Optical Illusion.

When I got up from my recliner and turned around to go to my room, this is the sight that greeted me on the staircase going up to our upstairs bedrooms.
For a moment I was zapped as I thought that my son had gone berserk buying toilet paper rolls as I was reminded of photographs like this one below that were doing the social media rounds when the coronavirus first hit the West.
On closer examination however I found that these were cans of dog food that he and my daughter in love had organised to stock up and distribute to volunteers feeding stray dogs in our neighbourhood.

Due to the lockdown, collateral sufferers are these strays who otherwise would have found food by scrounging around restaurants and stores selling edibles. The volunteers are doing yeoman service looking after these strays by not only feeding them but, also by arranging for bowls of drinking water for them in this summer heat.

This is the dog food being given to them. Thankfully, our local administration has made arrangements to make this available in these shut down times.

Lunch.

After a very long time, I had the experience of a fabulous lunch with people who I love in a great restaurant under spectacular weather conditions. we were celebrating the sixth wedding anniversary of Manjiree and Ranjan and everything was perfect.

Except for an in-house singer with a guitar and very loud amplifier/speakers combination whose music kept coming in the way of my ability to listen to the conversation around me. After trying to get the volume down and having failed, I simply switched off and tried to put on a cheerful face while the others apparently had no difficulty in shouting over the noise to hear each other.

While I enjoyed the food and the ambience I ended up with a very rare head ache and have vowed not to go to such places anymore.

Age is telling!

Kitchen Garden.

My daughter in love who is the boss of the garden at home had gone off to her mother’s place to mother-sit her mother recovering from a minor ailment. Her assistant and companion Mangal who is more or less the second in command at home also was absent shifting residence and I had a brilliant idea of having pudina (mint) chutney for lunch. The other help Shweta was duly deputed to purchase a bunch of mint leaves from the market and fortunately, the bunch remained unground due to a series of unplanned for developments.

Today, both the ladies are back on duty and when I requested that the chutney be made, I had the mortification of being informed of my ignorance of the mint leaves growing in our own garden.
This is the patch in which both betel leaves and mint leaves are grown. I had known about the former in the garden as I have a few every day after lunch. I was blissfully ignorant of the latter also being grown in the patch.

The DIL got the garden mint leaves to show me when I was amazed at the size of the leaves. I promptly got the market bought leaves out from the fridge and you can see the difference. The home grown ones are on the left.
Mint chutney to my liking cannot be made without a generous addition of green chillies and lo and behold I was informed that they too are grown in our garden.
Rummuser is mighty pleased that he can now have his favourite chutney whenever he wants by just accessing the major ingredients from his own garden!

Favourite Food.

Last week, I spent a very pleasant few hours with a young friend, KS who dropped in and stayed for lunch with us. As he was leaving he suggested that I come over to his place this week for another meeting and perhaps lunch at his home. I readily agreed and saw him off.

Later the same day, a cousin rang me up to chat and we were reminiscing about our respective mothers who were sisters. Among the discussions the topic veered to favourite food made by each other’s mother and I recollected a combination food that my aunt used to make called Thiruvadirai Kali and Ezhu Kari Kootu. . This is an unusual combination of one sweet dish accompanied by a savoury one. One has to eat the combination to appreciate the unusual experience one has with this combination.

I mentioned to my cousin that the last time that I had this particular combination was sometime around the late nineties of the last century. This combination is usually made only during that particular festival once a year but, my late mother used to make it specially for me whenever she visited us or I went wherever she was camping. My cousin promised to come over and cook it for me one of these days and we went on to talk about other matters.

It suddenly occurred to me that KS’s mother was visiting him and she would be able to perhaps come up with this combination and I asked him if he could persuade his mother to make it for me when I came over for lunch. He checked with his mother and confirmed that I would have it for lunch and fixed the date as today.

With much anticipation I trooped off to their place earlier today and lo and behold, the dishes plus a few other goodies had been prepared for the occasion and I had a feast. The LOH had taken a great deal of pains to make both the dishes to perfection and frankly, I over ate. To cap it all off she had also made a sweet dish with pumpkins which again was out of this world. I regretted having over eaten the main attraction and could not do justice to the dessert.

While I was busy eating and also enjoying the visuals of the lunch, KS took this photograph to save the occasion for posterity.

Relocating.

Relocating, as it is normally understood, really started for me only from 1973. Before that, my late wife and I had once set up home in Delhi in a barsati and had furnished it with hired furniture and some basic kitchen utensils. When we had to leave that we simply gave back the hired furniture and gave away the utensils to the help that we had hired for the few months that we were there. Before that, I had lived off a suitcase for well nigh six years as a bachelor and two of those were spent in a hostel while studying for my Masters in Business Management.

After the Delhi posting I was deputed to coordinate an all India Market Research project for eight months of near non stop touring including working during weekends. Urmeela went to stay with her mother during those months and after I finished my project I was posted in Mumbai where we set up our first real home and bought furniture, utensils, etc in 1970. After three and a half years of stay there while our son Ranjan was born, we moved to Kolkata in 1973 which was the first relocation.

That relocation was followed by six relocations before we finally put down roots in Pune in 1990. A total of eight relocations after marriage.

I set up home on two other occasions in South again though the home in Pune continued to be operational as Ranjan was there and had to be provided with a home. Since neither Urmeela nor Ranjan was comfortable with Tamil, the local language where I set up home, I ran a bachelor’s home with periodic visits from my late mother and Urmeela and on two occasions by Ranjan. There was no relocation involved as on both occasions I simply moved into fully furnished and equipped homes and simply had to pack my suitcase to get back to Pune.

I can therefore claim to be quite a veteran of relocation and can vouch for its advantages and disadvantages.

The biggest disadvantage is the havoc it can play with one’s children’s education. We solved it by sending Ranjan to a boarding school which luckily for us was not too difficult due to having access to one of India’s best with fairly easy admission. Others have not been so lucky and I have seen a lot of frustration in families due to this aspect of relocating.

The other disadvantages are local languages, a major problem in India with multiple languages, cuisine and climate changes. In retrospect however, these usually turn out to be advantages for having exposed one to these influences and in the process making one more cosmopolitan.

Advantages are in the friends one makes in the new places and in our case, these have turned out to be long term relationships, exposure to places that one would normally not see otherwise and also to cultures, festivals and cuisine that are different from one’s normal. Overriding these advantages was the inevitable junking of stuff accumulated during the stay there to become lighter for the packing and unpacking!

And for a marketing man like me, the different locales were priceless experiences when I eventually took charge as India head.

Today, my WhatsApp and FaceBook activity is governed by communications from all over India thanks to my various postings. I am richer for that and grateful that I was given the opportunities.

Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the same topic.