Why Tamils fight for Jallikattu

The next time you take your dog for a walk and he goes bounding up to the neighbourhood aunty don’t yank him by his chain, you cruel moron. You’ll choke him, you’ll hurt him. Reason it out with him. The aunty shouldn’t mind a tiny bite. My mother likes to create a platter everyday for the crows and pigeons that visit our terrace. She keeps aside a portion of the day’s tiffen – idli or dosai or upma, the malai from the day’s milk and few biscuits and sets them up in a plate on the terrace. “Stop feeding them your upma. I am not answering PETA if those crows and pigeons suffer from an upset stomach. You are morally responsible.” As I write this, thousands of my fellow tamils are sitting in Chennai’s Marina beach, Alanganallur, Coimbatore, Salem, all over TamilNadu and across several countries, unrelenting in their demand to revive Jallikattu while national media and newspapers reluctantly turn their gaze on the third day to protests they distantly refer to as “an ancient bull-taming sport”. They conduct panel discussions usually comprising of a couple of socialite women who’ve never walked their dog and have therefore not had to hurt them, a lone passionate Tamil person who they cut short every time he is about to make a point and an advocate or historian to spew facts/laws. The non-Tamil news anchor doesn’t understand why the entire state is up in arms favouring this cruel sport. The rest of the panellists beat up the lone passionate Tamil person from what they perceive as their moral high ground.   This in essence is what the protestors are fighting. It is the fact that people who are far-removed from the state and the sport, who are uncomfortable with the sport, can do away with the sport that was being held for hundreds of years. Just like that. And call tamils “emotional”. If this isn’t fascism I don’t know what is. To decree that everyone should be like them is the most violent form of fascism. I am against any group that calls itself an advocacy group (including PETA). I don’t want anyone advocating anything to me. It’s easy to eliminate an un-organized sport, a farmer’s sport that happens only in villages with no sponsors, teams and bids. “Play cricket, hockey or chess like the rest of us.” One particular animal activist comments...

Summer plans

The heat is on in Chennai. I am feeling thirsty all day, every day. I am craving tall glasses of chilled fruit juices but I don’t want to pick out seeds, strain the pulp and wash all these dishes for a single glass of juice. I will also complain that juice shops charge exorbitant rates for a single glass of juice. And I just can’t seem to resist Watermelon juice and Jagan beer. Don’t worry. This is not a recipe post for Watermelon juice. It is not a recipe post because Vitamix, Hamilton and Kitchenaid and even Preethi mixie said they don’t want to sponsor this post. And I trust you my readers to chop up the watermelon, discard the green pith and blend the chopped watermelon to a juice. Promise me you won’t go wrong. Also since many of you told me you look forward to my stories more than my recipes, I decided to skip the watermelon juice recipe this time. I have big plans and bigger dilemmas come summer. I have a long list of vadams and pickles that I plan to make on my weekend dates with mambalam maami friends that I need someone to organize for me. I try to get out of calling people. I am not social enough. Before that I need to go shopping for the maa vadus (tiny tender mangoes) and ingredients. I need to make lists. Every time I look at the lovely low hanging mangoes in our terrace, I remind myself I need to go buy some maa vadu. I have two Hattori/Motu Patlu binge watchers at home that I need to keep from scraping their already battered knees doing cycle races through their very own dirt track over the siphon, into the puddle and through the mud track between the road and the pavement. I need to keep them away from the TV, away from all the smartphones in the house; pins and passcodes of all of which they have memorized. I need to keep them from razing all the crayons down to wax powder, from drawing on the newly painted walls, from raiding the cookie boxes and feeding the extras to crows, from drenching themselves under the garden tap, from bringing the garden into the house, from cooking their leaves and dirt curry in my non-stick kadai, from coating the living room floor in biscuit crumbs, sticky...

Chennai – Namme ooru pole varuma!

