Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Last Omelette Dance

You can take me out of Pune, but you cannot take Pune out of me.  This from someone born, brought up in Pune, and who went to college  in the Deccan area, and has seen popular eating places and hangouts , change hands over the years.

This one has not.

My friend Shakti Salgaonkar, just posted this capture of a Omellete Pav Sandwhich she probably had at an early morning breakfast  in Pune's  Cafe Goodluck at Deccan.  A traditional Irani place, having catered to at least 3 generations of folks , from a time, when anything beyond East Street, Parvati,  Pune Station, and University was considered "out of town" .  

Sometimes, you see a photograph and  feel full . This was one of those days.

डेक्कन वरच्या सकाळच्या थंडीत ,
टेनिस खेळून येणारी
शुभ्र कपडे परिधान केलेली
मध्यम वयीन मंडळी ,
आणि टेकडी वरून खाली उतरून,
वैशाली च्या नाकावर टिच्चून
तिला भेटायला येणारी
"गुडलक गुडलक"
म्हणणारी  बाकीची .

सोनेरी गाउन  वर
कांद्याचे स्वारोव्स्की ,
आणि पुणेरी
मिरची कोथिम्बिर बुट्टे,
आणि घेर सांभाळत ,
चाय च्या वाफा चुकवत ती येते,
पावाच्या मिठीत शिरते ,
आणि उन्हाच्या
खिडकीतून येणार्या
कवडस्याच्या ताज्या उजेडात
तिचा आयुष्याचा  शेवटचा फॉक्सट्रोट
सुरु होतो….

Early misty
Deccan winter mornings,
middle aged
voluble  champions
in tennis whites
aggregating there
along with
those having descended the Tekdi,
having cocked a snook
at Vaishali
"Good Luck , Good Luck" .

And she arrives,
a vision
in a golden gown,
studded with Onion Swarovski
mixing happily with
Puneri Mirchi Kothimbir Buttaas,
managing the spread
amidst vapours of the tea,
only to enter
into the arms of a Pav.

Amidst sunrays
streaming intermittently
through an old glass window
she must now begin
to dance
the last Foxtrot
of her life......

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Listen to the Parijat !

My friend Sangeeta Khanna lves in the capital, and is blessed to have a garden with lots of useful, traditional , and decorative greens. She also makes teas from many traditional greens from her garden, and the Parijat ( Night flowering jasmine or Nyctanthes arbortristis) tree  leaves , is one of them.

Thanks to the excessive pollution in Delhi,  the Parijat leaves , at least those that are a bit older , now boast a layer of smog, as may be seen in the photograph  here, clicked and posted by Sangeeta.   I wonder what the Gods feel about being worshipped with smog-encrusted flowers smelling of weird hydrocarbons..

The leaves don't protest, fight in Parliament , or even take half hearted decisions based on popularity. 

That is left to stupid, evolved , greedy bipeds like us.

And then , sometime, somewhere, nature teaches  us a lesson. 

Smoggy deposits
on the green lungs of the city,
and still they
bravely carry on
and standing in support
of the young ones
with orange stems
and white fragrance
for the Gods.

We shameless
evolved cerebral folks
follow corrupted
power Gods
and pretend to
bravely carry on
evenly and oddly ,
spewing the exhaust
of mindless wheelers
and yes,

Does it take a deluge
to wipe off
the deposits
on the leaves ?

Think .

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Tolerant Pickle....

A favourite pickle made  on the spur of the moment from freshly shelled peas, Delhi carrots and crisp cauliflower.   Steeped in pickle masala , tingling Tadkas and copious lemon juice.

Folks typically do NOT wait for the vegetables to marinate. Much of it gets finished under the guise of "tasting"  it.

So you make a lot of it .  How wonderful it tastes with Dahi Bhat, Bhakri and such pillars of Maharashtrian Cuisine, is the subject of another poem....

And like all other times when the poetry keeda strikes , there is also something to learn from this pickle. .... 

काहींच्या डोक्यावर पानं ,
काहीन्न्ना कवटाळून बसलेली पानं ,
आणि काहीं तर जन्मापासून
हिरवाईत बंद ,
आणि मग एके दिवशी हळूच
हिरव्या मोत्यासारखे टपकन बाहेर…

जन्म कुठ्लांही,
आई वडील कोणीही असूनही
झालेला असला,
तरी एकत्र येउन
एखाद्या बरणीत
एकामेकाबरोबर घालवण्याची मजा
काही औरच असते.

फोडणीत चुर्चुर्ण ,
लिंबाच्या रसात डुम्बण,
कधी दही भात,
कधी ब्रेड
कधी पोळी
कधी भाकरी
सर्वांबरोबर समभावाने रम्ण,
आणि हसत खेळत
एखाद्या चोरून चव घेणार्या बोटाला
कौतुकाने चिकटण…

कधीतरी आपल्या राजकारणी
ह्यांच्या कडून सहिष्णुता म्हणजे काय
ते शिकतील का ?
 Some sprout leaves
on their head,
some are simply wrapped
precociously in leaves,
and some
remain enclosed in green,
till the moment of birth
emerging as little green pearls.

of place of birth,
method of birth ,
or even parentage,
they come together
in a celebration
of life,
often deemed,
full of salt,
sometimes spicy hot,
occasionally bitter,
and so many times
simply sour,
and a few times,
as they fool around
and have fun
in a porcelain jar.

