Friday, September 26, 2008

Presenting a new weapon of mass destruction.

And did you hear about the woman, thrashing a Roadside Romeo (who had forcibly entered her house) with the newest weapon known to womankind - A belan?

This resulted in the said gentleman landing up in hospital licking his wounds, swallowing his pride, gulping in fear (please feel free to add any other corny cooking lines)

Moral of the story. Never piss off a woman in the kitchen.

Could one call it the Cook’s anarchybook?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Super Cyn (and Super Ma in a special guest appearance) feature in Revenge of the Roving-Eye-Lizzie

Ed note:This one was written sometime in 2004. I vaguely remember posting it but it seems to have disappeared from the archives, which is strange since I dont delete posts.(the Busy Lizzie one is there). I am still suffering from bloggers block so wading through the hard disk for stuff written in the past which has never seen the light of day. Is that cheating? Hmmm. Ah well)

A quick flashback: Busy Lizzie - the dacoit queen of the reptilian looks and the scaly tail - of whom many ballads of nefarious traps and malignant intents have been penned, had ambushed poor unsuspecting Super Cyn and Super Ma one fine day a few months before this tale. Super Ma, (Super Cyn’s sidekick) after a nasty showdown with Busy Lizzie, had emerged triumphant to tell the tale

Roving-Eye-Lizzie aka R-E-L, the direct descendent of Busy Lizzie, comes into their lives again to avenge the death of her mother.

Roving-Eye-Lizzie, one of the sterling members of the Fork-Tongue Gang, has earned that moniker because of her particularly nasty-looking left eye. Strangely over-developed, glassy, this eye seems to freeze and overpower anyone who accidentally catches sight of it. She has been known to wreak havoc in a number of households around the world because of her particularly sinister modus operandi, which is to stare them into immobility with that strange roving eye and then stun them with the malignant poison from that deadly forked tongue (that trademark of the Fork Tongue Gang!)

And now, she wanted to destroy Super Cyn!

In the quest for vengeance, R-E-L, had laid her masterly plan. Catch Super-Cyn unawares was the strategy. Unsuspecting is vulnerable. Vulnerable is success for R-E-L

So one day, Super-Cyn having showered and preparing to depart from the bathroom finds it manned by R-E-L looking particularly menacing and hideously green, perched on top of a bottle of Dettol. The roving eye (of the R-E-L fame) is rolling in its socket malevolently looking at our heroine while the forked tongue of the (Fork-Tongue-Gang fame) is lazily investigating the top of the Dettol bottle savoring it as if it was one of the finest shots of Scotch.

Trapped and defenseless, what does Super Cyn do? Does she give up? No!!

After being initially frozen to the spot (thanks to the tipsy malignant eye), she grabs the hand shower pipe and aims the nozzle and sprays R-E-L with a jet of hot water edging away as far as she can in the meantime.

R-E-L facing a steam of scalding water, lets go of her perch on the Dettol bottle and slips down to the soaps

The fighting spirit of this valiant descendent of Lazaretto the Hun is brought to the fore by this direct confrontation. She turns around and glares at Super Cyn, the eye rolling in true rover style and decides to try a more direct approach. From the soap area, she jumps onto the shower gel, the height providing a vantage position to view Super Cyn and re-evaluates her strategy, and stares at Super Cyn. Super Cyn, unfazed stares right back at her. Suddenly R-E-L launches downward on to the shelf. Super Cyn, with her usual presence of mind, clambers on to the washing machine. The steam of hot water, which she was aiming at R-E-L, is cooling off to a nice pleasantly warm trickle so she needs to get some other weapon to tackle the menace.

In the meantime, she also yells for reinforcements from sidekick Super Ma who, oblivious to the danger Super Cyn is in, is in the kitchen cooking mutter-paneer. Now Super Ma, for some strange reason, refuses to acknowledge the real menace and danger of R-E-L and insists on underestimating her prowess. In fact, she constantly tells Super Cyn that she is over-emphasizing the R-E-L threat. Super Ma stands outside the door and asks what is the matter. On being told that it is R-E-L, Busy Lizzie's daughter, Super Ma puffed up with her last victory against the Lizzie clan snickers and leaves our poor heroine to her fate.

