The Dosa God’s Warning

It was a lovely afternoon as we sniffed the fresh rain-scented air mingling with the Eucalyptus tree’s heady smells. We were headed to a regional park about an hour’s drive away from where we lived for a birthday party. Our friends, had wisely selected a Regional Park Reserve for the party, so there would be plenty of fresh air and nature while enjoying each other’s company. I could only admire their choice, for the day was beautiful and this park was one we had never been to. Lush green forests rose on all sides, and every time we peeked out a curve, we could see the glistening blue waters of the bay in the distance.

Now, every year, when January rolls in with the fog, rain and murky resolutions, we tell ourselves that we must spend more time outdoors on hikes and trips. The reason we don’t keep that up diligently all year-long is so that we can use that as a resolution when January rolls along again. I am sure it will be a tad tiring to have to look for new resolutions every year, wouldn’t you agree?

As the car climbed the hills, I stuck my head out wistfully and sighed, saying the things that nature taps me into saying each time: How I love fresh air, lucky that we live so close to mountains and forests, blessed with the ability to enjoy these things in cheer and spirit etc. I went a step further this time and said a bit critically, maybe, that we really should stop sitting home and eating dosas and get out more often. I should have known that one does not insult a perfect dosa without having one’s nose broken. The Dosa Gods are benevolent, but they will not let you go scot-free would they?

The daughter, meanwhile, was bristling with the injustice of it all. “We didn’t have dosa! You made me eat carrots.”

“Which I see you did not.” I added smartly, and she chuckled to herself.

We spent some time looking for the right area, because the park was large, and cellphone reception was spotty. It was the daughter who spotted it first. On the side of the road, by some yellow fox flowers, and dark green ferns, was a gleaming van. “Amma look! You need not stay home and eat dosa. There is a dosa van right here!”

I felt my broken nose where it was snubbed and it felt raw. You could have knocked me out with a feather. There was a dosa van indeed. What’s more? It was for my friend’s party. If that was not a Dosa God’s warning, I don’t know what is. But the Dosa Gods are good: we were in time to enjoy some excellent varieties of Dosa with good people. The simple dosa rose in reverence in my eyes.

The Dosa God's Warning

The Dosa God’s Warning

As we took a walk back to our car, what do you think I saw? Wild carrots growing on the path. I stopped to show them to the daughter. She was as excited as I was. I had never shown her carrot plants before and I glowed with her as we admired the beautiful carrot leaves. We saw loads of ants attacking the wild carrots. Never one to waste an opp. when I see one, I told her about all the excellent properties of carrots. A mellow cheese dosa in her stomach made her receptive to the unsung carrot I guess, for she was an attentive audience.

I thought sagely said that the day was indeed one of sobering food thoughts. Dosas for me and carrots for her.

The Car Test of Colors

If ever you are in one of those situations where the world has to be saved and the only way to do it is to disconnect the red fuse wire after tying the yellow fuse wire, I strongly advise you against approaching the toddler son. He may be the leading authority on distinguishing between Squirrels and Crows. He can even do the difficult Crow vs Geese category, but he draws a sharp line at colors.

One morning, we were sitting there eating our breakfast when the son shouted that there were a few squirrels on the tree in the backyard.  They are a source of great entertainment, and were indeed welcome. The daughter listened to her brother tell us the gripping story about two squirrels.(I shall regale it on the blog one day). Always a proud mother, I said, “Wow. What color are the squirrels?”

He looked up at me and said, “Blue.”

The daughter and I exchanged looks and burst out laughing. So, I went on with it. I picked up a gleaming yellow banana and asked him what color the banana was.

The son was hurt. Everyone knows that, he seemed to say and then said, “Green.”

“No son. That is yellow. Yellow banana.” I said patiently.

“What color is the spoon?” I asked pointing to the white plastic spoon he had in his hands.

Bananas may be tricky monsters, but white plastic spoons – pssshaaww! “Black!” he said.

“NO! That is white. Yellow banana, white spoon.” I said

“NO. NO. That is black spoons.” he said. (We are working on his grammar)

The daughter felt I was giving him difficult questions and pointed to the cereal box that had a blue lid and asked him what color it was. This,he felt, was where his strength lay and said confidently,“That is cereals.”

“Cereals yes. But what color?”

The little fellow said unabashedly, “Red!”

