May 28, 2007


Somewhere between accurately predicting when there will be a traffic jam in Bangalore, and suffering tummy aches because of bad food, I figured out I had a para-scientific gift. Ladies and gentlemen, hold your breath (chiefly because of the stink) and bow before the greatness of: GAStrology.

Something between a gastronomist and an astrologer, I call myself a gastrologist. It’s in my email signature and on my business card. I’m two steps away from quitting my job and taking it up full time, with a board in front of my house:

Ink Spill

Love? Money? Health? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind…

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not gonna go about sniffing out people’s problems (eeeyuck!)… I’m just going to predict their ordinary future in conjunction with their expected flatulence, assuming a direct relationship between the two.

Also I think it’s quite a challenge to come up with twelve sets of predictions according to the zodiac, so I’m gonna just come up with seven according to the day of week on which you were born. I am sure most people know which day they were born on, because they would have taken the trouble to find it out when they heard this poem by the famous poetess Mother Goose about how those born on Monday are gora hotties and those born on Sunday prefer lovers of the same chromosomal configuration:

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go.
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child born on the Sabbath Day,
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

I am Thursday’s child and I have far to go…but I have been unable to understand what that means so far, so it probably means that I have far to go before I understand nursery rhymes….

So here is a sample prediction to test the waters before I make a commitment to my new science:

You will be surprisingly efficient at work today, as all the meetings you attend will end ahead of schedule, leaving you lots of time to do work. It has to do with your well-honed decision-making skills as much as with the fact that you will be burping up the garlic chutney you had for breakfast.

Your relations with the family will be strained and past problems might be raked up again. Expect tensions at home as your loved ones constantly bang on the bathroom door while you’ve locked yourself in and are creating bum music.

According to the rhyme you are full of woe so I’m giving you an easy time. You’ll have a great day, but do not expect to catch up on lost sleep in office meetings if your boss was born on a Monday.

You will finally have your chance to talk to that someone special when the two of you will find yourself alone in an elevator from the ground floor to the fourth. However, you will “blow it”…do I need to say more? Chances of romance remain slim after that. Do not vent your frustration on food. We do not want an encore if you’re in the elevator again….

You will suffer low self esteem today as you could be the butt (I love the way everything has a double meaning here) of jokes as you furiously (and rightly) try to explain that the aroma cloud was not emitted by you. (It was Tuesday’s fault, actually). You might give in to anger and this will have an adverse effect on your health today.

You will have to take a day off from work to deal with the street food you had yesterday. Enough said. And oh, please leave the exhaust fan on!!! Sheesh!

Fame and fortune await you as more and more people learn that you can burp the alphabet. A change in career is indicated as you might be tempted to set up a burping academy. Your love life remains abysmal, but remember this was the choice you made when you first burped “I love you”.

May 18, 2007

Upwardly Immobile

Was at Forum earlier this week and saw what I have seen so many times before: Aunties (I should stop calling them that now, I have fifty whites in my head) draped ever-so-casually in crumpled but exquisite Kanchi cottons, flowers in their hair, poised at the foot of the escalator with Uncle, afraid to step on to the moving staircase that will do the climbing for them. They smile nervously: “of course I know this is safe and saves me the effort, but what if I miss? What is my foot lands between two steps? What if my sari gets stuck? What if I fall?”…all these questions play across their faces simultaneously.

Meanwhile, as more and more empty steps form and rise, form and rise, the queue of people behind them grows longer. Uncle moves from coaxing to annoyed to exasperated, and a loud scary encouragement or two is uttered. In most cases, it achieves what loud, scary encouragement generally achieves: Aunty backs out. Uncle either stays back, or heads the queue of patience-depleted persons up the escalator. In either case, Aunty smiles, she is embarrassed, but too afraid to trust the machine…

Aunty grinds her own masala, stitches her own blouses, cleans her own house, brings up her own children; how can aunty let the stairs do the climbing for her?

Never mind Aunty, when your Bala or Rajan or Smitha call you to visit them in America, you’ll get enough practice! For now, psst: there are steps in McDonalds for ground to first, in Landmark for first to second.

May 08, 2007


He: You're mothering me!
She: Naah! You're kidding me!

May 07, 2007

Because It's My Blog And I Write About Whatever I Please!

On my latest trip to Coorg, I was greeted at the homestay by a bowl of kathal ki sabzi. The husband looked on in wonderment as I shrieked with joy, but pretty soon the Punjab Da Puttar was hooked to the dish, and we fought a polite informal battle over who gets to lick the bowl clean (well... almost).

All around Coorg we saw Jackfruit trees and I was torn between asking for an unripe one to be lopped off for me to take home and cook, and the realization that all I knew about cooking kathal was that is was a nightmare to prepare.

Back in Bangalore, the kathal pangs struck with renewed intensity this weekend, and I marched off to the local sabjiwallah demanding an enormous slice of unripe jackfruit. He said he stocked none, but pointed at a tree across the road where lots of jackfruit was growing in clusters, like batches of bloated porcupines learning tree-climbing. When I petulantly asked for one to be plucked for me, he said he did not have a sharp enough knife! I threatened to come by with mine the next day: now I would either have the jackfruit or this guy’s head!

I was at his shop demanding my pound of jackfruit flesh Sunday morning. Reluctantly, monsieur sabjiwalla brought me the smallest fruit from the tree, and I demanded that he skin it for me. His first attempt can only be called…. depilation. Thankfully, an elderly lady customer was looking on and guided the proceedings in kannada, all the while also advising me on how to cook the veggie. So at this stage I had the complete recipe…in a language that I do not know.

Mom and mom-in-law dispensed advice over the phone, and the sabjiwallah moved to oiling the knife and slicing off the thick rind with greater ease, all the while being guided by the panwallah on the exact angle at which to hold the jackfruit to facilitate ergonomic efficiency. Life went on as usual in the street, with a goat butting its thankfully tiny horns into my legs.

Icky white liquid that reminded me of shoe polish flowed freely out of baby Jackfruit. When my hand brushed against it, the stickiness engulfed me and soon flying bugs were caught in the trap of glue. This was the low point of the exercise! Soon however, the jackfruit was peeled and cut into pieces, the core removed, and it was all set to be cooked. The sabjiwallah refuses to take any money, and mumbled something about regretting the day he was born.

I ran home with the bag and cooked the kathal as best as I could! I boiled it, chopped it up, and then fried it in onions and tomatoes with random spices for hours… I had some sticky utensils, an aching arm, and a whole lot of yummy kathal at the end of the exercise. We hogged on it at lunch, and stashed the rest of it away.

So if you’re looking for a recipe or are planning to make this dish anytime soon, just drop into our house while we’re away and the kathal is in the big round steel box in the middle shelf in the fridge.