Featured Post (scroll down for more recent ones)

Voicing Silence 7

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A quick tale 194

We were awkward at first but soon we were talking

How is it? she asks me. What? I demand even though I know exactly what she is referring to. Living abroad. What's it like? she asks again. She's always been like this. Wanting to know everything about you. There's a child like curiousity about her. That you almost forgive the intrusive nature of her questions. She hasn't changed much in the 17 years since I saw her last. Yes, there's the grey hair and the roundness that comes with motherhood. But other than that, she still reminds me of the best friend she once was to me. Which is probably why I spotted her straightaway at the airport yesterday. She had come to receive her brother and I was arriving on my biennial visit to my homeland. We were awkward at first but soon we were talking as if there had just been one long gap in our conversation.

I had married straight after college and had not really bothered to stay in touch with friends. Not even my best friend. So we had a lot to catch up. She suggested that we meet today. I stir my coffee and look up at her. She's still waiting for me to answer. Do I tell her about the crippling loneliness? Or the rounds of failed IVF? Do I tell about the fear the grips me whenever the phone goes off in the middle of the night? Do I confide in her my almost constant worry about aged parents left behind? I lower my eyes and watch the coffee swirl. It's good, I tell her. Life is good. I can feel the warmth of her envy as I lift my cup to my lips. I take a satisfactory sip.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Thank you!

LAFTI would like to thank Janani Srinivasan (Canada) & Fatima Hyde (of Fashion Creaters, Bangalore) for their generous donations.
Thank you very much!

Cult of Bad Mama

Sticky post. Please scroll down for update on Virtual Coffee Mornings

Intro

Don't get me wrong. I don't object to motherhood per se. I certainly don't have a problem with all-sacrificing, 100% unadulterated love-incarnate, earth mother type motherhood either. My struggle is that that is the only kind of mothers I ever read about. The ones who spend their waking hours worrying about little Johnny's milk intolerance and blogging about how much poo little Sweety has deposited. I mean, where are all the real mothers? The ones who plonk their little ones in front of the telly so they may check out ex-boyfriends on orkut? The kind that sedate their non-coughing infant with Benadryl so that they can watch Sivaji in peace? The sort that secretly dream about adoption so that they don't have to go through morning-bloody-sickness again?

This is the blog for the less-than angelic mothers. The ones like me. Share your sordid stories here. The ones that are frowned upon elsewhere. Pour them out here. You are human after all. If you wish to remain anonymous, drop me a line at ammania@gmail and I will publish it for you. Come on, ladies. Join the cult. Yummy-mummies not allowed.

cross-posted at http://cultofbadmama.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Virtual Coffee Mornings - Update

Dear All

It's been a week since the drive to raise funds for LAFTI was launched. I'm touched by your generosity. When I last spoke to LAFTI, they were not sure how much donations had been received. But promised to keep me posted as and when the cheques come through. The drive is by no means over. And you are always welcome to remember LAFTI whenever you have something to spare. Please make your donations to

Name of the Bank : Federal Bank
Address : Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India
Swift Code : FDRL – INBB – IBD to the Credit of Krishnammal Jegannathan
AccountNumber : SB 5559.

If you wish to send cheques, please draw them in favour of Krishnammal Jegannathan and send them to:
LAFTI
Vinoba Ashram
Kuthur
Nagapattinam district
Tamil Nadu
INDIA
PINCODE 611 105
You may reach them at 00914366-275443 and 275540. E-mail: laftitngsm@yahoo.co.in

Thank you!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Virtual Coffee Mornings - Contest 7

Story time





Use this image to tell me a story. Keep it short and please post it in the comment box. And don't forget to drop those coins in your coffee mug.

To participate, all you need to do is place a coffee mug (preferably clean) next to your computer. And once you have entered a contest, drop some small change into it. At the end of the week, collect the coins (hopefully some notes too) and send them to LAFTI in India. Here are their bank details.