One would have thought that his abysmal track record would at least have given him cause for thought, but no. Confidence poured out and he said that the blue cereals box lid was red. If anyone had doubts, they could go and eat green bananas and chase blue squirrels.Colors 

I cornered the husband later and asked him whether our poor son was color blind. “Over reacting as usual.” said the husband playing chess on his computer, but I could tell I had sown the seed of doubt in his mind.

A few hours later, the husband came beaming and thumped me on the back, “He isn’t color blind. You simply gave him the wrong test. See this? I call it the Car Test of Colours.”

The Car Test of Colours – Pssshaw and Pssshaww again. I rolled my eyes for added effect.

He called out to the fellow and flashed a red car in front of him and asked him, “What color is this?”

Lightning_mcqueen_red

The son said, “That is Red 95 Lightning Cars.”

“Well… he knows that car is red. He watches that Disney Pixar Cars movie everyday.” I said unimpressed.

“True. But watch this. “ says the husband with the air of someone who has yet to play the trump card, and pulls out a blue Lightning Mc Queen. “What color is this?”

Lightning_mcqueen_blue

“This is Blue 95 Lightning Cars.” says the son.

He breezes through a black and white police car test with correct results, and looks at me as though challenging me to put him through more difficult tests.

Right then. I just need to let the educational authorities know that they have to devise special Cars movie based color tests when he goes to School. Sigh.

Release Your Inner Cupid

I wonder what is being said about us in the animal world newsletters this month. We have articles on animal behaviors don’t we? This article on the various techniques adopted by animals is an interesting one. Some techniques are funny, some scary and some for which I can’t think of the right adjectives.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/13/weird-animal-courtship-displays_n_4761381.html

Life is full of interesting tidbits of information.  For example:  The efforts of Sir George Archibald who loved the ways of the whooping crane. I quote:

When whooping crane populations dropped to fewer than 100 individuals in the 20th century, ornithologist George Archibald stepped in to try to get one whooping crane in captivity, Tex, to mate. To initiate ovulation, Archibald danced with her, and after several attempts, she successfully hatched a chick in 1982, according to Audubon Magazine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Archibald_(ornithologist)

I was glad to have read this. Now, I know not to judge a person acting like a babbling baboon or an aggressive tiger harshly. We don’t know what their journey is about.

Like Jane Austen says, “There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.”

I wonder why we exemplify Valentine’s Day to be a Lovers Day only. Let it be a day of showing love. Bring out your inner whooping crane or wake your dormant flamingo and have fun.

valentine's day

The Yam Bajji Gene

The father’s sister had come a-visiting and I had taken her along to the grocery store when I first noticed it. There we were, sauntering through the aisles looking at assorted spices and grains and had just started to graze towards the vegetable section when I saw her start through the corner of my eye. She gulped and gave a longing howl. 

I wonder if you have stopped to take a scuttle down a lush carrot field with a rabbit. Many people don’t. Let me enlighten you. You will notice the rabbit react much the same way as the aunt did on seeing the yams in the vegetable section. The nose will wiggle towards the preferred veg. and try as they may, their feet will be dragged towards it. I could only marvel at genetics and wonder how genes could be this accurate. The father reacts the same way to the yam. He buys it, knowing fully well that it will not be accorded  the same kindness as the beans. Yet he goes for it, stating that he likes nothing more than yam bajjis (or yam fritters). You can see him salivating at the mention of the crisp coating over the yams and the hot, steaming nature of the delicacy.

I hear from the father and his siblings that my grandmother was exceptionally fond of yam bajjis. She liked the yams fried golden and crunched at them happily with her cup of coffee. She threw the bajjis in with a precision that would have professional basketball players envious and then, she  contentedly poured the coffee into her mouth from a steel tumbler poised at the right angle and a height of 3.2 metres above lip level. When one saw her then, one could see a contented soul.

The Yam Bajji Gene
The Grandmother with the Golden Yam Bajji Halo of Contentment

That must have been it. A vegetable that gave their mother so much joy must have been the reason the father and his siblings love yam bajjis. I chided my scientific half for rushing to a yam-gene-conclusion.

