Friday, August 28, 2009

Social Virtualization anyone?

You know her name, her age, her profession and her relationship status.

You have participated virtually in every single activity she does; her frequent visits to the friendly neighborhood coffee house, her family get-togethers and her cheek-on-cheek outings at brightly lit pubs.

You probably have an opinion on what dress looks good on her and what does not, what she loves eating and what she hates vehemently.

You might even know her pet peeves, might have argued and agreed with her in "comment" discussions on your common friend's updates, liked and unliked her various links and postings.

Yet, she is a stranger, in the strictest sense of the word. You have never spoken to her in person. You avoid her gaze in public. You fidget with your not-so-cool-gadget when she is around. You glance occasionally at her when she shares an anecdote with her friends in the food court, trying to correlate her online and offline persona. You know she gave birth to a baby last Sunday, or is celebrating her birthday today or has an important interview tomorrow, but you pass by her with a vague sense of urgency and discomfiture bursting to hide and share your knowledge at the same time.

There is a pretty good chance that you are as much familiar to her, as she is to you. Yet she employs the same passive semblance as you do in person.

One might be tempted to think that you have a huge crush on her, but it may not be so. These same set of actions could be attributed to a person of the same sex for that matter, and nothing would change. Who are they? Acquaintances? Well, you never got acquainted in the first place. Colleagues? You may not be sharing the same workplace. Friend? Well, you do not share your personal life details voluntarily to qualify as a friend.

The age of paper brought pen-pals and the age of instant chats brought chat buddies. And so has the age of tweets and scraps given birth to a new breed of social structure that needs a name. A tag. And I leave that task to you.

Here is an awesome strip that mirrors my sentiments precisely...
Link to Doghouse diaries

Creative Commons License
When US beckoned me by Siddharth Wagh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Reminiscing his cubhood...

The Ant Circus:

It was a seasonal affair, organized with much gusto. The first rain always managed to flood the tiny homes of the black ants and they came out from all crevices in the courtyard with swift agility. There were always these half-an-inch deep puddles which made an ideal base to set up the circus. All he needed were construction materials: bricks, stones and bridges. Four or five thick crumbling red bricks formed the stead posts with smaller stones forming intermidiate landings. These were connected by thin greenish brown tender branches which could be twisted to archways or just laid on the two platforms. Some had one of their ends dipped in water for the lucky few swimmers. He took the bigger branches and went in search of his performers: Ants and centipedes. Paper helped a lot. Scrapping a few slow ones, he dropped them off on a brick or plainly in water till they swam to the nearest brick post and joined the fray. Up a stick, around an arch, down the slope they went trying to find a way out of this small island. Some swinging branches made pretty sights when wind blew them and the ant managed to hold it for its dear tiny life. But there were some bold ones that jumped in the water, and swam to the shore. They were left alone. Winners deserve their share of success, dont they? Losers, well, they were stuck in this illusory world till the water around them dried up to make way or worse, were washed out with the next spate of heavy rain.

The Dog Naming ceremony:

Strays are an integral part of Indian streets, be it dogs or humans. But the former always found refuge in some child’s arms if it played its “cute-puppy-wags-his-tail” role well enough. He and his gang had adopted 4 such strays. And it was time to name them. So they gathered in a small park and sat in a circle. He picked up the first puppy and held it in his two outstretched arms. The poor creature rolled and licked with anticipation. He kept it on the next child’s palms and so it went on. Three rounds down, the pup was named “Pinku”. Pitoosh, Blackie, Rocky followed suit.

The Three Eye:

He and his two friends, formed the ‘Three Eye’ Investigator Agency. They had their headquarters, set up on the terrace: SAP1, the water tank: SAP2; SAP being the initials of the trio. They had a small pouch with all the emergency stuff packed in. Lemon Juice in Eardrop bottle, for invisible ink. Chilli powder in a Vicks bottle, for attackers. Small pieces of paper. Pen. They also devised a new secret language. Mirror image numerals. They wrote letters to each other, smirking furiously when some outsider tried to decipher it. They followed strange men on street to their houses, till they were sure that the person had no evil intention in his mind. Yes, it was always “his”. They learnt some smart moves too, like pinching the offender on his softest spot on the body with fingernails, kicking him in the shins. They learnt to cry out “Fire” instead of “Help” when in trouble. They read somewhere that it sounds more believable and urgent. If only the RAW found out about the budding agents in their tow, the engineering community wouldn’t have had to sufferfrom the burden, would it?

Ganesh Chaturthi celebration:

The mandap: 3 pieces of cardboards torn out of old notebooks arranged against the wall in the corner. The floor wearing the carpet of small green gulmohar tree leaves. A soapcase for the pandal/stage. A small lamp at the side with a grandma-made cotton wick wet with oil. A small halad/kunku kundi with rice grains for the ritual.

The idol: A small black stoned, intricately carved Ganesh idol with a self-made bead garland around the neck.

The procession: A small chariot emptied of its tea lids, and holding the Ganesh idol, making its way from the bedroom to the hall patio. Revelers, he and his brother, prancing and dancing around the chariot, much to the amusement of his folks, and nudging it ahead after every song.

The ritual: Prayers offered with much gusto with traditional kunku tilak on forehead of Ganesha. Coarse grained sugar in a small bowl as prasad. Rice grains sprinkled on the idol as akshada. Small white and red flowers adorning the idol and stage. The lamp lighting up the small mandap and oiled everyday for 10 days in a row.

The immersion: A small bucket filled with water, or better, a 1 X 1 feet blue colored square to act as the pond. The same procession carrying the idol to the ‘pond’ and immersed 3 times with shouts of ‘Jai Ganesha’. The idol safely washed and rubbed and kept in the showcase, to be taken out once again, the following year.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

No use crying over the "spoilt" milk...

And so it happened that 4 gallon cans of milk in our refrigerator went bad at the same time. We were like, what the hell?? Milk cans bought from Indian stores at cheaper rates already had a bad reputation, and this catastrophe just confirmed it. While we toyed around with the ideas of throwing it away to throwing it in the face of the Patel C&C, I recalled a recipe my mom used to make when milk turned not-so-palatable. We called it the Chai-Moi.

1. Spoilt milk (half a gallon, may be)
2. Jaggery
3. Cardamom powder
4. Coconut (scrapped)

1. Heat the milk to a boil.
2. Add about 3-4 teaspoons of lemon juice in hot milk, in case it doesnt separate into curd and whey on its own.
3. Add lots of jaggery to the milk and keep stirring, till it gets a brownish complexion.
4. Add scrapped coconut (about half a cup) and cardamom powder and stir.
5. Take it off the heat and serve warm.

When I was in India, even the simple act of making tea seemed so difficult. As I smelt my super-quick newest creation, I smiled at the ironical situation that life put forth before me.

Google gave me two more simple recipes to finish off the remaining 3 gallons...


Dont know bout the spilled milk, but there's definitely no use crying over the spoilt milk... so says my happy tummy.