November 30, 2009

Good hair day!

Once in a blue moon day captured on camera! Now, there's some proof that this unruly tangle called my hair style can be tamed (for $10 + tips but worth it, me thinks)!

November 19, 2009

Abhiyum Naanum

I couldn't have watched this movie at a better time in my life. The movie hit home for a couple of reasons -- the marriage to a "North Indian" and the baby girl in their lives. RadhaMohan has directed a realistic and touching movie again after Mozhi. I liked Azhagiya Theeye also but Mozhi left behind several scenes in my head and so also Abhiyum Naanum. In this case though I had to hold back tears and watch the movie (The one time I cried for a movie in front of k -- Naayagan, he hasn't let me forget it even now. Not giving him another opportunity so easily!)

At some points in the movie, Abhi was r~ for me and then it was hard not to get involved. Scenes that were particularly touching: when Ravi says Abhi is his amma, when Prakash Raj looks shocked when Abhi tells him she knows what she is doing, Ravi's song during her wedding, when Prakash Raj holds up his hand and says "Porum already told me this when you were fifteen, you know what you are doing..." to name a few.

This may seem over the top but I am more patient with r~ after the movie, at least the past 2-3 days and am sort of overwhelmed with affection for her. The movie begins with Prakash Raj telling PrithviRaj that the very mischief that has us begging them to stop now will be the fondest of memories for posterity. And there is truth to that observation. I guess the movie sort of woke me up to the not so distant time when r~ will not need me so completely any more but I will continue to depend on, worry about and learn from, her. In some ways, my life will be determined by the decisions she make. And of course, I thought of my dad and similar events that happened in our lives...

I loved the fact that the comedy track in the movie was well-integrated into the main story. I think the first thing k and I wondered aloud after watching the movie was if r~ would show up with a Sardarji herself twenty years from now! The Balle balle music when Jogi reveals himself at the airport and Prakash Raj's "Yes Sir" salute on the phone to the PrimeMinister were hilarious! There were no unnecessary overflow of emotions, no excesses intended to extract every bit of emotion from the audience, no untimely accidents and unexpected tragedies but still this movie pulls the audience into its narration and manages to even convey a message or two without sounding preachy.

My dear li'l r~, I hope someday you see this movie with me and we can laugh and cry about it together. For now, we can always laugh with Elmo!

November 11, 2009

RS, the foodie.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in p~'s place and we were all discussing k's insatiable appetite for baked garlic breads. That led to discussions about everyone's favorite foods and p~ said, "But RS, you don't love food like we do!"

And that is true. I don't love food like k's dad for instance or even k. His eyes light up and this huge smile spreads across his face when he discovers that a favorite food awaits him on the dining table. He'll smack his fingers and inhale the rich aroma from the food and let everyone know that he is happy. The way to a man's heart is...and all that.

I, on the other hand, do not make a big deal of it. If I like it, I eat it with relish. If someone else cooked the food, I tell them I liked it and then get on with it. If I don't like it, I serve myself less of that food or avoid it (in the case of green peas). And then food is forgotten and I am thinking about the next 58 items that I need to do before calling it a day.

But, there are a few dishes (not the American "dishes" -- pots and pans, the Indian ones) that I enjoy eating. I look forward to eating them and when I do eat them, it is slowly (unlike my mom who is a very fast eater speeding up even more if she finds the food tasty), savoring every mouthful, every bite, pleasing all senses -- my tongue lazily rolling the food in my mouth, my nose taking in the inviting smells, my eyes feasting on the colors I love and my ears listening to the relaxing crunch crunch as I chew and swallow the food. I am going to list them here (You never know when "someone" decides to treat me to my perfect dinner on say, Val day or just for the heck of it -- hey! Not hinting. All am saying is, you never know):

My perfect dinner...why dinner? Because the ambience is important for me and dim lighting is an important part of the ambience for me and that means dinner. I am thinking of an Olive Garden sort of setting with pleasant but unfamiliar Italian music in the background and the indistinct murmer of side table conversations but I can adapt to familiar but low volume music in the background, dim lighting right above the dining table right at home (Thank God for dimmers). All this is assuming the dinner is home-cooked. I am not a big fan of take-outs and I don't like eating in the car (Woodlands style) or standing and eating (Saravana Bhavan style).

Let's see now, basics first -- the place has to be clean. Fengshui will tell you that. Clutter kills the moment. Nice, not necessarily fancy but clean and nice plates, bowls and cutlery. I am not a big fan of a multitude of little bowls cluttering my dinner plate. I like mixing foods and eating them, the south Indian style! Colorful table-mats are a plus but not a necessity.

Ok so, that's taken care of. Now, let's move to the main story:

Start with an appetizer. The classic tomato soup of course with home made croutons (Sorry Sandra Lee but home made it is) and a swirl of cream on top like they do it in Palimar in Chennai.

I could do with some fresh salad by the side with Italian dressing but that's something I developed a taste for in the US. Not a must really.

Main course will be a choice...hmm, make that both paav bhaji and south Indian Barota. No, not paratha, not parantha, not naan and not roti. Barota. The way they serve it in Saravana Bhavan -- crispy and fluffy at the same time with golden brown flecks and layers and layers of perfection. Kuruma by the side. Not chola, not random unrecognizable punjabi vegetables with gravy but kuruma. Raitha maybe, not too crazy about it. Maybe if it's a pineapple raitha, then yes, sure!

The paav bhaji should be like...hmm, the ones they serve in the erstwhile Woodlands drive-in in Chennai. Butter glistening on the lightly toasted bhajis with sesame seeds peeping out from them. The tomatoes adding a shocking touch of color to the potato bhaji. Decorated with coriander leaves and a sprinkle of finely cut onions on top.

And then (rubbing hands in glee) dessert! Tiramisu is my current favorite but if I were in Chennai, it would be Sathukudi juice with pulp, freshly squeezed (Saravana bhavan style). I guess if it's the juice, I would like it along with my main course. And finally, casatta icecream. I am not a big fan of fruit salad or chocolate icecream but I like the variety the casatta offers -- Cake in the bottom and multiple colored layers on top, so you are subjected to a surprising variety of flavors as you bite through it. Yum!

If a walk in the beach is possible and time permits, then kulfi! Just the sound of the tinkling bells announcing the kulfi guy is enough to make me jump in glee! It was Rs.2 or was it Rs.3, when I was in Chennai...and the top part of it would always have melted a little bit and I would have to rush and lick it up before I wasted even a precious drop of it...aaaah! Each drop was nectar itself!

So, that's it. I might not make every day's meal a reason for celebration but certain foods by association with pleasant memories and places or just by virtue of their character evoke magic and I am all for making a big deal of that!
© Ramya Sethuraman, All Rights Reserved.