Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Midnight Kheer

30 August 2012
Heronbank, Jayantika's Kitchen

Sometimes in the middle of the night there is a craving for something sweet. I'm sure you can empathize with this desire. Chocolate?? Naaah! That won't do. What about some Kheer (Khiri)? Yummm.... That would be lovely! Creamy, sweet Kheer. Just the thing my taste buds are longing for. But who's going to MAKE that now? Such an ordeal! No energy to engage in elaborate preparations and moreover I'm not a great one at cooking.

Well, the good news is - It is not an ordeal. Infact, its one of the simplest things to cook. Yes, Kheer. It will just take a little bit of time (a little over an hour), so be prepared to hang out in the kitchen with a book or something.

This is what Jayantika and I did one night (in the middle of a dissertation:-p)

All you need is :-)

4 large tablespoons of rice   (long grained Basmati will work wonders)
4-5 cups of milk   (taste will vary depending on how much water your milk guy adds to your milk)
A tablespoon of Ghee (Clarified Butter)
3-4 Cardamom pods
Sugar to taste  (I like my Kheer sweet)

A deep bottomed pan
A large spatula for stirring

Ok cool. Let's get going.

Wash and soak the rice in water first.
Heat the butter in the pan and add the rice to it. Fry it for about 5 minutes. Can you smell the aroma? Tantalizing, aint it!
Now add the milk, cardamoms and sugar and slowly bring the mixture to a boil stirring occasionally(medium - high flame). Now simmer the Kheer on a medium-low flame (stirring occasionally so that the milk doesn't burn) for about 35-45 minutes till the level of milk comes down to half and the rice is completely cooked and soft.

Once you are satisfied with the consistency you can turn off the flame. The Kheer is ready!
If you like your Kheer chilled then refrigerate it for a few hours before serving. Or else you can have it hot as well. I find it even more delicious when its hot.

Serve it in a steel bowl, dainty glass dish or eat it out of the pan. Its upto you. You may garnish it with chopped almonds and pistachios if you're a nut lover.

Now that sounds easy right? Trust me, IT IS. Because I'm writing this as I make it. Its turned out to be yumm and I can't wait to dig into it.

Now I know when in the Indian tele-soaps whenever anyone says, "Aaj bada Kheer khaane ka mann kar raha hai", the 'bahu' immediately says with a huge smile "Main abhi layee" :-p

J and T.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Remembering Ishan

February 2009

It was a lazy afternoon and and we had nothing significant to do. My laptop was open. So I started typing questions and Ishan answered...

Why did u think I had an attitude problem?
I didn’t really think you had an attitude problem maybe I could’ve phrased it better. You just seemed like one of those girls who you know was a hip  kid but I trashed that notion soon because if you were that kinda girl we wouldn’t be friends.

When was the last time you masturbated?
Day before yesterday I think. Why?

Are u serious about quitting drinking?
Yes, but its gonna be hard. But since you seem to care about my parents more than I do I will try.

And Smoking?
I think I need to quit smoking. Seriously. I can’t continue to decorate the walls of my lung with black soot anymore. Tuberculosis frightens me. And also the wrath of interior decorators.

Who do you think has stolen my money?
I have my own ideas about that but at the end of the day you know its going to be one of the five suspects. So stop playing Scotland yard with your spare time. Unless you’re the mastermind who’s been pulling the wool over our eyes. Maybe the money wasn’t stolen. Maybe you still have it and just want our sympathy. Despicable.

Choose: Vodka, vomit or vodka vomit?
I’ve had all three in your house so I can’t make up my mind. Can’t I just have a diet coke instead?

Are you materialistic?
No not really. I used to be but not any more. Now I just hope to earn enough to get by. But if I ever get married and have a family then I suppose I’ll have to work hard enough to provide my family with whatever they want.

Did u actually like the moolamantra?
Yes very soothing.

If given the monkey’s paw what are the 3 wishes u would ask for?
 If you’re gonna ask beauty pageant questions you’ll get beauty pageant replies. I want world peace then. But I guess what I really want is to be able to write the great book that I know is in me, a pretty wife who can cook real nice, and peace of mind.

