Friday, March 28, 2014

Poetry in conversation

Quest for a change
Got them chancing upon each other
They found poetry lying latent
Deep within,
Awaiting an acknowledgement:
For they believed poetry needed an audience;
Words of encouragement
Laced with the right measure of crticism,
They look forward to their poetic spell!
The world was full of poetry to them;
Sorrow and mirth in equal portions
Only extracted more poetry from them
The 'quest' for another brought
Them together
Until then they had remained total strangers
Togetherness,  now, leading to POETRY!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Story behind those popping corns:-

Sunshine-hued pods are blended in an urn-like vessel with a few drops of oil and butter, a pinch of salt and turmeric powder and not to forget-a hint of spice to perk up the taste of the ubiquitously humble snack of the common man-king of corn, popcorn as it is fondly referred to. Introducing, a slice of their street-side life- which is quite unlike their elite presence in malls and multiplexes, that have variants in flavours- caramel, and powder-like embellishments that are tossed to crunchy perfection, of course priced almost ten times higher. “This is not something that one remembers to buy on a daily basis, in fact even you don’t buy this just as often”- quips a roadside popcorn vendor, Abdul Hameed; in the streets of Dhandeeshwaram Nagar, Velachery. When I had paused to buy a packet, I found the glass case in which the urn-like vessel is housed, totally empty with the light of the yellow tungsten bulb beaming through the glass case. Hameed is not done for the day yet, it was almost 9 pm. He had instead tossed in some corn kernels for a fresh bout of the crunchy snack. As the corn kernels are cooked, they automatically begin to pop out and form a heap within the glass case. While I stood watching that, I quiz him on how he gets the power supply for his machine- he points out to an electric line right above which connects with that of a vegetable shop. He shells out a few hundreds as daily rent to the owners of the vegetable shop for his daily existence there. My curiosity only grew when he said that. How much would he possibly make when a pack each costs only a negligible Rs.10/-?! He smiles wryly and says that he only makes about a 1000/- rupees every day. He adds that he has never considered increasing the rate unlike his peers in other locales; for he feels more people visit his stall and that’s exactly what he wants. Sliding some of the popped corn into a plastic cover, and sealing it with the heat emanating from the vessel, he tells me, that he has a floating population of buyers and that such stalls are at their economical best in crowded areas. Hameed, who comes from Taramani, is up and running with his stall at around 5pm daily; when he’s not selling corn, he’s out catering to some electrical and plumbing needs in various households only to make ends meet. Even as I am egging on for some details from him, I find that he is quite good at multi-tasking: While he happily answers my questions, he manages to dish out a cup of sweet corn for a customer in the neighbouring stall, whose owner had just stepped out for a break. This only goes to show the camaraderie that they share; I silently thought. I thank him for the packet of corn which had the following message: King of Corn, Popcorn, Keep Smiling, Have a nice dayJ. As I leave, he asks me, “Vera ethavathu message venuma (do you need any other piece of information)?”Quite like the message on the pack of popcorn he sells, I just return a smile.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dear Visitor

It is pleasing to know that you have stopped by and left your footprints by way of comments. There could be these hits -just because somebody accidentally touched the link whilst scrolling past their newsfeed on Facebook or it could even be because their smartphone behaved cranky that they were taken to this page of mine as opposed to some other internet destination. Yet there are a handful of these visitors who bother to pause, imbibe the verse, sometimes even prose sprayed on my page, and what more, decipher some sense out of the web of words and leave a gratifying response. All I have to say is, Thank You. For the fact that you even consider coming to my page, which is my Serendipity. If the words strewn in are something that makes you relate to your experience, or rather if you feel doppelganged, or a certain dejavu, then understand my dear Visitor, that you just brought a curve on my cheeks. A gentle smile. It means the world to me- tiny pleasures,  for such a self-lover I am!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

You really don't know:-

It may be too short
Too premature to decide
To own, and have you by my side
You may even consider it as a bunch of trivia
But you just don't realise how profound
Your influence is.
Influence of a magnetic kind
That I'm being dragged to the walls of your presence all day.
You seem to be a recent development
Yet have got me traversing miles ahead in love-land.
My youth and mirth could well be invested in a younger generation
You just don't know it
I really don't care
Neither do I want to be termed blind;
For now I undo you from my history
All this- only until I find another one
Albeit, you'd still be special
Quite a dear acquisition!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My God

My God is no 'body', beyond reach-
He's my veritable pal within myself.
Somebody who stands in the corner of my dressing cupboard
Who smiles at me pleasingly,
Putting me at a comfortable ease!

No temple or lecture can fathom
The depth of my ethereal love for Him;
No rigid rules to be conformed with,
With him, I could be non-compliant,
He loves me that way...
He appreciates my natural self,
Just the way I choose to remain.

My bosom pal and worst foe,
He sits on the driver's seat
And shows me around;
Knows when to stop and start.

