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This is the first day of the rest of my life”, I thought as the tires touched the wetness of the concrete. And I reminisced – “I had left this country at an hour when India was fast asleep. I come back to this country, as India is getting ready to start a new day.” Almost a decade back, I had packed my life into two suitcases and landed in Detroit, which was then fondly popular as the Motor City. It still is, just that the fondness has given way to sympathy.Sadly.

Welcome to America. Enjoy your stay” – she had said from behind the plexiglass. My good friend and his faithful Marlboro Lights had greeted me as I stepped out to a chilly fall afternoon.That was my first ride in a Ford. I was naive and excited, about everything that was to be. There was the factor of the unknown, about how life would shape up to be, in the next few years. First came the University, the jobs followed and then getting married, and then our child. And finally came the “decision“. The one which we had talked about for years. To move back ! But when it really happened, it was too surreal. It swept us off our feet. Into the air.Literally.

Namaste Sir. Enjoy your visit. How long are you staying?” he asked from under his neatly trimmed mustache. “For a while”, I beamed under the neon. “We are back for good, at least for the next few years”. We dragged our bags into a pleasing Bangalore air. And before I forget, let me tell you. The airport is beautiful.And wonderfully maintained. And so is the Mumbai airport. From the time we landed in India, I have flown through a lot of airports. Let me correct that. I have been flown by the most obliging pilots. And I have loved each one of them. And let me tell you, all those flights have been on time.Technically.

There has been so much that I  have experienced in the last few weeks. Couple of them are most impressive on the memory. Like how, I got to smell the smoke, from the noise of crackers during Diwali, laughing out with D in his Navi Mumbai high rise, as we put away some cold beers with freshly grilled kabobs. Our baby, soaked in tears as he lost all his silky hair under the skilled razor of the pundit in charge at Tirumala. And the warm air as we sped in awe on the wonderful – NE1 from Vadodara to Ahmedabad.Really.

As I wait for my PAN card and hopefully get employed with any company that has a loaded cafeteria, it is but most understandable that my LDL will be duly entertained by samosas,dhoklas,pakoras,pani-puris,medhu vadas,paneer puffs,khakras,mysore paks,gulab jamuns, and a few others. As I do justice to all of them , I should be able to catch up on my blogging and primarily with following my favorite fellow bloggers. If you still remember me, please do visit again. If you are  here for the first time, welcome to my world of reclosion.This is the beginning to a new journey and would love to have you with me.Truly.

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Almost every year, on a certain day, I have to put up an act. And, just like is expected of any actor, with practice – my pretence has improved in quality. My voice modulations are very controlled and my comic timing is perfect!!  And I have managed to keep my audience ignorant about my lack of subject matter expertise. That day, is the day of Super Bowl – the biggest day of football as they know it in America!!

I show up at someone’s place to watch the game, and it is really the food and the alcohol that my eyes are absorbed with – from entry till exit. And yet, yours truly does not forget to play his role – with kaizen. Once every few minutes, I erupt into a frenzy of “high fives” with my greasy hands (here is a tutorial for those interested). Some years, I am so involved that I shake hands during the half time show. Like that one year with Janet…totally “out of place”!!

And that is how, an evening of brilliant performance seals my invitation to next year’s party. Of course, it is nobody’s business that the next morning, I have to check the local news before I show up at work. (so who won again ?) And I apologize for that!! I should really try to remember things better.

But this post is not at all about that. It is about the game, I grew up knowing as football. And tomorrow is the end to a different kind of lying. I do not have to schedule fake conference calls anymore from 6:30 in the morning or attend meetings with really no one but the cafeteria television from 1:30 in the afternoons. My eyes shall not seek for sleep and I shall stop predicting incorrectly on Raja’s blog. There is one more match, one that will put my conscience to rest for the next four years. And for that I had to do something special. I called for a “team meeting” !!

I call it the “FINAL” Dip  – a team meeting of boiled edamame, red onions, jalapeno peppers, peppers in all kinds of colors, cutting board, really sharp knife, paper towel, sea salt, not so virgin olive oil, roasted garlic and a green bowl !! I know the picture is not super appealing, but then it is not like you are going to actually get to dig into it. So go ahead and start the ooh’s and aah’s  – as I get ready to watch a football match which I actually understand !! Till next time … Waka Waka !!

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Link to day two : here

Link to days three and four : here

Beer is everything  a key resource  for revitalization. Ask anyone. And not just any kind of beer. A true desi (Indian) can literally feel the increase in rbc’s with every sip of energy drinks like ….Kingfisher, Royal Challenge, Hayvards etc. I knew exactly what to do. I needed to get to Little India on Newark Avenue !!

