Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bitter, sweet, sour & astringent lessons

I learnt to cook at the tender age of 8 months, when I lifted a jar of salt and emptied it into a bowl of chicken curry. The expression on the adult’s faces seated around the table when they tasted the curry, told me that cooking would be great fun. My mom, the lady of the house and the master chef whose cooking skills are legendary in our house, must have felt threatened by the homegrown competition because she tried cutting short my budding interest in cooking by keeping the jar of salt in highly secretive hidden location. But I guess inborn talents cannot be suppressed, because I soon found the jar of sugar and emptied that into a nice Kottayam style beef fry that my mom had made painstakingly. My talents were obvious from a very young age. The jar of sugar was soon dispatched to some highly confidential location deep in the Sahara desert. Soon I found out that the jar of chilly powder and pepper powder also bought out fun expressions on adults’ faces. By this time my mom, probably feeling very threatened by the encroaching competition, sent away all the spices in her kitchen to top secret hideouts around the world as a last ditch attempt to stop me from trying my hand at cooking. (“Maa bhi kabhi beti thi” is the title of the book I will be writing about my early life).

Having my talents so brutally and cruelly nipped in the bud, I went back to doing what normal kids do, like throwing my Ammachi's chickens into the well, falling into a bucket of water headlong, letting out water from the water tank and falling from the roof. I led an uneventful life back then. Unlike now, when my life is full of danger, excitement, thrill, adventure, cliffhangers etc like running behind my company bus every morning ( I got a speeding ticket for that), dashing from conference room to conference room at breakneck speed, chasing the ad agency and Event Management people, snooping on competitors and eating cafeteria food. I am yet to see the cabin allotted to me and I heard it is being used for nefarious purposes like *gasp* “work” by people who look suspiciously like my colleagues armed with laptops and white board markers. BUT….. I am familiar with each and every network socket in this campus where I can plug in my lappie and that includes the socktes thoughtfully provided on the cafeteria tables and the loo. ( and psssst don’t tell this to anyone but I heard some kaamchor people play solitaire on their lappies in the loo. Disgusting!!!).

We even have “Bring your lappie to office on Saturday” Saturdays and “Take you lappy home everyday” weekdays. I tell you, the Corporate Communications people here are tops (and I don’t mean in the weight department though they top in that too). So thoughtful no?

But we are deviating my dear readers… yes all five of you err…make it four as one of you have fallen asleep. Back to our narrative and like I was telling you many many paragraphs ago, I found out that I had an interest in cooking very early in life. By very early, I do not mean the first month of my life in the incubator where I was kept on a constant low heat, though I admit it must have influenced me in some way like by making me realize it is better to cook than be cooked. (Ok I heard that joke about my brains being cooked too grrrr).

My yearning to learn cooking raised it’s stubborn head again, when I was 8 or 9 years old and by this time my Mom was so fed up of cooking that she actually conspired to get out of the kitchen, by buying me, my very own cookery book and recalling all the jars of chilly, salt, sugar etc from the various top secret locations around the world. (What a scheming woman no?)

Soon after the arrival of the spices, I began cooking after saying an elaborate prayer that was rather rudely interrupted by my dad exclaiming in horror and dashing out of the house to renew the Household Fire Insurance Policy. I picked up basic cooking very fast, and was soon raring to try more exotic cuisines. I appealed to all the ladies in the neighborhood to give me recipes and they obliged and it is from these ladies, that I learnt the greatest cooking lesson of all. A lesson that left me very wised indeed. And what was that lesson? Patience… I will reveal all *mysterious smile*

The first person to give me a recipe was Mrs J. Mrs J made a particularly delicious Banana Bread. So it was with great anticipation that I made the Banana Bread. The bread looked like a blob of dried cement. Even my brother refused to eat it.

The second person to share her recipe was Mrs T. I made the Malabar Fish Curry exactly as it was given in the recipe and gave it to my brother to taste. My brother who will eat dog biscuits if it not pointed out that it is dog biscuit threw up after tasting the fish curry.

