Desi Thelewale Bhaiyya, Zindabaad !

Today morning, I came across an article detailing certain analysis of Indian food by a well-known Australian culinary historian, Charmaine O’Brien. While reading it, I was prompted within to reflect on my own thoughts related to it.

Last week, we had fresh hot thelewale Samosas (an Indian snack from portable stalls) presented to us by our Help.

I was a bit hesitant since I have just recovered from Viral fever. But ultimately I couldn’t resist the utter temptation – toh “Jay Jagannath” bolke khaa liya (so I had it trusting Almighty) πŸ™‚ … It was indeed so mouth-watering !

Then I remembered my hometown’s 50 paisa /1 rupee variety Chops (stuffed Pakoras) that were incredibly tasty, and just slightly bigger than old one rupee coins. Those from the thelewale used to be a perfect treat with Moodhee (puffed rice) and Masala Chaaye (herbal tea) on rainy evenings ! They are still there but with increasing awareness on hygiene and new options of snacks, now the portable stalls are mostly seen in properly monitored exhibitions and traditional melas (fairs).

samosa_kachori

hmmmmn… Kitna bhi badda restaurant ho le ya aap kaise bhi banalo (howsoever big may be a restaurant or one prepares it with all care), when it comes to Pakoras, Chaats, Jhaal Muri, Ghoogni, Pani Poori, Dahi Vada and these kinda stuff, you can’t beat that of our very own desi thelewale Bhaiyya (India’s street Hawkers) !

For a while, forget the hygiene: zindegi ki woh ‘zing thing’ kahaan se laogey (from whence would you attain that unique pungent flavour of life) πŸ™‚ !!!

And the charchaa (gabfest) around fresh street food and the Hawkers’ portable stalls, under the thundering clouds and in the cool zephyr… usmein baat hii kuch khaas hai, hai na (there’s a special air about it, isn’t it)… ?

muddheemasla

 

Reflections: Part-VI

In the epic of Mahabharata…

[I]Β  King Dhritarashtra’s charioteer, Sanjaya, was granted divine eyes (divya-drishti) by Rishi Vyasa to witness the greatest Dharma- Yudh (War for Righteousness). Seated in the royal palace, Sanjaya watched it all and relayed the same to King Dhritarashtra.

Even the entire Bhagavad Gita is Sanjaya’s recital to King Dhritarashtra of the conversation between Arjuna and Krishna.

Isn’t that just like our modern day concept of live-telecasts via television (duur darshan) and satellite systems ? πŸ™‚

Quite the same with the Brahmastras and Nuclear-war or Star-war; and also with Maya and Stealth technologies ! πŸ™‚

Hmmn… sometimes, man’s conscientious dream or vision leads its actualization and physical perception by thousands of years !!!

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[II]Β  One sub-section of the epic contains a great Dharma-Yudh Gyaan (Wisdom from the War on Righteousness) depicted by Lord Krishna.


Whether it is on the battleground or in the struggle of life, Success is infallible only where there are these three aspects: Dharma (Righteousness), Sahash (Courage) and Dharjya (Patience);

Rest all traits are merely Sadhan (Wherewithals);

But in the pursuit of Success, along those three aspects, when there is also a look out for Avsar (Opportunity) to weaken the enemy, then such an Avsar itself becomes Chhal or Kapat (Deception or Treachery);

The outcome is thus- that Dharma is devoid of truthfulness which requires an Avsar, that Sahash is incomplete which cannot be awakened without an Avsar and that Dharjya is unworthy whose essence is lost before Success even begins to actualize !

Well… let’s note that the aboveΒ Gyaan is relevant when we consider onlyΒ Dharma-Yudh ; the moment we consider Avsar, it becomes today’s Strategic or Opportunistic wars and confrontations within !!! Isn’t it ?
 

Svalpa Adjust Maddee !!!

We are a highly populated country with intensely varied demographies and inadequate infrastructure. Perhaps due to such factors and somewhat due to our inherent liberalism, since childhood we come across these two terms on a routine confrontation “thodda adjust kar lo” (svalpa adjust maddee /please adjust a bit) and “chalta hai” (its okay).

And sometimes that “thodda” / “svalpa” / “a bit” is tremendous πŸ™‚ !

It becomes our habit, then reflects in our behaviour and finally forms our attitude towards almost everything in life !

