Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bozo, Mumbai's blogger dog, posing in his best, all spiffy, clean and smart. And there is a reason.

As a perceptive observer of social mores , setups, and arrangements, he has watched the advent of e-portals dedicated to matching brides and grooms.

For years together, he has tried meeting folks, but now thinks this is an excellent idea for him.

A special pose, by a special chap, for  a special future....

Our best wishes ...

the secret is out.

Of course,
they call this
my "On duty" pose.


Like most middle class families,
we too are members
of a portal,
where you find jodis,
or "partners".

This is my intro photo
and stuff
on the portal.

"Nice, dedicated, brave
respectful fellow,
seeks a suitable partner.
Partner must enjoy
Upma, dosa, and fish,
and living in a joint family.
Educated types
who enjoy watching TV
are encouraged.
Daily walks in Bandra(east)
butterfly chasing activities,
rides in 4 wheelers,
seasonal treats from London
and personalized collars offered.

And page 3 posh types,
driving to the Bandra Promenade
in chauffeur driven BMW cars,
for their daily walks

And yes.
Spirited girls
with evocative looks
and dreamy eyes
from Gods own Country
are encouraged .... "

I just wonder
who all will call .....

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Fruit of Illusions.......

Jackfruit, locally called Fanas, is native to the coastal Kokan region of western India, although it is also grown sometimes in the plains.  Although I am personally biased towards the ripe jackfruit variety that ripens "al dente" or "kapa"  as we call it, there is an entire cuisine developed around the raw variety of the fruit.

Turns out that the raw fruit when cooked often fools gung ho non vegetarians into thinking they are eating meat.

My friend Shruti Nargundkar of Melbourne who has what I call a food memories and photo blog recently posted an amazing post about "Kathal Biryani" or Jackfruit Biryani" which is a fragrant spicy rice preparation. Please read about it here.

For those who associate with middle class Kokan personality traits handed down across the generations, stubbornness, willfulness, sticking-to-principles-come-what-may etc ,  Sir Fanas will not disappoint.

Kokan demands, that the poem  be in Marathi.  The Queen's version follows. 

ताई काकू, माई आणि दादांच्या घरी
मोठे झालेले,
आमराईतल्या गर्विष्ठ अम्बेलोकात वाढलेले

साधे पण ओबडधोबड फणस खोत ,
अचानक लहानपणीच
देशावर जायला निघतात काय ,
"थांब थांब, कापा हो, " असं विनवणार्या
आजी लोकांना न जुमानता ,
आपले भारदस्त धूड सांभाळत
सातासमुद्रापलीकडे पोचतात काय ,
आणि सौदर्याच्या उधळणीत आपले
साधे, प्रखर शाकाहारी काटेरी विचार सर्वांसमोर ठेउन
एक वेगळाच स्थान निर्माण करतात काय !

आणि मग
मास मछराञ्च्या नाकावर टिच्चून ,
थोडा तैल मसाज,
मन घट्ट करून काटेरी पूर्वायुश्यातून बाहेर .
नवीन जगात बटाटे लोकांशी संवाद,
आणि घरच्यांची आठवण काढत भाज्यांशी मिसळ्ण,
इलैचिबै, जीराबेन, शाहजीरेराव, कांदासिंग आणि बेगम लसूण
यांच्या मैफलीत रमून जाण ,
काजुपुत्राञ्च्याकडे कौतुकाने बघत
दह्यात कोथिम्बीर पुदिन्यात विहार्ण ,
आणि हे स्वप्न संपताच ,
कोकणच्या आठवणी काढत काढत
शुभ्र भातावर रेलून
दूध, केशर , केवडा आणि तुपाचा
आस्वाद घेणं …

फणस खोत आयुष्यात खूप शिकलेत ,
प्रवासातल्या अनुभवांनी श्रीमंत झालेत,
पण पुढे काय वाढून ठेवले आहे
माहित असून सुद्धा
गतआयुश्याला स्मरून ,
ताई काकू, माई आणि दादांच्या स्मृतीस अभीवादन करून
गोंधळलेल्या मांसाहारी मंडळींना सामोरे जातात …।
Growing up tough
in the Kokan
amidst Tai Kaku, Mai and Dada,
unwieldy and amorphous
amidst narcissistic Alphonsos,
it puzzles as to how
Sir Fanas of Jackfruit
decides to go out into the world,
despite the desperate pleas
of those who wish
he would stay
and turn al dente in time.

