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Horoscopes------and Me!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

My mother was a funny mix of old fashioned vision and modernity------she faithfully followed all the Traditions----but lived in the present.One of her pet idiosyncrasies was going to these Astrologers----there were quite a few favourites---different flavours for different moods!!!!!
In 1977 when I was diagnosed with Angina she went to one of these----a Parsi lady we called Vilu Aunty-----with the wife of one of her myriad cousins---Saru Mami.This lady cast her own horoscopes---she scorned the ready ones----and gave Mummy some pointers---by and large accurate enough to convince Mummy of her accuracy.Two of the things she told Mummy I still remember very well-------I was to wear a natural Pearl of a certain size set in Sliver ring on my right pinkie finger and I was not to wear Black---at all!!!! It seems Black was unlucky for me----so Mummy came back with these two Bees in her bonnet from her visit with Villu Aunty------now all fired up to get me to do the needfull!!!!
I don't believe in these things at all.I believe in Fate and Destiny----and no one can ever predict the Future 100% correctly.No amount of convincing could take me to the Jeweller's for getting the ring made----and I love Black-----so that was one colour I refused to stop wearing---no matter what the Stars had to say!!!!Both of us were doing battle in real earnest----my mother was a pushy and dominant mother----but I too was a pretty stubborn Cuss and so finally she had to withdraw------defeated!!!
It so happened that three of Sudhir's first cousins were getting married-------all 3 Weddings were to take place within 10 days in December.Since these were Family Weddings I needed to buy new Saris to wear----6 in fact-----one for each Wedding Ceremony in the morning and one for each Reception in the evening.While shopping for these I saw a very beautiful and unusual Black sari------it had beautiful paisley motifs in Electric Blue picked out in rich Gold thread on a Black background ------with an unusual Border----a mix of Gold,Electric Blue and royal Blue.The Sari was made of Organza---a very light gauzy material---and I fell in love with it the moment the Salesman spread it out on the counter.Mummy had come with me for buying the Saris----she pushed this Sari out of sight----but I insisted on seeing it again---and despite her vociferous opposition---bought it.
Triumphantly I marched home with my purchases and got the blouses stitched and the saris falled---in short readied for wearing on those particular occasions.The Black sari I reserved for the last------ my brother-in-law's Wedding----picking out the Gold Jewellery to match it.As expected it created a sensation when I wore it for the Reception with every one "oooohing" and "aaahhing" over it's extremely striking Colours!!!!Mummy was carrying on about how defiant I was---should've known better etc.etc. when a funny thing happenned.
We were on our way back home and I turned to say my "Good Byes"to my Aunts-in-law present.As I turned there was a ripping sound-----everyone turned around---including me---to check their Saris---but all was okay-----so we left for home.On reaching home as I stepped out of the car there was another ripping sound---much louder than before!!!!!That's when it dawned on us---the new Black Sari was tearing up!!!!I quickly rushed home and removed the garment.When I checked the Sari----it was torn in 3-4 places along the inner folds!!!!
Mummy was soooooo angry---"I told you Black was unlucky for you" she said to me.I burst out laughing------"I'm unlucky for the colour Black---and not vice versa!!!" I told her.You decide which one of us was right------Mummy or me!!!!

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RAJASHREE108 4/13/2010 10:08PM

    Aapko jo nazar lagi wo bechaari sadine le li. You have to post the picture if you still have it.

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NIMI4444IN 4/13/2010 3:00AM

    i'v also had my share of astrologers, but after marriage for different reasons. latest being when wil DH b posted to where i am n DH n mine health concerns. Btr health conditions will b fine once we lose the 25-30 kg excess fat on our bodies.

i'm sorry the beautiful saree was torn, but thankfully after the event was over & not in between.

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SAASHA17 4/12/2010 11:58AM

    hehehe...i have had my share of astrologers...and still going on....i gues wont end till i get married...then have kids...sigh...


