Do Visit my very own 'Food' Blog' for delicious meals

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Water; water everywhere…what’s a big fuss?

Why do my NRI relatives and friends make such a big fuss over consumption of water? They grumble if they see a leaking tap. They need a warm shower bath to clean their body. They need spacious bathroom. They won’t drink boiled or filtered 'Aquaguard' water. They want sealed bottles of a well known brand to stay healthy.

Are they so delicate?

In India, people take water for granted. If there be a water tap in the middle of the road, you might find somebody taking the opportunity of washing clothes and or taking bath in the most spacious open area, unmindful of the moving traffic or dusty and filthy streets and some thirsty passerby may even be brave enough to stretch his empty bottle for a potable refill.

It happens only in India.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Accept me as I am.

source: Google

There may be some women out there who are the angry lot, some aggressive, some wicked and some may even have some serious weapons to attack their man but they are not me. I am the woman in love; I will do anything to bring you into my world. But you should also care and love me back and accept me simply the way I am

I, as a woman want acceptance of being what I am, give me freedom to think. The only place where you trust me is in your kitchen, isn't it? You never enter my kitchen. You will eat whatever I cook because you are too lazy to cook for yourself. Yes I know, I am partly to be blamed for your laziness, I am crazy in love with you, I cater to your every demand, but sometimes you are impossible, especially on the days when the food does not live up to your standards. Please understand that I too have my moods, give me a break sometimes, and take me out to a restaurant on my bad days.

Allow me the liberty to handle the bank accounts too. I know to write the numbers in words from one to ten thousands of millions in text and yes all the spellings are perfectly right too, did you know that there is no alphabet ‘C’ in any of those numbers? And that letter ‘A’ appears first time in one thousand? Did you notice that alphabet ‘D’ appears first time in one hundred? And letter ‘B’ is not present in any numbers till you reach the billion? Well, I know it. I am clever, you must trust me. I have spend many hours in practicing my signature, but you never allow me to sign any check on my own. You are always lurking, breathing down my neck. You make me nervous, don't you see it? Whenever I make a payment more than a thousand, you go red, green and then deep blue. I know the value of money much better than you do, I can even handle the managerial job if you allowed me to, but you wont, not even when you know that I have spend many years studying and have a thick folders of degrees and awards.

I want some independence in deciding where I wish to go. Don’t ask me the hourly reports of my day, stop calling me four times a day and enquiring about my wherabouts and then repeating the same questions again at the end of the day to check whether my answers match. During the day I have lots of errands to do, I go to the market, temple, dentist, our child’s school, go to pay bills, visit the sick relative, chat with a friend on phone, kitty party, go for a evening walks, sometimes gym and many more things to do, and there are days when I prefer to sleep all day. It’s the luxury I enjoy after some sleepless nights when I keep awake because you were stressed. I don’t wish to give you my hourly itinerary. I am always at home before you reach home so tell me why are you so inquisitive? Don’t you trust me at all? Take that chain of your suspicious mind off my navel, I wish to be free.

I want you to pay attention to me, to hear me talk while I speak, to observe my shaped eyebrows, my new hair cut, my new dress, my funky shoes. I am disappointed when you are stuck-up like a couch potato while I am struggling with babies’ nappies, Help me sometimes with household chores and when relaxed, let me watch football match with you. Don't call your friends home and make a mess, my back aches lifting up those used cans and cigarette butts.

I want you to walk with me, matching your step with mine, on equal footing, when you go right I too will turn right but on your left why am I left behind?

I, like every other woman, wants to be accepted for what I am. Be closer to me but let me breathe, stand far away from me but not too far that even when I stretch you cannot be reached.

Love is the message and Pass this around……

Cloudy trip over Tiger Hills in Darjeeling

Our group leader said “Wake up early morning if you want to see the most spectacular sun rise, we need to leave for Tiger hills at 3am and it will take 2 hours to reach the point.”

