Monday, March 30, 2009

10 lessons I have learned...

So I have no cook these days. I politely told the female who used to come and cook (and I use the term euphemistically) that we could dispense with her kind offices. I have a fundamental reluctance to PAY people to be rude (and not work) to me. Heck, Ma is rude to me for free.

So anyways, this has resulted me in spending more quality time with the kitchen and also, given me the opportunity to learn some pearls of culinary wisdom, that I am convinced should be shared with the world.

10 Lessons I have learned ...By Cynic-in-Domesticland

1. I have learned ...that one cannot butcher capsicum and jaunt away without facing the consequences. The decapitated Vegetable avenges itself by setting the weapons (in this case, the hands) ablaze. Maybe that’s the reason why their underworld name is Green Peppers

2. I have learned ...that creativity (an excellent thing) but should be only used in moderation when it comes to rotis. So while yes, it is vastly entertaining to make interestingly shaped rotis, but the resultant outcome leaves something to be desired. Superman in other words, doesn’t like to puff ( Goofy is good though, for some reason, Goofy puffs up like a helium balloon)

3. I have learned ...that one can change the appearance of a leftover daal by adding red chilli powder to it the next day – the colour is different, the taste is different – QED the daal is DIFFERENT until proven otherwise.

4. I have learned ...that waiting for rotis to puff is as addictive and exhilarating as gambling Will it puff? Won’t it puff? Will it...its round...Maybe it will...but the tava is not hot enough...maybe it won’t ...what do you think? Will it? Wont it? ...Will it...YEESSSSSSSSSSSSS!

5. I have learned... that the chaps at the local Dosa joint who nonchalantly wipe the searing tawa with a cloth wipe deserve bravery awards. Seriously.

6. I have learned... even if you take the exact same variables, and the exact same process, and the exact same proportions, the resultant output can vary. My scientific curiosity has been aroused by this phenomena and I am currently in the process of working out a theorem which evaluates the effect of extrinsic factors (like heat, humidity and the MIL) in the dish.

7. I have learned ...that unflavoured gelatine is just that. And no amount of juice, or custard powder or milk or anything can transform it into anything but unflavoured jelly.

8. I have learned ...that it takes but ONE extra whistle to transform a rock solid yam into sticky, unmanageable gloop.

9. I have learned...that brown rice is # burnt rice

10. I have learned...that naming is the mother of inventions. If it doesn’t taste like it’s supposed to, call it something else viz. “This is not Palak Paneer – this is “Cottage cheese and spinach with a dash of sautéed onions garnished with sun dried tomatoes" ( anything in India IS sun – dried no?)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Table war(e)s

Tomorrow I have some friends of the MIL over for lunch - six ladies in their late sixties and seventies who have been running a house (or a number of them) with a collective experience of a few centuries.

Introduce a very raw, very coordination challenged, not-quite-outgrown tomboy, (and in comparison to their offspring who all seem to be ~ 20 years older than S & me – actually some of them have grandkids who are much closer in age) very young daughter-in-law into the midst and the situation is ripe with possibilities.

But I digress.

In their honour, I have had to take out all the fancy tableware and paraphernalia. (Sidebar. Good dinnerware stuff = MIL heirloom thingummies. I wouldn’t know good china if it came and bit me. She keeps on talking about Rutherford this and Doulton that AND clucking distractedly every time I even LOOK at those dratted things. It makes me very, very nervous.). The cutlery which I have taken out for the occasion is stuff which has been carefully preserved in intact boxes (in velvet ones, mind you) by MY mother and diligently passed on to me, along with the wedding jewellery.

Which brings me to the all important question as to: is this a generational gap thing or is it me?

I cannot for the life of me understand what is all the fuss is about tableware. Yes, it’s nice. Some of it is pretty. I like having nice stuff to serve my guests as much as the next person. But it’s this whole hushed reverence which accompanies every occasion it comes out from the boxes, that leaves me completely baffled.

I cannot understand why one would pay a king’s ransom for something and then hide it in the locker because it’s so fragile. I don’t want to build a showcase in the living room to display all the various elaborate dining sets in their resplendent splendour. What is the use of serving dinner on plates that give the guests (and hosts) palpitations? And what is the use of cherishing bone china cutlery whose ivory handles are crumbling from age (how does one use them for chrisake!)

