Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Whats Cooking, Mom???

Picked this tag up from Silverine. Many years back some regular refrains my mom had to bear with from me was, "ithrem currykale ollo", "inne erachiyum meenum onnum ille". My mom would throw her arms up in the air and remark, "ivaneyokke hostelil vitte padippikkaathathinte doshamaanu"!! Cut to these days, every time I land in tvm, as usual she cooks her best stuff, but i just dont have the stomach to eat all that anymore...i try explaining how i need to return to despair-inspiring food and that too just two times a day and how eating all this would upset my carefully calculated rhythm. But who was I trying to explain to 'Her Eminence'...afterall she is the BOSS in tvm. Over to the 10 best dishes she and my ammachi makes.

1. Cashewnut Curry - It is 4-5 years since I've eaten this one. It is so yummy...i would sacrifice chicken for 6 months if i can get to eat this once more. In the 90's before the Technopark started progressively eating into the Kerala University Karyavattom campus the place was full of cashews and my dad would being sackloads home in summer. One lingering memory is my poor moms fingers which would keep burning for a week with all the "kara" from the cashew.

2. Karimeen Fry - Just once or if we are lucky twice a year we used to get to eat the Karimeen Pollichathu of Karimpankala near Changanasseri but moms decided she needed to end our fascination with the place and soon we were enjoying the same delicious stuff at home instead of drooling over the next trip to that shappu! This time I went home I had Karimeen for one month continuously. She had taught our servant how to cook it before leaving and finally beg with the lady to stop making me anymore karimeen.

3. Chicken Cutlet - Cutlets used to be a horror story till my mom discovered the trick of adding a topping of ruskcrumbs with the egg-white and this became the bofors in her armory. Last year one of my classmates and his wife was visiting us, after eating dinner, i was amused seeing him plead with his wife to learn to make the cutlet.

4. Chicken Biryani - The story of my mom's "CB" includes a fascinating competition she had with her brother who is an excellent cook too and is even vain about it. They both made their biryanis and looked to us, to say whose was better. Finally both of them, had to grudgingly agree they were equally good.

5. Chocolate Cake - It takes a few weeks of pepping up my mom to get her to bake us a cake. So what she does is make a week's stock to shut our mouths for some time. What begins is a game of one-upmanship between my sis and I in raiding the pantry. Very rarely have the cakes survived to see a 3rd day.

6. Crab Curry - One of my favorites for all time. Ofcourse I get the fleshy body parts and leave the limbs to my parents. Last year we were in Baltimore with my cousins and our aunt cooked a huge quantity of crabs and laid it out the patio for us to attack. It was such a wonderful family moment...all of us together and we guys getting to be kids again as we feasted on the crabs...no talk of marriages, careers and ageing!

7. Putte, Payar & Pappadam - Until this combo came into my life, Putte and Kadala was my favorite dish. The first time my mom laid this out for breakfast I gave a look of horror...wondering how on earth i could mix these seemeingy total opposites together! And thanks to a hereditery gas trouble...i have given kadala goodbyes!!!

My Ammachi's Cooking
1. Kumbalappam, Elayappam, Kozhikotta -
Before ammachi came to live with us in 1990, famished evenings after school was all about eating biscuits, fruit bread or some other crap. Kumbalappam is the most delicious thing i have ever eaten in my life. The flavour that the leaf imparts on this cone-shaped appam is one of life's most pleasing aroma's too. Grandpa planted that at one of our properties in tvm long back...i am amazed at the foresight of these kaaravanmaar. The Elayappam and Kozhikotta was almost a daily affair until we started goin to college and both taste so good...hot and cold!

2. Banana Chips - Everytime I look back at one of my most memorable academic achievements, the 12th public exams...the taste of my grandma's freshly fried banana chips and the sweet sound of her snippets of naadan pattukal she would breathe into my ears to keep me awake makes me so nostalgic.

3. ChakkaVazhattiyathu - This takes a painful long time to make, but what a labour of love this thing is. Its irreverently called "jackfruit jam" but i love to eat this to the point of indigestion!!!

Ooh I am fighting hard not to salivate by now!!! Ultimately more than all these the rice, morre curry , a fish fry and a payar thorran are all i need my mom to cook to make me happy...day in and day out!!! Mummykuttiye, thanks so much for overcoming all that stress from work, clients and frequent guests to cook what ever we greedily wanted me to eat. I would have loved to add more fotos...but blogger is crapping up on me. Many thanks to my buddy Rajay from whose forward i lifted the fotos above! And most of my blogpals havent taken up this tag yet. So comeon...Thanu, Sarah, Pappanabhan, Neil, Arun Hari, Jofu ... give this a shot!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

He Versus Me...

I looked at the adversary sitting next to me in the darkness. Only our voices spoke to each other. We were like boxers trading punches, not yielding any ground to the other. Noone had derided me, questioned my ideals and labelled me ignorant in quite a long time and what began as a discussion between my pal, Sreehari doing his masters at Haryana Agri University in Hissar where I was visiting him ended up becoming a debate, argument or quarrel as our constrasting beliefs clashed, depending on how a third person percieved the situation. I thought it worth to share with you all some of the stuff we talked as Sreehari's ideas and thoughts are on a plane different from many of us and though I couldnt agree with him on much, its nice to read about the alternative socio-politici-economic systems others think should be in place of the one we fortunately or unfortunately have in place now.