The third person to share her recipe was Mrs M. She gave me her recipe for candied peel. When the candied peels were ready, it was stiffer than iron rods and tasted like putrid Citric Acid.

And the last person to share her recipe was Mrs M again. She gave me her treasured recipe of Fruit Bread. I made the bread dough exactly the same way it was instructed in the recipe and kept the dough aside to rise. Exactly half an hour later my maids ran screeching out of the kitchen and ran helter-skelter. A bubbling mass of grey matter was coming out of the kitchen and threatening to engulf the whole house. There was bubbling fruit bread dough everywhere. People were running for their lives. It took three hours to clean the mess and subdue the bubbling monster.

After the mess was cleaned my mom took the recipes to investigate where I had gone wrong. After reading the recipes, she started laughing hysterically. Apparently Mrs J had conveniently forgotten to include baking powder in her recipe, , Mrs R had also very conveniently forgotten to include kodampulli (tamarind) in her recipe, Mrs M had made me make candeed peel with thrice the amount of Citric Acid and sugar and her Fruit Bread recipe that needed only 20 gms “Yeast” was conveniently of course “by mistake’ made to 200 gms yeast. The result as you can see was disastrous.

After she had stopped laughing my mom taught me my first lesson in cooking. “A good cook will never part with her recipe.”

Thank you ladies for that lesson. Your course material was excellent and course recall really lasting. I will remember it to my dying day.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My Super Ex-Girlfriend

Warning: Do not read if you are planning to watch the movie.

I saw My Super Ex Girlfriend yesterday night at the Symphony. It is a nice movie to watch if you want to give your brain a vacation for two hours.

The story line is unbelievable…literally. Luke Wilson and his nerdy needy pal Rainn Wilson are traveling by train when Rainn spots Uma Thurman. She looks spectacularly boring like most train commuters but then hey… she is Uma Thurman and you got to pick her up from the crowd to get the movie going. Apart from that there is no convincing reason why Rainn spots her with her brown toupee, spectacles and makeup less mousy face. Rainn convinces Luke to ask her out which he does quite charmingly only to be met with a ‘No’. Just when you are telling yourself ‘cant a guy take a hint?’ the movie takes a bollywood kinda turn. A bag snatcher snatches Uma’s hand bag and runs out of the stationery train. It was moving I swear, when Uma said ‘No’.

Most of the plot that provides the twists and turns in this movie are unbelievable.

Luke Wilson for one, looks good and definitely not the kind of guy who has no love life and hence is desperate enough to pick up a dull looking Uma Thurman in a suburban train.

Uma Thurman acts like a neurotic, jumpy, crazy woman on their first date, scaring the living daylights out of Luke and the audience. Besides this, the scriptwriter gives Luke enough hints as large as a mental asylums, that Uma Thurman is cuckoo, but he still asks her out for a second time, and you kinda say “he deserved it’ when things turn really bad for him.

Luke’s plan was to get laid and move on, but he makes the cardinal mistake of asking her out again, and Uma promptly falls in love with him. When he tells her that he is not in love with her, she literally hits the roof and makes a hole in the ceiling. She vows to make him pay for the rejection and flies away in a rage through the hole in the ceiling. This, of course happens on the second date.

Uma's character is full of holes, which is good actually as she does a lot of flying around in the air at supersonic speed. Adds to her aerodynamic character. She is sensible enough to appear like Superman and save the city from the stupid catastrophes thought up by the Stunt Director, but she is absolutely stupid otherwise. Perhaps the Stunt Director could have directed the entire film, as the only scenes that make sense are the Supergirl exploits of Uma Thurman. She also looks good only in the movie posters and in her G-girl avataar, losing the brown toupee and spectacles. The stunt director has taste I must say.

Then Luke realizes that he is in love with his sweet colleague Anna Faris, whose nice boyfriend conveniently gets himself caught in bed with three girls to clear the way for Luke. She promptly falls in love with him and they make love. (See didn’t I tell you that Luke doesn’t look needy?). Uma throws a live shark into their bedroom scene…the shark fortunately has better tastes and bites off huge chunks of the furniture in a feeding frenzy. Due to some personal ethics not divulged by the scriptwriter, Uma doesn’t go after Anna even though she should… logically.

