Saturday, February 28, 2009

Congress kadalekai

For my friends who know what kind of a passionate Bangalorean I am, it will come as no surprise that Congress kadalekai figures in my list of posts. Kadalekai (groundnuts/ peanuts) is more or less a staple chaat (snack) in Bangalore (don't want to get carried away just by mentioning Bangalore, since it is popular throughout India) with various alterations to the preparation style lending a lip smacking effect.

Groundnuts can be roasted, boiled, peeled and boiled (note the difference between the two), added to sambar (south Indian lentil soup, to give a loose translation, though soup in no way adds justification to the translation), to curries (a sort of a side-dish when having your meal with sambar or rasam (a bracket within a bracket is required just to say that rasam is a toned down version of sambar with less lentils) or curd rice). I feel happy to know that I have closed the brackets properly, thanks to the numerous compiler errors I have faced because of incomplete brackets! So, another variant of the preparation leads us to what is called as Congress kadalekai. This, one can say, is one of the fundamental identifying factors of a Bangalorean. If you look at this Deccan Herald link, it mentions that this snack is popular in other parts of Karnataka as well.

My earliest exposure to the congress kadalekai dates back to the mid-nineties, when my father used to get the famous Congress buns, from the famous VV Puram bakery (aka VB Bakery) in Bangalore south (Sajjan Rao circle, to be precise). I have been a big fan ever since. Well, to explain Congress buns, you got to know what Congress kadalekai is. Congress kadalekai is prepared by first peeling the groundnuts off their outer covering, roasting them to an extent that the inner thin layer is peeled off as well, and adding some masala (mixture of several ingredients that are ground) to the roasted groundnuts. That's all that is there to the special snack. You can enhance the kadalekai by adding finely cut onions, tomatoes and nicely chopped coriander leaves, adding a squeeze of lemon as a final step in the sequence. The end result is an awesome snack which you can have along with a cup of tea in the evenings. To say the least, it is absolutely brilliant. All said and done, I was never bothered about the recipe, since it is available in plenty in Bangalore, that you don't even think of preparing at home.

I have never had congress kadalekai at any other place apart from the ones brought from Bangalore South. Well, that's the place where it is really famous. I am sure Malleswaram must have shops that cater exclusively to the Congress Kadalekai lovers. But, for me, VB bakery and the adjoining shops have served the perfect Congress Kadalekai. So, when Yadu told me that he had brought Congress Kadalekai from Bangalore, I just could not resist, but to add the extra garnishes to prepare a fine evening snack.

The culinary aspect of India is by itself such a broad topic that the very thought of it can leave you hungry all the time. Congress Kadalekai just enhances the fine culinary repertoire of a food maniac nation!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In any language, you take certain words for granted, and the perfect pronunciation of the word is limited to the complete word minus, maybe, the last letter or the last couple of letters. So, actually, it's not perfect, but the utterance is close to perfection. I am one of those guys who can make simple things complicated, but never vice versa.

I often wonder how difficult it is to translate something verbatim from one language to another. The beauty of every Indian language lies in its enthralling ability to appease you with the perfect choice of word(s) for the perfect occasion. It is almost close to impossible to maintain the same diction and poise, as you work your way to the global medium. The same analogy applies when you want to say something in your local tongue from English. You get the feeling of being trapped, as you try to explain the phrase, and end up pleasing none.

Many a time, as I stand outside on the balcony at home, and as the first few drops of rain touch the ground, I can't help but loving the manvaasanai. Now, how in the world would you want to translate that word. I had a tough time to get the verb that goes with the word. I wasn't sure whether I had to go for noticing, observing, feeling or loving, but ultimately decided to love (loving the manvaasanai, I meant)! Let me see how well I can explain the word. Manvaasanai means the smell of the earthern soil as the first few drops of rain touch the ground. If there is a mistake in the translation, Tamilians feel free to slaughter me. That's like a one word explanation in Tamil. How many times have we loved the smell of the soil during the rainy days!