“Why must we wake up so early to see the sun-rise, I never do in Mumbai.?” I argued. I refused to go; I am always too lazy to wake up so early in the morning. “I will see sun-rise from my room window, why must I go to this tiger hill?” I grumbled.

But when you are in your tourist boots, no reasoning helps. My friends refused to go without me and they made sure to wake up at 2am, since they know that I never leave to go anywhere without a bath, so I needed one hour to dress up.

So here I was, grumpy at 3am, walking through the mist of Darjeeling towards the mini bus with the rest of the group

My sleep disappeared as soon as the bus rumbled its wheel through the narrow and broken path on the hills of Darjeeling and the cool breeze softened my moods and I started to enjoy the ride, bringing out my camera to shoot the picture of the scenery outside my vehicle window in the early hours of the morning, not that I could see much, but playing with my camera is one of the activities that helps me keep alert.

Bad morning!! It was raining. At five am, when we reached the ‘Tiger hills’, it was cold and wet. I didn’t take umbrella and my friend obliged by sharing hers. I bought a hot cup of coffee, it was good and refreshing. It was quite breezy and cold. We couldn’t stand in the open space in such weather. We moved towards a building and walked up the steps to a large room.

There were more than hundred people inside a small room, many of them sitting on the plastic chair facing the cloudy sky behind the glass windows. It seemed like they were sitting in an auditorium waiting for some musical performance.

I had no idea of what spectacular sun rise was I to witness, but seeing the enthusiasm on people’s face, I was sure that it must be something not to be missed. I saw some children with same zest too. What was I complaining? These kids didn’t seem to mind and they were equally ignorant about this sun rise show like I was, but they were not grumpy. Some of the adult sensible ones dozed off while waiting for the event. I envy those who can snooze off in most uncomfortable positions at any hour of the day.

It was raining outside. My grumbling grew worse. Group of men sitting in front of me were chatting about stocks and marketing. Men can talk business at any hour of the day!! They all looked beyond window periodically, hoping for the sun rise. Who says women are are equally irritating too. I was getting impatient. Too many people inside the small room. I was finding it difficult to breathe in this closed room with so much crowd.

It was 5am and no promised sunrise. The sun is known to be punctual and can never forget to rise, but what does one do when it goes off in hide-n-seek mode? How do I push these clouds that are heavy and pregnant? It started to drizzle again, rain drops trickled down the window panes blocking our view but people continued to wait.

5:30 am and people finally came back to their senses and started to move. I walk over to window, slid the window-pane and clicked the scene beyond the horizon.

Cloudy sky was all that I could see.

Soon I heard the voice of a man selling CD shouting, “Sorry, you could not see the sun rise but want to know what you missed, then buy the CD-.Darjeeling..a tourist spot.”

Indians are very enterprising, they can sell their wares from any dungeon places. Many people started buying the CD, my friend bought one too.

I decide that I shall not waste my money to see what I missed.

Nah! I shall google it when I get back home

Back home, I googled for the sun rise in Darjeeling..Oh Wow! I missed this!!!!

“The first rays of the sun shoot ahead and shed light upon the twin peaks of Kangchenjunga painting it pink and then bathing it in a beautiful orange colour. From Tiger Hill, Mount Everest (29,002') is just visible, peeping out through two other peaks standing by its side. Makalu (27,799') looks higher than Mt. Everest, owing to the curve in the horizon, as it is several miles closer than Everest. The distance in straight line from Tiger Hill to Everest is 107 miles.

On a clear day, Kurseong is visible to the south and in the distance, Teesta River, Mahanady River, Balasun River and Mechi River, meandering down to the south. Chumal Rhi mountain of Tibet, 84 miles away as the crow flies, looks like a great rounded mass over the snowy Chola Range. One comes face to face with this peak of superb beauty from Phari Jong which is 129 miles away from Darjeeling.
I cursed the weather

It had spoilt the most beautiful sight that I was supposed to witness… I have missed it. I will have to make one more trip to Darjeeling to experience this moment.

