतरी जाते काय,
दोन्ही हात सोडून
मजेत हसते काय,
कोणीतरी तिचा फोटो काढते काय ,
आणि हे सगळं बघून
कड्या कपारीतून , दगड चिरांमधून ,
हिरव्या साड्या लेउन,
डोक्यावर पदर घेउन ,
इतक्या सगळ्या बायका
"अगोबया ! , जर बेतानी गं !"
अस म्हणत
माना हलवतात काय !
A cool and clear
sunny morning,
birds and their ilk
flitting across valleys;
a noon Sun
tolerating an occasional cool breeze
wafting across;
what do you say
about someone
sliding suddenly across
attached to cables,
then going hands-free
to give a delighted smile,
to someone else sliding along,
photographing her...

And all the while,
so many ladies in green,
peering through
the rocks and crevices
wrap the green palloos
around their heads,
shake their heads
in wonder
and say , "Aiiyo ! Be Careful, Girl!".......

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kees of Life .....

My friend Shruti Nargundkar of Melbourne brings to life vignettes of an Indian childhood and family customs in her food blog. Do have a look at it here.

She recently posted a  recipe and writeup, on a much loved  food preparation, that is a favourite  during the Upwaas or fasting days, particularly in Maharashtra.

Batatyaachaa Kees,  a shredded potato preparation, which she prepared on a day defined by the Indian Calendar as Prabhodan Ekadashi, for the grandmas  in the family, who are visiting her.

 Prabhodan means awakening.  Lord Vishnu is supposed to awaken after Chaturmas, or the four months of the year , when he rests.   A set of four months, where life is low key, with no auspicious occasions and celebrations, simple foods, and activities like prayers, vows etc.  These four months also coincide with the monsoon months, when digestion isn't the strongest.  

I've always felt that we reflect the world we live in, in the way we conduct our lives. And vice versa. 

And I just wondered what must be going through the mind of the humble potato....  in Marathi !

एका बटाट्याचे मनोगत

भाज्यांमध्ये निवडणुका झाल्या

तर हमखास जिंकणारे भारदस्त नेते ,
एरवी सर्व प्रादेशिक मतदारांमध्ये मिसळून
त्यांची मने जिंकून निश्चिंतपणे
तेलात पडणारे लीडर लोक ,
कधीतरी त्याना राहून राहून वाटतं
साबुदाणादेवी , शिंगाडासिंग , वरीबाई ,
कट्लेट कुमार, नवरतन राव ,
ढब्बुशेठ मिर्चीवले, मिस वडापाव ,
ह्यांच्या जोरावर आयुष्य काढणे
काही खरे नाही …

काही स्वतःची म्हणून ओळख हवी का नाही ?

आणि मग
चार महिने चुपचाप लोकसंपर्क
धुमधडाका पावसात सात्विक अन्नाचे
महत्व सांगत फिरणे ,
विविध पूजाना मान देत हजर रहाणे ,
कितीतरी मसालेदार मंडळींना न दुखावता
त्यांची गुपिते जनतेसमोर आणणे ,
आणि सरते शेवटी जिंकल्यास,
परिस्थितीचा अगदी कीस काढून
पातेलेस्नान करून ,
साजूक तूपतीर्थात,
जिरे, खोबरे , कढीपत्ता , शेंगदाणे,
मिरची , कोथिम्बिरीच्या शिडकाव्यात
आजी लोकांच्या उपस्थितीत ,
त्यांचे अनेक आशीर्वाद घेत
व्यासपीठावर एका सोनेरी सकाळी
उजळून बसणे ….

कधी कधी
माडिसन स्क्वेर गार्डन ला असते ,
कधी कधी
मेलबोर्न ला
नरगुंदकरांच्या घरी ….