Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Going Home- A Fibonacci Sonnet

Finally.
Home.
I'm going.
My heart sings.
Thinking about my home's warmth.
The familiar couch where I lie reading books.
Watching the silhouette of the Hajjar Mountains in the distance, always so picturesque.
Trying to stay awake as the Thousand Names of the Goddess are chanted every Friday; sleeping under the pretext of meditation.
Drinking in the wonderful fragrance of incense sticks, the alter adorned with flowers.
Reliving long forgotten episodes of a cherished past.
Postcards, letters, knick-knacks and souvenirs.
Cannot stop smiling.
I'm returning.
Finally.
Home.

Wohoo, it feels good to even say 'I'm going back home!' :D

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Girl Who Slept

There was once a girl who loved to sleep
Each day she slept on for hours, long and deep.
And then suddenly, the exams were drawing near,
She found herself trembling in fear.
She looked at her books and began to weep.

This is my very first attempt at writing a limerick. And the girl in this limerick could well be me, unfortunately. I'm nearly done with my exams, but, still have one more to go, and like one of my friends said, all I can ask anyone who cares to listen is 'Why this kolaveri di?' :P

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gloves

A few years ago, my uncle bought a flat and the rest of the family had gathered for the house warming ceremony. It was a wonderful occasion, filled with laughter and jokes and warm moments. A priest had been invited to conduct the rituals and later, we all gathered in the pooja room for prayers. I tried to ignore the appams and payasam placed at the alter, and focus on bhakti but that was an impossible task. At the end of the prayers (phew, finally!), I thought we could begin attacking, when my valiacha decided that the occasion called for some devotional singing. So, someone offered to chant sing a bhajan. I was relieved at the end (and I'm sure the others were too), and not just because, I could finally get to sample those absolutely delectable appams and numerous other delicacies prepared for the occasion...

But not so fast! The guests had arrived and like any good host, all of us were expected to 'mix and mingle'. At first, I stuck to my cousin clan, but after many a bulb moment, I realized that they were no longer taking notice of what I said or laughing at my jokes, which I agree were mokkai, but then, come on, so were theirs! Anyway, I decided not to sulk and proceeded to 'mix and mingle' as Amma had suggested. It was again a difficult task, given that I had to be careful not to trip over my pattu paavadai and at the same time, pretend to know everybody I met. Almost everybody I met asked me Ormayundo ee mukham? which roughly translates to 'Do you remember this face?' (This was also a popular 'punch dialogue' from a popular Malayalam movie at that time) 'Errr, oh hahaha, yes yes of course I do!' would be my standard answer.

After what seemed like an era, it was time for lunch! Nom nom time! My favorite time! And the food was absolutely scrumdiddlyumptious. The menu was Indo-Chinese. So we had Roti and Paneer Butter Masala; Fried Rice and Cauliflower Manchurian. I thought the latter was representative of real Chinese cuisine till I came to Singapore! It was in one of those epiphanies that I realized how much we have 'Indianized' Chinese cuisine- right from Schezwan Fried Rice with molaga to 'Gopi Manchurian'. Aaah, but I digress. Anyway, that day we also had thayir sadham with aavakai pickle and vanilla ice cream with gulab jamun for dessert. Apart from the yumminess factor of the spread, I noticed the cleanliness factor of the serving team. No wonder these caterers were so famous! The team was decked in crisp starched uniforms, complete with hairnets and plastic gloves. Epitome of professionalism. My my, I was impressed indeed!

Having eaten my fill, I decided to wander around. I caught Appa helping himself to the forbidden ice cream and dutifully reported it to Amma. It was at that moment that I noticed the gentleman serving the food. His hairnet was in place. His plastic gloves used to serve the food were also there. No problems at all. Except he was delicately scratching his ears, with the gloves fully in place! I thought of the Cauliflower Manchurian I had eaten with gusto just a little while ago. Gulp.

Post Script
Appa had visited my blog a few days ago, and he told me that my blog should cater to a wide range of readers. So, in the hope that my blog does get attention all across the globe (a snide inner voice says, Yeah right!), here's a translation of some of the regional words I've used in this post.

Appa and Amma is what I call Dad and Mom respectively.
Bhakti refers to devotion, usually in a spiritual context.
Appams and Payasam are absolutely delicious sweets, mostly prepared for special occasions.
Valiacha is a Malayalam term for Uncle.
A bhajan is a prayer, that takes the form of a song.
A bulb moment is when you get embarrassed or made fun of. I've had plenty of these moments in my life.
Mokkai, in this context, refers to something boring, uninteresting or useless. In other words, a poor joke.
Pattu paavadai is a traditional long skirt (that usually threatens to trip you over) and blouse, made of silk, worn on festivals and special occasions.
Molaga refers to chilly/pepper which is a must have ingredient in Sambhar, but I doubt, if it's the same in Schezwan Fried Rice.
Thayir Sadham in this case refers to its actual meaning- curd rice. However, it could also be used to refer to someone who is boring/uninteresting.
Aavakai is a form of mango that tastes its best in pickles, which in turn taste their best with the above mentioned thayir sadham.