The frogs are getting too loud. I eye the long handled mop I’ve kept near the door to make sure I know exactly where it is when I need to grab it and clobber the snake that I’d seen earlier in the night slithering through the water outside our gate pausing to turn and wolf down a frog before gliding under my car parked outside, if it decides to return. I am terribly fortunate. I have electricity and internet, my phone is charged, I have clean drinking water and food and the frogs and snakes are still OUTSIDE my home. I am thankful. And I am terribly proud of this city and its people. Rains will no longer conjure up images of hot bajjis and pakodas, long drives or rain songs on radio. It will be a long time before rains would be #romantic or #awesome. Over the last couple of weeks, Chennai, the rain loving little city has seen nothing but rains, unrelenting rains that have battered the city, wrecked the roads, filled up canals, reservoirs, broken walls and flooded roads and houses. We never expected it would come to this. We never thought we’d have to travel by boats on our roads. We never thought we’d go without power for days together, unable to reach family and friends, that we’d need relief, that we’d be marking ourselves safe on facebook. These were things that happened to far off lands, never to Chennai. So we thought. We have seen nothing like this ever before. But these rains have brought to the fore this strange, most beautiful thing. I am getting all choked up. I am shocked and choked. People have been cooking extra meals for strangers, venturing out on to water logged roads driving over to donate things, passing on important and useful information on social media, connecting people through, welcoming people into their homes and caring for each other.     We have seen nothing like this ever before. I always had a strong unexplainable gravitation to my city. I had to always come back. This was my land. My gravitation has only got stronger. I am pretty sure it’ll take more than these floods to make me or any of my fellow Chennaivasis budge from this city. I can hear my sister say “When you have power, internet and TV, you bloody well won’t feel like moving your fat...

George Town – Part II

I am yet to schlep over to George Town for those pictures that I promised in Part I. But I couldn’t wait any longer to post part II. The all-consuming daily grind of work, e-mails, kids, cooking and cleaning leaves me no time for anything else. Forget driving over to George Town, I’ve not had a pedicure in months, I’ve been paying late fees on my credit card bills for 2 consecutive months (I can never remember the payment due dates) and our room looks like a railway platform (a box of toys and random junk here, handbag there, laptop bag on the side, random bags strewn around). I’ll hopefully have those pictures within a month. Before that, here’s more about this great old place. While you are in George Town, do visit the neighbouring streets as well. Kasi chetty street has lots of imported stuff, gift articles and party supplies (streamers, plastic toys etc). If you are into imitation jewellery, Narayana Mudali street is the place to be. I don’t have first-hand experience of this but many of my friends claim to have saved enormous sums by buying here.  Anderson street has a series of wedding invitation shops and paper shops. I once scoured the entire street looking for colourful designed envelopes but I couldn’t find any. They had only the standard white envelopes and a few plain pastel coloured envelopes. Nothing fancy. It’s not just shopping in Sowcarpet. But it’s mostly shopping. There was one lone theatre in the entire area – Select Talkies. Remember theatres of those days? Dirty paan stained corners, grainy ice-cream & soggy pop-corn. Well, Select Talkies was pretty much the average (below average actually) dirty theatre. Thankfully it closed down long back while we were still there. Other places worth visiting are the Kandhaswamy temple and Bairagimadam temple. I loved visiting Kandhaswamy temple when I was a kid. There was this huge tank in front of the temple filled with water and lots of tiny fishes. You could feed pori (puffed rice) to these fishes and there were vendors sitting there selling puffed rice just for this purpose. There are wholesale stainless steel shops near the temple. If you are looking to buy stainless steel dabbas in large numbers for wedding favours, party favours or items to outfit your own kitchen (on my wishlist are steel thali plates, small sambar bucket like Mani...

Sale at Poppat Jamal

Colourful Melamine bowls – ching cha There’s a sale on at Poppat Jamal till end of this month (Dec’12). Almost every item is available at a discount. I’d always wanted to visit the store but never got around to it. When I finally manage to, there is a sale. How about that? I am never lucky at these kinds of things, I always buy at lifestyle one week before the big sale (when I do visit during the sale, what I pick doesn’t carry a discount), I buy gold when it is at its peak and I never ever get a parking spot in a crowded shopping area. So I reckoned that god was willing me to cook away. It’s a wonderful store for cooking/entertaining enthusiasts – classy chinaware, sizzler plates, baking essentials like pans/cookie sheets, entire dinner sets, kitchen appliances like ovens & juicers and lots of other stuff that I couldn’t take in in the short time I was there. I went with my husband who usually does his hustling routine after the first 10-15 minutes. I couldn’t resist buying those colourful melamine bowls, they’re so cheery and a few baking pans. I also liked the little copper bowls and miniature kadais (like you have in Karaikudi restaurant). It would be on my next shopping list (as if I carry one) meaning I’ll buy later when I make a good enough family acclaimed chettinad curry.

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