The King of Vegetables

Brinjal, baingan.. or begun is called the king of the vegetables.

When I was revealed this information, I was gob smacked. How can a vegetable called Begun – Be which for me means “NO” and Gun which means “QUALITIES”. So a vegetable with no qualities is called the king of vegetables? Just because it has a beautiful green crown! Well what can I say?

I never like brinjal as a child and I often wondered why my parents got so excited and fussed over the thought of having bharli vangi (stuffed brinjal) with bhakri (bread). And after having it, they would feel nostalgic and remember my maushi (moms sister) who would make it the best and call her up talk about the meal. I could never understand all the fuss over this vegetable until ……..

One day, we were traveling from Mumbai to Tuljapur. Our visit to our deity with little Yug was pending so the whole family decided to take the trip and we left by road in the evening heading to Pune where we were planning to break our journey and the next morning leave for Solapur. The journey was very long, but amazingly picturesque with the sugarcane fields, and one could see bullock carts filled with sugarcane lined up, with their produce traveling to the nearby sugar factories to sell it.  

On our way we passed through many villages, and one could only imagine how simple a life they would be leading. The women folk bundling up their little ones in their arms and balancing the basket of food on their head, heading to the farm to work, children, some shabbily dressed walking to school, made me crave for this simplicity they dwelled in. 

But one thing that caught my attention every time was some of the men wearing a simple cotton dhoti and bandi which looked quiet worn out and beige in colour which must have been super white at some point when it was bought. They had bright colored turbans on their head. The magenta pink ones caught my attention the most. A strong wooden stick in one of their hands which had a bunch of bells attached to it, maybe used to drive the cattle and sheep back home after grazing them and a bidi (Tobacco leaf cigarette) in the other. And the extra bidi simply tucked away behind the ear. What I observed was mostly the older men would do the job of grazing the animals, probably because they didn’t have anything else to do as farming is difficult at that age. Though we were traveling in air – conditioned cars I’m sure it must have been scorching hot outside. It was truly an amazing drive and I didn’t even realize it was lunch time. 

We stopped by a small khanaval (eatery), which said in Marathi home style, meals available here. The place looked rustic but clean. On seeing us the owner came forward introduced himself and guided us to a table in one of the coolest part of his eatery. 

He ordered the waiter to take away the shining steel water jugs and replace that with bottled water almost assuming that we city people cant digest well water. 

He didn’t have a printed menu for us to go through but in a superfast speed he muttered the five dishes he offered which were mostly with mutton and chicken. At the end of his speech my mom in law asked him if he served any vegetarian food as well. He looked quiet lost and blank at this question and scuttled off to the kitchen to see if there was anything vegetarian. 

He had gone off for more than 10 minutes and then came back with a smile saying he didn’t have anything veg to serve that day but his wife has cooked some bharli vangi (stuffed brinjal) at home and he was happy to serve that to us. Since his house was right behind the khanaval, in fact they shared a common wall, I’m sure it was easy for him to get that. On hearing vangi I was a bit disappointed but I didn’t have any choice. The rest of the family was eagerly waiting for their order of sukha mutton, rassa and bhakri. After waiting for almost 45 minutes, we were getting slightly impatient. And after asking why the food is taking so long, clean steel thalis and vatis were placed on the table, followed by trays of food, which was ordered. 

The mutton curries looked amazing and when the bharli vangi arrived it looked perfectly spicy and delicious too. But to be on the safer side not to waste food I took a small helping of it and half a bhakri. Just then one of the waiters came in with a plate of onions and took each one of them and smashed them with his fist and table sprinkled some chilli powder and drizzled lemon juice on it and served us a whole onion each. On asking why did he not slice the onions rather than smashing them the owner enlightened me by saying if you punch the onion it breaks up the internal membranes and releases a lot of oil in the onion, making the flavor more intense. Which is why most farmers who have a simple meal of bhakri and chutney punch a fresh onion from the field and make their meals flavorful. 

On that note I broke the bhakri and dunked it in the bharli vangi and ate it…. And oh my god.. it was divine. I ate my meal like a glutton that afternoon and the bhakri not being enough, I polished off a small portion of the local rice he had served which was naturally sweetish to taste. 

