In my part of the world, it’s tea time. Now I don’t know about you but my evening tea is very precious to me. This is the time when I sit back on the couch, put my legs up on the coffee table, slowly dip ginger snaps in the tea, flip pages of a magazine, watch TV and just sip my tea noiselessly.
Days such as these call for comfort food. Food that warms your heart, makes you feel at home even when you are miles away from your loved ones. Food that reminds you of the weeknight dinners as a child, when you would be busy buttering the crisp toast while your mother brought out the heavenly mutton stew.
Mutton stew from mum’s kitchen
You will need:
Mutton 500 gms (or more but then please adjust the rest of the ingredients accordingly)
Potatoes 2 medium cubed
Sunflower / canola oil 4 tbsps
Cinnamon 1 stick
Green cardamom 4
Bay leaves 1 medium sized
Curry leaves (few)
Onion 1 medim sliced
Green chillies 2
Salt to taste
What to do?
Marinade the mutton with a little salt and pepper for about 20 – 30 minutes. After that put the mutton in a pressure cooker with about a cup and half of water and pressure cook it for about 20 minutes.
Heat the oil in a deep cooking pot and once it is hot temper it with bay leaves, curry leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Sometimes I throw in some whole black peppers as well at this time to get the fragrance. After the fragrant smell of the whole spices comes out, add the sliced onions and saute it till it turns translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and the green chillies and some salt. Saute till the raw smell of ginger and garlic disappears. Put in the potatoes at this point and cook till the spices coat the potatoes and they get a nice goldenish hue. Add the mutton pieces and saute till the oil comes out of the sides. Add the mutton stock and water, if required, cover and cook till the potatoes are done. Check for salt and adjust consistency of the stew by adding more water and boiling if required.
Note: I cook the whole thing in a reduced low to medium flame. Always.
Serve with white rice or appams or have it with a nicely buttered toast.
© Paroma Ray
My mother is leaving tomorrow. And that is all I can think about while I sit in the drawing room and stare with a blank look in my eyes at my mother’s figure moving deftly around the open kitchen frying some fish, adding saffron to the chicken and checking the salt in the daal. And she hums to herself. All the time.
I can’t hum. Not now, anyways. My heart feels heavier than a stone and my head feels empty every time I think of tomorrow afternoon. My mother is leaving tomorrow afternoon.
Ma baked a chocolate cake with a hint of coffee. She looked after the plants. Took care of my laundry and ironing. She ordered groceries. She made tea. She was there to watch TV with me, to go out in the evenings with me, to have dinner with me, to hug me every night and kiss me when I left for work every morning. She let me crash on the sofa with the TV on and woke me up only for meals.
She let me be.
And now. She is leaving. She is taking a big piece of me away with her this time. I don’t want to let go of her. But she has to go. She has to leave.
So she is leaving. She is leaving. She is leaving.
You know, no actually you don’t know, my mother is coming tomorrow.
Wait. I need to say it right. MA IS COMING HOME TOMORROW. TOMORROW! MA IS COMING!
Such a happy thought! Heh. And I am such a mother’s child, I tell you. If my mom listens to this she will roll her eyes, very ably hide her smile and remind me of my age. And the fact that I have been on my own for the last ten years.
But. But. That doesn’t change anything. Does it? I am still going to hug a cushion and sleep on the couch with the TV on for three weeks now. And I just need to say “Ohhh. Ma. Its been so long since I have had bhetki pathuri”. And guess what will be cooked for dinner the very next day?
Oh! Happiness, happiness. Just a few more hours till you come to me
THIS is why I never tell you anything these days! Will you come soon please?
Your very stubborn daughter.
P.S.- Happy Mother’s Day, Ma. I have thought about this and I figured that today I have done only three things that you would have disapproved of. And of course, I cannot talk about them here! Tee-hee.
I don’t think I will make any introductions. I need to rant, crib and vent it all out. And I will do so in a much organized bulleted manner just make sure I have put it ALL out there. So here I go-
- I am terribly overworked and severely underpaid! I don’t mind doing a lot of work but it would be nice to be compensated accordingly!!
- I hate Delhi traffic. Also, I hate the traffic in Calcutta and Bombay (and yes I would forever call it ‘Bombay’) which limits my choices of metropolitan living in India to one city! *Sob*
- I am bored with Delhi (there I said it out loud). And considering the rant mentioned in the bullet above I don’t know where to go!!!
- My mother has postponed her trip to Delhi by ONE week!! *Dies of shock just writing this* And don’t judge me. It is very hard to wait for luchi and aloor torkari and chilly chicken for ONE more week!