Does the unprotected Super Cyn give up now? No!!

With her foot, she overturns a bucket and tries to roll it towards R-E-L. Doesn't work. Thinking quickly, she uses the shower pipe as a lasso to edge the bucket forward. R-E-L, having clambered down the wall onto the floor, is temporarily trapped behind the bucket. Having thus strategically out-maneuvered R-E-L with the bucket, our super heroine jumps down from the washing machine and runs like the wind outside (still holding the shower nozzle in her hand until the last minute in case of a surprise attack) and locks R-E-L inside.

She then proceeds to give Super Ma a piece of her mind for so letting her face the danger alone and insists she remedy it immediately. Super Ma, suitably chastised, picks up the rod and proceeds towards the bathroom and forces R-E-L to retreat the way she entered - the window,which is then, barricaded against further surprise attacks.

And the super combination of Super Cyn and Super Ma prevail yet AGAIN!

Thus ends the saga of R-E-L.

Good triumphs over Evil. Every time!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Limerick Dementia

There was a blogger named Wondering Cynic
Who suffered from bloggers’ block quite chronic
She stared and stared at the machine
And yet words didn’t come out in a stream
So she took instead, to writing bad limerick’

There was a weblog award named Brilliante
For bloggers who wrote as fine as Dante
Talented Manu, Phatichar and Pinku gave it to me
Hurrah, hurrah and yippee, yippee
But I need to pass it on, for it was just lent’ee

There was a fine man named Rada
Who wrote lovely Ruskin Bondisque Saga
Of Kerala summers and rains
And of travelling by trains
Over his blog, I’m definitely gaga

There was a young man named Wreck Tangle
Who viewed life through many an angle
The bloggie love of my life
I would elope with him in a trice
In spite of his penchants for bungee dangle

And there was young Australopithecus from Hyderabad,
Who was quite delightfully, irrepressibly mad
He has recently travelled across shores
Doesn’t write regularly no more
And left his fans forlorn and sad

My latest discovery is a man called Scribbles Inc
“Wish I could write like him” I wistfully think
He takes innocuous nursery rhymes
And turns them into spine chilling crimes
Take a look at his blog, here’s the link

And there the modern day fan of Jeeves
Who writes about life’s small pet peeves
His sons are quite the old block’s chips
Always ready with a witty quips
One talented family, I firmly believe

And then there is the young lady named Mo
Who is one gifted writer that’s for sho’
Who has become a blog quitter
Ever since she has discovered twitter
Though her readers keep craving for mo’

And then there is the old favourite Saltwater Blues
Who writes sparkling introspective words true
Matched with lyrical photography
Full of sense and sensitivity
And a tongue-in-cheek wit, too

Now someone stop me immediately please
Before all my readers completely cease
For writing limericks is an art
This should not be lightly embarked
Without the supervision of the writing police.

Shoot me. I can’t seem to stop!
P.S. I had to chose seven. sigh. so many more.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ganapati Bappa!

This post was written three years ago.As rediff refuses to display my old blog anymore, I am recycling the posts. I was also thinking about writing a post on my belief/relationship with this God, so this provides a good backdrop.Hmm. Posts every day of this week so far – just like when I first started blogging. Greetings of the season to all of you.

A return to the three century old, sprawling ancestral mansion, home to generations of family members, the birthplace of my father, now oddly forlorn, brightening up only on the two odd days of the festival, when the whole family comes back home…

A congregation of the entire clan- the elders slightly more gray and lined, the children suddenly taller, the aunts slightly plumper, the young men possessively sheparding their new brides, the new babies and their first brush with family history …

A time of relieving childhood, a time of reconnecting with the roots, a time of wistful nostalgia now always tinged with sorrow.