After feeling totally satiated with the meal I truly felt I was in a food coma…And since then I understand the nostalgic feeling and I too fuss about a bharli vangi and bhakri today. 

THE TIFFIN TALES

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The word tiffin always excited me as a child. What could have Mum packed for my lunch today? Would be an exciting thought. The fading of curiosity after opening each container of the tiffin and the smile it brought on my face when I would see my favorite food sent, cannot be expressed with mere words, and now, when my son comes back home and very warmly tells me “what an amazing lunch you packed today mom” makes me feel totally satisfied.

 

Talking of the time when I would take tiffin to school, I very vividly remember the first day of my school. My school A.F Petit a very old renowned school, had a huge campus with lots of greenery. The building structure was colonial, old but strong and solid. Since it was located on Pali Hill in Bandra the school was built on different levels. One could describe the school like Enid Blyton would have describe in his stories, just like a fairy tale world.

The pre primary section was located in a cozy corner with a beautiful play ground with slides, swings and sea saws and how could I not mention the jungle gym! I’m going to stop right here, as I could go on.

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I was in Sr KG and it was my first day at school. Mum had come to drop me off and while leaving she promised me a surprise for lunch. As the day began, I mingled with most of the kids, some who were crying aloud inconsolably, some looking in wonder and some who couldn’t care less of what was going around. The two girls that grabbed my attention were Suruchi and Soumya and in no time we were playing together till the bell rang, announcing lunch break. I ran to the window of the class – room, to see Meera our house help waiting with a cane basket. Once my class teacher Ms Fernandes handed me over to her she gave me a warm hug and took me in the garden to feed me my lunch.

 

I was so impatient and curious to see what mum sent in the tiffin. I was not even allowing Meera to place the mat in the garden for me to sit comfortably and eat. But she was quiet a disciplinarian and after doing the needful she brought out a shinny steel tiffin which had 4 containers, a plate, spoon and a napkin. She arranged everything in front of me and opened the containers. While she was opening the containers I was very curiously looking into others tiffin’s as well.

 

Well in my tiffin there was steamed rice, dal, crisp fried mildly spiced potatoes, salad with just carrots and cucumbers and a small paper box with Monginis written on it. As I leaped to check the contents, Meera very authoritatively said that, I could have what’s in it only once lunch was done.

 

Hurriedly I finished my lunch to Meera’s satisfaction and out came the pineapple pastry from the box like the Jin from Aladdin’s lamp. I called out to Suruchi and Soumya who were sitting with their respective parents and we gorged on that pastry and since then became best friends forever. A delicious, tiffin helps in making good friends for the rest of your life too.

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As days passed by our lunch breaks were getting memorable and full of fun. Many TIFFIN TALES to share with you, but slowly and steadily, one by one. I’m sure you all must be having similar memories of your tiffin’s as well that bring a big smile on your face. It would be lovely if you could share them with me too.

 

THE TREE OF LIFE

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A coconut tree is once such tree where each and every part of the tree is useful.

The roots were used to make dyes, tooth brush, mouthwash and it also has medicinal values.

The leaves are used to make thatched roofs. Also used in making containers for storage. We store rice

The coconut water, we all love to drink. The thick, crisp, inner flesh of the mature seed is a regular ingredient in a diet for people in the tropics and subtropics.And from the same flesh of the mature seed oil is extracted, which is used for cooking and frying. Coconut milk is also made from the same, which is used to flavor different curries.

The coir from the fibrous husk is used in making a variety of furnishing products.

The coconut also has a religious and cultural significance in certain societies particularly in India

On this note I want to share some memories of a trip that I took to my village.

The part of India that I hail from Karawar in Karnataka is rich and luscious with coconut trees. Whenever I visit my maternal ancestral home the first thing that is served is fresh coconut water.

I went to Aversa a village  few kilometers away from Karwar where my ancestral home is in the rains. It was a trip that was planned on the spur of the moment. At 8:00 am in the morning I got a call from my uncle Balu kaka, saying I should attend the Nopi festival, which was a day away. So by 9:00 am I packed my bag and headed to the airport. Surprisingly I managed to get a ticket for the next flight and landed in Goa at 1:30 pm.