I swear on my pinky finger that the above incident is true.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gunpowder

What does gunpowder remind you of? Dumb question, right? Obviously, it reminds you of guns, explosives and what not. Some might recollect that Gunpowder was the horse that Ichabod Crane, the lanky hero from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, rode when he went to meet his lady love Katrina Van Tassel. (That's another book I'll never tire of reading!)

However, for me, the mere mention of the word 'gunpowder' brings to mind Amma's crispy white dosas and the humble molagapodi. Molagapodi, for the uninitiated, is a spicy powdery mixture of... (err, I really don't know what, any help here?) that tastes absolutely divine with dosa and its steamed version, the idli. You add a dash of oil, mix it with the fiery molagapodi and your taste buds are in for a treat. Come to think of it, gunpowder indeed is a truly apt nickname!

I remember a few months ago, a friend and I went to a restaurant known as Murugan's Idli Kadai (a local favorite, you can ask anyone here) and we just pigged out on dosas, (ok am tired of italicizing this already!) idlies and molagapodi. An uncle was sitting on the other side of the table and he was looking at the molagapodi with a lot of interest. He didn't know what it was and I tried my best to explain it to him- 'It should be eaten with idlies and dosas, with a tinge of oil, and it'll taste really really good!' 'What's it called?’ he asked. 'Gunpowder', I promptly said. You should have seen the look on his face! :D I quickly reaffirmed that it was indeed edible, but I don't think he liked it much. Oh well, if you decide not to like something, nothing can be done about it right?

I remember the countless times Amma would pack this delightful combination in a little dabba for my recess breaks at school. And being the rather stubborn idiot that I am was, I would take it back home, because I was too busy at school. Hmph. Anything to get it back now, neatly packed in a plastic box; a reminder of Amma's love and sacrifice. (That's what she would say each day I took it back without eating- Here I am,waking up at 4 each morning and making things for you- and you say you're too busy to eat! Will a donkey be able to realize the fragrance of camphor?! I agree, the last phrase doesn't sound right- I tried my best to translate :D



Well, what's the point of this rather pointless post? I'm just craving for some dosa and my favorite molagapodi and it looks like I'll have to wait a long time to get it, thanks to my nightmares exams. Fair enough, don't you think?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nagavalli and Mr Bean

Well, it's been a rather blah day and my blogging this post seems to be the only good aspect of it. Things cannot go the same way all the time, I tell myself. But it's been the same way, every single time! Yes, a student's worst nightmare indeed. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, and I shall not refer to it by its name. I'm weirdly superstitious and I think by calling it what it is, I become jinxed. Stupid, I know.

I originally titled this 'Eight Fears', as part of the 10 Day 'You' Challenge, and then decided it was too mundane. In the unlikely event that you are curious, please read on.

True to the intent of the challenge, I hereby unleash the 'horrors within' me:

1) The aforementioned nightmare. I have anyway polambified to Amma, as usual. More than the event, I'm worried about the aftermath, I think. How it will affect everything. I often imagine that because of this, everything around me collapses like a stack of Dominoes. And the worst thing is, I keep thinking about it. It's like this invisible burden that is always there.

2) The future. Situations like the one described here lead me to worry about the future. Not exactly a fear, but a definite worry. And this leads me to a what-if hypothesis. Which leads me to further gloom.

3) Fear of disappointment. Very cliched, I agree. But it really hurts to disappoint Amma and Appa and numerous others who put their trust and hopes in me. I hope such a situation never comes. :(

4) Fear of spirits. Even today, talking about things like the Ouija Board and the Mohini pisasu* sends shivers down my spine. As a child, my holidays in Kerala, would often involve talks about things like this with my cousins, and I'd always be scared to go to a dark room later. One cousin, in particular, had this habit of yelling Nagavalli's dialogue, just so he could scare the wits out of me. Actually, it's still rather scary!

5) Fear of losing my hair. I know it sounds funny, but it isn't! Every time I run a comb through my not-so-lovely tresses, I see so much hair falling out- I could even make a wig if I begin to collect it, just like how Mammachi in Arundhati Roy's God of Small Things did. Oh well, it runs in the genes- Appa already has a shiny patch on the head, of which he is rather proud. A sign of being wise, he says. I think otherwise.

6) Now this is weird, but I sometimes fear not being able to take my lenses off. I have, on numerous occasions, dozed off, having forgotten to take the lenses off, and each time I wake to reality, I see my eyes as red as Nagavalli's. That being said, lenses are really inconvenient sometimes. Every time I'm running late for a class, the lens has a tiny bit of dust and I spend nearly ten minutes, jumping around and trying to wear it. I know, my sense of 'eyegiene' should improve. I'd go for glasses any day...if I weren't so vain.

7) Fear of being alone. Solitude is great, but not loneliness. Subtle line of difference. I'm terrified that one day I'll have nobody to turn to or talk to.