Will u miss us?
Yes immensely.

Pune Memories - Interview with Anna

19 February 2008
Pune, Maharashtra

I was having lunch at Baba food mall in Gokhale Nagar a few days back and I was thinking about my assignment about interviewing a successful businessperson. I casually mentioned it to my friends. One of them jokingly suggested that I interview the owner of Baba Food Mall. We all had a good laugh over it, but the thought lingered in my mind. I personally thought it was a brilliant idea. Baba food mall is owned by a young man in his early thirties called Ganesh Pujhari who is affectionately known by one and all as ‘Anna’. I had always admired his entrepreneurial skills and genial nature. I recalled many discussions with my friends who frequented Baba’s, where we had tried to calculate Anna’s profits. I made up my mind to interview him. The next day I went to Baba’s and had a short conversation with him. I gave him a brief idea about liberal arts and my assignment. Anna knew me quite well (I am a regular at that place) and readily agreed for a short interview. The interview was conducted in Hindi but I have translated it into English for convenience. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.

Namaste. How are you? Thank you for giving me some of your time to interview you.
I’m fine. Thank you. Its my pleasure. After all its not everyday people come to interview me.

When did you start this shop?
Well, I started this shop in 2002 when I came down to pune with two of my brothers

So where are you originally from?
I am basically from kerala.

What inspired you to get into the restaurant business?
Laughs….actually I first went to Bombay to become an actor but fate had other plans for me. After that I came to Pune and worked for sometime in a restaurant on FC road. After gaining some experience I started my own restaurant on the advice of my uncle.

How did you initially go about starting this restaurant?
Well, my brothers and I pooled in our life savings and we also took a loan from state bank of India to start the business. We found an appropriate plot in Gokhale Nagar and took it on rent.
Raj…do butter roti..jaldi laa…bachha log wait kar raha hai (he shouts at one of his employees)
Sorry haan…so what was I saying?...Yes. Then after two months of rigorous hard work, planning and investments we finally inaugurated the ‘BABA FOOD MALL’.

How is the restaurant faring? Have you repaid all of the loan?
By God’s grace we have been able to repay the loan completely and we are doing quite well at the moment.

What is the monthly turnover of your restaurant?
Laughs…Ye kaisa sawaal hai ! (What kind of question is this?)

Anna please…I need this for my project….give me an approximate figure?
Ahhh..(Thinks for sometime, scratches his head)…..about a lakh and a half per month.

Considering that your food mall is doing so well, why haven’t you expanded the business and opened other branches?
See, what I feel is that for a business to do well it requires a lot of dedication, time and sincerity. I know a lot of people who have expanded their business are making enormous profits. But personally I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew. I’d rather concentrate my efforts on one undertaking and be successful.

Well, hats off to you for your dedication. So how do u market your shop?
I haven’t advertised about this place in any way. I depend upon word of mouth.

I know many people who are regulars here or have atleast one meal here daily. What is that which attracts so many patrons here?
See its very simple. I provide good food and service at affordable rates.a lot of outstation students live in and around this area who have their meals here.BABA is like a second home for them….smiles

How is a normal day like?
Very busy. No holidays in this business. The staff and I wake up early and ensure that the place is presentable enough for those patrons who have their breakfast here. We also buy fresh vegetables and meat every morning. Throughout the day customers come and go. I don’t think the restaurant is entirely empty even once during business hours which are long. We open at 8 in the morning and the kitchen closes after 12.

Have you ever felt like an outsider in this city?
No re bachcha log give me lots of respect and love. I have a great rapport with most of my regular customers. Pune is my home now and I’m loving it.
Thank you Anna. He acknowledges and hands me a complimentary tall glass of chilled mosambi juice .

Ishan's Letter to Me

13 February 2008

There was a time, back in 2008, when I was not very happy. After listening to my laments one day, my then best friend Ishan wrote me a letter. And today, once again when I'm not in the best of spirits, his words had the same effect and managed to make me smile and believe like it did almost 4 years back.

