Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fanas Security

That isn't the name for a new Security set up.  Fanas means Jackfruit in Marathi. 

Not many folks in Mumbai are blessed with an environment at work, that is not only green, but studded with traditional fruit trees and simian members.

My friend Sudha Ganapathi  had earlier posted a photo of Jackfruits, clutching their mother trees  outside her office window.   This photo, of a monkey trying to investigate, push,  and "spirit" away a jackfruit  is possibly the latest in the jackfruit series.

I know it is difficult for the chap to lug the jackfruit where he can enjoy it in peace. But I admire the fact that he is examining and trying .  

That is research .  

I don't know if he will succeed.  But I hope he gets to taste the fruits of his labour. 

In these little patches
of sylvan
academic green,

some discuss
and maybe securities
within societies.

So many big schemes
start off
and then
slow down and come down
under their own inertia.

I've slogged
the whole morning,
to force
the heavy laden branch
down to the ground
under it own weight.

I must now  

roll this thing away
before they discuss
the repercussions
and do something
to the Food Security Bill.

My food. My Security.
My Jack Fruit.

Bill ? What Bill ?

शुभेच्छा !

My friend Shubhada Gokhale of Melbourne,  makes wonderful poems,  and two generations of her family probably keep her busy celebrating birthdays and anniversaries often.  Someone's  fifteenth anniversary  probably led to this spread, and she recently posted this photograph.

Thanks to the Internet and globalization of food, one enjoys desserts of so any types.  One also respects those that prefer to be simple and concentrate on dry fruits instead.

Interpreting this visual, the centre of the dry fruit platter , lent itself to remembering some thing, we have enjoyed as children.  And as in my childhood, even now, one could not hold one's self back  .....     (I am sure it was something else. But it is so much more fun thinking of it this way ...)

Puzzled ?   Read on ...                   :-)    

शेजारच्या केक ताई ला
फ़ेअर आणि लव्हली फासून,
न रहावून त्यावर चोकोलेटची
रांगोळी काढून ,
"जरा स्वस्थ बसा ग"
असा आजूबाजूच्या लाल बच्चा मंडळीना दमात घेउन,
 शेवटच्या क्षणी ,
गडबडीने बनलेला दुसरा एक केक
गालावर बदाम्माचे काप फासतो
आणि पोज घेउन आमरसाच्या आवरणाखाली
एकिकडे चुपचाप
सुरिवल्याच्या आगमनाची धास्ती घेउन
गप्प पडून रहतो. .

चक्का  जेलेटिन वय लपवणारी क्रीम
सफ़ैदार्पणे लाउन
फुला पानाच्या रुपात थोडे चोकोलेटचे शिडकावे
इकडे तिकडे झटकून
आपला सामान्यांन मधला वावर
जगाला जाहीर करत
कम्युनिस्ट सुरी शेजारी
स्टाईल मध्ये बसलेली चीजकेका .

आणि ह्या सगळ्या लोकात
एका बाजूला  एकत्र बसून ,
दाटी दाटी ने सर्व कार्यक्रम बघणारे
साधे सुधे खजूर .
सल्फर  मेकप ने रंगात आलेले
वाट बघून बघून
वळून दमलेले एप्रिकोट,
नेहमीच्या सवई प्रमाणे
लख लख चंदेरी गुणगुणत,
त्यात गुर्फ़ट्लेल्या मिण्ट्स ।

आणि एक आजी
कौतुकाने सर्व  बघत,
अचानक काहीतरी लक्षात आल्यासारखं करतात
आणि म्हणतात ,
"अगोबाई ! हे मध्यभागी हवाबाण हरडे कि काय ?  "

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kachra Re, Kachra Re.....

This has to be a week when trash has been uppermost in mind. Just happened to write a prose post on Trash Cans .

