Monday, June 30, 2014

The English Papers III
Raw green vegetables, red pumpkin, all sliced and cut to fine pieces, preferably of the same size. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet or otherwise, may be cut and cooked separately.

Method: Place a thick pan on the fire. Add a spoonful of butter or oil. Allow to heat. Add half a teaspoon of cumin seeds into the butter and allow it to fry till it lets out a flavour. Gently pour in the vegetables and turn down the fire to extreme low. Turn the vegetables in the pan upside down for a bit. Add, salt to taste, a little turmeric powder, a spoonful of garam masala and place a lid over the pan and allow the vegetables to cook in their own juices on a slow fire. Do not add water at this stage. Keep an eye on the pan by occasionally turning the vegetables, this way and that. Once, it is partially cooked, put off the gas and allow the vegetables to cook in the steam, inside the pan. The flavours will marry gently and leave a lasting, effect on your palate, long after the meal is over.

When you are ready to eat, add a little coconut milk to the mixture or cream, in your bowl. Or just plain, warm or boiling water, so you have the liquid effect, just in case you like it that way. Or just eat it, without the additions.

This is a no garlic, no onion vegetable curry, delicate on the taste buds and smooth for your stomach. But if you are one of those, who like it a little strong, then, avoid the cumin seeds seasoning in the pan and replace with crushed garlic and finely chopped onions, fried until brown, before you let the vegetables in, into the pan.

NOT all marriages are as delicate and smooth like the vegetable curry the recipe of which is given above. Clearly, if one starts with a lot of raw and rough smelly flavours, the marriage may be indigestible.

“Indian marriages last forever. They are stable and strong. You certainly do not have that many divorces.”

“This is news to me,” I said, a trifle doubtful about the BIG FAT Indian marriages, ‘at least in Kolkata, I know, divorces have become an epidemic!’

The stability of the old, traditional marriages has given way to adventure. Besides, when both partners are economically independent, there is no need to carry on with a long dead marriage, and be adventurous and embrace the new, which promises a volatile, hot and simmering love, flavoured with passion and non-lasting promises.

When I looked at a generation, in England, which is 65 and above, I saw stability and happiness for having stood their ground and stayed in a marriage, no matter what. But when I looked at the generation which is 25 – 30 years younger, I saw people have been more adventurous with their lives and have been able to weather many changes and have taken risks in their lives for which they have no regrets.

I am not sure whether it is the security of living in a country, where, to love and procreate, without having to marry, gives a person, a freedom, dear to the soul, or is it just that marriage is still an important institution, but one does not have to marry to have children.

I am not sure that our society in India will ever change to accommodate the freedom of the soul, to love, without questioning, gender, caste, creed, education, profession and mother’s family line details before we hope to tie the knot.

Looking back, I am reluctant to make a judgement, as to whether, we are moving fast forward, or rewinding backward.

I have a taste for a delicately flavoured Indian curry, which lingers in my taste buds and does not bring up a strong smelling garlic onion burp that can shatter a good night’s sleep.

I think Jill will agree with me totally. We always finished a night’s meal with the Indian curry and packaged ready to eat, steamed fish or chicken, topped with a cuppa and dark chocolate.

Splendid! I say, splendid!

                                       Watch video: What is the Big Fat Indian Wedding, today.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The English Papers II

Suzie with Elise
Suzie is a store house of energy, just like her mother, my friend Jill, about whom you have read in The English Letter I. Suzie is sprightly, tall, very slim and trim and almost a replica of Princess Diana,

She has been totally adventurous and has lived and run businesses in England, Spain and perhaps many other countries.

When the dating agency came across her and her now, going to be her legally wedded husband, Mark, they immediately put the two together, because, they thought Suzie and Mark made such a good pair. Both have been married before and both have children from previous marriages. The delightful, teenagers, are bonded in a family they share with both their parents.

But, Suzie and Mark have Elise, who is now preparing to be married, on the same day as her parents. And I have seen Elise, take to the toilet paper spine and deck it up with a long veil, made of toilet paper. Such an amusing dear!

Of course Mark and Suzie argue about everything, from UKIP, to French Front National and if you enter their home, you will see the symbols one on top of the other, to show, who is in power at home. Let me explain this frequently changes as the argument reaches a hilt and little Elise must come in between and order – “Stop Arguing!”

Mark, who has lived and worked in Australia, once again running a surfing school, is very sporty and he along with Suzie will be bringing in children from Spain, to learn surfing in the sea. Wow!

