Sep 27, 2011

A Clerihew tag roundup and a challenge

Last week, I learnt not one but two new words in a day. The first one was Luddite and the second was Clerihew. Both are nouns and are associated with the British. Loosely defined Luddite translates to anyone who is opposed to the industrial change or innovation in their daily life. The word was introduced to me by none other than the witty Ms SplitPearPersonality who has decided to merge her blogging self with the facebooking Ann. She reserves her wit now for her family, friends and co-workers on fb and blogs no more.

A couple of hours after I had excitedly twitted about the addition of a new word to my vocabulary, Richa Ma, another blogger who has abandoned her blog for reasons I do not know, introduced me to Clerihew. I penned one in haste and then tagged a couple of friends, who in turn tagged some more... you get the idea.  It was mayhem after that with everybody tagging everybody else.  This post is an attempt to compile some of them. If you have friends who put them up and I missed them, let me know and I will add them here.

For those of you who do not know who or what a Clerihew is, here is a true short story on its origins:
In the year 1928, a young lad of age sixteen named Edmund Clerhew Bentley sat in the back of his science class and day dreamed. His name was not unusual for his time and contrary to what you may think, no one made fun of it or him. On one particular rainy day, when the air in the classroom was muggy and his professor’s voice was droning, Edumund was thinking about Humphry Davy, that rare combination of poet and chemist. Not unlike the man he was thinking about, Edmund too had a lyrical bend of mind and he came up with this:

Sir Humphry Davy
Was not fond of gravy,
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

Excited to have discovered a fun way to while away his time in tedious classrooms, Edmund got together with his friends, formally charted a few rudimentary rules and named his four line form of writing Clerihew.

Here are the rules as put down by Edmund Clerihew himself and followed to this day by those who are struck with inspiration to pen down rhyming quartet lines.

1. The first line contains the name of the person the Clerihew is about. It could be just the name or the name in a line, but it must contain a name.

2. The rhyming four lines need to rhyme and this requisite often times makes for humorous Clerihews.

3. It is usually biographical and shows a person from a different POV or in a funny, whimsical life.

With these basic, simple rules in mind, my fb friends, all of them talented bloggers in their own right, put on their rhyming caps and came up with amusing Clerihews that would have given the original Clerihew a run for his money, or maybe not. I haven’t read all of his works so I can’t say.

So here’s a roundup of the ones I could assemble from the new face of facebook:

Richa Ma, who used to blog at As Dear as Salt, came up with a whole bunch of them. I will put a couple of those down here:

There is this girl named Rich
For her blog all day she takes pictures of her sandwich
While the family waits impatiently for the goodies
She is busy photoshopping pictures for her blog buddies.

She then wrote two more with which we can all relate to:

Sep 24, 2011

Enuma Elish: The Babylonian Creation Myth

In the dark, primal world, Apsu and Tiamut decided to procreate gods. The first two of their offspring, born in the midst of heaven, they named Lahmu and Lahamu. After them Ansar, Anu and Nudimmud were born. The proud parents then established their progeny as the great gods.

While the great gods went about their business quietly, Tiamut continued to create many other gods in her vast body. However, Apsu could not bear the babble of his own sons. He called his trusted minister Mummu for a consult and together they went to Tiamut.

“I have not rested or lied down in peace since the day we have created these gods. They make too much noise and destroy my quiet,” Apsu complained. “But I have a plan,” he said. “I will destroy them and their noisy ways. Only then can we go back to the way we were, quiet and peaceful, enjoying our lives in all of eternity in each other’s arms.”

Sep 21, 2011

B2B roundup, finally

This time around I broke one of my cardinal rules about hosting an event on DSM. I have been late, very late, in posting the roundup. When I made that promise a year and some months ago, I did not realize that the roundup would coincide with me writing a pneumatic brief on Enuma Elish and cramming for a geology test on minerals. But that is what happened and hence my deepest apologies for being way beyond tardy.

Now, for the roundup:
Spandana made Sambhar Powder and blogged about it after her husband’s attempt at making sambhar resulted in a stew of vegetables, tamarind and powder sans the dal.

Divya gives us the secret to spice up even the simplest of recipes using this curry powder.

Straight from her mom’s secret arsenal, Minoti reveals the intense process that goes in the making of garam masala.

Vaishali shares a sweet, tangy and spicy peanut chutney called Chataaka.

Krithi makes a curry leaf powder with freshly picked leaves from her garden and in the process also shares her grandma’s organic hair oil recipe.

It took a while for Vardhini to warm up to the idea of eating podis with rice but now that she has, this coriander seed podi can always be found in her pantry.

