Wednesday, June 27, 2007

weekend discoveries

The rains have come and seem to have abated for a while… poured unbelievably for a couple of days…I love the rains…I think it is my most favourite time of the year….and I like nothing better than to watch the sheets of rain fall… me everything seems better suddenly with the rain…the earth…it smells awesome when it first gets wet….looks greener (never mind the puddles and bad roads) ….from my fourth floor apartment, I can see a traffic signal about a kilometer away and the lights from there plus the vehicles rushing past always seem awesome… snug under a razai, reading a book or watching a movie, hot ginger tea as I watch the rains….. I am a true blue water baby…a crab….but much as I love the rains…I realize that to most people it is the most inconvenient almost difficult time of the year…..the slush, the puddles, the vehicles splashing water as you walk on water logged roads, daily wage earners not getting employed cos of the rains….the newspaper boy who does rounds when I am still snug in my bed….

Of late in hyderabad due to the bad drainage of water on the roads, manholes have been kept open and as many as three kids have gotten washed away….its sickening…and scary…and ever so often I feel guilty about all that I indulge in….i am truly grateful to my maker for all that I enjoy…the peace and security of a family, or a home, food and comforts that I don’t believe I deserve any less or more than the next person….i try therefore to be thankful …of course there are days when I crib, but they pass quickly…..if there’s some thing that I don’t seriously like about the rains, it is my exotic doormat made of water hyacinth that has gotten suddenly wet and refuses to dry completely……….

Its been a day since I began this post… I have been busy with my writing….for the articles and also Escapades… has become like a part time job, I spend so much time on it and on the various other links that I frequent that I’m thinking random thoughts must be feeling like a step child……am not going to succumb to posting just about anything for the sake of it! That’s not the point of this blog anyways…….

If you also read Escapades, then you’ll know that I have been cooking almost into overdrive since feeling better last week…..all weekend it has poured and comfort food was in order, so i made quite a spread and have been trying out different stuff, from pav bhaji, cutlets to subway style sandwiches, i even baked a cake!! that for those who are privy to my earlier baking disasters was a feat!!

We had guests on Sunday…actually cousins of mine….relatives are so different from friends….i mean I seldom “hung around” with my cousins….i’d have loved to but we almost always tend to meet at social and familial gatherings and that’s that….you don’t get to know them as the individuals that they are…since this drop in was devoid of any other agenda, we got talking and the fact that we were related became just a technicality…………….it was such a refreshing change and we discovered so many things that we had in common.....we had a whale of a time….i did, I don’t know if they were just bored to death!! It was like time spent with friends and that in my book is a huge compliment!!

K has been writing too…he began on the weekend…a chance meeting on a flight with one of the country’s best cinematographer, now turned director has resulted in a casual exchange of ideas for movies and a future collaboration maybe….…I was very excited…star struck as I am, this might be my only shot at actually seeing abhishek bachchan…….so he’s been on the phone and computer for the better part of the last four days…endlessly discussing story ideas and concepts…..what this did to him, was restarted work on his unfinished book………he is currently in what I call the “ZONE” ……..he’s just obsessively focused on his writing ….he has been up all night working on his book and hit the bed around 10 ish this morning so I guess he’ll be out till the evening…he’d begun writing the book a few months ago….and then hit a road block….i’d goad him to finish….(nothing more exotic than being the wife of a writer) and in true blue writer style he’d refuse until it all came flooding thru………last night he’d gotten back into the ZONE and will not want anything of the outside world till it passes….the best I can do is stay out of his hair…..and just hope and pray as hard as I can…for abhishek bachchan if not anything else!!

