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diwali : this year was on nov 5th.we were heavily jet lagged and that totally worked in our favor !! family, food and fire crackers throughout the night, with a view of the fashion institute in navi mumbai was perfect !

diwali with family

shatabdi : mumbai to bharuch  is about a four hours train ride. we boarded in the early hours. the train is clean, they serve quality food (a lot) and the seats are perfect for obese mammals (leb)..!!

shatabdi, an express ride from indian railways - obesity friendly

we chanced upon a  mumbai sunrise…!!

sunrise in mumbai from within the shatabdi

breakfast: is the most important meal of the day,  and on some mornings,… best with an antacid !!

breakfast of the kings - with no acidity issues

dam : damn, …..the sardar sarovar dam and narmada look awesome !!

colors at sardar sarovar dam on the narmada

at any hour of the day … !!

sunset on narmada at sardar sarovar dam

crows: do not remember seeing even one of these in all my years of stay in the americas

oblivious of their vocals

tirupati: is always crowded and busy with tirumala devotees.we found a place to stay, close to the bus stand, with a view of the hills !!

tirumala hills in the early hours

sunrise ‘n’ sunset : is probably when the day looks best, no matter which part of the world !!

sunset in chittoor - andhra pradesh

photographs : all the photographs were shot with a 8.1 mp digital camera and there was no Photo Shop editing done to enhance quality. If you liked the photographs and would like to use any of them, please be kind to acknowledge the source.

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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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Today could have been a perfect day. Being a Saturday, we woke up pretty late (~ 07:15 am …thanks to Onga who slept a full 15 minutes more than his usual quota). Usually, he wakes us up by dropping Thomas on our heads. But today, it was the  disgusting stench sweet aroma of the brocolli and beans from last night. The man was carrying a lot of  load, very early…. in the day. Once fumigated attended to, we were ready for the rest of the day.

I was famished wanted to lend a helping hand, just like any smart good husband should, over the weekend. So I took up  slow death the privelege of feeding the baby !! This would mean, that his mom could  go fix breakfast  relax, unlike other days during the week. Instead, she wanted to fix breakfast and I just did not have the heart to say ….”NO”. Afterall, she is a great cook, and I was ready to eat a cow probably getting a little hungry.

I told her …. “take it easy huh …. just make something simple …. something like … that ….spicy onion masala uttapam…that should be easy …right ?” Suddenly, she became very quiet. While I started flipping channels played with the baby, she got started on the masala (stuffing) part of that simple breakfast. There was hardly any noise from the kitchen. Like the calm before a storm. It was a little creepy, and in retrospect, I think that she let the oil fume,  before she relocated the cut onions from her hand onto the pan.

Now ..let us pause for a second,  shall we ? This needs a little flashback, if you will. Let us try to recollect what a very hot   knowledgeable  Miss Joseph had taught on a warm summer afternoon, several years ago to some ogling diligent students. Sometimes two unlike molecules cling to each other due to attraction and that is defined as adhesion.  In addition, I would also like to cite a Bengali phrase – “taile jale ek hoye jawa” (the phenomenon of oil and water forming a homogenous mix).

Back to present day. You see, in the heat of the moment, some water droplets (from the cutting board), decided to get  some of that adhesion action going, ….with them, young and juicy, cut onions. This catalyzed, ….what society would taint as an illegitimate union of the hot oil and the water. 9 nano seconds later : the spluttering oil, singed her right arm and gave birth to several blisters of all kinds of shapes and sizes. At that very moment (almost an hour late than usual),Onga dropped Thomas on my right toe . This was not good timing … at least not for me !!

I had to limp and  get a bucket of cold water for her to drown the sizzle to feel better. I called M to find out what else I could do to heal the pain. “apply ghee..” she said. We did not have any. So I cut a half-inch slice of  butter and rubbed it over the wounds, slowly and with extreme care, ….not to spill any on the floor.She looked up and smiled at me. And that is when things got bad. I mean really, really bad.For me !!

I grinned back at her….” you were in labor for 11 hours … this must be nothing…huh ??”

You see, some days it is best to shut the fudge up and let the DNA (that makes a good husband) do its work !! Today, could have been a perfect day for that !!

image courtesy : here 

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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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If you were related to me, or were related to someone who was related to me, there is every possibility that you would do what I do …refer to it as  – “Jiyographhee”. You see, it is not that members of our family (who usually speak at no lower than 2735 decibels, on an average) do not know how to pronounce certain words, the way they should be. I know they do. But I realize, (from some serious self analysis) – they are plain lazy, which if you were half as good at statistics as me, you would know instantly is nothing but a classic example of “inference” or something like that. An outcome or may I say, aftermath of exposure to such distorted phonetics inflicted some uninsured dents and, it was just natural that I had problems with the subject. The latitudes, the longitudes and the equator along with the hemispheres induced some low pressure zones in the tundra of my head – my arid scalp. I still remember, how I used to struggle with contour diagrams and if not for the kind hearted damsels, who willingly shared their notebooks (and their lunch boxes) yours sincerely would still be tapping that pencil on the wooden desk.

