No, this time it is not the edible kind. This post is dedicated with much affection to my friend Shackman. Please click on the image for a larger resolution.
The Brits know it as Poppadum. Pappadum is a Malayalam word for the same food item with a unique local taste to it and it is inevitably deep fried in oil. In Kerala, it is inevitably fried in coconut oil which gives it a local flavour whereas the same fried in other oils also serve the purpose well. In the homes of relatives from my maternal side, this is what we got as children and would fight over for extra portions.
In the homes of my relatives from my paternal side, we got fried appalams, not quite as tasty as the pappadums but very much in demand nevertheless. The pleasure of getting full round ones and then breaking them into pieces to be mixed with other rice combination dishes is worth dying for. Or should I say, living for?
What you get in most Tandoori restaurants however is a larger version of a similar concoction with powdered pepper giving it a special flavour. It is usually roasted over a fire before serving, and can also very successfully be roasted in a microwave oven. This is what I have mostly in my own home now as I developed a taste for it having lived almost all my life in the Northern parts of our country.
Like the varieties of papads, the range of pickles that you can get across the country is simply mind blowing and for me right on top in terms of choice is what we call Vadu Mangai pickle. This is common to both my maternal and paternal heritage and both sides relish this. I still remember my childhood summer days when ladies of the household would shop for these special unripe mangoes to pickle for the rest of the year. My sister has just sent me a bottle with Ranjan and the packing itself deserves a Nobel prize.
Another mango variety used to make pickles is the avakkai which is stronger with red chillies being the most important ingredient but more popular in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh than anywhere else, though the commercial varieties are now available all over the country to satisfy the diaspora.
By now, you would have come to the conclusion that I am very fond of both the papads and the pickles and you are right. I love to have them with my lunch and these are always available at home for not only me but also for all guests who care to take off into orbit.
I have however taken a lot of pains to write this blog post to inform those of my friends who have always thought that I was nuts to have these two elements in my food without fail, that there is a sound medical reason for their popularity. “Papad works as a digestive; pickle works as a therapeutic culture of gut-friendly bacteria and both are super yummy. They are part of a wholesome meal and if you learnt the art of making them from your granny, you would also know the right way (proportion and quantity) to eat them.” I know how to make both, but have not made in decades simply because excellent quality homemade varieties are available in all food stores all over the country.
Don’t believe me? Just read what Rutuja Diwekar has to say about these two wonderful inventions.
My young friend Jay who is visiting us again, and I were in a serious discussion about the state of this world because he is deeply involved in all kinds of peace and world unity movements. He should be at his age and I should not be at mine. I am allowed to be cynical because I have just lived a lot longer than he has and have seen a lot of nonsense that goes on behind scenes that idealists do not see, or, are incapable of seeing.
When I suggested to him that we will never see peace in our world because of the vested interests of the arms and ammunition business and their tie ups with all establishments, he said that he has seen the Lord Of War and despite that will remain an idealist. I was intrigued and investigated to find that I could see the film on Youtube and did just that.
And what a remarkable experience it was. I am glad that we have all these modern conveniences that enables us to see old films. This picture was released ten years ago when I was otherwise preoccupied and did not keep track of movies and among the many good ones I seem to have missed, this too turns out to be one with Nicholas Cage, one of favourite actors coming up with a satisfyingly professional performance.
But this powerful message during the interrogation scene is the one that socks you in your solar plexus and leaves you breathless and in awe. And this is what I told Jay and for which he said that he was fighting such forces. The difference between an old man and a young idealist.
I shall introduce some remarkable people living and late from my home town Pune here. There are many more, but these are people who have left deep impressions on me for having achieved much during their lifetime. And rather than reinvent the wheel, I shall, where possible, give links to Wikipedia or other sources for details about them.
To start with, two remarkable women who were corporate icons.
AND I DON’T REALLY KNOW WHERE TO STOP. THERE ARE MANY MORE LEGENDS AND WHAT I HAVE GIVEN ABOVE ARE JUST A FEW THAT I READILY RECALLED. IF I SAT DOWN FOR ANOTHER HOUR, I CAN COME UP WITH AT LEAST TEN IF NOT MORE.
THIS IS MY TOWN. I WOULD NOT LIKE TO LIVE ANYWHERE ELSE.
This topic was suggested by me, for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently eight of us write on the same topic every Friday. I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort. The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Ashok, gaelikaa, Lin, Maxi, Padmum, Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!
Just for a few seconds, my mind went into overdrive this morning.
It is normally a de-cluttered one but an unusual occurrence speeded up the imagination process and gave me palpitation and an almost-there panic attack.
I was in the kitchen washing up after tea and my cellphone was on the dining table. I heard it ringing but, by the time I could wash up and come to it, it stopped ringing and I saw that I had received a missed call from Ranjan. That is when the gear shifting process started. I went into the first and called back. It took forever to get a disconnect signal and I went into second. I called again and the same thing happened and I went into third and fourth when I could not get through. Finally I went into overdrive when I heard Ranjan’s voice as though it was coming from some deep abyss.
For those who may not know, he and Manjiree are late night personalities and also late risers. This call was at 7.15 AM, a time that I have never known them to wake up at. They are currently vacationing in the Southern parts of our country and have had to alter their itinerary due to unseasonal heavy rains and bad visibility.
My imagination was running riot. I was imagining all kinds of dire scenarios and the whole telephone experience was mostly responsible.
Finally I was able to hear Ranjan clearly and he said that he had just called to inform me of his latest plan and that he would call again later in the day after reaching their destination. He assured me that visibility was good and the weather was clear and bright.
It still took me a few minutes to come back to normal. I need to work more on my detachment. This experience has just shown me that my equanimity is just on the surface.
“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”
~ George Santayana.
That reminds me. I must go out and have some tender coconut water soon.
Historically throughout the month of April daytime temperatures will generally reach highs of around 37°C. At night the average minimum temperature drops down to around 20°C.
In recent times, not including this year, the highest recorded temperature in April has been 42°C that’s 108°F, with the lowest recorded temperature 11°C, about 51°F.
Normally the average daily relative humidity for April is around 38%.
This year, we are having a very unusual April with daytime temperatures around 30°C and minimums around 17°C. Humidity has been lower too at around 36% despite having some showers, which too have been unusual.
Last year we were using our air conditioners or desert coolers quite regularly but this year we have not barring a couple of occasions during the afternoon siesta.
I don’t think that my friends Arun and Nirmala will have the missing husband problem this year around this time. If however the normal summer reverts, they may well have a similar experience this year too, but much later than they had last year.