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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Split!!!

I think I have a split personality. No, wait, I think I AM a split personality. Not really. I think I have a multiple personality disorder. But whoever said having a multiple personality is a disorder? There! Four of my many personalities are already out in the four lines I’ve managed to write till now. It worries me that I’m not the same person with everyone I meet. With best friends and family, I’m a chatterbox who can’t stop talking or giggling at any cost. With strangers I’m the Ice Princess. With acquaintances I’m tongue tied and reserved to the extent of being called snobbish or arrogant. With people whom I don’t get along with, I’m just plain indifferent. I’m amazed at people who can start a conversation with anybody and everybody, even with people they’ve just met, and hold the fort talking and talking until the other person gets tired of the conversation. I can hardly get past the ‘hi’ stage if I’m talking to someone for the first time, even if the person happens to be genuinely nice to me. And if there are people around who I know can talk non stop, I’d rather stay quiet and choose to put a couple of words here and there when absolutely necessary. But another diametrically opposite alter ego seems to surface when I’m with people close to me. With them, it’s always a talk-laugh-giggle-fest.

Sample what happens when a close friend calls me up suddenly.

She : Hey!!! What’s up dog? What have you been doing?

Me : *giggle* *giggle* Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!

She : *giggle* So how’s the work going? How’s the studying going? And how’s the project going???

Me : *giggling for 5 minutes* Going on maaaannnn… I hardly have time for anything but work. (This part is not fictitious. It is TRUE. All of you, stop smirking 😐 ) Remember all those days from college when we never had weekdays and each day was an extended weekend?? It’s just the opposite now. I hardly have a proper weekend.

Now I kept talking and pouring out my woeful busy schedule till she couldn’t take my sob story anymore and interrupted to say that her neighbour’s dog has given birth to a litter.

Me : *giggling starts again* oooohhhhh!! How many?? What colour are they??? Must be cute na… You know when Tommy….. (I talk about how Tommy once broke the curfew to ummmm… befriend a mongrel and got pregnant and made a litter of babies and how we got her neutered and… )

She : Hey I’ve to get down here. My stop’s come. Will call you later.

Me : Oh! It’s already an hour. But we hardly ever spoke…

She : I hardly ever spoke. Not you.

Me : *giggle* Right! Byeeeee!!!

With friends I can laugh like a nut for the worst of the worst PJ’s, talk with gay abandon for hours together and find new topics to talk about every minute. But with acquaintances it’s a totally different story altogether. Now my definition of an acquaintance is someone with whom I can’t talk nonsense. And I can’t talk if I can’t talk nonsense. Now these are people with whom I’m supposed to be prim and proper, to whom I’m supposed to say all the right and politically correct things, the only problem being I don’t know what is right and politically correct most of the time. So I end up either saying all the wrong things or not talking at all.

For example, I was caught with a relative, an old lady who was related to me in some unknown distant ways. We were seated next to each other in a family function and the conversation was something like this:

Unknown Aunty : Aren’t you ABC’s chithappa’s elder sister’s brother’s daughter??

I had no clue who ABC, chithappa, his sister and her brother were.

Me : Ummm… I’m XYZ’s daughter.

UA : That’s what I also told. You’ve grown up so much. What are you doing now?

Me : Working Aunty.

She : Where?

I gave her the name in a mono sylaable.

She : Oh! my maternal grandmother’s brother’s son’s son is working there. The same company. Do you know him? His name is Arun.

I could’ve giggled at this point and told her there are hundreds of Aruns working in my company. Maybe I could have said something to break the ice. I could have enquired more about Arun. But “No” was the only word that came out of my mouth. After an awkward silence she began again.

UA : So how is everyone at home? Amma, Appa… Long time since I saw them… Should ask them to come home one day…

Now as usual I wanted to end it with a ‘Fine’ but it sounded too blunt. Wasn’t it polite and correct to enquire back about her family??

Me : Fine Aunty. What about you? How’s Uncle doing?

She looked frozen for a moment and after giving me a steely stare turned the other side to talk to the silk sari clad lady on the other side. Only later did I get to know that the ‘Uncle’ I had enquired so fondly about, had passed away almost two years back. 😦

So there! My ultimate dilemma is that I can’t socialize for the sake of socializing. I’d rather be alone than be in uncomfortable company. I come out as anti-social with all the people who expect me to be amiable and I come out as extremely amiable with all those people who know me inside out and don’t care whether I’m sociable or not. Most of my relatives know me as a tongue tied, reserved, shy girl, whereas most of my friends know me as a talkative, bold, extroverted person. Now all I’m left with, is an identity crisis. Who is the real Me?? Huh!!