Finally an ex boyfriend of Uma devices a glowing rock, similar to the one which made Uma super powerful and makes her walk into a trap set by Luke. Of course he forgets to tell girlfriend Anna not to barge in making a huge scene, which leads to the explosion of the rock making Anna also a Supergirl.

The theater was packed with nine people, out of which two were the ushers, one was a guy who kept gazing into his cellpone, besides five girls...out of whom one kept looking around thinking “I will blog about this”, another kept giggling at everything including the 'Please take care of your belongings in the theater’ slide and the ‘Nokia ad’, and another who was watching the movie like she is watching the 'Schindler’s List’ and another who kept exclaiming “The cheese popcorn is soggy, chat popcorn is spicy and the masala popcorn is too bland” etc. The fifth one is still missing.

Oh yes... before I end this rather long review, please avoid the Ice cream in the theater. It is very good actually, but not advisable to be eaten in the air-conditioned theater or you will end up writing movie reviews on a Saturday night sniffling with cold, cough and fever.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

( This review was written the weekend the movie was released)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Taming the shrews

Weekends are glorious periods of inactivity for me. I don’t even exercise my vocal cords these two days. One blink of an eye means "Yes" two means “No”. When my Mom asks "so you will be spending the day in bed reading?" I blink once and when she asks "would you please clean your room?" I will blink twice to indicate a "No" and when she asks "are you going to feed the dogs or shall I send them to the SPCA?" I flutter my eyelashes several times in alarm, jump out of the bed in a trice with a "noooooooooo" and rush out to feed them. (There are some exceptions in life you see) You do not want your darling doggies to be given to the SPCA who will place them with some strange family who will love them and feed them on time do you? ( They will miss me so much *snifff*)

This Saturday, besides the usual casual threats, which I ignore if it doesn’t have anything to do with my doggies like "I will burn down your cupboard if you don’t rearrange it" etc. she said something that made me widen my eyes in alarm and gasp in horror like those heroines in Ramsey Brother movies when they see the awful make up of the ghost. Apparently my aunt was leaving her 13 year old teenager, Miss Deepa Ann Varghese (DAV) with us for the day. Now...Miss DAV and me are as fond of each other as my doggie Brandy and the neighbor’s cat. (and that is a lot of hate believe me.)

I will not get into the history behind the saga of mutual loathing and pure hatred between Miss DAV and me, but after my last encounter with her I have been praying very fervently and earnestly and sincerely to God that by the time I marry and have a daughter and she grows up to be a teenager, they would have invented a device that would enable parents to fast forward their child’s development, skipping a few years here and there. And no prizes for guessing which would be the years I would be skipping. (And thank you God that my mom didn’t have such a device, I owe you one).

Today, I also developed a newfound respect for my aunt, the mother of this abomination err…child who has remained sane all these years while I went batty in the few hours that I chaperoned her daughter. Anyways folks, the good news is that I survived the day….mainly due to some quick thinking ….several muffled expletives besides helluva lot of slow counting from 1 to 20,000. Today I also discovered that I have sadistic tendencies …more of that later... *evil mirthless grin*

In the morning, my second brother suddenly developed an acute condition called "Cricket practice" and walked out of the house rather he dived out of the window and pole vaulted across the compound wall and was gone before I could say "nandrolone" but not before throwing a triumphant grin in my direction. While I was wondering what that was all about, my mom dropped the bombshell. Apparently Miss DAV and her friends had to go the Mall urgently for some important shopping, like checking out the free make up and perfumes and giggling hysterically and shoving each other when they saw guys and since my brother had Cricket practice, I had to drop and pick them up. I shall not enunciate the epithets that flew fluently from my mouth towards my brothers retreating back (because I know only three).

By 9:30 am, Miss DAV was ready. By ready I mean, she looked like somebody had blackened her eyes (black eye shadows), bloodied her lips (blood red lipstick) and yanked her hair out (latest electro static cut). I looked at her and realized that if it hadn’t been for the big mole on her right hand there would be no way I could identify her as Miss DAV. As she waited for me to reverse the car out of the garage I could hear her talking to a similarly attired friend at the other end of the phone.

