Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Pathare Prabhu wedding

I recently attended a relative’s wedding on the Pathare Prabhu side of the family. The Pathare Prabhus, as is known, are among the first settlers in Mumbai. They are distinct from other Maharashtrians in their language and culture. Their language is Marathi, but with usage of Gujarati words, as it is believed they came to Maharashtra from Gujarat in the 12th century. There is another story that says they came from Patan in Nepal.

They are known for their unique rangoli. They also have unique jewellery and even the type of saree a Pathare Prabhu bride wears at the wedding – kasbi - is different.
The wedding was traditional, and featured many of the community’s staples.

Some of the traditional parbhu jewellery includes the khelna, otherwise known as the waaki or bazu band, an arm band. See the bride’s mother wearing it.

My sister-in-law Ameeta Desai, the groom’s mother, is wearing motyache rui phula, a type of bangle. Most of her jewellery is made of pearls. Parbhus call the nath or nose ornament, the waali. Ameeta vahini is also wearing earrings called kaap.

See her gold veni

My other sister-in-law, Akshada Talpade, is wearing the kasbi saree, a Pathare Prabhu speciality. The border is handwoven jari work.

The bride, Shweta Kothare, in a pink saree before the phulabharna ceremony. This is a function held before the wedding, to get together the bride and groom and the new in-laws. The bride is given jewellery and clothes, and a festive meal is prepared. The bride is also bedecked with flowers.

Shweta in the saree given to her at phulabharna

Her sat or floral hair do. The traditional one has flowers in three colours.

The ankle-length floral mundawlya are also another Pathare Prabhu wedding speciality.

The newly-wedded couple, Akshay Desai – my second cousin’s son, and Shweta.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Dwayne Johnson Vrat = The Pebble Diet: Days 6, 7

It’s been a long time since I wrote about completing the Dwayne Johnson vrat. Yes, I did complete it. And successfully. I gained 12 gms.

Here is my breakfast for the final two days of the diet.
But sadly, gaining weight has always been a problem with me. Soon after I gained those gms, I had severe acidity and had to take treatment for it. I lost 2 kgs. So much for the vrat! But I may do it again.

Day 6

Day 7

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Dwayne Johnson Vrat = The Pebble Diet: Day 5

I think I've really taken to this eggy diet.
Today again I had fried eggs.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Dwayne Johnson Vrat = The Pebble Diet: Days 2,3,4

The diet is going on strong. The first day I didn't get hungry till dinner! But I think after that things are fine.

Day 2: I decided not to eat bread with the eggs.

Day3: Savoury scrambled eggs with green chillies, coriander and ginger.

Day 4: Savoury scrambled eggs again, with some appe. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Dwayne Johnson vrat = The pebble diet

I’ve been recovering from aches after dengue and it’s not pleasant. It’s as if every day a part of me reminds me of its presence, “Hi! Just want you to know I am there. Think of me today!”
During the time I was sick, I saw movies starring Dwayne Johnson = The Rock. Ok, many of them. Good to see that perfectly fit man save so many people.
Since I had a lot of time to think, I decided I want to be as fit as him…

Now that the laughter from those who know me has stopped, read further. At the outset, by fit like him, I don’t mean I’ll work out like him. A recent back problem has ensured that I don’t exercise too hard. After dengue, I am not exercising at all, I won’t even copy the regimen of my fitness-crazed next door neighbour. Besides, someone has already tried living like The Rock for a week, and it nearly killed her! She’s Madeleine Chapman, a journalist from New Zealand.

For someone who weighed 58 kgs at her ‘fattest,’ (10 years ago) it’s going to be very difficult. But taking everything into account, by ‘fit like him,’ I mean, a very teeny tiny bit. I thought even if I copy his breakfast for some time, I’ll be a little – teeny tiny bit fit. But after reading about The Rock’s preparation for the movie Hercules, I realised what he ate for breakfast is what I would eat for a week! His regular breakfast too, is a lot.

Also, I don’t want to be a body builder. So I’ve decided copying an extremely small bit of his diet will be enough. A nano bit. So this is what I’ve termed the the Dwayne Johnson ‘vrat’ or the 'pebble' diet. It means, like him, I’ll eat two eggs a day for breakfast… That’s it. If I get through a week and manage to increase my weight even by 10 gms, it'll be great! Who knows? I may even continue with the vrat! After all, then I’ll be fit like The Rock! Well, a teeny tiny, nano bit anyway…

My current weight is 52.5 kg.
Here’s today’s (day 1’s) breakfast:

An omeletty start

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Pet-ty things 1

Mighty Mau

I’ve filled a dog-shaped hole in my family. While she made do with the loss of her dog in exchange for a kid sister, my sister often reminded me that ‘Tipya,’ was given away because of me.