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The Food Bond

The other day I was at Ratna Café, a quaint little restaurant with a formidable reputation for the best idli-sambhar in all of Chennai. I’ve never been there before and as I entered the waft of fragrant sambhar hit me hard. Taking a corner seat, I looked around to see about 30 people eating there and all of them eating only idli-sambhar! I mean, I’ve heard of staple food and all that but 30 people gobbling up idlis drowning in a sea of sambhar as if it was elixir was a bit of a shock for me. Not a single person had dared to order for any other dish. I asked the waiter for a menu card and he gave me a have-you-just-landed-from-Mars look and pointed to a blackboard with some five items scribbled on it. Topmost on it written in bold was IDLI-SAMBHAR. Fine.

“I’ll have…”

He cut me short. “Idli Sambhar? Ok. Anything else?”

“But I never asked for idli-sambhar”

He repeated the ‘mars’ look mentioned above with some added dosage of incredulity and asked slowly as if trying to let the fact sink in.

“So you don’t want to eat idli-sambhar”

So it was some sort of hideous crime to go to Ratna Café and not eat idli-sambhar, I understood.

I gave up. “Ok, idli-sambhar. And a plate of sambhar vada. And coffee” Now he gave me a ‘are-you-going-to-eat-all-this-yourself’ look. Oh please, can’t a girl have a ‘healthy appetite??’ I gave a stare and he slunk away uneasily.

Two minutes ticked away. Our waiter arrived with a plate of fluffy white idlis and placed it before me. He had a large jug in his hand and I adjusted the water tumbler so that he could pour some water for me. Only thing the jug happened to contain sambhar and not water. He emptied the sambhar on top of the idlis. Now I had two large, soft, fluffy idlis swimming tantalizingly in a jug full of sambhar before my eyes. I broke off a piece and out it into my mouth. My eyes closed automatically and the mouth went hmmmmmmmm… Divine is the word to describe the feeling. It’s the closest I’ve been to Moksha. The sambhar drenched spongy idlis just melted in my mouth and I couldn’t stop myself from a second helping. And a third. Err and then there was the vada which was another heavenly experience. And the filter coffee made with the right mix of freshly ground coffee beans and milk with sugar was the perfect way to round it all off

I was still in a trance when I walked out of Ratna Café. I had this immediate urge to sit somewhere and write about food. Good food can do so much to the soul. And being a true foodie, I have a lot of memories associated with food. A lot of interesting, funny or plain day to day bonding over good food, bad food, ok food….

My first brush with bad food was during college hostel days. Having been pampered all along with mom’s cooking, hostel food was a VERY rude shock.

Breakfast: Stony idlis or pathetic dosas with muddy brown sambhar. Those dishes where an insult to the original idla-dosa-sambhar but we had no go. Else we had bread that seemed to have been made during the stone age and a small coin sized amount of a butter look-alike to go with it. And the milk/tea/coffee was primarily hot water with a drop of the actual milk/tea/coffee to provide an illusion of having drunk the thing. My guess is that they made one small cup of tea everyday and added enough water to serve 80 people

Lunch: Rice with assorted insects falling from the mess roof, leftover muddy brown sambhar from morning, greenish algae like concoction which formed the vegetable component and sour curd.

Dinner: don’t remember since I hardly ever remember having dinner in the mess. It always used to be biscuits or cheap tapioca chips or cup noodles. It was later that I understood why the hostel canteen is called a mess. Simply because it is a MESS.

But the bad food always gave us, the gang of friends, so much to bond over. We spent hours in the college stores each night, talking over tapioca chips and soft drinks (paupers that we were back then we hardly had money for anything better), afraid to set foot into the mess for dinner. And when one of us was really famished and starts showing signs of cannibalism we rushed off to the ‘city’ (my college was some 50 kms on the outskirts of a city!) for some real food. Hot Chips (the baby corn crispy chilly fry was our favorite!) or MarryBrown or Pizza Hut – it all depended on the budgetary constraints. Sometimes we used to get ready for college half-heartedly and suddenly change our minds about actually going to college, take a bus to the city to do some window shopping and eat chocolate cake at Nilgiris or if we were high on money, lunch at Wang’s. Later after we all started making our own money, Barista and Coffee day were within reach but still nothing could beat gossip over maanga and molagapodi at besi beach and dinner at MIK. By the way, MIK isn’t some fancy Italian eatery, its our dear old Murugan Idli Kadai 😛 Still remember how some five or seven of us used to yell “butter onion uthappam” all at once at a shell shocked waiter and look at the butter coated uttappam reverently once it arrived. Back home me and dad had this weekend tradition of ending an evening walk with bajjis and piping hot tea at a roadside tea shop. How I used to look forward to those chai sessions which were filled with loads of leg-pulling, teasing and discussions on politics, sports and current affairs!! The joy of laughter, chatter and harmless gossip with family and friends over some good food is something that can never be substituted. Atleast for hard core foodies like me.

The irony now is that everyone has the money to afford luxurious dining but the luxury of spending time together is not there. But bonding over food with near and dear still tops the list of my most favorite to-do things. After all, who can resist the pleasure of biting into a juicy burger or tearing of a piece of butter dripping uthappam when it comes along with the warmth and company of loved ones? Nah!! Not me!!!! 🙂

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