Rama Navami with a twist

I am pretty punctilious about observing the myriad festivals that dot the Hindu calendar.... But between Kardiya Nombu (14th March) and Puthu Varsha Pirappu (14th April), I inevitably skip over Rama Navami. This leaves me feeling a bit guilty, a bit nostalgic and wondering if there is something in my psyche that wants me to forget the existence of this Lord or his birthday.  The guilt and nostalgia is all thanks to my mom - she was a great devotee of Rama and read Ram Charit Manas , well religiously.  How else would you read a religious book?! I don't get why Rama gets so much traction. He lead a mostly miserable life - banished to the forest in the Prime of youth, then loses his wife to Ravana; instead of overturning heaven and earth to find her, he mostly sits around moping while Hanuman does the hard work - after advance payment only, b.t.w. ;Sugreeva is established as king before Hanuman starts his search!  And remember Bharata, the brother who rules in the north on hi

The relentless march of time - roasted eggplant and Avocado dip

There used to be a time when I would turn my nose up at many dishes my mom cooked and refuse to eat any of her "experimental cooking".   My most hated dish was my sister's favourite, Mulangi (radish) Sambhar and Kathirikkai (eggplant) curry.   Every time she made the dish, my mom would recall, I once said it looked like cockroach sabji.  Yet she still made it and ate it. BTW in what seems like another lifetime, DH used to cook for his room mates in his UT Austin days.  Once he made something and the girl eating it found a cockroach in it!  She put it out and continued eating.  Are graduate students really that starved?  I certainly wasn't.   And I never ate his cooking in those days because he was still a meat eater.  The vegetarianism started in our engagement period.   (Coincidentally. I take no credit for it.  He is pig headed and probably makes it a point of morality to not take my advice. I am going to enjoy the repercussions of this statement.  Akin to asking

An Equal Music

Every Saraswathi Puja, we place books at the Goddess feet and pray her grace allows us to learn, understand, appreciate better.  It is usually anything and everything - Ash elementary Hindi letters, Gau phy/chem/math, Tao and the art of watercolour and finally "A Southern Music" by TMK.  I opened the TMK book randomly and came upon a page where he talks about how to define classical music, how delineating folk and classical music is a form of oligarchy (Some Harvard prof said that. That brings me to a news article I read yesterday, more on that later).  It felt drier than my thesis and I closed the book. Today morning the Friday supplement headlines read "An Equal Music", a conversation with L Subramanian and Kavitha Krishnamurthy about an upcoming concert in Music Academy.  The title niggled and it dawned on me that it was the title of a Vikram Seth novel, a love affair between a pianist and a violinist.  I ruminated over my memory of the story for a while, reme

Happy Saraswathi Puja!

Saraswathi Puja is probably the only one of the 9 days of Navaratri, when I do everything as per tradition, which is basically whatever Mom did.  Except for the music.  My mother always left the morning music to my dad, Though she hummed all day, I am hard pressed to remember times when she chose the music, any music, at any time of the day.  Odd right?  Especially considering she always sang with intense feeling.  I started the day with Lalitha Panchaksaram,  Kanakadhara Stothram and then finally Shyamala Dandakam written by Mahakavi Kalidasa.  Playing Shyamala Dandakam pleases me as much as singing along to the other two compositions by Adi Shankaracharya. Isn't it great that we sing a prayer written atleast 1500 years ago by the court poet of a famous Gupta King?  (Vikramaditya / Chandragupta II)  He was part of the golden period in Indian history when our cultural and scientific output was at an all time high. Gau is so frustrated studying history and gets confused betwee

Quick treats: Peanut Butter honey dip, oatmeal raisin cookies

My thesis, validation and kids on vacation makes for a terrible combination.  My younger one is used to a modicum of attention from me, some art, a story here and there,  lots of conversations and trips to the store/beach/coffee place; My older one is used to having me whip up treats, some savoury, some sweet, some savoured, some not so much.  Now, I am continually shushing them while I try to write, to think out they next line/paragraph/chapter mentally.  I also have CMC asking to validate my two projects, WB government reading about our mannequin in TOI and asking to see a demo, TN government medical centre,  right around the corner from IITM, finding out about us from TOI and wanting demo and training... Nice problems to have, but very poor timing.  My deadline is Oct 28th and I have barely 2 of my 5 chapters written!  On the other hand chapters 3 and 4 are just papers and validation I have already done, so they may need no more than 3 days.  I give a seminar on 26th, then hunker

Everything granola.............. and the inevitable granola bar

One teenager, one small child and the two of us make for very odd eating schedules.  The rather odd hours S. and I keep adds to the oddity (odd adds to oddity, repeat 10 times);  Basically, at any given time in our home someone is very hungry and someone else, usually the cook, me, is very sleepy/tired/unwilling to cook at all.   The net result is, Ash, being the sweet boy that he is, will be satisfied with Bananas, S. will eat anything and Gau will demand junk and junk only.   One goto snack is cereal, homemade ot store brought.  Honey Bunch of Oats is the most preferred cereal at our home but it's carbon foot print must be enormous!  From time to time, I get up caught in the "Be Indian Buy Indian" slogan of yesteryears and want to buy only locally made products from Indian companies, not MNC in India.  The 24 Mantra ones are OK, but not what I would call a resounding success with Gau/Ash.  I have to chop up nuts, fruits and add a fistful of chocolate chips before G

Soul Food

I may have spent close to a decade in Texas, but when I say soul food, I certainly don't mean Southern African American cooking.  I mean food for the soul, music. Now that I am sitting home alone most mornings, wading deep into my thesis, I spend quite a bit of time setting the tone of the hour with music. I love Susheela Raman's voice, especially in the song "Yeh Mera Deewana Pan Hai" .  Her voice has a blues-y touch reminding me of Billie Halliday, though, after I had started exploring her (Raman's) albums,  Ella Fitzgerald or actually Aretha Franklin may be a better fit.  Lady Day touches you with the depth of feeling in her voice, just like Susheela Raman in this particular song, somehow Mukesh, the original voice of this song, only manages to annoy.  (Mukesh does have a whiny voice doesn't he? It is pure and simple Bathos!  Like a country singer cribbing his truck broke down, dog died and wife ran off with best friend, all to age old guitar strummi