When we were growing up, apart from Tipya, who insisted on becoming our pet as a stray pup who got into our car and refused to get out, me and my sister were never allowed to keep a dog. Not because our mother hates keeping pets, but because our father never got over the loss of his dog. So a dog was all I wanted, and I tried a great many things to get one, (I even tried psychological blackmail – I crossed out the name of a boy from Enid Blyton’s book ‘The boy who wanted a dog’, and wrote mine everywhere instead!) but nothing worked.
Tai (my sister) with Raja. No, she's not strangling him.

Then one day when I came home from school, I found a kitten sleeping in a box in our house. My father had gone to see off my cousin, when the little kitten which was being chased by a boy came to him. Nana (my father) picked it up and put it in his shirt pocket, where it felt safe, and soon went to sleep.

Media cat

I named the kitten Raja. He soon began leading a royal lifestyle that suited his name. My father brought him fish every day. Tai (my sister) and I loved to paint around his eyes – with a sketch pen as an eye liner. He didn’t mind. Raja played as much as he slept, joining my father in his afternoon nap, or curled up on my grandfather’s shoulder. His favourite place was on the stabiliser behind the fridge. I don’t know about dogs. But I do believe that cats like to be in newspaper offices! Like the beautiful tom cat that hung around Mumbai Mirror and Femina’s offices. Raja also often hung out at the office of the Daily Gomantak in Goa, where my father was Editor-in-Chief. We stayed in a flat on the building’s fourth storey. Raja would often spend time watching my father work in his cabin. He would also walk around the proof readers’ section as they read aloud reports, and elsewhere fearlessly. He visited the office of Gomantak at lunch time to eat scraps from the tiffins of the staff. He also made it a point never to go there on Thursdays, for that was the staff’s ‘shivrak’ (vegetarian) day!

Initially I was scared of him because like most kittens, he too would come running on his hind legs, and grab the first human leg walking by, and pretend to bite it. Thankfully he grew out of this soon and became a calm cat. He loved sunning himself on the window sill, an activity that cost him one of his lives, when he fell down from our fourth floor flat, onto a shed below.

One life used up

Before the big fall, Raja had once fallen onto the parapet of the window below, and my father and grandmother had managed to rescue him with the help of a basket. But despite this, Raja did not learn a lesson and in the next fall, landed on the shed. Once again, my cousin was visiting and it was he who realised Raja had fallen down. We went to rescue him and my cousin climbed onto the shed, where Raja was lying, too scared to move. We picked him up and took him home, where we found the only injury, surprisingly, was a broken tooth. For the next couple of days, Raja refused to move out of the room and sat still in one place, scared. He did recover but was not his usual self when I tried to take him towards the window from which he had fallen. He meowed loudly and jumped from my arms and ran out of the room!

Like most other animals, he was also scared of fireworks and whenever there was a festival and he heard them, he would hide under a bed. He also did not like being alone. Once my parents and I were going out and he probably thought he was alone, because I heard him meowing loudly. I had never heard him cry so loudly. My grandparents were home, and my grandmother later told me that he calmed down only when she said to him, “Raja, it’s okay, we are here. You are not alone.” Strange that a cat didn’t want to be alone! But perhaps it’s a feline thing, because years later, when we were in England for a cousin’s wedding, my uncle said their cat, Miss Wu, also hated being alone. “When we are in the house, once in a while, she comes to check if we are still around!” he said.

There was one thing I hated about Raja though. He had turned into an ‘alarm cat’ for my parents. Every Sunday, my parents had a tough time waking me up. After Raja arrived, things got easy for them. He would join them. I would wake up alarmed, for he would try to wake me up by pretending to bite my toes. I did dread those sharp feline teeth, and always jumped out of bed when I realised that he had arrived.
It’s been years since Raja ran away like most tom cats, one day. Unlike Nana who vowed never to keep a dog again, James Herriott used to say he cannot live without a dog. Lately I’ve been thinking of the same, by keeping a cat again. It’ll surely be purr-fect.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Clean socks

The past few years through winter in Mumbai, I’ve taken to wearing socks. Yes, what little we have of the cold in winter, is enough for us to make the most of some of our sweaters, scarves and other woolen garments!