So much so that at one point, we either forget (do not realize) how to justly rebel or become simply lethargic in voicing our deepest concerns even against things we stood object right away !!! We quietly accept everything, whether subtly or openly- whatsoever unfair it is against us, our families, our societies or our nation.

From the vital healthcare industry to an ordinary kiraana shop (general stores), we keep hearing these two terms.

On my birthday last year, despite proper instructions, the confectioner in the by-lane in front of our apartment wrote my hubby’s name on the cake and that too was mis-spelt. Let alone offering a replacement, the confectioner advised us thus, “anyway, you are a couple na… svalpa adjust maddee” πŸ™‚ !

Well, coming to a serious context… Down the line, when we join a profession involving thorough interactions with disciplined clients (may be desi or videsi), or we are posted abroad in a culture where there is no such ‘adjusting’ business, we find ourselves stuck somewhere. If not for all cases, still quite often, we are then unable to realize what the problem is and end up grumbling that the other person is “such a strict customer” or simply “such a rigid felaa” (friend /acquaintance /colleague /boss) πŸ™‚ . This also happens when we over-commit on deliverables and on our failure to duly meet those targets, then fervently seek all sorts of adjustments and re-adjustments from the other person !!

Worst of all : since many things can be adjusted as “chalta hai” (even when they are not at all okay!), in the process, sometimes we don’t even learn some of our basic rights !! Politeness and generosity are fine but not at such a cost !

Hence, as sensible elders, I believe it is very important on our part to teach children a right BALANCE between tolerance /acceptance and rebel /objection, particularly in any Indian society.

Irrespective of our global status or rank, let’s together address this attitudinal issue and write a new chapter for us… Primarily, it shall serve us good within.

Reflections: Part-V

Here, I actually have one reflection and one confession…

Reflection :

The morning cuppa tea tastes the same. But three things that have certainly changed along with it are –

1. the basking temperature
2. content of the newspapers
3. ‘chaaye pe charchaa’ (chit-chat during tea-time), including the medium of ‘charchaa’

That reflects so much of life !!

Now we realize what that cuppa tea meant for our parents, teachers, elderly relatives and college seniors in stirring up their days…

Confession :

Whether ‘Act of God’ or ‘Hand of God’… πŸ™‚

In any World Cup Football, whether Argentina wins or loses…

It remains my favourite team because of that old teenage crush on the heroic image of Diego Maradona !!!

Now, reacting to the result of this World Cup Football, let me thus confess…

My weakness for Argentina, as always : Maradona !

My weakness for Germany : whether right or wrong ideology – Netaji’s ally in our freedom struggle, and my first posting abroad !

Dil bola : gam hii sahi… wohi manale… tab tu phir bhi Maradona ke saath hogi (even though I had opportunity to rejoice, my heart swayed towards defeat because that way, it would still mean to be with Maradona) πŸ™‚ !!

A Very Interesting Film

The following content is not a movie review.

I would merely like to suggest this movie which is hardly heard of now but immensely interesting and brilliantly performed by the cast. Some readers might have already seen and appreciated it; others, I am sure shall love watching it.

And I request you to watch the movie WITHOUT knowing details of the plot. Only then you can enjoy the play thoroughly !

The movie is: Ek Ruka Hua Faisla (1986)the Hindi remake of the American motion picture 12 Angry Men (1957) .

Originally written as a teleplay by Reginald Rose, the Hindi version is directed by the famous Indian film director and screen-writer, Basu Chatterjee. Barring merely a few scenes, this drama film uses just a single set !

Here’s a brief account of it…

A teenage boy from a slum is on trial for allegedly stabbing his father to death. After final closing arguments are presented, the Judge instructs the twelve-member Jury to unanimously decide whether or not the boy is guilty of murder. The Judge also informs them that a guilty verdict will imply a mandatory death sentence.

The Jury meets in a separate room to discuss and conclude the verdict. Initially, it appears to almost all of them that the boy is guilty and therefore, they talk about quickly releasing their verdict and winding up their day. But soon it is learnt that Juror Number 8 opines a “not guilty” vote in a preliminary tally !!

From here onwards, the movie is centred on various opinions and reasons of the twelve Jurors, either in holding the boy “guilty” or “not guilty”. Some of the Jurors display personal prejudices but Juror Number 8 focusses on the circumstantial evidences of the case and throughout, seeks a fair deliberation for the boy. The film also depicts certain techniques of consensus-building among a group of twelve men bearing intensely conflicting personalities.

