2015

Jaadu hai ye naya naya playing on my iPad. Abir fast asleep on my lap, the fan whirring away, a sultry afternoon in Auckland today finds me here, typing away so that I keep my promise to myself of being a regular at my blog. It’s the last day of the first month of the new year. So much has happened and is currently happening yet I found some time only today.
Abir was born on 8 June 2014. Abir. The music in our lives. The wind beneath our wings. The fragrance that just grows and grows. Seeping slowly into our souls. I am obviously speaking on behalf of Satyu too. Since his arrival life hasn’t been the same. And this is an understatement.
I have so much to say in such less a time and thoughts all over the place. I have drafted posts, deleted them, saved some however not published any. Although this post may seem incomplete will still go ahead as it’s never too late to begin.
Here’s the song I was listening to

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Vadi, mum and some sun

This post was saved as a draft and was meant to be published earlier this year. Changed phones so didn’t work hence uploading now.

So I am a member of this Konkani food group on Facebook, and their feed is always flooding my timeline. I am not complaining infact it pains me sometimes as it takes me down to memory lane. Food makes me nostalgic. Especially the traditional Konkani GSB variety as I have memories of amma, bappama, etc.

Today, many of the talented members have put up posts of ‘vadis’ also known as ‘Odis’. The Mumbai GSBs usually refer to it as the previous name, whilst the “gaanv” influenced once, the latter.

Summer vacations marked the beginning of making scrumptious vadis, haapols ( papads), shevai (kurdaiye in marathi). And I would be my mum’s tail, literally as I loved making these delicacies. Honestly I enjoyed the making process rather than eating it all fried, once it was ready. With almost fifteen members in the family with the maximum populace of kids, one can imagine the quantity that was required to make any food. And dried items as the above can be consumed in vast quantities, especially on a nice rainy day, as an accompaniment with the basic, “sheeth ani daalitoy” ( rice and dal).

Vadi making is really an art, and I believe it must be a passion. The process involves a tedious painstaking ritual of pre soaking the rice, for a few hours, then grinding it to a paste and then cooking the rice and some water with salt till the rice mixture becomes a glutinous mass. The quantities, the proportions must be just right, as it affects the end product.
Vadis can be he simple variety with just salt and green chillies, or with garlic or with onions or simply with some “rai”.

Mum would ensure that she would start the process in time to “lay” the vadis in the morning before the sun was high up in the sky to avoid any sun strokes.

My job was to carry an extra steel bowl and some serviettes. Once we were on the terrace, she would neatly lay a wooden straw carpet, then a clean plastic sheet. She would anchor some rocks/ weights skillfully on all sides, especially the four corners to avoid any mishaps with gusts of wind. Although she would have cleaned the plastic in pre preps, she would still wipe it clean again ( I know where I have got my OCD from)!

She would then give the rice mixture a good mix before ladling some in a bowl for me so I could start at one end. Between us both, we would finish it within an hour or so. Mum was so awesome at it. Her vadis would be symmetrical beauties whereas mine would be like blotches, of course, I have improved a lot with time. The art was to grasp some of the rice mixture in your five fingers and drop them shapely on the sheet equi distant. They tend to shrink as they dry out, so one doesn’t need to worry about the space etc.

Now the best part about this was that I would have my mother completely to myself. She would talk, tell me little anecdotes, give me little lessons of life etc. and I cherished this time with her. She was a busy woman, though a housewife. Cooking for everyone, cleaning, taking care of us, dad,grandma , indulging in her creative hobbies of making art. Stitching, crochet, purses and what not.

Later in the afternoon, I would sneak up to eat some of have half dried vadis. I can literally taste them in my mouth as I am typing this. Oh my god!! Heavenly little beauties.

The next day, the vadis would be transferred to another side of the terrace for drying out, whilst we made another fresh batch. A continuous week of vadi making ensured we had a good supply for that rainy season.

It had to completely dry out, otherwise it could go bad, either because of rot or fungus.

After mum died, it was as if the vadi art died too. But after a few years, me and my sis decided to take the first step and made it on our own. I am proud of us, as both of us were still young and there were some discouraging factors at home who doubted us from the word go. But mum must have been with us, as the vadis turned out fantastic, year after year.

This year,when I go to india, I plan to make it in October, as the heat is quite good then.

If you ever get a chance to eat this delicacy do try it out. It’s humble in its origin but quite royal treat to eat!!

Amma, thinking of you today, a lot!!l

Shubh Deepavali….

Diwali. Evokes heaps of emotions. Emotions and me go back a long way. Satyu thinks I am too emotional and I wear my heart on my sleeve. But I think I live life when I live, I cry, I laugh, I feel, I hurt, I feel happy.