Shuddering under a Tadka,
swimming in
the juice of lemons,
giving sufficient time
to all folks like
Dahi Bhat,
and an occasional
indulgent touch
to a finger
trying to dip in
and taste them all.

Will our intolerant politicians
learn something
about tolerance
from these folks?    

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sthitpradnya Bozo....

This has been a season for amazing changes in the two blogger dogs that I know.

Luci Shail, of Thiruvananthapuram, one of the most active, frisky, strongwilled and determined dogs, has suddenly become  aware that she is now a teenager, has calmed down, and thinks things out before reacting. I wrote about this here , after recently meeting her.

And now there is Bozo, Mumbai's senior blogger dog, who has seen a lot of the world, and thanks to peering over books, listening to prayers and discussions, and  watching programs on visual media,  he is slowly becoming  what most old folks should be, but are unable to be.  

A sthitpradnya.  He often makes a great effort to look inwards, as they say , in the face of a situation , where there are delicious smells emanating from the Amembal kitchen . 

His mentor and chronicler, Deepak, clicked him in one of his stithpradnya moments ..

He has been through it all.

Thrill, Hankering,
anger, jealousy,
and mean thoughts
about Desert Stormes
hiding in the garage.

But unlike her,
he reads, observes and learns.

In a world
where so many lose good sense
while chasing power,
and redefine truth,
he is a shining example
of how an elder should be.

by dear ones going away,
across the seas,
balanced when faced
with yummy things in life,
and forgiving
of those on 2 wheels ,
who fire and roar
and know not what they do,
he now has complete control
over his senses,
the sign of a true Sthitpradnya.

But sometimes,
just sometimes,
the smell of a dosa is
just too much.

And he has learned
to turn his face away
with great determination
and strength
and wait for his proper mealtimes. 

a role model
for dogs on the Web.

And then one wonders,
why only dogs ?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Chutney Manaat Ghusli .... चटणी मनात घुसली

 In an age where everything comes in a bottle, can or tube, the Lasoon Chutney made in a cast iron heavy mortar and pestle  is simply incomparable,  unmatched , and reigns supreme. 

When it is part of your childhood and you remember the rhythmic thud while  garlic , coconut and chillies go to pieces , with some sympathetic tamarind joining in,  you simply smell it all , and remember having it with hot bhakris of the griddle, white butter, and buttermilk to wash it down.

 My friend Shama Bedekar , recently posted her Lasoon-chutney  memories in a nostalgic post in Angat Pangat, a FB group dedicated to Rediscovering Traditional Maharashtrian  Cuisine.   Her photo of the chutney  evoked strong memories , and possibly inspired folks to get started again with chutneys of their own.

Good going !  Though it isn't really about the ingredients only.  Many times, it is about the hands that made it, and then sat you down indulgently at a table and had you enjoy a fresh hot meal...... 

मन भराय भराय ,
हिवळ्यातली न्याहरी,
लसुणा, खोबर्याची बत्त्याशी चालेली झटापट,
वरून साध्या पण आतून स्फोटक
अश्या लाल मिरच्यांचे
खळबळजनक पदार्पण;
ह्या महाभारतीय युद्धात
चिंचोके विरहित चीन्चेने केलेली
आत्मसमर्पणीत शिष्ठाई,
आणि मग
युद्ध विरामा प्रीत्यर्थ ,
सर्वांनी एका बरणीत केलेली चितन बैठक .

आणि मग
तव्यावर फुलणारी
"इश्श्य" म्हणत पापुदर्याचे कौतुक ऐकत
ताटात पडून
ताज्या लोण्याला खुणावणारी
"हाय , मेरे कलेजे के तुकडे हो रहे है "
असे म्हणत
चटणीकडे बघत
तृप्त मनाने लोण्याला वितळव्णारी
ज्वारीची दशमी ,

कुणा एका लेकीच्या
चेहर्यावर असीम आनंद ,
आणि एक आजी ,
लोण्याचा विरह सहन न झालेया
गोड ताकाला ,
जिरे मीठ लाउन
हळूच एका वाटीत ओततात ,
आणि म्हणतात ,
" जरा तव्यावरची दशमी भाजते आणि वाढते हो,
तो पर्यंत हे अदमोर ताक घे. ….
मन आणि अन्न ,
कसं विविध चवीनॆ भरलेलं असावं ,
आणि मग आयुष्य कसं

अगदी भराय भराय …. "
A mind
brimming with cheer,
a breakfast in winter,
and a tussle
Lasuna and Dry Coconut
in a Mortar-and-Pestle place.

Then a spicy entry
by some misleading
simple looking
but explosive Red Mirchis,
a tumultuous war,
a Mahabharat
with some Seedless Tamarind  
playing negotiator
and peace maker,
and a final "retreat"
enjoying each other
at the Barni Jar Resort.