The women had no clue needed to get some rest. And sometimes, a man has to do what he has to do. So I lied. I told them – “let me get some veggies, fruits and milk for Onga“. They were curious – “why would  you need the cart?”. Before I could start about  my weak arms, they had left the scene…as usual. Now it was just a matter of me, walking the walk and talking the talk. Which translates into – get directions, pick up beer and get back home as soon as possible to put them beauties in the refrigerator. We all know how sensitive, beers are to excess heat !! 

To cover my true purpose, I stocked up on the unnecessary (read:veggies and fruits). Just enough to not use up all the room in the empty boxes. I lay the bottles on the comfy bed of bitter gourd and onions, and covered them with the cold from the methi leaves. I chuckled at the soon to be baffled women – “why did we need so much methi?”. Having ensured the safety of the hops. I started my journey back. People in the train looked at me and then moved their gaze to the boxes and I could tell what they thought – “that is a lot of leaves for one guy to carry around “. …..little did they know.

Women need to be constantly praised encouraged .A good dose can do wonders to the plates. And very soon we had kabobs, masala (spicy)peanut, soondal(chick pea snack) and all those goodies which cause instant heartburn and gradual dehydration. More reason for us to stay well hydrated (wink wink). All made and served, it was like old times. Same friends and great humor. The cold of the concrete floor had given way to the polish of the wood. And instead of  a view of cheap posters, we were looking at the lights from across the Hudson river. We sat around the food and talked away into the night and the early hours of morning. Perfect ending to a much awaited day of rest and evening of drinking fun conversation !!

We spent most of the next couple of days outdoors, visiting key attractions. We would take the train everywhere. It was super convenient and cheap, since parking in the city would cost us an arm and leg and with us having to carry Onga the way we were, that would be a tad inconvenient. The only down side was that every time the train doors opened and closed, Onga would bawl in fear. He was not used to the crowd. His mom and I shared a wicked laugh … “wait till he gets to India… this is nothing……hee haa haa !!

I compiled some of my clicks from one of the spring days ….. thanks to auto focus on the camera settings ….!!

Today is Mother’s Day. Growing up and actually till last year, I did not even know about this day. To me and to a lot of people who are like me, we just know that every day is special as a mom and for a mom.I wish my mom and Onga’s mom – Happy Mother’s Day. And I wish you and yours as well !!

Photo Courtesy (Cart) : here

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evening of day two : We found for ourselves, an Indian junkyard bistro – Kohinoor. We settled, only because it was close enough, for us to walk without dying of wind chill freeze. And true to its name, we were gifted with that “once in a lifetime dining experience”.  And I say that with total spite through the holes in our wallets.

We dumped walked the women back to the hotel and promptly returned into the fresh air, away from the constant  noise music that they generate. We had no time to waste. On our return, we carefully  packed the ladies in green under  the ice, in the sink of the ……ahem.. bathroom. The women gasped and I thought I heard them say – “how disgusting ….people spit and wash in there”. At that point in time,  our ears were blocked. In retrospect  I do have two key reasons behind that act. Firstly – I had checked for any oral dissipate before I poured the ice in there. Secondly  – there is an unwritten law among guys “we could be sitting naked, on rocks with snakes, under the hot Sun in the Sahara…… but  when someone offers us a beer, …….we want it cold !!”. I hereby rest my case.

day three  – The plan was to stuff a heavy breakfast, pick up something quick and get on the road. We had to reach Venkateswara Temple in Pittsburgh on time for lunch  the Saturday Abhisekham (prayers). Now, each time,  anyone asks me about the temple, I always begin with something like this …“their sambar rice is ….mmmmm and their tamarind rice … ah ha ha …. and the curd rice …. oooooo.” And then there is the pinch on my arm and I go….”sorry…it is a beautiful temple, in the mountains…near downtown…. and very close …is Udupi where the dosas  are just too good…..wait…don’t leavelet me finish..!”.

We arrived, several hours later (than planned). As the women rushed to redo the make up, freshen up, we took Onga to the men’s room … as appropriate. K held the wipes, as I lay the little fish between two sinks (they did not have a changing table) . Onga was quick to open both taps, one on each side, which in turn made other users give us that look ….”cannot discipline their kids, what kind of parents are these … two men ??” We paid no attention. Since it was just a flood, the change was quick and we were ready to meet Him.

I thanked Him for his kindness. Even at that late hour, they were not out of Sambar Rice (lentil rice) …or Tamarind Rice …or Curd Rice. He even pampered us with mango achar (Indian pickle) in small plastic containers. As we finished what we had come for, (you know what I mean) ….it was time for the pictures….for Orkut, Facebook,…etc. Each with a difference ….with the flowers,on the steps….with the elephants(and I do not mean fat people) , as couples, single. ….with children. next to the rental car … you get the drift

After the feast, darshan (holy respects) we had just one more task to complete before we hit the highway. Pick up diapers. From the time I entered the stadium sized store to when I started the car, it had been less than ten minutes. The crowd belched hooted in praise. I was a proud man,…. a man who had saved everyone  ….from baby mudslides …..literally !! We set off towards the mountains of Wheeling, West Virginia !!