Settling down in India has been an adventure for Siri and she celebrated it last month with Vara Lakshmi Vratham. Her parents came over for a visit during the time and her “awesome-a-cook” mom made this spice powder for her to sprinkle on dry curries.

Just five ingredients, a whiz in the grinder and Usha’s coconut-garlic powder is ready for those lazy days when one doesn’t want to sweat in the kitchen.

A big fan of bisi bele bhath, Denny started making this comfort food at home with store bought powder and then switched to grinding his spice powder at home to enhance the flavors. He has not looked back since.

Harini-Jaya found this balti masala in Raghavan Iyer’s 660 curries and she is so impressed with the masala that it has now replaced the store bought garam masala in her pantry.

Mom Chef sent me not one but three spice powders – a curry leaf powder, idli dosa molagapudi and paruppu podi. There is a reason her kids call her a chef.

PJ always manages to seduce my taste buds. This time, she decided to do it with homemade channa masala powder and a dried neem flower spice mix.

Richa got some secret ingredients from a fellow blogger and made a flaxseed sesame powder. She also sent a recipe for a basic Indian curry powder that her mom made in the cool winter months.

Sreevalli found some gongura leaves in the Indian store and she had to make this chili garlic powder to season the gongura dal with.

Kalyani makes this rasam powder in enough quantity to last her for a couple of months.

DSM made the dhana-jeera powder after much deliberation on fb about its proportions which everyone except I seemed to have it right. She was also going to post a chole masala she made last month but the same reasons that delayed the roundup, delayed the post. It is for another day.

If I have missed any entrees, please let me know and I will do the needful with a contrite apology.

Siri is hosting the next B2B with wet chutneys as the theme. Do visit her blog and check out the rules. She will also be more prompt in posting the roundup.

Sep 7, 2011

A tale of Ganesha

I start feeling nostalgic and missing homeland during festival time and this year has been no exception. A phone call to my brother for Rakshabandhan or Bhau-Beej, a video chat with my parents during Diwali leaves me teary eyed and wanting to jump on a flight to India. I try to compensate feelings of alienation by making corresponding festival fare and gorging myself on it. Two years ago, I attempted modaks for Ganesh Chaturthi. The crust came out chewy and rubbery but the filling of jaggery and coconut, infused with cardamom, was still worth it.

This year I could hear the beating of drums in the background as I talked to my sister back home. It was hard to hear much over the din but I gathered from her that the youngsters in her housing complex were practicing for Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. How could I not attempt to make modaks again sitting in the quiet surroundings of my suburban home? My mother gave me her usual helpful but ambiguous tips “a little bit of rava (semolina) to maida (APF) and roll the poori thin before filling and shaping the modak”.
Making of a modak for Susan's B&WW

Based on those thin guidelines, I fiddled with the proportions and had the foresight to take notes while I made the modaks. I was delighted to bite into the crispy crust (after offering the Prasad to Ganesh first, of course) that would have made the pot-bellied god a happy camper.

Modaks for the pot-bellied one
Once fried, they are off to Susan's B&WW
It transported me back to the days when my mom would fast once a month for chaturthi and break her fast with twenty one modaks. One of those modaks was a salty one and once mother ate that she had to stop. We three kids sat close to her, watching as the modak count dwindled. We would heave a sigh of relief as she finally came across and ate the salty one. Then the three of us would divvy the modaks and send a silent prayer to Ganesha for helping her find the salty one short of ten.

Now, all grown up, I do not even think about observing the strict fast my mom kept.  However, Ganesha still has a strong presence in my household.  I have pictures and statues of him scattered all over my house.  My husband reads tales of Ganesha and other gods to our son. We, like parents of my generation, are forever grateful to Uncle Pai and his Amar Chitra Katha. Those tales (katha) are indeed immortal (amar). As much as we read those tales, when a poojari (priest) asked us the names of Ganesha’s sons we were thrown for a loop. We knew the names of his wives, Riddhi and Siddhi. But we didn’t even know he had sons let alone what their names were. The answer, when he told us, was so simple, we almost smacked ourselves in the head.

After I had my fill of the modaks I posed the same question on fb. A lot of friends chimed in and like all Indian myths, they had slightly different versions and names of Ganesha’s wives and sons. Manisha was most helpful, quoting from a book on tales of Ganesha and her tidbits made for a fun discussion. From that discussion, this tale is woven.

Disclaimer: Based on myths and tales of Ganesha and written in jest. Not intended to offend any Ganesha devotees. I am one myself and have nothing but the highest reverence, regard and love for the Remover of all obstacles.

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