And then
a Jowar Bhakri,
blooming in pride
on a griddle,
going "Oh! My, My !"
at folks admiring its layers,
then quietly signalling
to an innocent lump
of white butter,
that just melts
at the sight
of the Bhakri's full  heart
going to pieces
at the sight of the
flavourful Lasoon Chatni

A favourite daughter
enjoying it all
at the table,
and a grandma,
eyes full,
the Lady Buttermilk
recently separated from the butter,
applies a pinch
of cumin and salt,
and pours her
a bowl of buttermilk,
"Another fresh hot Bhakri
coming up !
Till then ,
enjoy the fresh buttermilk....
Your mind and your food
needs to
be brimming
with all the flavours.
That's when
you enjoy
a fulfilling life !

A Kuleeth Life .. कुळीथांचे जीवनगाणे

Kulthaacha Pithla , a preparation of Kuleeth or Horse gram as it is called , is a very traditional preparation from Kokan, best enjoyed with fragrant freshly steamed rice , along with some more traditional stuff like roasted Poha Papads, fried solar dried stuffed mirchis, and even dahi , playing a mature peacemaker amidst all the strong stuff. 

My friend Deepa Godbole Joshi who blogs at Foodlyrics  , posted this very nostalgic entry  with a photograph , of Kulthaacha Pithla ,  on the Facebook page of Angat Pangat, a group dedicated to rediscovering Traditional Maharashtrian Cuisine.

I have memories from my childhood , of the flavours emanating from my family kitchen as the Kuleeths were roasted, and then folks gently grinding them by hand by a stone set of grinding wheels operated by two people sitting in  a large balcony , singing some typical ballads.   Then a fragrant kuleeth pithla enjoyed with hand pounded rice or Jowar Bhakri, amidst a spicy crunch of Poha papad and fried mirchis; and a meal ending with cool fresh buttermilk .

History says that Shivaji Maharaj  used to drink a large bowlful of gruel made from Kuleeth Flour before setting out on his campaigns.  They used to call them Hulge.   

You know what he achieved.

I guess all we ordinary folks can do is dream ..... 

आपल्या गावचे तांदूळ राव
देशावर जातात काय
कोकणची आठवण येउन
त्याना लोकं आंबेमोहोर म्हणतात काय ,
असा विचार करतच
पिशवीतल्या कुळीथान मध्ये
कुजबूज सुरु.

मग आंबोळी घाटावरून
कोल्हापूरमार्गे पुण्यात,
आणि मग केलेलं भाताचे व्रत …

स्वतःला एखाद्या लोखंडी कधी मध्ये
मंद आचेवर भाजून घेणे ,
जेणे करून
दोन मजले खाली
लोक वासाने हवालदिल होतील .
मग एका सुपात विश्रांती ,
आणि एका संगीतमय जात्यात
स्वतःचे झालेले बारीक
ओवीबद्ध संस्कारित पीठ.

कुळीथाची कुणकुण लागताच
एका कुकर मध्ये
हर्षभराने फुलून येणारा आंबेमोहोर भात,
आतुरतेने वाट बघतो ,
आणि एकिकडे
कुळीथाचा शृंगार सुरु…

एका काळ्या लोखंडी कढईत
तळप्णारे तेल,
त्यात खळ्बळत उसळ्णार्या मोहर्या ,
"आलेच" असं म्हणत हिंगाला घेउन
स्वतःला झोकून देणार्या
लाल चुटूक ओठान्सार्ख्या मिरच्या ,
त्यांच्या मागे मागे जाणारे बारीक
चिरलेले कांदे,
सर्वानवर लक्ष ठेउन ,
योग्य वेळी आपली पर्यवेक्षकी भूमिका
आत पडणार्या लसुणा….

"ये ग ", म्हणत कोकमा ला धरून
आत पडणारे पाणी ,
आणि कढईत सगळ्याना फुटलेल्या
आनंदाच्या उकळ्या .

एकिकडे वाफ़ाळत ताटात पोचलेला
आतुरतेने वाट बघणारा भात,
हळु हळु कढईत पडत आपला शृंगार
समाप्त करत कुळीथा ,
भुर्भूर्लेले मीठ ,
सरते शेवटी
डाव मामांबरोबर
ताटात भाताच्या गावी पोचलेली कुळीथा .

ताटकळत भाजून निघालेले पोहेपापड ,
तळलेल्या सांडगी मिरच्या
आणि शांतीस्वरूप दही ,
एकिकडे वाट बघतात
आणि भात्कुळीथ मिलन पाहून
म्हणतात ,
" किती दिवस वाट पाहतायत दोघे ,
त्यांना थोडा आणखीन वेळ देउ
आणि मग जाउ भेटायला ,
हो कि नाही ?
 So many Kuleeths
in a cloth bag
discussing and gossiping
about Tandul Rao
emigrating to the Plains,
being called AmbeMohor,
in honor
of his native Kokan.

And so they traverse
to the plains
at Amboli
and  mobilize
to do the Vow of the Rice...

A gentle but firm roasting
in a cast iron kadhai,
flavours emanating
to the street below,
a quiet cooling rest,
and then a
powdery crush amidst
some Ballads of the
Hand Grinding Wheel...

