Thursday, May 14, 2009

How spring cleaning brought out the south Indian in me

Okay, so you can say I've been inspired by these two lovely ladies: OJ on the Boy who brings out the American in her, and the tempesty BrownGirls on he who brings out the UPwali in her.

First up, it's very difficult to put in me in any demographic. Apart from brown and female. And mommy. And foodie. Wait. I just rubbished my premise, din't I?

What I mean is, no one really knows that I'm half Gujju and half south Indian. I know, I know, south Indian is five states, but what do you call a lineage that is Mysore Ayyangar, claims to be both Kannadiga and Tam Brahm, and speaks a dialect that no one in the two states understands completely?

What people do know is that I'm neither Gujju nor south Indian. I stand up to bullies for either, for neither and for nor. I can rave endlessly on varied regional cuisines and cultures, diss anything remotely generalised (Sardars have a great appetite for sex, you say, ha! ask me, and the like) You don't say, they tell me, when I let them in on the secret. They don't call me Mother India behind my back for nothing. It's not always a good thing: that I don't really fit in with sets of cousins on either side is a post for another day.

For now, let me tell you, that I'm slightly blue (yes, yes, post-menstrual cravings for progesterone and all that), plus I miss my in-laws (yes, yes, they're away, it's been almost two months, I have no one to talk to at home, I miss my mum-in-law and I almost sob when I see their empty room, so go on, shoot me) and I seem to have sauntered into a spring-cleaning epidemic on the web. Every site I turn to, has spring cleaning advice: for home, for relationships, even for your ovaries.

And while it may not always seem so, I am quite sane. I do know what I can't possibly spring clean without a miracle: my home, my relationships and my ovaries. So I picked the one thing that is totally and completely in my control: the obese 'Favourites' section in my browser.

'Favourites' is my prescription for reality: all that I am, all that I want to be, all that I want to be seen wearing, all that I'd rather not be seen wearing publicly, the books that should have been written by me, the jokes that save the day, the stuff I want to do with Nino, the stuff I want to do when I'm rich and don't have to work for a living - part escapism, part existential, part inspiring, part worrying, part fun, part day dreaming.

On day two of the mammoth task, I've been told that my lilt has turned surprisingly Mami, even as my ay-chch has turned into hech-ch, (perhaps why I misheard the H Stern link and keyed in Heads Turn), why I'm looking into tayir sadam recipes instead of the mutton roganjosh that I usually turn to on Thursdays in prep for the weekends. Or why Chox is the only gujju on my blog roll, as compared to Suj, T, Nithya, MinM, Broom, GonTB, SGM, Ra...

My dad's DNA is going to be seriously upset.

--

Trust the son to turn the cart upside down. Staunchly Gujju, he insists on saying eh-pple, jay-c-b, and his latest favourite: jokering. Hho-nest. He even likes jaggery in his dal. *shudders*

27 comments:

Broom said...

I'm half south indian too and I LOVE jaggery in my daal. Yay for Nino and his excellent taste in food.

Altoid said...

Hm for that matter, I have absolutely NO KNOWN Gujju connections in my lineage and I still love the taste of jaggery in most foods :P

So sue me!

Sujatha said...

Every journey starts with that first step as wise man Confucious said. So you are well on your way then, if the journey is what you want. But we love you the way you are NM. Don't know what you're going on about!

P.S. Loved your writeup on the Grasshopper book below. Gentle and contemplative.

wordjunkie said...

I've lived in Ahmedabad and drunk gallons of sweet kadhi myself, so Nino, I know the feeling, man!!

I'm a maami too, by the way :)...

Sands said...

am a 100% Tam Bram on your blogroll who loves gujju food 'coz my BFF is gujju and I could live the rest of my life on tayir sadam & dal dhokli :)

Anonymous said...

Surely your Mysore genes recognize the jaggery-in-dal? :-D

M (ducking and running!)

Solilo said...

Another hotchpotch here. It is good that way. :)

girlonthebridge said...

Ok sorry - the fact that you have to look for a thair saadam "recipe" negates whatever other south indian tendencies you are experiencing otherwise. podi - whatey pseudo!

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

Jaggery in Dal is sure the Mysore thing ... remember Rasams have jaggery and Dal :))

OrangeJammies said...

Okay, so you're half Hebbar Iyengar. That's not such a bad thing, you know.
And correction: the piece I scribbled wasn't inspired by the Boy. His visiting brother brought forth the sentiment. :0)

VJ said...