You should see her cosmetic collection, bleah!
OMG she uses a comb *snigger*”
She actually wears her pants around her waist *sneer*

Ignoring her and the strong urge to run the car over her again and again till the insolent smirk was wiped into the driveway I drove out of the house. The better part of the morning was spent trying to find "the house near the florist on Ring Road" and "the red brick house with a dent on the gate on Residency Road" and "the bakery next to Johnson Market because I am thirsty and need a Coke." In short, Miss DAV didn’t have any addresses. I clenched the steering wheel a little too tightly as I saw my precious Saturday vanish in a puff of Lakme Matt Silk Face Powder that Miss DAV was dabbing on her nose from time to time. Luckily she had the phone numbers and so I talked to the various Mrs Josephs, Mrs Gowda’s, a Mrs D’souza’s and a Miss Jenny (a Dad’s secretary) and got to the houses and picked up the little misses.

I looked at them in the rear view mirror. They all looked like battered victims of domestic violence with black and blue and red faces. They were in turn looking at me like I was a beggar with sores. Soon there was a lot of nudging and giggling and "keep quite, she will hear" and "look at her clothes" etc in the backseat and that is when the sadistic tendencies in me first raised its delightful head. I looked at them and felt a strange urge to drag them to the municipal water tap, wash their make up and then drop them off makeupless at the Mall ( do I hear gasps of pure delight from parents?…Didn’t I tell you I found the hidden sadist in me?).

The thought was so sadistically satisfying that I didn’t realize that I had an evil grin on my face. The girls were looking at me rolling their eyes and I had that good ol feeling of sadism rising within me again. This time I wanted to take a bottle of coconut oil and smear their hair with oil and then leave them in the Mall (Do I hear applause? Parents I told you stick around and you will learn more).

Then one of them spotted my ‘old fashioned’ Estelle bracelet and nudged the others and they collapsed giggling. By this time I had had enough and something snapped within me. You seen those horror movies when the gal sits in the car and suddenly the car doors get locked and then the camera moves away from the car and you hear blood curdling screams and then deathly silence? *heh heh*

I closed the SUV doors with the central locking system and searched in the glove compartment and found what I was looking for. Something that could inflict pain of the worst kind that would have the victim begging for death. Something the driver kept in the glove compartment in case of emergencies. I put the CD player on to drown out the screams of my to-be victims and then inserted the CD. Then I put the music on in full volume and watched the smug expressions turn to uneasiness, alarm and then pure horror, as Himesh Reshamiyya belted out “oooo huzoor tera tera tera suroooooor!!!!” Their screams were drowned out in the sheer nasal croon. I played Aapka Suroor Volume One through to Volume Two while the car crawled at 40 kmph. There was no escape…the car doors were locked.

45 minutes later, I dumped their lifeless bodies in front of the Mall.

In the evening when I went to pick them up, they were very very quiet and well behaved and the return journey was peaceful with a lot of respect shown towards the 'geriatric' driver. Just the way I like teenagers to be. *muahAHAHAHAHA*

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday dhamaka

One of the funniest things I have seen in a long while.

I am standing on the main road waiting for the company bus to come. A tempo with a driver and a young ‘cleaner’ come and park beside me. The driver gets down, says something to the ‘cleaner’ in Malayalam and vanishes somewhere. The ‘cleaner’ primps and preens as he spots me and another gal who has joined me. Then he decides that he should do something additional to impress. So he gets behind the wheel and reverses the tempo. He loses control and perhaps in panic keeps his legs on the accelerator. The tempo reverses in a wide arc in top speed mowing down some motorcycles, a culvert, a hoarding and still in top speed reverses into a house smashing the gate. All in a matter of a few seconds.

I collapse laughing.

What a way to start a Friday!!!!

Life is good!!

Damages: A few thousand rupees.
The look on the ‘cleaner's’ face: Priceless!!