Then I see this photo posted by my friend Deepak Amembal, who recently visited Velas village on the Ratnagiri Coast , and besides the Olive Ridley Turtles, also waxed eloquent on the cleanliness quotient of the village, where the villagers have installed numerous trash cans , along roads leading to the beach, for the benefit of us careless tourist townies, and  ensure that their village is one of the cleanest, and  most ecologically educated .

Just reminded me of something my late mother use to say . "It doesn't matter how big or small your vocation. You must do your best in every piece of work . If you are a sweeper, be an excellent ("first-class")   sweeper. Your work must speak for you . This is no less than an engineer , doctor etc"

Don't know about folks in Mumbai , where the emphasis publicly is on cheating, but clearly someone in Velas was listening.

व्यक्ती कितीही लहान असली
तरी स्वाभिमान महत्वाचा ….
अगदी कचरा पेटीचा  सुद्धा ….

कितीतरीन्ना  उपेक्षेने
इकडे तिकडे टाकून ठेवलेललं असतं,
त्यांच्यावर काय काय खरडलेलं असतं ,
आणि त्यांच्या दिशेने
अनेक लोक कचरा फेकत राहतात
जो कधी आत कधी बाहेर
असा वास करतो अन देतो …

कचर्याच्या राक्षसी गाड्या
आणि रागावलेल्या गायीम्हशी आसपास
भांडणारे कुत्रे
धुमाकूळ घालतात ,
आणि आधीच खचलेली कचरापेटी
आणखीनच औदासीन्यात बुडून जाते .

पण एखाद  गाव असतं ,
इथे ह्या स्वाभिमानी पेट्यान्ना
मानाने वागवलं जातं ,
अनेक मोक्याच्या ठिकाणी त्या उभ्या असतात ,
गावाच्या स्वच्छतेत त्यांचा
लक्षवेधी सहभाग असतो ,
त्यांच्यावर निष्काळजीपणे कच्राफेक
करणार्यांना  समाज दिली जाते ,
कोपर्या कोपर्यावर त्या गर्वाने उभ्या असतात ,
कोणीतरी वेळोवेळी  त्यांच्या आरोग्याकडे
डोळा ठेउन असतं ,
आणि  जराश्या अंतरावर,
कौतुकाने समुद किनार्यावर पुन्हा पुन्हा
येउन गर्दी करणार्या लाटा
कुणा एकाच्या पायाशी थडकून म्हणतात
"टी  व्ही वर
तुम्ही आत्ता आत्ता
अभियाने सुरु केलीत,
पण आमचे आयुष्य  खूप आधीपासूनच
खूप सुंदर आहे ।
आज ह्या पेट्यान्मुळे
आमचं हे वेळसचं घर कसा लक्ख आहे … "
It doesn't matter
if someone calls you a trash can.
Only thinking makes it so.

In the meanwhile,
there is,
in these trashy times,
your self respect..

Some just lying here and there,
with some abusive scratches,
as trash keeps getting flung
some attaining bulls eye,
some falling out
and getting bulls mouth,
as senseless  trash trucks,
fighting dogs,
and assorted cattle
push the poor
trash can
deeper into an
organic rotten smelly depression.

But then sometimes
there is a village,
the trash cans
are the pride of the place,
and stand at corners
doing their bit
for the village,
as those being careless
are given a
piece of a villager's mind.

attended to
by those who brought them there,
and cleaned ,
proudly standing,
broadcasting their
calling to the world.

A little distance away,
some ocean waves,
excitedly rush
and foam in excitement
at some one's feet,
You guys started
Abhiyans on TV
But we've been blessed
a Beautiful Life
for ages;
Thanks to these lovely trash cans,
our House in Velas
simply sparkles
in the Sun...."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Crow and Water.. reloaded...

Mumbai is typically in the throes of a very hot and humid summer.  Some folks , like my friend Deepak Amembal, put out these little bowls of water, firmly anchored in their balconies, for the bird population , that may be thirsty, after flying endlessly through our polluted air. 