I had arranged for royal accommodation. None of us had ever spent a night at any palace. Ever. Leave alone a Palace of Gold.  O.K….I lied.We did not stay at the Palace. We stayed at one of the cottages on the lake, next to the Palace. But it was equally awesome. There was a fully loaded kitchen, which moved the women,  to  prance around in joy. That  was odd … since we did not have any supplies on us. Next came the bathroom with hot water, clean towels, etc. and I promptly ….sat down to relax….ahem !! The cottage was all wood, which reminded me of the cottage I once stayed in, during a childhood trip to the hills of Mirik. We had two bedrooms, one in the attic space (you can see it in the picture)  and the other … well …not in the attic space. All in all …fantabulous !! 

day four : In the morning, after getting lost for the hundredth time, S and S finally met up with us.They  had been driving from Akron, Ohio. There was a primary reason behind us coaxing them to meet us. Our iPods were out of charge !!  Another not too important reason – we needed some milk for Onga !!

We all went to the Ashram temple and I thanked Lord Krishna…… for the khichdi (rice with veggies….yummmmm). Everyone else sneered at me….”how can he eat so much…… this early?”. Soon after, we cleaned up several plates of puri sabji at the ashram cafe.

Time for pictures. With buffalo (again, … not referring to fat people),  without, ….with the wife…without (nice) . ….and so on. Several clicks and an exhausting walk (of a couple of minutes) later …….we finally arrived at the Palace.

As Onga yanked the iron chain, which said “Do Not Touch”, I committed a mistake that could have been easily evaded. You see, ….this was my third visit. I could have easily opted to stay outside, attempted to entertain the boy and saved us some embarrassment. Not me !!  The tour took all of 5 minutes, which was really odd, since I clearly remember it to have been longer than that….the last couple of times. But then who knows !! Maybe we got the abridged version.

Our final journey back home, to Newport , New Jersey was slow, tolled and full of fried chicken. As we cruised into the city, Onga was cranky from sleeping too much and everyone else was too tired, … to replay the Bal Ganesh dvd….again !! We needed a good night’s rest before we could plan the next few days of our stay. We needed to recharge !! And I knew just exactly how… !! 

Photo Courtesy:le embrouille blogueur

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the following happened between 14:00 hours and 23:00 hours on Thanksgiving Day – year 2009……

chicken kabob with cilantro mint chutney –

kabob recipe – weak points of a dead chicken (redundant …. yet so true)
chutney recipe – frozen section of the local Indian store (owned by annoying accent guy)
marination time – extravagance of disproportionate amounts (maximum time allowed ….15 minutes??)
cooking time – uncool necessity (this is a total bottleneck…”fire” this step in the process)
serving time – zero, to be accosted directly from the grill (….keep cold water handy)

white string pasta …….Bangalore specialty

name – clearly out of my league (did not care to investigate too much)
taste – gulp (sorry …cannot type with mouth full)
look – awesome….(white kurta ….concealing …size “O for obese” jeans)
comments – passed …(about the neighbours’ impossible hair style)

mutton in green (mint look alike) sauce

landscape – big kadai (pot) doing thumka (pelvic gyrations for no apparent reason) on small fold able table (define : equilibrium)
reaction – repetitive action (work done = force of jaws multiplied by mass of meat)

dum biriyani – like the ones they make in Hyderabad

quality test – lets just say …the chicken turned out to be in lust with the oven …”mooh kala karke aayi” (lost her innocence…in a bad way)
launch – total success ….(no weather delays on the oesophagus highway)

other places of interest…..

rice – white ….like Manisha Koirala’s dress in 1942 – A Love Story
rasam – spicy …..like Bipasha Basu in a fairly big pot of rasam
ginger ale – welcome….. like Dr.Singh at the White House dinner

At this point, the occupants of the leased space decided to ……”not eat anymore”……which did not happen …..soon after ….

lets take it slow ….or all at once…

masala chai – can cause havoc with your day time napping habits …(16 spoons of sugar please …. am cutting down on sweets ..you see)
appetizer stuffed with chicken sausage – please accept…I rock ….(and “
crescent roll)
corn – soondal style (chick pea recipe from Chennai) ..kinda like the ones we needed with Old Monk over mosquitoes and Thums Up

and finally the star of the evening ….

another dead chicken (scene or time of crime unknown) …was religiously basted with generous coatings of LDL….. stuffed without mercy …. and roasted over crazy filaments at 350 F. …for what seemed like forever…(the time between a six pack …burp …of Killian’s Reds)

another round of rasam + rice…… ( you see … it helps with your digestion)

yet another indecent proposal ……

that was promptly accepted – sugar free (we are a health conscious friend’s circle of obese people … you see) vanilla ice cream over warm pineapple cake that Her Highness had built from ground up. ….literally … (all the flour was on the kitchen floor …. courtesy:Onga)

The following should have happened a couple of hours back ….

