About Kolams & native places…

We tamilians ( may be all South Indians) have this practice of adorning our door ways with a Kolam (Rangoli). The early morning ritual of washing the doorway & making the kolam is followed without fail by every lady of the house. Kolams are supposed to be made early in the mornings after bath and are supposed to welcome Lakshmi into the house & generally bring good luck.Its however not the same when you are in a flat…you don’t have to sprinkle water & wash because it’s a concrete floor after all…and you don’t want to drown the verandah with water …plus of course there is only so much space.. but even so, people like my mum continue the tradition with much enthusiasm.

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My kolams are mood dependent ( To make or not to make, then what to make-too many questions!) – Some how I can never stay satisfied with the standard floral or geometric motifs ( Some would say just an excuse for not knowing them so well 🙂 ) Anyways I make just about anything from a scenery to flowers to people to smileys to…well just about anything that I can manage to draw – its fun & I do enjoy them ( As long as I manage to wake up , of course!)

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I think of kolams and I think of Sri Rangam…In fact ,the one unforgettable picture I have of my native place Sri Rangam, which is a little temple town in Tamil nadu is that of one day early in the morning when we had just arrived by train ( from Hyderabad I think, for my summer holidays). It was 5 am in the morning & dawn was about to break…and the little town was just rousing itself…

We took a maattu-vandi ( bullock cart) that day to get home from the station… …The early morning quiet was only broken by the intermittent jingling rhythms of the bullock cart – as if peace had conquered that moment and spread contentment in the air. All through the way home I saw many entrances already adorned with kolams – beautiful, intricate designs, some plain white & some bursting with colour , mingled with the smell of the freshly washed earth…they managed to etch a permanent place in my memories…Sri Rangam never was and never will be , what it was for me that morning….

The Bridge Across Forever

Dawn’s peaceful, luminous blue,
Intensified with the day
As did happiness,
Blue…bluer…bluest,
White puffs of delight,
Joy overflowing.
Until sunset
Wrapped us in tender pink,
And we fused in a
Passionate magenta goodbye,
Earth-soul and Cosmic-soul
Bursting with beauty.

When night came
A baby moon
Laughed sideways in the dark.
I laughed back
And thought:

Partway across the world
Your sky
Is filled with this same
Golden laughter,
And hoped that you,
Twinkling Blue eyes,
Saw and heard,

So that somehow we three
Were joined in our gladness,
Each in our own space,
Together apart,
Distance meaningless.

And I slept
In a world
Full of smiles.

( From Richard Bach’s The bridge across forever)

Yan can cook, & so can dad!

OK. Let me admit it – Cooking & I are NOT friends. Well not as bad as a Harry Potter- Draco Malfoy feud , I would say more like a Tom & Jerry – my relationship with cooking having a fair share of struggles, chasing & racing ( against time – aren’t the guests early? ), shortcuts, injuries, mishaps – You get the picture! I am a hatchling in a field where my mom & my father-in-law are veterans, my in-laws all enthusiastic foodies, my friends confident cooks in their own right and the worst of all – my HUSBAND who is one of the most intuitive & innovative cooks that I know of ( I rarely tell him this though – mostly I call him an arrogant Know-it-All ) Among this formidable group, it was only my dad who gave me much needed comfort ( My brother doesn’t even count in this category) – the number of times he has entered the kitchen to cook can be counted on my fingers. Now imagine my surprise when he told me, in all seriousness mind you, that he is going to give mom a rest & take up cooking after his all-too-near impending retirement. Ha! was my first reaction and one that turned to resignation & now to amused curiosity as appa continues to spread news of his intended occupation. I mean, the closest he has come to cooking (except for the time when ma wasn’t there and he used to make yummy aloo kai and passable kozhumbu-rasam 🙂 ) is procuring recipes & tips from various sources & prod ma to escape the shackles of her heritage cooking! ( She has borne it stoically all these years) Of course, nowadays, as a prelude to his taking up full time cooking, he has perfected the recipe for his own brand of Cinnamon Tea! ( Here, I must say, it is quite good) So, am I going to have to add him to my formidable list? Maybe I could teach him a thing or two? (!) Whatever happens – appa’s trials in the kitchen will definitely be something to look forward to. Who knows- maybe the two of us novices together can give the veterans a run for their – shall we say, kadhais in this case? Ma- are you listening?