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ZANNACHAN 4/12/2010 11:42AM

    Awww, that's such a pity that that beautiful sari ripped. emoticon

I don't really believe in horoscopes, to be honest. So I'm more inclined to say that you were unlucky for the black sari, though most likely the problem was that the material was the problem (not the color)--it wasn't strong enough and tore too easily.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Traditions reminded me of my Grandmas---specially Daddy's mother---Akka.The period she was born n was the late 1800s.She lost her parents early and grew up being shuttled between her paternal and maternal Uncles' homes---spending six months in each place.Growing up thus she developed a complex personality---introverted,quiet and indomitable but silently stubborn and brooding----she never really made friends---even with her cousins of the same age.Due to the lack of interest in getting her married,she finally married my Grandfather at the age of 15 years to his 40 years-----she was overage for the marriage so they gave her in marriage to a man old enough to be her father----as his third wife!!!!
She was re-named Sitabai by my Grandpa----his name was Ramchandra but he was generally known as "Bhau" in the home and his social circle.He was a well built handsome man---working for the Chhatrapati of Kolhapur,Shaahu Maharaj as his Diwaan.His earlier wife had died due to a long illness,leaving behind a 10year old daughter but no heir----hence the marriage to Akka.Akka was a delicate,beautiful girl with whom Bhau fell in love----much to the dismay of his mother!!!Those days wives were considered mere chattels by mothers-in-law---thus the reins remained firmly anchored in my Great Grandma's hands.
A year later Akka's firstborn--- a daughter,Krishna was born-- ---- she was to later become my mother-in-law.At this juncture Akka's mother-in-law passed away---but not before warning Akka of her constant supervision from the other side----it's a wonder Akka continued to live in that old house!!!!
Three sons ,Gopal,Anant and Govind followed.Then came Kusum and Sharad-----there also was Taee Atya----their step-sister.All these children were intelligent and sharp----my father Anant and his older brother Gopal being the brightest.Akka was a very thrifty and frugal person---not surprising if one considered her past----but even in the face of plenty she wouldn't spend beyond the bare minimum required---a constant topic of dissension between Bhau and her!!!Maybe it was her sixth sense at work----Bhau passed away aged 60---Akka was only 35 years old then!!!The two older daughters---Taaee Atya and Atya were already married----her eldest son Gopal was 15,Anant 13 and the youngest Sharad---just 6 years old.
It was her thrift and frugality that helped her bring up her children----she managed the Farms and would deal directly with the Ryots who cultivated the lands.The necessary amount would first be stored in the Granary or "Kothichi Kholi" and the surplus would be sold.She would travel with my oldest Uncle Gopal Kaka to the farms and teach him about the basics of dealing with the farm hands.She had also amassed a lot of Gold ornaments------keeping the choicest for her younger daughter Kusum and her future 4 daughters-in-law--- she disposed off the rest as and when needed. Her sons turned out to be a credit to her and made her proud.Gopal Kaka went on to rise in the Sales Tax department and retired as Assistant Commisioner,Daddy(Anant)went to study Architecture at Oxford and the Royal Institute of British Architects and later came in close contact with Le Corbusier,Shyam Kaka(Govind)turned Hotelier and is today a highly respected pillar of the Hoteliers in Kolhapur----a very well known and respected local big-wig!!!The youngest Sharad too studied Architecture and settled in England till he passed away.
Akka's indomitable spirit passed on to all her children---after Bhau's death she regulated her intake of Food---and till she passed away in 1984, she never gained an ounce-----she believed in being in control of herself and her body----not vice versa!!!She never deprived her children of ll the good things in life---she disciplined them to live good,healthy lives and taught them to appreciate the value of everything.All her children learnt to live with Pride----they learnt never to run away from any situation in Life----they stood and faced everything and took all the blows on the chin!!!All her children were idealistically minded and transparently honest in all their dealings.
Akka had an incredible stamina for working---she worked the entire day----she would sit next to the coal fired stove---"Choolah" and cook the entire meal sitting in the same position.The entire process would take four hours----but Akka always looked fresh---whatever the season---her sari would be spotlessly white and crisp even after cooking the meal---and the Food she cooked----I can still taste her curries!!!!She would stitch "Godhadis" for us from her old Cotton saries.Each nineyard Sari would be folded into half-----and 3-4 Saris would be layered like this.Then with a Needle and Thread these would be stitched together with tiny even stiches---binding these together to form soft,warm but light washable Quilts-----we loved these---I held on to mine till it finally disintegrated 20 yeras back!!!Today this is an almost forgotten art.
Akka had many idiosyncrasies----she had a very sarcastic tongue,was a horrible mother-in-law---because she was immensely possesive of her sons------was adamant and unbending---oh she had many flaws!!!Some day I'll blog about her flaws---but I loved her---her dignified bearing,her self respect and the odds she faced from a very young age-----have always earned my admiration.Sometimes I realise that I have inherited her indomitable spirit and "never say die" attitude---I too don't give up easily either---genes are funny sometimes!!!!

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ZANNACHAN 4/9/2010 12:26PM

    Yeah, grandparents are springs for traditions. What a lovely description of your grandmother.