In the meanwhile, I have to finish what I am being paid to do…its so amusing that while you enjoy something immensely, the minute it becomes ‘work’ it begins to drag!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Of south Indian movies and a phenomenon called RAJNI

SUPERSTAR RAJNI’S Sivaji released on Friday….preceded by a media blitzkrieg never seen before for a south Indian movie……of course the Yash chopras and karan johar’s have managed to use the media to their advantage and make sure they are guaranteed a grand opening for their movies…but hey this is south India…and this kind of media coverage happened for the first time.....the nation watched in shock as they discovered that what Rajni gets paid is roughly about ten times what amitabh bachchan commands (and the poor guy is hounded by the IT dept) ….south Indians are far more conservative in the way they do things….for the producers, its all about business, for the directors and technicians…its all about being picture perfect and embracing the best and latest technology…..for the actors, it is work…..the movie business is business as usual for the people involved in it this side of the Vindhyas….Except for the breed of people called FANS……..they will build temples, stand in queues from 3.00 AM and perform abhishekams to the cutouts of their favourite star……..and we aren’t talking of just any big movie star….we’re talking of the SUPERSTAR RAJNIKANTH

His stylized action, peculiar tricks with pens, cigarettes and just about anything(following a ban on showing cigarettes, its chewing gum in Sivaji)…..cutting one liners and a success ratio like no other have made him the highest paid, most revered film actor India has seen in a long time…of course for a nation that cannot see beyond bollywood when we talk of movies….this was quite a revelation…..and the country got more than its share…..every news channel worth its salt ran specials on rajnikanth and sivaji….newspapers and magazines and websites……I was surprised to see financial newspapers also featuring specials on Sivaji and its making for a whole week before the release…such was the money involved…with it being the most expensive movie ever made in India, the financials involved made for a great case study…………

Its an experience like no other to watch Rajni’s movie in Tamil Nadu ….the frenzied fans, hoots and whistles at dialogues, dances and jigs at the songs and sometimes even arti being performed when he comes onscreen is to be seen to be believed……….he is the closest we’ll ever get to a rock star…..and the man himself is humility personified….in an interview before the release, he said he hoped the movie would do well now that it was hyped so much and that he was tensed about it……….he has nothing to worry…..with 850 odd prints being released across the world, the movie is well on its way to being a super duper success…………..

Of the movie itself…it has the best working on it…Shankar…the scriptwriter, director has an impeccable track record of every one of his movies hitting the bulls eye and being money spinners…his movies are also lavishly shot, exotic locales (a song in one his movies jeans was picturised at the seven wonders of the world), he is known for his larger than life, social cause addressing entertainers which have a strong social and moral message……the music by AR Rahman has been on the top of the charts since its release more than a month ago….every technician working on the movie from art direction to costumes is the best in their line….so naturally expectations were sky high…..and they all deliver and how!!

Shankar, with sivaji has given to Tamil audiences a Rajni like never before….a younger, more stylish (if that’s possible), fantastically clothed Rajni who actually dances in many of the song sequences…..the sway he holds over your senses cannot be explained…and to hell with a storyline!! Of course there is one and a pretty ok one to be fair….but that isn’t what you go to a Rajni movie for… fact fans went into an angry fit over a dialogue exchanged between Rajni and Suman, the film’s villain where the latter asks him to beg……..I cant remember a single Rajni movie in recent times where he has got beaten by the villains!! Shriya Saran (I always liked her) is the heroine of this movie and has nothing much to do except look homely in the scenes and glamorous and sexy in the songs…and boy!! She looks hot, is a great dancer and has some of the most fantastic costumed worn by a heroine in recent times!!

The overall experience of the movie wasn’t all that we’d have wanted …. Firstly K and I were rather disappointed that we couldn’t get tickets in Chennai for the movie…..they were all sold out or priced sky high… we didn’t get to experience the frenzy like we’d have wanted…secondly we watched the telugu version…so the impact of the punch lines and dialogues which is the blood that courses through the veins of a Rajni movie were diluted…..and lastly the multiplex isn’t the place to watch a movie of this kind…..with antiseptic surroundings and well behaved audiences….i got glared at for screaming and clapping!! So the experience we had was so watered down that I wanted to cry!! But I was so desperate to see Sivaji that I kept pretending we were amidst the fanfare in Tamil Nadu…….it was a poor poor substitute, but a substitute nonetheless…………..