And the silver stuff. I have a silver cutlery set, and a plate and S has been given a glass and a spoon at the wedding and I have no clue what to do with it. Somehow, the mind boggles at the thought of S sprawled in front of the TV, watching Seinfeld and eating out of a silver Thali.

Ah well, I should stop ranting and go back to cooking. Hmm. For the record, I vastly prefer cooking for young men. Make good food. Make lots of food. And you can serve it in microwave containers for all the difference it makes.

Please wish me luck. If I don’t come back ever, chances are the 50 year old Rutherford china has gone to a late grave and I have been propelled to a rather early one.

P.S. Frayed-nerves rant. Pliss Excuse!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

...on arranged marriage

...arranged marriage is the intersection point at which the downward spiral of expectation meets the upward spiral of desperation

(Overheard - and thought it was brilliant)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Random thought in the middle of the night: Digest 2 – A matter of investments

If a mistress can be called a depreciating asset (think law of diminishing returns), what does that make a wife?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Random thought (in the middle of the night): Digest 1- A difference of latitude

In temperate climate you sing “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone”
In tropical climes you hum “Zindagi dhoop, tum Ghana saaya”

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Careless Blisters: An ode to high heels or a eulogy to my feet

Time can never mend, the miseries of a shoe fiend
To the heels and behind, tension of all kinds
There’s no comfort in the looks
Pain is that all you’ll find

Should've known better

I feel so unsure
As I take a few steps and totter unsteadily to the floor
As my ankles strive and my insteps cry
Calls to mind, my flattest moccasin
And all my toes heave a sigh

I’m never gonna heel again
Painful feet have gone a keel-ing
Though it’s easy to pretend
That my feet look so cool

Should’ve known better then to mistreat a friend
And suffer the cost is what I’ve been livin’
And im never gonna be able to walk again
My feet all are black and blue

Time can never mend, the miseries of a shoe fiend
To the heels and behind, tension of all kinds
There’s no comfort in the looks
Pain is that all you’ll find

Tonight my calves feel so cowed
I wish that I could be a dowd
Maybe its better this way
I’d feel like a frump if I saw other femmes sashay

We could have been so svelte together
If only you didn’t my feet sever
But now my feet are a-begging me
Please foot spray

I’m never gonna heel again
Painful feet have gone a keel-ing
Though it’s easy to pretend
That my feet look so cool

Should’ve known better then to mistreat a friend
And suffer the cost is what I’ve been livin’
And im never gonna be able to walk again
My feet all are black and blue

P.S. Sung to careless whispers.
P.P.S i HATE that song which is why its so appropriate

P.P.P.S WHO THE F*** invented high heels and WHY?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Football shootball hai rabba

Ed Note: Very, very blogcked right now. So the choice is between hibernation and recycling. So recycling it is.(Why doesnt blogspot allow import of old posts? bah!) This was written in Jul 2006 at the height of the World Cup fever.

I have always been a daddy’s girl through my childhood. I used to try and imitate everything he did which was probably the reason I ended up watching, understanding and actually being quite passionate about sports (the play rather than the players- except Stefan Edberg of course who I loved with a deep, enduring passion which went beyond his play!).

Lately though, the fiancée feller is doing his damndest to cure me of this fervour. I love watching sports but I DO object to playing fifth fiddle to his sundry sports pursuits. He has been known to wax lyrical and poetic about the worn handle of his racket (the closest he has ever come to poetry with me is “teri jheel jaisi peeli ankhen” in atrociously accented Hindi). I remember I had mildly remonstrated once, he came back with the argument –stopping “well wouldn’t you much rather play second fiddle to my racket than to another woman?”

Anyways, I digress, like I was saying, I love watching sports but never get the remote control thanks to mother dear. Football season has resulted in some sort of a compromise. Having assured all her friends that she does understands football after staying in Brazil; she sometimes feels obliged to actually watch it. Which is pretty good for me!

So the other day, I am sitting and watching the Germany- Argentina match with her, and two of the players get into a spat. I turn around and I see my ma, pumping her fists into the air, bloodlust in the eyes and yelling: “FIGHT, FIGHT YOU *#*@#*#&@" (Ma-version-of-gaalis)

Hmmm. Interesting I though. She learneth!