That Godhadis sounds lovely! It reminds me a little of an old quilt I have that my Great-great grandmother made--it's really heavy but thick and warm and I loved that thing and used it as a blanket for years. But it's falling apart now--the fabric literally disintegrating. My dad repaired it as best as he could, but it doesn't get a lot of use any more.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

This always brings Topol from "Fiddler on the Roof" before my eyes------and his full throated enthsiastic song of the same name!!!The song puts it so beautifully----we don't question why---my mother---my grandmothers-----all did it just so before me--i merely follow!!!!
Summer is here in all it's blazingly hot and humid glory------thus as a result we're living more or less on a Liquid Diet----Water,Fruit Juices,Squashes-----all are being guzzled in large quantities!!!!Since carbonated Cold Beverages are out of our home we need a steady supply of home-made stuff.The last 2 days were spent in the hot Kitchen making cool syrups and Squashes.First was the Fresh Lemon Squash,then the raw Green Mango Drink called "Panha"in Maharashtra or "Panna" in North India.This delicious drink is a favourite of all the visitors during the Summer---I need to replenish stocks weekly---the bottles just finish as fast as I cook this!!!!!It's a tedious process but the results are so rewarding----each time someone pays me a compliment over it I feel a warm glow near my heart!!!!
Then there were the Sweet and Hot Mango Pickles----another favourite------which needed to be made------Sudhir alone can finish bottles of the sweet Mango Pickle!!!!The hot Mango Pickle is made fresh weekly----the Green Mangoes are too tender yet for the yearly pickling---I'll be doing that in early July.I'll also be making" Moraambaa"------Green Mango cooked in Sugar Syrup with Nutmeg,Cardamom and Saafron-------which will last me for the following six months.I have seen all the older women in the Family following this practice.
My Grandmas used to be very busy during this period----the hot, bright Sunlight would be utilised to the fullest.The old houses had separate rooms which were used to store Food Grains called "Kothichi Kholi".The Dals.Pulses,Lentils would be dried in the Sun for days.It used to be a hard task to keep the Birds away----they used to spread a nine yard Sari folded in half on the ground,spread the Dal or Pulse over it and cover with another nine yard Sari folded in half-----these would be secured with pieces of Brick to prevent the covers from flying off!!!!
The afternoons would not be wasted at all----the drying of the Red Chillies,Turmeric Roots,Spices,Coriander and Cumin Seeds-----each item would be dried for a certain number of days in the Sun---as prescribed by Tradition!!!The Tamarind Pods would be peeled, the Seeds removed ,the Pulp salted and dried in the Sun.This cured Pulp would be formed into 250gms. Balls for the coming year and stowed away in huge Ceramic Jars.The remaining Tamarind Balls from the earlier year would be utilised for polishing the Copper and Brass pots and pans used daily for cooking-----there would be no wastage of any product ever!!!The most interesting part was the pounding of the various Spice(Masala)Powders-----there used to be a mud stove in the back yards.The dried Chillies would be oiled and dried in the hot Sun.These would then be roasted a little and then pounded in a huge Pestle and Mortar--------the Powder would be sieved and the Dregs pounded again and again till all was reduced to fine Powder!!!The Turmeric Roots too would recieve the same treatment------only they were not roasted. Each separate Spice would be roasted separately in the required proportion and then mixed together and pounded---sieved---pounded again till all was evenly powdered!!!!The women performing the tasks and those present there would wind cloths around their noses and mouths-----otherwise these folks would end up choking on the fine dust they pounded up------the eyes would smart for days afterwards!!!!We children would watch from a safe distance------it was extremely uncomfortable if one went too close!!!
There used to be homemade Papads,Phenies and Saandagey (Fry-ums)in a large variety as well---plus the various Pickles,Dry Chutney Powders like Methkut,Tilkoot and lots of other Chutneys I don't even remember the names of!!!!!These women worked like maniacs and crammed the maximum number of jobs into their days!!!
I 'm happy that I live in today's world----earlier I made my own Masalas-----now I can order my Spice Powders made to order-------the exact manner in which I used to do!!!!These days I do just that----and buy certain things like my Papads etc. from select Family outlets to get the old fashioned quality and taste-----but there are some things that I still continue to make myself to keep my hand in-------makes me feel not so guilty for not following all the time honoured Traditions!!!!

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MILLISMA 4/8/2010 7:28PM

    What beautiful memories you have from all the traditions. Thanks so much for sharing. I love reading your blogs. I also love remember things my grandmother and mother did.....but I wouldn't want to go back to all that they did.