Found a local taxi that would take me straight to Aversa. It was a beautiful mesmerizing two, hour drive. Driving through the small winding roads and passing through quaint villages was so nostalgic. Finally reached Aversa and on seeing my entire family the fatigued of the travel just vanished.

As always Balu Kaka (uncle) went and plucked a coconut and served me fresh coconut water while the rest of the family was surprised to see me. Balu kaka and I decided to make it a surprise after her had convinced me to come. My parent, cousins, aunts and uncles were really happy that I came.

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The evening was spent well with family, we went for a long walk to our fields nearby and then returned home to see a sumptuous spread that my aunts and mum had made of fried fish, batatya talasni (sauté potatoes), dalitoi (dal made with ginger and chilles and laced with coconut oil) and rice. Nothing to beat a simple home cooked meal.

The next morning was even more fun. We all cousins had left for a town called Ankola at 6:00 am to buy the vegetables, coconuts, fruits and the rest of the ingredients that were going to be needed for the pooja the next day, where after the pooja the entire village is given a feast and so we had to go to the town to procure all the goods. All the ingredients and us cousins were loaded on a small truck back to Aversa, where the truck driver dropped us off to the village temple. The bumpy ride back home was fun but our bones were creaking too at some point.

My uncle who was the chef and in charge sorted the vegetables, fruits, flowers and over 100 coconuts and kept in their respective places. He was going through his lists and checking the stock and scribbling on small chits of papers assigning jobs for the prep.

After a while it was announced that I will be chopping vegetables along with other ladies of the village and then if time permits and my job done, I was also instructed that I would have to assist in making the garlands for the gods. These are anyways a few of my favorite jobs to do.

The menu for the next days lunch was a very elaborate and a traditional one of gajbajya randoi (a vegetable curry using gourds), muga molya randoi (sprouted mung curry), bhendi ghosalya upkari (okra and ridge gourd vegetable), dalitoi, rice, ambaya nonche (hog plum pickle), payasam (Kheera), kesar bhaat (saffron and sugar rice). The number of people eating would be 600, so one can imagine the kilos of vegetables to be chopped and the number of coconuts to be scraped, sounds tough but I was sure it would be fun.

In the afternoon after we returned home, the rest at home were relaxing in the courtyard sipping wine and vodkas and relishing freshly fried crisp mackerel that Balu kaka was frying and having a gala time. We joined in as well and had a wonderful afternoon where lunch went on till 4 pm till we finally one by one crashed in our beds for an afternoon siesta.

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After a cup of hot tea in the evening at around 7:00 pm we all assembled in the temple courtyard where the vegetables were washed and kept. We were 8 women who were on the job of chopping vegetables. As we were about to start one of them started singing hymns and the rest followed. I don’t know how to speak kanada very well so I was a silent observer enjoying it completely. By about 10:00 pm all the veggies were chopped and the coconuts were scraped and everything was neatly kept in a small room and locked.

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The next morning my uncle Gundu who was the chef woke up at 4:00 am and after a cold water bath at the well and headed to the temple kitchen with his team. So for this festival the cooking is done only by the males of the family, while the women get dressed in their fineries and head to the temple for the pooja.

So I along with the rest of the ladies at home, got ready in my fineries and went off to the temple and sat down to make the garlands.

The next few hours were just totally divine and mesmerizing. The melodious sounds of the mantras, the fragrance of the flowers, camphor and the incense sticks and the rain had simply put me in trance.

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By the time the pooja was over it was 1:30 pm and all the villager were queued up with their little offering of flowers, bananas and coconuts. After which they all moved to a hall where the food was going to be served. I too went along with my family, but to serve the lunch that was cooked by my uncle.

It was a long hall with a smooth slurry flooring where the banana leaves were placed in rows. One by one all the villagers sat down and washed their banana leaves with the water that was served for drinking. After that we all started to serve. First the pickles and salt was served followed by the dry vegetables and then the curries. Finally the rice and dal was served. After the priest finished saying some mantras aloud the people started eating. The system of serving was so well organized that I just didn’t imagine we had serve more than 600 people that afternoon. At the end my family and I sat and relished the meal to our hearts content.

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I returned home really tired but totally satisfied. This was indeed one of the best trips ever for me.

