Tag Archives: food

Conversations in my loola family!

Currently we’re operating on houseful mode. There are eight of us in 1200 sq ft of space and its an effort to not tread on each others’ toes. Conversely, there’s never a dull moment. Conversations are like telephone cross talks. Remember phone cross talks that used to happen about a decade ago? The hilarious telecom service malfunction where you’d be talking to someone and suddenly you’d both hear two other individuals talking to each other. Then in between you’d try to speak to the person you were speaking to originally and discuss the cross talk that is going on while the cross talk is still going on. It’s a pity that that such entertainment does not happen any more because you know, the telecom service has obviously pulled its sock up and spruced up their services. Digitised it or whatever horrid things they do to put an end to genuine entertainment.

However, if you want to hear such cross talks happen you can always pop in to our place, especially in the late evenings when the family is present in full strength. Let me introduce you to all the members first:

  1. Television – this box forms the central character in our home. Everyone wants to spend time with this box.
  2. 99 year old great grandmother (my father-in-law’s mother) – who is mentally agile, but physically rather weak – as is understandable given her age. Her constant and only worry in life is that we may neglect to feed her and she may starve to death. Henceforth referred to as GGM.
  3. The caretaker nurse who looks after the above mentioned grandma.
  4. My father-in-law a dedicated chemical engineer lost in his world of formulas
  5. My mother in law – whose only weakness is the telephone. Once she begins talking into it – she forgets the real people around her
  6. My husband R– who feels the perpetual urge to stare at a screen. If its not the television, it has to be his computer monitor.
  7. Me – Oh, several eccentric characteristics, the biggest trait being that I dislike loud noises. Loud conversations and loud television get my blood boiling like nothing else does!
  8. My 8-year old daughter M – Well, as the only child around, she practically rules the house and twiddles us all around her teeny finger. When demands don’t work she resorts to tears. That’s one thing which makes the family stop whatever they are up to and rush to her rescue! M’s favourite pastime, is to quarrel with her father over the TV remote.

So you have the classic setting. And conversations at our home usually go like this:

MIL (on phone) – giggle giggle and she said…blah blah blah,

TV: blaring blaring blaring and R staring staring staring

M: C’mon you’ve been watching TV forever, when do I get a chance to see?

FIL (also on phone) – you know I think the water is too saline…

Me: M come and do your homework

GGM: I only want rice and curd for dinner

Nurse: It’s only 6 o clock. Your dinner time is 8 o clock.

GGM: Oh…ok. But I still want only rice and curd and maybe pickle

MIL: giggle giggle…how can she behave this way…

FIL: I have told them to set up a desalination plant…

R: You do your homework then come watch TV

M: Nooooooo. I don’t have homework

Me: Nevermind about homework, you’ve got to study a bit

GGN: You can even give me rice and curd and rasam as a side dish. This morning’s rasam was nice.

Nurse: Yes yes they will give you everything don’t worry. There’s still time.

MIL: Ok…I’ve got to go. Oh my god. I’m late!

FIL: I gave them a cost estimate for the desalination plant also

R: There see mom is calling. Study time

TV: blaring blaring blaring

M: But ma please, I did not watch TV at all today

Me: Oh that’s good because neither did I. Come here, we’ll sit down and study.

GGM: (looking at my MIL who has finished her phone call and is all set to go out) – Where is she going?

MIL: I’m going for a music concert.

GGM: Concert?

MIL: Yes there is a Sudha Raghunathan concert at the Sabha. I’m going for that.

FIL: (has finished his phone call) I will also just go for a walk

M: Appa let me just see what’s coming in the kids channel, then I will go away.

R: Ok. But that’s it. Don’t continue watching.

GGM: If you all go away who will feed me?

MIL: (pointing to me) – she is there at home.

FIL: I will also be back, I’m just going for a walk

GGM: I just need rice and curd

MIL: Yes I know, you don’t need a cooking expert to give you rice and curd. Even M can give you. Don’t worry.

M: Ah! My favourite cartoon. Oh and I’ve been wanting watch this episode. Appa pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease let me see just this one.

R: That’s cheating

Me: M I said NO TV. Come here and study.

M: But ma all my friends have seen this episode and they keep talking about it.

MIL: Ok so I’m going. Bye

FIL: Bye. Call me if you remember some groceries needed for home

R: Buy me some bananas

M: Amma please can I watch this episode?

