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.


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.

A Year Ago – Today

It’s been a year – a year of increasing distances, lessening pain, and fading memories. I haven’t gone to the house since the last time I saw you. For the most part, it was you who kept me away. I know that’s a terrible thing to say, but I wish I’d said it before. The house is empty now, and I’m afraid it can’t be filled up again, no matter how many people crowd into it. And so I let the distance grow; didn’t make an effort to come down and see the familiar places and faces – all but one. I couldn’t stand thinking about that “but one,” still can’t.

But here we are, a year later. And still the memory of your tired, worn face is as clear as it was just moments after you went away. No matter how many times I try to replace that face with one where you are smiling your mischievous smile, it just does not work. And I am transported, once more, to the day I saw you for the last time, and realized that there are so many things always left unsaid. So many wishes not granted. So many thoughts that never got put into action…all transforming themselves into a cluster of deep, pointless regrets.

Someone’s role in your life never seems to be more about those insignificant details until you know for sure that those details are not going to be added to. And then, holding on to those same details feel like holding on to a fistful of sand: that always find a way out from between your clenched fingers. And now I’m trying to find that elusive comfort of good memories to wrap around myself, a shield that will protect me when I next meet the one person who felt your abandonment the most, who is stoically waiting now. For time.

In the meantime, so many things have happened. I wonder how many times you wondered about time flying too fast for you to be able to keep up. There’s things I would’ve wanted you to be part of this past year, things I would’ve told you just to get your opinion on it, and things that would have made you laugh and playfully hit me or scold me. There’s also things I wouldn’t have told you in words but would have discussed with you at length in my mind, knowing that if you knew, you would soothe my worries and anxiety, and take them on yourself.

It’s been a year, and not all of the pain has gone. And though I’ve never told you this before, I miss you.

When Opportunity Knocks :)

“Mike testing check check 1 2 3″…*drums start up* and then without any warning at all… “MAAMBHAZHAMAA MAAMBHAZHAM MALKOOVA MAAMBHAZHAM SEELATHU MAAMBHAZAM NEETHANADI.….” The volume steadily increases; they are moving down our street toward our building. I see opportunity in this headache inducing thing(??), whip out my phone, and make an audio recording of it. I’ve been having some trouble waking up in the morning. This should definitely work as an alarm tone. I get about a minutes worth before they’ve passed our building and, thankfully, are well on their way down the street.


Everytime i see it, i think i’ll blog it, but then i forget. But i saw it again this afternoon, when i walked out of the building for lunch. No, no, it was just a car. You know how cars sometimes have some stuff written at the back? Most are just names, of children (presumably) or deities, some are cool or, to use a term coined by a friend, 9k gang names like KatSnatchers or ToumbRaiders or something and a few are “witticisms”(most of which of course plop quite sadly to the side of the road). But there’s a car in our office parking lot that always makes me smile when i read what’s written on it. Nothing overly brilliant, just a slightly different flavour. It says…

Jesus loves you

But I’m his favourite!