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Monday, April 28, 2014

Surviving the Lenten Season.

On Ash Wednesday, March 5th started the Lenten season, and ended on Easter, April 20th. This was a time of vegetarianism, a time of stifling temptation and persistent fight against the non-vegetarian demons trying to lure me into chicken biryani. The ‘demons’ are basically my family members, yes, thank you very much.

Lenten season had been a challenging one for me. My hubby does not believe in any season or day that stops him from eating non vegetarian food. My toddler is yet to come to terms with the fact that food can actually exist without meat in it. So I was basically caught between two hard core carnivores during Lenten season. Usually I have no problems surviving it, but this time it was different. Each day I had to listen to mini lectures about how faith is good but there is no hard and fast rule that you should avoid non vegetarian food during Lenten season. My mother called me and said that she skipped church and is going to a Muslim wedding instead because…Mutton Biryani, baby! Basically I dint have anyone including elders in the family for spiritual support during this time.

However there are some people who follow Lent and then act like they are being crucified as well. That they are following Lent is shouted from the rooftop and showcased as an act of spiritual publicity. We all have that friend who is desperate to show that she is religious by propagating faith through social media. Living the faith is different, so I completely despise the hypocrites who err more than any other, yet share religious quotes on facebook.  

Lenten Season does not give me liberty from household duties, so cook non vegetarian, I must. Otherwise the resident carnivores may be pissed and that is the last thing I ever want to happen. Basically they are not so demanding. One non vegetarian side dish and everyone sleeps happily. My only side dish for a month had been Al Marai yoghurt, and by consuming just that for over 40 days I am so bursting with calcium right now that I can almost hear it.  

After the long wait of what felt like ages, came Easter day. The day of resurrection and sanctity. And for us foodie Christians, it is also called the day celebrating the victory of meat over vegetables. Christians all over the world eat like crazy on that day. For us Mallus, the day begins with Appam and stew (mostly beef). And by noon we treat ourselves to such a feast that whatever was missed for the preceding forty plus days would be evened out. By evening, it becomes impossible for us to move. That’s when we clumsily laze around the couch and watch movies back to back. 
Ah the joy of Easter!
Beef stew.

For anyone who wonders what Lent season is, I will embark on giving you a small idea. 

Lenten Season is the period from Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, to Easter, calculated to be 46 days. Lenten Season is a period of preparation for Easter, along with remembrance of Palm Sunday, Last Supper and death of Christ on the cross. So Christians usually follow some spiritual discipline that includes fasting prayers and vegetarianism marking the Holiness of the period and to mirror Christ and how He resisted temptation, endured and defeated suffering. This is something that is instilled within us as children and Christians of different denominations have their own way of observing Lent.  

Like I told you, when we give up something we love most it has got to be food. And that is how vegetarianism continues to be the most common Lent practice. Some people even give up alcohol and smoking too, but you don’t see them in public ;-)

Easter was a blessed one for us, our families and friends as well. It was great on our tummies too!  And unlike the last 40 days, hens will continue to be pepper chicken and cows, beef ularthiyathu like they always have been. 

Image Courtesy:Google Images (for the first Lent poster)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The 'Gelf' Malayalee.

Everyone knows Nancy, who writes at Reflections. Mom of two, exuberant and perpetually young at heart, all her loyal followers knows the names and hobbies of her beautiful daughters like their own. For example she could write about a simple power cut in her home so interestingly, that by the end of it you’d realize that power cuts are actually fun. She turns around any situation into a party. Each and every post of hers has left me smiling and feeling better. After some persuasion, I got her to write a guest post on my blog. Yay! She was busier than a bee all these days due to personal reasons, which I hope she will put it up on her blog soon, but she remembered my request . Thank You Nancy !

 I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did… !

The Gelf Malayalee!

In the 1970’s & 80’s a tiny state in South India witnessed a mass migration of its people to the gulf countries. The discovery of oil and shortage of man-power in the gulf was like a prayer answered for  many young men faced with bleak job prospects in their home country.
Every man took whatever job he got, worked hard and sent home almost all the money he earned to pay up debts, to educate and to marry his siblings off into good families. After a decade or so the family woke up to the fact that he was also unmarried and scurried around to find him a suitable girl. They got him married to a nurse/pharmacist/physiotherapist[select any one] and sent both back to the desert. Both husband and wife worked day/night shifts, scrimped & saved to educate their children + send money to their folks back home, all the while aware that they were better off than many of their countrymen.

The way the post is moving you can be forgiven for thinking I’m kind of glorifying the Gulf Malayalees’[GM] achievements. Seriously I’m not. Oh all right maybe a little. But my post is not about their trials and tribulations in foreign land….it is about a few traits all the Malayalees living in the Gulf share whether they like to admit it or not;-).

#So jumping right in, let’s start with food…..the Gulf Malayalee’s eating habits did not undergo any major transformation because he was living in the Middle East[ME]. Rice and the usual curries were made in his kitchen as traditionally as it was made in his tharavad[family home]. His only weakness was Kentucky Fried Chicken. He never, ever got fed up of it. He ordered it for birthdays, anniversaries, when guests dropped in, for farewell parties, in fact he is even known to carry KFC home when he went on annual leave. The next time you travel in a plane from UAE/Qatar/ Kuwait/ Bahrain/Saudi to Kerala and happen to smell KFC, remember you heard it from me first;-).

# As soon as the GM got his residence visa stamped, his first priority was to get a driving license. His first car was a sturdy, practical model because at that point owning a car itself was a huge achievement.  But as time passed he unconsciously nursed a secret desire in his heart. In his eyes the ultimate status symbol was a Mercedes, which of course was way beyond his means. So he did the next best thing. He bought a second-hand Mercedes and proudly drove it around till the end of his stay in the ME. Not much has changed even today…..his children who are all grown up now have a thing for 4 wheel drives mainly Prado & Range rovers.

# Another dream the GM worked hard to achieve was his ‘own’ house back in his home country. He lived frugally and saved hard to make this dream come true. No matter what his job in the ME, the house he built for himself came under the category of mansions. It would have a huge hall, 3-4 bedrooms with ‘attached’ bathrooms & 2 or 3 kitchens depending on his means. Not to forget all the light fittings, plumbing material and sofa/bedroom sets he carefully cargoes in from the Gulf. Now for the saddest part…..this house would remain unused for the better part of the GM’s life. By the time he decides to go back to live there for good, his children would have settled down elsewhere leaving him & wife to use just 1 bedroom & kitchen with the rest of the house shut off to avoid further wear and tear.

#Another peculiar quirk of the GM…….he talks nostalgically of his hometown every chance he gets; how he climbed trees, bathed in rivers, walked 8 kms to school every day, how his home town was the best and how he yearned to go back. But that’s all he does….he just talks. When it comes right down to it he delays his going back using every excuse he can find. Simply put, he is afraid to give up this comfortable life and start all over again. But he’ll never, ever admit this, not even to himself.
Other regular quirks associated with GMs’…

# At any given point he’ll boast about the number of visas he has taken for others and how they prospered because….only because he took their visa and made their life.
#The GM’s luggage when he went home for vacation was sure to contain among other things huge tins of Nido, Tang, Galaxy Chocolates, Reynolds pens, Fa Soap, Nivea cream, Yardley Powder, Axe Oil and countless bottles of Tiger Balm to distribute among relatives, friends, neighbors, the church priest, the village doctor, the midwife who helped bring him into the world…..the list is endless.

# Unless he was a professional, nobody back home knew what exactly he worked in the Gulf as…..he could be an office boy, carpenter or a delivery boy slaving day & night for his Arab boss but when he went home on annual leave he wore a gold chain thick as a rope around his neck, a gold bracelet adorned his wrist and heavy rings on his fingers that everybody assumed he had a great job in the gulf.

# Before the Gulf Malayalee goes back to his home country for good, he makes sure by fair means or foul his children too are well-settled in the same place he made his life. It’s another story that the children are eyeing US, Canada and even India[something GM parents simply cannot comprehend] to settle down…

Like I said, that’s another story.

Does anybody want to agree/add value/defend the subject of the post???

Anybody who knows a Gulf Kashmiri/Gujarati/Bengali/Tamilian can also give their take:-).

[This Gelf Malayalee claims to be no expert on the subject and writes[tongue-in-cheek] based solely on personal experiences & hearsay.]

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Three years an Ambivert.

Dictionary sends me a new word and its possible meanings each day to my inbox. Most of which obviously I dint know existed, because otherwise you would have seen them extensively splashed across this blog. Today they sent me a word, ambivert.
According to dictionary, Ambivert is one whose personality type is intermediate between introvert and extrovert. As soon as I read it, I knew I was one.

Basically, I am not an introvert. I do not sulk in a corner of a party hall. I do not stew in my worries or success. However, at the same party if someone asks me to dance I may need a diaper. And that, my friend, is a quality of an ambivert. If you think about it, most of us are. Remember our teachers? They scream and yell at us all year. And the day our parents are called for the meeting at school, they are all sweet and extremely well behaved, and our parents are like ‘ You better stop talking about your teacher like that…she is a female version of Swami Vivekananda …just look at her!’ and there she is, saree clad with a halo circling around her head. On other days when she yells the saliva droplets travel at the speed of light to reach the backbencher’s nose, and there are fumes instead of the halo. So she is the best example of an ambivert. It can also be technically defined as- intelligent situational smartness or the lack of it.

We, ambiverts, are basically the convertible type. I mean, when we encounter negative criticism, we transform ourselves into extroverts. Whereas when there is a general knowledge quiz, we are introverts, or even invisible! We are completely flexible and this does not mean that we have no character or backbone; it just that we are chameleons in human form, newly christened as ambiverts! 

My almost-three-year-old was an introvert until he was one and a half. He would sit on my lap, wishing that nobody looked at him or pulled his cheeks. Later he became an extrovert. He would just walk into parties and transform into a tiny party animal. He wouldn't even turn to check if we were still around. Now he is almost three, and is in nursery. His teacher tells me, ‘He is so cute he doesn't even cry or yell over here’ and our neighbors say ‘what a cute little guy you've got.. We don’t even get to hear his voice…he is the silent type isn't he? You are so lucky!’ My husband and I are completely speechless at this stage and we just pretend to agree as our eardrums are already partially damaged by the person in question.
My sunglass is now in three pieces, most of my hair pulled out from its roots, the furniture broken at the ends, torn, spat on or scratched, you wouldn't believe that our walls were once white, some dresses have chocolate/sketch pen marks that refuses to go, and when he hangs from the sofa headrest upside down (that is how he watches TV), he gives me a feeling that he was Mowgli in his previous life. My eardrums are insensitive to smaller sounds now, as when he is a fraction of a millimeter away from me he yells ‘Ammeey’ into my ear which I could have heard had I been in space.

 But at parties, he is the kind of boy anybody would love to pamper and cuddle with. He puts up this innocent look and angelic smile, the combination that floors many female toddlers. And by ‘floors’ I meant, that when nobody is looking it is possible he could literally FLOOR them. That is how one displays the quality of being an ambivert. 

There is another word called antevert. According to the dictionary, it is a verb used ‘to displace (the uterus or other body organ) by tipping forward.It was when he tried to antevert me that I ended up in the labor room.

Image Courtesy:Google images.

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