Monday, March 02, 2009

Calling 0091...

I wanted the next article on this blog to be an analytical comparison between the UTSW grad school and TIFR. The article is on its way guys... Someday!
But then I want to beat my chest in public. I want to shout out how much I miss India. It isn't just about missing home. It's a LOT more. Somehow evry sense feels deprived
I miss being in an Indian environment. The people speaking a familiar language (Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Bangla...). Discussing a familiar sport : Cricket! (People I've met here think that cricket is still a five day game). People in a bustling hurry to get to work. Chatting up with the sweeper about how his kids are doing at school. Randomly conversing with passengers in a train about how Manmohan Singh is Mrs Gandhi's puppet; the virtues Rabindra sangeet; (in Marathi) about how the Bhaiyyas (which includes me, I guess they didn't realise) are the canker of Mumbai; to North Indians about how this a free country and merit gets rewarded; how Dalit muscle flexing muscles will make mediocrity pervasive; how to this day a Chamar won't be a given a glass of water in villages everywhere; Katrina ka thhumka in RACE, Salman being a c#$%^a with Aishwarya, Abhishek Bacchan's lack of expressions in Sarkar Raj.... all of this in languages that form my thoughts, flesh and blood. I miss them pouring into my ears.
I miss seeing all the aunties getting together and gossipping about Mrs Chandrashekhar's engineer son starting with a pay pack of 12 lakhs and wondering why Mrs Chaturvedi's son went in for a BSc ("... JUST a BSc I tell you!"). And the uncles sitting down to discuss how the new Vice chancellor's policy might just screw us over! And the very sight of a full family, with the kid wailing to run away and the mother holding on absent mindedly. Although to be fair, the Hispanics here make up for that sight! There is always a small herd of them around the corner. Probably it's the food. American cuisine has few highlights. Mexican food is rich in flavour. Mexican food keeps the kids close to Mommy.
The food works on me too! I TERRIBLY miss the food. Eveything looks big and barely has taste. Indian banannas are so much sweeter than the yellow tree stumps from the banana republics. Where is the desi tamatar? One gets Brazillian mangoes that may as well be avocadoes. I'll say it again! Nothing beats Amma's cooking. I don't have to speak of the special dishes like Jhor Bhaat, Kadhi Chaval, Dahi Bade, Chhole, Rajma, Gadd, Kheer, Panjeeri, Gujiya... The simple Arhar, Chane (esp with the skin), Masoor, Urad (both UP and Bengali variants) ki daalein, with Lauki, bhindi, karela (sukhe and bharma), baingan (sukhe and bharma), kaddu, gobhi alu, palak, patta gobhi, kheere/tamatar ka rayata, Aalu tamatar/Arbi ka rasa (with sev and Chaubeyji ka masala), and hot, soft rotis rollng with Ghee, or thin and crsip parathhas are to die for. Even the snacks at the stalls like vada paav, uppeet, utappa, butter masala dosa had a memorable flavour. I used to think that the puri bhaji Pancham Puri near CST, Mumbai was a far cry from good food. And then I paid fifty times as much for almost the same stuff, at Taj Chat House in Dallas and the flavour was not even close. You're curious. Why I don't cook myself then? The truth is I do. I pay exquisite attention to cooking a nourshing vegetarian diet. But it tastes like cattlefeed!
There is magic in tapri chaay. Ganesh, my classmate here, and I often think of prospects of starting a small tea stall by the bus stop! I'm sure I'll attract the Desi public. Tapri chaays all over the country have three things in common : they are brown, liquid and magical. There flavours and aromas vary all over the country. They vary from college to college, Univ to Univ, train to train, square to square and city to city. The Rs1 - Rs5 glass of warmth works magic with every sip. Memories with friends over this cup of tea are happy and undying. Somehow the chaay experience is so deeply linked with friendship, relaxation, jokes... the good times!

I think I've made this sound as if I have nothing to appreciate about this land. There is tonnes actually. The work ethic, landscapes, the cars, traffic rules... So much so that it'll be a whole new blog entry someother time. I just miss home. I'm not the first one to do it! Everyone at home sleep well. I envy you. :)