"Full many a ray of purest ray serene the dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness to the desert air."
from "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kamal ki hype

Saw 5 episodes of SaReGaMaPa today - loads of singing talent among youngsters in India. There are 5 people left - Sugandha from Punjab with the mimicry talent, Bishakh from Bengal whose girlfriend's name is Sonam, "the laavani girl" Anu from Maharashtra, the ghazal singer Ranjit Rajwada from Rajasthan, and Kamal Khan from Punjab.

Who is Kamal Khan? Though his singing is good episode after episode, I have to strain to remember anything other than his singing. There is no story out there about him, nothing that is made fun of, nothing that is repeated about him in episode after episode - how is anyone to remember him beyond appreciating his singing? And do I remember the last song he sang? - No, such is the memory of the average audience member.

Some of the competitors who have left by now had better hype than this - the girl from Canada who said "actually" thrice in a sentence and was encouraged to speak each time to the show guest, the competitor from Pakistan with a soulful voice, the opera singer, the well-built guy from Punjab who had lifted Salman Khan on his shoulders, the girl from Bengal who was going through a divorce, the girl from Bengal for whom Wajid Khan said he loved her eyes, the girl who was a great classical singer and her family of four who live in four towns in India, the very lovable guy from Pakistan who danced as much as he sang...and the list goes on and on...there is a story attached to each face, but what is the story on Kamal?

In an age where hype pays more than talent and performance, I vote for Kamal Khan as my favorite singer for SaReGaMaPa 2010.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Giving thanks on Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, we have one day left to finally finish off the left-overs, finally do the cleaning and laundry and finish the homework in the case of a certain young person in the house.

I am grateful to Shiva for my family and friends, for the life and the lifestyle I am blessed with, and the wonderful moments in the year gone by. I am grateful for the opportunities to learn and serve, and a big thank you to the Chinmaya Mission for organizing the trip this summer to Kailash and Manas Sarovar this year with the wonderful group of people who made it memorable, the divine grace that allowed this trip to materialize, and the Sherpas who made it physically possible. 

I am grateful for finally being able to start teaching at Sunday school and work with children again. The innocence of youth gives a fresh perspective on life, and I am quite sure the discussions are far more enlightening for me than for the class. I am amazed at the workload of high school students, and so grateful I am not in high school, and that those who are in high school are so capable. 

Saw the Hindi movie Guzaarish on the eve of Thanksgiving, so I am especially grateful that while the rest of us lose sleep, complexion and hair over mundane issues, such people walk the earth who look divinely beautiful even in unimaginable misery...just kidding, really did like it...a wonderful movie with a wonderful message about what a wonderful gift a human life is.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cooking for Thanksgiving

People always ask me what I will be making for Thanksgiving. Firstly, no turkey in our Vaishnav household. Secondly, all the entrees that I proudly make are called side dishes in the world I live in. Thirdly, we don't  particularly like pumpkins.

We do have plenty to be grateful for. So a Thanksgiving feast it is, each year. This year, I tried convincing the little one that a Gujarati dinner of rotli (pan-roasted flat bread), bataka nu shaak (potato curry), sev tameta nu shaak (tomato curry), undhiyoo (baked mixed vegetables), makai ni khichdi (mashed corn), lachko dal (lentil curry), bhaat (steamed rice), chhundo (pickled grated assorted fruit) had the same ingredients as the classic Thanksgiving meal, albeit with some good old Indian spices.

She said she did not want anything Indian. I reminded her that Thanksgiving was all about accepting the Indians and their way of life. After a brief nonsensical conversation, she knew it was no use discussing this further. She put her foot down and said, I want a tofurkey, a pasta dish, pumpkin pie, mashed potato and desserts.

There is nothing more labor-intensive than making a feast for three people. I could not get hold of a tofurkey which is a good thing, I am not sure anyone would eat it. Got the last pumpkin pie from Tom Thumb and some desserts from their bakery - that only two people would eat in our house. Made mashed potato and cheese macaroni. In place of the tofurkey, could I use paneer? The little God said yes. Does it need to be shaped like a turkey? At that point, why be vegetarian? The little God said no need. Ended up making paneer makhani. Made chhole - chick peas as well. And mango smoothies. The little one said hey, how did so much Indian food get on the table? Too late, time to eat now :), happy Thanksgiving!!