Archive for April, 2007

Mango Pickles….

April 30, 2007

This one is for shortindiangirl,thaths and my non-Indian friends….

Here are four varieties of homemade mango pickles:

Mango Pickles, 30 Apr 07

Starting from the 3 o’clock position and moving clockwise (do youngsters today know what 3o’clock position is, and what clockwise is?)…

3o’clock: Maavadu

6o’clock: Menthiya Maangaai

9o’clock: Maangaa Thokku

12o’clock: Aavakkaai

(those are the phonetic spellings…all names are in Tamizh!)


Some varieties of mangoes are plucked when really tiny to make Maavadu (Vadu means “small one”…it is often used to refer to a young boy who is having his sacred thread ceremony, too.) The tiny mangoes are washed, dried and then soaked in salt,and ground chili powder and mustard…they slowly let out their juices and become prune-like in their shrivelled appearance.

Menthiya Maangai:

Slightly larger mangoes, still very sour and hard to the touch, are used for menthiya maangai. Cut finely, they are mixed with salt, and chilli powder, roasted fenugreek seed powder, and asafoetida powder is put on top of them, and then hot oil in which mustard seeds have been popped is poured over the powder. Then it’s mixed thoroughly. This pickle cannot keep for very long.

Maangai Thokku:

When the mangoes are a leeettle more ripe, they are grated and then Maangai Thokku is made. Mustard seeds are popped in oil, and then chilli powder, menthiyam and perungaayam(fenugreek and asafoetida) powder added, and then the mangoes and a little vellam (jaggery) (optional)…and the whole cooked. This pickle also needs refrigeration.


The larger mangoes, in fact, mangoes which are specifically grown for Aavakkai, are used for this pickle. The shopkeeper usually cuts the mangoes into chunks. A lot of preparation goes into the making of Aavakkai, which involves,again, salt, chilli powder, sometimes garlic…and (I am not joking) some traditional ladies in one area of Andhra Pradesh make this pickle in the buff, for fear of contamination and consequent going bad. Well made, this pickle can keep for several years, until the chilli powder loses its pungency, or the mangoes become less crisp.

Everyone this time pronounced my pickles to be perfect. Ah, the delight of having mango oorgai (pickles) with thayir shaatham (well-boiled, sticky-soft rice mixed with home-set, slightly-sour curds/yogurt) is indeed heaven…hameen ast, hameen ast, hameen ast.

What I will be doing day after tomorrow…

April 30, 2007

Wish me luck, and hope that I don’t fall flat on my face…figuratively, not literally..

Basavanagudi Police Station,Bangalore

April 29, 2007

Want to see the most beautiful Police Station I have ever seen? Here:

And I qualify that to…”the most beautiful Police Station…from the outside…”

This is Greek….

April 29, 2007

“In another study, Stachyris nigriceps is found to be close to Pomatorhinus
ochraceiceps, while the rest of the Stachyris such as ruficeps and rufifrons
are close in a clade which appears to include Macrnous gularis.”


Well, no, it’s not Greek…it’s bird-watching! But at this level, I make “glub, glub” noises as I go well beyond my depth…

Yet another question….

April 28, 2007

I post on Metroblogs, and often I get responses (which come to my gmail id)…and when I reply to that email id, it says, “no such user”….

for eg:

This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

Technical details of permanent failure:
UNKNOWN_USER: No such user

How do they do it? I want to know….

And why do they do it? I will never know…

Need a translator

April 28, 2007

Someone (Well, auto_k, actually), posted this comment on one of my posts:

[Apr. 28th, 2007|08:19 am]

Спорить со мной бесполезно, да и разговор я не поддержу…

Could someone either translate that for me, or tell me any site where I could get a translation?

Commercial Street, Bangalore

April 28, 2007

Would you like to share the sights of the Commercial Street area ( an old shopping area of Bangalore, long before malls came in!) in my city?

Well, then, you must first have your blood properly circulated and massaged. What do you mean, your blood is circulating on its own and has been doing so all your life? Nonsense! Here’s the machine to do that for you for just two rupees. Just hold those two handles, step on, and there you are!

Commercial St 56789

And now that you are all ready…here you go:

(the Blood Circulatory Massager makes its appearance again on this post, but just ignore it!)

I like writing for Metroblogs. Instead of enjoying my city by myself, I am able to document its sights and share them with others, too….

Two survivors of Old Bangalore

April 27, 2007

Moral Policing

April 27, 2007

I saw this post from themadman

And that set me thinking.

I think all moral policing is, deep down, a form of insecurity. From a culture in which sex was a part of life, to be celebrated as much as other things, we seem to have regressed into prudery and hypocrisy, claiming that any small incident is liable to “destroy Indian culture and values” and sitting on some fanciful moral high ground.

