Saturday, July 10, 2010

Knock - offs

A bright sunny mid morning, an odd early shopper, the obvious out of towner, unaware of the lazy rythm of the city dawdles along the narrow, unplanned road, flanked on either sides by the three storey yet to open shops.
The sound of swift, rhythmic strokes from coconut fibre brooms sweeping the footpath outside select stores punctuates the silence, pregnant with anticipation of a busy day ahead..... while whipping up in its wake, localized clouds of dust........

"Dejyner hend baegs, Maydam?" a voice from behind the cloud suggests, with an accustomed ease of  a voracious sales person.
"Aaiye aaiye..... burrbary, coach, trussadi.......sab hain......baest daaam mein"
I hesitate as I look at the semi basement store, with its trainee of a young lad briskly dusting with a rag, the myriad couture impostors that line the walls.
The boisterous one quickly ushers me in, where a thick smell of rexine welcomes me.
I stare at the cream, black and red checkered ones arranged meticulously into one section, by the label they carry, only, in this case, the cream is paler and the red, redder.
Neighboring which, are ones  with the exaggerated Cs , which on close inspection prove to be ovals.... Then comes the turn of the brown ones with LV written all over, some even reversed, interspersed with florals that seem somewhat more flowery than they are supposed to be.

 I scan through the hypnotizing patterns that encrust the yellowing wall, straining my eyes on their individual identity that seems lost among the glut of its clones.
My eye spots a slick little one, a snake boat with a pronounced strap, vanity written all over it, for all it would have helped carry around  is a cellphone and a teeny bit  of a  wallet at the most.....stylish nevertheless.
"If I were to buy an original, I certainly wouldn't spend on something as useless as this one, I  justify my kitsch to myself.
Convinced, I order with fake, boorish confidence "Yeh wala dikhao, Bhaiyya", lest my inexperience as a haggler should come through. The bully in turn orders his trainee through his zarda spittle, to pull out the piece from the stack. He then snatches it from the lad's hand, wipes it with his hand that had previously wiped off some of that icky brown juice from the corners of his mouth, works the zip on the bag back and forth with a rough, brisk expertise, pulls out  crinkled masses of news paper that previously were stuffed within to give the bag some body, flexes and stretches the poor faux skin in an effort to demonstrate it's durability and hands it out for me to inspect.

I meekly hold the bag by its strap considering all that it had just been through , and ask "Kitne ka hai?" He impatiently replies "Dhai sow(Rs250)".......I mull over the bag's worth and decide "Do sow se zyada nahin" (not a penny more than 200)...... He frowns, mumbling under his breath, turns to me saying "Nahin price".
I look at the piece again hoping to find something to haggle about. I notice the bag is exactly what it's worth.... what should've been a shiny metallic zip is but a kitschy painted one with a hole at the top, the seams, visible and shoddy. I point out the imperfections in an effort to make my point and he mumbles again and adds with a smirk " Maydam ab dhai hazar ka maal dhai sow mein milega to yehi sab hoga na!"....... his dwindling patience giving his underlying uncouthness away....

Just then,  the swift click of heels interrupts the negotiations. I look up at the stairs leading into the store and see a pair of  neatly manicured feet donning some expensive stilettos descending.
The guy drops the handbag to the floor as he rushes over to greet the stylish woman clad in a designer salwar kameez. She would've made the cover if there existed a vogue for Desi clothes and rounded women, I think to myself.
She slides her Dolce Gabbana glares over her face to rest on her head. She enquires, through her painted auburn lips, about an order referring to it as "Maal". The man signals the trainee to go fetch the needful. He then offers her a seat, enquiring after her well being "Sab Quairiyat, Maydam?".....offers her Chai /Thanda which she carelessly dismisses with a slight wave. As all this transpires right in front me, I am as good as invisible at the scene.