Years ago, Diwali always symbolized peace for me. Of course it still does. But to an 8 year old peace means much. At least it did to me. We were at least 15 people all living together under the same roof. Three men, their wives and progeny, a matriarchal grandmother, another grandmother who was widowed when she was 9 yrs old ( not kidding, she was my grampa’s sister)!

Although I have never admitted it freely, there was only one villain. The one discordant in the balance of life. Because of her, there would be skirmishes, arguments, general unrest in the house. Anyway this post is not about her, it’s about the peace hence this is all I will say about her without attributing too much importance to her!

So other days, it was like walking on egg shells around my house. Don’t know what will erupt, who will erupt or who will be the target. Cloak of negativity would always be surrounding everything around us, like permeating sweat! Omnipresent.

But come Diwali, it would be magical. We would all make the Diwali faral together, no groupism, no bullying, just sitting together and making food. And then in th evenings, light diyas all around the house, from the exteriors to the interiors!!! The “kandeel” which promised eternal peace. I would simply walk in and out of the doorway to soak the light it emitted. Every year different ones, sometimes sparkly, sometimes shiny, colorful, sometimes made of white thermocol, sometimes card paper! But the same light, the same brilliance once lit.
Exchanging of gifts, visiting families, small joys then were my big saviors! After a long long long time, I am feeling the same peace. Of being safe, of being enveloped by the love of my people, of being blessed by some nice people in my life, through different walks of life. Cousins, friends, sisters, fathers and mothers (yes, plural), and other mates. Peace…. It’s just right there, or here, it’s up to us entirely how we perceive it!

May you find the peace you seek… Happy Diwali!!

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Ganpati Bappa I miss you.

Four years ago if someone would have even suggested to me that somewhere in the future you would be lying in bed on the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi reading a thriller book by Mary Higgins Clark, I would have given them a look that would probably killed them. And yet, here I am doing just that.

Tomorrow it’s my favorite favoritest festival and I will be at work.

No staying up late tonight deciding on the last minute decorations. No bickering with my sisters about the food menu tomorrow. No sitting and telling my niece and nephew stories of yonder whilst polishing the silver elephants and mouse. No sermons by dad about putting out our best behavior for the next two days. No scrambling for arranging extra bed sheets, beddings towels for the staying over guests.

No sneezing over pollen from sitting amid the myriad colored flowers freshly brought on the morning from the Dadar Phool Market. No losing my mind over some last minute really important details for which dad already had ticked me off. No arranging of the mandatory Grapefruit for the naivadya for bappa.
No scrambling between Andheri and Vasai, and Parle to not skip the arrival of Bappa at the three family homes.
The color, the sounds, the music, the holiness, the aura, I will miss it all, again. The chanting, the people, the competition to take the last chord of the aarti to the highest octave.

Bappa, I will miss you, and my folks so will be busy looking after you and hosting you for the next few days. Bless our world and keep everyone safe. Give everyone what they well deserve.

Ganpati Bappa Morya.

Music me and Solitude

Melodious Bhimsen Joshi’s voice on the system, green lawns which are visible from my favorite window seat, my ipad with my Candy Crush, and other innumerable apps… Right now I want to freeze frame this moment and live here in limbo till eternity. Such peace, such calmness, that though its just the music and nature, I am feeling blessed. To be. Blessed to be in this moment.

When I meet here with friends, most of the time is discussed about us. Immigrants in a foreign land, claiming it to be ours. The need to belong. We talk about everything, the pros and the cons. The things we miss, the stuff that we don’t. The traffuck (pun intended) in Mumbai, the goons, the dirty politics, the inflation, the festivals, the crowds, the unimaginable Western railway commuting in those gigantic man eating dragons locally known as trains. Incessant talks each time we catch up, never ending discussions. Everyone is passionate about something or the other. Each one has varying/ differing opinions, but it all ends harmoniously on one note. We miss the people, our people. My dad, my aai baba, my sisters, my sis in law, my nephews, my nieces, my bro in laws. Notice how subtle the my is. But ever present. What made me leave everything in the first place! That is one common question we ask ourselves. Then we justify the reasons of being here, away from there, our home. Which we left in the first place to explore new avenues.

Having said it all, I don’t regret it one bit. We have learnt, evolved, become better people, churned out the bad in ourselves. And made it. We survived.

Perhaps it’s a bit of a nomadic streak in me and Satyu that made us do this. T uproot and re-root in a new place. Away from the warmth of the womb of comfort and complacency.