I think that the more we pretend that something doesn’t exist, in public, the more we are obsessed with it in private. There must be a reason why we are amongst the most populous nations in the world. This has not been achieved by adopting an attitude of pious, virtuous denial of sex.

As far as “superior Indian culture” goes, I think that it’s only when we are not confident in our identity that we have to proclaim it out loud and allegedly protect it. If we proclaim that Indian culture is a magnificent edifice, why are we so scared that a kiss between Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty will destroy it?

Another culture I know which was similarly prudish (and which may have passed it on to us) was the Victorian English culture. But the English have moved out of it…and we haven’t. It amused me, several years ago, to see the adaption of “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen as a television serial. It was amazing that Victorian values ruled in Indian society and were valid….the notion that a girl’s “virtue” is something to be preserved at all costs, or she would face ruin and ” a fate worse than death”, for example.

Michael Crichton, in his novel, “The Great Train Robbery”, talks of Victorian hypocrisy, where touted values were not reflected in people’s actions. The facade of paragons of virtue often hid a multitude of unhealthy ideas and obsessions.

Ancient Indian society acknowledged the courtesans as women plying a trade like others, and also acknowledged the fact that these women could sometimes be just sex workers…or sometimes be women of substance and power. Now the same situation exists everywhere but we try to close our eyes to it. Even when the chief minister of a State comes to power on the strength of her relationship to someone, the actual situation is known to everyone but is never referred to openly or honestly. We shirk calling a spade a spade….everyone knows the facts of life but no one should talk about them!

I can only invoke two similes…one, an open wound heals, and a closed-up wound festers; and two, it is the house whose windows are open to the four winds which has healthy, fresh air; the house where the windows are always closed against dust and noise and other “pollutants”…soon has a stale, fusty atmosphere.

Perhaps the Victorians and the Edwardians foisted their pruderies on our society; but that doesn’t explain why, more than 50 years later, we seem to be regressing more and more into them, and are busy trying to protect the “pure Indian culture” against every imagined onslaught and slight. And it doesn’t explain why some of us take on the responsibility of being our brothers’ keepers.

But that’s the way we are. As I remarked before…someone told me my daughter and her boyfriend shouldn’t hold hands in public (kissing?! Forget it!) because they were not married. And a few years later, they told me they shouldn’t hold hands in public…because they were married!

I will end with a last simile…the sapling that is protected too much from sunlight and wind may wither and die, and never grow into the magnificent tree it should be.

Cruelty to animals….

April 27, 2007

I received this on an egroup I belong to:

“The following link gives you an indication of the kind of pain and sufferings the animals face due to this. It also gives us a comprehensive list of the products which “are tested on animals” and those “which are not tested on animals”.

Surprisingly, many well-known brands are on this list.”


How to prevent the average customer from buying these brands, and go for the “animal friendly” brands?

The average consumer, if bombarded by publicity on this issue, will go for an alternative…only if the brands are clearly spelt out. But usually, a lot of publicity about the brands that use such animal testing methods (without fearing to name names) is not done because of their money power. There is also the fear of being dragged to courts and worse.

Another problem I also see is that sometimes anything “without” is made MORE expensive than anything “with”. “Without pesticides”, “Without artificial additives”, “without animal testing”….all these kind of products are sometimes made so much more expensive that the paying public just goes for the cheaper alternative; after all, no image of a suffering animal comes before their eyes at that moment.

Also, not everyone gets senstized to these issues even after publicity; and to them, what is more important is the savings to their purse. I once asked one lady not to buy one of the brands that she was talking about; she shrugged and said, “Well, if I stop buying this product, do you mean to tell me that all cruelty to animals in this world will stop? Why, we are not even able to prevent cruelty to women and children in this country, leave alone the world…” I might disagree with her buying the brand, but I could not refute her logic.

All we can do is generate lots of positive publicity about the brands which don’t use animal testing, and make it “cool” for people to buy those brands; it should become a matter of prestige to say, “I buy only XYZ”….I never underestimate the power of pride and prestige! If this becomes associated with the product, the paying public usually takes trouble to buy it. Take the case of leather, which is associated with a plush lifestyle…people pay extra to use leather goods and leather upholstery. If we could bring this “cachet” to cosmetics which are animal-friendly, who knows, one day we need not torture our fellow-beings on this planet in order to enhance our appearance.

The anti-fur brigade, for example, has almost made it fashionable to buy faux fur, rather than real. They do everything possible to reinforce this…they show pictures of baby animals being slaughtered, for example…both negative and positive images are used to make their point. But too much of negative publicity becomes evangelism and the average customer is indifferent to this. So a middle path has to be taken. It will be a long and arduous road….