- I keep wanting to run away. I try not to want it, you know. I try telling myself that this need of running away is NOT actually going to take me anywhere so I should be happy and content with where I am and what I am doing. And that telling myself DOES NOT help.
- I miss living in New York! I miss the walking, the subways, the freedom, the summer and the tall skim latte at Starbucks. That city did magic to me, I tell you. *Sigh*
- I also want EVERYTHING. Yes. I want everything and want them right now. I have told myself, I tell myself everyday actually, that one should not ask for everything and one should count her blessings and smile forever and that it is practically not possible to obtain everything unless you are literally floating in money (by which I mean hard cash) these days. Doesn’t help!!! I still want EVERYTHING.
- I want a job in one of those travel shows. No. Wait. I want a job in one of those travel FOOOD shows.
- This reminds me that I am getting fat. I have put on many many pounds of weight over the last six months. Which had not bothered me at all except these last two weeks when I could not fit into a nice tee and when R realized that his trousers were feeling tight-er around the waist! So realization happened and we went around Gurgaon hunting for THE gym with THE machines and THE deal and THE location (see, that wanting everything again!). After a week of ‘checking things out’ and ‘weighing our options’ last evening we zeroed in one place. The gym looks a little flamboyant (it has pink green and red lights in the reception with white couches and the staff wear purple shirts with black pants and purple tie with black stripes) but it has a lot of equipment, interesting group classes and spinning classes which apparently make you lose 800 calories in one here! I can already picture myself sweating it out and then donning a bikini and labeling myself super hot super soon! Aah! Such good thoughts, I tell you.
Now. Having said ALL THAT and being on the other side of fence where the grass is supposed to be greener and stuff let me tell you what the truth is (and the reader MUST remember that such reality escapes the resident of greener pastures very very frequently)-
- I actually like my job. I do a lot of work and not in the perfect working conditions (imagine being on the top floor of a run down building without fully functional air conditioning when it 46C outside!) but I really like what I do. Compensation is an issue but I did jump into this headlong knowing that compensation would be an issue. So it’s okay, I guess.
- It is for the same reason that I do the one and half hour commute one way everyday to get to work. I really do like it THAT much!
- I AM bored with Delhi but then I get bored with anything that looks permanent. I need change all the time!
- Yes. I want to run away. I want to go and live very very far from here. Far from all my problems, my nightmares, my anxiety, my constantly looking over my shoulder and my worrying about my mother. I think the last bit tops. *Sigh*
- That’s a part of the reason for which I miss living in New York. I was safe, I was free and I was very far away from all the problems back home. (But then one can’t run away forever. Can they?)
- And I can rant and crib about not having everything without actually ever having them all. So it’s all good, actually.
So dear God, thank you for a life which is not half as bad as I make it out to be, thank you for the wonderful mother, thank you for R, thank you for my friend of twenty five years, thank you for my other friends who I can ping on g-talk at any time of the day and crib my heart out while they fight deadline at work. Thank you for the job that I wanted and thank you for all the comfort that I have right now.
There! I feel a little better and I hope the Sunday will go by without much ranting now.
I promise a better post soon!!
Filed under: midweek crisis, mother, Nostalgia, Opinion and facts, The everyday stuff, The hardest part | Tagged: change, delhi, food, freedom, friends, India, New York City, restless, sunday, weekend | 6 Comments »
Mild winter breeze. Grey skies.
Traffic snarls. The eight minute wait at a traffic light.
The bells of cycle rickshaws. And the horns.
The CNG autos. The low floored buses.
The mouth watering rasogolla at the neighbourhood sweet shop.
The familiar smell of warm toast in the morning. The tinkle of a spoon against a tea cup. “You still prefer black?”
The endless fish curries. The waiting for biriyani. The mutton rolls.
The plans changed. Times not kept.
The doorbell ringing in the morning. “Didi, aajkey oi baari tey ki hoyechhey jano? ” (“Do you know what happened in the other house this morning?”)
The news bulletins on Jyoti Basu. The heated discussions on politics, ideals and beliefs.
The new literature festival. The book fair missed.
The walks around a park. The life that seems a little troubled. A friend’s shoulder. A patient hearing.
Evenings spent with relatives. Neighbor’s lives. Gossip. Smirks. Laughters again.
Shawls and sarees. Kashmir emporium. New Market.
Sitting by the side of a mighty river. Staring out into the open.
Dreams had. Deams lost.
Peace. Home. Hope.
Heartache. Soulmate. Best friend.