The boy emerges from behind the store hidden entirely by an assorted bouquet of bags.. The woman quickly examines the lot with acquired expertise. Much to my dismay, I spot a shimmering piece of metal on a couple of them, the kind you find on the originals.....The reds as red as they are supposed to be and the exaggerated Cs refrain from merging their arms into an oval. She then pulls out a bundle of hundreds and slightly plops it onto the cashier's desk. The man, unable to contain himself goes over the bundle and smiles ....a glint in his eyes........ "Phir Aaiyega Madam" he  beams signaling the boy to carry her purchases to her waiting sedan outside the store.
"To?" he says counting his newly acquired bundle of currency, "Aapko chahiye ki nahin?" he threatens me insolently. Humiliated, I drop the bad on the chair and prepare to dash out of the store, the sound of finger flicking notes comes to a halt. Startled, as if noticing something horrible, he pulls out  a note from the bundle to hold it up against the the flickering light. His face hardens.... "Sali! nakli note de gayee " he scowls grinding his stained teeth and runs toward the stairs, shouting out to the boy to stop the car, as the engine roars pulling away. He tries chasing after the car for a short distance before he gives up and returns..... furious, red, defeated.
I smirk at him, rubbing it in, seeking cheap revenge for the way I was treated earlier. Feeling clearly exalted, I bring out from my purse two hundred rupee notes and a fifty to go with it, hand it over to him, pull out a fresh bag off of the stack, exactly like the one I had chosen before and strut right out of there as he stood lowering his head, unable to meet my gaze.

The same evening, at a friend's party, the hostess walks up to me making small talk, notices my hand bag and exclaims "Nice bag! Coach?" I reply with a seemingly modest  smile of acknowledgment as my hand glides over the kitschy zip, to cover it up.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

American Chop Suey and its namesake

If you were to walk up to a local in cosmopolitan India, and ask for a description of the American Chop suey, this is what you are likely to hear:
A plate of crispy deep-fried noodles topped with a hot, velvety, sweet sour egg drop gravy showcasing its stir fried vegetables, and sometimes chicken.Ok, not so much the egg drop part maybe.
Being an ardent fan of "rasta" Indo Chinese food myself, specifically the ones the ubiquitous Sagars in Bangalore churn out, this was my definition of the dish too, till I set foot on American soil. Given its name and all, I seriously thought in all my naivety, that even if the dish did not have anything to do with the US of A, it would surely be available around here, only to realize otherwise.
The American "greasy" Chinese restaurants here don't seem to have even heard of, let alone carry the A.Chop Suey. And yes, I did try explaining it to them in the hopes of the dish having multiple nomenclature.

The rare Indian restaurant that dots the typical American city, and invariably sees including Gobi Manchurian and Veg. noodles/fried rice on its firangi version of an Indian menu as being worth its while, unfortunately chooses to neglect its less famous country cousin.

In a fit of deep craving for the dish during pregnancy, I did manage to whip up my own version of it to temporarily satisfy my palate. But, nothing.....I shall repeat, nothing comes close to the unhealthy, quick, wok fried version we usually get, back home. Specifically the ones the "Home Delivery Only" Chinese places, that solely depend on tacky florescent pamphlets for their existence usually make.
It took me a while to realize that the "nicer" Japanese places around here do carry a variation of the dish that goes by the name Yaki Sobe. Well at least the fried noodles part makes for a commonality among both dishes.

Interestingly enough, when I Wikied the dish up to check if it is after all uniquely Desi in its origins (another one of our fancy whip-ups masquerading around as Chinese Cuisine),this is what I found.

American Chop Suey (also sometimes known as American Goulash or Macaroni and Beef) is an American pasta dish. The preferred name and recipe varies by region: for example, the name American chop suey is most prevalent in New England. Commercial preparations of this dish are commonly marketed as Macaroni and Beef.

