Friday, February 28, 2014

Wrinkle-Free or Guilt-Free ?

Have been very apprehensive about publishing this post . Has been lying in my drafts folder since 2009 along with a dozen other drafts infected by the writers' block bug !

Think it was 1990 or 1991 when I  first had a darshan of Maha Periyava,   Kanchi Shankaracharya at Kanchi mutt . Didn't know much about him or his teachings till then . But there was something about that visit that made me read his teachings more out of interest than out of spirituality then . Found his teachings so appealing and till date never get tired of reading his teachings or about  his devotees personal and spiritual experiences with him ...

One of his  teachings which struck a chord and touched a very sensitive nerve in me was about not using silk made by killing tens of thousands of live silk worms for a single saree .

Following a guru and following his teachings , I reaslised were mutually exclusive . looking at the number of devotees who were seen wearing silks for reasons of  'madi' while taking Periyava's Blessing .
To use a  modern jargon -  Periya was a true Rogerian who was totally non-directive in his approach and teachings  . He would still smile with benevolence and bless all with equanimity . A true avatar indeed and feel blessed  to have received his blessings twice while don't feel worthy to even sing his praise .

His grace that I decided to give up silks from then. Though by then I had my First Silk saree which I got for my sisters wedding . That I thought would be my one and only silk saree in this life time .

But it was not to be  so . Have to be honest here and share my biggest regret  .

1995. My marriage dates were finalised . And what I feared the most, happened . Volcanic amount of tension arose as I refused to buy Silk for my wedding . In fact those days , Nalli's used to sell something called "Periyava koorai pudavai "..which was a cotton version of the regular Tambram maroon colour wedding saree.

Dialogues went on for days ... It was a lone battle. Unfortunately my best commander was on the opponents side . ( My to- be- DH !)

Tried my Trump card . If I have to wear silks made by killing tens of thousands of silk worms for my Wedding... I requested that let Kanchi Periyava's name be not mentioned in the Wedding invite - the traditional Yellow -Pink vernacular Invite which usually starts with the line " with the blessings of Kanchi shankaracharya "  which is a customary format followed by our family irrespective of whether we follow his teachings or not .

All hell broke loose . Was branded as the most precocious daughter-in-law to be . The family periyava's overruled the real Periyava. Ended up with four silk sarees .

My biggest and only regret in life till date .

Have never forgiven myself for this . Felt that the Bride in me just gave up easily .

But didn't let that powerlessness last . Stopped wearing those silks and have never bought silk since . Life went on smoothly  despite the  alternate crumpled cotton options !

Volcanoes are dormant . Again one erupted when our daughter was born .. Everyone felt not wearing silks was my deal and it should not be thrust on an infant . Hmm.. waited till she was able to comprehend my reasoning for saying no to silks . She used to Love Pattu paavadais . But one fine day when she was about 8 years while we were at Kanchipuram ..she declared she too would  stop wearing silks made by killing silk worms .

More power to us . The volcano is inactive now and did remain so when it had a very good chance to erupt once again . My sons Upanayanam ! The priest asked for the 'pattu ' . And I handed out the Cotton variety .
He thought I didn't understand and repeated it by stressing "pattu" .   DH looked the other way and  family Periyava's giving be angry , annoyed and a few unmentionable-emotion soaked looks . ..

With a silent prayer I blurted out my rehearsed lines - " we follow Periyava's teachings , so No pattu " ! The family priest took a minute but gave a smile and said "There is nothing else to say " and gladly let us proceed with the cotton and Artificial silk.

Why would I dither to publish this  post  ?  You may wonder ...I feared being  labelled  Judgemental ,Condescending  , Patronising  and  being  side-lined as Miss goody two shoes or still worse a new-age Snob !

What has changed ?  for the fear to give way now to this post .. you may ask. I  Guess my own clarity of thought and the certain adamant will , conviction and bindass attitude that is acquired  as we puff and pant over the hill .

Fearless forty- plus  , I would say , when you try  to do all that you could not at  Tentative Twenty-plus !

Have a lot of good friends and loving family who wear silks . This is not in the least meant to offend them or preach my ways .