After periodic discussions, votes are cast through the system of secret ballot and finally, the unanimous verdict is inferred.

No names are used in the film; the Jury members are identified by numbers until two of them exchange names at the very end; the defendant is referred to as “the boy”, and the witnesses as “the old man” and “the lady across the street”.

Noteworthily, 12 Angry Men was selected in 2007, for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Well, I have not watched the original American cinema but that too must be simply great. However, I must say that the Hindi title Ek Ruka Hua Faisla (a pending decision) sounds more catchy and apt πŸ™‚ !

And thanks a ton to my hubby for making a wonderful evening by arranging this amazing movie.

Aamjunta, enjoy either of the versions and post your thoughts here…

 

 

 

A Psychiatric Fallout !!

Under the new Budget in India, the price of aerated drinks (water with sugar content) has been hiked up by 5 percent, making soft drinks and sugary juices costlier.

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Health experts are hopeful that this financial step shall help reduce sugar consumption and thus check obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart diseases and dental decay – a theory many countries have begun to acknowledge but brands still profusely dispute !

Interestingly, last year I had a terrible dream : after the last gluttonous sip of a soft drink, I “saw” myself discovering active maggots at the bottom of the glass – and that was the end of all sugary relishes πŸ™‚ !!!

Next morning, as soon as I woke up, I threw the remaining bottles out of the refrigerator. We do not buy any soft drink or ice-creams unless a guest arrives and indicates a desire for it.

Now howsoever thirsty, we prefer plain water. And since then, if we really need to have a soft drink as an accompaniment, only fresh home-made sugarless nimbu paani zindabaadΒ (hail lemonade) ; thus goes our newly chosen flavour with spicy Biryanis and Pizzas as well πŸ™‚ !

For the same “visual pothers” of my dream πŸ™‚ , we have ditched other sugar-containing items and drastically reduced quantities of sweets or amount of sugar in every possible ‘prepared’ item, howsoever attractive – jalebis, chocolates, pastries, ice-creams, tea, corn flakes, milk shakes, cookies, smoothies, cakes, pan cakes, porridges, etc.

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Luckily, my husband volunteered to “share” the psychiatric fallout of my dream πŸ™‚ ! So that has now led us to limit our daily sugar consumption to even less than six teaspoons as recently set by the World Health Organization. Normally, I take only one teaspoon – in my morning cup of tea which I definitely require to stir up my day.

Well… my father (who is also a Doctor), tried for years to make me get rid of soft drinks; so he has been very thankful to God for blessing me with that thoroughly health-effective dream πŸ™‚ !!… Now his other routine insistences are about regular exercises (particularly Yoga), a 20-minute exposure to the morning rays of the Sun and having maximally green diets along with natural anti-oxidants. My husband has sincerely met almost all these expectations, whether of his father-in-law or his Family Physician πŸ™‚ , and of late, I am trying hard to partner him in it.

I suppose all health advices, increasing prices or taxes and making rules in these dietary matters aren’t going to help for long… So I wish that my folks who sincerely intend to get rid of aerated drinks and non-intrinsic forms of sugar, also “see” such a loathsome dream πŸ˜‰ !!! Perhaps, there is no other way by which someone like me can be more motivated firstly, to quit all those unhealthy molecules feeding potential cancerous cells and secondly, to maintain sustainability at it πŸ™‚ !

 

Memoirs of Indian Dhabas

Period: 1970s-1990s.

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Travelling in a car or jeep on Bhubaneshwar-Mayurbhanj-Kolkata NH during the rainy season, lunch or dinner at an original Dhaba was a wonderful treat then; especially, the home-bound journeys after completion of an enterprise.

Sitting on the blue /green /yellow wooden benches or charpoys under halogen or oil lamp lit thatched roofs, the whole family would chat and relish the mouth-watering, steaming-hot dishes on big steel thaalis or freshly cut, green banana leaves :

typical Dhaba meals, various Kebabs, Tandoori Roti, Daal Tadka, Paneer Tikka, Gobi Manchurian, Rajma Masala, Tandoori Murg, Egg Bhurji, Chingri Malaikari (Prawns-in-Coconut Milk gravy), Mutton Kasa,Β Murg Makhani, Lassi, etc.