He: I dont agree with the IT Boom happening now, the BPO revolution we see now is making India a slave. Instead of asserting our creative energies we are working cheaply for Uncle Sam and his cronies, bcoz it costs them more there.
Me: Look at the number of jobs this has generated. Havent you thought of the huge urban unemployment crisis that would have been created. For 50 years before the mid-90's what creative resource channelling have we done. Atleast the Brain Drain stands reversed today.

He: Why dont you open your eyes to reality? We are being recolonized again. The WB and IMF keeps pumping in funds and we recieve with open arms. Do you know anything about the Chinese Model and that they dont beg for aid.
Me: In 1991 we were on verge of default and about to pledge our gold. The economic reforms we undertook thanks to the conditional aid they gave us has rejuvenated atleast a part of India. It is the West's helplessness of their lack of manpower to leverage the technological revolution that they are turning to India. It is fiction that our billing rates are dirt cheap. I know Infy bill at more than $25 an hour which is more than my first salary in the US.

He: 65% of India is dependent on agriculture. Compare this with US where only 2% lives on agriculture. Ignoring agri and villages in not the way to gun for development.
Me: I agree. But if you put things in proper perspective you will find that coz we have solved the problem of urban unemployement to a great extent the govt has been freed to pursue rural development now. Havent you read how NREGP, Bharat Nirman and PURA are all doing good work.

He: Gandhi's call to go back to villages and the self-sufficiency inherent in that model would have saved India. The bastard Nehru's socialist industrialisation programme ruined everything.
Me: Cant you guage the enormous amount of responsibilities Nehru worked under. There were communal riots, states reorganization, the kashmir problem, refugees, etc and then india was lacking in any sort of industrialization and only the govt had means to invest money. Until the 1st FYP and 1957 our focus was entirely on agriculture b4 Nehru changed focus to industries and in 1960's green revolution came and we had a food surplus.

He: Whats the use? They havent implemented land reforms except in WB and Kerala. Kerala has been ruined by joining the Indian Union. We were a self-sufficient state. We had the leading spice trade in the world. Today we have to beg to India for everything.
Me: Would Kerala have been able to pay the salaries of our huge edu and medical and other govt employees with just the spices trade? It is meaningless to conjecture separatism today. No state in India can survive by itself. You are not looking for ways to improve the current system but just ranting and raving at it. I have an Indian identity and there are millions of malayalis like me who are proud of it.

Me: Look at Smart City. So many people would have got jobs. That land lies waste now.
He: We dont need Smart City. It is obvious from T&C's that Smart City is a fraud and eitherway if jobs come from selling our land and resources to foreigners to do dirt-cheap work, we dont need those jobs.

He: You are speaking for your class. I expected you to have a voice for the underpriviledged. You are just another bourgeousie.
Me: You speak from outside the system. Your grouse is you feel frustrated at not being able to be part of the changes the 91 reforms brought about. You havent attempted to see the change through millions of young people who can dream of good jobs now and you doint attempt to find out how we can channel these changes to rural India too.

He: You are ignorant and unable to percieve things better. Your class always wants to keep the poor in chains. You are hiding in the convenience of pragmatism like thousands of Indians and dont want any meaningful change in our feudal system.
Me: You speak of idealism and utopian change when it is so hard to bring changes in present system. Good things are happening and you are blind to it coz the changes are not happening the way yo want them to. You look only at the negatives. I am frustrated at your inability to see even a little silver lining.

We ended it there. It had taken harsh tones. We had to use words that fell below the normal courtesies among friends. Somehow we relaxed. An unspoken agreement to not talk on these issues emered. The rest of my time in Hissar was spent in malayalam songs, old memories of schoolife, a junior of his who entertained us to some soulful rendering of Hindustani vocal and a little sightseeing. Meanwhile I am pissed at Manmohan that while he urges G-8 leaders to take a strong stand on terrorism while the best stand he could do was block bloggers like us from talking to the world. Now I want to take you to another scene, another conversation, what you read may disturb you. All this happens only in India!

First Friend: I am sad man. My mind is telling me to cheat. I know I fall in the creamy layer. Its so easy to get an income certificate and so much easier to crack the civil services through the OBC reservation. What should I do?
Second: I made a mistake. I didnot know my community was notified as an OBC. This time I wrote in the General Category. But next time I'll fix it.
Third(a Mallu): When others are manipulating the system why should we be left behind. I decided long back that I would make use of OBC reservation.
Myself(a little uncomfortable, yet unable to muffle a smile): Do you guys know what Narayanamurthy said, "India must be the only country where people fight to be called backward".

Smiles all around. My point was made for a little time but will soon be forgotten. In India our youth are taught to survive at all costs. Morality can come later!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lets Beat The Block!!!

This Wikipedia link mentions how to evade the block http://censorship.wikia.com/wiki/Bypassing_The_Ban You guys cud use these proxy servers too www.shadowsurf.com www.hidemyass.com www.shysurfer.com www.daveproxy.co.uk www.ninjaproxy.com We were born free! Lets not yield to these bastards!