Filed under: mother, Nostalgia, Opinion and facts, The everyday stuff | Tagged: afternoon, Calcutta, conversation, food, freedom, friends, home, Kolkata, love, mother, vacation, winter | 15 Comments »
…Is over. It has gone by without too much hue and cry. No earth shattering events have happened in my life. And although I am a year older now I don’t think I have become any wiser. but there are things that I have learnt. Some things that I believed in have been reaffirmed. I know now that there are times when you feel like an alien in your country and that does not make you a snobbish foreign return chick. It is only human. I know it is possible to resign strictly on ethical reasons. It is possible to walk out on a job that earns you a fat pay check when your boss tries to grasp your hands at every given chance and tries to call you “Paro” at every given opportunity. It is possible to control your anger through deep breaths when he threatens to use his contacts to make sure you do not get a job at any decent possible.
Yes, all that is possible.
It is also possible to take a pay cut, increase the commute time and fall in love with your job. It is possible to find people who work for a cause they believe in and stand up for the same.
Yes. That’s possible too.
I know my mother can take every single burden off my shoulders. Very easily. Just by her sheer presence. I also know now how important it is to have parents-in-law who accept you completely for what you are. Sans the sindoor, the bangles, the saree/ salwar kameez, the cooking and house management skills.
I know all that now.
I have realized that marriage is a very simple thing. If you marry the right person for the right reasons.
Yes. It is true.
I also realize that I am still in Delhi because of the friends I have here. It is because of the crazy times I have with them, because I can fall back on them, I can laugh with them, laugh along when they laugh at me, sing and dance with them. It is because they have called me a friend in return and have stood by me through thick and thin. It is because I would live another day just to get one more day with them.
Yes. Friendship can be very strong.
And no. I do not have any new year resolutions. I have never had any. Except the one time when I promised to study very hard and clear all my papers for my terminals in the XI. I failed miserably in my resolution. Needless to say, I failed miserably in all my term papers as well. So. I hope I do not have to take any more atrocious science exams ever in my life again. No maths, no chemistry lab to worry about and feeling lost in physics practicals. Well, I still cal deal with feeling lost. But not the physics practicals. And barring those I think I can pretty much take on what the year has to offer.
How does this last day of the year look for you? Any thoughts?
And Happy New Year to you all. You have been such a support for me.
The Rangoli is gone, the diyas are gone, the candles are over. R burst his fair share of firecrackers, I stood at the farthest corner possible, draped in a new saree of black and gold with a few Phooljharis in my hand cringing every time a cracker burst in the vicinity (that is to say, every other second right beside me). The lights from my balcony will come down tomorrow. Life will go back to being muchly mundane. We will all go back to work, to our daily commute, the songs on the radio and no particular mad rush of getting back home.
The Diwali ended well. With a traditional Bengali dinner complete with finger licking mutton curry, tomato chutney and narkel naru.
The Diwali brought with it a nice crisp breeze, a slight chill in the air, the mellow warmth of the sun and walks any time of the day. Yet now when the sunlight falls squarely on my east facing balcony, a slight heartache tells me I am missing something. It brings me tears of both joy and sorrow. Of loved ones coming and loved ones leaving.
But then there is tender daybreak. A new day, every day. It brings a little bit of hope for all of us. Hope of holding on, hope of letting go. Hope of being able to smile one more time before wiping away hidden tears.
Yes. Diwali is over. All that is left behind now is the strange feeling of nostalgia, the sudden feeling of emptiness. And the lamps, waiting to be lit again next year.
At the outset, my apologies. I have not been writing and I am sorry about that. My blog has many regular readers and for that I am grateful. Such long absence without any explanation is unfair. And thank you, for checking on my blog. It feels good not to be deserted in trying times.
After much thinking as to how I should go about writing this post, I decided to design a tag for myself. This tag, I have concluded, would allow me to organize my thoughts into neat little paragraphs in a question answer fashion which would also make it reader friendly. Because, there is quite a bit I want to write.
So here goes-
Where have you been?
Here. Right here. Shuttling between Delhi and Gurgaon. I haven’t taken any break, haven’t gone on a vacation. And this is really not a “come back” post because I never really “went away”.
Have you missed the blog?
Terribly. I have thought about writing every single day every hour of every day.
If you were not blogging what were you upto?
I have recently switched jobs. The travel time is a killer, work is stressful and deadlines now rule my life. But I love it, I love every moment of it. This is what I have been wanting to do for so long. And it is so worth the wait, the insane daily commute and the over bearing deadlines!
Did you forget it was Pujo in between? No nostalgia this time?
I did not forget it was Pujo. Definitely, definitely did not. I whined in plenty about not being in Calcutta, about missing my friends, about missing pandal addas, about not being able to see my city decked up and happy.
But, but. My mother arrived as Saptami evening as did R. And with them around my first Pujo in Gurgaon went much better that I had expected it to be. We did the Shondhi Pujo anjali, the Nabami anjali and went pandal hopping on Ashtami night. We also gorged on biriyani, fish fry, fish and mutton chops. I wore my crisp new sarees and felt a tiny part of the Pujo madness that takes over Calcutta this time of the year.
