Thursday, February 10, 2011

Care For A Vegan Drink Anyone ?

i am afraid that for this whole month now i shall be away from this city which has started seducing me with it's many charms.
The fact of the matter being that i shall be travelling.
So for quite some time i would be unable to type my thoughts about my introductions to some fine and new aspects of this city which has tons of surprises in store for me.

i feel like a young teenager who probably is going to her first ball or something. i roam the streets familiarising myself with what i might be needing to know and all i do is just stare and ask questions. i know this is the same country to which i belong but honestly i am having close encounters of the first kind with many aspects.

This juice shop would've been there when i was a student but surely i cared least to know anything but the fruit juices. i was bereft of knowing more when i could have at Chennai but what is offered at best apart from fruit juices is probably carrot juice which is mixed with milk. Then it looks like a shake and not some fine juice.
This particular claret coloured  glass of  fresh vegetable juice that i had here was my first and it made me feel thankful to my own sense of judgement to explore new tastes with an open mind .
This juice had carrots, gooseberry, beetroot, spinach greens, bottle gourd, bitter gourd,  red radish, tomatoes. No stale veggies here only the fresh crunchy ones go into the churner. Plus some secret spice which makes one roll the tongue and lick the drops sticking to the lips. Maybe i missed out a couple of vegetables but just a glass of this elixir and we felt so refreshed and energised.
i went down memory lane to remember how just a mere thought of all these gourds like bitter gourd and bottle gourd made us frown with a yuck exclamation when we were young. And now here we are, relishing this drink and making a beeline for it whenever we get the chance.
Now i really don't know if it was a psychological thing about the nutrients entering your blood system and it being really good for the health or if the juice was really made delectable with a dash of some secret spices but both my husband and i enjoyed this glass of claret coloured freshly churned nutritional drink. The best thing is that all the flavours are there for you to recognise if you just sip it slowly . No bitterness but just a tasty sweet and sour and sort of mildly tangy energising and refreshing drink. As for the aroma, i feel it resembles something similar to the pani of the pani puri. 
We sort of wondered how we missed having a taste of this when we were here in the 80's.
For then when we were young we enthusiastically sipped Limca and the likes. All aerated artificial drinks. What a shame!.  But never mind... better late than never.
However i was happy to see that while we waited for our glass to get ready we counted many youngsters waiting for theirs. Once again i was impressed.
It gladdened my heart to see that the youngsters today are more health conscious than how we were when we were their age.
God Bless these kids who have wisdom and inclination to choose what is best for them.
February and March being the examination season i wish and pray for their success as they discuss animatedly their subjects waiting for their glass of energiser to arrive which should pump them up.The nutrition enough to give them the required amount of energy and also take care of those in between small hunger. Probably even the fresh crisp air also held some magic for removing that dullness which is bound to occur  when one is immersed in books practically most of the time as the Board examination draws near.

i guess then that's it for the time being. Tomorrow i have to be a very early riser as we have to report at the airport by 8 which means i must be up as early as 6. And this looks just too early in the winter morning. Yeah winter is in a way bidding goodbye but to one who has been in the warm and humid city for 21 years this feels just too chilly.
So till i am back please don't give up on me.
Just a small request is due from my side to all my limited readers. Please bear with my silence while i am away. Hopefully in March when i return i would have really lots and lots to share.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This Week In The Capital City

So finally i am here in this capital city Dilli and for the time being i can only say that i had what we used to say MYKSAID feelings. Yeah mixed it was i mean because at the very first instance my heart cried out in anguish to see my very small looking three bedroom flat. i was still more sad when i looked out from the balcony to find the trees around looking ash grey instead of green. So i suppose this part of the capital city is just too dusty and as i stood on the balcony i wanted to be some magician of some sort who could create rain and wash off the dust from the leaves of the trees. Maybe my wish was too much for the heavens to keep in store so i guess they decided on granting me what i desperately sought. It rained this evening after everything was dark. Sitting inside the empty room i thought it felt like hail but i couldn't be sure. Although it was just a brief spell, i am sure some things will look fresh tomorrow morn when i have my first cup of tea in the company of my husband and the so many pigeons who seem to be everywhere around.