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A bone of resolved..

this was what it looked like a few months ago....before i and the summer together committed serial plant murders

K and I have a bone of contention…my potted plants…about 75 in assorted sizes from small to really big…..when we moved into our current apartment, we decided that we’d each have a breathing zone in the balconies….the only ‘open’ area the spiraling cost of real estate could afford us…all was fine till I began accumulating plants….very soon, before K could realize the number and the magnitude, they spilled over into his zone as well, apart from a few being put out on the corridor….we’d have endless ‘discussions’ over flouting of space rules, how the marble was being ruined by the potting soil, that there were far too many plants for the place that we had and ultimately (my favourite) that a bird would decide to build a nest someday soon….i was beginning to lose it and so I decided to put an extension onto the balcony parapet, a place that would take the offending pots off his precious white marble floors….a couple of weeks ago we caught hold of a guy who makes gates and grilles and explained what we wanted….he delivered the end product a few days ago…and K has been smiling ever since…..we were concerned about safety, hence made sure the boxes were welded securely and reinforced….all that was left after shifting the pots to their loft was to scrub the floor………K of course as usual pitched in…armed with scourers, brushes, washing powder and buckets of water, we washed and scrubbed till he was sufficiently satisfied!! That I am relieved is an understatement…..and K has turned volte face, he claims that the plants now actually look good!!

two rows of potted plants...courtesy of the new window boxes...

The result is that he now needn’t be concerned that his outstretched legs would topple over some pot!! I’m just sad that I didn’t think of this earlier….would’ve saved me much agony!! We now have a choice of place to enjoy our morning and evening cuppas……

I have gotten quite a few congratulatory calls from family on Escapades….my mother was very excited and proud….with about 175 hits in 4 days, I don’t think I am doing too badly…..bee of jugalbandi has very graciously added me to her sites blogroll and I was so thrilled….there’s a weekend breakfast blogging event that I will participate in that I am excited about…..this is something that I am enjoying so much that it seems unreal….infact quite a few friends / relatives reverted with a ‘didn’t know you could write’ expression!! Its nice to surprise yourself once in a while…..

The weekend has been wonderful so far….on Saturday we went grocery shopping to stock up for the week and I tried my hand at cooking palak paneer for the first time with jeera rice and raitha….I didn’t get down to taking any pictures or blogging about it because we were so hungry having skipped breakfast………we then ventured out to buy K his book shelf…the current two are overflowing and I was afraid would topple over with the weight of the books…and not being able to actually see them all since they were stacked in two piles made things worse….that done we watched ‘Shootout at Lokhandwala’ the much talked about movie based on ‘true rumours’ as the tagline declares…the one that is supposed to resurrect Vivek Oberoi…..he’s one actor I like….unlike the other pretenders, this guy makes an honest attempt at his craft and comes off very convincingly ….its just that he has made the news rounds for the wrong reasons….anyways, coming to the movie….it was good, but since we chose a very average theatre (the only way out of the weekend rush) it kind of seemed like there was a light that needed to be switched on somewhere near the screen………..bad enough there was loads of blood and gore, the dimmed screen robbed the movie of its experience….. ….racy and realistic…especially the shootout scenes….Vivek oberoi convincingly holds his own against Sanjay Dutt….that’s quite a feat considering the latter’s screen presence….its obvious that Suneil shetty and Tushar Kapoor are the producers….they have quite meaty roles…ekta Kapoor sure played protector and provider to Tushar cos he’s the only one with a heroine…..Amrita Singh badly needed to comb her hair and Amithab bachchan’s tongue in cheek one liners were lost on most occasions….. Diya Mirza has nothing much to do but was perfectly cast….she looks confused throughout her small part….. all in all I’d say it’s one of the better made gangster flicks….it doesn’t let you relax for a moment….i am convince that Sanjay gupta should let someone else direct movies for him…..