8) Fear of losing loved ones. To death. To dementia. To oblivion. I'm also scared that I lose them, simply by being too busy wrapped up in my own little bubble.

This is indeed a gloomy post. Matched my mood anyway. Now for the Mr Bean part of the post- I came across this and now, I cannot stop laughing! :D Mr Bean FTW!

P.S: Weirdly, I stopped worrying about fear 1, at least for some time. Note to self: Keep calm, and move on, Sruthi, just move on!

*A mohini pisasu is supposed to be a female ghost, often depicted on the silver screen, wearing a white sari. She makes her presence known by wearing anklets that jingle as she goes about searching for a victim.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Karpoora Deepam

I'm going through a horrible, hectic week. Loads of deadlines, tests and presentations and my stress levels are at an all time high. But I suddenly remembered a bhajan that my cousin used to sing, and the words brought a lot of comfort to me. I don't know why, but I feel much happier after listening to it, despite the mountain that looms ahead of me.

Karpoora deepam thozhuthu nilkumbol
Ullathil engo nyaan mohichu
Amme devi, amrita varshini
Karpooram aayirunengil
Nyaan aa karpooram aayirunengil...

Here's a rough translation:
As I prayed before the lamps, filled with burning camphor, I found myself wishing that I was the camphor in the lamp... (Gosh, it is hard to translate!)
I consider the camphor to be a symbol of surrender. It burns itself in the fire and thus completely vanishes. In a similar vein, I shall seek refuge in the Lord and surrender to His Will.
And so, I shall continue my climb. :)

*Image courtesy Google

Sunday, November 6, 2011

True Blue Mallu

I am a true blue mallu Malayalee. I might tend to get defensive when people make fun of the so-called 'mallu' accent, despite the fact that they have one themselves. I remember a time in Grade 9, when I got into a cat fight with someone because she made fun of a friend who referred to the Ganges as Genga during the geography class. To be honest, it was funny and I laughed myself (I still do)- for the first or second time. But come on, after repeating it nearly ten times, it does become rude and annoying. I was a new student at that time and my school was a girls' school, so I practically ruined all my chances of making good friends. Thankfully, as time went by, we forgot about it and things became better between us-we came to a stage where we made fun of each others' accents, but not so much so that it annoys or hurts the other. Personally, I cannot understand why such a big thing is made out of accents- surely, for a person whose first language is not English, a touch of the vernacular is bound to slip in. And the same people declare that they know Tanglish, Hinglish, and all other forms of Inglish (Indian English). If that's okay, what is the problem with accents? Defeats me.

Anyway, apart from accents, another issue that irks me is the fact that a lot of people (not generalizing, but it's happened to me before!) believe that when Malayalees get together they always speak in Malayalam. They say, when two 'mallus' get together, the first thing they ask is "evide naa?" And the rest of the conversation is fully in Malayalam. Oh come on, don't tell me this is not true for any other linguistic group! I'm sure if you happen to be from our neighboring state and you insist on carrying the conversation in English, you might well be classified under one of those peter types. Don't tell me you talk strictly in English when you get together, because that is not true.

Another oft repeated way to identify 'mallus', it seems, is just to ask a person whether he/she is from India. 99% of the time, the person is bound to say, 'No, I'm from Kerala!' Now, this is funny just because of the sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing. Whoever came up with it?!

And the Gelf connection. It's not like each and every one of us has an ungil there, although if I were to quote Shashi Tharoor (who is yet another Malayalee :P), the Kingdom of Bahrain, at one point in time, had more Malayalees than Bahrainis! (I'd know, I spent three years on the island.)

On a more serious note, if you happen to travel in and around the remotest corners of a GCC country, you are very very likely to find a Malayalee there. Heard of an Omani town called Liwa? It's a small, dusty town north of Sohar, home to the legendary Sindbad. While we were traveling from Muscat, back to Fujairah, we stopped at a shop in this remote town- surprise! It was owned by another ubiquitous Malayalee. In fact, we even had pazham pori and kattan chaya there. And it was indeed interesting to watch two Omani gentlemen, in their flowing white dishdashas and dashing turbans, attack a plate of Kerala Porotta and Beef Ularthiyathu.

Okay, now let me clarify things- This was not meant to be a post glorifying Malayalees as a group, nor am I a person who believes that my language and culture is superior to that of others. I consider myself to be a global citizen, but at the same time, I am a true blue Mallu. The two terms are not mutually exclusive. So, why am I a true blue mallu?