He drinks up all my mirth
And shines like wine:
My Madhusudhana!
He readily consumes my sorrows too,
Leaving no mark,
Wiping it clean like FIRE,
Without the slightest TRACE;
He's my God, my FACE...!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Advantage 'Eyes'

If not for anything,
Eyes were everything,
They were arresting;
Was the case of 'Advantage Eyes!'

Monday, March 3, 2014

Amidst the din

Slumber so deep
For fatigue had peeped in
Up with a heavy head
With sleep lurking in the sockets of my eyes
Splashing some cold water
Straight on the face
I begin to face the day!

The lamp is lit
The smoke from the incense stick begins to take flight
Permeating across the corners of the house
Leaving home an aroma.

Filter coffee chooses to then invade
A drugged drink I cannot evade
A smell that pervades
Right into your senses
Mincing all frets
Making one forget!

The daily chores go on as usual
The sound of veggies being diced
The shrill whistle of the pressure cooker
The din from outside:
Of cars and bikes
The zoom and vroom
With door bells and phone bells ringing
With the noise from the mind,
Reaching a higher decibel-
Competing with the external din!

Peace amidst all this
With just a dose of words and verse
The knife is put aside post chopping
Something mightier than the sword is beheld:
The Pen and The Papyrus-
I plunge into my sofa's corner thus...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Simpler times: With the Jackfruit

A lingering smell that encompasses the entire household, easily drawing us to the storeroom, without a doubt. That’s where the jack of fruits is stored. Its ‘porcupiney’ outer would have assumed a greenish-yellow hue. The common instruction found on bottles of medicine: ‘store in a cool, dry place’ could be aptly used for the storeroom at my maternal grandma’s place. A whiff of chill air always remains locked in the room, with mild streaks of sunlight that fall on the floor from the crevices of the roof.

A time when we would have been freed of our burden of writing examinations in school. Our 2-month long annual vacation, the most awaited break, each year. When Chennai’s summer begins to soar beyond comparison, with an air of parched aridness around, I have always been fortunate to escape into some soothing greenery of Kerala.

April is the time of Vishu, Malayalam New Year, also the time of Tamil New Year. This is when the jackfruit is felled off the tree and dragged into the storeroom. Grandpa used to tell me that this is the right time to have the fruit pared off the tree so that it begins to ripen in the enclosure of the storeroom. Grandpa wanted to always take up full responsibility of the fruit: which meant- cutting it deftly-tearing apart the humungous fruit into equal halves- dealing with the gooey mess of the sticky interior with the aid of some coconut oil smeared into the palms.

Quite a ceremonious ritual this used to be each year: As kids we only stood aside as spectators until the fruit was fleshed out completely. Sometimes crunchy, sometimes very soft and slimy, the flesh is worthy of all the arduous cleaning process of the fruit. Even after the flesh was plucked out of the fruit, there was more work: it had to be deseeded. Grandpa somehow used to have the belief that we kids could lend a helping hand in deseeding the flesh. Little did he realise that we were there to only pop them into our mouths more often than actually offering help! Of course the moment he saw our mouths bulging with the flesh and seed, a strew of chiding used to ensue! All this, only so that a variety of recipes could be doled out to the family: nonetheless, eating the flesh before it was dispatched in batches to the large kitchen was a delightful experience.
The crunchier lot of the flesh is usually reserved for fritters: The flesh is sliced and then fried until golden yellow with light brown edges, in some salt-laden coconut oil. Slurp! It is one of my favorite snacks; in fact I prefer this one to its cousin of the fritter family: banana fritters. The wobbly flesh is usually reserved for some rich jam like preparation. This is made by sautéing the flesh in jaggery and ghee. The jam like concoction gets thick overtime and is even preserved in large stainless steel or glass jars for making sweet drinks like ‘payasam.’ 

The seeds were not binned; they were spread out in a large tray and left for sun drying. Once they dry, the skin of the seed is peeled out and is used in regular cooking. There are standalone recipes just with the seeds:  they are pressure cooked and then sautéed in coconut oil, with some pepper and salt tossed at the end. But there was nothing to beat the smoked seeds. Our kitchen had the charcoal and wood stove. All we had to do was, to toss a few seeds into the stove and wait for the embers to flame up. We had to carefully fish out the seeds - separate them from the pieces of wood. Once it is taken out you, just blow the smoked crust and have the skin peeled off. The resultant is a tasty, smoky, grilled fetish that I still nurture. 

These were simpler times with the jackfruit, however I am not sure how many would bother to buy the whole fruit per se.  They are purchased in small portions from hawkers dotting the streets with their pushcarts. Nobody perhaps even cares to attend to the wonderful seed; which in itself serves for a good recipe. Quarter kilo of jackfruit flesh I heard from friends, costs rupees 30. Nothing though, to match the fruity aroma that permeates the household.