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Additional thoughts

23 Oct

*I feel I was a bit hasty in forming my opinion on #metoo. It seems to have provided an outlet that wasn’t seen to exist before. I withdraw my reservations about it.

*I am deeply fond of soft, creamy cheeses but they are hard to find in India. Brie and Camembert are still found in fancy shops, but what I really give my heart to is frishkaese, which was wonderfully cheap in Germany, especially if you bought an in-house brand. For around Rs.35 I’d have a 200gm tub of herbed frishkaese, which is a fraction of the price of Amul cheese.

The Germans also make a variety of soft cheeses that taste similar to Brie and Camembert, all for under Euros 2. I love Germany, have I mentioned? 😉

Cheese is not a viable thing to ingest in the hot climates of either Delhi or Calcutta, the two cities that are home to me. So most of the time the lack of availability or expensive imports don’t bother me. Besides, Philadelphia cream cheese isn’t, in my opinion, half as tasty as your average frishkaese.

Sometimes though, the craving hits, and in winters it is permissible to indulge. It was with great delight that I discovered this year that a home-made substitute exists that is very close to the taste I am seeking. And that is a hung-curd dip that my mother makes. When you hang curd long enough it assumes a texture and taste quite like frishkaese, and when you add in whatever additions appeal to you, like garlic, chopped coriander etc etc, it becomes suitably elevated to divine! A bonus: this is actually healthy and good for all weather consumption.

*Salt and vinegar chips are rather yummy. INOX makes a brand of kettle-cooked chips which delivers this flavour at Rs.40 for 50 gms. It’s quite good, though the chips aren’t as tongue-curlingly sour as I’d like. I am, however, not paying ridiculous prices to try the other brands that offer this in India. When I’m not PhDing, (which seems to be always these days!) I begin to fantasize about making these at home, without the maltodextrin.

*I discovered English Breakfast tea in December 2011, in the panic of MPhil coursework exams. I’ve loved it ever since, but haven’t ever had it with milk, because I prefer my tea without milk and sugar. Today I was craving a milky drink and found it tastes as good, maybe even better, with milk.

*The fridge went kaput yesterday and I will be fridgeless for a week until we buy a new one. I’ve never lived without a fridge, ever. I’m very dependent on it, a reflection of my extreme privilege ofcourse, given how monstrously expensive those things are!, and I’m driven to near panic at the thought of existing without one. (I’m almost as dependent on washing machines.) My neighbours are very, very nice and they will keep my cooked food for me whilst I woman up to the challenge of planning my meals without the cushion of storageability.

*This post is almost entirely about food.


Bye, 2015. And Season’s Greetings!

31 Dec

I’m glad to have made your acquaintance. In many ways you were like 2013: you walked me through quite a journey. In no specific order, some of my favourite things from this year:

*The share autos at Noida City Centre metro station. Because:

1)UPiites (Uttar Pradesh iites) really are polite, even if they burn their women and mutton eaters occasionally. And,

2) In order to extract the crazily parked and inevitably hemmed-in auto you are sitting in (or sitting behind) (filled with a minimum of 10 passengers) the driver will move backwards and forwards, going thud-thud into the autos in front and behind, like dodge’em cars, until there is space to manoeuvre out onto the main road.

*That twice daily meditations did not happen, but routinely longer ones did.

* The Cafe Coffee Day on Barakhamba road. After many misses, I’ve found ‘my’ coffee shop in the city.

* Days that begin at 5.30AM on winter mornings, finish by 3, leaving me the rest of the afternoon and evening for Noida visits and meditation.

* Who’d a thought I’d enjoy being out of the house by 5.30 AM? That I LIKE less sleep when forced into it?

* Goettingen. Lucking out on wonderful people there, both friends and strangers. Especially strangers.

* Uncle Chips. Many, many packets of it.

* Beginning, meaningfully, on field research for the second part of my PhD. I don’t care whether I actually finish or not: the journey thus far has far exceeded my expectations of learning when I began. But I will finish, because the ICSSR has kindly paid me a fellowship thus far.

* Noida, Nurnberg, Dakshineshwar.

Happy New Year, all. Because whyever not?

Bitte Warten…

27 May

Hey Prabhu

Aaj maine ek murti dekha

Ek urti hui aurat ki kaanch ki murti

Sapne mein dekha toh saat Euro

Lekin gaya toh bola teen saw

Aisa nainsafi kyun?

Phir sapna kyun dikhaya?

I see you looking at her, lower shelf, left. That figure in ceramic with the metal chain hanging off her neck. Oh come, come. Don’t be shy. She is indeed special. If you enter the door by the pig, you’ll see her again, smaller this time. She’s too big, they said; don’t make her so big. And so she was shrunk to size, the urti hui kaanch ki aurat. But what to do, the bigger one was already made, so let us put her in the window.

Did you know there is another window? Yes, yes, in the allee by that street. They put a little sewing machine on a wooden bench and waited for him to come. Who? Oh, you know, that little Gepetto. No, no, I did not name him, his mother did. He came, and they jumped out from behind the furniture and stared and stared at him. Imagine! Five grown humans, six feet tall, they came out and trained their eyeballs on Gepetto until he slowly froze in shock. And then they put him in the window.

Beta, I came here when you were in your diapers. I know this city, even which dustbins are most likely to have almost-whole food. Yes,yes, I know, social security…but I fell through the cracks, plop! Down there I found him, and her and her and him. And it. Before Gepetto froze, he made us some instruments. Him, and him and him got violins, I got a harmonica but poor Pedro- there was no more wood left, so he got a plumbing pipe.

If you want, you can come hear us play, in front of the Ganseliesel. We take turns, Pedro also. Well, some of them do. They buy their ice-cream cones, and sit and sit, and listen. Some only with half a ear. One or two smile a lot and leave two Euros. But mostly, we play to her, the Ganseliesel. She was frozen much, much before Gepetto. Oh, no, she hates it. She would much rather have Gepetto’s quiet life. They come and kiss her and kiss her and kiss her and never even ask. And then they cover her when boats of immigrants sink in the Mediterranean Sea. Ofcourse she’s a statue, but so what?

You know what happens at mid-night, don’t you? Come, take a guess. It’s called the _____ midnight hour. Yes, I know you have walked around at midnight and not seen anything remotely witching, but that’s because you were not following the right clock. Even your smartphone does not know the correct time sometimes-and you have to do a manual override. Us people have a separate clock that you folk know nothing about. Nein, I will not tell you about it because Gepetto is tired of sitting with a surprised face for twenty four hours of your time anyway. The last thing he needs is more hours of sitting still, looking stupid.

Khair, aaj ke liye yeh kaafi hai. I’m going to bed now. If you see Collector Cama, tell him I said hallo.