If you are Indian, you’ll probably wonder why this, of all things, deserves a blog post. Well, I’m feeling nostalgic. And when you are feeling nostalgic, there’re very few dishes that will transport you to some part of childhood like this one. For me, its train journeys, as may be evident from the way it is referred to in our house: Station Alu. Puri with potato or Alu Masala was something we got when we were on our oftentimes-longer-than-24-hrs train journey from wherever to our “native place” Kerala. As kids, we rarely ate this combination anywhere else but in trains; at most in those train station restaurants. Mostly because the alternatives (Dosas or Bread-Omelets served with suspect-looking chutneys or ketchups) looked distinctly less attractive, and also because, Puri.

Puri was a family favorite. It was a family tradition – Sunday breakfast was always Puri unless extenuating circumstances (like not being at home because of vacations or social events) prevented its making. But, at home, we always had it with Chole or Rajma. The literally handful of times my folks made Puri with Station Alu, my brother and I frowned and grumbled through the entire meal. Station Alu was a compromise, one we were willing to make in a combination involving Rotis (again, because alternatives. In an effort to make us eat all vegetables, my folks invented some pretty ghastly dishes. For example: there was one thing they called “Red Kootan,” meaning red gravy, that was an unholy  combination of potato, carrot, and beetroot, and optional ingredients, peas and beans). Puri-Chole and Puri-Rajma were sacred combinations, not to be messed with. There are several stories in our family around this combination, including one oft-repeated legend of a 6-year-old me eating 18 Puris and a substantial amount of Chole that my mom had packed for me and my friends, by myself.


Puri-Station Alu, ahem, Puri-Masala is a more regular component of S’s childhood. While it wasn’t a family tradition like our Sunday breakfasts, it was still one of those special dishes that they looked forward to as kids. He would make what he calls “Puri dogs” and consume them by the dozens. Which is a lot if you consider the size of the Puris his mom makes – slightly bigger than your average hotel Puris. He still eats them like that at home actually, because its fun and because why the hell not.

Of course, with all this Puri in her parents blood, there is no way the love of them has escaped A. She is puri tarah se mad about Puris! (See what I did there? Hyuk hyuk) As much as love eating them by the 1.5 dozens, I’m not very fond of making Puris at home. There are a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is my level of skill at making them. We shall not get into those now. Instead, we shall focus on the fact that I did make Puri-Masala tonight. A ate more than she usual would, because Puri. S enjoyed some Puri dogs inhibitions-free. And I sat sniffling (because unexpectedly spicy green chillies ok!) reliving some memories and thinking this could be a blog post.


One more drink

Could go either way.
It could make you grin
Or have you grimace.
It may make you want to
Never take your eyes off these words,
Or off me;
Or make you want to unsee,
Unread, and unknow things.
Might have you laughing
unexpectedly, all tears of mirth,
Or make you wonder
When and how the mood changed,
Either way, it would change things
From the way they are, maybe even
The way they are meant to be.
And you may sometimes think
Change could be favourable, even
Promising, all good things; though really
There is no way to know for sure.

When She’s Away

Thunks of toys on the floor;
Sound of her walking on tip-toe;
Conversations with bears and dolls over
Castles with lots of rooms and gardens,
And bedtimes and baths and cherry buns;
Singing, lots of singing,
To herself, to me, to the universe,
Then a bit more for me,
Claps of glee and stomps of anger, a tantrum,
A smile slipping through a frown,
Followed by giggles;
Some dancing to my tunes,
Some to her own;
And a lot more singing,
All of it from the heart.

Untitled 5

Let me drink your tears,
Your bitter, angry tears,
As they flow down your neck,
Before they pool in that little space
At the base of your throat.

Let me drink the tears
Of fear and frustration,
That fall on your shoulders
And seem to weigh you down.

I’ll drink those too
That stop at your lips,
So you don’t also taste
The sorrow and regret
You feel in your soul.

I will not stop you.
I will not say those words
Of reassurance, made meaningless
By the depth of your loss.
You need to cry.

But I will drink your tears,
Take them away,
And make some of what you feel, mine.


He Slept Through It All



“Cake and what? I didn’t hear the last bit…”

“Aargh! Will you just come out of there?!” The angel was really not used to all this stooping. “This is ridiculous! I’m too tall for this…bending and stooping…to look under the bed!” She muttered to herself.

“Err…I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I can’t anyway. I’m, how do you say, allergic, to light,” the monster replied, trying not to sound apologetic.

“What? It is still night. No light out here. Look, we don’t have time. Either you get out on your own, or I pull you out.”