Here is a capture  he posted,  as a crow actually stopped by  for a bit of imbibing.

I just wondered what must have gone through the crows mind, at suddenly finding a wide mouthed water bowl.....       :-)


कुणाचं जग अति मोठं झालं
पाण्या ऐवजी तहान

दुसरी कसली तरी लागते ,
हिरवाई हताश पणे गळून पडते
आणि नियमांचे कितीही दगड
एक एक करून टाकले
तरी पाणी वर
साध्या माणसाच्या ओठांशी ,
येत नाही …

एका रम्य गुलाबाच्या
बाल्कनीत ,
डुलणार्या हिरवाईत
कुणा एकाची काकदृष्टी ,
पाण्यानी भरलेल्या ,
व भक्कम पणे उभ्या असलेल्या
जलकुंभावर पडते,
आणि उडून उडून तहानलेला जीव
हर्षभराने पाणि पीउन
वर बघून एक डोळा वाकडा करोन म्हणतो ,
"चला, आता के.जी मधल्या मुलांसाठी
दुसरी कविता करायला मी मोकळा …."
When someone's world
indiscriminately blooms
out of control,
the thirst is often
for something
other than water,
the greens wilt in depression,
no amount of
traditional 'throwing stones'
at anyone or anything
helps the water

rise and reach
the parched throats...

A balcony
wrapped in the fragrance of roses,
and the sharp eyes
of a crow
amidst the green
a welcoming
wide mouthed
firmly anchored
expanse of water.

A throat parched
due to
miles of summer flights
and he happily dips in,
sipping it all,
then realizing something,
and momentarily stopping to say,
" I guess,
they need
to now make a new poem
for the kindergaarten kids ..."

Paths of Life...

Velas , in Ratangiri District, along the Kokan Coast , is a small village that gained prominence due to it being the favourite place of Olive Ridley Turtles for hatching. An additional  reason was the strict discipline followed by the village folks where the environment was concerned. No indiscriminate cutting of the trees, no ambitious widening of paths to the beach for four wheelers, and a strict policy about commercial development , which has helped control proliferation of trash.

My friend Deepak Amembal who went on a motorbike trip to Velas with two friends posted this photograph.

Many such walking paths lead to the sea beach, which is very clean. The turtles know their geography. And Sociology.  Trees perceived as obstacles are not cut, but surmounted.

Just some thoughts in honor of that.

अथांग समाधानाच्या समुद्राकडे
जाणार्या वाटा ,

अनेकदा एकाकी, निर्जन आणि
तळपत्या उन्हातील असतात .

आजूबाजूला कधी दलदलीचा प्रदेश,
तर कधी हिरवे रान
कुणा एकाचा उत्कर्ष हेरत असतं ,
आखलेल्या रेषांमधून
उत्पातांच्या टिपरीला
एका पायाने लत्ताप्रहार करून ,
तुमची आगेकूच बघून
टाळ्या वाजवत असतं .

आयुष्यात सतत केलेल्या
ह्या परिश्रमाच्या पायपिटीला,
कुणा एका सुरम्य सकाळी
फ़ेसाळ्णार्या लाटांमध्ये
आराम करत
यशाचा सूर्योदय बघण्याची
सुसंधी मिळून जाते …।
 The paths to success,
satisfaction and happiness
in life,
are often
a solitary walk,
amidst obstacles,
in the burning Sun.

You walk on
sometimes by the mangroves
sometimes by the greens
in the woods,
and sometimes
even applauded
as you deftly
kick around
the Tipris of Trouble
hop scotching
amidst the shadow line patterns
in your path.

A life of
so much honest effort,
and one day
you reach amidst the
cool sea waves,
foaming around your feet
in excitement and welcome,
as you lean back, and enjoy
the Sunrise of Success..

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gajra Re ......

