Thursday, January 28, 2010

After a long time, reading is invoking in me, what is my only form of primeval joy. Beauty, joy, wide-eyed glee. I am galloping through some wonderful articles. It is too late at night and morning will come shortly so I cannot say everything about them that I want to. However, this much I will share. I am glad. I have increasingly begun to fear that I will bore myself to death; but now I know that there are other ways to write than mine.

(P.S Here is an abstract for one: "The Egg Men", Burkhard Bilger, New Yorker, Sept 5, 2005, pp.110; apologies for the teaser. But here's the other full article: Little Wing)

On a completely unrelated aside, when I am a diva-esque academic, I want to dress like Annalisa Cranell.

Ignore the part below; this is for me.

Keywords: Habits, Bombay-Pune trains, routines of work, searching for order, Stern's gardens, egg men and addicts and workaholics and adrenalin junkies, safety, order, America and strangeness, a stranger in a strange land, comforting objects, objects making us human -- Danny Miller, beautiful objects and homes, signature designs on the bedside table, imagined audiences.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In my rapidly aging mind, I have turned immobile. I have internalized the rules and have begun to take them seriously. The journey so far should tell me that the rules are all wrong. That there are a few good things one can do and that is really about it. So in an effort to sanity, let me write mine down. And forget the rest.

(a) Be good to people -- give as much as you can
(b) Speak softly and listen harder
(c) It is not worth it to be angry and resentful; really
(d) Reach deep inside for stability; this is all one gets
(e) Work hard, it really helps
(f) People you love, matter

Tell me your six?

(P.S My horoscope today quotes Ben Okri ""Beware of the stories you read or tell; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world." )

Monday, January 25, 2010

In the manner of an acceptance speech

I give you....

"Ahem, well, actually, you know, I don't know, I love my fourth standard English teacher and...thank you?"

I mean, what do I do? I always thought awards and speeches were a little plebeian..until I received one, of course.

I am a little short of words today, but I must thank miapan who was kind enough to make my week by giving me this.

Thank you miapan. It's difficult for me to appreciate your gesture without slipping into cliche. But it does mean a lot to me that you would care to come by ever so often. Very grateful.

And now for some much in excess sentimentality. This blog is an old friend. It takes everything I have to say with nary a complaint. I am not maudlin enough to anthromorphize it (yet! a few beers and we can do that too), so I'd rather talk to all you visitors who peep in and are generous enough to comment or remark or just simply, take it in. You remind me that connections can exist, albeit in the most dissipated form, held together by just a word. I am rapidly losing faith in the ability of the pen, of words bandied in such insousiance that they might as well have not been said. After all, in a world as strange as this, what is a word? And yet :) thank you.

The rules demand that I pass this on. So ye five, go do something nice with this.

(1) Random Harvest: Gouri is a published author, cook, dabbler extraordinaire and purveyor of all things Puneri. Guaranteed to make you think/ laugh/ chuckle/ quiet down.
(2) Mexiroccan: My fellow graduate student, fieldwork, mixed-up connoisseur of all things worth my while. They will be worth yours too. Blogs about Mexico, identity, life, school, dogs.
(3) Mentalie is quite simply, quite mad. Candid, quirky, observant and obsessive. This is my regular fix.
(4) Rambling nothingnesses: Anna mol blogs about movies, people, thoughts, life and just simply the everyday. Every once in three posts, something she says will make you stop in your tracks.
(5) And lastly, because I doubt he will pass this on since he doesn't blog no more, In Between Lives: Magnificently funny, a little wicked, and always clad in complete and elegant sentences.

And for the necessary fine print:

- Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving blogger/ friends/ both.

- Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

- Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

- Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to Mr. Linky List.

- Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Alright, am done, say no more.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A little secret from long ago

I played with a pug today and wished that life were simpler. To give it due credit, it never claimed to be.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Did he really say that?

In David Brooks' article on Haiti, which is objectionable on so many levels that I would have to abandon my dissertation to construct a thorough refutation, there is one I will talk about here.

Brooks writes:
"As Lawrence E. Harrison explained in his book “The Central Liberal Truth,” Haiti, like most of the world’s poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile."

Voodoo religion. Summarized in one line. With no sense whatsoever of either its complex construction, its practice, the meaning it imparts to people who practise it or its striking similarity to every framework of religious philosophy known to the living world! God, rituals, lesser-than-God holy figures, a hunger to know what will happen in the future, communicative possibilities from the other world to this one, and finally, palliative mechanisms that assure you that this world is meagre, and that it and everything that it subjects you to will pass; as will you.

I am strangely upset more by this than anything else that Brooks' paternalistic tone advocates. I do not actively practise any religion, I bear no allegiance to any one over the other and I am more confused than certain about the value it brings to the world we live in. However, I do not dismiss it and I certainly do not pit religion/ tradition against atheism/ modernity. Further, I do not claim to redeem people from their God-fulness to my Godlessness.