1) I love puttu, kadala and nendram pazham. Also appam and stew.
2) I would prefer to watch Lal ettan's movies any day over Thalaivar (ooh, blasphemy!) or for that matter, Amitabh Bechen, sorry Bachchan.
3)
I will watch Idea Star Singer on Asianet, no matter, however irritating the show gets.
4) I will also watch the Cinemala parody of the same and laugh my head off at the anchor who says, 'Welcome to No Idea Star Singer!'
5) I have, at least once, considered the possibility of opening a chaayakkada. (Don't worry Amma, just a passing cloud. I hope.)
6) I don't discuss viplavam, but sometimes the idea excites me, and sometimes I like to pretend I am one amongst the comrades. (Blame Lal Salam!)
7) Kerala and West Bengal are supposed to be those so-called 'intellectual' states, mainly due to the red fervor- I like to pretend that I am a budding buji* novelist. You know, those nerdish glasses (I already have those), long kurtas, swinging jhola bag types.
8) Even though my own Malayalam is kind of funny at best, and atrocious at worst, I will laugh at the Malayalam spoken by the malayalam korcha korcha ariyaam wannabe kochammas.

Hmm, that's enough, don't you think, to qualify me as a true blue mallu? Like most Malayalees, I do enjoy jokes cracked at us (we crack them ourselves sometimes!), as long as they are not used tauntingly or mockingly. So I'll end this post with one of my favorite so-called mallu jokes.

Why did the Malayalee go to Rome? No, the answer is NOT 'simbly'.
He went to Rome to listen to Pop(e) music!! Got it? :D

*buji is short for buddhi jeevi . Could mean bookworm or pseudo intellectual. Guess I fall under the latter category!

Disclaimer: This is just a paavam girl's idea of having fun- a few minutes of laughter when caught in the dreary process of studying for exams. Any offense caused to anybody is unintended and regretted.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Fibonacci Sonnet

Vijaya Ma'am had shared a link for a new concept of creative writing known as the Fibonacci Sonnet on facebook yesterday. As soon as I saw it, I was really excited and I've been literally itching to write one myself. So I wrote on the one thing currently plaguing my mind- exams. By the way, a Fibonacci Sonnet is a two paragraph long story, that makes use of the Fibonacci Series. For example, the first sentence consists of one word. The next also has just one word. Then, three words. Followed by five, eight, thirteen and twenty-one. The second paragraph follows in the other order. Just remember 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21 and then the reverse . You can find out more here. So here goes my first ever Fibonacci Sonnet...

Exams. Tension. Endless worry. Semester after semester. A few hours decide everything. Walking out of the hall, with a frown. Blinking away frustrated tears, trying hard not to discuss the paper with others. Praying for a miracle and then trying to forget the past and move on- this won’t mean anything five years later.

Surely, all my efforts will not be thrown down the drain, fading into a long forgotten distant corner of Memory Lane. I have done my best; that is all that matters in the end. There is more to me than my grades. Everything will settle down, eventually. It always does. Keep calm. Believe. Trust.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What Does a Headache Prove?

I'm having a terrible headache as I'm typing this out. In fact, it (seems weird calling my head 'it') started aching a few hours ago, in the evening, when I was trying to work on a group report with a friend. Anyway, that's besides the point. Yes, I have a headache. It means I should either be asleep or should be ignoring it, and trying to work. But since I'm so good at wasting time recognizing times when I'm bound to be unproductive, I decided to write about it. Moreover, headaches also remind me of something, which shall be revealed to you soon, assuming you haven't closed the tab out of sheer boredom already.

Many people use the I-have-a-headache excuse. It's one of the most overused tactics, so much so that I feel people are skeptical even if you happen to have a real headache. Well, I for one, have never used it. Err, maybe just once or twice. You see, it helps to grab attention.

As an only child, there used to be times when I had become so used to being the center of my parents' attention. (Don't you dare call me a spoilt brat!) So much so that, I sometimes felt that their busy work lives were competition for me. I felt this most during the long study holidays, before the All Important CBSE Class 10 and 12 exams. I would be alone at home all day, working hard, and as soon as Amma and Appa came back home, I would say, 'God! Terrible headache. Been studying all day long!'

Amma would beam with pride and say, 'Wonderful da! (don't know why she doesn't use di instead) You got up early no, that's why you're having a headache!' Satisfied that I had received the required attention, I would nod. Appa, on the other hand, was more difficult to discern. When he wouldn't respond to my complaint, I would raise my voice and shout it again. Till he would turn to look at me and say, 'Aarku vendi?' (meaning, for whom are you waking up to study) Indirectly asking me to stop putting on a show.

So what does a headache prove? I can almost imagine Amma telling me, 'Moluma, apply some Tiger Balm and sleep. You can study later'. So to Amma, it proves that I'm tired, and have been working hard (err, at least it gives her that notion, although for all you know, I might have been hardly working) and am in dire need of rest.

For Appa, it's a totally different story. This is how the conversation goes.

