Archive for August, 2008

Ganesha Chaturthi

August 30, 2008

I will be putting up several more pictures later; the idols are so colourful and come in such a variety of poses!

A Food Post (for you-know-who)

August 29, 2008

I was talking about dough being leavened in my last post, and I remembered that I had promised a friend a post on phulkas.

phulkAs are a very healthy, light option with food. I am not a Cordon Bleu cook…I cook because it has to be done every day….but I do make excellent phulkas.

“phoolnA” means, “to puff up” in Hindi, that’s how this unleavened bread got its name. Practice makes perfect in rolling them out, and then, after toasting on the thAvA, they are put on a direct flame:

And then, they should puff up into round balls like this:

Without practice, the balls of dough take on a life of their own when you roll them out, and you will be, according to the standard “new-daughter-in-law” jokes, producing outline maps of various countries in the world instead of nice round shapes!

My recipe varies from the recipe in the link above. I don’t add any oil or salt to the dough; often knead the dough only just before making the phulkas; and don’t know how to make it on an electric hob, only on an open flame. I put the dough into a food-grade ziploc bag to prevent it drying out. And..I can’t make fresh phulkas for more then one person at a time. My phulkas are very light, so guests can eat 5 or 6 making them when I call people for dinner takes a very long time. (Each phulka takes about a minute and a half to two minutes to make.)

And I have a nice old scratched-up thAvA (see photographs) which works perfectly well for making them.

Nowadays, I roll out the 4 phulkas I make for KM’s lunch, and put them in between sheets of butter paper, THEN switch on the gas to heat up the griddle, and make the phulkas. This saves a lot of gas, I must say. When I have anyone to help me (VERY rare) one of us can roll out and one of us can toast them…

A very simple dish to go with phulkas is thuvar dhAl,the recipe for which would be:

Boil half a cup of thuvar dal in the pressure cooker, ensure that the lentils don’t get mashed together. Eight minutes after full pressure works for me.

Heat ghee (or a mixture of oil and ghee…but there MUST be ghee to get that lovely aroma) and to it, add pounded jeera, a couple of red chillies, and asafoetida powder (if you use pieces it could suddenly get into one mouthful and spoil the taste completely), and pour over the dal, and add salt to taste. Such a simple recipe, which I learnt from my sister-in-law’s mother; my daughter used to call it “dal-dal” to distinguish it from the regular moong dal recipe I used to make.

KM has just finished his standard vegetable, sambar, one other dish (today it was cucumber raita) and 4 phulkas. I think I heard him burp….

OK, you-know-who…now make them and call me over!

How to present knowledge….

August 29, 2008

This is my opinion….if the solid dough of knowledge is leavened by touches of humour, it becomes the appetising bread of information that people are far more likely to understand and absorb.

For example, it would be better not to make preachy statements like the one above….

Ogden Nash on Birding

August 29, 2008

Shyamal sent me this gem, which I had not read before….

by Ogden Nash
(from You Can’t Get There from Here 1957 pp.115-6)
Bird watchers top my honors list.
I aimed to be one, but I missed.
Since I’m both myopic and astigmatic,
My aim turned out to be erratic,
And I, bespectacled and binocular,
Exposed myself to comment jocular.
We don’t need too much birdlore, do we,
To tell a flamingo from a towhee;
Yet I cannot, and never will,
Unless the silly birds stand still.
And there’s no enlightenment in a tour
Of ornithological literature.
Is yon strange creature a common chickadee,
Or a migrant alouette from Picardy?
You can rush to consult your Nature guide
And inspect the gallery inside,
But a bird in the open never looks
Like its picture in the birdie books-
Or if it once did, it has changed its plumage,
And plunges you back into ignorant gloomage.
That is why I sit here growing old by inches,
Watching a clock instead of finches,
But I sometimes visualize in my gin
The Audubon that I audubin.

Here are MY thoughts:

No matter how bad I am at some activity
There’s someone else who can say so in a manner more witty.
I may try to write humorous prose, or verse
About my being a bad birder, but by writing better, Nash proves he’s worse!

Cleanup Drive that became something of a circus….

August 28, 2008

Alas, 600 people at the cleanup meant:

Dozens of cars (each judge came in his own car,naturally!);

Inexperienced volunteers tearing apart the plastic packets of gloves…and throwing the plastic on the ground!

