…The Musings of a Strange Guy

Blazing Sun outside…

But I wouldn’t trust it a single second. I’ve tried to stick out my head as far as possible (believe me, with bars, it’s quite a feat!) through the window and I can still sense that evil, little breeze lurking around there, waiting for me to come out in order to give me a realllllllyyyyyyyyy bad surprise. But we’ll see.

Hmm, I went to sleep at 4.30 am. Gods, I kept saying to everyone I met online yesterday and early morning today that I was going to sleep…but instead stayed up..I spent some time listening to the rare few Sanskrit mp3s still on hard disk; I did some cleaning (Ok…madness is not far); I folded some of my washed clothes into neat piles which have now been relegated to the depthless limbo of my wardrobe..I’ve put some clothes to wash as well…I read some LJ entries by friends and community posters; I read some pages from a book, I spent quite a lot of time fiddling with the filters and plug-ins in Photoshop and so on…

In the meantime, back in Mauritius, my people were already up, and had gone to the temple for the prayers and the traditional reading of the horoscope. I just realised how I’m unconsciously replicating years of habit: getting up early, cleaning up; getting into the proper spirit of what this new year signifies. Had I been still at home, by now I would have already strung mango leaves at every doorway (the toranalu, as it is called), to welcome the spring (ironic, when Mauritius has only summer and winter; but heh :p)and the new year in. I would have helped clean the yard; I could have prepared the paraphernalia necessary for the morning prayers as well as the prayers at the temple. I would have helped my mom cook the traditional cakes and savouries. I would have gone to my uncle’s house next door and my grandma’s house in front to wish them a happy new year. At the temple, I would have listened to the acharya/priest recite the various mantras and afterwards the traditional horoscope (which I rarely pay heed to, anyway). I would have taste the Ugaadi Pacchadi*, a sort of chutney/paste all Telugus take on that day. It is a mixture of 6 different tastes, ranging from the sweet, to the tangy to the salty and the acid. It is meant to show that each year brings in its lot of happiness and sorrow; negatives and positives…and the lesson is that we should show equanimity towards both…

But I don’t really feel like I’m missing anything while I am here. Rites and rituals will go on, but they won’t mean anything until I, as individual, connect my life with the significance of these rituals. And when you see the inner picture, you can either participate in those rituals with renewed interest and increased enthusiasm or simply do without them because they are merely tools to direct one on the right way..

My parents are now back from the temple. I just received an email from my sister, who did not go as she has high fever. hmm…last week, it was one of my small cousins; this wednesday, it was my baby cousin’s turn; and now, her… Is there an epidemic going on, there? My cough and fever (because I have had one for the last 2 days) have altogether disappeared though I’m sure the cough promises to be back. I’m absolutely lousy with medications and stuff; I’ve always been wary of drugs and medicine in any case :p
As I’m here on my own and no one is there to look after me, my health is thus basically my own responsibility. Clearly oranges and honey are not enough, hehe…

Today, I’m not going to do much. In a flash of intelligence (which happens less and less these days *sigh*), I cooked enough biryani to have 2 helpings yesterday and still have enough for two meals today…So, no hassle in the kitchen today: here’s instant vegetarian biryani! One of my flatmates has done a whole month’s (or two) grocery shopping yesterday and he has crammed every free space with his stuff as well as re-aligned the respective spaces of the others to fit his stuff in. As I am not in any mood to spoil my new year’s day, I’m just going to tell him to realign them back… or else.. This is spatial tyranny and I will not tolerate this! As it is, I have less space in the kitchen to keep my stuff than the other four, the privilege of being the last one to join this flat.

That lovely sun makes me want to go out. First, some cleaning up; then, a shower…after that, we’ll see… I might make a quickie phone call back home…I miss my children (that is, my cousins)…

Edit:Phoned home for a few minutes…They were very glad I called. Guess what mom is cooking tonight? Hehe, Biryani-mania strikes again! The rest of the family has gone to attend a cultural ceremony at the Mauritius Andhra Maha Sabha, which stands as one of the major cultural committee for the Telugu community in Mauritius. After that, I phoned to some other relative in Manchester, who did not surprise me when she told me about this evening’s menu…Mass telepathy at work, here, I guess..No, but she and her family have been very kind to me, and I really felt I had to wish them personally for this new year…

As for me, I’ve been out to buy some tomatoes and oranges. The weather was still lovely when I went outside, but as soon as I stepped out of the accommodation complex, clouds started accummulating. Hehe, need I wait for more proof that I can cause rain to fall? :p

I actually walked part of the journey in what was a mixture of light rain and strong sunshine at the same time. Odd but very refreshing and exhilarating experience. As I walked, the expression “cloud country” came to my mind. The UK is really a landscape dominated by clouds. You can see layers upon layers of clouds, all different, strange and beautiful at the same time, like the French-style salad I bought a week ago. :p

Will probably go out later on…I can’t stay in for long today. The weather calls out to me. 🙂

*Here’s the recipe of how to make the soup of life (:p): the Ugadi Pacchadi:

Ingredients

2 tsp neem or margosa (my childhood nightmare, that!) flower
4 tsp grated jaggery/sugar/cane juice (as long as you get the taste…)
3 tsp tamarind
pinch of red chilli powder
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
Salt a per taste
1 tsp oil
1 tsp finely chopped raw mango
1-1/4 cup water

Method:

1 Soak tamarind in water for 1/2 hour
2 Boil the water for 5 minutes
3 Cool and blend in mixie till smooth
4 Pass through a sieve, removing any fibres, etc
5 Add mango pieces to the juice
6 Boil till mango pieces are tender
7 Add jaggery, let it cook till it melts
8 Remove from fire and keep aside
9 Heat oil, add mustard seeds
10 When it splutter, add neem flower and fry till light brown
11 Add chilli powder and salt
12 Mix well
13 Mix the neem flower to tamarind juice
14 Served in small quantities

Making Time: 15 minutes
Shelflife: 1 day

And this as well…to understand what lies behind the choice of these various ingredients(should I add that this has shamelessly been copied and pasted? :p):

Ingredient — Taste — Message
1. Jaggery — Sweet — Adds happiness to life
2. Salt — Salty — Adds taste to life
3. Neem/margosa flowers — Bitter — Unhappy moments in life
4. Tamarind — Sour — Disgraceful sad moments in life
5. Raw Mango Pieces — Sour — Disgraceful sad moments in life
6. Chilli powder/paste — Hot — Angry moments in life

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