Sunday, August 17, 2014

Simple pleasures of life: bitter gourds in my balcony

You either love it or hate it - there cannot be an in-between thing about  karela or bitter gourds. Oh! how ardently I love this humble and versatile vegetable...I'd certainly like to know if there are many self-confessed karela admirers like me. When the karela creeper started growing and flowering in my balcony it only added to my excitement as I saw myself graduating from growing curry leaves, chillies, dhania and methi to a proper full-fledged vegetable, that too, something that's my eternal favourite.

I should say, I'm lucky to be born in a family of karela lovers though I can't say the same thing about the later entrants to my family and some of my friends. A simple and fulfilling meal for a me would be the deadly combination of vegetable sambar and karela fry with hot rice. Or, on a rainy day, there's nothing like stuffed karelas with hot rice or roti, especially my mother's recipe:) And what about the karela powder that's available in some of the swagruha's simply divine when combined with rice.

Karela is not something that is commonly found in the menus of restaurants and star hotels, but you may find them in small eateries that serve home-made type of food, rarely though! Well, it may not as delightful as bhindi/okra or brinjal/aubergine for a chef to innovate and scale the levels of gastronomy. But, it's high time they gave it a try! It may not be as challenging as trying a sweet dish with karela (karela kheer to be more precise) as it is mandatorily expected from the students in hotel management and catering courses.

Devoid of a fancy name like aubergine or okra, karela or kakarakaya or hagalakayi is deep-rooted in our traditional cooking with loads of recipes that appear at the click of Google. I'm sure every region in our country has its own special way of cooking it, be it the karela fry, stuffed karela and gravy varieties like pulusu and gojju. What I don't like is people complaining about its bitterness. Just go back to the basics of ayurveda and refer to the primary tastes of food. Of course, something that tastes bitter takes long to get accepted unlike the sweet and the sour. It's nice to see that the veggie is gaining popularity as a remedy for diabetes - a dose of bitter that balances the excessive sweetness. The best thing about Karela is that it's not seasonal - though the best crop is available during the monsoons.

Monsoon or no monsoon, most of the time, the veggie shops and weekly markets sell karelas... go try it, your life may get more enriched and balanced with a bitter-sweet-sour tastes that lingers on to remind us about the actual experiences in life that are sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet and sometimes sour!

Monday, August 11, 2014

A survey for die-hard Hyderabadis

Intensive Household Survey’...well, that's the name of the survey that’s proposed to be conducted on the 19th August, already declared as a government holiday. A holiday soon after a long weekend, that too on the second working day of the week can be really frustrating for those who have deadlines and targets at work. But, one has to obey the government orders, right...sarkaar se kyun panga lena type of thinking!

This evening it got me discussing with my colleagues and neighbours, how and why such a survey is being executed. And, what a funny kind of holiday it’d be when one is supposed to wait at home for the survey guys to come and ask you questions. My neighbour, who is from Kottayam simply doesn’t understand what this survey can do other than providing nativity statistics about the residents of Andhra and Telangana. How does it matter if one is from Mumbai or Kolkata, when our constitution gives us the right to work and live in any part of the country! 

We got down to chatting over a whole lot of things and then it was dinner time. We’ve had several surveys so far...census, voter registration, Aadhar card etc etc. Now, this would be different, not because it is for ‘local’ government (unlike the national surveys) but because it’s speculatively going to touch upon sensitive issues like nativity, language, region, caste, economic status and so on.This is supposedly going to help the government in implementing the welfare schemes. Nevertheless, since I'm not eligible for any of such welfare schemes, I imagined the conversation between me and the survey official going somewhat like this:

The official: Hmm...Dubey... so you are from North India?  Are you from Maharashtra? Since how long you have been residing here? What is your mother tongue?
Me: My surname is from North India but I'm not...I’ve been living here since my birth, born and brought up in Hyderabad. I'm a pucca Hyderabadi! My mother tongue is Hindi.

Ok...madam, there is nothing like’s only Telangana State and Andhra Pradesh. So, where was your father working? What about your mother? For how many years they’ve lived here?
More than 60 father was in central government service. I blurted out in Telugu.

Meeku Telugu vachaa? (Do you know Telugu?) . There was an element of surprise when he asked me this question. Of course, I can speak, read and write with almost native like fluency, I told him firmly.

Kaani mee native ekkada? (Which is your native place?)
I had to repeat that I don’t belong to a single place, my relatives are spread in different parts of India...I've multilingual and multicultural roots.
After questions on caste, religion and profession, it was my mother’s turn to answer the questions.
She was very comfortable conversing in Telugu.

Your mother also knows Telugu, but she speaks the Telangana type of Telugu.
I laughed at his comment...It was like a certification for her TeluguJ

You have any relatives in Telangana or Andhra?
No... Some of my relatives are in Hyderabad.
Again, this person got irritated, because I kept inadvertently saying Hyderabad and not Telangana.

Madam, Hyderabad is now in Telangana State. Please remember.
Then, there were questions on monthly income, cooking gas details, ration card etc.

Do you own any land in Telangana or Andhra? Do you own any other property in these places?
Except the flat where I live, I don’t own anything in Hyderabad.

MADAM! Please remember to say Telangana State! Thank you!

The survey guy leaves my home by sticking something like a seal on my main door, thereby officially converting my native status from Hyderabadi to Telanganaite.
I sincerely hoped he didn’t find many die-hard Hyderabadis like me in the next surveys he conducted, I’m sure half his time and effort would have been used to ‘educate’ Hyderabadis that they are now a part of Telangana State.

Sure, Hyderabad is a part of Telangana State, but some Hyderabadis will take long to call themselves Telanganaites.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended to be fun-stuff and please don't take it seriously.