18 January, 2012

Just the yellow lemon tree .......

(Image courtesy : dreamstime.com via Google)

A love for the English language is something both Macadamia and Pecan have been blessed with. For that matter, right from his childhood days, Pecan has always had this habit of “twirling” the “r” sound when he speaks – making his speech sound sound quite UnIndianised. For that matter, even the rest of his speech never really sounded like the English me and Vic spoke. At one point of time, in jest, it led us to wonder if we’d got the wrong baby home from the hospital :-).

Anyways, not to digress – they love the language and they love to immerse themselves in it (a tad too much, at times). Both of them are relentless bookworms - they have been so for the past many years and they still are. Judging by the way things are going, they will continue to remain so.

We’ve been noticing for a while now – it has been a couple of years actually – that Pecan’s ability to articulate his thoughts is getting better and better by the day. It is not as much what he says, it is more about how he puts his thoughts or feelings into words. He hits the nail right on the head virtually every time. There are times when he leaves us speechless with the vocabulary that he uses to communicate.

The other day, it was really cold and all of us were sitting in the bedroom with the heater on. It was cosy enough to make Macadamia and Pecan linger on there – not wanting to go back to their own bedroom which, by the way, was equally cosy in terms of the warmth generated by the heater there. But this is something we do especially on weekends, songs playing on YouTube and all of us sitting around in the same room.

The other day, the song that was playing on YouTube was “Lemon Tree”. As far as the lyrics go, the ones that keep repeating through the song are :

I wonder how, I wonder why

Yesterday you told me 'bout the blue, blue sky

And all that I can see is just another lemon tree

I'm turning my head up and down

I'm turning, turning, turning, turning, turning around

And all that I can see is just a yellow lemon tree

The first time around, Pecan went all quiet and still like one of those sniffer dogs which have just about detected some scent but don’t quite know which scent they’ve caught and where it’s coming from. He had that slightly faraway look in his eyes which said that he was in one of those “contemplative” modes. Just then, the brows furrowed just a wee bit which did say that some of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle were in place and that the theory he was forming was being solidified into a ball of thoughts . Now it is a good thing to read these signs about Pecan because once that “ball of thought” has been formed, he just picks that ball up and swings and wings it at you like one of those baseball pitchers.

Sure enough, after a couple of minutes, came the theory which began thus. “OK – so this is a simile so don’t take it literally. Now the person who wrote that song, I know, is talking about waiting for someone – probably his girlfriend or something – Gawd guys can be so dumb sometimes – girlfriends – gah !! (It was at this point of time that I thought to myself – yeah sure – tell me the same thing about 15-20 years down the line and believe you, I shall). OK – so to get back to my point – I was talking about the lemon tree in the song. Now, if we look at this in the 21st century, the lemon tree in the song would indicate the pollution that we see around us – everywhere, everytime, anywhere, anytime. Whether you are sitting near the window or driving around in a car – all you see is the “yellow lemon tree”, which, in our case or in the case of anyone living in the 21st century, is definitely pollution."

Phew !!

He thinks. He thinks a lot. Sometimes a tad too much for a 8 ½ year old, methinks. He has his own logic pathways – some of them pretty unconventional. I mean, speaking with him on some serious topic is not at all like watching a Hindi movie wherein the ending is rather predictable. It is more like being led on a roller coaster ride, with the dips and the gentle rises, the steep falls and the sharp turns, the stomach churning twists and the all numbing turns.

From what we’ve been seeing for quite some time now, those “roller coaster rides” are here to stay. When he was a lot younger, it was Abhayisms that were the most popular on Tiny Tidbits. I think it is about time I started tagging posts with the tag “Logic – Pecan style”.

Well, as things stand right now, Pecan does what he sets out to do, Macadamia does what she sets out to do. Both Macadamia and Pecan are busy with school and the challenges that school is bringing along. Both me and Vic are busy with our respective jobs and the challenges that our jobs bring along. In the midst of it all, all four of us have our "together time" too and that is the bit that makes it all worthwhile. That is the bit that we value, enjoy, appreciate, relish and cherish.

That's our little train, chugging along life's way .........

05 January, 2012

Of being pickled .......

(Image courtesy : indianfoodsco.com via Google)

Pickles !!

What memories does that one word evoke ?

To me, it is not just a life saver, not just a virtual necessity, not just one of those palate cleansing, tongue tickling condiments that adds a whole new dimension to food. To me, the word pickles evokes many more memories from my childhood.

There are some memories from childhood which I distinctly remember and then there are other memories which are rather fuzzy around the edges. There are many memories that are as sharp as a colour picture taken at a time when photography was not so abundant and at the same time, there are many other memories that have been tinged with tones of black and white or a more earthy sepia. Pickles are something that evoke those distinctly clear memories. My childhood memories related to pickles are unblemished even at this age. I guess I was a foodie even back then – just that I didn’t know it !!!

Come summer, the mangowallas would be seen walking around the building compound, big baskets deftly balanced on their white capped heads. These baskets would invariably contain a veritable treasure – small, tender mangoes, mangoes which are plucked from the tree in infancy.

I still remember how the mangoes would be carefully inspected by my mom and how she would buy the smallest and most tender mangoes for pickling. Though I was never a part of this (almost sacred) process of making pickles, I always used to hover around the sidelines – feasting my eyes on the ingredients and soaking up their aromas. I can still remember the sharp tang of the turpin from the fresh mangoes, the fresh odor of a newly opened packet of salt, the tongue numbing fiery smell of the red chilli powder which promised to be just as fiery on the tongue when tasted. There were other muted odors that I do remember – the sharp pungency of the mustard seeds being ground, the wafting aromas of other spices being roasted, the seemingly unique aroma of asafoetida.