The rice,
excited by the arrival
of the Kuleethas ,
puffed and steaming with joy,
of the preparations
of Lady Kuleethas .

Hot agitated Oil,
Bursting mustard seeds ,
and shapely lip shaped
Red Mirchis
throwing themselves in
with the Hing types;
the finely chopped
gossiping onions,
quietly falling in,
the Garlic monitor
finally making its entry,
having completed
its in-charge duties.

An understanding Waterwoman
joining in,
along with some Kokam kids,
and everyone erupting
inside in a joyous boiling....

A bit of final salting,
and the Kuleetha,
now a beautiful Pithla,
gets escorted
as per tradition
by a maternal Ladle Uncle
to meet
a stunned steaming rice
waiting in the plate.

Roasted Poha Papads,
Fried Saandgi Mirchis
and a quiet peaceful
accommodating Dahi ,
the meeting
and decide to wait a bit ;
after all,
as they said ,
"They've waited to meet for so long,
why grudge them
a few minutes more na
? "

Friday, November 20, 2015

ऐका बाजीराव … ऐका बाजीराव !

दिवाळी आली आणि बघता बघता गेली सुधा . फेसबुक मित्र  हृषीकेश परांजपे , ह्यांना कार्यालयातील सहकारयाने अचानक    चंदेरी तबकात अतिसुंदर चकल्या दिल्या, त्यांच्या (सहकार्यांच्या ) सासूबाईन्नी केलेल्या.

कौतुकाने ,  स्वतःला लगेच चव घेण्यापासून थोपवत, त्याने  हा फ़ोटो काढला आणि पोस्ट केला .

सुंदर भाजणी,  नाजुकसे काटे ,  इंग्रजी मध्ये ज्याला "come hither"  म्हणतात , असे हाव भाव , आणि स्वतः भोवती नेमक्या सुबक गिरक्या घेउन , तैल्परीक्षेत उत्तीर्ण होउन,    तरीही फ्रेश रहाणार्या   खुसखुशीत सोनेरी चकल्या.

मग उगीच सहज आठवलं .  स. ली . भंसाळी .  त्यांनी इतिहासाची कदर न करता ,  दोन व्यक्तींना , विकृत पणे एकत्र नृत्यात सादर करणे; सोनेरी, चंदेरी, गिरक्या , सर्व .

एव्ह्डच  समजलं .   चकलीला  उत्कृष्ट  taste  आहे.   भन्साळीन्ना अजिबात नाही

बा संजया, कुठे तुझा
दोन इतिहासातील सुंदर व्यक्तींचा
अनुचित व
त्यांच्या स्मृतीला
अपमानित करणारा नृत्य प्रयोग ,
आणि कुठे
एका रम्य दिवाळीत
कथ्थकी सोर्यातून,
नजाकतीने घेतलेल्या
कुणा एका चकलीच्या रेखीव ,
तेलात पडून सोनेरी झालेल्या
सफाईदार गिरक्या,
आणि मग चांदीच्या तबकात
दिलेली दिलखेचक पोझ ....

संजयाचा नवीन चित्रपट ,
हृषीकेश चकली .....!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dosa Ki Baat .....

They say, You are what you Eat .

Jokes about being a rotund Gulabjamun apart,   there is much that food teaches us .

My friend Shail Mohan of Thirivananthapuram,  sat down for breakfast this morning, and clicked and posted this .   The objective might have been to make a few people feel terrible about having oatmeal ,  or some others stop and pine for this while taking sips of sugarless tea  watched by a dry humorless toast.

Actually, like the filter coffee on the side indicated,  there is a deeper meaning.  

In a world
where hot griddles
never know
what will befall them,
and good middle class
fermented types
are in their element
displaying dimples
as they
spread themselves
with alacrity in circles,
with pale golden makeup,
it helps
to realize that
the world is made up
so many
different types.

Staid, conservative,
dal folks,
in cohabitation with
the respected coconut types,
making allowances for
red chilly and garlic makeup,
sometimes gatecrashed
by onions,
all pretending to be

And then
there are the
red hot tomatowala
fiery types,
crushingly chilly hot,
tempered a bit
and tangling in heat
with age old tamarind wisdom,
making plans for
a bottled future
in an oily space somewhere,

The wisdom lies
in making both feel wanted,
and an ideal dosa
will make each feel special,
while quietly working
conquering a sambaar.

Dosa Politics.
Wisdom of the day.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tareef !

Sometimes you cannot forget someone you have clicked .  More so, if you are a student of nature , and well acquainted with the activities of whom you have clicked.

Just in case you do forget, facebook reminds you 2 years down the line, and refreshes your memory.

Like it did for my friend Sangeeta Khanna, who clicked this chap ,  years ago.   Interesting, because she even remembers dissecting a cousin of this chap in her student days.....

Just  reminded me of a hit song from Kashmir Ki Kali sung by late Mohammed Rafi .

Well, Delhi ki Kali at least ....

