Simbly Bored

It's me that's bored enough to blog. The posts are interesting enough.

The Great Indian Railways July 15, 2009

Filed under: Little Things,Nostalgia,Personal Favourites,Priceless — The Goddess @ 5:37 pm

You can’t really separate the railways from the food. Most of my memories seem to revolve around food. Read on!

Travelling from Tatanagar to Howrah on the Steel Express eating Jhalmuri. The amazing bhel that came seasoned with mustard oil. It never ceased to surprise me that Nanna didn’t object to the rusty cans the ingredients were carried in, the jalmuri-wallah’s dirty hands or the coriander, onions and lemons chopped with a very suspicious looking knife. But he seemed to feel the need to draw the line somewhere, and that was at the sliver of coconut bhaiyyaji used as a garnish. One of my first acts of “rebellion” as I grew older was to eat the coconut. It was terrible, of course. But I proved a point. I think! 😀

Stopping at Kharagpur and Rourkela stations, we would never miss the puri-bhaji. The puri was fried in oil that no one wanted to learn the origins of in a blackened kadhai perched atop a kerosine stove. The liquid potato curry (the potatoes still had their skins on, of course) would miraculously never drip out of the leaf-cone it was served in. Amma or Nanna would hold up the curry for Annayya and me to dip into. Self-centred brats that we were, we never bothered to ask why they always waited for us to eat first…

As we moved further south, we hit the Vijayanagaram and Vizag stations. There was amazing Mango Jelly and even better milk sweets, pala kova as they were called (Vijaya dairy of course!). The best of all were the packets of buttermilk. Spicy, salty, cool, wet packets picked out of the ice bucket cut open deftly with a small blade (or one’s teeth) and sipped through green, blue and pink straws. No one worried about holding the “cold” packet with a tissue or wiping the water that dripped off the packets (Vizag humidity… Pah!). The clothes just dried by themselves as the train moved on towards more goodies!

At Samalkot station came the meals plate. Who can ever forget the dal/sambar/unknown liquidy substance and the unidentifiable curry and the sour curd that was inevitably part of the meals plate? For some reason, we considered this a treat, growing up!

Then came Rajamundry station with a treat unknown to many children “back in the old days”. Pineapple juice! Fresh pineapple juice poured straight out of the mixie with a foamy top J

The idly wada and the dosa at Vijayawada (and Rajamundry too). The masala chana in the South Indian stations. The biscuits, chocolates and gold fingers. The constant flow of food in the Shatabdi trains. The tiffin dabbas of other families that always seemed so much more interesting… The chicken curry-chapati of Vijayawada families, the idli, curd rice and pulihora from Vizag, the biryani from Hyderabad…

Food just seems to define Indian life. What we eat, when we eat it, how we carry it… It’s all such an intricate web. But nowhere more so than on trains. We inferred so much about a family just from their dabba. How many times did we hear the question “Brahmins aa?” as mom shared out the puri-curry and curd rice in the train? How many times did we whisper under our breath, “They must be xyz (caste, state, religion)” just by observing their lunch?

Train travel was certainly the “national integration” experience the posters said it was!

Watching North Indian women cover their head and knit furiously. Watching the obnoxious traveler occupy half the space of the meek one. Watching students get onto the train traveling to the city nearby where they attended college. Watching little children make friends with each other just as we did as little children ourselves. Listening to the men discuss politics and cricket.

Watching the hills, the rivers, the trees and the villages speed by. Watching little children wave to the train. Reading Tinkle and Chacha Choudhry. Feeling grand and important when Nanna allowed me to accompany him to get water at unknown stations. Looking wide-eyed at the stations around. Listening to Nanna bargain with the coolie and then watch him pay an extra Rs 10 because, “The poor man depends on us to make a living”. Taking an auto to go back home at the end of a vacation and asking the autowallah, “Did it rain recently?”

As I think back, I feel some of the best times we spent as a family were the train journeys we made. On the train, Nanna had no phone to answer, he brought no reports to read, he was relaxed and talked to us about everything we saw. Amma didn’t care what we ate and when. She would eat everything that came along too! There were no rules. We all talked and shared jokes and stories. For the 18 hours or 24 hours or 36 hours it took to get to wherever we wanted to go, it was all about us as a family.

As I think back, I finally understand why my parents continue to travel sleeper class even though they can afford the AC.

 

Home is… May 30, 2009

Filed under: Life in Amreeka,Personal Favourites,Priceless — The Goddess @ 5:58 pm

Where I don’t have to constantly chant in my head “keep right, keep right” when driving

Where I don’t have to ask for “no meat” just say, vegetarian

Where I don’t have to worry about credit scores, just show my “three months’ payslip”

Where all buildings don’t look alike

Where I hear a familiar language when I step out

Where silence is the exception

Where I can call out  “Auto” on the streets and go wherever I like

Where I don’t have to search for something edible on the menu when I go out to eat

Where I can stop someone on the street to ask for directions and not have to carry a GPS

Where Upma for breakfast is what’s normal and bread is for “emergencies”

Where I am not worried that I can’t afford to fall sick or have a tooth ache or break my glasses