So in short , American Chop Suey is a macaroni and beef dish.
Why am I not surprised.
I beam, yet another addition to our feathered cap of borrowed, morphed, hybridized and patented (in that order) things, bollywood music notwithstanding.
The dish to me now seems like the lust child of Yaki Sobe or some Chinese variation I am unfamiliar with and its Italian-American sugar daddy - The "American" American Chop Suey!
Its ambiguous origins aside, I maintain that, to me, the American Chop Suey is and shall continue to remain a major Indo Chinese favourite and shall be missed dearly. To those that share my opinion here's a quick link to the recipe I followed, from another blog:


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Adhu Ellaam Oru Kaalam - Part 2

Rajam circled the tip of her finger over the fading scar that was now donned by her little daughter's arm. A scar caused in a moment of utter desperation ...
A warm tear welled up in her eye and streamed down her face, wetting the split oval on the sleeping child's arm. "Kozhi midhichu kunju shaagaadu"  her father would try to console her aching heart.

She hadn't much of an option at the time. Both her sons clutching onto her arms, her little girl perched around her waist with her tiny arms around her mother's neck, pressing deeper into Rajam's flesh, the cloth strap of a bag that hung from one shoulder. She had barely made it onto the ship when her daughter had broken out into a tantrum. "I want to walk with Anna, let me down , let me down" she had wailed, kicking her legs, trying to jump off Rajam's waist, forcing her to do what she never in her worst nightmare imagined she would. She sank her teeth into that tender arm that trustingly garlanded her neck. Her little one had whimpered with her mouth shut. In shock. In pain.

She ran her fingers through the boys' hair, wiping beads of glistening sweat off of their foreheads. "Will they ever see their father again?" The dark question hooded out of the deepest corner of her heart, where she had always tried so hard to bury it. She had to be hopeful in order to live on. She couldn't afford the luxury of hopelessness. Not now, not ever...
She had exhausted the one resource that gave her some solace every time she worried about how she would make it through the month. She had pawned her Thanga Oddiyanam, her close to last resort, and had hardly anything left of the proceeds . If only her trunks of silver had made it across the sea, at least the rest of the year would've been taken care of.

Rajam, along with her children, her father and little brother who was just  barely older than her elder son, were among the last to board the lofty ship - Jala Durga. The the vessel of hope, that promised to sail the children, women and the elderly to a safe haven, far from the then war ridden British colony of Burma; leaving in its wake a myriad broken hearts. After what seemed like a painfully long period of hiding underground in mud trenches at the sound of the siren, hoping they wouldn't be bitten by a poisonous reptile, putting out all the lights and spending night after night in pitch darkness, like the rest of the city, they (Rajam and her husband) were to move to a far off land that had been, at one time, home to their parents and now to them - India.
Her father had suggested  that she wear all her gold during their voyage for ease of safeguarding it. She had stood there, bedecked in all her gold like a bride, seeing her husband wave out what they both knew in their hearts was likely to be their last adieu. The irony ate into her being. Tears streamed down her face, her gut knotting up at the thought of the battle that lay ahead, a battle that she would have to face all alone, without her husband by her side. She glanced through the corner of her eye to see her trunks of silver on the boarding plank, and was relieved that they had made it onboard. Just then, the ship had sounded it's deafening horn as if marking the beginning of a battle. The boarding plank was hauled back into position sending her trunks of silver slithering off into the sea with a huge splash. She had looked on, helpless.
She had stood her ground on the deck, weighed down by her children, her luggage and a heavy heart, in spite of angry officials ordering her otherwise, till she had lost complete sight of her husband's face...taking in as much of it as possible. For she was sure she'd have to hold on to that image for the rest of her life.
"Abashagunamaa pesaadhe! Didn't Thangam's husband make it back to Kerala?" her father would say with fake optimism, trying to create hope for all to cling on to. But they all knew better...
It was known to be a ruthless journey from Burma to India by foot. Passing through unforgiving forests, a treacherous terrain, without food or drink for sustenance. The occasional bottle of Horlicks that the army helicopters dropped from above was fought over uncouthly by groups of otherwise united fellow travelers. Quick sands were known to have swallowed, without a warning, droves of unsuspecting men that took on the treacherous journey. The ground had to be dug up by sore hands for a glimpse of muddy water to quench their thirst... the sight and stench of death engulfing their senses.