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(Oh God, help me… I am so much drooling !!) πŸ™‚

While watching the promising rains, the shrines of several Faiths beside meandering rivers, the green fields swaying in the drizzles, the farmers working in a row wearing their jute hats, the local vendors selling colourful wares, the movie posters glued onto poles,Β variegated art themes painted on the walls of the Dhabas, the twinkling mini-bulbs strung in pretty designs…

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And the decorative trucks that sometimes squeak-braked on slippery roads and had boldly labelled all over its robust frame, either wishful or funny or spiritual messages in different Indian languages- awaaz karo, burey nazar waale tera mnuh kaala, bye bye dost, abaar dekha hobe, jaldi baata chadda, ikkada nuvu, nenu miru chudaleru, surakhiata rahina, ram-allah ek hain, sai ram-sai shyam-sai bhagvaan, jai hanuman, hum tum bhai bhai, hum se duur raho, meri himmat teri kismat, badda bhai tej chalega naraz mat hona chhotu, etc. πŸ™‚

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Amidst the cat and kittens mewing, and the puppy wagging its tail hard – all, for a bone ! πŸ™‚

Grand-parents or uncles would sometimes lend their ears to an interesting tale or two of the then Chhotus (the young, resourceful and jolly Helps at the Dhabas) . Down the line, a re-narration of it to the children (us) meant so much of revelation of life’s unknown joys and sorrows…

Gradually, the meals would end with a flavoured Paan, that was always claimed to be the famous Banarasi brand :-). And then the remaining journey would begin against the background of quite a setting Sun, with the music of a Bollywood number as selected by the high-spirited Driver πŸ™‚ of the unfailing white Ambassador or the bouncy red Gypsy (vehicle models).

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On some trips, neither the windscreen wipers stopped nor did the music until we halted at a roadside gumti (small stall), usually under a banyan or mango tree, for a “special Chaa /Chaaha” (Tea) or to buy farm-fresh vegetables.

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And if we happened to meet close friends travelling on the same route, it would transform to a great merry-making. At times, even seats in the vehicles also had to be exchanged since the heart-to-heart conversations never paused and the game of cards never wrapped up… πŸ™‚

Once we reached the gates, the faithful Watchman would briskly unlock the doors and the House-Keeping staff at the bungalow would cordially greet us. Combined with a warm shower, all the tiredness of the journey seemed to fade away into the veil of the night and next morning, we would be freshened as the shiny drops of rain trickling down the velvety leaves.

Those were such utterly charmful days…

Of Cats and Squirrels

July, 2014 :

Done with an errand, we were walking along the by-lane when we witnessed quite a funny morning early this month.

My hubby, who is very sensitive to dust, sneezed in rapid successions and with high intensity; so much so that in this case of ‘man vs.the wild’, two full-grown cats were “shaken up” !!! πŸ™‚Β  Their green-eyes popped out in seconds and stepping-back, they quickly hid behind the pillar of a shop, tightly huddled up against each other (as if two friends holding hands in apprehension). Then they timidly waited there until my hubby managed to control his numerous sneezes and well crossed the spot !! πŸ™‚

It was indeed such a funny scene. I burst into a laughter; so did the shop-owner, the sales-boy and a group of school-goers.

December, 1989 :

This reminded me of my cat, Jhumi, whom I possessed during the late eighties. She had been presented to us as a gift in an old string-purse. She was so tiny then that I think I could have accommodated three or four Jhumis in my palm. Being an only child, I soon found Jhumi to be a great companion, particularly on weekend afternoons. Initially, she used to stay endlessly in the comfort of my lap or little pockets of my baggy trousers and skirts.Β  As she grew up, she would sort of peep around and then quickly recognize my chair and crouch beneath it even when I was away. In my presence, she often laid there resting her warm body against my then cushion-like feet. Her feathery tail tickling my toes, for a while, made me forget all the rigours of the day. During winter mornings and afternoons, I would always find her on my blanket, coiled like an inactive snail. When we got out of the bed, she would demonstrate one of the finest stretch exercises and then bask on the fresh hay until Ma called us for breakfast.

Problems for Jhumi started when her kittens were born. Our Cook and Domestic Help could never tolerate the kittens since they used to jump here and there over their work areas and it also meant that they had to clean all the utensils and spots again and again. One afternoon, as our Cook prepared to serve food, the kittens emerged from bowls. πŸ™‚ Funny but dangerous !… I was enjoying it but elders were then worried about preventing such misadventures. At the dinner table, they discussed about donating them away or making a separate, restrictive arrangement at the bungalow; then they lowered their thoughtful glances at my radiating joy and innocence, and could not conclude.

