August 27, 2004

just another day…

it’s a blank feeling, what i have right now. just when you are given something to be happy about, another choice comes your way uninvited, leaving you to decide which one will make you even happier.

when i heard the voicemail last evening i was excited. so excited i called my parents in india right away. i think it is natural, for anyone who is called for an interview after having been sending out applications steadily for the past year-and-a-half, and receiving only rejections or silence in response.

so this is it then, i thought, hugging praveen and sighing with a-difficult-to-hide-relief. this would be my (second) real interview since Mantra almost forced me into agreeing to work for them. but this would also be something i would much rather be doing, i knew. i wanted it too.
good company, one-year contract, distance: commutable.

i rushed upstairs to our computer room dragging praveen right behind, asking him to read the application i had sent them. when i opened my mailbox, there was a new mail waiting for me. it said i had been shortlisted for another job. wow!
big company, permanent job, distance: too far. praveen said we could relocate if necessary.

my planets seem to have suddenly changed track! i am just told i also have a saturday-four-hour-job i had casually applied for at the local pharmacy. talk about some of the mysteries of life! all this when my backpain is going through one of its worst phases yet.

i am not sure right now how i will do at the interviews. i am positive though, either of the jobs will suit me well. till then, well…i just will have to wait and watch :-|

update on other fronts:

— i passed my driving theory test with full marks for the multiple choice and 79% for the hazard perception. practical test’s two months away and yes, i am still quite nervous on the roads.

— i enrolled in a car maintenance course so i know what i’m driving. praveen enrolled in a micro-robotics course but he was recently told that sadly, it was to be cancelled because he was the only applicant in the entire hertfordshire county!

— i have been reading a LOT. i didn’t get selected as one of the ten volunteer reviewers for the guardian first book award, but well, my bookreview made it :-) and it’s put up right now at the waterstones’ store in london.

— i have learned that i am more passionate about cooking than ever. it makes me happy, it makes me adventurous, and it doesn’t make me hungry.

— these days i am teaching my husband to give me surprises, so we are leaving tonight for a place i don’t have a clue about. only, praveen can’t seem to hide it in his stomach and keeps throwing names of places at random! i am also working on a wishlist so he knows what little things will make me happy. i think slowly though, he will learn ;-)

— we also have been going for regular morning walks since about a month. because obviously, praveen needed much more exercise than merely writing about suryanamaskars :-|

— now that we both understand each other better (i think!), we have also joined a rifle-shooting club at watford. with real (and heavy) .22 rifles and lead bullets that travel 25/50 and 100 yards to hit their target. had initially planned it as a surprise for praveen, since it was something he had always wanted to do. but when i wrote to the club authorities and we went to meet them, they encouraged me to join as well, as women shooters were few (only one in their club, now, two). to my surprise (and theirs), the very first day i got all my bullets in the black circles, and two of them bulls-eye.

strangely, i haven’t been able to match my shooting scores since, but well…we still have some years till the next olympics, don’t we? ;-)




August 25, 2004

stuffed karela (for two)

i have always hated the karela. maybe as a child i used to associate its bitterness with the powdered medicine-mixed-with-honey i had to have almost every other day. i guess for the same reason, i still dislike honey.

but these days, likes and dislikes have ceased to matter as much as they used to, and the importance of eating the right food and vitamins is what comes first. that is, unless your husband/family can resist fried stuff and buckets of humous unlike mine ;)

so i tried to make something different with bittergourd, something that i would not need to have to add jaggery to, to avoid the awful ‘uggghhh’ expression on my face while tasting it. i looked up google and found three interesting recipes i thought i would like to try, picked up ingredients and mixed them about, and here is how it turned out…

what you need:

bittergourd or karela – 2 long and thick ones
two onions, chopped coarse and roasted, along with
two tomatoes, diced
one onion chopped fine
one tbsp ginger-garlic paste
one tsp corainder and cumin seeds, ground coarsely
oil
salt to taste

de-bitterising the gourds:

— chop the ends of the bittergourd and cut into three pieces
— scoop out the seeds and insides and keep aside (throw out the seeds, leave the coverings)
— sprinkle a little salt over the now ’empty’ karela pieces to reduce its bitterness, and also some salt over the scooped-out insides of the bittergourd.
— leave aside for an hour.

for the stuffing:

— roast and blend the onion and tomatoes to a paste
— heat oil in a kadhai and add in the ground coriander and cumin and ginger-garlic paste
— now add the onion and tomato puree and stir
— add the bittergourd ‘insides’ that you had kept aside after you squeeze out any excess water
— add salt to taste, fry this mixture for a while, until the paste becomes thicker and ‘stuffable’

finally, the recipe:

— drain the bittergourd pieces on a papertowel or press lightly so as to remove any excess water (do not squeeze them)
— fill in the pieces with the onion-tomato masala
— fry them in a flat pan with a little oil dribbled over them
— set the flame on low gas and cover with a lid for a while
— when they are half cooked (the pieces will be tender and the stuffing will be well packed within)…
— place another kadhai on the gas and heat some oil
— fry the finely chopped onions and add to it any leftover onion-tomato masala you had prepared earlier
— place the stuffed karela pieces gently with a spoon into this kadhai and cook for a while

if you exclude the de-bitterising time, the recipe should take you just about 20 to 25 minutes to make!

don’t forget to garnish with with dessicated coconut, coriander leaves and a dash of lime. enjoyed best with chapatis or plain hot dal and rice!

let me know if you liked it too! :-)




August 13, 2004

justice delayed or justice denied?

one man walks free, yet another, tomorrow dies.

what makes them different?




August 12, 2004

the namesake

for someone who is yet to read her first pulitzer prize-winning story collection ‘the interpreter of maladies’, jhumpa lahiri’s second book and debut novel the namesake, comes as a refreshing literary surprise. here is something less ‘magical’, but poignant enough nevertheless, for you to pick it up again.

lahiri’s novel revolves around four members of a family and single event(s) that change the course of their lives. the book that saves ashoke ganguli from the train accident, his life with ashima in america where, torn between duty towards her new husband and her roots in india, she chooses the first and lives a life of compromises…right from altering favourite (indian) recipes to choosing friends, and having to maintain a social ‘bengali’ group with frequent parties for every birthday or ritual.

an official formality in the hospital forces the new parents to name their boy after ashoke’s favourite author nikolai gogol; something that the (less indian and almost american-) boy grows to despise throughout his life – only to understand its significance and want go back to it much later.

through its very plausible conflicts and situations, lahiri’s narrative carries you through two generations of a family split by the lifestyle and cultural differences between two continents 8000 miles apart. every character in the novel has been given an individual-short-story-like treatment, letting you mature along with them as the pages turn. her just way of handling the finale leaves you wanting to read more, yet pleasantly satisfied when you put the book down at last.




August 9, 2004

why i’m staying…

this morning

strange noises
brought me
to the window

the sky
dark with clouds

pigeons
schools of them
on the rooftops
while the geese
they flew south/west
(i think)

this was not
the first time
i had heard them
before

i was talking to amma
using a phonecard
it was winter then

when will you come home?
she had asked

today it is pleasant
after a week
of scorching sun
and rain all night

the grass wet and loose
mud sticking to our shoes
while we walked
in the park
just before eight
my husband and i

go home, he said
for your back
get yourself treated…

i thought
of the events
during
the recent past

a friend
lost his sister
barely twenty
another called
indifferent

lost her brother
she said
three years ago

over chat with amma
i told her how
these days
i think
about life and death
and us in between

it is like a game
of musical chairs
she said
yes, said i
just that
the music plays
just once

at the window
this morning
i watched
and wondered…

summer’s here
still, then

why are the geese
flying south?