Name of the Bank : Federal Bank
Address : Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India
Swift Code : FDRL – INBB – IBD to the Credit of Krishnammal Jegannathan
AccountNumber : SB 5559. If you wish to send cheques, please draw them in favour of Krishnammal Jegannathan and send them to: LAFTI
Vinoba Ashram
Kuthur
Nagapattinam district
Tamil Nadu
INDIA
PINCODE 611 105

You may reach them at 00914366-275443 and 275540. E-mail: laftitngsm@yahoo.co.in

This is part of a series of contests I 'm hosting to raise funds for LAFTI. The organisation will help women buy seeds so they may cultivate their lands within the next few days.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Virtual Coffee Mornings - Contest 6

Countdown

How many words can you do with the following set of letters. Which one's the longest?
You can only use each letter once.

F-L-R-J-G-O-T-O-E

Please post your answers in the comment box. And don't forget to drop those coins in your coffee mug.To participate, all you need to do is place a coffee mug (preferably clean) next to your computer. And once you have entered a contest, drop some small change into it. At the end of the week, collect the coins (hopefully some notes too) and send them to LAFTI in India. Here are their bank details.

Name of the Bank : Federal Bank
Address : Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India
Swift Code : FDRL – INBB – IBD
To the Credit of Krishnammal Jegannathan
AccountNumber : SB 5559

If you wish to send cheques, please draw them in favour of Krishnammal Jegannathan and send them to:
LAFTI
Vinoba Ashram
Kuthur
Nagapattinam district
Tamil Nadu
INDIA
PINCODE 611 105
You may reach them at 00914366-275443 and 275540. E-mail: laftitngsm@yahoo.co.in

This is part of a series of contests I 'm hosting to raise funds for LAFTI. The organisation will help women buy seeds so they may cultivate their lands within the next 10 days.

Virtual Coffee Mornings - Contest 5

A more regular quiz. Thanks, Chen for the questions.


1. Who read the Tamil News bulletin in All India Radio on 15th Aug1947 about India getting independence?


2. Microsoft was in bad shape in 1986. Bill Gates offered a stake inMS to another IT Company, which refused. Which company was that?


3. Who was the first person to make a film on Mahatma Gandhi? (No, it's not Richard Attenborough)


4. This company's share price was traded at Rs. 50,000.00 in BombayStock Exchange in 1865, a record that has not yet been broken. Which company are we talking about?


5. The Chola King Rajendra Chola is also known as 'kadaram kondan'-meaning he won over the city of Kadaram. What is this city called now? (this is googlable. So don't)


6. "It gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars wouldbe scratching their head." - Who said this about what?


7. Name the actor who acted in all three first talkie movies in Hindi,Tamil and Telugu.


8. Identify the groom

9. And one for the one I missed last time. Which blogger signs WA?


Post your answers in the comment box. And don't forget to drop those coins in your coffee mug.

To participate, all you need to do is place a coffee mug (preferably clean) next to your computer. And once you have entered a contest, drop some small change into it. At the end of the week, collect the coins (hopefully some notes too) and send them to LAFTI in India. Here are their bank details.
Name of the Bank : Federal Bank
Address : Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, IndiaSwift Code : FDRL – INBB – IBD
To the Credit of Krishnammal Jagannathan
AccountNumber : SB 5559

If you wish to send cheques, please draw them in favour of Krishnammal Jegannathan and send them to:
LAFTI,
Vinoba Ashram,
Kuthur,
Nagapattinam district,
Tamil Nadu.
INDIA
PINCODE 611 105
You may reach them at 00914366-275443 and 275540. E-mail: laftitngsm@yahoo.co.in

This is part of a series of contests I 'm hosting to raise funds for LAFTI. The organisation will help women buy seeds so they may cultivate their lands within the next 10 days.

Contact Details for Lafti

Hello again
Many of you have written to me wondering what the postal address is for you to send cheques to. Please draw your cheques in favour of Krishnammal Jegannathan and send them to:

LAFTI,
Vinoba Ashram,
Kuthur,
Nagapattinam district,
Tamil Nadu.
INDIA
PINCODE 611 105

You may reach them at 00914366-275443 and 275540. E-mail: laftitngsm@yahoo.co.in

Please note that Tamil is their preferred language of communication. Emails are responded to within a day or two. Thank you for your generosity!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Meet Gambaloo!