Hey NM,
My maternal grandfather is Mysore Iyyengar and paternal side from Tanjore... so I am a bit of the confused types as well..and I love Gujju food !!!!

Anonymous said...

Quite a cool post! I have also never really fitted with either set of cousins, but you put your uniqueness in such a cool way :)

Best wishes,
Anjali

In love with my life said...

Picture this..on my mom's side, grandmom's ancestors come from Madurai, grandfather's from pollachi, but they are originally from kerala. On my dad's side ,his mom is a descendant of the local ruler and his father is descendant of keralite brahmins. That leaves me a total avial...

You go girl- sweet kadhi and thayir sadam will balance each other.

Brown Girls said...

I have no mixed parents, no son and no husband, and yet, every time I read your posts I think, oh god, I am exactly like that! It's just a wee bit freaky NM, it is. Big hug girl, just like that..long time :)

Nino's Mum said...

Broom - yay for us half-breeds! as for the dal, let us agree to disagree!

Alt - really?! you must come home to see the fact that the in-laws often complain how jaggery-of-yore used to be sweeter. sheesh!

Suj - :) not complaining, Suj, just noticing. also, the in-laws were in Washington during the time you were in India and they sent me cherry blossom pics and I sighed and said, I know, Suj sent me some and they're like, Suj who, did we miss out someone in your family?!

Wordjunkie - no way! Tell me more about you a'bad days, please!

Sands - good god, you've mixed the unmixable! tayir sadam is my comfort food and dal dhokli is the husband's. you muddled tummy, you!

M - hahaha! wait, I'm still finding something soft to chuck!

Solilo - et tu?! hugs.

GonTB - hahaha! you're the only one who realised just how short I fall of both demographics. Also, this particular recipe I was looking for had great pics, so there, that's my excuse!

CA - I know, I know, but the dal here is so sweet, it'd pass of as dessert, honest!

OJ - gosh, that's the exact tag that's on my family tree in geni. :)

VJ - you must come and sample some here. I insist!

Inlove - hahaha :) you beat me high and dry! we must do our mixed genes memory posts someday.

Anjali - thank you and I missed reading your thoughtful comments. hugs.

BrownGirls - big hug right back!

nitya said...

LOL. Love to Nino.

Nino's Mum said...

Nitya - I'm loving your profile pic :)

preetischronicle said...

oooooh...Im hard core punjabi, in a big way that is! however, you left me even more confused with what a south indian means, and i am so (badly) used to generalising them. btw, long time ago I spent 3 weeks in baroda and so loved the place, culture and sometimes the food too :)

Nino's Mum said...

Preeti - I know what you mean about the generalising bit: unfortunately, its very rampant. you just get tagged south Indian and most people don't bother to know that there are five very different cultures there. But if someone calls us a northie, we're likely to say, no way, I'm punju/gujju, etc.
It happens to me all the time, especially when I'm meeting the in-laws extended family. Either they call me south Indian or they call me Madrasi, and for them its the same thing, same language, same food, same culture. I used to cringe and scream, I just politely correct now. Bollywood's much to blame for the generalisations too.
Glad I shook it up a bit for you ;)

momstir said...

NM, no making fun of Nino's tastes. I just chopped a large piece of jaggery for my tuvar dal so send him over for lunch.

Just remember only Nino is invited!

Sujatha said...

NM, that was so sweet! Are they still here?

nitya said...

I have put that up there as a reminder of the fact that my son is almost 4 and I am still carrying all the pregnancy weight and more. What do ya mean, you love it?

maidinmalaysia said...

the things you notice, nino's mum. an eye for the unusual, that's what you have

Swati said...

Ah-ha, JAGGERY! Surely that reminds you of something? I know, I know, I am never going to stop nagging about it - that is what friends are for, after all. You are welcome!

Nino's Mum said...

nitya - :) I love the colour on you!

Momstir - hahha :) sweet cravings, huh?!

MinM - you think?! thanks.

Swati - so good to see you here. yes, yes, I remember, very much so - but the chappie's done a disappering act on me!

Swati said...

Oh well, I guess the next best thing you can do is to visit, in person, Nino in tow. You did say your s. was nearby :)

choxbox said...

here's an open invit to all gujju-food lovers and esply mitthi dal eaters! my mom's around too! khakhras, fafdas, theplas, dhoklas...all are there!