  ये चाँद सा रोशन चेहरा, त्वचा का रंग सुनहरा
ये शराबी धुंद आँखे, पेड़ोंसे प्यार है इन में गहरा
तारीफ़ करूँ क्या उसकी, जिसने तुम्हें बनाया

एक चीज़ अब पक्की भी है, गिलहरीसे सुना करते थे
तुम्हे घूमते मैने देखा , वो ठीक कहा करते थे
है फिसलना तेरा जालिम, खलनायकी आलिंगन जादू
सौ बार पकड़ा तू पेड़ को , और वह होके रहा बेकाबू
तारीफ़ करूँ क्या उसकी, जिसने तुम्हें बनाया

सुबह सूर्यकिरणको देखे , पीठपर रौंगटे खड़े हो जाना
शरमाकर रंग बदलके , तेरा पेड़ से एकरूप हो जाना
तू चमकती जंगल की बेटी , मौज से करे अंगड़ाई
कीडो ने किया परेशान उन्हे मूह की दुनिया दिखाई
तारीफ़ करूँ क्या उसकी, जिसने तुम्हें बनाया

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Incredible Lightness of being an Idli....

In these days of "ready mixes" for everything ,  making something from scratch, and succeeding, always brings a different kind of satisfaction , joy and a certain peace of mind.

My friend Shakti Salgaonkar-Yezdani , enraptured in the Idli Zone , made the batter from scratch, and celebrated a morning breakfast , with light, fluffy , soft and delicious idlies.

Her photograph of the idlies , had me actively looking around for chutney, so I could imbibe. 

Instead,  I found poetry.....

 (photograph by Shakti Salgaonkar-Yezdani)

उडीदा ,
नेहमीच सगळ्यांपेक्षा वेगळी .
तिच्या बरोबरच्या सख्या

नेहमी मिरची आले खोबर्याच्या नादी लागून ,
आपापसात भोक पडे पर्यंत भांडून
तेलात पडायच्या आणि
स्वतःला मेदुवडा म्हणत सांबारात भाव खायच्या .

पण हि वेगळी .
तांदूळ गावच्या रवे, उकडे,
अगदी भारदस्त बास्मत्यांशी ओळख,
पण तिचा जीव खरा रव्यावर।

आणि मग एके दिवशी
स्वतः अभ्यंग स्नान ,
आणि धूत वस्त्रात ८ तास
तिने फक्त पांणी पियुन उपवास केला ,
आणि बाहेर पडताच
रव्याला शोधत
रोजच्या आयुष्याच्या दगडी रगड्यात
स्वतःला झोकून दिलं.

रव्याने साद ऐकली,
आणि काही तासात दोघे एका
मोठ्या पातेल्यात गुजगोष्टीत रममाण .
आणि तासन्तास खूप गप्पा, खूप चेष्टा ,
आणि हसून हसून दोघ अगदी फुलले .

मग एक सुखद सकाळ,
आणि वफ़्फ़ळणारा चहा बघताच ,
हे दोघे "आम्ही पण . आम्ही पण " म्हणत
पळी पळी ने इडली पत्रात पडले,
आणि उत्कृष्ट फ़ेशिअल करून
विवाह बंधनात अड्कून
वाफेत उमलून
एका कप्या कप्याञ्च्या ताटलीत जावून बसले.

नवीन सुनेला बघून
सांबार सासूबाई अगदी हरखून गेल्या,
आणि चटणी वन्स ना म्हणाल्या ,
"आता दिवळ्सणाला हळदीची पाने आणून ठेवायला हवीत .
इडली सूनबाईला अगदी शोभून दिसतील हो …
always a class apart,
staying away
from her friends
who messed with
ginger chilly mirchi types,
fought through holes
into oil,
and then preened
as meduwadas in sambaar....

But she is different;
of the worthies of Rice City;
Despite the Cream of Rice,
Boiled types and Basmatees,
she simply doted on the Rawa.

Then one day,
a longish bath ,
and a longish stay in water,
freshly washed ,
and fasting ,
and she emerged ,
hailing the Rawa,
as she threw herself into
the Daily Grind .

responding with alacrity,
joined in,

deep in a vessel,
chatting, sharing secrets,
and fun moments,
as they laughed and laughed
and simply
bloomed together in joy!

An early morning
sight of a
steaming cuppas,
and they rushed
to pour their hearts out
hitched together
ladle by ladle,
into an Idli Patra,
to finally emerge,
light, clean and in bloom
joined in matrimony
on to a plate.

Ma-in -law Sambaar,
ecstatic a the sight,
nudged the Chatni daughter,
and said,
"Aiiyo ! We need to arrange for
Turmeric leaves
for Divali....
Idli will look fabulous
wrapped in the
Haldi Paithani, na ?...

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bananas, Minds and Shankarpalees मन केळाय शंकरपाळाय ...

Divali cleaning is never always about superficial  show.  It often brings to the forefront those earlier relegated to the back and forgotten, in a world increasingly dedicated , albeit unfairly, to the Fair and Lovely.

My friend Shruti Nargundkar of Melbourne, spied some blackened neglected  bananas during her cleaning spree, along with small streams of oil , that had been unable to make it out of big cans.  Some sugar, some whole wheat flour , and the finishing touches by   khus khus (poppy seeds) , and the  Banana ShankarPaLees she made , gave the story a lovely golden ending. 