Result from Contest 1


The boy has spoken. A name's chosen. Meet Gambaloo. Thank you Lightrain for suggesting it. Exceptional fame and unforseen fortunes await you. Thanks all for participating.

Virtual Coffee Mornings - Contest 4

Kwiz

A more general quiz will follow. But for the moment, test your knowledge of desi blogs.


1. Which blogger is affectionately referred to as 'The King'?

2. Whose tagline is 'Cooking with consciousness'?

3. Identify this lady blogger.




4. Whose blog was awarded the Best Topical Indiblog at the Indibloggies 2005?

5. What is Nilu's alter ego called?

6. Who are the founders of Desipundit?

7. Who refers to her children as the Brat and the Bean?

8. What major change happened in one of India's top blogs on the 15th of February 2007?

9. What is common to mumbaigirl, shoefiend, 30in2005 and Neha Vishwanathan?

10. Identify the blogger whose journey went - Tamirabharani to Thames via Cooum.

Post your answers in the comment box. And don't forget to drop those coins in your coffee mug.

To participate, all you need to do is place a coffee mug (preferably clean) next to your computer. And once you have entered a contest, drop some small change into it. At the end of the week, collect the coins (hopefully some notes too) and send them to LAFTI in India.

Here are their bank details.
Name of the Bank : Federal Bank
Address : Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India
Swift Code : FDRL – INBB – IBD
To the Credit of Krishnammal Jagannathan
AccountNumber : SB 5559

This is part of a series of contests I 'm hosting to raise funds for LAFTI. The organisation will help women buy seeds so they may cultivate their lands within the next 10 days.

LAFTI - contact details

Hello

Many of you have written to me wondering what other form of payments LAFTI will accept. Unfortunately, I do not know the answer to that. I have reccomended paypal but they seem unsure how to set it up. You can contact them directly at:

Phone: 0091 4366-275443 and 275540.
E-mail: laftitngsm@yahoo.co.in

Please note that Tamil is their preferred language of communication and email responses are usually delayed by a day or two.

Thank you for your generosity.

Virtual Coffee Mornings - Contest 3

Lifejacket

You are stuck on a sinking boat. Along with Rajinikanth, Shahrukh Khan and Sachin Tendulkar. But there's only one lifejacket.

Kanna, this lifejacket is mine. Why? Why? Why? you ask. Because I am the one and only superstar and if I die whose cut outs will my fans worship, I say? he demands and with a flick of his hair, he salutes everyone goodbye and is about to slip into the lifejacket. But Shahrukh stops him in his path. N-n-n-no, Rajini-saar, he argues, the lifejacket should be mine. I am afterall the overactor of them all. If I die, Kaun Banega Crorepati?

But just as Shahrukh is about to grab the lifejacket from Rajini, a twirling cricket bat stops them both. Nahin, cries a pre-pubescent voice, this lifejacket belongs to me. I'm the last remaining cricketing hero of this nation, says Sachin, if I die, what will happen to all my sponsors? Soon, a tussle breaks out among the three of them. Now it's your turn to argue why the lifejacket should be yours. Make it quick, because water is seeping into your boat and you don't have long to go.


But who wins the lifejacket? Winner announced in a couple of days.





To participate, all you need to do is place a coffee mug (preferably clean) next to your computer. And once you have entered a contest, drop some small change into it. At the end of the week, collect the coins (hopefully some notes too) and send them to LAFTI in India. Here are their bank details.

Name of the Bank : Federal Bank

Address : Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India
Swift Code : FDRL – INBB – IBD
To the Credit of Krishnammal Jagannathan
AccountNumber : SB 5559

This is part of a series of contests I 'm hosting to raise funds for LAFTI. The organisation will help women buy seeds so they may cultivate their lands within the next 10 days.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Virtual Coffee Mornings - Contest 2

Rajini wants Punch Dialaak

In his next film Vinnveli - The Space, Rajini is born into a poor family and studies under the starlit sky. He grows up fascinated with space and one day, while on a holiday in Morocco, he comes across a poster from NASA asking for astronauts. Rajini breaks a coconaut in nearby Egypt's famous Pillayar Kovil and goes to America to become astronaut. But very bad American conspiracy against Indian people denies Rajini his chance in space.