I go to the balcony of my room window in Mumbai and show the fist to the other part of the sky.

"Grrrrrh!" I yell

Saturday, 26 June 2010


Two days ago there was an auto strike in Mumbai, hike in petrol/diesel induced their demand for hike in auto fare. It paid off, the minimum fare of Rs9 shot up to Rs11, I smiled as I argued with the auto guy telling him, “So now auto fare in Mumbai hiked from Rs9 to Rs11, but I don't have one rupee change.. excuse me.. will you let it go??? You also didn't have it then...remember???? Now its my turn to bully you.....” and the guy said, “Kya kare maam, nahi hoga to nahi dena.” he waited till I found a coin to give it to him. But somehow I have always dug out a rupee coin to give them their change and will always try to collect one rupee coins so that I don’t give them less.

And now, as I wait for an auto-rickshaw, there seems to be scarcity of them. Fifteen minutes and no auto, either they are occupied or they are not in mood of taking me across. Silly men, why they refuse to take us, I fail to understand, aren’t they catering their service to our needs? I hate waiting on the middle of the road with a desperate look on my face, but some of them are so heartless, that they don’t feel sorry for my sad look.

Suddenly I see one auto halt in front of me, I wait for the people to pay their fare and I quickly sink in. I don’t want to give him a chance to refuse and I just order him to drive on. He looks at me through his mirror and asks me if I have waited for long.

I stare at his grey head and then meet his eyes in the mirror and say “You people all the same. You will go only where you want to go. Why do you drive an auto? It is better you buy a private vehicle and just give a lift to the people whom you like.”

He smiles and says he understands my anger.

“Truly, I don’t understand your bradhari of auto and taxi drivers!!” I continue.

He smiles and says “Maam, Seems like you are waiting for an auto for a long time. I can tell by the way you barged into my vehicle. How may auto drivers refused to take you? Huh? Ten?”

I nod my head and say, “Maybe ten.”

And he says, “Maybe you were in my destiny that’s why they all refused you. You were destined to sit in my auto.”

I don’t know what to say. Dumbstruck!!!

Destiny??? Wooooh!! I have heard about destiny in choosing a life partner and even a friend, a family, a job, lumpsum money, trip to unknown places, but this grey-haired-auto-driver, a two-minute-chum? I won't even remember his face if I see him again!!!

Was he really in my destiny? I had only two minutes ride in his auto and listened to his chat.

Some destiny there!!!! Hahaha!!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

How they make perfect omelets

Do You know to make an omelet? Ask the professional to make it for you. Smart move!!

If you can read the pictures you may follow the procedure.

During my recent trip to Darjeeling, mornings I looked forward to ‘live’ breakfast…haahaha. That’s what the food counter said…’Live Breakfast’ and live was that chef would make for you the omelet the way you like…half fry-sunny side up or plain omelet. I would always ask for same omelet with lots of chillies and onions, although there was a great variety of food on display, I had no appetite to eat any other spicy, heavy stuff like puri bhaji, idli sambar, or any other delicacies so early in the mornings. Normally at home, my breakfast is just a glass of fresh juice. But since I was on holiday, and since I didn’t have to make the breakfast for myself, (yeah, I am too lazy sometimes) I was okay with having breakfast in the mornings. But everyday I stuck to the same menu: egg omelet, baked potatoes, salad and fresh juice; and that kept me cheerful till the lunch time.

While I ate, I couldn’t help looking at other tables and would be surprised with the amount of food that people could eat at every meal. Their plates would be overflowing with food and it got me thinking that must we abuse our stomach just because we have paid for a buffet meals??? Is it so important to taste every dish on display at every meal??? I would watch them help themselves with assorted meals second time, and sometimes third servings!!!