Where I see familiar faces and smell familiar smells when I go to the mall

Where I know where I am

Where my accent is not out of place

Where business casual means salwar kameez and formal means trousers that are not jeans

Where I can stop by the road-side to buy anything from food to balloons to pirated novels

Where I can strike up a conversation with the person next to me on the bus

Where the radio plays a familiar tune

Where the grocery store is called the super market and there is a kirana store wherever I go

Where I can wear a sari whenever I like

Where there are no tabloids by the checkout counter

Where I don’t have to generate 1000 pounds of garbage a year

Where I can pile up all recyclables and sell them to the paper wallah 

Where there are no ice storms

Where addresses are skewed and I can navigate through a maze

Where there is an istri wallah and a maid and a cook and a driver and I am happy to be helping them support their families

Where I am not a legal or authorized alien

Where I don’t have to be friends with everyone Indian because everyone around is Indian

Where I see change happen everyday

Where I belong…

 

Accepting Applications April 24, 2009

For the post of onsite best friend.

Requirements:

Must willingly spend time with me instead of succumbing to academic, social or personal pressure and spending time for the sake of future gain.

Must not complain when I call in the middle of the night with intellectual, emotional, philosophical, nonsensical or whimsical demands.

Must be able to appreciate the concept of a sense of space and gauge moods.

Must consume occasional doses of gyan with a teaspoon of salt (or preferred seasoning).

Must be capable of sustaining intelligent conversation not centered around “Academics” or “People Around Us” or constantly compare life with “The Way it Was”.

Must understand that a friend is not someone who fills up time when the significant other can’t be there.

Must live within walking distance of my apartment.

Perks:

Unwavering loyalty

A shoulder to cry on

An ear to crib to

A person who cares

Endless conversations

Amazing coffee!

Closing Comments:

Individuals holding this post in the past will be able to provide further inputs regarding the post and perks

 

The Quest February 18, 2009

Filed under: Life in Amreeka,My Idea of Humour,Priceless — The Goddess @ 8:37 pm

It’s a dark and rainy night. The sound of the wind is drowned by the screech of the traffic behind us. We’re lost in an unknown city on deserted roads in the middle of nowhere. What are we to do?

We walk up to the closest lighted eatery and ask for directions. No one seems to know exactly where the place we’re looking for is… We’re officially lost!

Flashback – Earlier that evening:

Me: So, I’ve spent all this time on Google today and I’ve discovered the perfect place to spend our evening.

Him: Sounds great! We won’t have a chance to do this once we’re back home…

Me: That means we need to start out right now

Him: Not like we have anything better to do, lets go!

Rain, darkness, loss of map, a bus, a trolley, a bit of  bad schedule reading and confusion and another bus later, we get back to the present.

We wander around the dark roads, circle aimlessly around the block not knowing where we are headed but the destination is firmly imprinted in our mind. The quest must be achieved. This vacation must be meaningful…

A few minutes later, we meet a helpful soul who seems to be from these parts. Look! Light! Our destination!

An hour or so later, mission accomplished, we head back for the hotel. We walk to the bus stop in the pouring rain carefully clutching our purchases lest they get wet. We call the bus helpline and are directed to the right stop. The rain seems to let up a little. As we reach the bus stop, we watch the bus depart. And we’re left again in the cold, rainy, darkness to wait an hour for the next bus.

A terrible wait, a bus ride, a trolley ride and yet another bus ride later, we get to the end of the journey..

Me: So, Sweetie, did you feel like giving up halfway through before we got there?

Him: Naah!

Me: Do you think it was all worth it?

Him: Are you crazy? 6 hours to eat a masala dosa is totally worth it! Besides, now we also have uttappam to eat for breakfast tomorrow!

MORAL: A South Indian can sniff the whereabouts of Madras Cafe from 20 miles away…

 

The Missed Birthday December 18, 2008

Filed under: Blogging,Priceless — The Goddess @ 8:50 am

Simbly Bored turned 3 on Nov 26th and I forgot all about it! This was the first post I ever came up with. Nothing creative or imaginative. Just the kind of post abandoned blogs are made of.

But I’m glad I didn’t abandon this blog of mine. It’s been a good friend in times of need. And it’s brought me a lot of good friends. And I know a lot of people understand me better or differently because of this blog.

The fact that I forgot its birthday just like I do those of my friends makes be realize how much a part of me this is.

I’m sorry I forgot your birthday Simbly Bored. May we be together long enough for me to forget a lot more! 🙂

 

Hope and Peace December 1, 2008

Filed under: Life,Priceless — The Goddess @ 2:42 am

 “The general manager lost his whole family in one of the fires in the building,” Tata said. “I went up to him today and he said, ‘Sir, we are going to beat this. We are going to build this Taj back into what it was. … We will not let this event take us down.’ ”

Tata added, “And that is the feeling that they have, and I have a feeling that that’s pretty much echoed throughout the country.” 

I respect the man who doesn’t want to pick up a gun to wield revenge.

 

The Moon! November 15, 2008

Filed under: Priceless — The Goddess @ 9:43 am

I have nothing new, insighful, inspiring or fun to say. I just feel super excited (yes, been hanging out with the undergrads at work) that INDIA MADE IT TO THE MOOON!!!!

I can’t stop thinking about it. At all… 🙂