Mary Anne emoticon

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DEE_DEE11 4/8/2010 12:33AM

    What a lovely description! Thanks for sharing! emoticon

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RAJASHREE108 4/7/2010 8:03PM

    Loved the walk down the memory lane.. can still taste half dried sandge and papad.. especially saal-paapdi. All those trips to the gachchi to add the new batches..lahaanpan degaa devaa.. emoticon

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MESSENE 4/7/2010 1:45PM

    emoticonWow! Everything sounds so good! emoticon

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ZANNACHAN 4/7/2010 11:59AM

    It's no surprise that people didn't waste anything back then, when they had to work so hard to make it in the first place!

Your cool drinks and squashes sound lovely--though so much work! I'm not sure I'd have the patience to do that regularly--for special occasions, maybe, but ice tea and jaimaica are about as labor intensive as I think I'd manage to do regularly day to day.

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SAASHA17 4/7/2010 11:46AM

    oh I remember..i used to guard the chillis when they were drying..these were like vadams and were soaked in fresh yogurt every day and dried..Crows love these and I was made to sit on the rooftop and drive these away....Later my grandma realised i was worse than the birds..I would finish a whole section of them each day...lol...Mom is bringing some now....yay...

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Foodie Heaven!!!!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

As a child my father would describe the English food-----Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding,Steak and Kidney Pie,Drop Scones with Jam and Clotted cream,Crumpets with Butter------I would imagine the taste and salivate-------just thinking about it!!!!Add to it the fabulous Goodies described in all the Enid Blyton books-----Cornwall specially-----I would literally drool my way through these descriptions.I have always wanted to see Wales and Scotland too----and just add on the Leprechauns of Ireland as well-----now maybe I'll get to do that the way I always wanted to do it---at my pace---leisurely!!!!All this because Sayali's shifted to London-------so my visit there is definitely on the cards!!!Britain---here I come!!!
I have always loved Food----specially Continental Food---mainly British Fare----the influence of the Raj you see.My mother would get English magazines like"Woman","Woman and Home" and "Women's Weekly"-----all these contained mouthwatering Recipes---some Mummy made but for some the Ingredients were just not available!!!For instance the Steak and Kidney Pie needed Ingredients called "Suet" and "Lard"-----both not available locally then in Chandigarh.Mummy's "Shepherd's Pie"made with Goat Mince always turned out to be truly awesome---no one would have believed that this crisp and flaky Pie was a product of a primitive Oven.The Meat Roast(it would be Goat Meat,Chicken or Pork----she drew the line at Beef) with perfectly roasted Potatoes,Onions and Gravy was a well loved Sunday Lunch---the remaining Roast Meat/Chicken turning into Meat/Chicken Salad Sandwiches drowned in home made Mayonnaise during the Weekdays for School lunches.
Not just this,her Cakes and Souffles too turned out wonderfully----light as air and fluffy----literally melting in the mouth!!!Mummy loved cooking-----and would bake Biscuits and Bread at home too----all thanks to these Magazines!!!The tension involving the Souffles had to be felt----till it came out perfectly risen Mummy would be like a cat on hot bricks!!!Her Pie Pastry too would turn out really great----buttery,flaky and crisp------oh so yummy but oh so bad for us----only we didn't know this then!!!My mother would have loved all the mod-cons and she did use all these---except by the time she got round to using these awareness about "Good" and "Bad" Food had set in-----besides Daddy too had passed on---her greatest Fan!!!
Mummy's primitive Oven was something I really miss---I'd love to have one like but no such luck today!!!There used to be coal fired "Choolahs" built into a Brick platform in the Kitchen.These would be damped down for the night.The Platform would be horizontally divided by an Iron Sheet---running end to end.The Ash from the Coal fires would collect on pans placed on top of this Sheet.Below this there would were Iron Shelves with Iron Doors placed at regular intervals----the Shelves and the Doors too were smeared with a mixture of wet sticky Mud on both the outside and inside to maintain and retain the incredibly high heat. The entire Platform too was smeared with a layer of wet sticky Mud daily to clean off any spills from the Rice and Dals cooked during both the Meals---- and was the last thing attended to before going to bed-----this was the responsibility of our Cook.The Mud layer would be dry by morning and was called "Chikani Mitti".These were the Ovens---these would get heated during the Morning cooking and as these were set in the Platform would retain the heat beautifully.The Baking would take place in the afternoons-----can still remember the smells!!
I don't know whether I'll like the actual taste---Fantasy and Reality are both different things----my taste buds too have changed!!!At least however I'll have the satisfaction of having tasted the "Real" thing and thus will finally find out the real taste and lay my Fantasies to rest!!!