One of our friends in the group was a Jain, and her strict diet of ‘no root’ vegetable restricted her meals. She would order special meals for herself and while she waited for those special meals, she would start munching on bread, jam, sweet dish, fruits and everything that was permitted by her religion. When the food arrived, it would be of big quantity and although she would over eat, still most of it would go waste. At every meal, she would attract attention to herself and throw temper tantrums, (much to our embarrassment) if they didn’t provide her food on time.

I fail to understand why people give so much importance to food. For me, food is just a necessity to remain healthy. If chanced upon eating good food in a fancy restaurant, I might relish, but for me, simple home cooked meal is a delightful treat.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

81 year-old-Sindhi Immigrant shares her story

I see her everyday sit by the window and greet every passerby. Her wrinkled face shows the lines of pain. Sita is eighty one years old and is quite happy to find a listener in me. She has many stories to tell and remembers them quite vividly. I sit cross legged, across her and try to listen to her. Her speech is not clear and many times I have to ask her to repeat to understand what she has to relate.

Sita Chatpar was eighteen years old when the partition took place. She remembers the day, when 500 Muslim sardars had barged into her aunts’ magnificent house but they were not able to spot them because all family was hiding under the beds. She talks about the time when curfew was imposed in the city and they sat in darkness fearing violence. On the day of exodus, she and thousands of other Sindhi families boarded the four-storey streamer, to escape the tortures back home. Conversion to Muslim religion was mandatory or else all those who chose to be Hindus had to leave the country. It took them four days to round the trip in the overcrowded streamer, they were off loaded at Mumbai docks and were accommodated at Sindhi refugee camps at military quarters, Kalyan. For three years, she stayed in inhuman condition, sharing the big hall, sub-divided by flimsy curtain. They shared one bathroom amongst fifty families. They were provided with food-ration and blankets. After three years, they moved to a rented house and she took up the job, first as toffee wrapper in a sweets factory and later in the Bajaj electrical company, assembling electrical parts till the company closed down. She , then moved into her married sister’s house to live the rest of her life, helping in the house-hold chores while her brother-in-law (doctor by profession) supported the family.

Life was not easy in Pakistan too. Having lost her father at a very early age, Sita could not pursue her studies after class seven as she was expected to contribute to house hold expenses. She and her six sisters, along with their mother and grand-ma worked during the day, machining, stitching clothes and gowns and other handicraft items which they later sold to the stores. But her face lights up when she talks fondly about Pakistan, where she spent her childhood. She remembers the wide and spotless roads that were cleaned with soap and water twice a day, the market places like ‘Mithidhar’, Kharodhar’, Zori bazar, Khato Sadar, Kagzi Bazar, etc. where she would take her merchandise to sell or go for shopping. She remembers the restaurant where they sold delicious cooked mutton, Tandoori rotis, bhajiyas and dahi wadas. She remembers the Sukhdev Haveli Mandir that she would visit on religious days. They celebrated all kinds of festivals like Holi, Diwali, satto, etc. On Rakhi days, a pandit would come to their house and tie rakhis to all the girls in the house.

The visit to a film was a luxury event done just once a year, there was no radio in the house, the women spend their time singing hymns at the temple where they assembled regularly. At the age of fourteen, her friends were married off to men thrice their age. But Sita never married and has worked to support herself all her life. Presently she lives with her niece and is well looked after.

When I asked her what advice she would give to the youth of today she said that one should not waste too much money on useless items and saving for the rainy day was very important, it is important to be educated in life and have some set goals.

Never leave the comfort of your own home and live a dependent life, she added.

PS: This post was written for “Beyond Sindh’ a tri-monthly magazine published from Hong Kong for which I write regularly. Beyond Sindh magazine delivers the latest topics of interest to the Sindhi Diasporas of today, covering our past, present and future.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Visit to Goddess Kali Temple in Kolkata

As soon as we got off the car, few pundits surrounded us, offering us their service by praying for us for a fee. What special way would they pray for me that Mata Kali would listen to them instead of direct communication with me? I shooed them away, preferring a direct interview with Goddess Kali.