In the winter, it would be lemons or gooseberries being pickled. If we had been on a trip down South of India, it could be the Mahani root pickle. Every season had its own specialty and it would be difficult to judge which pickle was the best. Each one had its own distinct flavor, its own defined personality. Each of these had its unique, distinct aromas and flavors which are etched on my mind and my palate and I guess these are one of those things that I will remember with distinct clarity for a long time.

Unfortunately, time has indeed left its mark on pickling too – or rather, the heritage of making pickles. In this fast world that we live in today, it is so much easier to just buy a bottle of pickle off the shelf in the stores, is it not ? We have done this too, a few times. But it was never as fulfilling as a bottle of home made pickles. Not just the taste factor, it is the fact that there is something so innately about the whole process of pickling. There is something intensely gratifying, something inherently rewarding about pickling. No questions about it – it is an art. Pickling is an art in itself.

It is, however, an art which is slowly being eroded, an art which is slowly being lost as home made pickles are replaced by the store bought ones. Over the past few years, we have been making our pickles at home – we have tried pickling lemon, lime, mango, ginger, tomato and some other vegetables. The first time you taste those homemade pickles, when a whole range of tastes tantalize your palate, when that balance of sourness, saltiness and spice (in some cases, sweet too) are in perfect balance with each other – the feeling is not unlike nirvana J

Here’s to pickles, then ….. those tangy, spicy, lip smacking, tongue tingling accompaniments to an Indian meal …….. may pickles continue to seduce palates the world over.

03 January, 2012

Of resolutions and then some .....

Image courtesy : michellehenry.jr via Google

Another year has flown past. Another has begun. As the seconds tick past, the minutes dwindle away and the hours merge and fuse, one into another – we will see yet another year go by. Our wise ancestors did not coin the phrase “time flies” for nothing. It makes so much sense.

I, for one, have fallen out of the habit of making the notoriously infamous “New Year Resolutions”. There was a time when I used to make New Year’s Resolutions – many of them. There was a time when I used to religiously write down the resolutions I’d made. That was a time in my life when I used to religiously forget things too !!

There was this time when I resolved not to eat chocolates through the year. You know, it is true that human beings go through these shades of insanity. I must have been going through one of those when I made that particular resolution to myself. No chocolates for a year !!!! Who was I kidding ??!! But I did. Once that moment of insanity had passed and I saw things clearly for what they were, I realised what I’d done and more quickly than I’d put down that resolution, I dissolved it !!! I simply cannot impose such things on myself. Oh No !! I can’t !!! That was about the time I decided that these “food based resolutions” were simply not my cup of tea. See – there I go again with a cup of tea.

Why make resolutions in the first place ? I asked myself then. I mean, why make life difficult for oneself, eh ? “I won’t do this. I won’t do that.” The very next day begins the battle of the wills. And with me, my will is definitely stronger than that of my resolution. The situation gets resolved and the resolution gets dissolved just as soon, if not sooner.

There was this time when I swore (read resolved) to go off “fried stuff”. The intense craving that hit me the very next instant had to be seen to be believed. So I decided to put myself out of this misery. “No more resolutions” became my motto and believe me, it has worked fine for me. Without a resolution breathing down my neck, I seem to achieve what I had set out to, anyways. Just that when the word “resolution” comes into the picture, my mind automatically rebels. Gah !!

The same works the other way around too. There was this time when I’d said to myself that I would do weight training every single day – well, almost. And through that year, my mind worked on the belief that once a week is quite equivalent to every single day of the week !!! How it came to that conclusion, I know not. But I do know that through the whole of that year, I barely touched the dumbbells. I rest my case !!!

There is one thing that is irking me, though. Big time !! It has been a couple of years now (maybe more) since I stopped posting regularly on this blog. NO – that is not to say that I regularly post on some other blog. I stopped writing regularly and I stopped posting regularly. Posts became sporadic and the sad part is, that did not bother me at all. I should have but it did not. Just the other day, the penny dropped. Like with almost everything else in life, writing / blogging too takes discipline. I mean, it is so easy it is so very very easy to let go, sit back and not pick up the threads again. I find that I’m getting used to “not blogging” or not letting those words in my head flow onto pen and paper.

It is pretty much like letting yourself go and eat a bag of chips every single day of the week. When you weigh yourself at the end of the week, you realize that the weight has indeed crept up on you and settled rather comfortably around your middle – pretty much like an unwelcome guest. And yet again, pretty much like an unwelcome guest, it just refuses to leave on being coaxed and cajoled. It has to be pushed away, in a rather determined manner. Problem is, people like me have to hang on tooth and nail to the little determination that we’ve been blessed with – which is to say, not much !!

So, the blogging / posting thing is one thing that I need to aim at changing. See – I did not “resolve” to write more often – that way I’m sure it will never get done. I’m just nagging myself (trust me – I’m good at it J) – the nagging, I mean – not the writing. I’m nagging myself to get back into the habit of writing and posting regularly. I really need to. Knowing me, unless and until I push myself back into this habit, it ain’t gonna happen.

So yeah – that’s me – fingers and toes and everything else that’s possible, crossed – hoping that I get back into some semblance of regular blog posting, hoping that I have enough determination left in me to put those thoughts down on paper or in cyberspace.

For the rest of you determined souls out there, I do sincerely hope that you can hold on to your resolutions, if you have made any. Even if you can’t, I do sincerely hope that you don’t have any regrets about not holding on to those resolutions. You have me for company !!

Resolutions or no resolutions, here’s wishing everyone a 2012 filled with love, peace and good health.