Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day 18- The End

I won't be writing anymore. I know I had 12 days more to go, but right now I am not in the right frame of mind. C'ya sometime.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Day 17

I know I didn't write yesterday. I was supposed to write how fantastic my weekend was with my sister. But some recent developments have left me sad, very very sad. No, I didn't lose anyone or anything dear. For some it might not even be such a big deal. People are trying to cheer me up.
"It's ok ya, maybe it won't be that bad this time" my sister
"Sometimes you have to go through all these. Maybe it won't happen at all" Sara
"hogli bidu. What can you do now? Its all for the good." my mother

Unfortunately all this does not seem to help. It gets worse in the early mornings when the house is so still and my boy's chitter-chatter is missing.

The mind wanders, furiously
My heart flutters rapidly
Be still my heart, be still
It doesn't listen. Tears well up instantly
NO! Quickly now
Its wiped away before it hits the cheeks
One day it is going to flow- and the t-shirt sleeve probably won't suffice.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Day 16: Happy Weekend

My sister is coming from Bangalore this weekend.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 15: Bloody weather

Is there any other season in Chennai other than Summer? Or is it Summer throughout the year? It's 33C but feels like 40C the fan has just been circulating the hot air. ugh. I want to sit in the fridge along with the peas- if only I could fit in it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day 14: Freakin' autos

Stupid me never learnt how to drive in the US. I survived because my apartment was at the center of all things bright and beautiful- Whole foods, Trader joes', Barnes and Nobles, Target, $ Store, TJ Maxx, AC Moore, Micheals, Ross were all within walkable distance. Also the husband was a very good chauffeur, I mean very good- like I would have bought wool from AC Moore and halfway on the way home I'd tell him I forgot to buy the needles he would turn around without squeak and drive me to the store- that good :D But still being dependent on someone was annoying at times-when I just had to go the craft store in the winters and J would be at work ugh. So when I came to India I thought Hallelujah! Autorickshaws!! I was SO wrong.

The Chennai situation-
The buggers have a meter in the auto but won't turn it on. It's only for show. To go from your hall to your kitchen they will charge you minimum 50rps. And they won't call you 'amma..amma vanga" if you turn and walk away. I cannot understand why this stupid government can't fix a minimum, even if it is 50rps just fix a damn price and let them follow the rule. And I used to think if the auto has a sticker of a God they won't cheat. Wrong- if it's Jesus or Allah or Shiva all the buggers here cheat you.

The Bangalore situation-
I take autos rarely in B'lore as the bus service is awesome. The Chennai buses look scary, almost like the people sitting on the last row are going to fall out of the bus any minute brr... Ah so, these buggers use the meter, but they have different issues. You have to go where they want to go.
illa (no)
JP nagar
Mantri Mall

'The 50rps extra story:
Thumba traffic -50rps jasti kodi (too much traffic that side, give 50rps extra)
Thumba olagde road alli ede-50rps extra kodi (it's not on the main road, give 50rps extra)
Road sari illa- 50rps extra (the roads are not good give 50rps extra)

The 'onenhalf' story:
You have luggage its "onenhalf madam, luggage ge extra" (one and half madam extra because of the luggage) You moron I have luggage that is why I'm taking an auto else I would have gone by bus.
'onenhalf maa, eydhu gante' (one and a half it's 5am)
'onenhalf kodi male bartha ede' (one and a half because it's raining)

It's high time I started to learn to drive, but the traffic ahh that story is for another day!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day 13: Watch what you say.

"Don't talk in Kannada there are people who know the language" was something J used to repeat every time we went to any South Indian restaurant in the US. So I used to be act poised (which is pure torture for me) and zip my mouth in the S.Indian eateries. In the North Indian ones however I didn't listen to J because I was so certain nobody would know Kannada, until that day.

{Insert my favorite swirly circle depicting flashback and twiiinee twiinee music}
The place- Akhbar our most favourite North Indian restaurant (and the best according to us) in Maryland.
The setting- we were done with our meal and had asked for boxes to pack up the rest.
J was packing up the naans and some side dish.
me- yakko onions, lemon yella waste madthya ediya? Adhu haaku box alli. (why are wasting the onions and lemon? put that also in the box.) I was referring to the salad they give as a side- yes I am cheap that way :P
J- nijjvaglu?! (really?!)
me- ya. illa andre anyways throw madthare. duddu kotilva adikke, haaku box alli. (ya. otherwise they will just throw it. we have paid for it so put it in the box.)
And J as usual in his 1km/hr speed was sloooowwwwly putting the onions in the box, suddenly the waiter came to the table.
Me- aioo nodtha edane, karma bega hakkakke aaglilva ninge? Eega hakkbeda. (Aioo he's watching, couldn't you fill the box faster? Now just stop.)
Waiter- Haakoli sir parvagilla (you put sir it is ok)

Now you know what I wanted to do next. Yes jump into that vat of paneer butter masala. I was SO embarrassed. Then J of course did ask him where he was from- the guy was from B'lore (aiooo...) and near JP nagar (aioo.. aioo.. aiooooooo... that is where my in-laws live!). That was the last time I ever blabbered in Kannada in any Desi restaurant. I said Desi restaurants, I am so certain people did not understand Kannada in Tara Thai or California Pizza Kitchen :D

Monday, September 10, 2012

Day 12: The Potluck

By now most of you must be familiar with my friend Sara the bakerella and all the goodies she sends me. Few people were jealous of that :D and asked for a potluck. It was initially planned for a weekday, which I refused to attend because of baby sitter issues and so the potluck was postponed to a Saturday. This Saturday Sara and I were actually supposed to go to Little Italy for lunch later to a craft expo then she suggested getting the potluck done. So people were invited and food was made.