“Yeah, but you folks glow, so…”

“Ugh! Fine, hold on.” The angel snapped her fingers and a moment later her brilliant flowing robes turned a deep maroon like a rich curtain falling in front of a bright movie screen. “Now can you come out?”

After a few minutes, and considerable shuffling and grunting and scratching, the monster finally appeared from under the bed. The angel had never seen a monster before. He was squarer than square, with hands and feet sticking out directly from his torso, it seemed like. His long dirty nails were a tangled mess, with bits of threads and bedding stuck between then. “That explains the scratching sounds,” the angel thought to herself. And there was like a greenish…aura, for lack of a better word, around him.

“You know, it’s rude to stare,” the monster said, looking a little abashed.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve never met a…err…one of you before,” she said, “Anyway, we don’t have much time. As you can see, the child has been taken.”

“Oh! That’s what you were saying – “Taken.” I was wondering what was with all the cake…Hold on, wait – you mean, you lost the kid?! But that’s your one and only job! Being the GUARDian angel and what not.” The monster was grinning, and picking the threads out of his nails as best he could. It annoyed the already annoyed angel.

“Not like you were successful in your duties,” she snapped.

He shook his head and tried to wag a finger. “Well, I’m only supposed to make sure they don’t walk around after being put to bed. So, technically…”

“Look, it doesn’t matter now. The point is, the kid’s been taken by the Zeigls. We need to get him back.”

“What?! You Let Aliens abduct your charge? Hahaha, this just keeps getting better and better.”

“I didn’t Let anyone do anything. And are you Actually happy about this, you…?!”

“Monster? Yeah, that’s what I am. Anyway, I don’t see why you dragged me out of there to tell me You failed at Your job. Aargh! Now I’ve got to report this…and oh! the paperwork. And here I thought angels were not supposed to be cruel.”

The angel was having a tough time trying to control the range of emotions she was feeling: anger, irritation, humiliation…“Look, please. I need your help.”

“Wait, what? Did you say you need my help? Why? You lot are as fast as thought…I’m sure that’s enough speed to catch up to the Zeigls. And then you can do your blinding light thing and…”

“That’s just it. I’m only as fast as the kid I’m with. And proximity is essential. No kid, no speed. Unlike you guys, who are, you know, independent of your charges.”

“Yes, that’s true. We are superior…”

“Different…” the angel tried to correct.

“Superior…like that,” the monster continued, “but what’s in it for me?”

“I don’t know…you’d be helping someone in need. Isn’t that reason enough?”

“Err…no. That’s a good reason Not to do it,” he shuddered and continued, “just think of all the jeering I’d have to face…”

“How about bragging rights? You’d be the monster to get closest to a child And an angel. Without getting burned or crushed or whatever it is that happens to you all when you get close to angels or children.”


The angel brightened up, “yes, yes, appeal to his vanity,” she thought to herself. “Imagine,” she said, out loud, “you’d be the greatest, most fearless, and undeniably, the most formidable…,” here, she paused and looked down at his square one-and-a-half foot form, tangled nails and all, which reminded her of a ball of yarn after a cat was done with it, more than anything else. But she saw that her words were reaching his brain, so continued bravely, “MONSTER of ALL time!”

“Hmmm, yes. That does have some appeal,” he said, “Alright, fine, what the hell. I’ll do it. I’ll help you, out of the…err…superiority of my race.”

The angel cringed. “Great! Thank you!” She said, “Alright. Here’s the plan – you take me to the Zeigls ship, and when we are close enough to the child, I should be able to sense his thoughts. Then, I can use my powers to extract him and bring him back home.”

“Sounds simple enough, except for the logistics of How I’m to take you.”

“Yes, well, I know the height difference is a bit…umm…awkward…”

“No! Not that,” the monster said, impatiently, “the problem…is not…the height difference.” And as he said that, the room filled up with green smog. When it cleared, the coughing, sputtering angel saw the square-shaped monster had transformed into a creature almost as tall as her – still greenish but nice to look at. “Almost dapper,” the angel thought.

“As I was saying…height is not the issue. It’s how to take you without getting, err, sick,” he continued, “and by the way, it’s still rude to stare.”

“Ahem. Yes, s..sorry,” the angel blushed, “well…how about if you touched the very end of my robes? Would that work?”

“I guess so,” the monster said uncertainly, looking at her flowing robes.

“Here, I could make this bit longer…,” she said, holding up one end of her sash, “as long as you wish. I mean whatever’s a comfortable length for you.”

