Thursday, June 9, 2016

Ants, Buffets and Humans

My friend, Nutsure Satwik, a doctor, recently clicked and posted this amazing photograph of a plant overrun by termites, and an ant delightedly rummaging around, enjoying the unexpected feast , an unlimited buffet.

While none of us would even go near such a plant out of sheer disgust, and fear of inadvertantly spreading the infestation/infection,   it is understandable that a person concerned with health afflictions of humans, might notice  the same in plants, go near it to investigate, and be surprised by the ant.

Clicking a predator ant, trying to make the most of someone else's misfortune , shouldn't surprise us.

We do it all the time ...

In the Ages
of Riots, Looting
and Feasting ,
Intellectually and Physically
on the Fallen,
this one
is doing nothing different.

Thoughtlessly hyperactive
thanks to all that
sugar imbibed
as a habit,
its peripheral neuropathy
blinds it to the termite dirt.

Carried over
to another plant
and the evil spreads.

Why crib and blame the ant ?

That's how things
spread in our biped society too.....

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Transient Sandgi Mirchi Life....

My FB friend Padma Anagol , of Pune , decided to have " soul satisfying  comfort food" for lunch, and what could be better than  Waran Bhat, ghee, salt, and a piece of lemon,  with a fried sandgi mirchi  giving the final spicy crunchy touch ?

Its possible that that a lemon pickle and/or poha papad  were sulking somewhere, but  the day belonged to the Sandgi Mirchi.

What really made it wonderful, was the composition of this photo, or "Plating" as they call it in professional food and cooking circles.

Gave the Bhat, Waran and Sandgi Mirchi  a story to tell. Or, maybe a poem ?

The original in the King's (Shivaji Maharaj's ) language, and then a version in the Queen's (Elizabeth II's) ......

     (photo courtesy Padma Angol)

ओट्यावर एक वाफ़ाळेला भात ,
त्याच्या आयुष्यात रंग पेरायला
धाऊन आलेले सोनेरी वरण ,
आणि इकडे तिकडे काहीतरी शोधत
येउन पोचलेले तूप, मीठ आणि लिंबू .

एक मसालायुक्त शेलाटी सांडगी मिरची,
एका फ़ळीवरच्या काचेच्या बरणीत
दाटी दाटी ने बसून
आपल्या आयुष्याचा विचार करते काय ,
आणि देवानी हाक ऐक्ल्यासारखी
बर्णी अचानक उघडते काय ….

बघता बघता मिरचीची तेल्परीक्षा ,
उकळत्या तेलात विहार करून,
मन कडक करून ,
brown is lovely म्हणत
तिचे झार्यात आगमन ,
आसमंतात खमंग सुवास ,
आनंदाने वितळ्णार्या तुपासमक्ष
तिचे वरण भातावर विराजमान होणे

एका क्षणासाठी का होईना ,
तिला राणी झाल्यासारखं वाटलं .
आणि पुढ्च्याच मिनिटात तिचे
वरण भातात आत्मसमर्पण ….

वरण भात काय, असतोच .
पण असतील बहु, होतील बहु ,
पण सांडगी मिरची या सम हीच ……।
A carefree fragrant rice
steamed to perfection,
a golden Waran,***
concerned about
putting color
into a hitherto colorless life,
and some ghee,
lemon and salt types
making tentative overtures
while searching for something.

And away to one side,
on a kitchen shelf,
a Sandgi Mirchi**** lass
ensconced in a glass jar,
sitting cheek by jowl
with other sandgis,
thinking about her life.

The Lord hears,
and the jar is opened
and she faces her toughest exam;
The Hot Oil Dip.
She dives into the boiling oil,
stiffens herself,
and wonders at her transformation
to a slim brown diva,
"Brown and Lovely!"
she says
as she is escorted out,
amidst yum fragrances,
and left amidst the rice
only to see
the ghee
simply melting in excitement.

Queen for a moment,
and a minute later
she lies amidst the rice
in a tasty harakiri.

Waran Bhat.
Everyday fare.
But the Sandgi Mirchi
will remain in their mind
for years to come...

*** Waran :Marathi for plain dal.
**** Sandgi Mirchi :  Sundried stuffed chillies, fried and used at meals.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Me, Thalipeeth !