It is just that ,I don't want to end up with a bigger regret of not expressing myself . With a hope that those who understand my reasoning will move into a higher plane in the relationship ..

Have bundled up my Regrets -a.k.a the four silk sarees not knowing what to do. Wondering if I should give it away .. but not sure if I am right in passing over what I think is sinful .

Just what do you do with Regrets ??!

Confused as ever . Will I ever get to change my blog title .. ? Sigh,

But have enough clarity to drape myself  in only cottons . May not be wrinkle-free and as smooth as Silk .

But definitely guilt-free !

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Maavadu Mahathmiyam

Almost jumped out of my vehicle when I saw a cartwala with what looked like  Maavadu . The feeling was akin to God at your doorsteps .Not that I am familiar with  the god-at-your-doorstep feeling . But am sure if and when god knocks at my door it will feel like the first sight of  the much awaited Maavadu coming your way along with  all else summer has to offer .

Tantalising , tell-tale signs of  the onset of  summer with Tender baby mango ..The English clinical translation  just doesnt do justice to this small wonder .Lacks soul. So I will stick to its vernacular name .

 Maavadu .

Doesnt that very name conjure up happy moments from Childhood summer days and Thayir saadam ?
My  entire house is filled with its  intoxicating smell...

This is my maiden attempt at picking and pickling Maavadu . All these years , I was of the opinion that making of maavadu was very close to Rocket science. Probably the out of the world taste.
What a wasted life .

Making of  Maavadu :

Can it be so simple ? Something that tastes so great ? Was  I was missing something major? Checked with Meenakshi ammal . Googled. Clarified with experts in cooking who also happen to be my friends .

The right sized Mangoes seemed to be the only major ingredient ..The rest of it was available even in a much disorganised , dysfunctional kitchen like mine .

 Am not a 5ml, 20gm , half of two and a quarter litre person .. nor  a believer in "what gets measured ,gets done "  .  So it is always a km for me. ( Kuthu Mathippu ). Blame it on decades of Madras autofare  influence .

While I believe thats a thing of the past I continue to lead my life on km basis .

It was like meditation -the picking , washing , draining , drying , oil bath for the Mangoes (!) and finally spicing it up . Karma yoga of sorts . Enjoyed the process  thoroughly .

Nirvana is just a few days away when these beauties start swimming in the salty waters .

As simple as that . Yet great and grand in taste and looks .

So, there emerges my pickle and a  phillosophy

Some of the greatest things are often as simple as Maavadu -The mother of all Pickles, though their grandeur belies it .

Pillayar made out of turmeric paste

A single mud Diya lit with oil

A bird's nest made with just twigs and leaves

A line sketch of bald head and round spectacle frame -  Gandhiji to all of us !

The look and feel of a crisp cotton saree

The toothless grin of a child at you

Tall glass of Buttermilk with just salt

Thanks to all this gyaan and inspiration by Maavadu , ended up with pickled  jars of Lemon , Maanga inji and Neer Nellikai . Feeling Rich. And the family loves it .

All of them as simple as that . And hardly-a-recipe. Just my kind .

DH quite worried by this strange and sudden kitchen activity quipped .." you okay ? want to get back to work ? "  (Worried that  I am going through a depression .ROTFL .)

It is just March madness . Wait till April when I give up all cooking and  binge on mangoes and more mangoes as a family .

Friday, February 14, 2014

Pattu paati and purple pottu !

My paternal grandmom . Pattu patti to her 21 grand children and 25 great grand children !

Feb 10th 2014 as she moves over to a new life at 95...

The one thing that strikes me about her is her love for life and undying  enthusiasm . I can never remember her sulking or being  depressed , tired ever . Always in high spirits and so full of life .
I am trying  to emulate  her attitude towards her children .. any child for that matter  . She has never ever - believe me- not even once  scolded or chided or yelled at her children .

And there were 13 of them ! Not to speak of  the limited means and spartan lifestyles those days .

That singularly makes her a remarkable human being in my eyes .

The list is endless ...

Ears that not only  loved  music , but which  came with a pair of hands that could notate any song on the harmonium  with ease.