There were narrow lanes leading to Kali temple. Every shop wanted us to deposit our foot-wear with them. I was not willing to walk bare foot down those lanes. There was too much dirt, filth, used flowers, junk and water at some places. I ignored all the shop keepers until I reached the entrance of the temple. Here was this lady selling big garland of flowers, holding in her hand like some heavy weight champion. I bought the garland from her for just Rs10 and deposited my foot wear with her.

Bare footed, I walked inside the temple, through the dirty path. My feet itched at every step. I could feel the crushing of flowers under my feet, the juice sticking under my soles, the floor was slippery and I held on to stone-wall for support, taking smaller steps, trying to maintain my balance. The garland was a bit too long and although I had folded it around my arm, it dangled under my knee. One flower-seller wanted me to buy some more flowers from him. He said that the flowers garland that I was carrying had touched the ground and that I needed to discard it. He kept repeating, telling me the Goddess Kali would be upset with my carelessness if I offered her ‘dirty’ flowers that had touched the ground, but I ignored him. I walked toward the idol and pundit grabbed the garland from my hand and held my arm. He pulled me in front of the idol and asked me to give some money. Why was he asking me for money? If I wanted to donate some cash, I would do so without anybody forcing me. I looked at the idol of Goddess Kali, a large black stone with large white eyes, surrounded by flowers and brocade, flashy clothes, I closed my eyes, looking for a image of my Lord within my mind and offered my silent prayers and suddenly I was pushed aside to make way for new devotees. The place was too crowded, sweat clinged to me and it felt as if the message was that if I was not willing to part with my money then it was better that I moved aside. Was Goddess Kali angry with me for not parting with my cash? In crowded place, I don’t normally open my purse. I reasoned out that Goddess Kali would understand and would not punish me for my stingy behavior. I walked with the guilt towards exit.

Guilt disturbed me. A thought lingered that the punishment would be severe. I was afraid. I prayed again. I turned back and walked to the sweet shop. I bought 100 grams pedas. I spoke to Goddess Kali telling her that I had spent the money by buying the sweets from a person who was trying to earn a living. I had given him the business of Rs20. Surely Goddess Kali should be happy with me. The Rs20 that I had not inserted into her charity box was instead put into box of the person who was working hard. I was being fair. Goddess Kali should be pleased with my intelligent spending.

Guilt free, I popped the pedas into my mouth, one by one.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Air trip from Mumbai to Kolkata

“Okay! Now move over, I need window seat”
“But you asked for aisle seat”
“Oh! I forgot, I wanted window seat actually”
“You know you are not suppose to take pictures from airplane”
“For security reasons”
“But I am not a terrorist, I just clicked for remembrance”
“What remembrance? That you once travelled in an airplane?”
“Grrh! I have traveled hundreds of times; just want a birds eye view of Mumbai and Kolkata”
“On one condition”
“That you don’t talk after every picture that you take and irritate me”
“Fine, promise”
“Look, click that one”
"Oh My God!Mumbai airport looks neat!
"Yeah! it does"

“Did you remove that one?”
"Look! Look! Look! the river is there"
"Yep, I can see that"

“And that one”
“Yeah! I am clicking”
"Mumbai buildings look like matchboxes na"
"Yeah! they do"

“You have the correct angle? Huh?”
"Kolkata has so many trees"

"Oh yeah we are landing, click, click, click, click na"

“Look there is Kolkata”
“I know, Ma!”

Finally, the trip was good...let me check the pictures please.
You are sometimes so clumsy, If I were not there ,you would remove all faltu pictures.

True! Sigh!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Fatal Ecstasy (55-er)

“Help me, please?”
She urged. Her monotone, consumed by desperation, twanged
“Give me some more.”
The spasms came again, she screamed
Loud shrill resonated.
He lay next to her still body, lust overpowering his contentment.
“I must buy some more of those pills”
He mumbled. Covetousness thundered again.
The wicked grin eclipsed his face.

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