Me (trying to sound tired and weak): Appa, severe splitting headache!
Appa : Phew! Am relieved
Me (aghast): Relieved? What for?
Appa : No, it proves something. Thank God!
Me: Proves what?
Appa : Proves you still have a head!
Me: >.<

Oh no, writing about this makes me miss Appa all the more now, especially since this rotten headache shows no sign of disappearing. So, I'll end this post with one of my favorite pictures of Appa and me. Despite the fact that it's a little shaky and I'm wearing an absolutely incongruous looking scarf, I think it's a cute appanum molum pic (even if I say so myself) :D




Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Going Home- A Fibonacci Sonnet

Finally.
Home.
I'm going.
My heart sings.
Thinking about my home's warmth.
The familiar couch where I lie reading books.
Watching the silhouette of the Hajjar Mountains in the distance, always so picturesque.
Trying to stay awake as the Thousand Names of the Goddess are chanted every Friday; sleeping under the pretext of meditation.
Drinking in the wonderful fragrance of incense sticks, the alter adorned with flowers.
Reliving long forgotten episodes of a cherished past.
Postcards, letters, knick-knacks and souvenirs.
Cannot stop smiling.
I'm returning.
Finally.
Home.

Wohoo, it feels good to even say 'I'm going back home!' :D

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Girl Who Slept

There was once a girl who loved to sleep
Each day she slept on for hours, long and deep.
And then suddenly, the exams were drawing near,
She found herself trembling in fear.
She looked at her books and began to weep.

This is my very first attempt at writing a limerick. And the girl in this limerick could well be me, unfortunately. I'm nearly done with my exams, but, still have one more to go, and like one of my friends said, all I can ask anyone who cares to listen is 'Why this kolaveri di?' :P

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gloves

A few years ago, my uncle bought a flat and the rest of the family had gathered for the house warming ceremony. It was a wonderful occasion, filled with laughter and jokes and warm moments. A priest had been invited to conduct the rituals and later, we all gathered in the pooja room for prayers. I tried to ignore the appams and payasam placed at the alter, and focus on bhakti but that was an impossible task. At the end of the prayers (phew, finally!), I thought we could begin attacking, when my valiacha decided that the occasion called for some devotional singing. So, someone offered to chant sing a bhajan. I was relieved at the end (and I'm sure the others were too), and not just because, I could finally get to sample those absolutely delectable appams and numerous other delicacies prepared for the occasion...

But not so fast! The guests had arrived and like any good host, all of us were expected to 'mix and mingle'. At first, I stuck to my cousin clan, but after many a bulb moment, I realized that they were no longer taking notice of what I said or laughing at my jokes, which I agree were mokkai, but then, come on, so were theirs! Anyway, I decided not to sulk and proceeded to 'mix and mingle' as Amma had suggested. It was again a difficult task, given that I had to be careful not to trip over my pattu paavadai and at the same time, pretend to know everybody I met. Almost everybody I met asked me Ormayundo ee mukham? which roughly translates to 'Do you remember this face?' (This was also a popular 'punch dialogue' from a popular Malayalam movie at that time) 'Errr, oh hahaha, yes yes of course I do!' would be my standard answer.

After what seemed like an era, it was time for lunch! Nom nom time! My favorite time! And the food was absolutely scrumdiddlyumptious. The menu was Indo-Chinese. So we had Roti and Paneer Butter Masala; Fried Rice and Cauliflower Manchurian. I thought the latter was representative of real Chinese cuisine till I came to Singapore! It was in one of those epiphanies that I realized how much we have 'Indianized' Chinese cuisine- right from Schezwan Fried Rice with molaga to 'Gopi Manchurian'. Aaah, but I digress. Anyway, that day we also had thayir sadham with aavakai pickle and vanilla ice cream with gulab jamun for dessert. Apart from the yumminess factor of the spread, I noticed the cleanliness factor of the serving team. No wonder these caterers were so famous! The team was decked in crisp starched uniforms, complete with hairnets and plastic gloves. Epitome of professionalism. My my, I was impressed indeed!

Having eaten my fill, I decided to wander around. I caught Appa helping himself to the forbidden ice cream and dutifully reported it to Amma. It was at that moment that I noticed the gentleman serving the food. His hairnet was in place. His plastic gloves used to serve the food were also there. No problems at all. Except he was delicately scratching his ears, with the gloves fully in place! I thought of the Cauliflower Manchurian I had eaten with gusto just a little while ago. Gulp.

Post Script
Appa had visited my blog a few days ago, and he told me that my blog should cater to a wide range of readers. So, in the hope that my blog does get attention all across the globe (a snide inner voice says, Yeah right!), here's a translation of some of the regional words I've used in this post.

Appa and Amma is what I call Dad and Mom respectively.
Bhakti refers to devotion, usually in a spiritual context.
Appams and Payasam are absolutely delicious sweets, mostly prepared for special occasions.
Valiacha is a Malayalam term for Uncle.
A bhajan is a prayer, that takes the form of a song.
A bulb moment is when you get embarrassed or made fun of. I've had plenty of these moments in my life.
Mokkai, in this context, refers to something boring, uninteresting or useless. In other words, a poor joke.
Pattu paavadai is a traditional long skirt (that usually threatens to trip you over) and blouse, made of silk, worn on festivals and special occasions.
Molaga refers to chilly/pepper which is a must have ingredient in Sambhar, but I doubt, if it's the same in Schezwan Fried Rice.
Thayir Sadham in this case refers to its actual meaning- curd rice. However, it could also be used to refer to someone who is boring/uninteresting.
Aavakai is a form of mango that tastes its best in pickles, which in turn taste their best with the above mentioned thayir sadham.