Being in the moment

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We hear a lot about mental stress, depression, anxiety, suicide now a days and many of us also keep promoting blogs, videos, small write ups for a better mental health.

I happen to meet a friend a few days back. She suffers from anxiety for many years and I have seen her struggle through it and come out of it gloriously. I have seen how she copes with it and I am totally, impressed by her.

I happen to meet her a few day back as we make it a point to meet up once a week and she seemed really low and a bit unhappy. I usually avoid talking about anything unhappy with her as it can reinforce negative thoughts in a person who is emotionally low.

So as usual I tired talking about different fun things to change her state of mind and she just didn’t seem to be involved in my talks. I realized the graveness of her situation and finally with a heavy heart asked her why was going on with her?

The question just got her eyes moist and I saw she was gathering courage to hold her tears back and speak her heart and mind to me. The first sentence she said was “even if I want to move on in life, my family keeps reminding me of how I was unwell and incapable of looking after them.” And this got me angry but I had to get a grip on my emotions.

Her husband, a busy man was traveling a lot for work and was mostly out of the country. Her children were at an age where they just would not listen to her if she tried correcting them. Even though now she is better and capable of not just taking care of herself but also her home, her children just would say “you haven’t been around when we needed you and now we can manage on our own!” even if it was true the way it was said would hurt her.

If for some reason she shouted at the kids the in- laws would wonder if she is was anxious and depressed again. She was having a tough time at home to make her family understand that she is fine and can deal with every situation.

She was sounding very tired when she said, it was not easy to over come anxiety and depression and when she finally has managed to do that, she has a new battle to fight with her family to make them understand that she is better. And I felt that do we ever stop handling situations and issues ever in our life. All we need is to take each day as it comes and be in the moment.

I held her had and told her that she need not be anxious about it but rather she needs to be patient and let everybody see the change. At the same time I also understand her feeling of coping up with all the time she has lost in looking after her children and her marriage. But all I could tell her was its never too late to set things right. We can’t turn back the clock but we can certainly make a better future.

 

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What’s cooking today?

Varan.jpgThe weather has been really hot these days and with the temperature rising by the hour all I can think is of simple food and lots of cold water to drink.

As usual Sarita my cook came and asked me in the morning what would I like to eat for lunch and I thought what could be better than the humble Varan Bhaat (dal and rice) for lunch today.

So basically Varan is a dal made by simply boiling Toor dal (pigeon peas) along with some turmeric powder and asafetida, the cooked dal is mashed, some cumin seed powder, jaggery and salt is added and then the dal is further boiled till it’s nice and thick. This humble varan tastes best when eaten along with hot steamed ambe mohar rice (a variety of rice that grows in Maharashtra which literally means mango blossom as it has a strong aroma reminiscent of mango blossoms) and a dollop of home made tup (ghee)

So the varan is a vegan preparation which is a typically from the Maharashtrian or Goan cuisine which is served on all occasions.

In most Maharashtrian homes varan, bhaat is served as the first course followed by chapatti and vegetables.

A varan, bhaat, tup and limbu (lemon) is a complete meal by itself. Proteins from the dal, the carbs from the rice, fat from ghee and vitamin C from the lemon makes it a complete meal.

Most Maharashtrians even today have this at breakfast. I would always find it very unusual till I realized we also have Idli, sambar and chutney for breakfast using the same ingredients.

Long ago I had heard a story of a women who on her death bed told her sister in law that after she dies her son should be fed nothing more than varan, bhaat twice in a day as she was aware of the sister in law ill treating the son after her death. The mean aunt was more than happy to fed the mother less soul remains of varan, bhaat along with some ghee and lemon wedge. The boy in turn grew up to be healthy and strong, as his aunt was not aware of the goodness of this simple meal, unlike the mother.

So today its Varan, bhaat, tup and limbu for me!

 

 

Grief, sorrow, misery, pain………

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What is grief?

The definition of grief that I found in the dictionary was

“Intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death”

We all go through grief in our lives at some point or the other and many of us on different occasions as well.

I was talking to a very dear friend who is going through grief for sometime caused due to the loss of someone who was very dear to her. While we were chatting about what she was going through a question just came into my mind.

Why is grief only caused by someone’s death?

