Thursday, March 10, 2016

Under the gooseberry tree......

The 70’s and 80’s were days of pre-satellite era  and kids  of this era either played  games indoors / sunny outdoors or picked up a book or craft to while away their time. I was no exception  Those were also the days of independent houses and so friends were few unlike  today’s condomoniums, I had only 5 friends in my colony who were my age and most of them would be engaged in their own house in the afternoons . My  noon time engagement was to  pick up a comic book and get lost in it .

One of my favorite places to read the book was under the  shade of the gooseberry tree of my house. It was in the corner of the compound and under that was a granite stone , the one used for building foundation. I had formed my own book club in which i was the lone member.  I would take a fallen gooseberry and write TINKLE BOOK CLUB (TBC), the acidic berry would leave its mark on the  compound wall.  I would  then sit under the tree and open my comic book bag which was labelled Tinkle book club and enjoy my comics. Most of them were my own collection of Amar chitra kathas which I had gathered over the years and I had even subscribed to tinkle comic which used to come home every fortnight. I would stamp them as TBC with ink and then  I would travel  through various kingdoms, jungles , countries or to unravel a mystery with them as companions.

I still remember the day I picked up my first comic book at The IBH exhibition in glass house, LAlbagh. My parents got me my first Amar chitra katha  Lord Ganesha and it costed just rs 2 then and I must say my love affair with the strung words started there. From then on the collection of ACK’s grew, whenever I passed by the book store near my house or while travelling when I found them in Higginbothams at Railway station, I would buy them and add it to my personal collection. Even the gift money that I got from family elders would be spent on buying ACKs .  Among comics ACK’s are still  my first love , although I hear from my friends, the English in ACK’s are not of good standard, I believe, ACK’s are windows to our culture and our  Indian kids must be brought up on this pictorial and word diet.

   My love for  ACK is followed by Tinkle. Tinkle which comes from the same stable was a total package. It had  a few folk tales, moral tales, info on everyday science, history, GK  and a tinkle tricks and treats which had quiz, puzzles and DIY treats. What I loved the most was the folk tales , Kalia the crow and Suppandi.  I still love this book and the last comic book I personally bought for myself some 4 years back  ( not for my kids) while travelling was Suppandi ( a book of just suppandi stories). Tinkle Tricks treats(TTT) were my first engagement with participating in contests. I would get lovely Tinkle stickers of the characters and I would go around pasting them in suitcases, almirahs etc.

Next followed Disney comics, I loved mickey, Minnie, uncle scrooge,winnie the pooh  and other Disney stories like ChipNdale. They were my inspiration for drawing too. Most of them have found their way into post cards as New year greetings for my relatives during school days.

I was not a great fan of Phantom, Tarzan and so did’nt have them in my personal collection but I would read them when I got a chance. I would read the DC comics and  Indrajal comics which had Bahadur who was India’s answer to the international heroes of Phantom, tarzan and their like. I would also love reading the comical strips that appeared in newspapers like peanuts and dennis the menace.

I still enjoy reading comics and even today I have my daily dose through Calvin & Hobbes in the Hindu, I think some of these comics have profound messages.

Comics are something we all loved during our childhood, in today's digital age many have closed down, which ones were the ones you loved or if you got a chance would love to read again?

Friday, March 4, 2016

My grandpa's recipe travels around the world.

I know I am a blessed person but the above video made me feel my blessings more, I realized how much the men in my life involved themselves in the household chores and I had been taking all those for granted.

I take pride in saying  I have an husband when not on office work,  involves himself in the household work. He works in the kitchen not just by chopping veggies, grating coconut or that solid piece of jaggery or cutting that hard chunk of hing into pieces with a nutcutter but makes a meal too, infact his creation ‘Rasambar’ is my children’s favorite . He works not to keep the spouse happy or to save a nasty day but he gets involved as a part of family work and does not consider household work degrading or a woman’s domain. On weekends, he puts the dirty laundry in the machine , and he is the one who lathers soap on the dirty collars of my son’s school uniform( white pant and white shirt). Infact he taught my son and daughter how to wash clothes without brushing hard ( scrubbing soap on dirty areas and letting it rest for a while loosens the dirt rather than scrubbing hard with the bristles of a brush which damages the fabric) and today my daughter washes her clothes in the hostel sans washing machine, while my son applies soap on the soccer ball marks on his dirty white dress before putting them in the machine.

Not just my husband, my dad a man of the yester generation had never allowed his growing daughters into the kitchen. When my mom was away to attend family functions, appa would quadruple as a chef, a washing machine , a dishwasher and even sweep or mop the home. No work to him was gender specific, even today as a retired man,  he and my mom 
#ShareTheLoad of household work.

With such role models, needless for me to say what my children would have learnt.

Alright,  let them be, after all they are from the generation of emancipated women who work outside home, We know that many men of this generation share the load of household work and are more involved in the family affairs as a father/husband or son.

I will talk about my role model from a much older generation whom I often remember, especially more, when I make the kitchen spice powders.

I never buy the readymade spice powders for cooking like the sambar powder, rasam powder, gun powder etc….Everytime, I lay down the ingredients like chillies, coriander seeds, pepper make the spice powder, i send a silent prayer to a man above - my paternal grandpa, a humble and philanthrophic man who never compartmentalized jobs as gender specific. His passion was to create food with love  and all those traditional dishes like paal kootu, pirandai thogaiyal, poriccha kootu  that I make,  I learnt from him. 

I would observe the way he would chop the vegetables finely, No food processer can match the art of chopping vegetables with hands.  Today when  i chop the vegetables single mindedly, it is more like meditation. He never taught me, but I learnt by watching him. Apart from the traditional dishes and chopping vegetables finely,  I learnt the art of making sambar podi.  He would measure the ingredients approximately  with eyes  and hands ( kai thittam) and lay them on a newspaper before dry roasting. His speciality was to add even mustard seeds and roasted curry leaf to the sambar powder.

His work at home was not restricted to kitchen alone where his passion lay, he would even wash his own clothes when he had time, would buy groceries and make the tastiest inji sorasam( herbal ginger tea) when he was not working as India’s leading traction battery expert ……..yes not one of the experts he was the only expert who had learnt from Germany during his times and instrumental in the making of elektrona 24 a battery operated eco friendly moped in the 80’s which was much ahead of its times.

Today, during the times of readymade foods, i still make it a practice of making homemade spice powders and i only have this role model of my mine to thank for teaching this art. I have even stored this recipe for this  sambar powder in my cookery blog here and this is now popularized by another cookery blog here and travels around the world.

 “I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation.