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December 20, 2005
Changing minds and changing times!
My life would be so much happier if I had nt heard this story that circles in my family. The title "Sevuthu keeraiya vazhichu thinna vallaati" can be translated as "The woman who scraped and ate the spinach from the wall". This is a simple story of how a lady said no to spinach when being served and when compelled to taste it, threw the Spinach dish, licked her hands and actually found the spinach tasty and started eating the splattered spinach from the walls. Simple story, my ass! This one has complicated my life beyond belief! My paternal side of the family thrives on laughing at others. Be it a baby or a granny, they spare none. If you even ask what the dish is and then ask for it, you are termed the "SKVTV aka TWWSAATSFTW. (The title of the simple story, people! Catch up!) In those days when there were always more than 6 people at home and when the plantain leaves were placed with 2 cms gap and the men and children ate first while the women folk served, you better not be the first person sitting in the row. Or the last person for that matter! They will take you by surprise by starting to serve from any end! And to ask "What is it?" will be a grave mistake to make. "Ellam saapdradhu dhaan, pottundu paaru"(It’s food only! Here!) will be the stern answer. Now I understand their attitude. Poor souls. Slogging in the kitchen from early morning cooking for a dozen people and serving while starving. I would nt have even bothered to answer back if it were me. But then, being what we were - just a couple of scared kids - it used to be traumatic. The reason is that you can’t waste anything that has been served. You can’t say no, you can’t waste, you don’t want to eat. What an irony when half the country is starving!
As if this is nt pressure enough, you say no just to be safe and they spare you this time and go to the next person only to find that it is not Vendaikai thayir pachdi(Bhindi raita) but potato fried curry! But the raita is supposed to be served after the Payasam (kheer) you thought and took a calculated risk. The Maami screwed up the routine and your chance to eat the mouth-watering potato curry. Of course if your sister is sitting beside you, you are screwed again definitely as she would nt even share the roasty bit with you and once a person has started eating, sharing is a BIG No-No. Of course you can ask for it, but your uncle sitting 2 seats away is just waiting for an occasion to call you a SKVTV. No way you can be the butt of his joke, this time! You just pretend you are on Atkins diet (Have nt even heard of the word Diet let alone Atkins in those times!) and ignore the next Elai (leaf) and just hope they will serve the potatoes one more time after Rasam is served. While you are on this potato track, you find to your horror that the next Maami who was serving the raita had sneaked some into your Elai. Sadistic, starving Maamis! Why cant they just snack on the vadais or papads before serving? And then there are various issues to tackle such as ‘Sambar without the pumpkin pieces please’, ‘no thanks no kootu’, ‘Rasam from the bottom of the vessel with tomatoes please’, ‘one more papad’, ‘no vadai’, ‘only one ladle of payasam enough’, ‘no curd just some buttermilk’, ‘can I have some more pickle’ (with the comment, Nee saapdara lakshanathuku idhu porum!). Amidst praying that my mother will get the hint and serve me, as she will know better! By this time 2 people who eat faster than a Hyena have got up. The fans are switched off so that the leaves don’t fly away. You better finish fast or suffocate. And of course the maamis are just waiting to lay their hands on the Echa Elais and then start eating. Poor souls! But they of course serve themselves. SKVTVs are everywhere but now they have lost their identities in the buffet tables much to my uncle's disapproval!
This post's inspiration:
Went to a Kids party this weekend. The kids were asked if they wanted the samosas/sandwiches/chips. The kids also did not ve any inhibition wasting the food. Whole samosas and nibbled sandwiches were thrown away without anyone batting an eyelid. Wait till I become the aforementioned Maami and serve these kids some Paaharkaai Pitle! (Bitter Gourd). Probably for Ashu’s Birthday. Be afraid kids. Be very afraid.