Dinner was a Rajasthani Thali complete with ghee rotis…there’s a small joint near home….thankfully I felt guilty enough to finish my 40 min walk……we watched another movie, then some sports, half of jerry Maguire and realized that we were hungry and it was almost 4 a.m… and pasta later, we hit the sack….K slept till almost midday today but I had no such luck…when the maid rang the doorbell at 8.30, I felt like I was being forced out of unconsciousness…..

Since we have been gorging over food the whole of yesterday, I decided to go easy with it today…we had a light upma for breakfast (at 12.30 p.m) and a simple lunch at 3.30…..its been drizzling on and off ….promises to be a lovely evening….i just wish the humidity would go away…..K is hooked onto the French open and I have been left to my own devices……

Breaking news!! Exciting too.......Escapades has just been added to Mahanandi's food blog list ....for all those who are new, Mahanandi is THE indian food blog, written by the very innovative Indira ....this food blog is the one click stop and inspiration behind many food newbie's like yours truly...i have to quickly go over to finish writing a post for the very excited.....

Thursday, June 7, 2007

i have a new blog!!

it was like the fantasy of being Simran each time you watched DDLJ, or romancing richard gere or robert redford or brad pitt for that matter.......when i would read food blogs, i would wonder how it would be to have one myself.....and then i would chicken out....not laziness, not the lack of time.....simply the fear of what perceptions i would be giving out, of me as a person when people read my blog (that is if they did read it in the first place)

anyways, i thought i would give it a shot......if it only served as a journal of what was cooking in my kitchen.....i mean the internet does give you the fantastic cloak of anonymity ...... if you want it that is..... so yesterday, after battling with the computer for a few hours, writing and rewriting the posts, agonising over which pictures to choose, i finally published my brand new food blog called Escapades

Escapades hopefully will help me chronicle my love for food....and the explorations and experiments that i have with it.....

for my initial post i just added the recipes that i had written down while learning their unique style of cooking from my MIL, and then added some of my own......with this blog i hope my cooking will get more inventive and innovative...that K will be subjected to more variety than i have been dishing up till now!! husbands, they are such default guinea pigs!!

So that was the excitement that dominated my last couple of days......much to the chagrin of an irritated K....i kept dashing off to the computer every spare minute!! The monsoons have arrived in Hyd...yesterday there were strong winds that deposited dust everywhere they usual the power went off for several hours (thank god for generators).....and worst of all, a window pane was blown to smithereens in one of our bedrooms.....when i heard the crash, i was on the phone with a friend and told her "oh oh someone's windowpane seems to have broken to bits" as an afterthought, i ventured around the house to check.....(while still being on the phone).....only to realise that the joke was on up, least of all shards of broken glass isn't the nicest thing to do....thats what wound up my day the painful task of getting it replaced....

since quitting work, many things have i dont wear a watch anymore, and have no idea of days and dates....(have missed a few b'days becasue of this) ....but a growling tummy always tells you taht its way past breakfast time and as a self respecting foodblogger i cannot serve / eat stale bread!! gotto go!!

Monday, June 4, 2007

social networking

i spent more than 4 hours logged onto this space called the internet....i added about half a dzn ppl to my friends list on orkut....skimmed through the private moments of people and read some notes and lots of scraps.....flitted back and forth to make sense of a conversation that doesnt involve you at all......i spent two hours on jessie's blog.......the little girl who i'd seen growing up 'in front of my eyes' say that she has a way with words is the truth...... i will return for the mean while i left the wet grinder on for that much time..... the idlies tomorrow better be damn good.........