During the day my sadness was replaced by an enormous sense of well being when i looked out from the balcony. Sure the trees looked green now instead of ashen. Later a walk to the vegetable mart was like an added bonus. This vegetable market is like a bazaar which happens every Monday and one can't help but feel overwhelmed with the freshness, richness and varieties of the vegetables for sale.
i felt like a foreigner in my own country as i was not aware of the so many varieties of veggies displayed. The vendors were quite surprised to see a local asking so many questions. They thought i was from the press when i started taking pictures.
My joy at seeing such fresh produce knew no bounds. Have not seen this kind of freshness for years now. i started feeling just too good acknowledging the fact that i am placed now in an area where i have access to such fresh veggies at an affordable price.

Suddenly all things looked bright and beautiful and i felt a sort of relief like some heaviness has just been lifted off me.

 On my request the seller showed me what Bathua is ( for me the forgotten green)
i know that just a handful of Bathua in any green be it spinach or mustard or even gram greens enhances the taste of the greens cooked. 

  Lettuce in these two striking colours looked so fresh that i felt like grabbing and chewing some, just as it was. 

i have seen these for the first time. These as the seller apprised me were radish flowers called Moongri. The stalk which holds the buds are cooked as a tasty vegetable and maybe next time i will ask them to tell me some basic procedure for i feel like trying this out.

Hara Chana ie fresh green gram (behind the mushrooms in the packets)...OMG i am seeing these after so many years. Could not resist so bought these immediately.

Delectable greens...just a sight of the freshness delights the senses.

The greens seller had everything one could possibly think of. Spinach, Mustard, Drumstick greens, Fenugreek, Coriander, Mint, Bathua, Dill, and many others that i don't know the names of.

These cuties took me by surprise for i thought they were small turnips and instead they turned out to be Red Radish. i addressed them with the wrong name and was corrected by the seller. 

The fresh radish looked just too white and oh ! so tempting so a couple of these went inside my shopping bag too.

Same with the fresh mushrooms and the bell peppers. The colours enticed me and i couldn't help but lovingly grab some of these. very significant fruit that is offered to Goddess Saraswati and it was not surprising because just a couple of days back it was Vasant Panchami also known as Saraswati Pooja.

The rich green of the lettuce was just too beautiful and i could not help but stare at it longingly like a hungry goat.

This vendor had everything right from fresh broccoli to American corn. i think i also saw what looked like black olives. But i could only be guessing here. For what looked like black olive could be Karaunda. The seller was just too busy with his customers so i have reserved this query for next Monday.

This was another new item i had never seen as being sold as a vegetable. i know it's hard to guess for what looks like pistachios are actually Drumstick flowers. i have to learn how to cook these too.

Maybe i got just too blown at looking at all these fresh veggies neatly bordering the street for i have to be very honest i was not seeing such freshness and this kind of variety in Chennai. i know that the climatic conditions are responsible for what i saw today. Not bad i said to myself. i think i am going to like this place after all. It sure will take care of my palate apart from giving me these moments of pleasure as i go about my daily chores. Who knows tomorrow i might get to see something new again. 
That's it for the time being. Maybe more laters...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Thank You Yuka

Quite a couple of years back when a friend of mine moved away from the city she told me with a long sigh that conveys nothing but tremendous relief that the most wonderful thing about movement from one place to the other is that you get rid of all that clutter that you might have accumulated in your long stay at any place.
For a person like me who finds it so difficult to part with stuff and sees in everything a major potential this getting rid of clutter should be another hard and tough exercise.
So i start with the room i thought would have the least bit to discard or give away. But that room which i call my utility room and which has my computer, books, stationery and other sundry articles that we fail to place in the other rooms, had a mind of it's own. i was not expecting that instead of proceeding smoothly with Operation Thinning i would be stuck with memories tumbling down one by one from that drawer which held my teaching aids. The thick practical notebook which was my Lesson Plan for the academic year 2006-2007 looked bulged as if something solid and thick like a pencil was stuck up inside.

i held the book carefully in my hand going down memory lane, admiring my neat work on the cover of the note book. Opened the note book to feel all the more narcissistic about my own sense of beauty.