Respectfully refusing grandmas,
skillfully managing a huge thorny life,
he travels across the oceans
in the face of
dainty killing beauty standards,
and creates a special ,
albeit thorny, but no nonsense
vegetarian place for himself.

An oil massage
to tease all the marination crazy meats,
a smooth but difficult emergence
from a thorny past,
backslapping the potato dudes,
and then
mixing with the veggies
thinking of life back home.

A spicy jamming mehfil,
with the cardamom, cumin,
onion and garlic high fliers,
waving to the cashews,
and then
resting a bit
amidst coriander mint yogurt lakes.

Fully stuffed,
he leans back
and relaxes against the rice,
thinking of his childhood
and festival times,
as he is sprinkled
with milk, kewda, saffron and ghee.

Sir Fanas of Jackfruit.

He has come a long way,
has learned so much.

From life
as well as
Taikaku, Mai and Dada of Kokan.

He has an inkling
of what the future holds,
as he bravely looks up
and faces
some confused non vegetarians,
who think
Shruti has cooked meat....

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Miss LeafyGreen 2014

My fb and blogger friend Shail Mohan , also known as the shutterbug lady, lives in what is known as Gods own Country, a state in India, blessed with great rains and greater greenery.

She has a photoblog called Shots and Captures.

This blog has  a huge set of photographs of nature, including monsoon skies, evening skies, water drops, rains and her garden.  She recently posted this amazing Bokeh visual and titled it "sleeping".

But like they say, perceptions differ.  While her perception probably has to do with a more sedate, nature-appreciating  and restful way of life,  what someone in Mumbai saw was something else.

At the end of the day, the eye of the beholder.  :-)

the white arc lights
the slim, tall

statuesque ones,
vying for
the Miss LeafyGreen 2014,
standing together,
yet aloof,
their own beauty business....

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Golden Twins.....

We live in times, when there are e-games stories, and characters that go by the names of "twin sunflowers", "plant zombies", "gatling peas" et al.  Go on. Google "twin Sunflowers"  and you will see what I mean .  Today's children will probably grow up playing e-marbles, and e-hopskotch.

So it was with a sense of great wonder that I noticed this photograph of actual  Twin Sunflowers , posted by Nandita Iyer, who is a nutritionist and food consultant, and has a wonderful food blog called Saffron Trail, where she writes  about some wonderful healthy recipes, using all natural food items.  She was recently published in the Discover India Magazine.

Somewhere , in the mind's eye, I could see a placenta, carrying stuff to the emerging flowers,  a flowering and an emergence, and a celebration, as the sun emerged.

Or should I say, "Suns ".......

Cool breezes,
So many
celebratory baby showers

in the city of Gardens,
a safe balcony
for an impending emergence,
Mother Earth
with her green placenta
pouring in the life sap
defying gravity.

And the twins
clutching each other
open their eyes
rubbing the curled eyelashes,
and see
the greens,
moist and dewy eyed
at the event.

Somewhere, someone
cheerful in the early hours,

bursts into
"Here come the Suns ...".....

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bozoical Acche Din

Bozo , Mumbai's blogger dog, clearly understands the connection between food, sharing and happiness.

He also notices the grumpy demeanour of those who gobble up stuff themselves, thinking it makes them powerful.

Clearly, they haven't been watching TV like Bozo has.  He may not write centre page articles,  have a column of his own , or have a ear to the ground in the capital,  but he watches and learns. 

And he is convinced that "Acche din anewale hai !"

Power shortages
across the land,
and it helps to have stuff
that can light up your eyes.

there are folks
who see power,
hear power,
smell power,
and their eyes light up
at the prospect
of capturing it all
keeping everyone else
in the dark.

I see upmas,
hear tadkaas,
and smell fish;
my eyes light up with joy,
which I share
with everyone in the family.

Except of course
a certain Desert Storme,
that gobbles stuff,
leaks black tears
on the floor
who behaves
like the Chairperson
of the Garage,
aloof but powerful.

I am happy,
and full.

I guess winning does that to you.
Acche Bozoical din ane wale hai.....

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Importance of being a Flying Fox

Living on a huge academic campus. with a lake, woods, and some unavoidable signs of so called development (high rises, continuous raising of road levels , breakdown and buildup of gates etc), one meets a lot of students, like my friend, KrishnaPriya, who take wonderful photos , of those, amidst nature,  to whom this campus originally belongs (before all the engineers arrived).