Flying back to India, Rajini notices vast expanse of mountainous uninhabited territory and he decides to stop there for some rest and recovery. So he asks the pilot to drop him off at the nearest mountain top. When he steps off the plane, he is stunned by the sight that confronts him. Cages upon cages packed with writhing, struggling human beings. Rajini realises that this is another of America's plan for global domination. America has been enticing bright and famous people of other countries with offers of space travel, rounding them off and putting them in prison in that remote territory. How can Rajini allow a travesty of such monumental proportions to carry on? Rajini bristles in righteous indignation and a cunning plan forms in his mind. How he takes on the might of America single-handedly and restores peace and intelligence in the the world forms the rest of the story.

So what do you have to do? Suggest good punch dialogues that Rajini will utter in the course of Vinnveli - The Space. The winner will be announced on this blog in a couple of days' time. Go on, get started. Oru daravai sonna...

To participate, all you need to do is place a coffee mug (preferably clean) next to your computer. And once you have entered a contest, drop some small change into it. At the end of the week, collect the coins (hopefully some notes too) and send them to LAFTI in India. Here are their bank details.

Name of the Bank : Federal Bank
Address : Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India
Swift Code : FDRL – INBB – IBD
To the Credit of Krishnammal Jagannathan
AccountNumber : SB 5559

This is part of a series of contests I will be hosting to raise funds for LAFTI. The organisation will help women buy seeds so they may cultivate their lands within the next 10 days.

Virtual Coffee Mornings - Contest 1

Teddy No Name


Meet Teddy. He has two eyes, two large ears, a few paint stains, some dirt from being played roughly with. But no name. And he is looking to you to suggest one. The sillier the better. This contest will be open for one day only. So send your entry straightaway by posting it in the comment box. The best one will be chosen by Jikku, the boy and announced on this blog. Now, can you really resist that?

To participate, all you need to do is place a coffee mug (preferably clean) next to your computer. And once you have entered a contest, drop some small change into it. At the end of the week, collect the coins (hopefully some notes too) and send them to LAFTI in India. Here are their bank details.

Name of the Bank : Federal Bank

Address : Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India

Swift Code : FDRL – INBB – IBD

To the Credit of Krishnammal Jagannathan

AccountNumber : SB 5559


This is the first in the series of contests I will be hosting to raise funds for LAFTI. The organisation will help women buy seeds so they may cultivate their lands within the next 10 days.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Virtual Coffee Mornings in aid of Lafti

Krishnammal, a wonderful woman who runs Lafti, has helped secure close to 1061 acres to landless women in India. She has now asked me and others for help with seeds for the women to sow in their lands. The rains are very nearly there and the lands need to be cultivated in less than 10 days. I need your support in helping them.


Here's what I propose to do. Virtual Coffee Mornings. It's really quite simple. To participate, you need to place a little coffee mug next to your computer. Every day for the next week or so, I'll be posting various little contests. And each time you take part, you drop some small change into the mug. And at the end of the week, you count it all up and send it to Krishnammal in India. Their bank details are

Name of the Bank : Federal Bank
Address : Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India
Swift Code : FDRL – INBB – IBD
To the Credit of Krishnammal Jegannathan
Account Number : SB 5559

You could send your cheques, drawn in favour of Krishnammal Jegannathan to:

LAFTI
Vinoba Ashram
Kuthur
Nagapattinam district
Tamil Nadu.
INDIA
PINCODE 611 105.

You may reach them at 00914366-275443 and 275540. E-mail: laftitngsm@yahoo.co.in

Krishnammal's extraordinary life story can be found here. Details of the organisation she helps run can be found here.