A bit later in the match, her interest waning, I thought I should get her involved once again (otherwise run the risk of the channel getting changed).
Best way to do that is to needle her a little bit.
“Ma, isn’t that Ballack guy really hot? I wish I could marry him. I would do that tomorrow if I could”.
Ma, completely outraged at this affront to S starts off. “What is wrong with S, this Ballack is probably a doped out, philandering drunkard. You don’t know what you are saying …..”
“Ma, but S also has the hots for Ballack. He told me the other day that he wanted to get married to him as well”

The match continues, one yellow card is flashed.
Ma turns to me and comes out with the clincher. In all seriousness asks –“Tell me, when does the red and green light come on?”

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Cine Curve

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to catch a soap my aunt was watching (a particularly nasty example, I should add – about some fellow who has married a dark girl. The least they could do was GET a dark skinned girl rather than smear what appeared to be wood polish on a not-so-fair female)

I just got to thinking about the trajectory of soap operas in India over the last fifteen years or so. And I realized something which I found very interesting - that the early-nineties ‘serials’ (which is what they were called then) were essentially middle class – in the sets, in the stories, in the sensibilities and very – REAL (especially the characterization). This tone of these has changed drastically over the last few years – becoming larger than life, opulent, exaggerated and well, regressive.

Just think about some of soaps from that era – the ones I remember at any rate Girish Karnad’s Sara Jahaan Hamara (the sensitive, understated story of a family dealing with adoption), Ravi Rai’s Sailaab and Thodha Hai thode ki zaroorat hai, Udaan ( WAY ahead of its time), Mr. Yogi, Lifeline, Alpviram – so MANY of them. As opposed to some of the trash that is dished out today - dark skinned outcasts dripping the milk of human kindness, fair skinned- over made up vamp- saas (es?), ineffective bleating men, Alok Nath being Alok Nathish..

Interestingly cinema ( or the multiplex cinema) seems to be headed in the other direction – from a super heroic time where the absolutely perfect, large-hearted hero could take on fifteen armed men, to a depiction of a much more flawed and gray person, who is not self-sacrificing, or extraordinary ( if you discount movies like Ghajini, that is). Whether it is the calculating, self-absorbed Farhan in Luck by Chance, the melancholic, unsuccessful Joe in Rock On, or even the fact that a SRK has attempted to be ineffective, middle class Surinder in Rab De (which I have not seen, just going by reviews).

And what I find most fascinating is the fact that the directors no longer feel it necessary to justify WHY the heroes and heroines are manipulative, egotistic or opportunistic. So we are not inflicted with stories of poor widowed mothers, or gang raped sisters or crushing poverty which has led to the birth of the rather noble villain. The characters of today are not heroes in the conventional sense, but interestingly neither are they anti heroes. A maturity which somehow seems to be lacking in television – rather lopsided, given the nature of the medium isn’t it?

It brings up an interesting conundrum of the sociological evolution of the Indian entertainment. In other words, why is it that cinema seems to be moving towards realism of characters, (if not the trappings – yes, we are still obsessed with picturesque Swiss locales) while soaps are getting increasingly more formulaic and unrealistic.

One possible explanation could be the shifting kaleidoscope of the prime audience for the medium. If we assume that in the nineties – television was available only to the upwardly mobile intelligentsia and not to the ordinary middle class, viewer. For the latter, the distraction from dreary mundanity came from the weekly movie – thus, it had to be as big, colourful and loud as possible. Now television proliferation has meant that they are seeking this antidote to reality within their homes – and at the switch of a button. The upwardly mobile crowd, on the other hand, has either shifted to other channels or are seeking actualization in the entertainment fare.

Another reason could be the fact that as actors are entering our living room trying to sell Navratan Tel to us, it’s too much to expect the audience to be wowed by them in super-heroic roles - which might necessitate a more subdued characterization in cinema. Celebrities are far too real now – what with Page 3 and innumerable gossip and glamour magazines and on every other reality shows. So we are okay with seeing them deglamorized.

On the other hand, television stars since they come from “people like us” - it is easier to watch them in fantasized roles of opulence and grandeur - gives the viewer the legitimacy to dream as it were.

A caveat here, when I speak of cinema in this post, it is essentially the late eighties – early nineties genre ( there HAVE been middle class heroes – who can forget the delightfully wry Amol Palekar and Utpal Dutt combination for instance) and as a broad direction which cinema and television is taking rather than specific movies per se.

Of course, I have refrained from stating any opinion on Rajni or Chiru movies – since they are a world apart.

What do you think?

P.S I had some other points which I had thought up in the middle of the night (when I am at my brightest), which I have completely forgotten now.

P.P.S Title inspired by Mo who kept on talking about scary sines and inverted sines and giving me a complex.