TV: Blaring blaring blaring

GGM: Why is everyone going out? Who will feed me? I don’t want bananas. I want rice and curd.

Nurse (pointing to me): She is there.

Me: M are you planning to listen to me or not?

R: She is so smart, she has managed to snatch the remote from me.

M: Amma please…

Me: NO

GGN: (talking to me): I just want rice and curd

Me: I know, don’t worry I will give you

GGN: I don’t need anything else, just rice and curd

R (now on skype with a Russian pal): kak dila!

M: See even appa is not watching. Can I?

TV: Blaring blaring blaring

GGN: M come on say some slokas. Sing Lambodara

M: Amma! Not now!

Me: Why not now? You need to practice what you are learning.

TV: blaring blaring

R: Dai meynia pajalusta blah blah blah

GGN: After you sing. I will eat. Just rice and curd with rasam.

Nurse: Yes, yes they will feed you. Don’t they give you food on time everyday?

M: Amma! Look Chota Bheem has gone to Egypt. He is going inside pyramids.

TV:  blaring blaring

R: Ah can you get me a glass of water please

Me: CAN YOU LOWER THE TV VOLUME! I CANNOT EVEN HEAR MYSELF THINK!

M: (jerks into action, lowers volume): But amma, Bheem is explaining about pyramids and I can’t hear.

GGN:  Just make sure the rice is well cooked. If it’s hard I can’t eat.

R: Hey just give me water know?

M: See now I can’t hear anything

Nurse: Yes she knows

Me: It’s ok if you can’t hear. You’ve seen this episode a million times, you know the dialogues.

GGN: But she is standing here. Not cooking. Who will make my rice?

Nurse: Oh my God! Why do you worry so much!

R: It’s ok. It got my own water. What’s for dinner?

M: Amma! Look Bheem has found a Mummy inside the pyramid.

GGN: See everyone is worrying about dinner

Me: Ah! This episode is over. That’s it. Off with the TV and its study time

R: Shall I make pasta for dinner?

M: Yayyyy I will make pasta with appa.

Me: No. You will study.

GGN: I want rice and curd

And so it goes on. Everyday. Can life be more interesting?

 

Where all that glitters IS gold.

Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is called the golden city. All the buildings in the city (yes most of the new ones too) are made with locally available golden yellow sandstone. When you view the city at sunrise or sunset, it simply takes your breath away. The entire city takes on the hues of the sun and just glows. Golden. I was there for 2 nights and 3 days and felt like I could live there for a lifetime and not get tired of this sight.

Well, that’s about the buildings.

What really amazed me was the people of this city. In a world where people are getting more selfish, self-centered and extremely busy, the people of Jaisalmer come like a breath of fresh air. They smile readily and seem to have all the time in the world to talk to you. No shopkeeper tries to push his wares on to you. They are happy to just talk – even if you don’t want to buy anything. They gladly offer you ‘chai’ and ‘nasta’ two seconds after you meet and greet them with a smile. You stop to ask someone for directions and within minutes you’ve exchanged your ancestry with them! If a shopkeeper does not have what you need, he will happily give you his competitors’ location where you can get exactly what you seek. I found this the most endearing trait. Live and let live.

We stopped to have breakfast at a restaurant called 8 July and formed bonds of a lifetime with the incredible couple who run the place. Jag Bhatia with his cowboy hat, Cary Grant smile and constant chanting of Jai Shri Krishna heartily welcomes anyone who walks in and is full of stories about his travels and life experiences. Rama Bhatia – his wife, is a personification of all maternal impulses. She loves to feed and fuss over people. She personally made Rajasthani special ‘Dal Bhati and Churma’ for us and literally fed my daughter. I can’t imagine any restaurant owner anywhere in the world ever doing that! The next day Rama and my daughter disappeared into the restaurant kitchen where they made waffles together – much to my daughter’s great joy!

The taxi driver who drove us to our camp in Thar desert was just as endearing. He kept us entertained with stories and local folklores. There is a little government authorized ‘Bhang Lassi’ store in the market and this became my husband’s favourite spot. The guy has a range of lassi’s – baby lassi, medium, strong and super power (he says after you drink that no toilet no shower – only sleep!). The store owner too became a good friend and we watched with fascination as he interacted with tourists switching with ease from English to Spanish to French to Hindi – depending on the nationality and region of the tourist. The guys who hang around this store also became our friends. One of them directed us to a local puppet show and we had such a lovely time watching this quaint show.