My FB friend Shilpa Karkare  who lives at Tural, near Ratnagiri,  in Kokan   (on the western coast, south of Mumbai) , recently posted a photograph on the makings of a "Thalipeeth"  ( a traditional savoury dry pancake made from a combination of ground roasted grains, onions, chillies, coriander and sometimes even methi (fenugreek leaves). 

Shilpa runs an organization called Rustic Arts, and the Rustic Holidays Homestay, at Tural , Ratnagiri.  Needless to stay , all the yummy traditional food there is cooked on firewood in her kitchen.

A Thalipeeth made on a non stick teflon pan on a gas flame, on the 12th floor of a metro city highrise is not a patch on the thalipeeth made  on a  "chool" powered by firewood, cooking slow , watched by the particles of fire rising up , as a fresh butter lump lies waiting in the freshly churned buttermilk in a cool corner of the room.

Naturally,  one wondered what the thalipeeth must have thought.

I found out. Once in Marathi, then in English.  

आणि भाजणीबाई ,
साग्रसंगीत व कांदा-हिरवाईने सजून
तव्यावर पडली .

नेहमीपेक्षा वेगळं वाटलं ….
नेहमी तव्यावर गरम खूप वाटतं,
पण मधूनच डोळे दिपवणारा ज्वाळेचा उजेड नसतो.
थोडासा ग्यासचा वास असतो ,
आणि शेजारच्या चुलीवर
दूध साई मधून निरखून बघत असते .

आज ह्या चुलीवर ,
सर्पणाचे सुगंध , लाकडांना आठवणारे वृक्ष ,
मधूनच फुंकणीने उडवलेल्या ठिणग्या ,
ज्वाळेचा पसंतीचा प्रकाश ,
आणि भाजणीच्या डाळीना झालेली
आपल्या शेतावरच्या बालपणाची आठवण .

उगी म्हणत गालावर हळूच वितळ्लेला
शुभ्र लोण्याचा गोळा ,
मिरचीच्या ठेच्याचा चुपचाप घेतलेला शोध ,
आणि भाजणीबाई एका ताटलीत बसून,
एका भुकेल्या छोट्याला सामोरे जातात

 And Bhajani Bai,
much adorned with onions and greens
comes to rest
on a hot griddle.

Something different ?

the griddle is singing hot,
but without
the brilliant flashes of a
wild flame;
a slight whiff on natural gas ,
and a suspicious look
from a milk,
peering through the accumulated cream ,
on the burner alongside.

the fragrance of the firewood,
memories of the Mother tree,
flying flame particles ,
from a blowing through a pipe,
the thalipith glowing
in the light of an approving flame,
and the grains of the bhajani
revelling in their memories
of childhood
in the fields.....

The big comforting blob
of homemade butter
understands ,
as it slides across
the thalipeeth face.

And Bhajani Bai, now Lady Thalipeeth,
surreptitiously looks
for a hot Mirchi Thecha
before going forth
in a plate
to face a
very hungry young man....

Friday, June 3, 2016

Coming of Age of the Ficus Damsels...

My FB and blogger friend , Dhiren Shah aka Hitchwriter , of Bharuch,  keeps taking off for trips frequently  by car,  and  lately has been known to be wandering in the Himachal and Uttarakhand mountains,  accompanied by his family, and his trusted Nikon camera. 

Amidst clicks of dangerous  roads,  waterfalls, mountain peaks,  and steaming tea cups , he managed to click this one of a branch of a wild fig tree, laden with fruits. 

Clearly, not just laden with fruits, but also with meaning.  Two of our common friends immediately commented and said there needs to be a poem on this, and mentioned my name. 

The result may be viewed below ! 

The mother Tree
her two deep black eyes
focused far

on the turn
of the mountain road.

Perhaps expecting a visitor.

The family is agog,
the young ones
and cousins,
some all over each other,
some in sensible crowds,
and some peering
and pushing
and generally hanging around
in anticipation.

He arrives,
"the ghost who eats"
a Nikon around his neck,
and glances around,
seeking to
meet the Ficus damsels.

Two of them,
simply blush ,
pink in a world
dominated by
green dada figs.

Perhaps ,
they haven't noticed
that the Nikonwala
is standing
with a BB (Bharuchian Beauty)
by his side.....