You are a very stupid girl. You have (/had) nothing to be depressed about. I know sometimes it seems like nothings going for you and it’s easy to take for granted what you have. It’s also easy to never be satisfied with your lot and though ambition is a virtue to be admired, you have to know when you’ve reached a pinnacle, when you have all you need and could ask for. You have to recognize the value of what you’re given even if it doesn’t seem like what you’d dreamed for. Happiness is hard to attain and sustain and sometime unconsciously we prefer pain and misery because it is the 
uncomplicated thing to do.
What do you really want? You have to think about it. It appears to be a straightforward question and maybe it is but finding an answer to it isn’t. Someone once told me that all we really want is to be happy. True. But the problem is that adults, being the ignorant fucks that they are, will impress upon you that happiness will result from hard work. The fuck it will. The good kids will listen. They will study they will work their asses off like worker bees. But you know the deal with worker bees, right Tanaya? Worker bees work ceaselessly for their entire lives with almost no recompense. At most they can hope to get it on with the queen bee and die happy rather than die of natural causes or due to the exertions of a resourceful, swift twelve year old with a fly swatter. What was my point again? Yeah most people go through their entire life without ever really being fulfilled or happy. But happiness is just an abstract concept. It’s not something you can reach out for and grab with your hands. The thing you should do is seriously contemplate what makes you happy and then do all you can to have that. Different things make different people happy yeah? For some its drugs. For others, cunt, chocolates, smokes, flowers, music, a Latin man in a red thong with whipped cream on his nipples. Whatever.
I suppose I can understand why you were temporarily unhappy I really do but don’t discount all you have in times of distress. I am not going to arrange another inventory of all you have going for you ( I know you’d like that but I don’t want to sound like a broken record and I cannot really achieve originality in my compliments any more) but lets just say that you cannot really claim a lack of anything really (except for common sense and a sense of humour at times) so just stop fretting, breathe in, breathe out, smile. And think about what or who makes you happy. Hold onto that or if you haven’t found it yet don’t despair its coming your way. Just keep your eyes open (“Constant vigil!”) and don’t let it pass you by. And look to the future. You never know what it has in store. I could spend my entire life reminiscing about the good old days, wallowing in memories of flying kites, reading comic books for the first time, an extraordinary adolescent romance, walking through lush green fields in spring. But though I was happy in those instances, those moments are history. Right now is all you have.    
Think about what makes you happy. It’s a Latin man in a red thong with whipped cream on his nipples isn’t it you perverted little girl?  

Ishan, wherever you are, I'd like to tell you that I miss you. That's all. You are the closest I have met to a soulmate. Nothing will make me more happy than getting a random call from you one fine day. Waiting :-)



The desire was simply violent, almost gross
Alabama Song was taking over my senses
'Baba' was unsuspecting, in the middle of a snooze
I found the next Whisky Bar right under his nose

The lights were a major hindrance, Oh well!
I pawed my way in like a guilty cat
With a velvet index i switched off the brightness
The Lubb-Dubb stopped an instant, I went through hell

Swiftness was the key and  oh! how swift I was!
The glass was atlast safe in my well-prepared caring hands  
The sudden authoratative interruption shocked me
But i gathered all of my guts and did not pause

An excuse was mumbled, a juvenile crime was committed
A light breeze of achievement with a thunder of shame
Did not deter the new-found courage of intoxication
I was happily buzzing, but the creators were cheated

Departure's drawing closer, but still no explanation 
For the sinking levels, the loss of weight, the fraud
The guts, the desperation, the final success still amuse
Should I pretend or settle for a note of confession

One Life. My Will.

17 August 2012

Today was an unusual day. In the sense that I did 'exactly' what I wanted to do. This might sound very commonplace and you may think 'what's so extraordinary about it? Don't we all do what we want to everyday?'. But I feel in actuality, it is seldom that we get the chance to do so. If you disagree with me then you are very, very lucky and I envy you.