This photograph of possibly a homemade gajra, was posted by my friend Anita Iyer, who is the Founder, Managing Trustee, and Volunteer-in-Chief of the Ekansh Trust .

Ekansh Trust, is an organization, that works for folks with disabilities, particularly, where their , public awareness, acceptance, sensitization and inclusion is concerned,  and also provides a platform where Equal Opportunity Employers  and folks with disabilities may interact .  Anita, was recently  awarded the World Women Leadership Award in the Super Achiever Category at Mumbai, Taj Land's End in a glittering ceremony on 14th February, 2014. 

I thought this gajra of not so perfect, but immensely fragrant  flowers , had something to say...

A few newborn fresh,
A few with spots,
A few with torn petals,

A few,
older and a bit bent
and shriveled,
some even with
cuts on their stems,
that happened
during a hurried harvesting.

But they know,
that hanging out together
connected by
responsible threads,
empowers them
as so many
vie for them,
in baskets
of the real world....

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Rice Remembers.....

Sometimes some photographs go viral on the Net. One such is this photograph of a feast cooked for a son-in-law in Vijaywada, which I saw posted.  Must have been for some festival , where it is mandatory to go ballistic in variety and quantities..

So appropriate for the times we live in, where quality is relegated to the back seat while quantity blatantly rules.

And naturally , there was a message in it all.  (So many rice types, vada types, roti types, salad types, pickle types, daal types, farsan types etc etc ......  I refuse to count)

(Somehow , I have doubts about the fellow finishing it all.  If he did, who helped him get up? And if he didn't, what a waste it was , my countrymen !)

Over valued
Over lauded

Installed at great cost,
with so many falling
all over the vadas and payasams
to get a good seat
on the stage.

He arrives
at the Plantain Leela Grounds,
with his
tired general secretaries
and takes his place on the stage
to give a speech.

And the simple
unadorned faithful rice,
now sitting solo
in the centre,
a permanent member of the audience
at meetings for so many years
"So many special categories,
with so many assigned places,
each in a tussle with
the other,
to capture the attention
of their benefactor.
Whatever happened to the days,
Sambar, Rasam, Dahi,
sat with me,
along with
Pachadi and Vada,
teasing the Payasam,
and we enjoyed
meeting the leader
he was hungry ?"

And the little tumbler of water,
waved at the beer,
and said,
today they are hungry,
but it isn't for food.....
how powerful you are
is defined
by how much you an waste...."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Wish Baskets

Velas, a tiny village, in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, about 200 kilometres from Mumbai, is the epicentre of the conservation effort to protect the Olive Ridley Turtles that hatch on its beaches. Years ago, the Turtle eggs were often eaten up and destroyed by humans, dogs and other predators, till NGO's stepped in, and today, Velas is one of the cleanest villages in the area, where the locals now have a great livelihood, catering to tourists that arrive in hordes, during the turtle hatching season.

Unlike most touristy places, there are rules you follow here. Local customs and standards are respected, you ensure that trash goes into trashcans, the only places to stay are home stays, where locals offer simple home style food and living arrangements. No hotels, no bars, and no bhelwallas on the beach.

This has opened up many avenues of earning for the locals, who still also continue their original work. One such lady, a weaver of leaf baskets,  clicked by Deepak Amembal, who recently went , along with 2 friends, on a Motorcycle trip to Velas.

Mother Earth,
in Velas,
leading you down

well trodden proven paths,
inviting you,
to jump into
the wish basket ,
and watch the world go by;
the tree mangoes
the berries,
the kokams
and the fish,
as the waves lap slowly
on the beach.

The Mausi Earth
in Mumbai,
loaded with
baskets of concrete,
that you jump into,
heaves under
destructed paths,
invisible trees,
and junk studded waves,
throwing up
on the beach.

Two daughters
of the same old Grandma Nature,
who shakes her head
looks up at the Sahyadris
and asks,
"Hey asa kasa jhala ?...." *****

***** Marathi for "How did this happen ?"

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Shy Amaranths and Kakdi Chaats........