Jaisalmer will always hold a special place in my heart, not just for its majestic fort and ancient havelis but also for its burst of colour, its music and above all its golden hearted people. If you’re visiting, be warned that most places here do not take credit cards – we spent almost an entire morning bouncing around in a rickety auto, navigating between cows, going from ATM to ATM – trying to find one that spews money!

Let me sign off by saying, if you’re looking to reinforce your faith in humanity – do visit the place.

 

The great Indian traveller…

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go. The call Taxi is waiting outside the door (darn and his meter is ticking more and more). But I still need to pray and light the lamp…

Yeah, the era of middle class, past middle age Indians traveling abroad has blossomed. Whether the world is ready for them or not…they’re ready to take on the world for sure. They carry with them their quirks, their love for Indian food and the strong belief that they indeed are holier than thou.

Mom is back from her European sojourn as I had mentioned in my last post. And she is full of stories – not just of the wonderful sights she saw – but also of the Indian counterparts who travelled with her. From whatever she said, here’s my classification of the great Indian traveller:

Mr. I-know-it-all
He carries with him maps, literature, books and print outs of all the places you’re about to see. And he is very keen to show off his knowledge – even if you’re not really interested in hearing it. Most often he is annoyingly loud (yeah louder that your guide) and loves to dispute with the guide on the facts he/she is reeling out. If the guide wisely chooses to ignore him, he conducts a parallel guide style lecture. Love him, hate him, admire him…but somehow learn to tolerate him, if he’s there in your tour group!

Note: Imagine everyone’s irritation when their self proclaimed expert got himself lost in Vatican City and the entire bus load had to wait for an hour while they tried to locate him. Finally the bus left for sightseeing of Rome without him. They later found him looking lost in an art gallery, and brought him back to the hotel. Apparently the next day he got into the bus and apologized to the entire group and then whined that his wife was not talking to him!! (Not surprising eh?). The good news for the group was that he more or less kept to himself after that.

The food bazaar
“Ah…Indian food. Full of masala and spice. Not like the bland food these foreigners eat!” complain the food bazaar category. And…hold your breath…they carry food for the entire tour duration (15-20 days) with them!! So while you daintily munch your baguette, cheese and tomato sandwiches, they pull out piles of methi theplas, top it with spicy chilli pickle and gobble it all. They’re rather sweet though and have enough and more to generously offer all their co-passengers! Amusing, but not really annoying, this category of people are quite ok to travel with.

The fruit fanatics
Usually in package tours, you’re booked into neat hotels and breakfast in generally included in the tariff. A delightful spread of continental breakfast awaits you each morning. Starting from 20 varieties of breakfast cereals, all kinds of cakes, pancakes, eggs, crepes, fruit juices, fresh seasonal fruits…duh…but where do the fruits disappear each morning? The hotel staffs at each venue were left perplexed as their extensive fruit basket kept getting empty at the speed of light. What was happening of course was that amidst the great Indian contingent of travelers there was a group that bought bags with them into which they quickly loaded all the fruits. This was in addition to the heavy breakfast they all tucked in. The fruits were to be had ‘on the way’ or for lunch. So that, of course, they can save on the lunch and snacks fare. This behaviour was of course most embarrassing for the rest of the group – who were not pinching the fruits. Apparently the tour guide got complaints from the hotels and he had to tell the group not the pinch fruits. How embarrassing!

The compulsive kleptomaniac!
Ah but the fruit pinchers are not half as embarrassing as the compulsive kleptomaniacs! Mom was sitting next to an elderly lady – she guesstimated to be about 75 plus – now this lady had a weird habit of robbing stuff from all souvenir stores! While she also bought plenty of stuff, she always managed to stuff a few things into her bag when no one was watching. Mom caught her in the act at least four times and of course kept a good distance from her all through the trip. According to her the lady was living really dangerously. She never did get caught – but one dreads to think what would happen if the 75 year old did get caught stealing…

The hotel shampoo collectors
You guessed it. They take away all the shampoo, soaps, moisturizer…in short everything that’s complimentary at the hotel. Apparently they had dumped it all in their hand baggage and were asked to unload all of it at the airport – after a security check revealed liquids in their hand bags. Most embarrassing, if you ask me. But they of course were more angry than embarrassed!

Then there are the regular kind who will complain about everything from the weather to the food, to the clothes people wear…my point is, if you cannot enjoy anything other than your own streetscape why travel at all?

They say travel broadens your mind. And I shall end this post on that positive, hopeful note…