So today, when I was fidgeting around in the CPU of our household (the kitchen), I spotted – March 20th – First Day of Spring – 2010 on the calendar. And I found myself asking this ….almost aloud – “how the hell do they know”. Clearly this topic was out my syllabus. And so, I looked it up. Online!! (have no idea why I need two exclamation marks after online, but I am going to keep going).

At this point it would be safe to compose my thoughts:-

  • irony # 1: insane snow storm(hence the digital image with a resolution of 3869241.45 mega pixels) on a day that a lot of people wait for, to get a good scrub and a hot bath after the grueling winter. I know I do…….
  • irony # 2: I had to move from beer to the  “real stuff” on ice to keep me warm

Clearly, this is not the ….. first day of spring 2010 !! And I warn you ….do not even try to suspect, that I am no subject matter expert !!

Image Courtesy : LEB

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The Howrah Hatia Express 8615 sneaked in, through the smoke, from the coal ovens of the railway quarters and the tea stalls. The coolies (porters) , hopped onto the still moving train and pushed their red uniforms through the almost empty compartment (most passengers disembark at Ranchi). The softness of your eyes, smiled at me as I waved back at you through the rust of the window railings. We stuffed the auto rickshaw with our baggage and after some gyrations of reckless maneuvering, found ourselves at the new place in the HEC Colony.

This house was better – more room, lots of sunlight and a train of dahlias woven around the perimeter of the property, like a garland. While the rest of the family got busy with conversations and interruptions, I followed you along the red soil driveway. I can still smell your khadi kurta (home spun cotton shirt) and the early morning air, as I held on to you tightly, perched on the back seat of the Vespa – en route to the dudhwala’s (milk man). For the next few days, I was the devoted nephew, absorbing every bit of intellectual conversation feasible between an adult and an adolescent.

The days bloated with constant chatter of the family. The evenings were calm, and that is when, you and I used to go for our walks. Stepping away from the colony walk ways, onto the main road and then bridge over the skinny brook. Our daily little secret was the daal vada (lentil dumplings) from the dimly lit kiosk run by the tribal couple. Any evidence of this atrocity, was neatly wiped out on the greasy square cut out from the daily newspaper, that the vadas were served on.

Somewhere along the path, you  pointed at the lights from the houses, behind the eucalyptus trees and mentioned how there was a son/daughter from each one of them, studying in one of the élite engineering/ medicine schools of India. “This is a great neighborhood ” – you had said, “a great place to build confidence and feed ambition !! ”

That was in the summer of 1994……

After that, the last time we met, was at the hospital in Bhowanipore. You lay there among strangers putting up a brave fight. I could see, that you noticed how much I had strayed. I was not going to be the protagonist of the success story – of your vision. Shame caught me unawares, for a few moments of true self appraisal. My life, as it was then, was clouded with superficiality and restlessness.

Over the years, change (for the better) picked me up on its way We spoke long distance and not too often. You got better but then it started getting worse. I prayed. There was a guilt of not spending enough time with you, when I had the time of your day. And then one day the phone call happened. Our conversations were over – for good !!

That was a year into the new decade. ……2001.

Almost another decade later …. this summer (of year ‘09) ….

He walked out on a relationship, one which he had believed would find him happiness!!  As brave as he is, he survived her lack of commitment and fought back to find himself at a better place. Professionally !! Now, the two hour commute to his desk, finds him at peace with his new life –  the cafeteria et al.

His likes are strong and his dislikes stronger. Over the weekends,  he devours the works of the best and the worst of authors , some in and others from out of town. He critiques with brutal honesty,  silver screen creations of the famous and the infamous. I can imagine how his apartment has not been cleaned in ages. Some days, when mischief pokes him,  the building plummets into  total darkness, thanks to his ancient iron box from the past. His laughter is loud, like that of a  child and his advices are crisp, like those of a good lawyer – one just like him !! That is all I can tell about his day job, almost like the Friends, about Chandler Bing’s.

We talk about everything, from Tarentino to family gossips, from shaadi.com to thin crust pizza, about our days near Nona’s Corner to the cheap vodka, that we downed during our last reunion. He confessed that he was jealous and often times, wondered what his father and I talked about, during those walks, several years ago. Back when he was a kid drowned in books and I was a teenager oblivious to his existence.  We speak to our memories for details and try and put the pieces together. We speak almost every day – me buried  under the Atlantic snow storms and he resonating from a local train in Bandra.

And  in my heart, I realize that our conversations are not over. When I talk to him,…… I talk to you !! You are gone …….but he is here for me –  as I am for him. I know I have to make up for lost time. We live in a cynical world and it is not every day that we know and love someone ……who can complete our sentences in a seemingly intellectual conversation!!

Someday, when I can get myself to see him again, on that balcony, somewhere in  Navi Mumbai, we are going to look up at you ….. and we know you would softly smile back at us ….and say – “Go ahead , ……take that walk….. down that road, ….over the bridge….. from behind the eucalyptus trees !!”

Photo Courtesy: here

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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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