… the exchanged greetings with the extended kinfolk after a gap of a year (or several)…
… a walk down the photograph gallery, a reminder of people long gone by…
…the tulsi in the courtyard right in the middle of the house….
…the old teak reclining chair of a favourite grand uncle, now poignantly empty…
…perching on other granduncles knee while he loquaciously recounts tales of fathers/uncles exploits..
…the ritualistic trip to the room where they were born…
…the decorated Ganesh pandal at the end of one of the four sides of the inside courtyard…
…bringing in the Ganesh idol amidst fanfare and cheers…
…the actual idol, with the timelessly benign face…
…the struggles with the unaccustomed dhotis and nine yards saris before the puja..
…the smells of incense and camphor…
…the soft chimes of bells and incantation of chants…
…the assorted medley of modaks and other sweets…
…visiting the neighbours’ homes and the utter conviction that ours IS the best idol..
…out shouting the neighbours kids while singing (!) the aartis at their house…
…the exhaustive search for the rumoured secret passageways in the afternoon…
…catching up on life and gossip on the outside porch…
…the dusk bringing in the visitors …
…sparklers and fireworks in the evenings….
…tracing eight generations of the family tree …
…stories of restless ancestral spectres at bedtime…
…snuggling in with three of your cousins on a bed meant for two…
…the heavenly smell of parijat flowers and dew as you wake up….
…early morning tea sipped on the window seat …
…the distant melody of an aarti playing on an old stereo somewhere..
…exploring the attics and the childhood relics of our fathers…
…another session of aartis and pujas …
…the men complaining of yet another purely vegetarian day…
…the visits to the temple and the mandatory five Ganesh idols …
…the slightly heavy heart as evening approaches ….
…the final aarti of the idol before immersion….
…the village square with twelve Ganesh idols lined up in a row ….
…a night alight with fireworks …
…our erstwhile landlord family leading the final walk to the river…
…the air rent with “Ganapati Bappa” cries….
…peering over the bridge for the very last glance ….
…the unexpected tearing up of eyes at the final immersion ….

….a time to say goodbye…

….till next year!

Fast, Faster, Fastest

So today is Hartalika or ‘Tay’ as we call it – the day before Ganesh Chaturti, the day of the once-a-year-fast in my house.

My mother, my aunts have been maintaining fast ever since I remember. It’s a custom in our community to observe it post marriage (unlike Maharashtrians girls who fast BEFORE marriage to procure good spouse, we seem to do it AFTER. I wonder why. Better luck in the next janam perhaps?)

Broadly I know it’s a Gauri puja which is equivalent to the North Indian ‘Teej’ but don’t really know the religious intricacies or symbolism of the festival.

In my family, the preparations used to start a week in advance. My ma has a VERY low tolerance for hunger, thus, we (Dad and me) were prepped with the Do’s and Don’ts

a)DO obey her implicitly
b)DO listen to her talk about food and hunger the whole day
c)DO NOT get on her nerves
d)DO NOT expect anything in the nature of work – exhausting or otherwise
e)DO NOT discuss the correlation between fasts and irritability
f)DO NOT talk about how It will have a good influence on her weight ( this one was specifically targeted at my dad)

When the day dawned, I would be ordered to go and get 2 Tender coconuts and some random fruits, Every time I protested at being summarily ordered around, I would be subjected to a quite un-maternal look, often accompanied by vivid descriptions of cruelty to a starving mother.

My dad, looking at the list of fruits would whisper (“Ekadashi- duppat khashi”. ‘Ekadashi’ is one of those fasting days, ‘duppat khashi’ would translate as twice as much food (though not the usual chapatti + rice)) and quietly ensure that he stayed out of the firing line for the rest of the day.

Ma spent most of the day in the kitchen preparing a variety of upwas khanas – viz. Boiled yams, sundry juices, some concoctions which didn’t have wheat in them and so on and so forth. The rest of the time was spent purportedly trying not to think about food, but actually obsessing and talking about it ad nauseam When we ate our meals, Ma would put on her most long-suffering face and sigh loudly and morosely.
By the end of the day, it was difficult to figure out which of us (fasters or non- fasters) were actually more relieved that the day was over

Let’s forward to last year – viz, the first year post marriage.

I never did any of the fasting for the husband thing. Partly because I was supremely uninterested in getting married. And partly because I would have found it pretty darn desperate if I had to starve to snare a chap.

Somehow I ended up getting married. And then the Dharam sankat started.

To fast or not to fast?

Quite a few of the younger aunts and cousins had happily dispensed with the custom AND the mother and MIL were quite against me taking it up ( I was on medication for jaundice at the time). Thus, I had quite decided I wouldn't take up the Hartalika fast.