She posted this photo on FB along with the recipe.  For those NOT on FB, perhaps the poems below will suffice.  First composed in Marathi, the English version just happened a couple of hours later....

This Divali, there is much to learn about minds, attitudes, humility and unity.

फेर आणि लव्हली जगात
इतिहास सांगतो कि
काही सावळ्या गोष्टी मागे मागे राहतात.
केळा आणि तिच्या सख्या ,
भरभरून आत्मविश्वास,
अत्यंत गोड प्रवृत्ती,
पण फक्त वर वरचे बघणार्यांच्या जगात
गोरेपणाचे कौतुक असलेल्या जगात
जणु त्या कोणीच नाहीत
असं त्यांना कधी कधी वाटतं ,
दाखवलं जातं ।

पण काही वेगळ्या दृष्टीच्या व्यक्ती
नशिबात येतात
आणि सावळया अंतरंगातले माधुर्य ओळखून,
केळाच्या आयुष्याला वेगळीच कलाटणी देतात .

उत्साहात बघायला आलेली साखरमाय,
लांब मागच्या कोपर्यात आविरत वाट पाहून,
शेवटी न रहाउन,
थेंबे थेंबे का होईना,
पण सोहळा बघायला
कौतुकाने आलेले तेल,
आणि "अग, असं बघत काय बसलात ,
नीट भेटाल कि नाही ?"
असं ठणकावून सांगणारी कणिका .

सर्वांची एकत्र झालेली घट्ट मैत्री,
पोळपाटावर केलेला गोल आराम,
मग अचानक गरम तेल बघून झालेले
मनाचे अनेक तुकडे ,
"भिऊ नको, मी तुझ्या पाठीशी आहे "
म्हणत अंगावर पडणारी खसखस ,
आणि आपण कोण होतो,
आणि आज काय झालो ,
ह्याचा अचंबा करत ,
झार्याचा हात धरून ,
तेलातून बाहेर पडणारी
केळीय गतायुष्याची आठवण काढणारी
सोनेरी शंकरपाळी ….

फेर आणि लव्हली मंडळी ,
उडलेले तेलाचे डाग पुसत बघत रहातात ,
आणि ते डाग कसे घालवायचे
ह्या काळजीत बुडतात .

त्यांना माहित नसतं ,
कि माणसाचा रंग मनात असतो।

काही फेर मंडळी मनातून काळी असतात,
कधी कधी सावळ्यान्ची मने शुभ्र असतात .

मन मोठं असलं ,
आणि रंग कसाही असला
तरी सगळं सामावून घेता येतं
जे बाहेर दिसतं ,
ते शंकर पाळ्यान्सारख सोनेरीच असतं
In a world
full of Fair-and-Lovelies,
the wheatish shades get
ruthlessly, mindlessly
pushed back.

Bananatai and her
attached team,
so teeming with confidence
and the sweetest disposition;
constantly being
bullied and pushed
in a world smitten with
Fair Power.

Yet sometimes,
someone perceptive
looks deep into their
sweet psyche
and decides to change their lives.

The Dowager Sugar
enthusiastically arriving
to give Bananatais a once over,
The sneaky oil
hidden so long
in the back of beyond,
bashfully dripping its all
as it lands up,
and a very practical
wholesome wheat flour lady,
cracking the whip
to get them all to

So many in great friendship,
enjoying a Polpat-stay
tickled by a rolling pin,
and reality sinks in
as they fall to pieces
on sighting the
hot bubbling oil.

A sprinkle of reassurance
from the seeds of poppy,
and they
resign themselves to the oil,
thinking about life changes,
only to latch on
to a slotted saviour
that helps them out
all tough, sweet and golden....

Some Fair-and-Lovelies,
cribbing endlessly
about hot oil discolorations.

They know not,
that colors
are always
in the mind.

Some Fair types have black minds
so often
Fair minds prefer
residing within Dark types.

You need a generous heart
and a giving mind
to understand it all,
and what others then see
is someone
like the
Banana ShankarpaLees ,
truly Golden

Monday, November 2, 2015

एका सोन्पापडीची कहाणी

सोन पापडी .  अतीव श्रम करून बनवलेली  प्रचंड साखर , तूप, व मैदा-बेसन युक्त  मिठाई .  मारून मुटकून, ओढाताण करून, पुन्हा पुन्हा चार लोकांच्या मदतीने दम्दाटीने, लाटणी वापरून, रखरखीत हातांच्या अधीपत्त्याखाली जबरदस्तीने बनलेली  "नाजूक" मिठाई .

आणि मग कुठेरी अचानक कोणाचे तरी आयुष्य डोळ्यासमोर येते ….

रम्य बेसनाचे बालपण ,
आणि मैदा मैत्रिणी ,
आणि वितळ्त्या मेदातल्या किशोरीवयात

एका कडक कढईआत्या बरोबर
केलेला इथे तिथे प्रवास ,
उन्हाने आणि गर्मीने
चेहर्यावर आलेले तेज ,
आणि साखर सरकार ची त्यावर पडलेली नजर.