What do you say about the feelings and the pain you go through when a close friendship or relationship dies? The pain and the suffering one goes through, can that also be called grief? Cause ultimately it is death of something that has been dear to you.

These days most of us seem to have got really busy with building our career or endlessly providing a comfortable life for our loved ones.

I remember, as a child life was so simple not just for me but also for my parents.

Dad worked on a very good post in a reputed company. His timings were 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Even though he had to travel really far he was always home by 7:00pm. Fun weekends were planned either short trips to nearby places, a movie or a simple dinner at a restaurant. We would go to the beach for a swim or just simply make sand castles and feel super proud with the bigness created.

If any of the meals would be boring at home or I didn’t like, I would simple walk into my neighbors home and see what exciting was cooked and ate to my hearts content and come home all satisfied.

Our way of communicating with the rest of the friends would not be on what’s app or on the phone but one would simply stand in the window and make a typical sound from the mouth and in a few seconds all the friends would be peeping out of the window and making plans to meet up in the evening using sign language.

Today technology has become very advanced and we have a mobile phone which we all our using to communicate. If I need to talk to a friend I don’t have to visit her and spend time with her, I simply dial some buttons on my phone and I can hear her. That’s amazing! but somewhere the whole thing of just simply going to your friend’s home and spending fun moments has reduced. Missing a person and taking that effort to meet up has reduced a lot.

Our world, which is so large and amazing has suddenly become very small. It now, just fits into our computers and mobile phones. Most of us are so lost in it that we have forgotten to see things going on around us. For example, while we are traveling we miss seeing so many things that create an impact on our minds and the memory of that is etched forever in our hearts.

A few days back I was driving to the gym and just on the corner of the street that I live I saw a tree that was blossomed with tiny pink flowers and can you imagine I had never seen that before coz probably I was busy messaging on the mobile phone. This thought really made me feel sad as how many of us realize how technology has taken over our lives. Isn’t it some kind of a death with reality of life.

I had many friends who I would make it a point to meet up and have a good time. But today the convenience of just picking up a phone and talking has killed wonderful friendships as we don’t meet up often. This is making most of us lonely in spite of living in a city that is buzzing all the time. Shouldn’t we grief over the death of simpler times.

I am not here to advocate against the usage of technology. But I was simply trying to compare that what kind of a life we are leading of grief without even realizing it

 

Moringa! ……not a film character but a tree!

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Yesterday I went to the local market gadding about looking out for some unique vegetable that I could buy and cook.

After walking for a bit I reached my regular vegetable vendor Ram Prasad who usually sells leafy vegetables and I found a small cane basket full of tiny white flowers tucked away slyly in a corner. The basket was not clearly visible

Curiously I looked deeper in the corner and I realized they were the moringa flowers and suddenly there was a big smile on my face.

I gave Ram Prasad a look which made him feel guilty of hiding those flowers from me and he quickly tried to cover up his blunder saying that the produce was too less to be sold and so he had kept it away.

Well after all the convincing he tried I bought the small basket of the moringa flowers and walked back home like I had won the war.

My staff at home, were very excited to see these flowers and were not sure what I would make of it. I told them a story of my childhood, which I will share with you all as well.

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In my hometown Aversa we have our ancestral home which we would visit every summer vacation. My Grandma would eagerly wait for all of us to come and relish the different varieties of mangoes, guava, chickoo and jackfruit. It would be a feast for us to gorge on the amazingly tasting fruits.

So in the front garden she had planted some mango trees, a guava tree, a chickoo tree, a jackfruit tree and right in the corner of the garden there was this delicate Moringa or drumstick tree.

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The leaves, flowers and the drumsticks of this tree are used in our cuisine. With the leaves Amma (grandma) would make a simple vegetable, which would be sautéed in coconut oil, onions and green chillies and garnished with fresh grated coconut.

The drumstick would be used in sambar and many a times coated with chilli powder and rava and pan fried crisp to perfection.

 

Back then food would be cooked on wood fire. Every morning Amma would offer a small prayer to the Agni deva before she would lit the fire. Then she would scrape fresh coconut for the meal and grind it along with some spices on a stone grinder to make curries. My favorite part would be to grind on the stone, pluck the fresh vegetables for the curry.