I never thought, I would ever be photographing food before cooking,  at least in my lifetime.

But if you end up combining unlikely ingredients , to make some strange parathas on a weekend,  you do a few clicks, just in case, the stuff, by mistake, turns out , to say the least, interesting....

A biggish bunch of Amaranth ( लाल माठ)  leaves, cooked a bit with onions, tomatoes, green chillies, grated carrorts  , garlic and ginger, a huge bunch of Matki sprouts thrown in, and the stuff made into a dough with addition of chapati flour, after suitable spicing.   A rolling out, and roasting/cooking on a flat griddle (tawa) , and the parathas happened.

The appearance of the parathas might leave much to be desired, but their demeanour and taste was interesting ......        

P. S. This was a first time recipe.  P.P.S.   The parathas are over.
Dark Amaranth leaves,
in cahoots with
fellow Caretonoids,
Carrotabai and Tomater Singh,
kind of tolerating
Onion, Mirchi sideys
and making fun
of serious
Proteina Matki Sprouts,
who have just joined in ,
for their first Paratha Outing.

A level playing field
on a impartial
non sticking tawa,
a few oily tears,
and they present themselves
on the traditional plate,
in a kind of
ghunghat covered style

They didnt know
the Kaakdi man
was going to be present
in full Dahi Chat Regalia....

Bozoical Aspirations 2015

It isn't easy being a Mumbai's leading blogger dog.  Like Bozo

You keep hearing all kinds of news, as you watch television and peer into the newspaper held by the chronicler of your life, Deepak Amembal.

What an almighty fuss about lions, and tigers.   And some other folks come to mind too .

And then I think,  that I too must get involved.   (I have all the requisite qualifications   I come from a very ordinary background,  and grew up in a very law abiding set up, respecting 2, 3 and 4 wheelers, not to mention bipeds, in a suburb, where politics and power are inseparable. I have mastered selective barking, and internal growling.  Some say, I photograph well, and give statesmanlike intellectual poses).

Makes you think na ?   Hmm.   Ah. Something just came to mind .....

Lions rule the day;
as an Transformer avatar,
in Hanover Messe
and Tiger loyalists
complain and fight
enjoying their own "Save" project;
Cows recall
the time
they were an election symbol,
Olive Ridley turtles
saved from certain infanticide
now grateful ,
that they are in Velas.

The powerful
of the lot,
probably inspired
by the
politics of divisiveness,
planned favoring of some,
and encouraging unbridled stoked passions.

And I sit,
the cool floor calming me,
in my house in Bandra
and ruminate
on what the world has come to,
we simple apolitical fellows
take all these things
in our quadruped stride,
and yet
end up listening
to biped folks
" Gosh,
This place
has really gone to the dogs.."

Hmm. Maybe its time
to ask
for a nomination to someplace
they call the Dog Sabha?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Avial Heroes

Unsuspecting innocent folks trying out culinary experiments often get shocked when they suddenly receive a poem  as a comment  on their post.

My friend Ankur Pegu, discovering the joys of simple traditional vegetarian food ,  posted this photograph of some Avial made by him. Although he actually ate it with brown rice , he fantasized about having it with steaming white rice.

And then he apologized about the presentation.   I wanted to let him know, that with such food(of the Gods)  presentation doesn't matter. At all. 

And so I wrote this.

The lady in white
freshly bathed,
steaming impatiently,

and sometimes,
exchanging notes
with a ghee
melting in admiration.

And then the
rustic brinjal hero,
nudging an elderly drumstick,
minding its own,
next to
an agitated cauliflower,
as the
beans and peas junta
keep finding places
and the potato loses itself
in the
Avially paste,
trying to keep
all the heroes under control.

When the movie
is about the
Lady in White
and her Heroes,
the presentation doesn't matter;

Wherever the movie runs,
it is a Superhit....