Mark’s parents are the dear couple who live at Hereford, on your way to The Lakes, on the A30.I loved them both, Mike whom I call an MCP and Ann Eley, are unforgettable to me. Ann is quiet and meditative and very tender and sweet, while Mike never spares a moment to poke a joke like an MCP (Male Chauvinistic Pig, pardon the use of terrible language!) I don't think he means it at all, but it was wonderful to re-visit my youthful days and place my hands on my waist and reprimand - Now, Now Mark, watch your step! But, I can tell you he was a fine gentleman himself and very chivalrous. Like a good old gentleman from the old days, he chaperoned the two lost ladies, which is me and Jill and drove almost 45 minutes to get us to the The Malvern Flower Show! Now that counts, big time!

At The Lakes, squeezed inside the car, my not so slim bottoms, edged to the door, at the back. I said, quite enthusiastically to Suzie, “I think Mark is a lovely man! I wish you both a very happy wedded life.”

Gracious as she is, she said thank you and then whispered, “Mum doesn't like him as much as I do!”

“Oh bugger! She is only jealous!” I laughed. The first of her three children, Suzie means a lot to Jill.

We laughed and she added, “But they get along well together, if I am not there!”

There! I said to myself. Mothers are always fond of their son-in-laws, behind the daughter’s back!
That is cheating, isn't it?

But Mark is a darling and both he and Suzie are very busy people. I can say that for sure, the British are very hard working people and their day may start at 7 am and end not before 10 pm. That is a lot! 

After the little gossip, she turned to me and said, “So how are you and Kanchi?”

It was a defining moment in my life and I knew that Suzie would always have a special place in my heart, just because, she touched a very intimate part of my life – my life with my partner, whom she called by her pet name. 

I am absolutely in awe with Suzie's courage and conviction in herself, the man she loved devotedly and the way they have both made space for all their children, his and hers, to bond and stay together.

It really is an amazing quality, I most admire.

A very international family, Suzie with kids:

And here is the very adventurous couple, Mark and Suzie

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The English Papers I

In the right spirit

The English Papers I

On 28th April, an address I had been writing to in England came alive. It was an address, way out in Cornwall, at the Southern tip of England, where a lady I met in 1989 at the Osho Commune, Pune, lived. She and I had become friends instantly, while she was visiting India, both of us having common friends through whom we met. It is hard to bring back all the little things – and the big things we did for each other, during her stay in India. It is also impossible to describe the bonding we have between the two of us.

“I was probably the Maharaja of Kanker, married to an outrageous English lady, from the far west…” I had said once, ‘although you look much better in your own country than you look in mine!’

She had fallen into deep depression, there upon. India is so dear to her!

Jill Cadman and I are family. Over the seas and the air, the lands that part us, essentially we are deeply tied together as if we are sisters. The years between us, have never allowed the spirit that binds us, to come in between.

A little anxiety prone these days, she had waited long at the Heathrow Airport to pick me up, but was thrown in a fuzzy state of mind when she did not see me emerge even after half an hour had passed. I had walk out of the green channel, having nothing to declare, but got lost among the conveyer belts causing a delay in walking out of the airport. By the time we met, our nerves were a wreck but the sight of each other threw us both into each other’s arms and there we were off on the Underground, chatting away, as if there had not been a full ten years between us, when we had not met at all. We changed over to a bus, at some point and then, once again, we chatted and laughed so much, we missed our stop and had to walk back quite a distance, to arrive at Fiona’s where we were to spend two nights before we left for Cornwall. I had touched London in its raw at around 10 pm, that night of April, 25, 2014.

Jill’s life in Cornwall, is a busy one. Between her home, her children and her grandchildren, not to forget her friends, she has a hectic day, running around everywhere in her two-seater SMART Mercedes Benz. And in between she spends huge amount of time in what she calls her lifeline, her beautiful garden. 

Every one living in the countryside has a garden and this surely is the beauty of living where she does. As you enter, the garden smiles at you and the occasional guard at the garden, the lovely orange cat may throw herself over at your feet for a little scratch on the tummy.  

Our day ran like this: I woke at 5 am, did my meditation and had my coffee. Then I stared at nothing out of her window for long hours, till she woke, had a shower and a cuppa. By then, it was time for her daughter Suzie to call. A long conversation ensued, ending in a laugh and then a glutten free breakfast was on its way. I lay the table, while she prepared the protein rich breakfast, after which we set off sight seeing and meeting friends on the way. Sometimes we shopped at Tescos.

And on Wednesdays, we did something very special – we baby sat Elise, her youngest grand child.
I am so grateful for this time with Elise, who cried a little bit on her father’s shoulders, when she first met me, but soon overcame her shyness sharing with me games and stories we read together. Just four, delicate and pretty, she is now preparing to join in at the wedding of her parents, this September! 

“She too is getting married!” Suzie quipped, while I swallowed a laugh, well nigh a burst.

Indeed, three generations of women, one I had already met in India and followed to her country, the other two, the delightful little Elise, and her mother. I am so happy I went, because if I had not, I would not have met Suzie, about whom you will read in the soon to be published, The English Papers II.  

Some pictures from Windermere, Lake District