As luck would have it, on that very day, we escaped unhurt from a potentially nasty accident Promptly I guilt tripped myself into a fasting.So there we are.

So today I have to starve again. Fortunately, I have a higher tolerance for hunger than Ma does ( as long as I can get tea I am quite cheerful, deprive me of tea and you will have a raging maniac on your hands). So am not suffering (yet). All I have done is look at husband very mournfully in the morning in full abla naari ishtyle and declare dramatically to him that ‘I will be starving for you’ (He, like my Ma has a very low tolerance for hunger so is feeling very sorry for me and vaguely guilty). I have also kept an appropriately woeful status message on IM while sending these pitiful messages to everyone about how hungry I am.

Nautanki is good fun.

P.S. I am finally behaving like a good Bharatiya Naari?
P.P.S.I am very hungry!

Monday, September 1, 2008


Just came back from a slightly stressful bus ride from Bombay. Why stressful?

When I climbed in, there was a person sitting on the adjacent seat to mine and a companion sitting across the aisle. As I indicated that was my allocated seat, he shifted one seat behind. As more and more people came in, I saw this guy Green Shirt (and his companion) move further and further back.

I assumed not unnaturally, that perhaps he had got in the wrong bus by mistake.

After sometime, while we were waiting for the bus to depart, and half the passengers were waiting outside, I saw Green shirt come and stand in the aisle next to me and fidget with the bag on shelf above the unoccupied seats (on the other side) while furtively looking around. Then he went back again.

After five minutes he came back and took the briefcase which was there and went to the back of the bus. I assumed he must have kept the briefcase there when he was sitting on my seat and thought no more about it. Soon I see him come back with the suitcase, again glancing around and put the briefcase back from the place he had taken it from.

By this time, I was definitely tracking him.

Soon, I saw Green shirt get down from the bus and loiter around, glance at the bus a couple of times. I had warning bells in my head, but couldn’t exactly quite make a fuss in the stationary bus – after all I wasn’t sure whether he was planning to climb back (like some of the other passengers).

Bus conductor came and bus started, and Green Shirt and companion had disappeared.By this time, alarms were blaring. So I told the chap sitting next to me and then told the conductor about the strange action of Green Shirt. Conductor gazed blankly at me, before asking the guy across the aisle whether the bag was his.

Turned out it was.

And here is the crux of the tale, any vigilant conductor with half an ounce of sense, would have made sure that all were lying around were properly accounted for isn’t it? At least he would have checked the bags on both sides.

Not so. On the other hand, I was made to implicitly feel like a hysterical fool by the way he listened to me, and acted upon what I said.Out of the passengers, one of them did check his bag, but the briefcase owner(whose bag had certainly been purloined for a while) dismissed it altogether.

Yes, we didn’t get blown apart, since I am here, writing this post. I didn't even get off the bus as a frantic S/friend were ordering me too.
Green shirt in retrospect, was probabaly a thief (and not a terrorist as I had immediately thought) who might have been trying to get some loose cash or valuables.

But I honestly don’t think that it was beyond the realms of possibility today. I am not a suspicious person but what Green shirt was doing was enough to raise my antennae. And the truth is we are not in Sweden or Switzerland where these things don’t happen. We are in India, where 22 bombs have been found in one city.

What shocked me more was the fact that there is absolutely no plan of action on information such as this. The bus conductor didn’t alert anyone, he didn’t even bother to check anything. He just cursorily checked on that bag ownership ( and that’s pretty much because I insisted) and left the bus.
Considering that Green Shirt and Co had been loitering around for a while, they could have very easily sneaked another bag in somewhere isn’t it?

And that is the quite appalling truth when one thinks about it. Trains, buses, malls – they just pay a lip service to security. It is so terribly easy to get in and get out. To leave something behind, to strap something, to plant something.

Yes I do realize that it’s not possible, feasible or viable to actually have security systems in place in a country as vast and populous like India. But I do believe that the least they can do is have a system whereby they can ACT on suspicious information received in a manner which is adequate – sensitizing them as it were. In this case, how long would it have taken the driver to ask each passenger to identify their bags for instance?

Or is that too much to ask for?

P.S. I was wondering if there was anyway to do a 'Neighbourhood watch programme' equivalent in cases like this. Any ideas?