This morning I remembered my weekend ritual of washing my canvas shoes and socks, when I was at school. It had to be done, or else, we would be shamed before the school for our muddy, dirty shoes and socks in Assembly.

We also had half an hour of parade for all the classes together. So the socks and shoes had to be clean also on Wednesdays for it. I would keep one pair clean for Wednesday. But lazy me faced many a Wednesday when I would wake up in panic, and remember I did not have a clean pair of socks or shoes. While the chalk from class came in handy for painting the shoes just before the parade, one couldn’t always fool the teachers with dirty socks. 

We had fantastic teachers at this school. Once, two or three of them, dressed in the school uniform, showed us all how badly we marched in the school parade! As most of us rolled in laughter, a little guiltily and a little embarrassed, they coolly enacted some of the girls who marched really badly. Needless to say, it had a strong effect on us and we marched most perfectly after that… for that day.

I remember wearing the canvas shoes and socks through school. Even the smell of my feet when I removed them on arriving home, especially after having played football, basketball or simply, after the school marching exercise. When I joined college, like thousands of others, I was glad there was no uniform and no wearing shoes every day. 

Later as a journalist, again, I did not have a uniform, or needed to wear formals at work. No one really cares if one wears shoes or doesn’t. But wearing socks thanks to the winter, brought back these memories. Of course, I am not so lazy now and do wash them much more regularly! But there’s a warm feeling that envelopes me when I look at my socks and remember the time from school, the day the teachers marched, and even the stinky feet.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Old chai in a new cup

Irani cafes. That celebrated, much talked about, written about and sadly, slowly disappearing integral part of Mumbai. Bun maska, chai, keema pav, khari - many a Mumbaikar has devoured these creations here, and lamented that some of these little time capsules are shutting down. The owners – most of them have owned these cafes for generations – are unable to sustain them in these times.

Kyani, Yazdani, Sassanian are some of these gems that have still managed to stay afloat. In 2015, as a tribute to these places, a restaurant that mimics their style and serves some of the cuisine they serve, was started. Today, SodaBottleOpenerWala has become ‘the place’ to be seen for the rich, who ironically, might not want to be seen visiting the real McCoys. This weekend I headed to it with friends.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While the flattery seems to succeed at most places here, it falls flat with the food.

The interiors included a medley of items bought from Chor Bazaar, new furniture designed in the Irani café style, and tiffins or dabas to serve some of the dishes. The glasses were bigger versions of chai glasses.

The tables were covered in the uniform red chequered pattern fabric one sees in most Irani cafes. And they had made an effort in most of the place, to tell the customer about Irani cafes and Parsis and their food. Just in case a customer forgot.

What I really liked was the motif on the flooring. Really, really Irani café.

Old photographs from Irani/ Parsi families also adorned most walls. Wall clocks showed the time in Persia and London among other places.

As written, the place is a tribute to Irani cafes, so there shouldn’t be other expectations. This isn’t a review, but for the authentic experience, head to the real places, while they are still there.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Mug shot

Happy New Year! As we begin another year, I would like to draw your attention to the humble mug. More precisely, the ‘office mug’, as I would like to call all those ceramic drink holders we use at our desks.

It’s not just a mug. It’s also a life saver. I began to look at it differently after seeing the countless mugs gifted through Secret Santas at office recently. Each one of us has guiltily or without guilt (as me) gifted a mug to someone as their Secret Santa. Admit it. It’s the best unisex gift to give someone whose name came to you in a chit. You may not know the person, but he or she surely could do with another mug. A mug is something that can be recycled as a gift, and of course, you could always use another one in office. Like my colleague. She’s got two mugs, used alternately or even the same day for coffee. (She’s also got an electric kettle at office, but that’s another story)

The humble office mug is also more than just a tea or coffee holder. It serves as a Manchurian bowl (for one of my other colleagues). Or it can always be used for soup. And if you really didn’t like your Secret Santa gift, it’s a great pen holder.

There are other uses too. You could always land up with your mug at the coffee machine when the new or girl you want to know is there!

So look at the office mug differently. It’s more than a beverage holder. It comes in different colours, sizes and shapes, and has as many uses.