It had been close to six months now with no sign or news of her husband. The thought of the obvious would choke her as she bit back tears every night, fearing they would give her secret hopelessness away. Her sons would have to grow up before their time, she thought recognizing the familiar pain of a forced adulthood that would be brought upon them.

She had half of the month ahead of her and the proceeds from the sale of her Oddiyanam would just about suffice. She touched her ear lobe as if reminding herself of her last resort- her Blue Jager diamond earrings. Her father had them specially made to order and had traveled all the way to India to pick them up for his Rajam's wedding. They had been tested for their Rashi- the luck they brought upon the family that owned them, as all diamonds were. For a quick second there she felt they had failed her. Growing up, her mother would narrate to her a fable of the diamonds that adorned the Goddess Kanyakumari's nose stud. They were known to emanate a beacon of light that brought lost sailors back home. Rajam found herself wondering for a moment if her Blue Jagers, in all their resplendence, would guide her long lost love back to her... and at once smirked at her child like optimism. Her head was beginning to hurt from her endless stream of thoughts. She turned the dull glow of her lantern out and forced her eyes shut as if shutting out her thoughts, drifting off to sleep.

At the break of dawn, Rajam dragged her exhausted being up from the jamakkaalam on the floor, and went about her morning chores with a melancholy that now had become her default state of being. She scrubbed the turmeric root onto the pumice and smeared some of the paste onto her taut legs. She felt her gut tighten. How different they had felt under his touch! She quickly snapped out of her reverie with a pang of guilt followed by intense grief. It had been a while since she had felt anything at all with this intensity. She poured a whole kodam of water on her head as if to wash away the intensity of her feelings. She managed to slip right back into her self created cocoon of numbness that had kept her sane all this while. Her bony index finger carefully shaping the kungumam into a neat circle onto her broad yellow forehead with the same melancholy she had begun her day with...

By afternoon, she had fed the family and  emptied all of the leftovers from lunch into a small bowl, while her father stretched himself out on the thinnai for a siesta. As much as she tried to cook just the right quantity given their penury at the time, she always ended up with some leftovers, even though it hardly compared to how much she was used to cooking back home. This was something that came to her naturally from seeing her mother do the same for years. They were used to cooking for the entire household including its servants and an uninvited guest or two who almost always showed up without a warning. "Periya kai di Rajam onakku" her friends would remark tinged with envy, a trait she was proud of and owed to her luxurious upbringing.

Her father called out to her to bring some leftovers for a beggar standing at the entrance. Thankful that she had something to give away in alms, she picked up the bowl of food and walked with slow deliberate steps toward the gate, numb even to the scorching ground under the soles of her feet. She stared blankly at her toes that peeped out from underneath her saree pleats like naughty children, with every step she took . At the gate, she stretched out her hand towards the beggar and was surprised to find that he he wasn't carrying a begging bowl. Mildly annoyed that she would now have to go back inside to find him a coconut shell to empty all the contents into, she slowly turned around... and froze. How could that be?  Had she really seen what she thought she had? Her heart pounded against her chest as she slowly turned around to see those pair of eyes again... her pair of eyes.... that she never ever imagined she'd see again. Now, the only part of his body that remained recognizable.
Her being frozen with shock...she let her knees buckle...dropping in front of him..... and finally broke down into a soft deep cry...of disbelief...of  joy...of pain ...of untold fears...of sheer relief...

PS: I am  putting this picture up for posterity: This was taken in Rangoon, just before the war broke out.
Anti clockwise  from top right: Rajam (Rajalakshmi), her husband (seated), her brother, her father, the older son, the little girl and the younger son (my maternal grandfather).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Adhu Ellaam Oru Kaalam - Part 1

The phone rings its monotonous, rather irritating ring at an untimely hour . My hand reaches for the receiver and brings it toward my face.The familiar, naturally loud voice that woke me up from my myriad slumbers  through college life, blares into my ear yet another time. Somewhat soothed by the fact that the voice isn't panic ridden, I ask my grandmother how she is doing, trying hard to mask the grogginess in my voice. After a hurried exchange of pleasantries like, "Were you asleep? Oho! I thought you'd be up by now", she blurts out the reason for her call:
"Today she tried to jump off the balcony!" I sit up startled and bark into the mouth piece, "What? Who?"
"Kollu Pati, who else?" she says.
Sensing that things were now under control and that she was simply relating to me the happenings of the day, I patiently wait for the rest of the story.