 

One morning while we were all seated on the floor for breakfast with banana leaves placed in front of us and garma garam soft idli and sambar served she asked me to help her pluck the morninga flowers after I had finished, but my excitement and impatience took over my hunger and I simple left the breakfast and dragged her to pluck them.

While we were picking the flowers I asked her what was she going to cook with these pretty looking flowers and she smiled and said Vade (cutlets) I was quiet surprised and had a puzzled look on my face. She looked at me and said wait until you taste it. After picking the flowers I trailed behind her to the kitchen. She placed them on platform and asked me to clean them and wash them genteelly.

She put some freshly scraped coconut and spices to grind on the stone and I offered to help and to her surprise I managed to make a paste just the way she wanted and the cutlets with the moringa flowers were made

img_8405The feeling of helping Amma cook a dish even today boosts my morals when I am cooking something difficult

The ‘Sequel’ to unconditional love

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Sequel the 4thmember of our family came to our home on the 2ndof October 2016.

Oh but wait first let me introduce you to Sequel …….and how she came into our life

In 2015, I was very busy with the publication of my cook book Karwar to Kolhapur Via Mumbai and in 2016 April 17ththe book was released. This book took good 3 years to be completed and it was a full time job as thoughts would come anytime in the day and then one thought would link up to the other and I just would not realize how time would fly.

But after the book released and I basked in its glory for sometime I was happy and content and relaxing. In no time I started getting anxious as time just would not pass and as usual the kid and husband both are busy. I thought I’m done writing with the book that I had wanted to and I could not figure out what should be the next step. Good 5 months passed away and then I started getting restless. Sitting idle at home was seeming impossible. I would meet up with friends, have lunches and go out for dinner with them, but how much can you do that.

The day started seeming never ending and restlessness was at its peak.

One evening I was at a very close friend Shilpa’s home along with another dear buddy KD and I was talking to both of them as to how I seem to be feeling lost without work and everyone around at home so busy that I felt “kutra pun nahi ahe vicharalya” (there is no dog around also who can give you attention) basically in Marathi when a person is at his lowest and people don’t care about him / her they usually say “Tyala Kurt pun vicharat nahi” (even a dog does not bother about him) and that’s exactly how I felt. To this thought KD immediately suggested why don’t you get a dog home!

I have always ben petrified of dogs be it small or large and now imagine KD feels getting a dog should do me good! I was not so sure of this suggestion, but the thought was ticking constantly in my head.

Yug has always been a dog lover and for many years had been coaxing me to get one, so I thought “ek teer main do nishane” I started toying with the idea, weighing the pros and cons as getting a dog home is a huge responsibility, just like raising another child who cannot even speak your language. So after a lot of discussions it was decided that we should get a dog home…. But my only condition was that lets get a smaller breed now and once I’m used to it then lets get a bigger breed later.

And that’s how a teeny weeny Shih Tzu puppy came home….. I did feel like a absolute first time mother who is unsure of what to do, also a name had to be thought of… we had a dog many years back called Junior who was a Shih Tzu but for some reason he was not with us for too long and so Sequel came in as a respite to Junior who we missed very dearly and in no time got very attached and also realized it was not all that difficult. In fact it was fun and Yug would be excited with her around to teach her to fetch.

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Trust me, ever since she has come home, the house seems bustling with energy and seeing lil Sequel running all around the house feels amazing and the best part is, when your back home from work or an outing the welcome you get is indescribable.

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Chaitanya by The Walke’s

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Sometime back my friend KD mentioned about an eatery at Dadar, which serves the most amazing Malvani cuisine. A foodie that I am, I decided to visit this place called Chaitanya, which was highly recommended.

And so a drive from Andheri to Dadar was planned to enjoy dinner at this simple quaint eatery along with my friend Sheetal. At first it was a bit difficult to spot this place but after a few turns and returns and reverses I found it. Honestly it was not very difficult but I think “I” could not find it.