Now to sound very repetitive, it’s August. There is a August hormone in me which triggers now. Making me think of all the festivals and the togetherness. Of family and love. Of new clothes, and fragrance. Of memories, of incidents. Of eons ago. Of mom, Mhantu, and Bappama. Of happiness that I knew and the ones that I missed out on. Of moments of joy, of pockets of sadness. Of little things and the big ones too. Of the wants that I thought were needs. Of bickerings and of hurt.

Another year comes and goes.. I will whimper, miss everything. The festivals will come and go. Te months will follow on through. And again the hopes will rise of being together once again, instead of just being in thoughts…..

Home..

Today is Sunday, the 25 th of November. Today would be like another Sunday, except that its not. Today is my last Sunday in New Zealand this year. Sounds so melodramatic, but it’s a fact. I have been waiting for this day, since the 7th of December 2009, the day I landed here.

Okay, people who know me will vouch how idiotic I was initially when I came here. I was steadfast, that I am not going to like here, that I miss everything back home. I grumbled about how lonely it felt, about the lack of people, about how there were no tall structures in the suburbs. Only once I came here, I understood the true meaning of a city, of what suburbs mean, of how tall structures are meant to be only in the city. How suburbs are meant to be houses with gardens, dogs and cats and families. What it means by city life, etc.

I did not leave any stone unturned to annoy my husband, even the fact that there was no three pronged fan over the bed, of how the lack of the sound of the fan made me an insomniac. However my resilience (cue to smirk) and Satyu’s patience has made me live here in New Zealand. These are the few reasons by which I call Auckland my home, my home away from home.

I will be lying if I say I don’t love this place. I love it here, the people, the culture, their need to live life, their warmth, the curiosity about my fellow cousins ( Indians), the work culture, everything. The only thing I don’t like about this place is that my family isn’t here. My best friends are not here. Yes I have made new friends, who are awesome, who somehow have been woven into the fabric of our lives, our support system here, but I sorely miss everyone from that part of my life who had made it possible for us to be here today.

Satyu always maintained that we will go back for a visit once we achieve something, once we have found solid ground under our feet. Well we are still searching, still looking for new things, human tendency after all, we can never be satiated with all what we have. We run, keep running after something or the other. To achieve, to beget, to belong. But since its three years since we have come here, we decided that this year we have to go back for a holiday. If we would not , then I would have definitely gone bonkers.

The tickets have been booked, the bags are packed. I am running around like a headless chicken with the last minute stuff. Both of us have three more days of work, and then we are off.

We will land in Mumbai of the 2nd of December, if all goes well then in time for lunch. I am wound up, so much that I dream of home. This potentially could be my last blog for the year.

Can’t wait to hug my dad. To play with my dog, to have silly tiffs with V. To be with T and T, and Athaan. To go for a long drive with Gau and Sanket, just chilling and talking about any random stuff under the sun. To drink a hot cup of sexy coffee with Neem. To catch up with M and M, bitch about everything and everyone. To have the sun streaming on my face through my bedroom window. To hear the door bell ring at least six times, with the first bell from six am. To hear the incessant bells from the temple behind my bedroom. To hear the little snippets of conversations going on outside. To be woken up by aai or baba, cajoling us to be up so that the maid can clean our room. To eat brekkie, different stuff each day. To read the Bombay times supplement while on the pot. To hear aai’s rantings( which she thinks she is murmuring and the rest of us cannot hear), baba’ s non stop comedy circus. To go to Shirdi and Ankola. To dunk toast or biscuits in tea with the rest of the family. To chat about everything that happened in the past with my dad. To sit on the katta with my friends and just talk. To walk in the society. To buy vegetables and fruits from the “bhaiyya”. To visit the Parleshwar temple. To travel by train, to relive those years I have spent traveling by the trains. To watch people, their faces, and trying to imagine what they are thinking. To stand and stare out at the concrete wall outside our window. I think it’s against my good judgement, but I should stop here. Because its causing me a tummy ache jus thinking about all this, about how there are so many days ( err, 3 days) before I can fly.

So here’s to an Epic trip…..