तिचे ह्या सर्वाला भूलणे,
"परात" राजवाड्यात जाणे,
आणि काही कळायच्या आत
कुणा सैन्याच्या हाती लागून
प्रचंड ओढाताण होणे.
दूर गेलो असे वाटणे,
आणि अचानक कोणीतरी
विकट लाटणे हास्य ऐकवत ,
परत पिरगाळून
असंख्य अगणित वेळा
तिला परातीत बसव्णे.

पिठिसाख्रेच्या बरोबर लाडू होण्याच्या ,
पिस्ता मंडळींबरोबर मोहन्थाळी राहण्याच्या दिवसात,
तिच्या आयुष्यातला हा सर्वात खडतर काळ,
आणि तरी सुधा
सर्व सहन करत
स्वतःची आयुष्याची अगदी लक्तरे करून ,
कुठेतरी देव आहे
अशी सोनेरी श्रद्धा ठेउन ,
ती मन घट्ट करते .

स्वतःच्या हात्तात काही नसताना
कुणा एकाच्या हुक्की प्रमाणे
वाटेल तसे ओढले मारले जाणे,
हात पाय धरून एका चौकोनी खोलीत डांबले जाणे
आयुष्याचे तुकडे तुकडे झाल्यावर
" किती नितळ तिचा चेहरा ,
किती सुंदर स्तर ,
दुधावरच्या सायीसारखी तिची त्वचा …."
असे म्हणत
काही उष्मानकांसाठी हापाप्लेल्या लोकांनी केलेले
आधाशी कौतुक .

सोन पापडी, तुझी ही स्त्री जन्माची कहाणी

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Fall Sense

My friend Poornima Bhilegaonkar , recently posted this photograph of Fall foliage /colors in the North Carolina Mountains, in the US.  She works in IT, and blogs  at The Balancing Act.  She is also a poet .   You can read her poetry  here .

For someone like me , staying in a tropical climate ,  the only change of leaf colors I see, is when new leaves appear on Mango trees and display a wonderful translucent copper shade , before slowly becoming the mainstream green.

In colder climes, winter days are shorter, there isn't enough chlorophyll, because there isn't enough daylight, and when resources are short the population suffers.

But then again, there are some trees that remain green yet.  And I wondered what the veterans of Fall colors would be thinking......

(photo by Poornima Bhilegaonkar)

दोन भारदस्त आजी वृक्ष ,
वयोपरत्वे थोडं वाकलेले

अंगातल्या क्लोरोफ़िल्च्या कमतरतेचे
परिणाम भोगत

" आयुष्यात ऋतू प्रमाणे
चांगले वाईट दिवस असतात ,
आणि त्यांना तोंड देण्यात
शरीर आणि मन खूप काही शिकून जातं .
कधी कधी रंग बदलावे लागतात ,
पण निष्ठा नाही ,
कधी कधी काही लोकं
ऋतू बदलला कि सोडून जातात,
पण आपण विश्वास घालवायचा नसतो,
आणि क्लोरोफिल वैर्याची रात्र लांब असते ,
आणि तरी सुधा
पान गळीमुळे आपल्याला बाहेरचा सगळं
सूर्य किरणात स्वछ दिसतं….

आता तू पिवळी आणि मी लाल ,
दर वर्षीचा हा खडतर प्रवास ,
ह्या कायम हिरव्या राहणार्या वृक्षांना
आयुष्याच हे गुपित कसं समजणार ?"
Two wise and stately
Grandmother Trees
a bit bent in age ,
and conversing,
ruing the loss
of their chlorophylls.....

"You know,
there are seasons in life,
both Good and Bad.
And facing them
trains both
your Body and Mind.
You sometimes need to change color,
but never your basic loyalties;
Some folks leave you
when the season changes,
but you learn,
never to lose faith.
The Chlorophyl-less night
is long and difficult,
but the fall of leaves,
often opens your eyes
to the clear world around you
basking in the mild sunlight.

For us both,
in our red and yellow days,
this is a routine
but tough yearly life event.
I just wonder
how these perenially green types
ever learn  about Life ...? " 

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Making of Ghewar ... (and no, it is not a movie starring Bachchan )

If there was ever to be a category of a theoretical food person, I think I would qualify.  I keep seeing amazing photographs of amazing yummy things made by amazing friends, only to be intimidated by the procedures involved.

Being more of a food imbiber and taster than a cook, the only good thing is, that  I end up  creating the recipes in verse form.  For someone else to follow.

This activity has been immeasurably helped by various friends on our FB group Angat Pangat: Rediscovering Traditional Maharashtrian Cuisine, putting up brilliant photos of their preparations, more so now, since we are into the festival season. 

This photograph of the making of Ghewar, a traditional  sweet, possibly a ghee millionaire,  and its subsequent ornamentation by waves of  shrikhand  was posted by my friend Preeti Deo.  Ghewar is a traditional Rajasthani Sweet, made popular in various parts of Maharashtra by the large Marwari population domiciled there .

I researched the recipe on the Net .  And the poem happened. in both Marathi and English.   

Those not wishing to imbibe the calories, may look at the picture, read and drool.   