A Simple Life

My apartment was locked up for most part of 4 months while we traveled on work and otherwise....each time i got back i had this eerie feeling that someone was in the house when we weren't.....that feeling didn't go was roaches!! first they were few, then they came forward and multiplied....pretty soon, when the cutlery drawer was opened, or any other cabinet, they'd run for their life...i tried it all, laxman rekha, hit and all other kinds of repellers, but them roaches just didn't give up......its a very disgusting sight and thought and so in came the pest control guys...the effect was almost immediate.....I'd have a grin on my face when the maid would give me an approximation of the damages each morning after she swept the got me thinking about how my mom managed without an AMC with a pest control company......we didn't have fancy cabinetry....we had what we called the 'meat safe' which was a wooden cupboard with the doors made of mesh for ventilation.....the cooked food, groceries etc were kept in this......(we grew up with cats as pets, so preferred not to tempt the darlings with milk and other goodies kept on the counter) ......there was a simple yet effective way of keeping ants, roaches etc out of the meatsafe......each leg was placed it a little plastic bowl which always had water in it.....if that dried up, you were sure to find a trail of ants in your food......most of my memories are of the kitchen......once the formality of breaking the ice was done with, everyone - friends, relatives etc were invited to sit in the kitchen while my mom finished cooking........we had a huge dining cum they have fancy names for it....its called an 'open kitchen' back then when my mom bought herself a 4 burner stove with oven and grill that looked like a fridge and realised that to fit it into the existing kitchen the slab would have to be cut, she just placed it adjacent to the L shaped counter and made it into an island kitchen!! added a wooden rack and she had additional work worked for a quarter of a century...i remember how i agonized was when the designing of my 'modular kitchen' was happening.........we had a black mud pot for water (my parents refused to drink fridge water) it was a uniquely porous pot that dripped water...used condensation to keep the water cool....the water that dripped was collected in a dish at the base and the dogs and cats would drink only from here........all this makes me marvel at how uncomplicated it all with gadgets and gizmos, we still are running against always says...the more options you have, making a choice becomes that much more true...

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Quiet Mornings

its been a few weeks now that i have fallen into this routine that only now has struck me as "me time" (i'm a little slow!!) since planting my feet in hyd these past weeks, i usually have the mornings to myself......with K sleeping till atleast 9.30 a.m and poor me having to wake up when the ringing doorbell heralds the arrival of the maid......i have a few hours to myself....... i've begun to so look forward to this time that i get a trifle worked up when K rises early or someone else pops in.......a myriad bouquet of feelings i experience.....i feel that milk takes unusually long to boil, that my eyelids open like a blooming flower flash photographed at 3000 clicks per minute.....and sudoku and the crossword awaits me......i was so intrigued by sudoku that i was tempted to try.....ok i admit i did cheat initially but now i cant believe that day on day i crack something relating to numbers.....i was perenially math phobic all my student life and that's what landed me in the arts stream!! there are days when this gaggle of birds have an impromptu chorus...i am tempted to feed them some grain but K's phenomenal phobia of winged creatures has halted me thus far....of late i have noticed a lovely pair of mynas that have built their nest inside a drain pipe....they keep going in and out accessorising their home...i just wonder if they're not feeling like stewed fowls by the end of the day in this heat! with the 'development' of city scapes, i have no doubts that what i witness is soon going to cease, so i might as well enjoy it while it lasts......i pore over the newspapers (we get 4 of them) and am sometimes at what makes it to the pages....i also chat with my mother in peace sparing an eyeball rolling K from exasperation and other emotions he goes thru when he's privy to our conversations!! in fact my mother can clearly tell if i am alone or not when i speak with her!! some of my best paintings and writings have come out of this time and the moment i began waking without an alarm i truly understood how much this time meant to me......i'm just thankful for the time that i have......i know its a privilege not many have......

Friday, June 1, 2007

Of Palakkad Iyer cooking and more!!

my parents in law were here 2 weeks ago for a between the trip to srisailam, hyd bomb blast abd bandh for 2 days and a very important MRI scan for appa, i mnaged to apprentice with amma for a few days........she was busy trying to kick me out of the kitchen and i was busy trying to get her out.....both because we think the other deserves rest!! and so we struck this apprentice deal......what struck me was how simple their cooking really is!! i have reproduced everything with much satisfaction and obvious pride!!