Please see the amazing photos in her album dedicated to her neighbors .

This photo of the flying fox ,  with this very dignified serious expression , just reminded me of a yearly ritual that happens . And something that almost always happens later.....

Much confused and tired
after dodging
new high rises,

messed up gates,
and missing trees.

at the convocation,
getting ready to walk
in the academic procession.

You cannot miss
the occasion
when so many
learn to fly
out of the country....

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Hapus Times.....

My FB friend Nandan Tavanandi, recently posted a visual of  a Hapus (Alphonso)  Mango, being eaten , like it was always supposed to be eaten, and not in finely carved convex pieces eaten  with fancy spoons.

There is a school of thought that says the fruit simply tastes superior when eaten this way,  with every mango molecule dripping gold, juice, and slathering all over your fingers.

We now approach the end of the mango season.  Like my friend says,  एका आम्रमयी सीजनची सांगता......

The Hapus Mango.  Native to Devgad  in the Kokan. Like me.  

It is but natural, that I must write in a language the Mango will understand.

एका देवगडी आमराई मध्ये
एका उंच फांदीवर
कुणा एका कैरीला

"नंदन" वनाचे वेध . …

महिने महिने मोहरून
घेतलेला एका स्वप्नाचा ध्यास,
हळुवारपणे झाडावरून खाली ,
आणि मग समुद्रकाठाने जोरात
इतर सख्यांबरोबर प्रवास….

अढीवर स्वस्थ बसून
घालवलेल्या दिवस रात्री,
कूणीतरी हळुवार फिरवून
वर खाली कर्ण ,
हळू हळू उजळणारी सोनेरी कांती,
कधी गालावर लाल
आणि एक दिवस
"नंदन"वनात आगमन

कणाकणात गोडवा ,
आणि देवगडची कैरी ,
न ओळख्ण्या इतकी बदलते,
हळूच आपले केसावारचे केशरी पदर
दूर करते,
आणि रस भरीत आवाजात म्हणते,
"आयुष्याचं अगदी सोनं झालं हो माझ्या …."

Friday, June 6, 2014

Mango Wisdom

Folks in Delhi, like my FB friend Varsha Tiwary are very lucky, since Delhi hosts a Mango festival every year.   There is mango tasting, artistic mango cutting, demos by chefs, and tests about mango knowledge.  Strangely, they also list something called "mango consuming rivalry for ladies " . 


Varsha recently tasted 15 varieties of Mangoes on a single visit, and concluded that the Langda (Malda) variety, was the best.

Some folks swear by Alphonso, some go into raptures over Kesar, and everyone has their Big favourite.   Each name has a history and an origin, but at the end of the day, the Mangoes don't forget that they are , mangoes, and rejoice in their variety.

Something , we bipeds need to badly learn.

The eldest mango,
sitting way behind,
the slices preening
in the plates,
just shook her head
and said,
every mango
tastes different
based on
which one you had
before it;
there are some
page 3 mango types,
that pretend,
but most of us
live in great appreciation
of our brethren
from the different states.

We even honor
those who nurture us,
like Farmer Langra from Benares.

these bipeds
clearly need to learn
as they call me Langda.

We mangoes don't call each other names.

(Langda ~ hindi for 'lame'  )
(Langra ~ name of farmer from Benares who nurtured this variety now named after him)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hair today, plaited tomorrow.....

A free spirited , greatly educated, well travelled, open minded observant friend in her 40's, juxtaposed with a set of older generation ladies, including her mother , tut-tut-ing about her hair, and itching to nicely braid it and adorn it with jasmine flowers and clips.

She politely agrees, gets plaited and done, and then gets on with her routine activities of the day, wondering if there might be a change in people's perception of her.

I just wondered, what the hair must have felt...

in the wind,
harnessed by a clip
in a quiet falling  in line;
striving to stay away
from a hot neck
by knotty or naughty
crowning positions
with wisps
straining to tumble;
and sometimes,
in praise of gravity
just staying in place
happy to be free
and sometimes
seeking answers
in the wind.

But just sometimes,
they remember
a childhood
they revelled in
oil massages,
friendly tangled fights,
endless hot baths,
sunning to dry,
and then
a decent distributed
falling in place
with a winning ribbon,
waiting for the
prize jasmine rush.

The neurons
may have aged.
She knows that.

The hair has not.
And it still enjoys
being fussed over by Mom.