"She seems to have lost it these days!" she says.
"Amma, (I call my grandmother that too), its just that she's aging, I'm sure she doesn't realize what she's doing" I try to reason with her.
"Yes, but what will everyone think when they see her in the balcony screaming and wailing? The other day it was the gas incident, and today this? I am an old woman too you know, and what if no one is around when she acts up, it could endanger her life!"
Just as I open my mouth to say something, she exclaims "Aiyyo! I hear her in the kitchen,I hope she isn't up to anything new. I'll call you later". The line goes dead.
"Time and yage spare no one!" a heavily accented, prototypical tam brahm voice exclaims in my head, in an abnoxiously melodramatic tone...

"Rajalakshmi - the Goddess of all wealth....that's what my father named me and that's exactly how my childhood was - like that of a Goddess!
Basket fulls of rare fruits like the mangusteen, sweet apples like no one in India would ever have tasted...and the sour star fruit! (clicks her tongue as if tasting it). A big house filled with servants, one for each chore. I never so much as lifted a finger to do anything when I was young... I grew up like a princess!" she would say, pausing to noisily suck off some more of the cool dripping malai from her stick of elaichi kulfi.
"And then,....what else paati?" One of us in the audience would ask her, breaking her reverie. "Kulpi!" she would say, due to the inability of her toothless mouth to utter the consonant "fi" . "What you get here in this wretched country is not even close to the ones the kulpi wala used to bring us back home....those used to have so much more malai in them and I did not have to wait for anyone to bring me one as an after thought. Hmmmmmm! Adhu ellaam oru kaalam! (those were the days!).
All my friends used to envy me for my luck, and lucky I had to be, for after all, I was born with so many moles over my body" she would point out at all the tiny red and black warts/moles over her wrinkled skin. "My father married me off in much grandeur, I was given in marriage to your thatha clad in 300 souverins of gold (a number that increased every time she narrated her story and had by now doubled), three trunk fulls of silver vessels and a pair off blue jager studded vaira thodu (diamond earings) and ettu kal besari (8 diamond nose stud)" she would shout out pompously, focusing her earlobe toward the light to let her gleaming diamonds shine in all their resplendence, much like her eyes at the moment.
"Your Kollu thatha was much older than I and I was all of thirteen years old. I hadn't even come of age! At your age," she would say randomly pointing at one of us in our early teens, "I had borne Mani"..."Everything is gone now....all that gold and trunk fulls of silver..... our home and property. If only there hadn't been a war!" she would sigh with a longing, masked unsuccessfully by her resignation to fate.

Kozhikode Subramania Iyer had chosen the hard way out years ago, when he could've without protest settled for a life of mediocrity handed to him on a platter. He had insisted on making it on his own, had left to serve in the far off land of Burma that on acquest by its self proclaimed masters, had been merged with its neighbor, as part of the British colony of India. Very much like most men that belonged to his community of  educated Iyers, he had prospered under the British rule. Had created a place for himself among the Indian society of Rangoon. His parents had found him a bride, and a wise one at that. He had been blessed with everything a man could ask for, except a Varisu (offspring). A few that were born hadn't made it through. After much yearning and prayer they had been blessed with a baby girl. He had, in keeping with tradition, named her after his mother - Rajalakshmi. His little girl had brought upon the family much joy and luck. Subramania Iyer was now the owner of Street 52, Rangoon flanked on either sides with  rows of two storeyed houses. She grew up being the apple of his eye. And when she had barely turned twelve he decided to give her away in marriage. He had a boy in mind, a rather ambitious, smart lad but with a bit of a temper. Nothing my Rajam can't handle he had coaxed himself. He found the boy a job under the Raj and gave them one of his myriad homes to live in. He took immense satisfaction in the fact that they would after all live within the range of his vision. Rangoon had given him in abundance. This was him home now. He sold off all his ancestral inheritance but for the humble home he grew up in and returned to Rangoon, only to discover in a matter of months the natural course of fate bequeathed upon a colony.