I think I have been tremendously influenced by Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism of late. Living life on one's own terms, practising integrity, individualism and pursuing one's own happiness. This theory is highly debatable and even in my mind there is a conflict between certain tenets of Objectivism and Collectivism. 

Anyway, today I'm talking about 'Free Will'. How often do we actually get to exercise this free will of ours? Societal rules and laws of civilisation never really permit us to comply with our free will. For eg - Have you ever been so, so bored in a history class that you just wanted to get up and leave the classroom? - But you couldn't because you are not SUPPOSED to do so. You are SUPPOSED to sit and listen (read pretend to listen) till the end of the class. Have you ever wanted to tell someone(someone you know) that the dress they're wearing is absolutely horrendous and if you were them you wouldn't be caught dead in it? But when they ask you tell them instead that they look lovely. Have you ever wanted to do things a certain way but end up doing it in a way others think is right and eventually feel unhappy? These are minor examples that I'm giving because honestly thats all I can think of as of now. But this applies to every aspect of our existence. I'm sure all of us have faced something like this at some point in our lives. In fact I would go to the extent of saying that, consciously or unconsciously, we face situations like this everyday in our life.

I did not do anything great today. I just did whatever I 'felt' like for a change without a care. Without thinking what others would think. Without worrying about the consequences. For example - I read a book for as long as I wanted to and intepreted it the way I wanted to. I slept for as long as I wanted to. I told a friend certain things (quite explicit in nature) that I wouldn't have said to him in my wildest dreams - I was shocked at myself! I was talking to another friend and I told her things that had been buried in my heart for long, things I thought I wouldn't tell anyone ever. But that's what I felt and that was the truth. I ate what I wanted to (everybody else ordered pizza) and I cooked it the way I wanted to. Basically, I did not think twice before doing anything I felt like (thank God I didn't feel like jumping into the lake!).

All these sound like really small and insignificant things and will evoke the response 'So what? What's the big deal about it? '. But you will never know 'So what?' unless you do it yourself. Ofcourse I'm not advocating 'unrestricted exercise of free will'. This will lead to unnecessary chaos and disorder and lead to destruction. There are certain behavorial and societal norms that must not be disregarded and you will be branded a madman if you go around town doing whatever you please. All I'm saying is that every individual must strive to attain a balance between the concept of 'I' and 'We'. Understand that 'I' is very important and nothing to do with selfishness. What others think about you is none of your business. There should be times when you must let go and just Feel, don't waste your time worrying and thinking, just Feel. 

Thoughts of a confused 19 year old

Monday 8 September 2008
Pune, Senapati Bapat Road


Tell me what should I do?
I’m deaf to din, blind to hue

Tell me where should I go?
The seeds of mystery I want to sow

Tell me how to get rid of this confusion?
Succumb to the crowd, faces and derision

Tell me if I should dare to dare?
Ordinariness and routine, a strong pair

Tell me when should I confront my fear?
I am a dreamer but they say we need a doer

Tell me how to suppress my passion?
Just be myself, overlook the fashion

Tell me where can I find solace?
I am slow, cannot match the pace

Tell me what to do when I’m alone?
I have nothing to do, my worth is unknown

Tell me when to reflect, to retrospect?
Days are limited, heaps to resurrect

Tell me how to know if words are truly meant?
Belief betrays me, leaving behind a dent

Tell me why this perplexity hounds me?
Questions surround me, like the branches of a tree


2 March 2012


It’s happened before
But this time it feels way stronger
A way I’ve never felt before
But hasn’t it happened before?
And I wonder
Is this for real?

It’s a game I was never meant to play
Because I don’t know the rules
Because I lose control
Because I believe
Because it’s always real

Every nerve is bursting with the feeling
Every day is a new song
I can feel the eternity
And I want it to start now
You know it’s such a beautiful thought
I desperately want it to be real

You don’t have to feel this way
You might turn the other way
I shall be a little heartbroken, slow and sad
I’ll ponder over what could have been
But I’ll move on and you’ll be a friend
But I’ll know at that time it was for real