Saturday, January 23, 2010

Meat of the matter

i discriminate & am prejudiced. No.. these are not character traits that i would like to flaunt, but I do it nonetheless..especially if the case on the table is meat. Yes, the type you eat...or in my case, the type i dont.

For the first 22 years of my life, i've been a very modest meat eater. Unlike many non-vegetarians, i liked veggies better.. no kidding. Back home in Kerala, growing up we used to have fish everyday - curried mostly and at times fried. (All that omega 3 explains how mallu girls have better hair!!) Fresh sea-water fish brought to the door steps on a cycle. The fish-monger would have a typical 'pooooi' sound he makes...and my mom could, by the energy & enthu in his 'poooi' make out if he had a good catch for the day. His salesmanship depended on the credibility of the prices he quoted..not for the current offering, but about the price our next-door neighbour paid for the same fish.

On top of it there were the weekly grocery shopping trips to the bigger local markets. Here one could get the big ones & the special ones. As any true blue mallu or bong man would tell you.. spotting & bargaining for the catch of the day is an art and science in itself. A mallu guy comes of age when he can go in and come out with a reasonably good catch without being fleeced..or worse, manhandled. I stopped accompanying my dad after a few such trips.. i couldnt stand the smell and the incessant haggling. A pity, i now realize.. i could have got a tip or two on the art of persuasion from the fish-monger/ress.

Sunday was also the day we bought chicken. Almost always chicken and once in 2-3 months,beef as well. This again used to be a chore in itself. There were no supermarkets where u go in and just dump the breast-slices only/curry pieces only/drumsticks only into ur shopping cart. A tried-and-tested poultry shop it had to be. You go in, take a coupon or stand in the queue.. state your requirement - how many kg / dressed-or-not / curry-cut-or-whole.

The guy at the counter would take a hen or cock which comes near to your required weight (adjusting for the feathers and other non-requisites), hold it by the neck and take it to the room out on the back side of the counter to give it the inevitable. It always did make me wonder that 'dressing' a chicken is infact..undressing it.. Back home, the pieces are kept in a special dish (used only for this purpose) and the usual complaints from mom about how the pieces have been cut too small, or too big, or the hen being too old etc. are heard and dismissed. She would then proceed to make a chicken dish from that bookmarked recipe in the latest 'Vanitha' women's magazine.

One anamoly of kerala is that even with a majority of hindu population, there was no stigma attached with the consumption of beef. Sure..sure..cows are godly creatures and all that..but beef roast syrian christian style is just divine. Most hindus here eat non-veg, of which, a good chunk eat beef as well. so there!!

it would be pretty accurate to say that my gastronamic adventures stopped there. Chicken, fish and beef..that's all the non-veg that've had for the major part of my life. And later, i was to find it better stay so.

First time i had turkey, i ended up in the hospital for 2 days with an IV up my vein. This was in Pune and for Easter. Second time - 2 years later, i had turkey, i ended up in a clinic this time tearing a magazine into shreds and pinching my friend's arm in pain. This was Chennai and on new year's eve. I got the message : never did try anything other than what i've always had till about 3 months back.

And then i came to Germany, land of pork & pork eaters!!!...where it starts with a weiƟwurst (white sausage) for breakfast, speck(bacon) for lunch, schinken (ham) for tid-bit snacks & schweinesteak (pork steak) for dinner. Then there are turkey, rabbit, deer, beef..and the rare chicken. It also did not help that germans liked their meat tender and juicy and wanted to taste the meat what they were eating. A far cry from our indian cooking stlye where we camouflage the taste of meat with triple the quantity of spices.

When in rome, do as romans do?? not really..if i could translate the menu, chances are high that i wont be eating it. Ignorance is indeed a bliss for me. I now discriminate against meat based on the appearance rather than the origin. So much for my decades of steadfastedness ... maybe my limited forays were rather due to lack of opportunity rather than any real show of character.

I believe this was the point when hubbs used the word 'hypocrite' when i wriggled my nose at his pork-vindaloo, but gorged on Maultaschen. You see, my palate doesn't recognise my prejudices.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Finally the apple hits the head

Two of the basic things which the creator of a business report..or any report for the it sales, turnover, new product feasibility blah..blah.. needs to understand are

1. who reads it?

2. what is it used for?

These 2 questions, i have always used ..repeatedly , when i am given a certain task. Or when i am asked to make a presentation. Or when asked to make a report on something which is already done & dead..or something i want to do. And it is but a pity that i never did ask that question to self when i have been picking at my blog on and off for more than 4 yrs or so..

Countless times i have promised self and the readers (2 is good enuf to use plural form of noun) that i would post more frequently..more wittily..and all that. And i knew that this is a promise that i would be soon breaking. I knew that i would get a constipated keyboard soon enough.. or my the seed of thought in my head would remain forever embryonic - never developing a head and proportionate limbs to tell its story in a logical sense.