Needless to say then, emotional and almost lost in time, i opened to see what pencil was still waiting for me to finish an unfinished diagram.
What seemed to be jutting out from a  folded slip of paper was a pair of something.

i did not have to open the slip of paper because i knew it instantly that it was not a waiting pencil but a  memorable parting gift from a very special Japanese student of mine.
Her name is Yuka.

In her note she has thanked me and few other people who helped her cope with the strenuous syllabus that required too many rote learning. Also she has gifted me with a unique bookmark which she says  is a miniature copy of a Japanese Paper Doll.

In pencil she has made figures to explain how an unmarried girl's Kimono is different from that of a lady who is married.  Also there is a way to wear Kimono when it is worn for funerals than from how it is worn normally. Something to do with the two layers and the collars coming across.

Definitely there is that pair of chopsticks too. So the pair of wooden chopsticks it was and not a pencil as i had presumed.

As it is evident, i got pleasantly sidetracked from the job that i was doing (of removing the clutter) and instead  sat on the small single bed in the room with all of what i should call the personality of Yuka, for my pleasure only. i could feel nothing but an enormous sense of affection flowing out for Yuka. i am hoping that wherever she is, she gets all my blessings that i have for her.

i just sit  here maybe miles and miles away thinking about this very talented, beautiful and very dignified Oriental student of mine.
i remember her telling me that how she is a part of a Japanese cultural group which meets under the guidance of a Teacher who is almost like a spiritual guru.
i also remember her telling me with some pride how she has volunteered to educate youngsters mostly teenagers about the pitfalls and problems related to free sex/ liberal sex.
She gave me a pamphlet which discussed these issues and also a book that contained the ethics of the revered Teacher. Did i read the book ?
No,  i just flipped a few pages here and there and found it to be a serious book not to be read casually and decided to read it laters.
But Yuka was leaving soon so i had to return the book unread to her.
Now i just feel nothing could be better than to get some word from her as to how she was doing. i wonder if she is still here in this country or has gone back to her own Japan.
i wonder if she still remembers me and the others.

i guess then this was the very first i laid my hands on and as i embarked on fishing out unwanted stuff. Now i
feel i might not find any clutter at all in this room. i might want to keep all. i don't want to engage myself in that battle that rages inside between what is practical and what is not.
i know that for sometime space to store things would be a problem but i am thinking how much space would these take. Maybe a medium sized carton space or maybe more i don't know yet.
What i sure do know is that addressing these as clutter feels like a major sin if not a crime. For suddenly what many might say as sentimental sheet has done some wonders to my tormented soul. i was so unhappy about shifting from Chennai to Delhi. Now thoughts about Yuka makes me look forward to all that is in store for me.

The easiest thing at the moment seems to just let this room be as it is and maybe walk over to the other rooms. Probably i will find clutter there. Some thinning might happen in the other rooms if not in this.

i should say that this should be my last post from Namma Chennai. The fact of the matter being that i shall be moving now to be in yet another metro. Have to be very honest though that just a few hours ago i was feeling insecure and anxious. Strange but true that although what was supposed to be home turf feels threatening to me for i have spent 21 comfortable and rich years in Chennai. Somehow Delhi felt like an anaconda...thick and huge. i sure am excited about the place but the excitement is just akin to watching an anaconda with all the nail biting thrill, but from a safe distance.

Actually for this post i did not want to sound like one who is all nerves and cribbing. i did not want to whine and croak like a prejudiced koop mandook ( a frog in the well ) but sadly i seem to be doing just that. Being so judgemental and all full of nasty thoughts about the place which is waiting for me...hungry and ready to first crush me senseless and then to devour me.

i think it's better for me to think about Yuka and learn from her. She seemed so calm in spite of all those adjustments and compromises that she had to make. She accepted the place and it's rigors with an open mind and i never found her cribbing or flinching. i never found her complaining either. Always attentive and ready to grasp i see her smile which made her even more appealing to us apart from her talents.  Yes many admired her flawless Oriental skin and silky hair but to me she was not only all this but a very feminine and cultured girl with some wisdom in that young brain of hers.

Happenings in our day to day life has a reason.
i set out with an annoyed sense of departing from this place to remove clutter. Instead i am coming out of the room removing the clutter that was accumulating inside me. And i am smiling.
If Yuka could do it with some panache so can i handle the so called ostentatious capital city .
So i come !!