I think we should head out now. Black Friday sales begin in about 4 hours and you guys need to stand in line to buy the Dirt Devil Dynamite Vaccum Cleaner from …”WaaMaa“…(Walmart for the audio effect challenged).” ….we said …as we got ready to get home. Eventually we did get home…..after spending over nine hours with friends and some members from different families (if you know what I mean …wink wink)

The following happened a couple days ago….

Look… a South Asian newsletter“. We picked it up from the local library and …..it landed smoothly on the kitchen counter top ….pretty certain to be discarded once we had finished doing … “nothing” with it !!

The following happened …..like … right now …..when I was looking for something to “drink” up the beer froth from the counter….. and read this !!


What do ya know …. life is cruel !! I need to down some …..ENO …like right now !!


Image Courtesy:South Asian Newsletter and an efficient scanner

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Miss Joseph was one of those rare happenings in the village school.Most people who do not believe in destiny,…. would like to think otherwise if they happened to witness with their own eyes (that would be convenient …. I think) ……”naked” eyes (like the books clearly used to say) what I am going to attempt to consolidate from the memory of happy thoughts. You see, when the missionaries started to build these schools in the remote corners of India, they probably did not (actually there is no probability involved … it was an established truth) give too much attention to a key element of sustenance ….what would the seekers of beauty thrive on? They failed to realize that photo synthesis, fundamental rights and past participle are not…. (for lack of better word)…. attractive enough for the QSQT infected teenagers to bear the “sparrow sized mosquito” bites. They needed some thing (someone??)…… hot (…..ahem)…to deal with the pain(s)…you know where!!

They say (in all Hindi movies especially the ones in which SRK is getting ready to walk away with someone else’s girl)…..”if you want something really bad, you will get it”. Such was the strength of the male hormones……destiny clicked on “Search” and returned with an “exact match found”……..(for lack of better word) …..double dhamaka (blast) in an empty steel tank …..!!! Suddenly the ties were all up to the collars and the shirts tucked in. Ohm’s Law made perfect sense and the shoes shone like you needed shades to look at them. Each one, of those fifty guys were madly in love with one woman ….. Miss Joseph !!

Now sometime during those hot summers, the boys had learnt about “action and reaction” !! Not exactly a verbatim evolution in real life …… but something close to that happened when one of those “boys” (that would be me…..sigh) heard about what happened to our hapless “puttar” …(this right here is what we define as the “action”)!! This is also the part where things get a little out of whack. You see, if you have grown up in a Bengali family, you tend to learn and grow up (we talked about growing up already ….just wanted to stress on the fact …..that I am grown up) to a whole different school of nomenclature which resides parallel to …….what the dictionary would define. Tears welled up (the “reaction”) in empathy for “Butapaaji (respected individual…….jokes apart)….it also reminded me of “bhutta” (corn in Bengali..for sure …not so sure about other languages) …by now I was standing in a pool ….!!

Hence the prologue filled with …..happy memories ….!!

I miss the guy with the white turban who used to push the cart along the narrow lanes of the several places that I have lived in India. I am sure the face changed …. it would be ridiculous (and a little scary) ….if it was the same guy in every place ……”Aisa lagtaa hain maine aap ko pehle kahi dekha hain” (Looks like we have met before)…!!! A small coal powered chulla (clay oven) sat among the mob of the ripe corns. He would take the “longest” couple of minutes (which seemed like the wait for Manoj Kumar to move his hand from his face) as he slowly “tadap tadap ke” (slow pain) singed them to a medley of gold and black hue …and then with the coal smeared hands rubbed the “exploited beyond recognition” limboo (lime) on them before he handed them to …..the spoilt consumers !!

At the local grocery store …….

I managed to sneak away from the future Tansen (in pain)…(that would be the 11 month old)….and loaded the basket with these enormous members …(what ??)…..of the poaceae family. …….(clearly I wikied this part to try and sound biologically sound ….wait, that did not come out right). Long story ….. still attempting to be short ……after having claimed zero responsibility as a parent (at the check out counter) by looking away from the source of the scream …..I rushed back home with the other team members. This was a project that I was looking forward to !! A fired up grill, some cayenne pepper, some virgin lime, some beer to add to the twist (cut the crap …. beer just because you need it…….kinda like ….salt) ….makhkan maadke (butter it up) ….and we were biting away in glory…..action and reaction realized !!

So you see ….one thing led to another and suddenly things got real corny ……(pun intended)!!

Photo Courtesy:here

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