Why not hold your own Coffee Mornings on your blog? If you do, then please alert me at ammania@gmail.com so I may link to you. Thank you.

Seeds

Krishnammal


A most inspiring lady. I got an email from her today asking for help. Not for her. But for some other women. Who need money to buy seeds. The rains have come but they have nothing to sow on their lands. Would you help me? she pleads. She shouldn't be pleading. She's very old and worked very hard for much of her life for others. I have some friends, I told her. May be together, we can do something. But there's only 10 days before they have to start cultivation, she stresses. I'll see what we can do, I say.





The cost of seeds per acre is Rs.500/- (10 Euros). With a 100 Euros, 10 landless women will be benefited. Any contribution, however small, will be most welcome. The bank details are



Name of the Bank : Federal Bank
Address : Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India
Swift Code : FDRL – INBB – IBD
To the Credit of Krishnammal Jagannathan
Account Number : SB 5559

If you wish to send cheques, please draw them in favour of Krishnammal Jegannathan and send them to:

LAFTI

Vinoba Ashram

Kuthur

Nagapattinam district

Tamil Nadu

INDIA

PINCODE 611 105

You may reach them at 00914366-275443 and 275540. E-mail: laftitngsm@yahoo.co.in

Krishnammal's story is here. Details of the organisation she runs can be found here.

p.s. I will soon be running a fundraising effort of some sort. Once I figure out what. Meanwhile, if you have an idea, then please write to me at ammania@gmail.com Thank you!

New kid on the blog

Blogeswari

Memories of food

Maggi

We had Maggi for dinner last night. I bet every Indian of a certain generation (ahem!) has a Maggi story to tell. It could be about a cousin who loved to eat raw Maggi or that cute child next door who resembled the Maggi girl from that 2-minute noodles advert. I remember when it was first launched in India. We were all given free samples at school and I brought mine home (my brother had eaten his share raw during lunch break). My mother demanded if it was vegetarian. If I was sure, absolutely, 100% certain and only after I had sworn on my sister’s life (better hers than mine!) she let it inside the kitchen.

Once in the kitchen, the pack was opened, examined, its contents sniffed, inspected, held up against the sunlight and even passed through the x-ray machine. Finally, when it had cleared all of Pattu maami's stringent and demanding tests satisfactorily, the green signal was given. There was a tremendous sense of occasion as we watched Gomathy mami heat up a vaanali, pour a generous ladle of oil and throw in some mustard seeds, ulutham paruppu and kariveppilai. A minute later, finely chopped onions were added and sautéed. She poured some water, covered the pot and let it come to a boil. She paused for a moment debating whether or not to touch the offending noodles with her bare hands. She closed her eyes and sought pardon from the gods for what she was about to do. Then slid her hands inside the pack, brought out the brittle noodles and dropped them gingerly into the pot. You’d have thought we were at a Michael Jackson concert the way we jostled for a vantage point from which to view the noodles being cooked. They squiggled and wriggled and swam in the sauce. I was no longer sure that it wasn’t meat and looked at my sister on whose life I had sworn that it was vegetarian. She was alive and that could only mean I was right. I was relieved and returned my attention to where the action was.

Gomathy mami had turned off the hob and had spooned out the noodles into our quiveringly held plates. I scooped a spoonful and stuck a slippery eel of a noodle cluster into my mouth. The strings of noodles dangling outside my mouth were expertly sucked in. And this soon caught on as we each picked up a noodle strand and vacuumed them in. Gomathy mami and the rest of the household watched on with horrified fascination. How does it taste? Is it soft to the bite? What does it feel like as it worms its way down your throat? they demanded to know. But our vocabulary was not yet fully developed to descibe the wonders of instant noodles. So we nodded our heads and said that it was delicious.

Soon thereafter Maggi became a regular in the household and a few years later, I started cooking it myself. Often making inspired variations. Like adding a spoonful of sambar or eating it with mango pickle. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it flopped miserably. But for the first time, I found confidence in my cooking and realised that I wasn’t fussy when it came to food and was willing to try different combinations.