This was my sixth Pujo away from you. For the last five years I hadn’t heard the dhaak and I hadn’t offered anjali. This year my yearning soul found solace. I heard the dhaak on Ashtami night during Shandhi Pujo. As I offered pushpanjali that night and on Nabami morning, I stood in the familiar smell of incense sticks, amidst the organized chaos, passed around the baskets of flowers, accepted shantir jol and prosaad and murmured the Sanskrit slokas with everyone around. I cried out of sheer joy and happiness.
Then. Nothing much happened. Ma is here for a while and I have given up on getting any chinta of any sort. I have left everything to her. I still do some regular things but just her presence makes everything so much easier!
R is away. In another country. He will be back on Sunday but will be leaving right the next day for another city. But that’s alright. I have sent him a list of things I want and as long as he is getting those for me, he will be spared.
Is anything bothering you?
Yes. A couple of things.
This morning I notice on the first page of TOI that Karan Johar has had to apologise to Raj Thackrey for referring to “Mumbai” as “Bombay” in his new movie Wake up Sid. Apparently the sentiments of Marathi people (Marathi manoos, as they are referred to now) have been gravely hurt.
Gravely hurt, my foot.
I have been in Maharashtra for five years of my life. I have called Pune my second home. I yearn to go back to that city and get a little bit of my college life back. I have also spent a lot of time in Bombay. And I love that city for everything it is and everything it is not. Maharashtra is as dear to me as it is to anyone else in this country.
But no. Raj Thackrey in a national interview the other day proclaimed that it is fine for people from other states to “visit” Maharashtra but why should they stay on in HIS Maharashtra. Also note that he was giving the interview on national television (CNN IBN, with Rajdeep Sardesai) in Marathi. It is fine if you want to give an interview in Marathi if you have difficulty with other languages. But, Raj Thackrey, the revered one, said that even though Hindi IS the national language (and Sardesai was speaking in Hindi and he is a Maharshtrian) it is not HIS language and he would communicate only in Marathi because it is HIS language. And other people of the nation (his own nation which I think he forgot) should make an attempt to understand what he is saying. He did not hesitate in using English though, in the interview.
Tell me, how does it matter? When terror struck Bombay (and yes, I love saying Bombay as opposed to Mumbai) every single Indian all over the world stood united. Every single person prayed, everyone stayed glued to the television and I’ll be damned if anyone said “Oh! That’s a problem with Maharashtra”.
Just when you think, that emancipation is coming, the all emancipated Raj Thackrey takes a one eighty degree turn and takes you back to the time when kings and emperors were busy aggressively defending their kingdoms.
The other day I read an interview of Chitrangada Singh in the front page of Delhi Times, wherein she said that she just does not understand how her good friend Shiney Ahuja and other people who have not been convicted of a crime are being kept in jail when they have not been proven to be guilty of their crimes.
I am hoping that Chitrangada Singh, who did Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, is more intelligent than that.
Going by her logic, Kasab (I don’t need to explain who he is) should also be freed. Nothing has been proved against him. He is an accused. That’s all.
Sigh! I am going to pass this as a blonde moment of Chitrangada Singh. I am sure she will do better.
The Delhi heat is killing me. It is the end of September and the sun still rages in sky with no hint of mellowing down. So dear Lord, I am ready for the winters now. I want to sip a cup of hot chocolate with pakoras and wrap myself up in a quilt from head to toe and watch a good movie.
So you haven’t written at all?
I did manage to write a story for Sa at the last moment. I missed the deadline but they have been very generous for publishing it. You can read it here.
I also have some reports of some seminars and conferences, which I am sure none of you are interested in. May God bless your souls.
Right now, I am in the car feeling feverish and going back home from work. On reaching home, I will throw my bag on the sofa and collapse right next to it. Mom is going to get me some tea and biscuits. She will then do lakshmi pujo at home. After which we will eat luchi, alu fulkopi and begun bhaja. Thereafter I shall take the hot water bag, stuff it under my lower back and catch up on some much needed sleep. That’s all.
One last question. Would you be disappearing often like this?
I don’t want to. And now that I have learnt to utilize my travel time effectively for reading and writing, I am hoping that there won’t be such a long absence again.
Anything else you want to say?
Yes. It feels good to be back. Thank you all for reading and asking me to write soon. It worked!
I think this tag has very efficiently summarized my activities over the last few weeks.
Also, anyone who has been absent from the blogosphere for too long and is having difficulty in putting down everything, please feel free to take this up and change it as per your requirements.