Sara being Sara over-worked her oven :D This was the table that evening:

She had made  corn tarts, chicken teriyaki, cherry tomato-gorgonzola focaccia, orange jelly panna cotta, chocolate mousse gateau, eclairs and white chocolate-butter scotch cookies that she FORGOT to put out!

I made peanut caramel brownie cake (forgot to add 1/4c sugar D'OH!) and pear tart (again I assumed ground almond was almond meal later when I read the blogs I came to know ground almonds was almonds ground in the blender to a paste D'OH! D'OH!) But that tart was amazingly tasty I'm making it again this weekend, you guys must try it once. It's on Dorie Greenspan's site and also on sites that took part in TWD.

Ah then at 5pm walked in our 1st guest Bala who informed us that everyone else dropped out and so he turned to be the only guest that evening. Entertainment was provided by Sara's witty husband. There were many LOL moments and the most funniest one according to me was this;
Now Bala has a 6.5mo girl baby (how so cute is that?) so there was lot of baby talk,

Sara- 6 months is cute but 9months is even better.
Bala- oho
Sara- after 9months they grow teeth and their face cut changes
Bala- and then
Sara's husband- and then they become like this! --pointing to his college going son
Me- LOL!

This was such a fun evening- with all that sugar how can it not be?!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Day 11: Utterly butterly busy

Ola people! Masala vade is closing shop a little early as I'm slightly busy today-

Details will be up Monday yaay!

After all that talk about idlis yesterday, guess what my son's teacher gives me when I go to pick him up?

"ma'am it's idli, somehow we have to keep them occupied."

I laughed so hard I almost peed.
I said almost!

Have a good weekend people!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 10: Idli

I like idlis however I'm not going to give you any gyaan on idlis because I suck at making idlis, it's always a hit or miss. I can make decent idlis with idli rava but I like the ones the Tamilians make with idly rice. I have tried all varying proportions from 1:1.5 to 1:3 sometimes it works most times it flops. So yesterday I was googling for Kushboo idli and found a recipe I liked (more pics of Kushboo than the idli- go on Google it) This one http://www.priyasfeast.com/2012/07/kushboo-idly.html 
It was already 5pm so I quickly soaked the dal and rice (I used idli rice as raw rice is 40rps/kilo and can't afford to waste it on experimenting idlis :D) and the batter was ready by 8pm.

At 4am I thought "yaay! Kushboo idli day!' Ok I like idlis a lot. So by 7am I oiled the idli pans (with coconut oil, another thing i'm beginning to like...a lot) and filled the batter into the wells.

Loaded it into the steamer and set the timer. Fine! I love them idlis. Now continue to read.

it buzzed, the steamer sighed, I cried "finally kushboo idli' Ok dammit I'm crazy/obsessed about idlis.

I waited for 2mins before removing the lid, freed them from the pan ever so gently


and arranged them prettily in J's lunch box,

I stacked them on his plate. "look my love, kushboo idlis' said I, "huh? She started selling idlis now?' said he, 'grrr...-eat' replied I with a glare.

I made a thick paste of chutney pudi and coconut oil and smeared it onto the idli, took a bite

In idli heaven right now. Don't disturb, come tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Day 9: Dosa

Dosa/dosai/dose however you want to call these South Indian lentil-rice crepes, Chennai's dosa sucks- big time. They just do not know how to make a dosa. We have tried dosas from Saravana bhavan- fail, Grand sweets- fail, Murugan idli kadai- epic fail, even the ones from Vasco in Hilton Chennai was just meh, the only decent ones we have had so far is from Sangeetha. One of my friend even went on to say "don't call what they make in Chennai dosas cos they are not' :D Bangalore takes the dosa crown. From Adigas in Chandralayout to Dosa camp in Jayanagar to the numerous Darshinis dotting the town I've not come across a bad dosa in Bangalore. The colour is deep red, with just the right amount of crisp and when you eat you can taste the cooked batter. Here after the batter is spread on the pan they keep scraping it with a spatula and drizzle oil like its the last day on the planet- as a result you end up with a thin greasy dosa which is never crisp- crisp is when the dosa stays still like a papad not slightly leaning over! In Chennai the dosa is always leaning over-sort of soggy crisp ugh, basically like eating hot greased butter paper- yum! 