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EACHDAYAGIFT 4/4/2010 1:22PM

    Lloyd's mother was 100% Irish, and he still drools at the mention of Shepherd's pie! She also made delicious Irish Soda Bread, with extra raisins. Steak and Kidney Pie sounds disgusting to me... it's so silly that I am fine with eating a muscle but not an organ. When I think about it, there's no logic to it and I am as likely to like a kidney as a steak! Obviously, I have not ventured too far from commonplace American food!

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ZANNACHAN 4/4/2010 11:20AM

    Ooh, I'd love to go to England and Ireland some day! We went to Scotland for our honeymoon and it was wonderful--we arrived when the heather was in bloom and it was just stunning.

The Blyton books always made me so hungry! All those lovely descriptions of high tea with clotted cream and scones and ham and everything... not to mention the other meals. Yum.

If you don't eat beef, you will want to steer away from anything made with suet, though, as its made from beef.

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SAKHAR74 4/4/2010 6:38AM

  Ah, is that where you get it from, if the curry is a dash less spicy than you intended it to be?

I didn't know Aaji used to make pie pastry as well. How cool. BTW, I also noticed butter tarts in the supermarket yesterday. So easy to make lemon tarts now.

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SONPARI1 4/4/2010 6:25AM

    Wow, yummilicious description. Hopefully the dishes u r gonna try will live up to ur expectations.

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Beating the Summer Heat!!!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Manasa hit the nail on the head with her blog about Summer Coolers----but she jogged my mind out of it's lethargy!!!!I began surveying the contents of the 'Fridge----totally out of home made Syrups and Squashes----so I had to make a list of the Ingredients required---in our house we don't drink Pepsi or Coke or any other such beverages----the only exception to this is Duke's Mangola----which both of us simply adore!!!!
I went out shopping on my weekly Grocery,Vegetable and Fruit buying spree----today the list included loads of Jaggery, Sugar,raw Green Mangoes,Lemons, fresh raw Mangosteens(Raataambey/Kokum) and the Indian Gooseberry---Aavala(Aamla/Amlaki).The last I had to hunt for but finally found a vendor selling it and bought him out----the season for this is almost over!!!
Now I'll make the various Syrups and Squashes and store these---some in the 'Fridge some outside----depending on spoilage of each item.The most popular of all is the beloved"Nimbu Paani"or Lemon Juice.I make the concentrate and store bottles of it in the 'Fridge---just 2 tbsps.of the concentrate to 1 glassful of cold Water---a fantastic thirst quenching refresher is ready!!!!! Of course it means quite a bit of work---not strenous but time consuming------but the results are gratifying enough of work well done!!!
Today I was lucky enough to get some "Jaams"---a pale green or light pinky white Fruit with a very refreshing flavour----slightly tart but sweet----and are available mainly in hilly areas---and are expensive in Mumbai----but very addictive!!!I also bought the "Taad Golaas"(Nungu//Ice Apples)---the delicately flavoured Fruit of the Palmyra Palm called "Taad" in Maharashtra------this tiny Fruit has a satiny soft creamy cover and is filled with a delicately flavoured juice in the centre----one has to be very careful while peeling this---the flavour is lost if the juice just drains away!!!
Then the usual things---Water Melon Juice made the Indian way----I'm posting the recipes of these with the measurements on Spark Recipes---read,make and enjoy-----you won't think of things like Pepsi next time you're thirsty----I gaurantee!!!!

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NIMI4444IN 4/4/2010 12:46PM

    waiting for ur recipes. pls send me the link when u r done.
just reading them made me refreshed. now want to make n drink them thru summer.

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SAKHAR74 4/4/2010 6:40AM

  You bought JAAMS!! emoticon Me want some too.

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MILLISMA 4/3/2010 10:08PM

    Hi Komal,

One of my favorite drinks is water with lemon. I've always found it very refreshing. The the cold weather, I heat water and add lemon...almost as good.

Sorry I have hadn't much time lately but the water is still seeping into the basement. The water level is very high and there are still areas in the back yard that are very wet.

Thinking of you,

Mary Anne emoticon

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SAASHA17 4/3/2010 4:10PM

    yum...jaam..i am coming over...

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ZANNACHAN 4/3/2010 10:00AM

    Hmmm, that all sounds really refreshing. Yum.

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