Eyes that are now ready to give vision to somebody which were very sharp and would notice even the slightest change in anyone /anything . The pair which challenged the family to keep up the steady supply of reading material for her  till the end !

And her stunning memory - she would  remember all the 59+ family  members' birth days , Aniversary dates .

Have never heard her crib about anything . Nor has she ever longed for anything material , clothes or any thing else at all.

Her impeccable grammar and fluency in English ,thanks to her early education in Ewarts Convent and  polished over the years by reading The Hindu religiously- every single day .

She made the best Rasam in this universe . And the family still tries very hard to replicate her signature dishes like the Pulima upma , Thavalai adai , pidi kozhakattai .

Feel so nostalgic about lazy summer afternoons when she would hand out adi rasam with rice and  nallenai to a whole bunch of us sitting around her . ..Precious moments and memories . The taste still lingers on and so does her  affection ..

A very Stylish person indeed , who adorned the purple colour pottu on her forehead for years when the rest of the world still believed in maroon colour. She looked regal with such minimal adornments and her genuine captivating smile .

Special in every way -who moved over to the other world on a very special day Bheeshma ekadesi !

Not the one to be mourned for sure . So here I am ,Celebrating her life ...cud chewing on Valentine's day .

We will continue to love you paati !

Here is a fond recollection of memories about my paati by my sister on this day when the family got together for her first aniversary in the other world ,,

Thought for the Day

Very often I think about you

Amidst my daily chores and deadlines

Longing for newer moments to cherish later on

Everlasting poems that get etched in my heart and mind

Never once leaving me alone

Togetherness need it be physical ?

In mind and spirit we never depart

Now and forever

Eternity defined thus by  VALENTINE !

Dedicated to all the gentle souls that have touched my life in some way leaving me with cherishable moments that never fail to bring a smile .

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Happily Married

Twenty  years  and  twenty pounds ago , I felt like I was just getting ready for a fancy dress competition and for sure didnt know what I was getting into - Especially in that unwieldy yardage called madisaar !

Twenty long years ( actually ,make it 22!  ). Two children , 4 house shifts , exciting, funny ,laughter-filled ,teary eyed , head spinning , wall banging  moments - looking back brings a smile and makes me feel good .

I owe all this to my DH who has made a winner out of me in this fancy dress competition and ironically -without judging .

Here is an ode to my DH to tell him the things I really dont like about him but which is what makes me  Love him abundantly . 

- Dont  be so patient with me . I need to improve and become efficient too. Actually quite irresponsible on your part , you know .

- Wish you were a bit more budget concious .. When I ask for something that I really dont need you are supposed to say , " Dont you already have enough of that ? " And not " I think you should buy it " . This puts an additional burden on me  of being finanacially responsible .

- You are a liar . I wish you would sometimes atleast be honest and truthful and say the food wasnt really good  or that I need to shed some weight . Well, you dont have to be  as honest as a mirror ..but staying close to truth would certainly help .

- You never give me a chance to apologise first . You Say sorry way too soon . Wish you would understand that it takes about 24 hours or more  and several trips to the fridge before I cool down and realise it was all my fault .

- Memory . Please work on it . In the rare moments that I say 'sorry ' -you simply dont remember what I did or said .

- Dont pretend . As if our  stove top with spilt over milk from the previous day has an auto clean option . I know you do it ( know not when though .. ) as you know I hate waking up to a dirty stove top.

- Stop giving that charming smile . When I  dye your  favorite shirt with my colour running kurta due to my careless laundry routines .

- Dont be so understanding .. Leaving the bill with the gift , lest i want to exchange.

But , please  continue to snore while I am talking about my deepest passions or mundane nitty gritties . Continue to  put the clothes in the dryer -never mind if they  aren't washed . And please continue to put the milk kept out for setting curd in the fridge as you do now unfailingly everyday !  I see the intention -is to help . And immensely value that .

I can go thru several decades with you this way . Look back and Smile or give a Toothless grin . And I am sure you would say I look prettier than ever !

And just one last thing .. Please read my blog without me having to coerce you into it. It wont kill you . I guarantee.

Did I say we are Happily married ?

I am happy . He is married .