“Alright. Let’s give it a shot.” The monster gingerly held one end of the sash with the tips of his fingers. A jolt passed through him, and the monster hoped he’d keep his dinner down. Thankfully, the feeling passed, and he felt better than he remembered.

“Are you alright?” He could hear her voice asking him, but it sounded fuzzy or hum-y – like a song.

“Yes, I think so,” he said. He was starting to feel a bit confused. “Let’s do a trial. I’ll try to take us out of the room.”

“To the roof, if you don’t mind. Don’t want to scare the parents,” the angel said.

“Of course,” the monster, agreed. “What?!” a little voice said inside his head, “why wouldn’t you want to scare the parents?! That’s what monsters do!”

He shook his head, this was getting very muddly. “Stand still,” he said to the angel. He concentrated, and closed his eyes. The air around him buzzed.


He opened his eyes. They were still standing in the kid’s room. The angel was looking at him expectantly. “Let’s try one more time.” Again he concentrated, closed his eyes. This time there were a few feeble sparks. But, no movement.

“Alright,” he sighed, “I guess you need to be closer.”

The angel inched a little closer to the monster. He shuddered; he felt weaker and stronger at the same time. “We don’t have much time left,” he could hear her saying, or singing. Everything sounded like singing all of a sudden! And that irked him and made him feel good.

He’d never be able to explain what he did next, not even to himself. In a second, he was standing beside her. “Just don’t start glowing,” he said to her as the air around them started crackling. His fingertips touched hers, and then, in a flash, they disappeared.

The angel felt dizzy and then everything, including her thoughts, turned black. She fought through and slowly the darkness started to fade. When her mind finally cleared she found herself, complete with glowing robes, floating in space. She could see the Zeigls ship a little distance away, and more importantly, feel the boy’s dreams. “Good, he’s still sleeping,” she thought to herself, “but where’s the m…”

She turned around to find the monster, as though thrown away from her, face and body contorted with pain. She realized it was her robes, and instantly turned them maroon. She went as close as she dared to the monster, “Are you ok? How can I help?”

“A little better now you stopped glowing,” he said irritably, “gah! It’s the one thing I asked you NOT to do!”

“I’m so sorry,” she said, “sometimes it’s involuntary.” She felt really terrible. He seemed to be in a lot of pain. She wanted to do something to help, but didn’t know what.

He gurgled something. She leaned closer, “Sorry, didn’t catch that. What?”

“Ugh! Didn’t you say something about time running out?” he snapped, with some effort.

“Oh! Yes, of course! I’ll go get the boy.”

“Yes, go!” he muttered, as she flew towards the ship, “Give me some space.” He heaved a sigh. She was now out of sight. “Those Zeigls don’t know what they are in for,” he thought. Then he gathered his scattered, confused thoughts and screamed. As he screamed, he felt strength spread through his limbs, healing his body, toughening his muscles, extending out of his fingertips to form razor-sharp talons; till he was his full glorious self – a monster to fear.

When the angel returned carrying the sleeping boy, instead of the crumpled heap she had left, she found the almost-dapper monster floating about lazily as though on a hammock, whistling a tune, or something that sounded like a tune.

“Took you long enough,” he grinned, “Shall we back to bed then?” And before she could respond, he took her hand and flashed back into the boy’s room.

“Don’t drop him now,” she heard him say through her disorientation, and she just knew he had that obnoxious grin on his face.

She put the boy back in bed gently, pulled the covers over his arms. She turned to look at the monster, now standing a respectful distance away from her.

“Thank you,” she said quietly, and smiled.

“Oh no, thank You for screwing up at your job. Or I never would’ve had this adventure,” he said in a way that grated on her nerves.

Still, she smiled. “Happy to help in any way.”

They stood there for a minute in silence, looking at the boy. He’d, incredibly, slept through the whole thing. Probably thought it was some amazing dream. Both the monster and the angel, in their own minds, thought about how this sound sleeper had changed everything without doing anything.

“My name is Gwoirah,” the angel said, “My friends call me Goopy.”

The monster sniggered. “Goopy.”

“Moanclaw,” he said, a moment later, “I’m Moanclaw. So I guess back to work then?”

“Yes, I suppose so,” Gwoirah said, as the room began filling with green smog.

When it cleared, she found the squat, square, awkward-looking monster standing at the end of the bed.

“What? Work clothes,” he said, “you know, you really need to stop staring.”

“Yes, of course. Sorry, Moanclaw. Will work on that,” she said.

“Also, yeah…ermm…my friends call me Moopy,” he said, and shuffled on under the bed.

Gwoirah smiled. “They’re not so bad,” she thought to herself as she drifted away.


In response to this prompt.