"Where Pati? Where did all your gold go?", a voice would urge her to go on with her story and she invariably would oblige. We were, after all, the only set of ears that allowed her the indulgence of reliving her golden past, one of the few things that still gave her pleasure apart from her mid morning Sun TV soaps and her plastic cover collection.
Noisily smoothing out the creases off a stiff plastic cover and folding it into a neat little square, she would carefully arrange it with myriad others in her imported airbag that held what's left of her long cumbersome life - her chungdi sarees, a few silk, her white translucent hakkoba cotton blouses that she knotted up at the ends, her plastic cover collection, a tin dabba in which she kept some of her pension and her most priced possession of the lot- her tiger balm in their jewel like hexagonal glass containers. The one thing all her grandchildren conveniently brought her while visiting from abroad. "Rangoon used to be beautiful back then" she would continue...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Ex-altation

There it was...... staring me in the face........ the image I had waited six whole years of my life to see..... yes years.......
Not exactly the epitome of beauty I had imagined, as much as dreaded, she'd end up being...... sigh of relief!
Bad teeth, I have nicer teeth ........... Decent smile but with too much show of teeth and just a hint of dimples..... or were they laugh lines... not sure

Small forehead, the kind I've always wished for, everytime I tried to make mine appear somewhat smaller, by pressing down the scanty growth of baby hair around my temples.......
my only consolation on these occasions being that, according to Sherlock Holmes,large headed people,and I mean literally,are simply smarter.... I chose to conveniently replace the "head" part with "forehead" in my case....

Ok...what next? The eyes....... very ordinary, inkeeping with the eyebrows...... they don't stand the slightest chance when compared to my intense ones, outlined by the eyeberows that have always been and will be my biggest asset.....Hers,not even close.......
But,....... silky straight hair...... ... the kind I get only when I use a straightening iron and some professional help.... the kind, he mentioned long ago, that he likes.......

Any signs of a hidden collarbone? multiple fat lines around the neck, or may be a double chin?... no.......sadly no...... the one secret wish I had harboured, in some deep dark corner of my heart, the minute I realized the thirty odd pounds I had gained from child birth weren't going to melt away magically, thrashed to bits........ Or not. What if, she had simply put up an older, nicer picture ..... just like I had? I do know afterall, that she has mothered two children of her own too, I have my sources, you see ..... Snuggling up to the thought, I move on.....

Complexion: the black and white picture isn't helping...... wheatish I'm assuming ........ and I couldn't care less......Inspite of, constantly hearing as a child, that drinking coffee would make my skin darker ..... that my fair cousins (bordering white), were the prettiest children my father's side of the family had had in a long time....... and seeing my mom with her faithful ally, her tube of fair n lovely, according to her, "the only thing that holds up", more out of habit now, I've somehow managed to turn out pretty unaffected by my wheatish skin. The word that conveniently ranges from the light end of the spectrum through to the dark.Infact,I personally prefer the dusky kind, the kohl rimmed eye- Nandita das look,its just very sensuous.... don't you think?....Na, she wouldn't have made the cut on this one.....not even close.

A snub nose doesn't exactly qualify as an aquiline feature - something I've been conditioned to believe is a part of the checklist for a pretty face. Though mine got off to a snubby start, it eventually emerged its fountain head out, to an inbetween safe level of not quite there but passable, except for its bulbous tip ofcourse....... and funny thing, he loves that about my face....... even if due to the fact that, it provides our offspring with the chance of ending up with a balance between his large, and my not-so-snub nose ..... a balance she would have so failed to provide.