Lastly, it is bad analysis to make an uncomplicated connection between the bulwarks of religious philosophy, and day-to-day practice. All religions underline transience. Yet, people everywhere seek to preserve life, earn money, plan for a better future and keep themselves and their families healthy and happy. Across the world, we hold onto our bodies for dear life, some more than others. Religious philosophy offers suggestions, ways of thought, and perspective in times of uncertainty and tragedy. For now, it might certainly serve the people of Haiti to be able to hold onto the voodoo religion than intellectual and imperiaist analyses of economic development.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rigor Mortis -- A story in many parts

Part IV
(Go here for Parts I, II and III)

And in many ways, Maya over the years, exhibited such signs of environmental osmosis. She was a sensate child.

At the age of six, she came back home, stony-faced and grief stricken. Sandhya could get nothing out of her. She refused to eat and went to bed on a glass of milk. This continued for the week. Every day, Sandhy would try and coax her into speaking and ask her if something was wrong. Maya wouldn't tell, or rather, Maya couldn't tell. All she could say was that she couldn't eat, nothing would go down and that her body hurt.

Then one day, she came home ravenous and asked for cookies and cake and bread and cheese. Relieved, Sandhya gave in to all her unhealthy insistences. Maya gulped down her cookies and told her all about school. About the class and her mathematical tables and the new swings in the playground. "Was Ranjeeta m'aam happy with your homework?" Sandhya asked. Maya replied straight-faced, "She didn't come today, and we will have a new teacher next week". Sandhya said, "Why? What happened to her?". "I don't know," Maya replied, "she wasn't in class today and Mrs.Raman came in and announced that somebody else would take over from next week."

The next day at the parent teacher meeting, Sandhya discovered that Ranjeeta had committed suicide.

Monday, January 11, 2010

We are back to our non-cooking self. As in we do cook. But to eat. Not to use our digital camera.

How is the new year treating the rest of you guys?

Mine has me off to a tail-on-fire start at work. But instead of concentrating on the impossibly large loads of writing I have been condemned to produce, I am guest blogging.

Do go check out my post on Notes to a Young Man About Town, a daily advice column that the very talented mentalie and agent green glass have let loose on the unsuspecting male populace about town.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Cavalier Cook - Numero Uno!

It's a brand new year. And a lovely day to boot. I am sitting on my couch, staring at a few crates of beer bottles and a dozen empty bottles of wine. Some cake, some madeleines and a year's supply of olives. There are flowers too. How beautifully we have sashayed into 2010.

This is the last post for now from the cavalier cook. It's been such a busy week and so exciting. I would wake up every morning and chalk out time to cook, photograph, write and then post. I'd look forward avidly to what my fellow bloggers had conjured up for the day. I'd peer curiously to see which kind people had come by to peek into my kitchen.

I planned a whole week ago for today's recipe given that it was pretty much the only risk I planned to take. I hope those of you who stayed back enjoy this. I made this in morning and let it rest in the refrigerator all day.

I was hosting a party on the evening of the 1st and wanted to hang up my apron quickly so I could stop obsessing over food photography and get to being hostess. The party was beautiful and I love my friends and am one happy couch surfer today. But yes, the main business for the day.

Guava Cheese Flan

I was introduced to this dessert in a tiny Cuban restaurant in Hoboken and have since then been waiting and waiting to try it. This last week gave me the chutzpah; ah well, okay foolhardiness to give it a try and serve it to a gaggle of uber critical graduate students (mind you, these guys practise criticism as a profession). To their credit, they were kind and mellow; blame it on the beer. I liked how it came out though. And I am uber critical. So I would strongly recommend trying it. The recipe, not the criticism.

Today I am rather lazy. So all I can tell you is I followed this recipe to the T, barring one crucial faux pas. My cream cheese had a little salt in it. Which I discovered after dunking half the container into the mixture. Didn't show though. So it was all good. Moral of the story: Ignore instructions, do not look at container labels and when it turns out well, pretend to be the coolest ever.

And here are more pictures.

And one last slice

All done, apron hung, kitchen cleaned.

Thank you Nupur, for being a host, chef and blogger extraordinarie. Thank you all my fellow runners, with your kind comments and wonderful recipes and good cheer. A very happy new year and I hope to see you all sometime in the year.

And today. I am thinking about: New Year Resolutions

Ten for 2010
(a) Drink more water
(b) Write letters; yes use that archaic tool called the pen
(c) Finish the dissertation
(d) Watch a movie a week
(e) Swim once in a while
(f) Listen
(g) Wake up early (earlier than 9 am)
(h) Run
(i) Breathe
(j) Live

Listening to: Today is an O.P.Nayyar day. You know; the horse trotting, chugging along kinds.