Similarly, every colony or street or agrahaaram (oh! forget it!) would be presided by a deity, whose existence merges easily with your life in no uncertain terms. So, as soon as you leave the house, your head involuntarily turns in that direction and you offer a silent prayer, forgetting for that exclusive moment, all the pain in life. My growing up days were spent in the presence of our Vaasal Pillaiyar, who adorned the apartment as the supreme guardian during all times (just the tough time alone would be too selfish to put here). Pillaiyar can be easily translated to the elephant God Ganesha or Ganeshji or Vinayagar or a thousand other names that he goes by. What about Vaasal? Vaasal means just outside (again this is not an accurate explanation), but the whole meaning of the phrase would be lost if you have to refer to it as just outside God! So, a typical sentence uttered by my mother would run like this, let alone on exam days, even on normal days

Dei, namba vaasa(l) Pillaiyarai parthiya? or namba vaasa(l) Anjanayer kovilla inniku prasadam kudukara! (Did you go meet vaasal Pillaiyar today? or Today there are temple offerings in the vaasal Anjaneya temple) None of us would miss a visit to the temple if we got the inking that there were temple offerings. One of the places where a small quantity of food tastes like heaven.

Close on the heels of the vaasal Pillaiyar, there is the ucchi Pillaiyar. A literal translation of hilltop Ganesha would do no justice to the original! This was just a small sample set from a single language. Just put together, the different languages of India, and you would have many untranslatable terms.

There was also a joke going around, during our school years. Indira Gandhi ethanaavudhu PM?
Only one of the four words in the previous question is in Tamil, but too tough to translate that to English.

In the chronological order of time, which position does Indira Gandhi take as the PM?
can do some justice, but I am not too sure whether others understand what kind of a question I am trying to frame here.

In Kannada, that is too easy. Indira Gandhi eshtne PM?

In the meanwhile, try translating Personification in your language.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The same old rants

There was a time in the past when mothers of little children had to warn their children, "You better not get on to the streets. Better play inside the apartment building. There are a lot of bad people out there who will not think twice to kidnap little children." The children would listen attentively and stick on to the comfort limits of well-being. Today, I am not sure whether it is only the children who have to be told by the elders. There is a vast section of the society who run the risk of getting kidnapped, thanks to some of the most obnoxious and atrocious elements of our society.

At any instant of time, if you want to visualize what's happening in India, you will have your plate full. There are so many things happening out there, some of which can leave you baying for blood. It tends to become creepy, and suddenly, you are at such a boiling point that you kind of get an insight to how a murderer really feels before he is going to commit a crime. I really had my mind on a light-hearted post, but since things have come to such a pass, let me finish this post with some of the outlandish issues pervading our country. The problem is, these issues are no more bizarre, they are becoming a norm.

For a moment, let's forget all these things. I am very happy to write that there are bigger guardians out there, worrying about the welfare of girls and boys who are in their teens and early to late twenties. Now, parents no more need to worry about which girl is going out with which boy. I am just waiting for the moment. Valentine's day is around the corner, and I am sure that it will be a great occasion to witness some mass marriages. One of my friends was telling me, "This is the best time to marry, if there is an opposition from elders at home. You can just blame one of the Senas saying that we were forced into marriage." Really, it sounds cool! One of the bigwigs daughter was kidnapped because she was going out with a different caste guy. Some of the politicians have the audacity to call this as a minor episode, and lay the blame on the girl. She was defying the Indian culture. Yeah, right, each and every one of those brutes are the perfect custodians of the Indian culture. So, a mother of a teenage girl has more reasons to worry than before.

The temple and mosque issues seems to be resurfacing again. That's the only thing the people are worried right now. I think the Gods would be more than happy to see us lead a happy life than to worry about where they have to placed on planet earth. I think our politicians would do a great job if you ask them to build a GPS. They somehow seem to know exactly what should be located where. We don't care if there are communal riots and people kill each other, but the Gods must be happy!

I also seem to be totally concerned about that South Indian stalwart who seems to be obsessed with what is happening in the island nation below ours. I am sure he is least concerned about what is happening in Tamil Nadu. Imagine his advisor telling him Sir, there were some deaths reported. His immediate response would be We have to write a letter to the PM telling him we will withdraw support to the government. Sir, that would not help. The problem is in our state. Dude, for the heck of being elected, do something.

The army fights for our country, and transfers the responsibility of safeguarding the nation's interests to a bunch of absolutely irresponsible men. We fight and live to see another day. It's the same old problems again.

Away from these things, I just have to say that Delhi 6 is one of the best ARR albums I have listened to. The songs take you to a trance, and you have no choice but to submit yourself to another world. Some of the songs are absolutely brilliant, but, Dil gira Daffatan from the album is breathtaking to say the least. I have been listening to this song on a repeat mode.