Will be back soon withe news from India…….
Because I want to be cheesy and corny, this song is the best one and I love it too
http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwrel&v=8Inci3dF-fQ

My two monkeys

It’s been a while since I have been here. I always mean to, somehow don’t get down to it. There are so many saved drafts of stuff in my dashboard, I have no clue when and how I will update it.
Anyway here I am. This morning I happened to read my friend’s blog, the stork has recently visited her, and she has been blessed by a beautiful baby girl. My friend has started recording her day to day life with her darling, and I think it’s quite commendable as mums usually complain about how busy life gets once they have a baby. How this Wonder Woman finds the time to write I have no clue. But I love the idea. One of my friends from the past had some stuff that his parents recorded, albeit in a diary, and some stuff, like hand prints etc after he was born. That has stuck in my head and I always planned that when ever I have a baby, I am going to do it too.
I am a freak that way. I remember once when spring cleaning at home for Diwali I came across this congratulatory card that my cousin had sent from the states to my dad after I was born! I still remember the thrill I felt, that I imagined how my dad would have felt when he had me, and what he must have felt when he received that very card! Crazy, eh! And why not make use of the technology that we have today, smart phones, iPads, and whatchamacallit to harness our needs ( in this case, making those diaries that make the paper fade out over the years redundant).

One of the entries on her blog was about baby talk. That opened floodgates of memories while Tejas and tanvi were growing up. This blog is a pure dedication to these two, and of course my friend, Gauri.

Tanvi was about two and a half years old, still spewing baby gibberish with proper Konkani vocab, I would often visits my sister in their Vile Parle house. Neem’s house had a pattern, every thing was like clockwork, not the rigid military kind , the happy homely kind. She has an ideal Indian family, just like mine. Father in law, mother in law, she was lucky enough to have her grand mother in law too, all under one roof. So afternoon was siesta time, and then her in laws would go out for their daily stuff, like brahma Kumari sessions etc. This would be Neems time, where I would encroach at least thrice a week. The scene plays in my head, it’s strange that the human mind is capable of deriving so much pleasure and peace out of mundane things. We would both sit at her dining table in her cosy kitchen with steaming steel cups filled to the brim with her delicious filter coffee. Tejas must be around four years old when this incident happened. We heard some agitated chattering from the bedroom, where these two were. Neem is like a jackfruit,she can be so prickly from the outer side, but as soft as she can be from inside. She always was brisk and no nonsense kind of typical Virgo mom. She called out to Tejas and asked him to maintain the peace,as he was the older one. Tejas always had a warning sounded out to him, any complaints about tanvi should be reported to Neem directly without him taking any actions! 🙂
That day, after Neem’s calling out to Tejas, we heard him bawling out loud in exactly five minutes. Both of us ran to the bedroom, only to see Tejas rubbing his back and tanvi (standing in her cute lil pink “chuddee”) looking bewildered. Upon enquiry, Tejas squealed ow tanvi had hit him so hard on his back ( pfft, can you imagine how hard a two and half year old can hit). Neem looked directly at tanvi, who answered ” I don’t know what happened mum, I didn’t hit him, my palm just went and landed on his back”! I am guffawing as I am writing this! I guffawed then too, only to earn Neems stern looks who asked me not to laugh as she was issuing a lesson in discipline. I ran into the kitchen holding my tummy and one hand in my mouth to prevent me from ruining it!
The innocence with which she said this almost made me believe it! What kids say is simply innocent, and with their belief. It does not reek of any plots to deceive us. That’s what makes it all the more cute!
One more incident comes to the mind. In school I was the class storyteller, whenever we had free periods I would orate one of my stories and my class would listen to me enraptured. I became the house storyteller for these two as well. In one of my story telling sessions, I told tanvi about how we should be always pleasant at 7 pm. Now 7 pm is considered to be important, auspicious in Hindus. I have been brought up in my house with this story too. It seems Lord Shiva goes out in the world on his rounds blessing people and says “tathastu” equivalent to amen. So if we do bad/ mediocre stuff at that time, we will keep doing it, hence we should be happy, or doing something productive at that time. My point in telling this story to them was to prevent their silly squabbles. Well to cut a long story short, after some weeks of this story my Jiju( bro in law) took us all to the Sant ashram temple ( this temple is the one where almost all gods have their idols installed, and it has featured in many Bollywood movies). I was carrying tanvi and introducing all gods to her. We came to the abode of Lord Shiva, when she turned around and said, ” you lied to me.” I did a double take and asked her what I had lied to her about. She stated matter of factly, ” he is here, not gone on his rounds”! I was still flabbergasted, puzzled as to what this wee lass was talking about. It then dawned on me, as she said its seven pm and he was still here. It was hard for me to control my laughter and I had to explain it to her that his real home was in heaven.

This is what I mean, such innocence , such cuteness only these kids can make us overcome with these emotions. And I am blessed by my nephew and niece who have showered me with love, their faith, their loyalty, their undying belief in me.

There are many many many other incidents these two have made me smile with, however this space isn’t enough. Time for me to sign out now, have a long day ahead.

Meanwhile I will leave you with one of the videos of my two monkeys: