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….

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?

For Her… written on April 8th, 2005

Its her birthday tomorrow. My best friend, and also the one I am about to marry this June. I have known her for three years now. Its been an interesting phase in my life. My first year of MBA, the monsoons had been in full swing, drenching the landscape with wet greenery. We had a busy schedule at college… but whenever things got too much for me to handle, or when I simply wanted to be alone… I used to go out on long, long walks.

On one such walk, as aimless as it had been purposeful; I found her. Not that we had not met before, we had… but we never really progressed beyond the “Folks in the same class” kind of nodding of heads.

That rain swept evening; we decided to walk together, for just a while mind you. I was supposed to be a taciturn guy, I suppose in some ways I still am, but that evening I found myself telling her all.

It was not ‘Love at first sight’ .. no, not at all. More so, because I had been involved with someone else then…. And she was too concerned about her career to even think of an idiot like me.

But we did find a lot of common interest. Fans of P.G. Wodehouse, both of us and Oh! So totally. Come to think of it, a Comic writer probably played a major part in bringing me and her closer. Reading is a great hobby they say…

So it went on…. Two years of college, lectures, assignments etc etc… then one fine day, I found myself a part of my college team participating in a management festival, she too was there. I been a last minute entry for Western Solo… she spent the entire afternoon selecting a song for me and hearing me practice. I sang, “I Can Go the Distance” by Michael Bolton. Won the first prize, and as she tells me.. maybe moved her a bit as well. Thanks ! Mr Bolton.

Then came the most anticipated and dreaded phase of an MBA grad…. Placements !! I did not make it to the first company I was interviewed for… trust me guys I was shattered… I had always believed that no company can ever reject me… well the first one did. She had been around…. Worried about her own placements yet found time to reassure me.

Then I got placed.. in one of the finer companies… She? Well she never even applied to 99 % of the companies. She wanted only.. Advertising/Brand/Product Management… I was skeptical, openly so. Anyway, since I was placed, I was free to go home.

It was then I realized, that I was missing her, and then it struck me, through a haze of drunken stupor on 31st December 2003, I was madly in love with her… She complains about my drinking, but I guess I did one sensible thing when drunk!!

So I think for a few days, and realize that I was sincere enough. So I meet her, take her for a walk (again) and tell her that I miss her in a way I never realized I could… The world ‘Love’ was never mentioned anywhere.

She lapsed into one of her deep silences and two days later, her smiling voice on the phone confirmed what I already believed in.

Then she got placed… and the lady proved me wrong. She is now a Product Manager, and Boy ! Am I proud of her !

Last year, her birthday found me broke as the Berlin Wall, hope I do better this year. Am off to Bombay tonight to be with her tomorrow, trust me…. Sometimes… life is beautiful