We walked into Chaitanya not expecting anything more than good food and service. It was a small place, done up very simply, where 7-8 simple tables with chairs were place in a row. The owner Surekha Walke sitting right at the entrance managing the counter. She seemed busy and as I walked in she just looked up through her spectacles and looked towards a boy wearing a white shirt and khakhi shorts with a napkin on his shoulder, suggesting him to seat us. We were seated on a table of 6 while we were just 2 of us while the eatery was almost empty. Sheetal and I took our seats and said hope KD is right about this place. Sometimes looks can be deceptive. The boy again came upto our table with a wet cloth and wiped it clean and in a hurry placed 2 steel galsses of water. From the way he was operating I realized this place must be usually busy.

So, after scrolling down through the menu, we decided to order our thalis without wasting any time. Sheetal ordered a fish thali while I the vegetarian option. We also ordered some extra dishes like fried crabs and Kaap (rava coated fried potatoes). The wait was not too long and what came on our table was simply outstanding.

So the fish thali had a fried pomfret, a surmai curry, sol kadi (kokum kadi) and rice bhakri (roti)

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My vegetarian thali was like a feast fit for the king. There was a kalya vatanyachi usal (black peas curry with the traditional malvani garam masala) bharli vangi (stuffed brinjal) methichi bhaji (fenugreek subzi), gavar (cluster beans), dal, chapatti and a very unusual dessert called the fruit khand (fruits mixed with homemade shrikhand).

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The food was truly wonderful. After such an amazing dinner the chef had to be complimented and so we walked to the counter and gave our compliments to Surekha tai (sister). She also had showcased a few masalas which she had kept on a rack to sell. I bought the fish fry masala which when I tried at home was indeed loved by all.

At the end of the day Sheetal and I both left like two happy souls. A) because the food was really delicious and B) it suited the pocket.

 

Is simplicity so difficult? …

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This maximum city has got us a lot of opportunities to grow and become successful. Even an uneducated person who comes from a village can make a living for himself here, which is amazing! But in the quest of growth some how I realized the simplicity of life has been lost.

I very vividly remember as a child every weekend my dad would make it a point to spend time with us, either go out for a weekend or Friday night would be a movie and Saturday night would be dinner at some restaurants close by, be it Chinese at Nanking or Flora, the Great Punjab for my simple dinner of alu matter and roti.

Our weekend trips would be so much fun…. Dad would pick me up after school on a Friday evening with mum and my brother already in the car with our suitcases packed and then we would decided where to head… no hotel reservations, no itenary planned and yet those weekends would be adventurous… Mhateran, Pune, Nasik, Bellary, Kolhapur, Alibaug were a few places we visited… and the list continues. So my childhood has been memorable.

As I grew up and went to college I still remember I would be given Rs 25/- everyday as pocket money, which was sufficient and a railway pass to reach college. I would take a bus from my home to the train station and then a train from Bandra to reach college.

Now with the 25 rupees that I had, I had to figure out how to save some from it, for a snack with friends, just an outing or maybe a movie and trust me it was a fun challenge  to managing to save quit a bit of it and then go gadding about with my friends. For that, sometimes I would walk from the station instead of taking a bus or an auto rickshaw ride  back home and use that money to treat myself to a nice mango dolly after the long tiring sweaty walk.

So you can imagine how simple life was for me. A simple dinner of alu matter and a crisp roti, movies, long drives, a mango dolly …. Life was beautiful

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Today things have changed…. I live in an amazing house, own luxurious cars and eat in the most fancy restaurants, have loads of friends and yet life seemed empty. According to everyone round me I seemed to have “the perfect” life and felt what the hell am I cribbing about! And yes I did believe them and felt everything is good then why this hollow feeling of emptiness

After much thought I understood that “for me” life is about togetherness, simplicity and doing things that I love and feel happy doing, like I love to walk on Worli sea face while the sun is setting, or at night I love to sit at the far end of Marine drive over looking the city blinging with lights and tall buildings making the place look glamorous, while the sea in front of me talks of its vastness and consistency. As much as I enjoy eating in a fancy restaurant I also love to go to a small khanaval (eatery) and relish a simple meal. I prefer spending my time in buzzed up markets with cramped shops selling masalas, vegetables, utencils and not to forget flowers, I love going for long drives and stopping for an ice cream abruptly some place. Cooking, listening to music and painting are very therapeutic for me. It’s not the number of friends that I have but who are the ones who will stand by me was important.

After a bit of a struggle and a lot of thought put in, I did manage to get some simplicity in my life finally ….feeling blissful

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