I swear on my pinky finger that the above incident is true.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gunpowder

What does gunpowder remind you of? Dumb question, right? Obviously, it reminds you of guns, explosives and what not. Some might recollect that Gunpowder was the horse that Ichabod Crane, the lanky hero from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, rode when he went to meet his lady love Katrina Van Tassel. (That's another book I'll never tire of reading!)

However, for me, the mere mention of the word 'gunpowder' brings to mind Amma's crispy white dosas and the humble molagapodi. Molagapodi, for the uninitiated, is a spicy powdery mixture of... (err, I really don't know what, any help here?) that tastes absolutely divine with dosa and its steamed version, the idli. You add a dash of oil, mix it with the fiery molagapodi and your taste buds are in for a treat. Come to think of it, gunpowder indeed is a truly apt nickname!

I remember a few months ago, a friend and I went to a restaurant known as Murugan's Idli Kadai (a local favorite, you can ask anyone here) and we just pigged out on dosas, (ok am tired of italicizing this already!) idlies and molagapodi. An uncle was sitting on the other side of the table and he was looking at the molagapodi with a lot of interest. He didn't know what it was and I tried my best to explain it to him- 'It should be eaten with idlies and dosas, with a tinge of oil, and it'll taste really really good!' 'What's it called?’ he asked. 'Gunpowder', I promptly said. You should have seen the look on his face! :D I quickly reaffirmed that it was indeed edible, but I don't think he liked it much. Oh well, if you decide not to like something, nothing can be done about it right?

I remember the countless times Amma would pack this delightful combination in a little dabba for my recess breaks at school. And being the rather stubborn idiot that I am was, I would take it back home, because I was too busy at school. Hmph. Anything to get it back now, neatly packed in a plastic box; a reminder of Amma's love and sacrifice. (That's what she would say each day I took it back without eating- Here I am,waking up at 4 each morning and making things for you- and you say you're too busy to eat! Will a donkey be able to realize the fragrance of camphor?! I agree, the last phrase doesn't sound right- I tried my best to translate :D



Well, what's the point of this rather pointless post? I'm just craving for some dosa and my favorite molagapodi and it looks like I'll have to wait a long time to get it, thanks to my nightmares exams. Fair enough, don't you think?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nagavalli and Mr Bean

Well, it's been a rather blah day and my blogging this post seems to be the only good aspect of it. Things cannot go the same way all the time, I tell myself. But it's been the same way, every single time! Yes, a student's worst nightmare indeed. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, and I shall not refer to it by its name. I'm weirdly superstitious and I think by calling it what it is, I become jinxed. Stupid, I know.

I originally titled this 'Eight Fears', as part of the 10 Day 'You' Challenge, and then decided it was too mundane. In the unlikely event that you are curious, please read on.

True to the intent of the challenge, I hereby unleash the 'horrors within' me:

1) The aforementioned nightmare. I have anyway polambified to Amma, as usual. More than the event, I'm worried about the aftermath, I think. How it will affect everything. I often imagine that because of this, everything around me collapses like a stack of Dominoes. And the worst thing is, I keep thinking about it. It's like this invisible burden that is always there.

2) The future. Situations like the one described here lead me to worry about the future. Not exactly a fear, but a definite worry. And this leads me to a what-if hypothesis. Which leads me to further gloom.

3) Fear of disappointment. Very cliched, I agree. But it really hurts to disappoint Amma and Appa and numerous others who put their trust and hopes in me. I hope such a situation never comes. :(

4) Fear of spirits. Even today, talking about things like the Ouija Board and the Mohini pisasu* sends shivers down my spine. As a child, my holidays in Kerala, would often involve talks about things like this with my cousins, and I'd always be scared to go to a dark room later. One cousin, in particular, had this habit of yelling Nagavalli's dialogue, just so he could scare the wits out of me. Actually, it's still rather scary!

5) Fear of losing my hair. I know it sounds funny, but it isn't! Every time I run a comb through my not-so-lovely tresses, I see so much hair falling out- I could even make a wig if I begin to collect it, just like how Mammachi in Arundhati Roy's God of Small Things did. Oh well, it runs in the genes- Appa already has a shiny patch on the head, of which he is rather proud. A sign of being wise, he says. I think otherwise.

6) Now this is weird, but I sometimes fear not being able to take my lenses off. I have, on numerous occasions, dozed off, having forgotten to take the lenses off, and each time I wake to reality, I see my eyes as red as Nagavalli's. That being said, lenses are really inconvenient sometimes. Every time I'm running late for a class, the lens has a tiny bit of dust and I spend nearly ten minutes, jumping around and trying to wear it. I know, my sense of 'eyegiene' should improve. I'd go for glasses any day...if I weren't so vain.

7) Fear of being alone. Solitude is great, but not loneliness. Subtle line of difference. I'm terrified that one day I'll have nobody to turn to or talk to.