कार्तिकातली रम्य पहाट ,
घरात पणत्यांची , निरांजानांची
आणि पूजेची मंद दरवळ,

आणि रात्री घासून ओट्यावर आडवे पडलेले
एक चकाक्क्णारे ताम्हन ,
दागिन्यांची कारागिरी बघत
थक्क होउन
कौतुकाने 'प्रीती'पूर्ण कटाक्ष फेकत राहते …

एका हट्टी तुपाची,
दादा पुता करून,
पळी पळी ने
दुधाने काढलेली समजूत,
गरम डोकी शांत करायला
त्यात भीत भीत पडलेले बर्फाचे पाणी ,
आणि दोघांनी मिळून
मैदबाईनच्या सल्ल्याप्रमाणे ,
सामुदायिकपणे पणे
आणि तरीसुद्धा आपापल्या परीने
प्रयत्न सुरु ठेउन ,
सर्व अडथळे दूर करून,
मार्ग सुकर करण्याची केलेली
अगदी ढवळून निघेपर्यंत केलेली धडपड
आणि क्रोधाग्नी शांत झाल्याने
थोड्याश्या केशराच्या शिडकाव्यात
शांत बसलेले मिश्रण

नेहमी प्रमाणे,
आपल्या खास पद्धती अनुसार
साखर मंडळींची बघ्यांची भूमिका,
नाईलाजाने त्यांनी शेवटी केलेलं
पाण्याबरोबर पातेल्यात पदार्पण,
आणि "आता पुरे ,
ज्यास्त चिकट्पणा आपल्याला शोभा देत नाही ",
असा पाण्याने म्हणून,
त्यांचे एका पातेल्यात पाकरुपी
स्वस्थ बस्णे.

उच्च विचार्सरणीच्या पातेल्यात
आजकालच्या टावर बांधकामाच्या पद्धतीला अनुसरून,
त्यात वरच्या मजल्यापर्यंत
राहायला गेलेलं उकळते तूप ,
लिफ़्ट गरम झाल्यामुळे निकामी,
आणि पळ्या पळ्या मिश्रणा ने
नाईलाजाने खूप उंचावरून
त्या तुपात केलेली धारदार एन्ट्री ;
सुरवातीला खळबळ,
मग असंख्य दिलाचे तुकडे ,
आणि मग सर्व तुकड्यांनी ,
परत परत धारेत पडणार्या मिश्रणाचे
एकत्र केलेले सुंदर नक्षीदार स्वागत.

एक सोनेरी जाळीदार कलाकुसर,
नवीन जगात येण्याच्या तयारीत ,
"घे वर, घे वर " अशी
तिने प्रीतीला मारल्रली आर्त हाक ,
तुपात व्यवस्थित पोहणारा ,
पण आता पोहून पोहून दमलेल्या
दागिन्याला प्रीतीने दिलेला
उलथ्ण्याच्या दांड्याचा आधार,
आणि मग
एका सफेद कागदी चादरीवर
केलेला आराम .

पाक चकाकून
अधाश्या सारखा बघतच राहतो .
घेवर आलेली
आणि गेलेली सुद्धा त्याला कळत नाही।

आणि एका सुंदर बशीमध्ये ,
घेवर श्रीखंडाला बघते,
खुदकन हस्ते
आणि म्हणते,
"इश्श , काय हे ,
ते ताम्हन बघेल न …"
A cool twinkling winter night
in the month of Kartik,
a house
quietly redolent with
fragrances of
lamps and worship,
and a tamhan ***
spic and span after use,
lies awake on the
kitchen counter
observing some
amazing kitchen ornamenting.

A strong willed,
solid stubborn ghee,
being desperately wooed
patiently by spoonfuls of milk,
and iced water
rushing in
to help cool the hot heads.
Much careful stirring,
thoughtful mixing,
and cooling of tempers,
advised by Maidabai,
with much expertise
of being one with all,
and the angry mixture,
sits quiet
on the counter top
after a last sprinkle of
a peaceful cooling  saffron.

As Usual,
the Sugar folks,
unconcerned observers all,
being dragged into performing
by much heated
disgusted water folks,
and then reminded about
sitting quiet and dissolved
before becoming too sticky.

The Patelas,
simple thinking and high living,
in keeping with
the architectural tower concept,
allow ghee residents
almost half the way up,
scorching the elevators,
and forcing
the mixture
to fall from great heights
in a slim stream
into the agitated ghee.

The perturbed ghee,
in a golden sunburst
bringing the mixture together
in a fine filigree ,
a welcome for
the best season of the year.

" Me ghee war, me ghee war"
an exultation
from the fine sculptured one,
and Preeti
lends a rod
in support
to one who emerges,
golden , tired but beautiful
from the ghee
on to a cool plate.

The sugar syrup,
stunned and under a spell,
doesn't realize,
that the
beauteous ghewar
has come
taken a dip,
and gone,
now to rest
on a beautiful plate,
as a besotted Shrikhand
pours his heart out.

Ghewar watches ,
giggles a bit,
and turns to the Shrikhand,
to say,
" Shhh. Please behave.
The tamhan***  is watching...."

***tamhan = marathi for Pooja thali