The concensus: Pretty..... yes certainly pretty.... but the regular, run of the mill pretty..... Absolutely lacking in the "Oomph" factor.....the factor most "not so good looking " girls attribute their charm to....... the factor that usually goes undetected in a not so pretty picture ....... the factor most mothers in law-to be don't, if not pretend, not to see in a girl to the dismay of their sons..... the factor, i know for a fact, I possess.

If you're wondering what happened to other parts of her facial anatomy,I didn't quite know how to grade them since they don't qualify as criteria for prettiness,....except for high cheek bones may be, which neither of us seem to have anyways, so....that's that.

The usual fb riffraff, favourite music, movies, activities etc. unfilled. May be she's just not as opinionated as I am...... may be, none of it is worth mentioning..... or may be, she's simply not as "f"ing jobless as I am ...... nyways, who cares?
Info:Location...... thankfully a group of states seperating us..... chances of running into eachother at the grocers'- miniscule and more importantly,I can continue to put up older, sexier pics of myself without being figured out just yet.
I always knew that I was more than just a couple of years younger to her, and her birth date confirmrd it...... Which I am sure she noticed too, cuz when I looked her up a couple o' days later, her year of birth was no where to be seen..... (an evilly smile).
One more look at her face and I move on....... the next day I go back to see if there's anything else..... a newer picture perhaps...... and then I find a link,ok something finally, to an interview with Eckhart Tolle.....Why does the name ring a bell?....think, think,think...... And it all comes right back to me.......

A period that now seems far removed from my present...... a phase of life characterized by the need to be different, resulting in a reclusive yet delightful at first and eventually painful phase. When the wonder of mysticism sought me out through the sheer power of the printed word, and had me in raptures- A euphoric state of transcendence that transported me, even if momentarily to the spiritual world of mysticism...... A world so simple and clear, pulsating with life force from the present, in Tolle's words - The Power of Now.
Then the realization, of the limitations of knowledge when compared to the depth of knowing,a realization that I wasn't ready yet... that I had to Know life in its fullness and its imperfections in order to transcend it. Hence, the renouncement.... in an attempt to lead a "normal" life...... A life in which, all knowledge serves as flauntable party talk......All of this flashing before me.....
Thoroughly,enraged by the suggestion of her equalling up to me,I think,how on earth did she gain access into my world? May be,she's just showing off the only book she has, in her right senses, ever read from that genre'.... And in any case, since I had privy to it long before she did, it clearly establishes my seniority in the matter.

Still trying to digest the audacity of fate,I look her up once again....... And this time I notice something else about her........
She certainly seems happy,I think to myself......
Our new found similarity, instantly, if not completely replacing our older, more heart wrenching one. The Ex- now, a little more than just that......

Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Julie and Julia" ....and happy endings.....

Back from hybernation!
It may seem hard to believe but I have been contemplating writing something up for a really long time now....... I even had a couple o' topics all figured out in my head..... only to give in to the strongest of the various alter egos that inhabit me - procrastination!
'Nyways, better late than never (whoever coined that proverb certainly did lazy geese like me a huge favour!).
One of the many things I've been wanting to blog abt is this movie- Julie and Julia ...... essentially, what about the movie touched me and why ..... (Warning!) So if you are expecting more of a critic's review , you may be disappointed.....
Saw the movie for the first time on "The Majesty of the Seas" ..... a cruise ship (if you haven't already guessed). Thanks to free pay perview -a surprise perk in the otherwise largely overrated stateroom.
It was love at first view- or lets say, partial view, owing to the fact that I missed about a third of the film during both my views. It wasn't exactly rocket science, so I kinda guessed .... and hence the audacity of writing about a movie, the beginnings of which I still, (inspite of an undaunted effort on my part) haven't been able to see.