Several people who were there for the political and photographic mileage;

Arrangements for the breakfast and lunch proving inadequate,and producing a lot of trash, ironically! Some of the volunteers didn’t seem to understand if they threw things on the ground, THAT was littering…!

But…we did need this awareness-raising campaign, and the organizers, and Yahoo, the sponsors, did a great job of getting the local people and the administration involved.

Now, perhaps, the river of plastic trash that runs down the slopes of Nandi Hills will start drying up….

Had sent several photographs to Citizen Matters, will post the unpublished ones tomorrow.

But here’s a pic of a flutterby that I got after I had finished documenting the event:

I think that’s a Chocolate Pansy, but (of course) I am not sure.

August 28, 2008

Ah. Just finished my morning chores in time to settle down to watch Kalathur Kannamma .

I rarely watch movies, but want to watch Kamal Hasan’s first movie ever! Only seen video clips like this one

By the way, this link says the language is Hindi!! Great way to describe a Tamizh classic…

Thank goodness, this link is better!

Different Perceptions About Age….

August 28, 2008

Another friend condoled with me yesterday, and said the same thing I had posted about earlier…”At this age, we should expect and be resigned to such losses.” This friend, too, is pushing sixty.

I realize that,first of all, these people imagine my brother to be sixty or over…surely they wouldn’t say such a thing if they knew he was fifty?!

And in our culture (I am talking mainly of the Tambram community to which I , and both friends who made that observation, belong) we are conditioned to think of anyone over fifty as “old”….so perhaps, death is easier for them to accept.

I am 53, will be turning 54 in a couple of months…but as long as I am in good health and enjoying life so much, I don’t feel “old” at all. I am very lucky that I am able to relate to people irrespective of their age or mine; I can have equally long and interesting conversations/ spend a lot of time with my 10-year old neighbour or my dad’s friend who is 87….it’s their personalities I interact with. It’s a great gift, and I am grateful for it.

Age brings so many gifts, too. There is an acceptance of one’s physical appearance, of one’s capabilities and faults, which is NOT there at a younger age when one knows one can improve oneself in many ways. The majority of one’s social and family obligations have been carried out. I have been able to get interested in a whole variety of new things, and the learning carries on. I have (I hope!) become more tolerant of people, and am trying constantly shed the judgmental (alas, typically Tambram!) I-am-morally-superior-to-everyone attitude that I find difficult to accept in others. I am still not able to control my temper or my emotions, but I am a little better than I used to be. The journey to conquering myself will continue, but I am able to look back and see that I *have* made some progress (I sound so superior and prissy myself now!)

But…I am not ready to retire into a corner and get my dentures fitted and wither away slowly. I have just as much zest for life today as I had when I was 20, and probably am enjoying it more, having come to terms with more than I had back then.

And I want my near and dear ones, *whatever* their age, to be healthy and happy too. No, I will NOT expect and be resigned to “losses”. If they happen, I will have to deal with that; b Death may come to me and be dealt with, but I won’t go in advance to Death and deal with it!

PS. these are only my opinions and thoughts; I don’t expect others to always agree.

Clouds In The Sky….

August 28, 2008

It was bright sunshine in the afternoon, but as I walked down to the department store with my friend, the first couple of clouds moved across the sun:

The massive thunderheads began forming, but they still had their golden lining from the solar light:

Then, behind the water-bearing clouds, the ice-formations started showing, breaking the sunlight into prismatic rainbow colours.

Later on in the evening, it rained heavily..the steady pour of the monsoon rain…clouds are so very beautiful.

I don’t have to say to whom this post is dedicated….A——-e!

Bengali literature is full of descriptions of the beauty of the monsoons….

Sometimes trees are revered….

August 27, 2008


August 26, 2008

No, that doesn’t mean 50 medals, it means India’s position in the medal tally in the Olympics is 50!

I just read Prem’s entry about this….

That reminds me of one more anecdote about my brother. The unfailingly happy boy brought home a very bad report card. One being asked why he had such low marks, he said, “But see here! I have a very high rank!” (He was 25th out of 27 children!)

It was late in the evening on Sunday, and in the twilight I saw this little sunbird trying to eat a fruit as large as itself, whole! The image is grainy and bad, but the greedy little bird made me laugh outright, so….

Food…no one is proof against gluttony.