So ..back to the question.. who reads this blog? some friends who know about it..and some others who stumble across it..and maybe come back later..And myself.. i read the archived items to see what was in my head then.. how i felt & thought & fumed & laughed.

And what do they read this for?? Obviously not for intellectual enlightment.. nor are the pulitzer / booker prize committee scouting for budding but obscure talent who are tapping away their keyboards at Penguin editors who might be reading this would have stopped at the second word... so what is it finally that my senseless blabbering provide for those who read them. It's pure unadulterated time-pass. Mind you, not entertainment... for that you need to engage the viewer. Time-pass is mindless & non-value adding. Time-pass needn't have a story line, a start, a body or an ending..let alone the anti-climax! I dont have to fret myself to death thinking of a witty line or the perfect ending..or even an appealing caption. All these are as consequential to the reader as the sport page news is to me..

And i forgot the most important thing.. this is and should be my space. I should be writing down anything that i feel like..without worrying abt how the comment pop-up would look like some weeks down.

Empowered by such thoughts and my typical reckless abandon... this blog is taking its first step in a new direction. .. the course, even i am not sure of.. Perhaps, dear reader, you would come back to see for yourself.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Letter to my teenage self

I heard/read this title somewhere..and it stuck. It was blog-worthy. after throwing away whatever thread of central idea which came my way for months, it was time i did listen to this before i forget how to write at all..
so here goes..

Dear Mottu,
You are 18, and just joined engineering college. You care 2 hoots about electrical engineering.. infact, you just wanted to be in that college. And now that you are in, you are wondering what the big deal was all about. How wrong are you gonna be...oh..i am not supposed to say that..yet.

I know how you claim to not like surprises..but wish how the pleasant ones were infact kept hidden till the last moment. I will not tell you how things will turn out.. there are some things you must experience and learn. I will not take it away from you.

But what i will do is.. i will probably give you some pointers.. you may take them with your typical dismissive roll-of-eyes or not.

Firstly, stop obsessing about your weight..and weighing yourself every 3 hours. You are never going to be as thin as you are now. I know this information is depressing. But atleast, for the next 4 years, you could try and feel more confident about how you look.
And yes, by some grace of god you missed the pimple/zits/problem-skin phase in your teenage years. Many of your friends wondered how your hair was always soft, voluminous & non-fuzzy. All this will change. Enjoy it while it last.

I wish you had not thrown away your pencil sketches..or your attempts at writing short stories & poems. It may have sounded silly to you then.. but now, you cant draw/write half as well. Another depressing thought..

Ok...let me give you some good news.. Those nights when you couldnt sleep coz you were worried sick about your mom's health.. well, it's gonna be alright. She will not be perfectly healthy again. But she will be around. Infact, it gets even will take a job closer home and will be around full time...which means that you dont have to feel like the man of the house coz he is not around everyday.

Your younger sister has gone some 300 km away to study. And you see her every fortnight or so. Which you think now is good, coz the frequency of fights have come down dramatically and you don't have to share the 1 hr per day internet time. Here i would like to stress on something.. Not everybody is you.. Just becoz you wanted to be left alone during your teenage years, doesn't mean that she wants it too. Talk to her.. be there.. she misses it. You will not know this now. And by the time you realise that all that she wanted was you to reach out to her, and tell her that she is being missed, you'd kick yourself for being such an ass all these years.

Do not fight with your mom so much. You do have a thing for sounding out statements for effect without realising it's impact. She is not trying to live your life for you...she is just concerned. Listen to your dad when he asks you to read newspapers & listen to evening-news. Your aversion to politics & sports is never gonna change.. but be aware of what is happening around you. Tell your parents that you love them..once in a while.

I know mom says you spend too much time on phone with friends. its ok. some of them are the ones you'd cherish for life. Even now, you'd have them as your sounding board and sympathetic ear, no matter wherever they are across the world. You think that 'falling-in-love' is for losers and all that. It will change. But please..please..listen to yourself when you do start feeling 'something's not right here'... realize that the reason you are feeling something is coz something is amiss..

Do not get too stressed because your goal isnt that clear yet. You sound very confident, but i know you are completely clueless. It's no use wouldn't know it..hell, i am not sure even now. But it will work out fine.

Rethink on your i-will-be-wedded-to-my-career tagline. But anyways, no hurry. you have enough time for that. For now, you can focus on getting a job/passing out. That said, have fun while you can. Dance as much as you want... you'd never get this opportunity again.

10 years is not much time for me to know what you did wrong then and what i am doing right now. maybe a 10 more years later, some of these tips would take a paradigm shift... who knows!

all i want you to know before signing out is.. it's ok.. it'll all work out fine. you'll (with some help from friends/family) sail through it all. for now, it's your time in the sun. make most of it. maybe i'll write later...

with love,