The next day went as usual.

In the evening, when we were away at a friend’s place, the two ladies (Cook and Domestic Help) packed Jhumi and her kittens in a rice sac and dispatched them on the local train. They entrusted the sac to their common friend who was travelling on the same train. Unless confronted, it must have thrust Jhumi’s family to a village at least 30-40 kilometres away.

That was the end of all my fun. When I enquired in dismay, my grand-mother explained about all infections that would have been likely caused by Jhumi’s family loitering in the kitchen and therefore, the necessity to release them into open, distant places. And our Cook added happily, “Don’t worry, baby… we have put enough food in the sac; they won’t starve” !

For almost a month, I did hope for them to trace paths back to home… But even more, I prayed that they all stayed safe in some caring hands.

Jhumi has been the only feline I possessed.

August, 1992 :

A garden around a bungalow is incomplete without springy squirrels. We were blessed with plenty of them. While we chatted on the verandah, we could see them jump over our legs or while we unwinded on lazy afternoons, we could watch them playing along window-frames and swaying branches. Their merry clicks enlivened the entire ambience.

Ma was an ardent lover of hanging varieties of plants. So she had a row of them adorning the tall borders and roofs of the long verandah. As a keen gardener, she used to place the right supports (dry twigs, jute strings, wire mesh, etc.) for her other plants as well to extend, grow and bloom in the best of their displays. But sometimes the supports went missing, and so did the Help’s colourful cleaning-rags ! Everyone was clueless !! The official gardener and watchman of the bungalow were upset because they could not account for it. And after a few days, they all started believing that ‘kahaani poori fillaami hai… koi purani aatma ghus ayee hai bungalow mein‘ (some ghostly theme of a film depicting return of an old spirit to the bungalow) !!! πŸ™‚

One day, as I sat in the verandah preparing for my exams, I noticed about four or five adult squirrels sort of ‘spying’ on some thing. It instantly drew my attention and I closed the then boring pages of the Civics textbook. I gathered to look myself what was the ‘spying’ about. Soon, I observed that three or four of them first spread around in directions from which Ma or the gardener usually approaches for the plants on the verandah. Then they perhaps squeaked in some code of their own at which the last squirrel, seemingly younger and quicker, sprang into action without clicking a bit. That was definitely to deceive us that the group was playing far in the garden (the squeaking squirrels on guard) and there was none even near the verandah ! πŸ™‚ While others kept guard, I saw this younger one quietly locate those plant-supports and loot one after the other ! It performed with such intelligence, dexterity and speed that I never blinked for a second, let alone calling Ma to witness this amazing scene !!

For example, if it was a simple twig, the squirrel would just pluck and hold it in its mouth. If it was a woollen or nylon thread, it would mostly use its forelegs to untie it without forming any knot and then neatly roll the loosened thread into a ball. Then tucking all these loot in its mouth, it would rush towards a particular bush. The queer activities were repetitive until a certain satisfaction was signalled en masse. Then they would all immediately disperse along with the accumulated loot in a joint effort.

That bush, I noticed, was situated right beneath the shade of a big mango tree on which they (may be, just two among them) had a nest. Later, gazing at it with my naked eyes, I found a robust nest based on the beautiful loot and also those ‘missing’ colourful rags hanging from it. πŸ™‚

When I narrated the incident to my parents, they never believed me until they had the chance to themselves witness it. It was wonderful to watch this loot, together. πŸ™‚

Ma was so emotional and generous that instead of getting angry at it, she started keeping rags and threads near the bushes !! πŸ™‚Β  She believed that would unburden the cute creatures and enable them to uninterruptedly guard their little ones lying undefended in the nest during which ‘squirrel Ma-Baba‘ (the adult squirrels) had to gather hardware supports.

And indeed thereafter, the ‘squirrel Ma-Baba‘ (the adult squirrels) utilized the readily available resources and resorted to Ma’s garden only if they needed any extras.

The attendants of the bungalow had to quit the mysterious gossip around their ‘purani bhatakti hui aatma‘ (old wandering spirit) theory :-)… but nevertheless, were amused at this fact unearthed by Chote-babu (me).

Wish we had an advanced digital camera then……

 

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