8) Fear of losing loved ones. To death. To dementia. To oblivion. I'm also scared that I lose them, simply by being too busy wrapped up in my own little bubble.

This is indeed a gloomy post. Matched my mood anyway. Now for the Mr Bean part of the post- I came across this and now, I cannot stop laughing! :D Mr Bean FTW!

P.S: Weirdly, I stopped worrying about fear 1, at least for some time. Note to self: Keep calm, and move on, Sruthi, just move on!

*A mohini pisasu is supposed to be a female ghost, often depicted on the silver screen, wearing a white sari. She makes her presence known by wearing anklets that jingle as she goes about searching for a victim.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Karpoora Deepam

I'm going through a horrible, hectic week. Loads of deadlines, tests and presentations and my stress levels are at an all time high. But I suddenly remembered a bhajan that my cousin used to sing, and the words brought a lot of comfort to me. I don't know why, but I feel much happier after listening to it, despite the mountain that looms ahead of me.

Karpoora deepam thozhuthu nilkumbol
Ullathil engo nyaan mohichu
Amme devi, amrita varshini
Karpooram aayirunengil
Nyaan aa karpooram aayirunengil...

Here's a rough translation:
As I prayed before the lamps, filled with burning camphor, I found myself wishing that I was the camphor in the lamp... (Gosh, it is hard to translate!)
I consider the camphor to be a symbol of surrender. It burns itself in the fire and thus completely vanishes. In a similar vein, I shall seek refuge in the Lord and surrender to His Will.
And so, I shall continue my climb. :)

*Image courtesy Google

Sunday, November 6, 2011

True Blue Mallu

I am a true blue mallu Malayalee. I might tend to get defensive when people make fun of the so-called 'mallu' accent, despite the fact that they have one themselves. I remember a time in Grade 9, when I got into a cat fight with someone because she made fun of a friend who referred to the Ganges as Genga during the geography class. To be honest, it was funny and I laughed myself (I still do)- for the first or second time. But come on, after repeating it nearly ten times, it does become rude and annoying. I was a new student at that time and my school was a girls' school, so I practically ruined all my chances of making good friends. Thankfully, as time went by, we forgot about it and things became better between us-we came to a stage where we made fun of each others' accents, but not so much so that it annoys or hurts the other. Personally, I cannot understand why such a big thing is made out of accents- surely, for a person whose first language is not English, a touch of the vernacular is bound to slip in. And the same people declare that they know Tanglish, Hinglish, and all other forms of Inglish (Indian English). If that's okay, what is the problem with accents? Defeats me.

Anyway, apart from accents, another issue that irks me is the fact that a lot of people (not generalizing, but it's happened to me before!) believe that when Malayalees get together they always speak in Malayalam. They say, when two 'mallus' get together, the first thing they ask is "evide naa?" And the rest of the conversation is fully in Malayalam. Oh come on, don't tell me this is not true for any other linguistic group! I'm sure if you happen to be from our neighboring state and you insist on carrying the conversation in English, you might well be classified under one of those peter types. Don't tell me you talk strictly in English when you get together, because that is not true.

Another oft repeated way to identify 'mallus', it seems, is just to ask a person whether he/she is from India. 99% of the time, the person is bound to say, 'No, I'm from Kerala!' Now, this is funny just because of the sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing. Whoever came up with it?!

And the Gelf connection. It's not like each and every one of us has an ungil there, although if I were to quote Shashi Tharoor (who is yet another Malayalee :P), the Kingdom of Bahrain, at one point in time, had more Malayalees than Bahrainis! (I'd know, I spent three years on the island.)

On a more serious note, if you happen to travel in and around the remotest corners of a GCC country, you are very very likely to find a Malayalee there. Heard of an Omani town called Liwa? It's a small, dusty town north of Sohar, home to the legendary Sindbad. While we were traveling from Muscat, back to Fujairah, we stopped at a shop in this remote town- surprise! It was owned by another ubiquitous Malayalee. In fact, we even had pazham pori and kattan chaya there. And it was indeed interesting to watch two Omani gentlemen, in their flowing white dishdashas and dashing turbans, attack a plate of Kerala Porotta and Beef Ularthiyathu.

Okay, now let me clarify things- This was not meant to be a post glorifying Malayalees as a group, nor am I a person who believes that my language and culture is superior to that of others. I consider myself to be a global citizen, but at the same time, I am a true blue Mallu. The two terms are not mutually exclusive. So, why am I a true blue mallu?