I indulged the aunt and bought her the yams. One cold evening, I walked in to the kitchen to see a factory in progress. On one side, golden, crisp yam bajjis were being fried and on the other, delicious steaming cups of tea and coffee were being made to accompany them. She told me that since children usually did not like yams as much as potatoes, she made potato bajjis and yam bajjis. You have to grant it to grandparents to take everyone’s tastes into account, even while making something as simple as an evening snack. I smiled and settled down happily to tuck into the yams bajjis. The aroma of fried asafoetida and rice flour is irresistible.

The toddler son, was having his day with the bajjis too. But I noticed something weird. He was not going for the potato bajjis. He was going for the yam bajjis. If given a potato one, he was giving them to me and was agog when given the yam ones. His grandfather will be thrilled to hear that for sure. Maybe, there is a yam-bajji-gene that has resurfaced in his generation. My grandmother, (Visalam Paati ) will be very pleased.

 

PS: I am referring to Raw Plantains in the article, but Yam Genes sound better than Raw Plantain Genes, so I am not changing all references.

The Message of Love

I thought a great deal about getting the husband something thoughtful to mark the dozen years we have spent in each other’s company. I remembered a friend of ours mentioning that ‘Things Remembered ‘ is the store to go to make your special one feel more special. I had the foresight to check out something useful and settled on something that sounded useful enough( A 2GB USB keychain) Other things on the site like a heart shaped pendant on a gold chain etc don’t exactly look like the sort of things the husband would touch with a barge pole.

The important thing about the USB keychain is that it has the engravings of love, the mark of true labor on it.  I spent a good hour checking out cheesy quotes on love that he can carry forever on his engraved USB. I wracked the brains of Jane Austen, Henry James Thoreaux,, P. G. Wodehouse. Nobody was spared as I made studious notes of quotations on love with an element of humor. I even went to see what Mahatma Gandhi had to say on that unquantifiable yet, so satiating a force. Not satisfied with him, I went to plumb the depths of Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein. I spent a further hour pondering over all the beautiful things about love.

I loved Dr Seuss’s quote: You know you are in love, when you cannot fall asleep because reality is better than your dreams.

That would not work in our case, because as much in love as I am with him, I fall asleep. In fact, the more I love him, the more I sleep. As for the husband, that would have meant that his love for me has kept him awake long before he knew me. He has been a night owl for as far as I can remember.

Maybe, this will be more apt, since we both like our laughs:

From there to here

From here to there

Funny things are everywhere

I then thought of what makes him so curious and thought this would suit him better:

Think and Wonder

Wonder and Think

However, I could not help thinking that he would wonder why on Earth I went in for a 2 GB USB card to pour my heart into and shelved the quote.

Maybe a scientist at heart will be better suited for him: To love, be loved and be lovable.

Or maybe, Love is like PI: Natural, Irrational and very important. 

But neither of these would do. Einstein was not my notion of a romantic thinker.

By now, the lady in the shop was skipping over me. She was positively amazed at all the pages I was writing and nodded her approval and told me to take my time. After a further 1/2 hour of agonizing over the right words, I settled for one of these, depending on what would fit the available area:

Where there is love, there is life – Mahatma Gandhi Or

There is no remedy for love but to love more. – Henry James Thoreaux Or

Love is the greatest refreshment in life – Pablo Picasso 

night owl

I finally went over to the shop assistant and told her I was ready. She pranced over to see what my notes and research had yielded. I saw her eyes light up at the number of pages I had filled out.

She asked me to write my final choices on the order paper and started counting words.

I felt like I was back at the Village Post Office giving a telegram: “Father coming Stop Mother also coming stop

When I saw the Postmaster counting the words out, the editor in me reared up and said, “Wait a minute! You charge by word? Father and Mother coming stop. No Wait. Father comma mother coming stop.

I felt a bit weak. I asked her what she was counting words for and she told me that every word to be engraved was charged separately. I hadn’t counted on brevity being the theme of love. In fact, I wished myself back at the Post Office and I could say, “Please send a telegram with message #29: Wedding Anniversary Greetings”.

I saw the amount she came up with and hollered at her to stop while I racked my brains for something short and sweet.

I could only think of that wonderful message we flash to anyone who stops by our home: Live, Laugh, Love. It is what is there on our doormat and sighed myself out.

While waiting for the thing, I checked what the non-engraved thing cost on Amazon. I could find a set of four for $10, while I had just paid $50 for one that has the same message as our doormat on it.

Well…such is life and one must not put a price on the gift of love. Happy Anniversary to Us!