Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


Divine Intervention Not

So I recently encountered this nearly foreign ceremony that I was supposed to perform to the “goddess” of all “Sumangalis”- Lakshmi. Back at the Iyengar household in my pre-wedded era, this particular Puja was blissfully skipped since it was a non-entity in the books of the vertical stripes clan. Now, nearly a year after declaring my collaboration with the Iyer clan, I was expected to follow the whole thanksgiving-to-Lakshmi ceremony. Though the goddess is married to Vishnu, the clan leader of the mighty Iyengars, it is beyond me why we ignore it.

Anyway, swathed in a poorly tied 9 yard saree, thanks to a random tutorial by a wise Paati online, the Pujai spanned for two excruciatingly painful hours with us trying to fanthom complicated Sanskrit words from the Devanagiri and Latin scriptures. We spent five hours in preparation. The ceremony, to top it all, had a whole list of, what my mother calls, Nachchu Velais, aka, silly work. So the function had these various steps that put my head in a dizzy but then, since we were two people, we prevailed. I have never imagined the task of cooking and preparing for an important ceremony but I can now tell you that it was a painful pain pain.

By lunchtime, we were famished and weak, what with the fast we had to go on until the ceremony ended. So after we reached the finish line, both of us declared our happiness at putting the day behind us for a whole year. While gobbling up the Idli and the Kozhukattai that were the staple food for the Vratham, we remembered that the next day was Avani Avittam, again a Tam-Bhram ceremony for the men. It was that one day in the year when the brahmin men realize that their Poonal is now old and smelly and unless they exchange it for a new one, they would be social outcasts.

This is where the epiphany came to me and I reaffirmed my belief that we live in a hugely patriarchal world. For one, Avani Avittam is not all that huge on fasting. It depends on the man. They take exactly forty minutes to do the Pujai, don’t really have to wear¬† the Panjakacham (the male equalent of the 9-yard Madisar), they even found an audio file to make the chanting of the Mantrams easier and since they seldom let themselves see the insides of the kitchen, the women are left with the task of cooking. A menu Kalyanam-worthy. So we the women had to wake up earlier than them. Again. And grind, fried, cut and cooked again. EOD was the same: fatigue. This time, the men empathized with us because all the good food did them in.

Later in the day found me arguing with the mister about the partiality that is our society but I ultimately abandoned it after a playful banter. Agreed that I enjoyed decking up my Amman Mugam but until next August, its a big, relieved bye!

She is obliously laughing at us!



A Year Full Of Wisdom-ish

As I contemplated what I could write about to add a little bit of dry humor to your day, I stumbled upon the title first. Some writers tell me that they make up a title before they decide on a topic but being the humble writer that I am, I have found that impossible… until now. After deciding whether it should be A or An, I moved on to what is going to be my second post this week.

So like I’ve been telling every single person who would stop and listen to me, it is going to be a landmark year in my wedded life soon: The Big One. Yes, though I basked in the glory of being a newly wed, I am kind of relieved, for what I call the year of surprises, is ending. As the calendar rolled, I learned a few tricks a person should learn about dealing with their other (obscure) half. I got pretty creative, no doubt, and used a few under-the-table tricks too but apart from the very disapproving housewife, I don’t see anyone else frowning on me. So here goes…

1. I have learned to be subtle. Blatantly telling a man what he needs to do only makes him as indignant as my dear dog Rover. If you layer it with reasoning and humor, he will see your point.

2. Never disclose your budget. If you spend even a cent more than you decided to, it will become his favorite family story for the years to come. How does he care if you can live healthier for a dollar more? Stealth: this is how.

3. Tell him he needs to shave and get a hair cut. Unless you are in love with the hilly-billy part of him, you need to emphasize on them, every month.

4. Don’t give up every time. Or don’t let him give up every time. He either thinks you are a doormat or selfish: two unattractive opinions for anyone to have on you.

5. Leave that saintly attitude out of the door. Really, this is not a church.

6. Make him read what you write, see what you paint and listen to what you create. Mine has the literary interest of an 8-year-old (he reads only Tinkle!) but I make sure he reads my blogs once in a while.

7. Deal with toilet seat issues. He leaves it up? Leave the seat and the cover down every time you go in. That will really reform him.

8. Get a detailed feedback about everything you cook. Chances are he will crib.Don’t bother, how else will you get better?

9. Make combined projects. We are making a random lamp together. It is fun!

10. Laugh. Hard. When we have a serious roadblock, we discuss it, look for a result or sit on it and later make a joke out of it. The problem doesn’t go away but it makes us feel it is not unsolvable. That easy!

PS: I broke my project rules by not publishing for two days. But I picked the most difficult week to go on it. I shall prevail!


Madras and Me…

When you live in the same town for twenty-five years, you cannot help but form an intimate deal with it. After all, this is your home, your solace and your comfort zone.  You would think that my bond with Madras is on the same line but let me point out the difference out to you, for our love goes beyond the length of Marina beach. It is here that I spent my childhood playing Pandi and it is in this city that I grew up, fell in love, found my dream-job and drank the best ever coffee in the whole world. Explaining my love for the city is an enormous quest that I have decided to go on today.

At school and college, while every kid took pride in naming some far-away small town or village as their “Native place”, I was never shy to announce that my hometown is Madras, this city, nothing fancy. I felt a pride, superiority even, to say I am from the city. The day I left Madras to venture into the unknown land of USA, the husband had a very nagging doubt: if I was upset because I was leaving my mother behind or because I was bidding good-bye to Madras.

The thing is, I don’t miss my city just because it is my home. I miss the relentless sun that makes us want to magically turn into fishes and swim into the Elliots, I miss the pollution that makes my face gritty everytime I zip by on my Scooty. I miss the city which has always been considered an underdog despite its rapid development. I used to love having a terrace to go to and feel the breeze swirling around me. I miss the loud transistors that play random numbers in the Potti Kadais and the convenience of stopping near random autos and asking the ever informative auto Karans for random routes.

Madras, though always in the middle of dirty politics (DMK-va, AIADMK-va?) and glitzy “Kollywood” movies, has always had time for me, a person into neither. Life in my city has always been easier. Signs of growing-up, some may say, but to me it is the charisma of Madras that does it. My bed is always warm there, I always find my way back home, no matter which obscure part of the city I am in, without a GPS. Heck, I even love the stereotype we Chennaiites are. I mean, we are very corrupt or very laid-back, hardworking, snooty or down-right brash. Nothing unique, I know but the Madras brand of the traits are really what I love.

They say that when you really want something, you should probably start counting the negative things you know about it. I have tried doing that. I think of my walks through Doraisamy Road while walking around the running track around a lake back here, I imagine I am traveling by the electric train when I travel the Metro here. I even conjure up the memory of the Chennai bubble-top water when I gulp down fresh water from the Brita here. You know what, I still prefer the Madras part of the experience. As for the mister’s question, I still haven’t found an answer.

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Call me delusional but I can hear my invisible audience laughing. Laughing hysterically at my total lack of ability to keep up my resolution. I did say I was going to write everyday, but in my defense, I have been swamped with other things like viral infections and non-blog writing.

The Atlanta trip was lovely, met friends, had cake, partied toddler style and ended up in Dulles very late on Sunday night to be greeted by incessant rains. The husband fell ill immediately (talk about weak resistance!) and I was busy pampering him for nearly a week. He is up and active now, thanks for asking.

But now, I am back on track, ready to write and give you, my invisible lovelies, something to scroll through. How does that sound?