1) I love puttu, kadala and nendram pazham. Also appam and stew.
2) I would prefer to watch Lal ettan's movies any day over Thalaivar (ooh, blasphemy!) or for that matter, Amitabh Bechen, sorry Bachchan.
3)
I will watch Idea Star Singer on Asianet, no matter, however irritating the show gets.
4) I will also watch the Cinemala parody of the same and laugh my head off at the anchor who says, 'Welcome to No Idea Star Singer!'
5) I have, at least once, considered the possibility of opening a chaayakkada. (Don't worry Amma, just a passing cloud. I hope.)
6) I don't discuss viplavam, but sometimes the idea excites me, and sometimes I like to pretend I am one amongst the comrades. (Blame Lal Salam!)
7) Kerala and West Bengal are supposed to be those so-called 'intellectual' states, mainly due to the red fervor- I like to pretend that I am a budding buji* novelist. You know, those nerdish glasses (I already have those), long kurtas, swinging jhola bag types.
8) Even though my own Malayalam is kind of funny at best, and atrocious at worst, I will laugh at the Malayalam spoken by the malayalam korcha korcha ariyaam wannabe kochammas.

Hmm, that's enough, don't you think, to qualify me as a true blue mallu? Like most Malayalees, I do enjoy jokes cracked at us (we crack them ourselves sometimes!), as long as they are not used tauntingly or mockingly. So I'll end this post with one of my favorite so-called mallu jokes.

Why did the Malayalee go to Rome? No, the answer is NOT 'simbly'.
He went to Rome to listen to Pop(e) music!! Got it? :D

*buji is short for buddhi jeevi . Could mean bookworm or pseudo intellectual. Guess I fall under the latter category!

Disclaimer: This is just a paavam girl's idea of having fun- a few minutes of laughter when caught in the dreary process of studying for exams. Any offense caused to anybody is unintended and regretted.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Fibonacci Sonnet

Vijaya Ma'am had shared a link for a new concept of creative writing known as the Fibonacci Sonnet on facebook yesterday. As soon as I saw it, I was really excited and I've been literally itching to write one myself. So I wrote on the one thing currently plaguing my mind- exams. By the way, a Fibonacci Sonnet is a two paragraph long story, that makes use of the Fibonacci Series. For example, the first sentence consists of one word. The next also has just one word. Then, three words. Followed by five, eight, thirteen and twenty-one. The second paragraph follows in the other order. Just remember 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21 and then the reverse . You can find out more here. So here goes my first ever Fibonacci Sonnet...

Exams. Tension. Endless worry. Semester after semester. A few hours decide everything. Walking out of the hall, with a frown. Blinking away frustrated tears, trying hard not to discuss the paper with others. Praying for a miracle and then trying to forget the past and move on- this won’t mean anything five years later.

Surely, all my efforts will not be thrown down the drain, fading into a long forgotten distant corner of Memory Lane. I have done my best; that is all that matters in the end. There is more to me than my grades. Everything will settle down, eventually. It always does. Keep calm. Believe. Trust.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What Does a Headache Prove?

I'm having a terrible headache as I'm typing this out. In fact, it (seems weird calling my head 'it') started aching a few hours ago, in the evening, when I was trying to work on a group report with a friend. Anyway, that's besides the point. Yes, I have a headache. It means I should either be asleep or should be ignoring it, and trying to work. But since I'm so good at wasting time recognizing times when I'm bound to be unproductive, I decided to write about it. Moreover, headaches also remind me of something, which shall be revealed to you soon, assuming you haven't closed the tab out of sheer boredom already.

Many people use the I-have-a-headache excuse. It's one of the most overused tactics, so much so that I feel people are skeptical even if you happen to have a real headache. Well, I for one, have never used it. Err, maybe just once or twice. You see, it helps to grab attention.

As an only child, there used to be times when I had become so used to being the center of my parents' attention. (Don't you dare call me a spoilt brat!) So much so that, I sometimes felt that their busy work lives were competition for me. I felt this most during the long study holidays, before the All Important CBSE Class 10 and 12 exams. I would be alone at home all day, working hard, and as soon as Amma and Appa came back home, I would say, 'God! Terrible headache. Been studying all day long!'

Amma would beam with pride and say, 'Wonderful da! (don't know why she doesn't use di instead) You got up early no, that's why you're having a headache!' Satisfied that I had received the required attention, I would nod. Appa, on the other hand, was more difficult to discern. When he wouldn't respond to my complaint, I would raise my voice and shout it again. Till he would turn to look at me and say, 'Aarku vendi?' (meaning, for whom are you waking up to study) Indirectly asking me to stop putting on a show.

So what does a headache prove? I can almost imagine Amma telling me, 'Moluma, apply some Tiger Balm and sleep. You can study later'. So to Amma, it proves that I'm tired, and have been working hard (err, at least it gives her that notion, although for all you know, I might have been hardly working) and am in dire need of rest.

For Appa, it's a totally different story. This is how the conversation goes.

Me (trying to sound tired and weak): Appa, severe splitting headache!
Appa : Phew! Am relieved
Me (aghast): Relieved? What for?
Appa : No, it proves something. Thank God!
Me: Proves what?
Appa : Proves you still have a head!
Me: >.<

Oh no, writing about this makes me miss Appa all the more now, especially since this rotten headache shows no sign of disappearing. So, I'll end this post with one of my favorite pictures of Appa and me. Despite the fact that it's a little shaky and I'm wearing an absolutely incongruous looking scarf, I think it's a cute appanum molum pic (even if I say so myself) :D