All of this was before the awards season, so I wasn't exactly aware of the existence of the film when I saw it. I found the plot charming.... sweet. Now, if that had anything at all to do with my helpless addiction to the food network or my unfaltering fascination for everything French ,ranging from its architecture through to the toast..... I could never be sure ........
This movie is based on the book by Julie Powell ( blogger turned author)
For those that haven't already seen the film, here's a gist - Your regular girl next door, Julie Powell, having succumbed to the grind of a life, largely comprising of a depressing cubicle job, wallows in a sense of underachievement and in an effort to do something about it, chances upon the idea of cooking through the book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child while blogging about the experience at the same time.
As she embarks on her "Deranged assignment"- as she calls it, she begins to identifying with the author Child, to the point of idolizing her. A big part of the movie is about her journey through what eventually turns into her passion- (cooking through some 500 odd recipes by Child, in one year) and is a well crafted parallel play of the stories of Julia Child and Julie Powell.

I was blown over by Meryl Streep's (Julia Child in the film) performance, inspite of not knowing at the time how scaringly close to the real thing her performance was. And subsequently, seeing a video of the real Julia Child on youtube, left me helpless as I turned into a "Streep" fan.
Julie Powell's character,I could relate to. A 30something woman, 20 in my case, sulking in underachievement, seeking redemption through her blog - sounded familiar. Other couple o' details like - her love for food ......the art of cooking, a bitchy "friend" that took great pleasure in making her feel awful, a strong feeling that there had to be more to life than its life-sucking grind...... and the need to feel intensely about at least this one thing that would carry her through an otherwise luke warm life, may have rung a bell too.
And how that one thing helps her find her sense of self worth in the end (sigh!)...

Inspite of the end being blatantly, insultingly obvious, I found myself guilty of wanting her to succeed in her "project" . Well what can I say ...... I like happy endings (sigh!)...
Julie Powell's role was a challenge for Amy Adams to portray, I am sure, though she has, in my opinion done it justice to a commendable extent..... there were still places I found her getting a tad bit melodramatic. I'm not quite sure if that was intentional though......

Anyhow,......I got so excited after watching the movie, that a good friend of mine (who also liked the movie btw) and I together began wondering what a million others would've too after watching the film........ " If I were to do what Julie Powell did, cook through the recipes of some great Cook that is, who would it be?" .... and the both of us zeroed in on our favourite cook ever, Ina Garten - from the Barefoot Contessa (food network- duh!) ....... I mean, she being the most suave, elegant, accomplished cook we'd ever seen n all.... was an obvious choice....
My only glich being, I don't eat meat!....... So that trashed my chances, right there of following all of her recipes to the T (the one thing, I realized was essential for a mission of this nature to qualify as one in the first place).......
'Nyways, I continue to try my luck at grabbing a copy of the movie from the blockbuster movie dispenser at Publix ......... and I certainly hope to get lucky someday :)

PS: I had to add the following to my post for reasons you shall discover as you read on....
Date: March 6, 2010..... (a day after posting the piece above).
Well, speaking of happy endings.......
My darling husband, I shall call him "K" in the blog (more for the coolness factor than reasons of anonymity!)..... hasn't yet mastered the art of reading what girls, in this case I "actually" mean when I say something ..... For instance, when he ASKS me (which is a cardinal sin in the world of Romance!), what I would like for Valentines, and I say " Oh Honey! all I want is your love",he actually believes me!!
.... I know! right? ........ As I am writing this up I find his naivety endearing ....... but that wasn't quite the case this morning, and last night.......
I shall let you in on a li'l secret about us women- we love laying guilt trips on our men..... that being said you've probably figured what followed (!)......
So as I stood there crying about how he didn't love me anymore (boohoo...), he decided to go grocery shopping -" To Publix" since we had run out of salt n all ....... and just as I finished up making lunch...... I heard Meryl Streep on our television
(Awwwwwwwww! I know!).
" that very moment everything made sense to me......" (Its official! The movie dispenser has a great sense of timing!))

And we watched to movie together...... (all dreamy eyed....... well, at least i was!)....... needless to say , i loved it...... I noticed a couple of things I didn't when i last saw it ....... Paul Child,Julia's husband is the most adoooorable husband ever (with the exception of K of course) and is one of the best things that happened to the movie......... I loved the transition between both stories and I thought the visual difference was well brought out(am assuming they used some kinda filter)...... and other little things like... the smush of jam on a page of the cookbook..... and my husbands hands that were holding mine .......