Here is how I make a dosa which IMHO is a trillion times better than what is sold in most of the restaurants here. 
My proportion- 1/2C urad dal: 3 C rice (2C idli/dosa rice and 1C ponni boiled rice)+small fist of thick poha+1tsp methi (yep that much, cos my dal fluffs wonderfully. In the US I was using 1:3 I had to increase after I came here. My Bharathi athe (aunt)*who gets the bestest dosa in town crown from me* uses 1:8 :D) And the dal is NEVER ground along with the rice, the dal and the rice mixture is soaked separately (for 2 max 3 hours) and then ground separately. The dal is ground separately to allow it to sort of reach its maximum fluff potential (it will not fluff up properly if mixed with rice and ground=what the ladies in my family tell me), the rice mixture is not ground fine but slightly coarse. After the dal and rice mixture is ground I then mix both together with salt and let it ferment. Again nothing is worse than eating sour dosas-never over ferment, when I see it slightly risen I transfer it to the refrigerator (with the wonderful tropical climate here I see that it continues to rise in the fridge). 

I use a cast iron pan for all my dosas, I use non-stick for chapathis. If you are wondering about the coconut thing on the red lid -I use it to grease the pan :D Don't waste an onion!

Drop one ladle and round round round ending with a strike in the centre so the batter is not thick in that area. 

Cover (everyone in my family does this step, which I find most other people don't) It helps to cook the dosa faster

remove and drizzle the fat of your choice- ghee in my case (if adding podi/chutney do it now)

and allow it to crisp 

and we never flip the dosa, serves no purpose if you ask me, waste of time really it's already cooked what more are we trying to do by flipping it. 

Done- golden and no leaning tower of dosai. 

*You cannot use this batter to make idlis
* If you can't find idli rice use raw rice (I used to use Sona Masuri in the US and the dosas used to come out well)
* boiled rice gives the dosa colour and makes it crisp, don't use too much of it, you will end up with a very tough dosa- not good.

And that is how a dosa is made in SJ's house :D 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Day 8: If you were the waiter...

So we were in Sangeetha restaurant last weekend and there was a couple sitting next to us who would glance at my son every now and then. J thinks because the boy was looking cute, I think it was because the boy was stuffing mini idlis into his mouth using a soup spoon. Amusement for them, new toy for the boy, peace and quiet for us, everyone happy. Then a man walked in sporting a pony tail and a blue rubber band holding that thing together *I interrupt this post with a mini rant on men and pony tails: men, don't have sprout a pony tail unless you wear a brassiere. Thats it, now we shall resume* So the man sitting next to us happened to be his friend and the pony tail sat next to us with the couple and he started talking and talking and talking we finished 1 fresh lime soda, 1 podi dosa, my son's remaining mini idlis and chikku milk shake , channa batura and falooda and talking and talking. I thanked God that I was not the woman sitting with the man- I really would have gone off to sleep! I heard him talking about how Hotchips opened 1st then Saravana bhavan, something about his daughter. Then the couple ordered coffee and the pony tail described with hand actions and voice modulation for about 2mins his choice of beverage- it was rasam in a cup *no you cannot slap your forehead* 

Then the man asked for the bill, and as usual like all Indians the pony tail and the man started gentle-pony tailed arguing about who was going to foot the bill. 
"illa sir naan kudukuren"
"no no I will give"
"illa paa nee kudu naanu kudukeren bill"
"venda sir nan pay panre"
I was getting ready to ask the waiter to send my bill also to the next table and get them to pay when the pony tail said, "evaru yaar theriyuma? inda building owner" (do you know who he is? He is this building's owner) to the waiter. 

Now if you were that waiter, what would you say to yourself? 

I would have cursed the hell out of him. I don't get this show off thing, so what if the guy is a building owner'? What has that got to do with footing the bill! So dumb some people are especially the ones with pony tails.

Day 7: Attitude

Few weeks back I was standing at the bill counter in Spencer's grocery store. I was carrying my boy in my left hand, my hand bag dangling from my right shoulder and I was balancing 3 apples in both hands (so talented, I know :D). I was standing behind an elderly man (and I do not stand close to the person in front me, I do not like it. I usually leave about an arm length space between me and the person in front). A college going or recently employed guy looked at me and stood in that space. I thought he was looking at the chocolates or something so for a while I didn't say anything then I noticed he was not browsing at chocolates and seemed like he wanted to bill his purchase.

me- emm... are you line?
he- yeah
me- but I was behind this man
he- so you should stand here why are you standing there? (like as if I was standing inside the freezer along with the paneer packets, loose cases I tell you)
and then he stood behind me and finally went off to another counter.

Shouldn't he have asked me first if I was in the line before he stood there? And even after I told him that I was in line, shouldn't he have apologized, instead of radiating his wisdom? Or is this behavior from scrawny 20yr olds pretending to look much older by sporting 5-6 hair on their chin and calling it a goatee normal?

Sometime I feel like if I had not stayed in the US I would not have made such a big deal of this. There people usually ask if one is in the line and sometimes the person having a baby or 1/2 items is allowed to go in front. Many a times I feel US spoils a person; I expect a thank you, sorry, please, a greeting. Or maybe it is just me who is acting like a stupid ex-NRI. Whatever it is I hope the boy doesn't get into a job where he has to deal with customers- no kiddo that would not be a good match.