Last night’s dinner was delicious. Perhaps it was the addition of tender vegetables to the usual. Perhaps it was the Maggi stories we were sharing across the table. I cannot tell.

Cross-posted here

Friday, July 06, 2007

Collectibles 3

Next lot! As ever, I ask a question and you post your answer in the comment box. Try and keep them honest.

3. Which item of your household do you misplace most often and swear to remember where you put them the next time?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Collectibles 2

My question and your honest answer. We collect them.

2. When was the last time you said to yourself 'God, I'm turning into my parent!'.

Please post answers in the comment box. Thank you!

A quick tale 193

My aunt has diabetes

You see, that's the trouble with people you know slightly. Those you know well, you can sit and talk for hours. And those who are strangers, you can ignore completely. But those inbetween, the ones you sort-of know, as a passing acquaintance, they are the ones who are most difficult to handle. And I was stuck with one such on a train journey.

She was my aunt's neighbour and I had met her a couple of times before. Very very briefly. But no sooner had I settled down in my seat than she started wondering aloud where she knew me from. Once we had established our route to acquaintanceship, we then carried on talking about our mutual link. My aunt. After I had told her about my aunt's recent widowhood (at which she tutted duly) and her ongoing struggle with diabetes and weight (more tutting), there was little to do. So I asked her about her family and if she had any aunts that I may have lived next door to. Now there was even less to discuss. We fell into a merciful though somewhat awkward silence.

Later when she bought coffee from the vendor, she offered to buy me a cup. I said I didn't drink tea or coffee. And when I brought out my lunch packet, I offered to share it with her. It appeared she had already had her lunch. More silence ensued during which I wondered what to talk about next. I asked her if she had seen the latest blockbuster movie. It seems she didn't watch movies. She wondered if I listened to classical music. Only movie songs, I replied. After enquiring about interests in cricket and politics, I realised we had exhausted all possible topics of civil conversation. Religion was too personal and I didn't know her well enough to enquire if she had any illnesses she would like to discuss.

Our ordeal came to an end when the train reached its destination half-an-hour later. Finally, as we got off the train, I insisted that we stay in touch. I gave her my number and she duly took it down. My number had an extra '0' in it and she jotted it on piece of scrap paper.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Absurbia 3

Dog in the cricket ground
God doing the ticket rounds
Man is not allowed.
But you've let a dog. Into the cricket ground.


Nonsense, I know. Post your silly version in the comment box. Anything goes, really.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A quick tale 192

When something bright caught his eye

This is the story of a man who is out one morning on a leisurely jog. Now, at first glance he is not the sort of man who is likely to be out jogging. Or indeed the second or the third glance. Which is why, the man is out-of-breath five or six minutes into his jog and he leans against a pillar to regain his breath. Which is when it catches his eye. Something small and shiny and no bigger than a coin. Which indeed it was. A 5p coin. His lucky penny. With somewhat considerable effort, the man bends down and picked the coin up. This is a sign, he's convinced. Why else would it reveal itself to him? There must be a reason why he stopped mid-jog at that precise spot. And that reason is nestled in his plump palm. May be the coin meant that he would bag the order that was pending for a month. Perhaps that bargain plasma tv that he was bidding for on ebay would be his. His mind is buzzing with possibilities when it occurs to him that he was already quite lucky. A wonderful family, two holidays a year, regular pay rises, a mortgage that will be paid off in 6 short years. In fact, except for a mild case of alopecia and that bit of extra weight he was carrying around his stomach, he has very few complaints. The man hated it when such perfectly reasonable thoughts interrupt his mild euphoria (he was the kind of person who, for no apparent reason, remembered dying children in Darfur while watching Lewis Hamilton celebrate at the podium). So with a sigh the man tosses the coin back into dusty sidewalk. For someone less lucky to find it. He just hopes they weren't bidding for the same plasma tv.

Collectibles

Yet another new series! Here's how this one works. I ask a question and you write in with your honest answer. And we make a collection of it. May be even move it to its own blog. Okay, here goes.

1. When do you go, 'How many times have I told him/her? When will this man/woman ever learn?'